« 이전계속 »
whole corps of artillery, on this occasion, exhibited the firmness and persevering courage that would have honoured veteran troops. A few corps gave way as soon as pressed by the enemy, and their deficiency exposed those who bravely did their duty. General Howe stated bis loss, in this action, at one hundred killed and four hundred wounded.
The defeat of Brandywine produced no depression of spirits upon Congress, the army, or the country. Measures were immediately taken to reinforce the army.
Fifteen hundred men were marched from Peck's Kill, and large detachments of militia ordered into the field. The Commander in Chief was empowered to impress all horses, waggons, and provisions necessary for the army. In orders, the General expressed his high satisfaction at the behaviour of the body of his army in the late engagement. Having allowed bis troops a short repose, he faced about to meet the enemy, fully resolved to try his fortune in a general action, before he resigned Philadelphia to the royal commander.
Sept. 15.] General Washington, perceiving that the enemy were moving into the Lancaster road, towards the city, took possession of ground near the Warren tayern, on the left of the British, and twenty-three miles from Philadelphia. The protection of his stores at Reading was one object of this movement. The next morning he was informed of the approach of the British a my. He immediately put his troops in motion to engage the enemy. The advance of the two hostile armies met and began to skirmish, when rain fell, and soon increased to a violent storm. This providentially prevented a general engagement, and rendered the retreat of the Americans absolutely necessary. The inferiority of the muskets in the hands of the American soldiery, which had been verified in every action, was strikingly illustrated in this retreat. The gun locks were badly made, and the cartridge boxes imperfectly constructed ; and this storm rendered most of the arms unfit for use; and all the ammunition was damaged. The army was of consequence extremely exposed, and their danger became the greater, as many of the soldiers were destitute of bayonets. Fortunately the tempest, which produced such serious mischief to the Americans, prevented the pursuit of the British.
General Washington, finding his troops unfitted for action, relinquished, from necessity, the immediate intention of a battle, and continued bis retreat through the day, and most of the night, amidst a cold and tempestuous rain, and in very deep roads. On a full discovery of the extent of the damage to the arms and ammunition, the General ascended the Schuylkil, and crossed it at Warwick furnace, to obtain a fresh supply of ammunition, and to refit or replace the defective muskets. He still resolved to risk a general engagement, for the safety of the capital. (Sept. 19.] He recrossed the Schuylkill at Parker's ferry, and encamped east of that river, on both sides of Parkyomy creek, and detachments were posted at the different fords, at which the enemy might attempt
to force a passage.
As the British army approached the river, General Washington posted his army in their front; but, instead of forcing a passage, Sir William moved rapidly up the road towards Reading. The American Commander, supposing that his object was to destroy the military stores at that place, and to turn the right flank of the American army, marched up the river to Pottsgrove, leaving the lower road to the city open to his antagonist. Sir William Howe awailed himself of the opportunity, and on the 16th, entered Philadelphia in triumph.
General Washington had seasonably taken the precaution to remove the public stores from the city, and to secure for the use of the army, those
, articles of merchandize, which their wants rendered of primary necessity. Colonel Hamilton, then one of General Washington's aids, had been sent into the city on this important business. By bis instructions, he was directed to proceed in his requisitions upon the stores and shops of Philadelphia, cautiously but effectually.
" Your own prudence will point out the least exceptionable means to be pursued, but remember delicacy, and a strict adherence to the ordinary mode of application, must give place to our necessities. We must, if possible, accomodate the soldiers with such articles as they stand in need of; or we shall have just reason to appielend the most injurious and alarming consequelss from the ar proaching season.”
From the landing of the British ariny at the head of the Elh, on the both of August, to the
26th of September, when they entered Philadelphia, the American troops had encountered a continued series of active operations, and the duty of the General was complicated and arduous. During this time, the soldiers were destitute of baggage, insufficiently supplied with provisions, and deprived of the comforts that administer to the support of the human frame under severe fatigue. Without covering, they were exposed to heavy rains, and obliged to march, many of them without shoes, in deep roads, and to ford considerable streams.
The best British writers, who have given us an history of the revolutionary war, highly applaud the generalship of Sir William Howe in this part of the campaign. Can they then withhold applause from the American Commander, who maneuvred an inferior army in the face of the British General, and detained him thirty days, in marching sixty miles, from the head of Elk river to Philadelphia, in a country in which there was not one fortified post, nor a stream that might not, at this season be every
where forded ; who fought one battle, and although beaten, in five days again faced his enemy with the intention to risk a general engage. ment; who, when in the moment of action, was providentially necessitated to retreat, with muskets and ammunition unfit for use, extricated himself from his perilous situation, and once more placed himself in front of the invading foe; who at last was induced to open the Philadelphia road to the British General, not because he was beaten in the field, but through the influence of oircum:
stances, which no military address could counteract.
Four regiments of grenadiers were posted in Philadelphia, and the other corps of the British army were cantoned at Germantown. The first object of Sir William was to subdue the defences and remove the impediments of the Delaware, that a communication might be opened with the British shipping
General Washington made every effort to prevent the execution of the enemy's design, in the hope of forcing General Howe out of Philadelphia, by preventing supplies of provisions from reaching him. Of the attainment of this important object he had no doubt, could the passage of the Delaware be rendered impracticable. To this purpose works had been erected on a bank of mud and sand in the river, near the confluence of the Schuylkill, and about seven miles below Philadelphia. The place, from these works, was denominated Fort Island, and the works themselves Fort Mifflin. On a neck of land on the opposite shore of New Jersey, called Red Bank, a fort was constructed and mounted with heavy artillery, and called Fort Mercer. Fort Island and Red Bank were distant from each other half a mile. In the channel of the Delaware, which ran between them, two ranges of chevaux de frize were sunk. These consisted of, large pieces of timber, strongly framed together, and pointed with iron; and they completely obstructed the passage of ships.
of ships. These works were covered by several gallies, floating batteries, and armed ships.