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General Washington divided has army, leaving 4500 in the city of New York, and posting 6,500 at Hearlem, and 12,000 at Kingsbridge.* On the hills at, or in the neighborhood of these places forts had been erected, which the troops garrisoned. The strongest was Fort Washington, nigh Hearlem, of difficult access, and overlooking the North-River, the passage of which it was meant to secure by the aid of Fort Lee, opposite to it on the Jersey side. When it became clear to the general, that the enemy meant to throw their whole army between part of his in New-York and its environs, and the remainder about Kingsbridge, he removed his quarters to col. Roger Morris's, ten miles from New York, and not very distant from Fort Washing: ton. The day before the committee of congress met lord Howe, kve ships of war were sent up the East River ; on which it was thought necessary to evacuate the city as fast as possible, and to remove the sick, the ordnance, stores and provisions. Colonel Glover was employed in this service ; he began upon it about nine at night. By sun rise the next morning, his brigade had got safe over the Jerseys, the sick in and about the city amounting to 500. On the Saturday, he was ordered to have the tents struck, and the heavy baggage carried down the North-River to be transported up in boats, while the tents and light baggage were carried up in waggons. This was completed about nine at night, when an alarm took place; and he was ordered to march his brigade to Haerlent to join gen. M’Dougall, leaving the whole baggage of two regiments behind, which afterward fell into the enemy's hands. The next morning they marched to Kingsbridge. The poor lads had just unslung their packs, when up drives an express with an account that the enemy were landa ing : on which they marched back without any kind of refresh. ment, joined five other brigades, about 7000, and formed on Haerlem plains.
General Howe, having fully prepared for a descent on NewYork Island, embarked a strong division of the army under the command of gen. Clinton and others, in boats at the head of Newtown inlet and at another place higher up, where they could not be observed by the Americans, who expected that the attack would be made on the side next to the East-River, and had therefore thrown up works and lines to defend themselves. (Sept. 15.] About eleven o'clock, gen. Howe's troops landed, under cover of the five ships of war, in two divisions, between Kep'sbay and Turtle-bay, the Hessians in one place and the British in another. As soon as gen. Washington heard the firing of the
* Colonel Glover's letter.
shot der was inche enemy ped his
men of war, he rode with all dispatch toward the lines; but to his great mortification, found the troops posted in them retreating with the utmost precipitation; and those ordered to support them, Parsons and Fellow's brigades, flying in every direction, and in the greatest confusion. His attempts to stop them were fruitless though he drew his sword and threatened to run them through, cocked and snapped his pistols. On the appearance of a small part of the enemy, not more than sixty or seventy, their disorder was increased, and they ran off without firing a single shot, and left the general in a hazardous situation, so that his attendants, to extricate hint out of it, caught the bridle of his horse, and gave him a different direction. Three large ships were stationed in the North-River, opposite to those in the EastRiver; both of thein kept up a constant cannonading with grape shot and langrage quite arcoss the island. . The Hessians upon their landing, seized and secured in a neighbouring building as enemies, some persons, who had been placed there to serve as guides, which for a while subjected them to difficulty. When the British were completely landed, they marched on toward the Kingsbridge road. The American brigades, that had fled upon the enemy's approaching the lines, stopped not till met by col. Glover's and the five other bridges, who were hastening down to them, Upon the junction, the whole marched forward and took post on some heights, when all at once, about 8000 of he enemy as was thought, hove in sighton the next heightand halted. Gen. Washington at first consented to his troops marching for ward to give them battle ; but on a second consideration, counter-ordered as he could not have any dependence on the militia and the flying camp, which composed half the number then present. When the Americans were withdrawn and no prospect of action remained, the British generals repaired to the house of Mr. Robert Murray, a gentleman of the quaker persuasion. The lady of the house being at home, entertained them most civilly, with what served for, or was cakes and wine. They were well pleased with the entertainment and tarried there near two hours or more ; gov. Tryon seasoning the repast, at times, by joking Mrs. Murray about her American friends, for she was known to be a steady advocate for the liberties of the country. Meanwhile, the Hessians and the British, except a strong corps which marched down the road to take possessions of the city, remained upon their arms inactive; which gave gen. Puinam the opportunity of escaping with about 3500 men, including the guards, who had been left to shift for themselves, when colonel Glover had been ordered away from New-York. The general in order to escape any troops that night be advancing upon the direct road to the city, betook himself to that wbich lies along side the North-River, and marched to the end, where it turns ofi short to the right, and leads on to another and norrower, that goes to Blooming-dale. By this last road, he avoided every dangerous approach to the enemy, and retreated with safety. But nothing could have been easier than to have prevented his getting into it. A good body of troops with two field pieces, in about 20 minutes or less, could have taken such a position as would have necessarily cut off Putnam's retreat. Col. Grayson has repeatedly said speaking humorously, “Mrs. Murray saved the American army.” On the day that gen. Howe's forces landed and the following one thev made prisoners 354 privates and 17 offi. cers. * Many think the general was greatly mistaken in landing on the island instead of throwing his army around it above Kings: bridge, and thereby hemming in the whole body of the Americans at once. Such a manæuvre they view as having been within the compass of easy practice, considering what a nayal and military apparatus he had at his service.
