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The special attention of Congress to this most im- four hundred strong, and headed by Washington portant consideration, had been invoked in all the in person, crossed the river at M'Konkey's ferry, letters of their general, and they were at length about nine miles above Trenton. The night was induced to vote a permanent army, and to increase tempestuous with rain and sleet, and the river enthe pay of officers and soldiers: but these resolutions cumbered with quantities of floating ice, so that came too late for the present campaign, and the the passage, although begun soon after midnight, weak American force was daily thinned by the was not fully effected until three o'clock, and one dissolution of its component parts. Whole regi. hour more elapsed before the march could be ments retired in a body from the service; so that commenced. The Americans moved in two di. when the commander-in-chief crossed the Delaware visions, along the roads leading to the town, and in view of his pursuers, less than three thousand their operations were so well combined, and exmen bore the burthen of freedom and her fortunes. ecuted with such precision, that the two attacks
The American general had been sensible for on the British outposts were made within three some time that the only chance of arresting the minutes of each other. The pickets attempted reenemy's progress and recruiting his forces, was sistance, but were almost immediately driven in by a prudent use of the natural impediments pre- upon the main body, which was forming hurriedly sented by the river Delaware. All the boats for a in line. Colonel Rahl, their commander, soon distance of seventy miles, were therefore collected after fell mortally wounded; the confusion of the together and placed under strong guards: and the soldiery became irremediable, and after a loss of army was so posted as to cover the several fords about twenty killed, one thousand men laid down accessible to the British. When these arrange their arms and surrendered their munitions and ments were completed, and the immediate pressure artillery. On the American side, the loss in battle of a formidable pursuit removed, it was possible to amounted to only two killed and four wounded, inwait more patiently for the accession of re-inforce- cluding James Monroe, afterwards president of the ments. Fifteen hundred of the citizens of Phila- United States. delphia, embodied for the general defence, joined The other parts of this brilliant enterprise were the army in the neighbourhood of Trenton: General not, however, executed with the same success. Sullivan arrived with Lee's division, after the sur General Irvine had been instructed to cross at prise and capture of that incautious soldier by the Trenton ferry, and by securing a bridge below the enemy's cavalry: and with other additions, the town, to cut off the enemy's march along the BorAmerican forces found themselves augmented to dertown road. Notwithstanding all his exertions, seven thousand men. The British commander it was found that the ice had rendered the passage made repeated efforts to possess himself of the impracticable, and five hundred fugitives from the boats and force his passage across the river; but after disastrous field of Trenton, were thus enabled to several disappointments, he at length desisted and escape by a speedy and well-timed retreat. General began his preparations for retiring into winter Cadwallader was to have crossed at Dunk's ferry quarters. The main body of the army was cantoned and carried the post at Mount Holly; but the same between the Delaware and the Hackensack: about impediment prevented this movement also, and he four thousand men occupied positions between was compelled to return with a part of his infantry Trenton and Mount Holly, and strong detachments which had effected the passage. Deprived of this lay at Princeton, Brunswick, and Elizabethtown. important and expected co-operation, Washington The object of this dispersion over so wide an extent had nevertheless achieved a most critical and imof country, was to intimidate the people and thus portant triumph; he returned to his former position, prevent the possibility of recruiting for the conti. charged with the spoils and trophies of his foes, nental service; while in the spring these forces and from that moment—though reverses frequently could be immediately concentrated, and it was then dimmed the brilliancy of the prospect--hope never proposed to put an easy conclusion to all rebellious again deserted the cause of American independence. contumacy.
