Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

pleasure in any direction without being effectually opposed. The station at West Point, and the passes of the Highlands, in which the American stores were deposited, were of such primary importance that Washington dared not risk their safety by detaching any considerable part of his army for the defence of other places. His only enterprise of the kind distant from the Highlands, was one under General Sullivan, sent against the Indians on the Northern frontier, which succeeded in destroying a number of their towns. Clinton availed himself of his superiority, and spent the season in committing ravages upon the coast and sending out expeditions to distress and plunder the country, as though it was his object to accomplish the threats of the Commissioners to make the Colonies worth as little as possible to their new allies. The first, under Commodore Sir George Collier and General Matthews, was directed to the Chesapeake. It reached Hampton Roads on the 10th of May. Hav

May 10th. ing taken possession of Norfolk, they sent parties in various directions, and destroyed public and private property to an enormous amount, at Portsmouth, Norfolk, Suffolk, Gosport, and the neighboring towns and villages. One hundred and thirty vessels, and a prodigious quantity of

naval stores and provisions were destroyed, and three thouof sand hogsheads of tobacco burnt in Elizabethtown. Private

houses were not spared, and in Suffolk hardly a dwelling escaped the flames. In about two weeks the marauders re-embarked and returned to New York.

A second expedition was planned against the American ir fortresses in the Highlands of the Hudson. General Clinton,

convoyed by Collier, embarked on this service, in the latter part of May, with a large force. King's Ferry is the great

[ocr errors]

highway between the Eastern and Southern States. "The - possession of it by the British would compel the Americans

to make a wide and difficult circuit, and would be an im- portant step towards the conquest of West Point. Stoney

Point overlooks and commands the ferry on the west side, and Verplank's Point on the east. Both were fortified. The farmer was evacuated on the approach of Clinton, but his movements were so rapid that the garrison on Verplank's Paint were obliged to surrender themselves prison

ears of war, after a short and spirited resistance. de After fortifying and garrisoning these forts, Sir Henry returned to the city.

June with

The British commerce on Long Island Sound was sorely harassed by numerous privateers, fitted out in the convenient harbors and bays of Connecticut. The supplies intended for the New York market were intercepted and captured. These enterprises were made the ostensible motive for a predatory expedition upon the coasts of Connecticut, which was carried on with a spirit of barbarity and rapine disgraceful to the arms of any civilized people. Governor Tryon and General Garth, July 5th.

w with 2,600 men, were employed in this service.

" Garth landed at New Haven on the 5th of July. This town was plundered, and an immense amount of property destroyed. After perpetrating every species of violence and enormity, except firing the town, in which they were frustrated by their apprehensions of a body of militia collected to oppose them, they suddenly re-embarked. Tryon enacted the same horrible scenes at East Haven, which he burnt, and being pursued by the exasperated militia, retreated to

| his ships. Two days afterwards, he landed at July 7th 1

" Fairfield, a flourishing town, in the county of the same name, on the coast, between fifty and sixty miles from New York. Here, after plundering every house, and destroying all the property within the town he ended by burning the town, and laying waste every thing he could reach for two miles round. Again embarking, pursued by the militia, he relanded at Norwalk, about ten miles below, where he burned and plundered the town, and destroyed a quantity of shipping, including whaleboats and cruisers. He was proceeding thus from place to place, desolating the coast, when he was recalled by Clinton. Particular accounts were furnished Congress of the devastations committed at Norwalk and Fairfield. Besides the vessels destroyed, there were burnt at the former place two houses of public worship, eighty dwelling houses, sixty-seven barns, twenty-two stores, seventeen shops, and four mills : at Fairfield, two houses of public worship, eighty-two dwelling houses, fifty-five barns, and thirty stores. So far was Governor Tryon from feeling compunction at these barbarities, that he boasted of his clemency, and maintained that the existence of a single house on the coast was a monument of the king's mercy,

The recall of Tryon was hastened by a bold and success ful movement made in the Highlands by the Americans against Stoney Point. It had been impossible for Washington to divide his army for the succor of the defencelese coast invaded by the British. The safety of West Point required all his energy and activity. He pushed forward

his lines nearly to the British, and determined by a brilliant :. enterprise to alarm the enemy and force him to recall his

troops. Stoney Point and Verplank's Point had been strongly • fortified and manned by the British. General Wayne, with

a strong detachment of American infantry, set out on an ex

pedition against Stoney Point on the 15th of July. At the same in time, a force under General Howe proceeded against Ver

plank's Point. Wayne arrived before Stoney Point in the evening, and after reconnoitering the works, divided his men into two columns, with directions to assault the fort at opposite points, and without firing, to depend entirely upon the bayonet. The charge was made with irresistible ardor. The assailants forced their way across a morass, overflowed by the tide, in the face of a tremendous fire of musketry and grapeshot, until both columns met in the middle of the fort. Wayne received a severe wound in the head in leading on his column. The victors took 543 prisoners, fifteen pieces of cannon, flags, arms, and a large amount of military stores, The Americans lost ninety-eight, killed and wounded. The enterprise against the opposite point failed. Clinton, hearing of the fall of the fortress, moved up the river with a large force, and Washington, unable to spare a sufficient garrison for the post, removed the artillery and stores, and having

demolished the works, evacuated them. Congress passed ve high encomiums on the gallantry of Wayne and his troops

in storming the fort, and voted him a gold medal in honor of the victory.

