« AnteriorContinuar »
piquets on the British left, and Greene was equally successful on the right. Several brigades penetrated the town, and victory appeared to be decided in favor of the Americans. The fortune of the day was changed by an unlooked for event. Colonel Musgrave, a British officer, in retreating before the division of Sullivan, threw himself, with his companies of light troops, into a stone house, called Chew's house, and made a most gallant and persevering defence. Every attempt to dislodge him proved ineffectual. The American line was checked, and thrown into disorder. which had risen increased the confusion, and gave the enemy time to rally. The spirit of the troops flagged, and in the midst of a career of apparent victory, they were thus check. ed and finally began to retreat. All efforts to rally them were unavailing and Washington, seeing the battle lost, drew off his troops, just as Cornwallis came up with a squadron of horse, to the succor of the British. The pursuit continued for some miles, but the Americans saved all their artillery. Their loss was about two hundred killed, among whom was
General Nash of North Carolina, six hundred wounded, and y several hundred prisoners. Of the British, the killed were
about one hundred in number, and the wounded four hundred.
The American army retreated about twenty miles to Parkyomy creek, and being reinforced by 1500 militia, returned to their old camp at Scihppack. Congress by a vote approved of the plan of attack, and returned thanks to the officers and soldiers, for their conduct at the battle of Germantown.
General Howe immediately broke up his encampment at Germantown, and moved his whole force into the city. Provisions began to grow scarce, and he found it necessary to turn his whole attention to the opening of the navigation of the Delaware. Washington strengthened the garrisons at forts Mifflin and Mercer, called upon the government of New Jersey to turn out the militia to form a camp to support them, commanded all the roads leading to the city by his detachments, and under the authority of Congress proclaimed martial law against all citizens who should furnish the enemy with supplies. Thus situated, General Howe found, as Franklin sarcastically remarked, that "instead of taking Philadelphia, Philadelphia had taken him.”
The main body of the American army took post at White Marsh, about fifteen miles from the city.
No change of position was made by either army, nor action of moment undertaken on either side, until the 22d of the month; previous to which the campaign in the North had concluded triumphantly, by the total defeat of the British, and the capture of Burgoyne and his army. To pursue a connected narrative of the events of 1777 in that quarter, it will be necessary to go back several months in the order of time, to the beginning
of the campaign in the North.
GENERAL Burgoyne, who had served in Canada in the campaign of 1776, under General Carleton, arrived at Quebec in the beginning of the month of May, 1777, and was followed by a large regular force from England, designed to make a descent upon the United States through Lake Champlain, and effect a junction with Sir William Howe at New York. This plan had always found favor with the ministry, and had been earnestly pressed upon them by Burgoyne on his return from America. His representations strengthened their opinion, that the most effectual means of subduing the revolutionary spirit, was to separate the States; so that New England, which was thought to be the principal seat of disturbance, would be cut off from communication with the rest of the country, and reduced to obedience. It was determined, therefore, to provide a powerful army, well appointed in every respect, to make success certain. Burgoyne, whose personal solicitations had done much to hasten and arrange the expedition, was made commander-inchief, to the prejudice of Sir Guy Carleton, the governor of Canada, whose popularity as a man of talents and energy, was very high, and who had contributed so efficiently to the recovery of the provinces the year before. Carleton, dissatisfied with being superseded, asked leave to resign, but with honorable magnanimity exerted the utmost zeal and activity in forwarding the objects of the expedition. The regular corps of the army, consisting of British and Hessians, amounted to about seven thousand men, exclusive of the artillery corps. The brass train sent out for the service, was esteemed the finest and best appointed, ever allotted to a force of that magnitude. To these was added a detachment of 700 rangers, under Colonel St. Leger, destined to make an incursion into the Mohawk country to seize Fort Stanwix, otherwise called fort Schuyler. It was also ordered that two thousand Canadians, consisting of hatchmen and other workmen, should join the army, to aid in forcing a way through the woods. Seamen were collected for manning the necessary vessels to command the Lake, and convey the troops down
the Hudson. Other parties were collected to scour the country on the frontier, and occupy the intermediate posts, amounting to at least three thousand men. Every aid, of arms, munitions of war, provisions, clothing, and baggage of all descriptions, was amply provided, and sanguine calculations were made that by this army the rebellion would be put down at once.