Sir William Howe had been fully apprised of the Washington was now aware that the desperate unfortunate condition of his adversary's affairs, and condition of his country's fortunes could only be he may well be excused for having treated the war retrieved by some equally desperate but successful as already at an end. New York was a British enterprise. With the exception of about fifteen garrison: New Jersey completely subdued and hundred effectives, his whole force would be entitled, occupied by his forces; while Pennsylvania, disin a few days, to its discharge: and there was no heartened and menaced with invasion, seemed about prospect of new accessions, while public opinion to relinquish all resistance, and prepared to terlooked upon the American arms as without glory minate the contest by surrender and submission. or even hope. The daring resolution was there. All the troops who were entitled to discharges, had fore adopted, of a combined and general assault quitted the ill-omened ranks of the continental upon all the British posts on the Delaware; in the army, and at the commencement of the new year, hope that success upon some one point would the dispersion would be almost complete. Nothing obliterate the remembrance of former disasters, then appeared to be necessary, but to wait until the and impress a lesson of wholesome caution upon ice should render the river passable, when such a the triumphant and contemptuous enemy.
blow could be directed against the American comEarly in the morning of the 26th of December mander, as would close finally the struggles of the 1776, the main body of the American army, twenty. young republic. In the midst of these cheering
prospects, he found himself suddenly assailed in his experienced officer, much respected by the com. positions—a part of his army cut off-and the war mander-in-chief. revived with new vigour by a skilful and indefati These remarkable movements upon Trenton and gable adversary. Notwithstanding the advanced Princeton, contain in themselves all the principles state of the season, active operations were at once of strategy which are usually considered the ori. resolved upon; and for this purpose the British ginal inventions of the French revolution.
As extroops were collected together in great strength and amples of a genius beyond the progress of the age, high state of preparation.
they are brilliant evidences of the military skill of 1777. The American general, encouraged by his the commander, and have received the meed of late brilliant success, now determined to contend unanimous admiration. Sir William Howe had for a footing in the state of Jersey. The army every reason to suppose that his arrangements repassed the Delaware and took post at Trenton, were those of a prudent and skilful general; his rewhere it soon found itself in front of a superior tirement into winter quarters during the incleforce, owing to a movement in advance of Lord mency of the season, was justified by the regular Cornwallis. A little creek called the Assumpink customs of the time, founded on the accepted conwas all that divided the two armies, but night clusions of military science. But he was opposed separated the combatants and afforded the oppor- to an adversary capable of detecting the errors of tunity for new combinations. It was evident to ancient dogmas, and strong enough to break their Washington that the conflict to which he was expo- trammels, when their fallacy stood unveiled before sed, presented no hope of a favourable result, and his judgment. We have seen Washington keeping that a retreat across the river before his present the field and preserving the vigour of his operaenemy appeared likely to prove a still more dis- tions, in spite of the rules which commanded inacastrous alternative. Amid these critical difficulties, tivity; and the British army found its divisions atthe daring resolution was taken to decamp from his tacked and defeated in detail, while they considered present position, gain the rear of the enemy at themselves in perfect safety under the shield of all Princeton, overthrow the division posted in that former experience. That principle of warfare town, and then move upon Brunswick, where å which was the secret of Napoleon's victories—the weak force guarded the principal depots of the production of a local superiority of force, by conBritish army. If these extensive operations were centration against a distant position—was evifollowed by an immediate pursuit on the part of dently a part of Washington's reasoning, and a Cornwallis, no apprehension was to be entertained main reliance for the success of his enterprises. for Philadelphia; but if, on the contrary, he pushed The two battles, though similar in their outlines, forward to that city, the injury, though severe, would were very different in point of conception and exebe indemnified by the loss of the magazines, the cution. The attack upon Trenton was a blow cutting up in detail of the British detachments, struck against an enemy in position, which admitand the complete reconquest of the state of Jersey. ted, therefore, of every advantage of preparation on
At one in the morning of the 3d of January, the the part of the assailant. The battle of Priaceton camp fires were renewed and the guard paraded as belonged to a higher and more elaborate order of usual; but the army had silently begun its move
tactics. The American forces were already engament upon Princeton, which was known to be oc ged with a superior army, commanded by an officer cupied by three British regiments. At a short of eminent reputation; and the change of plan was distance from the town they encountered two of wholly contrived and executed with the enemy in these regiments marching forward in order to co- front. It was entirely due to the prompt genius and operate in the expected battle; and a warm engage- fertile resources of Washington, that his army was ment immediately commenced. The American extricated from so perilous an exposure, and enageneral was well aware that the existence of his bled to attack the enemy's rear with such advantage country hung suspended in the scale of victory, and as to leave it no choice but surrender or flight.
