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his troops in continual skirmishes; by which it was observed they recovered their spirits, and behaved with their usual boldness.
As the situation of the two armies was now highly inconvenient to the British generals, it was resolved to make such movements as might oblige general Washington to relinquish his strong situation. A few days after New York was evacuated by the Americans, a dreadful fire broke out, said to be occasioned by the licentious conduct of some of its new master's, and had it not been for the active exertions of the sailors and soldiery, the whole town probably would have been consumed; the wind being high, and the weather remarkably dry, about a thousand houses were destroyed.
General Howe, having left lord Percy with a sufficient force to garrison New York, embarked his army in flat bottomed boats, by which they were conveyed through the dangerous passage called Hell Gate, and landed at Frog's Point, near the town of West Chester, lying on the continent towards Connecticut. Here having received a supply of men and provisions, they moved on the twenty-first of October, to New Rochelle, situated on the Sound wnicii separates Long Island from the continent.
After this, still receiving fresh reinforcements, they made such movements as threatened to distress the pro. vincials very much, by cutting off their convoys of pro. visions from Connecticut, and thus force them to an gagement. This, general Washington determined at all events to avoid. He therefore extended his forces into a long line opposite to the way in which the enemy marched, keeping the Brunx, a river of considerable magnitude, be. tween the two armies, with the North-River in his rear. Here the provincials continued for some time to skirmish with the royai arnıy, until, at last, by some manæuvres, the British general found means to attack them on the twenty: eighth of October, 1776, advantageously, at a place called the White Plains, and drove them from some of their posts.
The success on this occasion was not so compleat as on the former ; however it obliged the provincials to change their ground, and retreat farther up into the country, General Howe pursued tlein for some time; but at last,
finding all his endeavours to bring on a general action, fruitless, he determined to give over the pursuit, and employ himself in reducing the forts which the provincials still retained in the neighbourhood of New York.
Fort Washington was the only post the Americans then held on New York island, and was under the command of colonel Magaw. The royal army made four attacks upon it. The first on the north side, was led on by general Knyphauzen: the second, on the east, by general Matthews, supported by lord Cornwallis : the third was under the dia rection of lieutenant-colonel Sterling : and the fourth by lord Percy. The troops under Knyphauzen, when advancing to the fort, had to pass through a thick wood, which was occupied by Rawling's regiment of riflemen, and suffered very much from their well-directed fire. During this attack a body of British light infantry, advanced against a party of the Americans, who were annoying them from behind rocks and trees, and obliged them to disperse. Lord Percy carried an advance work on his side ; and lieutenant colonel Sterling forced his way up a steep ascent, and took one hundred and seventy prisoners. Their outworks being carried, the Americans left their lines, and crowded into the fort. Colonel Rahl, who led the right column of Knyphauzen's attack, pushed forwards, and lodged his column within an hundred yards of the fort, and was there soon joined by the left column. The garrison surrendered on terms of capitulation, by which the men were to be considered as prisoners of war, and the officers to keep their baggage and side arıns. The number of prisoners amounted to two thousand seven hundred. The loss of the British was considerable.
Shortly after the surrender of fort Washington, fort Lee, situate on the opposite shore of the North River, was evacuated by the Americans at the approach of lord Cornwallis; and at the expense of their artillery and stores.
Fort Lee being evacuated by the Americans, the Jerseys lay wholly open to the incursions of the British troops, and was so entirely taken possession of by the royal army, that their winter quarters extended from New Brunswick, to the river Delaware. Had any number of boais been at hand, it was thought Philadelphia would now have fallen
into their bands. All these had been carefully removed by the Americans. Instead of this enterprize, Sir Henry Clinton undertook an expedition to Rhode Island, and became master of it without losing a man. His expedition was aitended with this further advantage, that the American feet under commodore Hopkins was obliged to sail so far up Providence river, that it was entirely useless. The same ill success attended the Americans in other parts. After their expulsion from Canada, they had crossed lake Champlain, and taken up their quarters at Crown Point, as we have already mentioned. Here they remained for some time in safety, as the British had no vessels on the lake ; and consequently general Burgoyne could not pursue them.