The generals who accompanied Burgoyne, were eminent and veteran officers. Among the principal were General Philips of the artillery, and generals Reidesel and Specht, Germans, and the British generals Frazer, Powell, and Hamilton.
The Americans, on the other hand, had paid early attention to their defence, in that quarter. They had constructed an additional fort, on the opposite side of the strait on which Ticonderoga stands, which they called Mount Independence. The obstruction of the navigation was a great point, and they sunk cassoons in the channel, so as to serve also as a bridge of communication between the forts, and to prevent the British from drawing their small craft over land into Lake George, they also obstructed the navigation of that lake. Fort Schuyler was fortified, and other forts erected along the Mohawk river. Requisitions were made for thirteen thousand six hundred men for the security of the district, and the adjacent States were called upon to fill up
their militia in readiness for an active campaign. General Schuyler was appointed to the command of the northern campaign at an early date, thus superseding General Gates, a nomination which produced no little dissatisfaction at the time. He took the command on the 3d of June, and despatched General St. Clair immediately to Ticonderoga. Burgoyne's plan of the campaign was two-fold. He, with the main army, was to proceed by Champlain and the Hudson, to Albany, and Colonel St. Leger, with a second detachment of about two thousand troops, was directed to ascend the St. Lawrence, and by the Oswego and Fort Stanwix, join the general at Albany. Thence both were to proceed by th' Hudson to New York.
The preparations being completed, on the most elaborate and careful scale, Burgoyne moved forward, and in the be
ginning of the last week in June, arrived in the
neighborhood of Crown Point. He held a conference at the river Bouquet with his Indian allies, many of
which had been engaged, by the influence of governor Carleton. He addressed them in terms of energy, to excite them to take part with the royal forces, and endeavored to impress upon them the necessity of regarding the laws of civilized warfare, in their mode of combat, and the treatment of their captives. Having fully secured the co-operation of the Indians, he endeavored to improve the advantage their alliance gave him, in intimidating the Americans. On the 29th of June, he issued a proclamation, with the design of spreading terror among them, magnifying the force of the armies and feets prepared to crush the revolted colonies, and insisting upon the numbers and ferocity of their Indian allies. Promises of favor and support were held out to such as should aid in establishing the government of the king, and all the horrors of war and devastation threatened against those who should persist in rebellion. Thousands of Indians, he admonished them, were ready at his bidding, to be let loose against, " the hardened enemies of Great Britain and America.” This proclamation justly provoked some animadversion in England, and was strongly censured in both houses of parliament. In the United States it kindled a general indignation at the atrocity of its sentiments, mingled with derision at its pompous denunciations. The temper of the people was too stern for such intimidations, and his grandiloquent threats of Indian massacres, served to infame resentment, and stimulate resistance.
All preparations being made, Burgoyne advanced towards Ticonderoga; there he expected to meet with a vigorous opposition. The natural strength of the post, and its great importance as the key to the navigation of the lakes, commanding the entrance to the interior of New York, justified him in believing that a strong effort would be made to preserve the fort, and check his advance.
But the garrison under General St. Clair, was totally inadequate to its defence. Their numbers did not exceed three thousand men, badly armed, particularly in the essential article of bayonets, in which they were almost totally deficient. The militia which had been called for to reinforce them, had not arrived, and no rational expectation was entertained of a successful defence, unless the enemy should undertake to carry the place, by a general assault, in which the bravery of the Americans might have foiled them, by a gallant and fortunate repulse. Burgoyne, however, acted with more caution; and having