A he exerted himself as one who knew the importance military critic, contemplating these inspirations of the object, and felt that success depended on his with a soldier's eye, can easily appreciate the feelcfforts. Wherever the fire was hottest, or the ings of the Great Frederick, when he sent a sword press of batile most fearful, Washington was sure to the American commander, as a gift from the to be found guiding the thunders of war, and ani. world's oldest general to its best. mating all by his language and example. At length As a natural result of these unexpected maneuthe British line was broken, and the two regiments vres, the British officers were thrown into a state of separated. Colonel Mawhood, with the division uncertainty, which gave to their subsequent operain the van, pushed rapidly forward for the main tions an unusual character of timidity. The distant army, while the fifty-fifth cut off from this point of roll of the American artillery at Princeton, first ansupport, fled in confusion across the fields to Bruns. nounced to Lord Cornwallis the danger of his rear wick. The Americans now pressed the remaining and the escape of his active adversary. Alarmed regiment, which at first attempted a defence in the for the safety of his magazines, the British comcollege; but this was soon abandoned, and those mander instantly broke up from the Assumpink, who were not captured escaped only by precipitate and commenced a forced march upon New BrunsAlight. The British loss amounted to one hundred wick; moving with such celerity, as nearly to killed, and three hundred prisoners; the conquer overtake the American rear at Princeton. On the ors had to lament the death of General Mercer, an other hand Sir William Howe drew in all his forces,
by concentration in the neighbourhood of Amboy captured also an armed schooner and a number of and Brunswick, and abandoned all hope of prevent vessels laden with forage. ing the recruiting service, by overawing the whole The whole continental army under the command extent of the country. Washington, finding the sur- of Washington, though much increased, numbered prise of the stores impossible, moved northward at the commencement of the campaign less than into the Highlands of Jersey, in order to afford some nine thousand men, of whom nearly one third were relief to the fatigues of his troops; for long and se confined to the hospitals. Exposed under these vere exposure to the inclemencies of the winter, circumstances to a greatly superior foe, the Fabian without the usual protections, had produced sick- policy of caution, delay and strong intrenchments, ness and even complaint. It was finally considered strongly recommended itself to the general in chief, necessary to abandon offensive operations, and to as the only system of warfare that offered a prospect put the army under cover at Morristown. Among of ultimate success. From the camp at Morrisother prudent precautions adopted during this tem town, the army was therefore removed to a fortified porary respite, the commander in chief caused the position at Middlebrook, where it commanded a whole army to be inoculated; an operation then full view of the enemy's operations, and of the most very uncommon in America, but which enabled him important points to which they were likely to be thereafter to defy a disease which had proved more directed. A body of militia, with a few regulars, fatal than the sword of the enemy.