Clinton ordered the works to be repaired, and having gar risoned them strongly, returned to New York again.

About the same time, Major Lee, with a party of Virginia and Maryland troops, surprised the British garrison at Powles

Hook, opposite New York, and with the loss only of six or 3 seven of his own men, succeeded in capturing one hundred and sixty-one of the enemy

These advantages were counterbalanced in part by the failure of an attack made by the State of Massachusetts against the British post at Penobscot, in Maine. A fort had been erected there, in June, by Colonel M.Leane, under the direction of Sir Henry Clinton, and garrisoned with 650 men. The people of Massachusetts, alarmed at this movement, pra pared an expedition of land and naval force, undern

Jan. 177

Salstonstall and General Lovel. Thirty-seven vessels, of different sizes, appeared before the fort, on the 25th of July,

on and proceeded to make preparations for assault July 28th.

" On the 28th, a British squadron from New York, commanded by Commodore Collier, consisting of a sixtyfour-gun ship and five frigates, arrived to the relief of the garrison. The American flotilla was attacked and dispersed, seventeen or eighteen of the armed vessels taken or destroyed. Most of the sailors and soldiers who escaped, made their way back by land, through the woods.

No other military everts worth narrating occurred in the Northern or Middle States during the remainder of the year. The scene of active operations was in the South, to the events in which quarter of the Union, commencing with the year, the narrative must recur. Early in January the British General Prevost was in pos1950 session of the capital of Georgia, and the whole

" | State offered him no resistance. His next object was to form a connexion with the interior, where great numbers were represented to be royalists favorable to the British interest, and to invade South Carolina, and capture the city of Charleston. An expedition which he planned against Port Royal, was repulsed by the Carolinians, under Moultrie, the same who distinguished himself by the defence of the fort in Charleston harbor, against the fleet of Admiral Parker, in 1776. Lincoln, with the American troops, occupied numerous posts along the north bank of the Savannah river.

Colonel Campbell, in order to support and succor the royalists, moved up the river, and occupied Augusta. From that place he despatched parties to aid the king's friends, as the tories styled themselves. A large number of this class rose in arms, and putting themselves under the command of Colonel Boyd, marched to join the British, committing great devastations and cruelties on their way. This roused the resentment of their countrymen, and a party of Carolinian militia, commanded by Colonel Pickens, collected and attacked them, just before they reached the British posts. The tories were totally routed, and many prisoners taken. Sevfor enty-six of them were condemned to death as trai

| tors, under the State law, but five only were executed. The British forces soon after evacuated Augusta, and retreated down the river to Hudson's Ferry. Lincoln

had stationed General Ashe, with 1,500 Carolina militia and a few regulars, opposite to Augusta, on the Carolina side of the river, and on the retreat of Campbell from Augusta, directed Ashe to cross the river, follow the enemy, and take post at Briar's Creek. He did so, but kept such careless watch as to allow himself to be surprised and totally routed by an inferior force. Colonel Perkins marched against him, and having succeeded in deceiving Lincoln as to his designs, by a circuitous march reached the rear of Ashe's position, and killed, captured, or dispersed his whole force. The regulars, under General Elbert, made a gallant but fruitless resistance, but the militia were panic-struck, and fled without attempting to make a stand. Not more than four hundred of these returned to the camp of Lincoln. The loss in arms and ammunition was also great. The disaster cost the American army one-fourth of their strength at once, and reduced them to inaction. The subjugation of Georgia was complete, ånd General Prevost was left uninterrupted in his plans for reestablishing the British authority, and collecting the means for invading Charleston.

The continued successes of the British since their landing in Georgia, and the entire subjugation of that State, alarmed and roused the people of South Carolina. Active exertions were made to prepare the means of defence. John Rutledge, a distinguished patriot, was chosen governor by almost a unanimous vote, and invested with extraordinary powers, which he used promptly and vigorously. The militia were called out with such success, that by the middle of April General Lincoln found himself at the head of 5,000 men. The British having withdrawn from the upper posts on the south side of the river Savannah, Lincoln left General Moultrie with a part of the army to preserve the Lord

April 23d. lines of defence, and marching up the north side of the river, crossed at Augusta into Georgia.

Prevost, who was in large force in Savannah, availed himself of this division of the American forces, and, while Lincoln was distant a hundred and fifty miles, crossed the river, near the mouth, into Carolina, and moved against Moultrie. The Americans, unable to maintain their position, retired, and were followed by the enemy. A skirmish took place at Coosawatchie bridge, in which Colonel Laurens was wounded, his troops suffered considerably, and were finally repulsed. Moultrie conducted his retreat with ability; but

« AnteriorContinuar »