« AnteriorContinuar »
ten thousand men. The quantity of baggage and provisions, which he carried with him, was enormous. The line of march is stated to have extended over ten miles, and its advance was very slow. In seven days they marched only forty miles.
Washington, whose numbers exceeded those of Clinton, had narrowly watched his movements. He detached General Maxwell's brigade, to take post at Mount Holly, and co-operate with the Jersey militia, in harassing and retarding the march of Clinton. On the day Clinton abandoned the city, Washington put his own army in motion, and followed cautiously, keeping on the high lands, and thus retaining the power to engage the enemy or not at pleasure. The Commander-in-chief was anxious to try a general engagement, but of the council of war, consisting of seventeen generals, only two, Wayne and Cadwalader, concurred in the opinion fully. Morgan and Cadwalader were deg patched to harass the enemy in flank and rear.
On halting at Princeton, the American general learned that Clintor. had turned off from the direct road to New York, across the Raritan, and had taken a lower route by Monmouth, to Sandy Hook. He again summoned a council of war, who decided a second time against risking a battle. Notwithstanding this decision, the movements of Clinton on the next day determined Washington not to permit him to reach the secure heights of Middleton without a battle.
On the 27th he threw forward a body of troops, under the command of La Fayette, to attack the rear of the British, while he should advance with the main body. Clinton sent forward his baggage, under a sufficient escort
, and with the bulk of his army remained to check the attack of La Fayette. Lee, with two brigades, was despatched to reinforce La Fayette, and, being the senior officer, took the command. Clin. ton encamped that night in a strong position, at Monmouth Court House. Lee rested at Englishtown, seven miles dis tant. On the next morning, as soon as the British
"unless there should be powerful reasons to the contrary.' He was advised that the main body would march up in time to support him. He made his dispositions accordingly, and advanced slowly towards Monmouth, when he ascertained that the British were marching to
meet him. Clinton had sent forward his, baggage, and or dered Cornwallis to meet the meditated attack. The movements of the Americans induced the enemy to think that ; their design was to intercept the baggage, and Cornwallis was directed to charge them, which he did with a superior force. The corps of La Fayette, which was on the advance, was driven back, and Lee, uncertain of the extent of the force brought against him, and thinking the ground unfavorable, repassed a morass which was in his rear, with a view of gaining a more favorable position. Part of his troops, under General Scott, mistook the order, and continued to retreat, and Lee was compelled to follow, the enemy pursuing him briskly. Washington, who was pushing forward rapidly to support him, unapprised of these movements, met the advance in this disorder, and, both surprised and vexed, addressed General Lee with warmth, disapproving of the retreat in sharp terms. He formed the troops in order, restoring the command to Lee, who, notwithstanding the altercation, consented to act, and returned to the main body. Lee sustained the attack of Cornwallis with bravery and resolution, and, when forced off the ground, retreated in good order, and formed again at Englishtown. Washington, having gained time by this check to the British advance, renewed the attack, and a general battle ensued, which lasted till night, in one of the hottest days of summer.
Darkness put an end to the combat, without advantage to either party. The Americans rested on their arms, intending to resume the battle on the morning, but Clinton, at midnight, silently decamped with his whole force, and by morning was beyond pursuit.
Washington desisted from any attempts to interrupt them, and marched his army leisurely to cover the passes of the Hudson. Clinton reached Sandy Hook on the 5th of July, and embarked immediately for New York.
In the battle of Monmouth the British loss was about three hundred, found upon the field. The Americans lost eight officers and sixty-one privates, killed; and one hundred and sixty, wounded. Many of both armies died without a wound, from excessive heat and fatigue. The Americans made about one hundred prisoners, and it is estimated that a thousand privates, chiefly Germans, deserted from the enemy during the march through New Jersey.
Washington, though in the excitement of the occasion he
had used strong language to General Lee, on the day of action, disapproving of his retreat, had nevertheless continued
him in command, and showed no disposition to proceed fur E ther. But Lee was too deeply irritated to submit quietly to
the reprimand, and on the next day addressed two haughty
and offensive letters to the Commander-in-chief. The issue : of the correspondence was the arrest of Lee, and his trial by
court-martial upon three charges : 1. For disobedience of orders, in not attacking the enemy on the 28th of June, agreeably to repeated instructions. 2. For misbehaviour before the enemy, on the same day, by making an unnecessary, disorderly, and shameful retreat. 3. For disrespect to the Commander-in-chief in two letters.
The high colouring of the second charge was made on the representations of Generals Wayne and Scott, but on the trial it was shown that they had misapprehended him. Lord Sterling presided at the court-martial. They found Lee guilty of all the charges, but softened down the language of the second, and found him only guilty of making an unnecessary and in some instances a disorderly retreat. They sentenced him to be suspended from command for one year. Congress finally approved the sentence. It is impossible to deny, on a review of the case of Lee, at this day, that he was harshly dealt with by the court, and that it is difficult to find just cause for their judgment. The excitement against him in the army, and the inconvenience to the service, which might have been produced by his unpopularity, probably swayed their minds, and deprived the country of the services of an able and gallant, if a rash and irritable, officer.