under General Arnold, were also assembled on the The siluation of American affairs-though far western bank of the Delaware, to oppose the passfrom brilliant-was much improved by the late suc age of that river, in case it should be attempted by cesses. The people of Jersey rose with fresh spirit, the British. and in a number of small skirmishes inflicted loss The main object of Sir William Howe, was the upon the enemy both in men and stores: new hope capture of Philadelphia; but with a broad and was made to animate the public mind; while Con- guarded river in front, it was evident that no adgress fanned the flame by judicious and well-timed vance could be made until a blow had been struck incitements to vigorous action. Washington was against the main continental army. It was equally authorised to raise sixteen regiments, and in further plain that the lines at Middlebrook were too strong testimony of the public confidence, he was invested to be the object of direct attack. Sad experience for six months with almost dictatorial powers in had taught the British general liow formidable is the conduct of the war. It was, however, found to the slightest intrenchment protected by the fatal be impossible to collect a sufficient force for active fire of American musketry: his only chance was in operations upon any considerable scale during the the resources of strategy, by which he hoped to winter. All the hopes of the commander in chief seduce the American commander from his position were therefore turned to the next campaign; and in on the heights; to engage on equal terms in the the mean time, an active warfare was carried on broad plains of Jersey, and to obtain a signal victory with small posts and foraging parties, which great- by the power of numerical superiority. Accordly annoyed ihe British army; while the frequent re- ingly the British forces were made to assume the ports of fresh successes excited the spirit of the appearance of an immediate advance upon
PhiladelAmerican people. The most earnest applications phia: marches and countermarches were executed: were made to ihe several states, for reinforcements and every contrivance resorted to, that was considenlisted upon longer terms; for, as Washington ered likely to excite the anxiety of Washington, strongly observed,“ to the short engagements of our and to occasion an incautious change in his prutroops may be fairly and justly ascribed almost dent preparations. The object and plans of the every misfortune that we have experienced.” These enemy were, however, from the very beginning, representations produced at last their due impress- wisely foreseen and understood. The movements ion; and the hope was abandoned of defending the were followed; but nothing could entice the Americountry by hasty assemblages of militia, and of car can army from the strong fastnesses which always rying on a protracted warfare upon the impulse and covered their marches and encampments. Sir mere foundation of disinterested patriotism. The William Howe saw each day the same lowering safety of our firesides, and the honour of the Ame- cloud hanging above and around him; but he found rican arms must always require other and more also—like the ancient Carthaginian—that he had no efficient preparations.
power to disperse its threatening masses, or to When the season for active operations returned, command even its thunders to break upon him in Sir William Howe directed his first attention to the plain. the surprise and destruction of the American mag. The British commander was at length wearied azines. The town of Peekskill on the North river out by this unprofitable contest with an enemy who was used as a deposit for the munitions to be dis was neither to be deceived nor overpowered. Protributed among the troops in the Highlands: and at tected by their position, he fully appreciated the Danbury in Connecticut, there was a considerable physical force of the American army: and having collection of useful military stores. These places now fully tested the skill of his adversary, he was were attacked by means of expeditions forwarded satisfied that there was nothing to be gained in the in shipping, and much damage was done not easily conflict of military science. A new plan was thererepaired. On the other side, the British stores at fore resolved upon, which in its first step involved Sagg harbour on Long Island, were destroyed by a nothing less than the total abandonment of the state bold movement executed by Colonel Meigs: who 'of New Jersey. The British forces fell back to
Amboy, closely followed and constantly harassed burthen of at least one apprehension. The Ame. by the light divisions and skirmishers of the conti: rican forces were now moved towards the Delanental army.
Sir William Howe made one last ware, with the exception of strong detachments of effort to reach the rear of his pursuers, and by disciplined troops, which marched northward as cutting them off from the high grounds to compel reinforcements to the army under Gates. The a battle; but when this was again defeated by the character of Washington was too noble and eleprudence of Washington, he gave up all hope of vated to feel any of the emotions of professional victory, and passed over to Staten Island for the jealousy. He kuew the immense public advantage purpose of embarkation.
that would be derived from the defeat of Burgoyne; The American general had now completely and he saw with the practised eye of a soldier, that achieved a great and wonderful triumph. With a the movement of Sir William Howe, by opening force exhibiting rather the shadow than the reality all the communications, had exposed his colleague of an army, opposed to an enemy superior in num to a combined attack from the concentrated forces ber, and still more in every thing that constitutes of the union. Pressing letters were written to the efficiency in war, he had nevertheless successfully various governors of New England, explaining the protected the chief city of America, won battles, crisis, and the importance of immediate exertions. captured trophies, and finally expelled the British The marches were hastened of all the officers and from their proud and important conquest of a troops who could be spared upon the expedition; whole state. Never in the history of warfare was in short, every precaution was adopted which the a greater result obtained by means so inadequate; most zealous foresight could suggest, for the adand of the success itself, never was more due to the vancement of its own personal and immediate glory, talent, the energy and the wisdom of the com Time, the great unraveller of all mysteries, at mander-in-chief.