To remedy this deficiency, there was no other method, but to construct vessels on the spot, or take to pieces some vessels already constructed, and drag them up the river into the lake. This, however, was effected in the space of three months; and the British general, after incredible toil and difficulty, saw himself in possession of a great number of vessels ; by which means, he was enabled to pursue his enemies, and in vadle them in his turn. The labour undergone at this time, by the sea and land forces, must indeed have been prodigious; since there were conveyed over land, and dragged up the rapids of St. Lawrence, no fewer than thirty large long-boats, four hundred batteaux, besides a vast number of flat-bottomed boats, and a gondola of thirty tons. The intent of the expedition, was to push forward, before winter, to Albany, where the army would take up its winter quarters; and the next spring effect a junction with that under general Howe; when it was not doubted, that the united force and skill of the two commanders, would speedily put an end to the war.
It was the beginning of October, before the expedition could be undertaken ; it was then allowed to be compleatly able to answer the purpose for which it was intended.
The fleet consisted of one large vessel of three masts, carrying 13 twelve pounders; two schooners, the one car. rying 14, the other 12 six pounders; a large fut-bottomed radeau, with 6 twenty-four, and 6 twelve pounders; and a gondola with 8 nine pounders; besides these, there were twenty vessels of a smaller size; also gun-boats, carrying cach a piece of brass ordnance, from nines to twenty-four pounders, or howitzers. Several long-bouts were fitted cut in the same manner, and a vast number of boats and ten. ders of various sizes 10 be used as transports for tic troops and baggage. It was manned by a number of select seamen ; and the gun-boats were served by a detachment from the corps of artillery. The officers and soldiers appointed for this expedition, were also chosen out of the whole army.
The American force was too inconsiderable to withstand this formidable armament; general Arnold who commanded it, after engaging the British fleet for a whole day, took advantage of the darkness of the night to set sail without being perceived, and was next morning out of sight: but he was so quickly pursued by the British, that on the second day after, he was overtaken and forced to a secord engagement. And notwithstanding bis gallant behaviour, be was obliged to run bis ships ashore, and set them on fire. A few only escaped to lake George ; and the gariison of Crown Point having destroyed or carried off every thing of value, retired to Ticonderoga.
Thither general Carleton intended to have pursued them ; but the difficulties he had to encounter were so many, and so great, that it was thought proper to march back into Canada, and desist from any further operations until the next spring.
The American affuirs now seemed erery where going to wreck; even those who had been most sanguine in her cause, began to despair. The time also for which the soldiers had enlisted, was now expired ; and the bad success of the preceding campaign had been so very discouraging, that no person was willing to engage bimself during the continuance of a war, of which the event appeared so doubtful. General Washington had the mortifying evidence of the daily decrease of his army; so that from thirty tho!sand, of which it consisted when general How« landed on Staten Island, scarce a tenth part could be mustered, General Lee had collected a body of troops to assist the commander in chief, but having imprudently taken up his Jodgings at a distance from the troops, information was given to colonel Harcourt, who happened at that time to be in the neighbourhood, and who took him prisoner.
The loss of this general was much regretted, the more especially as he was of superior quality to any prisoner in possession of the colonists, and could not therefore be exchanged. Six field officers were offered in exchange for him; and refused ; and congress was highly irritated at its being reported that he was to be treated as a deserter, har. ing been a half-pay officer in the British service at the commencement of the war. They therefore issued a proclamation, threatening to retaliate on the prisoners in their possession, whatever punishment should be inflicted on any of thcse taken by the British ; and especially that their conduct should be regulated by their treatment of general Lee.
Congress now proceeded with the utinost diligence to recruit their army ; and bound their soldiers to serve for the term of three years, or during the continuance of the
The army for the ensuing campaign, was to consist of eighty-eight battalions, of which each province was to contribute its quota ; and twenty dollars were offered as a bounty to each soldier, besides an allotment of lands at the end of the war. In this agreement it was stipulated, that each soldier should have one hundred acres, an ensign one hundred and fifty, a lieutenant two hundred, a captain three hundred, a major four hundred, a lieutenant colonel four hundred and fifty, and a colonel five hundred. Those who only enlisted for three years were not entitled to any lands. Those who were wounded in the service, both officers and soldiers, were to enjoy half-pay during life. To meet this expense, congress borrowed five millions of dollars at five per cent. for which the United States was security.
At the same time a declaration was published tending to animate the people to vigorous exertions, in which they set forth the necessity there was of taking proper methods for securing success. They endeavoured to palliate as much as possible, the misfortunes which had already happened ; and represented the true cause of the present distress to be the short term of enlistment.
This declaration, and the imminent danger of Philade! phia, rouzed the Americans to exert themselves to the u most, to obtain reinforcements for general Washington, army. An exploit of that general, however, did more to animate the Americans in the cause, than all the declar..