Soon after Sir Henry Clinton reached New York, the French fleet appeared off the harbor. Disappointed in the escape of Admiral Howe with the British fleet from the Delaware, Count D'Estaing had followed them along the coast, and, on the 11th of July, made a display before Sandy Hook, as though about to force his way into the bay of New York, to attack the fleet. He found it impracticable to work his large ships over the bar, and in consequence remained before the port, blockading the British fleet, till the 22d of July. A great number of English vessels fell into his hands. On the 22d he sailed with his whole fleet
July 220. for Newport, Rhode Island, to co-operate with a land expedition sent against the British at that place. Again the British had a fortunate escape in his movements. The
fleet of Byron, sent out to reinforce Howe, met with storms and adverse winds, and had been separated. Within eight days after D'Estaing's departure, five or six of this squadron arrived in a damaged condition, separately, at Sandy Hook, and must have fallen into his power had he remained on that station. He arrived off Newport on the 29th of July.
Rhode Island had been in the possession of the British since 1776, and it was now planned by the American general to make a concerted attack by sea and land, with the hope of capturing the whole army in garrison there. British general was Sir Robert Pigot, and the force under his command, by reinforcements from New York, had been augmented to six thousand.
The American land forces were put under the command of General Sullivan, and amounted to ten thousand men. Generals Greene and La Fayette subsequently joined him, and the army took post at Tiverton, relying upon the cooperation of D'Estaing in the capture of Newport. The
ninth of August was fixed for the action, and SulAug. 9th.
livan made the necessary dispositions of his force On the day previous, signals were made that the British feet from New York, reinforced by a part of Byron's squad ron, had arrived off the harbor. The position of the French fleet was unassailable, and they might have persevered, with little prospect of failure, in the attack upon the town. The admiral, however, eager to engage the enemy by sea, abandoned the harbor on the eleventh, and stood out with his whole force in search of Howe. The two fleets manæuvred for two days, in order to get the advantage in pa sition, and on the 15th met and drew up in order of battle. At the moment they were about to engage, a severe storna separated them. The gale continued to increase in violence for two days; the ships of both sides were dispersed, some of them damaged and disabled, and forced to put back into port to refit—the British to New York, and the French to Newport, where they arrived on the 20th. Sullivan, in the mean time, had crossed over to the island, and made his approaches towards Newport, relying on the as sistance of D'Estaing. He had already made considerable progress in the siege, when he was disappointed, and all his views frustrated, by the determination of the French admiral to abandon the enterprise and repair to Boston to repair
lamages. Notwithstanding the remonstrance of the Amer. can officers, this design was carried immediately | nto effect, and on the 22d, the whole French sugo leet departed, leaving the harbor open to the British. Exposed to an attack from New York, and deserted by his alies in the most critical moment, Sullivan soon found it impossible to continue the siege. His militia, dis
Aug. 281h. heartened at the change of prospect, left him in large numbers, and after delaying about a week, he wa compelled to order a retreat. This was effected with skill The Americans succeeded in getting some hours start of the enemy, and had reached a strong position on the north part of the island, when they were attacked by a pursuing party, and a sharp engagement ensued, in which the Americans succeeded in repulsing the enemy. The American loss was 211, and the British 260. Aware of the near approach of Sir Henry Clinton with a strong reinforcement, Sullivan saw the necessity of retreating with rapidity, which he effected on the 30th, with a skill and prudence which have been much applauded. On the next day, la Clinton, with four thousand men, arrived at New
Sept. 18. port from New York, but Sullivan was beyond pursuit.
Howe, after refitting his feet in New York, sailed to intercept D'Estaing on his way to Boston, but failed. He accordingly returned to New York, where his fleet was further strengthened by the arrival of several more ships belonging to Admiral Byron's squadron. He resigned the command, ad interim, to Admiral Gambier, and returned to England. On the sixteenth, Admiral Byron arrived, and assumed the :command.
The French fleet was received at Boston with great cool ness by the Americans. The irritations that had already : been produced between the French and American offi cers at Newport, were renewed and aggravated. Among the populace the disappointment caused by the failures of the French in the Delaware, at New York, and at Rhode Island, broke out into insult, and ended, in some instances,
in outrage. Much was done by General Washington and - La Fayette to soothe their angry feelings and restore equam
nimity and confidence, and their efforts were partially sucj cessful. The manly and forbearing conduct of Count D'Es > taing, aided materially in restoring harmony. He addressed
Home spirited letters to Congress, and offered to march his