length fully developed the projects of the British The plans of Howe now became matters of deep commander. In the last days of July 1777, the interest, and engrossed a great share of Washing: fleet appeared off the capes of Delaware, but the ton's vigilance and anxiety. With the full com difficulties of the river navigation induced Sir mand of the ocean, and a powerful fleet, the British William Howe to alter a part of his plan, and general possessed the means of landing his large to transport his army by the more circuitous army on any part of the long line of the American route of the Chesapeake. Unfavourable winds coast, and of attacking important positions while further delayed the voyage until the 25th. of comparatively unprepared and defenceless. There August; on that day, eighteen thousand men, in were many points, anyone of which was well worthy the most perfect state of military preparation and of the labour of a special expedition; but only two efficiency, landed at the head of Elk river, for de of these fixed Washington's attention, as likely to purpose of terminating the war by a decisive blow attract the immediate notice of his adversary. The against the chief city of the continental Congress. mountainous passes commanding the navigation of Washington, on his part, had made all the arthe North river, had long been in the possession rangements suggested by experience and access of the continentals, and were the sources of con ible to bis limited means. The various divisions stant annoyance to the British communications. As of the army were concentrated about Philadelphia, General Burgoyne was known to have assembled a and marched to the Brandywine. General Smallgreat force upon the lakes, for the purpose of de- wood was ordered to assemble the Maryland miscending upon the state of New York, it appeared litia at the head of the bay, and to co-operate with probable that Sir William Howe would endeavour the Delaware troops against the British rear; to effect a junction of the two armies, after forcing the hardy militia of Pennsylvania joined the main the American posts, and clearing the obstructions body in considerable force, but owing to the exwhich they had so long presented. On the other treme deficiency of the commissariat, great numhand, the capture of Philadelphia was an object of bers were left, from necessity, unprovided with at least equal interest, and there were many cir. arms. When the whole army was collected tocumstances connected with the British prepara gether, the effectives, including irregulars, were tions, which seemed to announce something more about eleven thousand men; and with this force considerable than a mere river voyage. A part of Washington occupied a position behind the Redthe continental army under General Sullivan was Clay creek, on the main road between the city and pushed forward to Pompton Plains, for the purpose Sir William Howe's centre of operations. of approaching the Highlands; but the main body The main body of the British army, on arriving was still so posted as to cover the strong camp at near the American camp, made demonstrations of Middlebrook. In the letters of the American an immediate intention to attack; but the wary general to congress, he exhibited the dangers to general-in-chief was soon satisfied that this movewhich the city was exposed, and strongly recom ment was a mere feint, intended to cover the real mended the strengthening of the fortifications on object of cutting off his communications with Phil. the Delaware, and the increasing of the obstruc adelphia. He therefore crossed the Brandywine tions that had been cast into the channel of the with all his forces, and took post at Chadd's Ford, river.
on that stream, extending his line above and below, The British army at length embarked, and as so as to cover other fords accessible to the enemy. the winds bore them from the coast, the mind of He had now reached the ground upon which he the continental commander was relieved from the was determined to risk that general battle so long
sought for by his adversary, and which was now marched along the Lancaster road, for the purpose required for the preservation of the city, by public of inviting another contest with their elated adopinion and the expressed wishes of Congress. versaries.
On the 10th of September, Sir William Howe The advanced parties of the two armics met on collected his forces at Kennett's Square, about the 16th of September, in the neighbourhood of the seven miles from his adversary, and with no ob. Warren Tavern, about twenty-three miles from the stacle between them except the little stream of the city; upon which a sharp skirmish was carried on, Brandywine. The next day, a strong column under until the combatants were separated by a heavy General Knyphausen, advanced to Chadd's Ford, storm. The American troops were never exposed skirmished with the American parties, and assumed to greater peril than that to which they were the appearance of a disposition to force the passage brought on this occasion, by the power of the eleof the river. Intelligence was however sent to Wash ments and their deficiency in the common tools of ington, that a detachment of five thousand men, warfare. Their cartridge-boxes were so badly with a number of cannons, had moved up the coun made as to afford no sufficient cover to the ammutry to cross at the forks of the Brandywine; and he nition, and the gun-locks being ill secured, became therefore resolved to take advantage of the tempo wholly unfit for service. As no alternative was rary separation, by an immediate attack upon the now left to soldiers unprovided with bayonets, column in front. Before this plan was carried Washington was compelled to order a retreat to into effect, other reports rendered extremely doubt the Yellow Springs, and to abandon reluctantly his fui both the real nature of the British movement, plan of battle. A farther retreat to Warwick and the number of troops engaged in it. With a Furnace, on the south branch of French creek, was foe so much his superior in force, a bold manœuvre, afterwards found necessary; for, by a general inlike the one contemplated, was not to be adven spection of arms, the unfortunate truth was ascer. tured on without the most positive information; tained, that scarcely one musket in a whole regifor once fully exposed on the other side of the ment was capable of being discharged, and the car. Brandywine, there would have been no retreat left tridges were in a condition equally alarming. The for the Americans, nor any possibility of success. British army halted during two days, in conseThe first intelligence was at length confirmed; but quence of the extreme severity of the weather. It Lord Cornwallis had already effected his passage was about this time that General Wayne, detached at the forks, and after a circuitous march of seven
circuitous march of seven. by Washington for the purpose of harassing the teen miles, was advancing in force to the attack. enemy's rear, was surprised by General Gray, and Wayne's division remained at Chadd's Ford, op- obliged to fall back with considerable loss. A posed to Knyphausen; the three divisions of Sul- court.martial, assembled at Wayne's request to inlivan, Sterling and Stephens marched up the river quire into the circumstances of his disaster, unanito check the British detachment, while Wash- mously acquitted him of all blame, declaring “that ington took post in the centre, about equidistant he had done every thing to be expected from an acfrom the two wings.
tive, brave and vigilant officer.” About four o'clock in the afternoon, Lord Corn Sir William Howe advanced to the Schuylkill wallis encountered the American right; this divi- and fixed his camp in front of the Americans, exsion was defeated after a brisk engagement, but tending from French Creek to the Fatland Ford. Washington checked the pursuit by a movement From this point he reconnoitred the strong from the centre. Knyphausen now made a real at position assumed by Washington, which deterred tack for the purpose of gaining Chadd's Ford, him from his original plan of attack, and changed upon which Wayne effected an orderly retreat, his movement into a march upon Philadelphia. having learned the ill success of the first conflict. Popular clamour, which has so often conquered the Thus terminated the battle of Brandywine. The
The better judgment of generals, now loudly required continental army arrived next day unmolested at that a great battle should be fought for the defence Philadelphia, having lost three hundred killed, six of the American metropolis : the commander-inhundred wounded (including General La Fayette) chief-with that generous intrepidity which formed and between three and four hundred prisoners. one of his noblest characteristics—resolved to withThe British loss was officially stated at one hun- stand the torrent by declining a conflict that could dred killed and four hundred wounded. The im- only terminate in the destruction of the cause of mediate causes of the check sustained by the Ame- his country. Congress removed from the city and ricans on this occasion, are found in the inexpe- immediately re-assembled at Lancaster. On the rience of the troops engaged, and the great defi- twenty-sixth of September, Philadelphia fell into ciency in their fire-arms, which were of unequal the hands of Sir William Howe: but the precautions calibres, and therefore badly fitted by the car of the American general saved the public property, tridges; but in every event, the formidable supe. by a timely removal of the military stores up the riority in numbers on the side of the British, could river Delaware. have left no hope of a positive victory. The results The expected reinforcements of regulars and of the battle were treated by Congress and the militia having generally reached the American army as far from decisive. The former passed camp, Washington with his army of eleven thouvigorous resolutions, and evinced no intention of sand men, gradually approached the city, for the quitting their place of session.
The latter re double purpose of observing the enemy and selectcrossed the Schuylkill, after a short repose, and ing the proper moment for attack. He found a