(Sept. 16.] On the Monday there was a tolerable skirmish be, tween two battalions of light infantry and highlanders, and three companies of Hessian riflemen commanded by brigadier Leslie, and detachments from the American army under the command of lieut. col. Knolton, of Connecticut, and major Leich of Virginia. The col. received a mortal wound, and the major three balls through his body, but is likely to do well. Their parties behaved with great bravery, and being supplied with fresh troops, beat the enemy fairly from the field. The lost of the Americans except in col. Knolton, a most valuable and gallant officer was inconsiderable ; that of the enemy between 80 and 100 wounded, and 15 or 20 killed. This little advantage inspired the Americans prodigiously. They found it required only resolution and good officers to make an enemy, they stood too much in dread of, give way.t The men will fight if led on by good officers, and as certainly run away if commanded by scoundreis. Sunday wasan instance of the last, and the next day a confirmation of the first assertion. On Sunday, the officers, instead of heading and leading the men on to attack the enemy when landing, were the first to scamper off.
(Sept. 21.) A few day after the British had possessed them selves of New York, a most terrible fire happened. A thousand houses, near one fourth of the city, were laid in ashes. Trinity church, the publiccharity school, therector's house, and a Lutherapy
* The board of war.
chapel were among the buildings which were consumed. The loss sustained in houses, &c. by the corporation of Trinity church, is thought, upon a moderate computation, to be more than
£.15,600 sterling. The fire broke out at a dram-shop, close in with the water side, on Whitchall-slip, about one o'clock in the morning. The reports spread of its breaking out in several places at the same time, were erroneous. Every thing was very dry, and a brisk southerly wind blew. The flaines soon caught the neighboring houses, spread, raged with inconceivable vio. lence, and made all the subsequent havock. There were few citizens in town; and the fire engines and pumps were out of order. Two regiments went immediately to the place, and nia. ny boats full of men were sent from the fleet; to these, under Providence, it was owing that the whole city was not reduced to áshes. A gentleman* who was at Bergen (opposite the spot where the fire first broke out) saw it soon after it began, observed its progress, and is persuaded that it was not purposely kindled, but was merely accidental, 7 and the probable consequence of the sailors having been suffered to go on shore the day before to regale and frolic. The dryness of the materials, the Brisk southerly wind, and the covering of the houses (shingles instead of slate or tiles) easily account for its spreading, without calling in the aid of incendiaries.
A brigadier wriies concerning the animosity in the American army above noticed—“ It has already risen to such a height, that the Pennsylvania and New-England troops would as soon fight each other as the eneiny. Officers of all ranks are indiscriminately treated in a most contemptible manner, and whole colonies traduced and vilified as cheats, knaves, cowards, paltroons, hypocrites, and every terın of reproach, for no other reason but because they are situated east of New-York. Every honoris paid to the merit of good men from the south; the merit, if such. be possibie, from the north, is not acknowledged; but if too apparent to be blasted with faishood, is carefully buried in. obiivion. The cowardice or misbehavior of the south, is carefully covered.over, the least 'misconduct in the gentlemen of the north, is published with large comments and aszravations."
Congress have at length adopted a new code for the government of the army. It was become absolutely necessary. “No . laws can be too severe for the government of men who live by: the sword, and who have this only reply for their ravages--quis negat arma tenenti ?” This was the language of a gentleman
* Mr. Griffiths, of New York,
t. The fame was confirmed to me by other gentlemen, while at NewYork, August 1785. VOL. 11.
whose concern in the army gave him the best opportunity of pros curing certain information; and who said further to a member of congress-—Absolute tyranny is essential to the government of an army, and every man who carries arms, from the general officer to the private sentinel, must be content to be a temporary flave, if he would serve his country as a soldier. Almost every villanny and rascality that can disgrace the mar, the soldier or the citizen, is daily practised without meeting the punishment they merit. So many of our officers want honor, and so many of our soldiers want virtue, civil, social, and military, that nothing but the severest punishments will keep both from practices which must ruin us. The infamous and cruel ravages, which have been made on the wretched distressed inhabitants of this unfortunate island (New-York) by many of our soldiers, must disgrace and expose our army to detestation. I have heard some tales of woe, occasioned by the robberies of our army, which would extort
sighs from the hearts of tygers. Our men are at present only rob, · bers; that they will soon be murderers unless some are hanged,
I have little doubt." The difficulty which the army has been under, from the want of almost every necessary, tents, campket, tles, blankets and clothes of every kind, may have contributed toward the cause of these complaints. Unless the men can get supplied in a regular way, they will be inclined, notwithstanding the most positive general orders to the contrary, to help them. selves, however irregularly; and when once they begin to tres. pass from necessity, they are tempted to proceed for conven, ience or pleasure.
[Sept. 24.] Nearly at the same time, an officer high in rank and much esteemed, communicated his thoughts in these words: - We are now upon the eye of another dissolution of the ar. my. Unless some speedy and effectual measures are adopted by congress, our cause will be lost. The few who act upon princk ples of disinterestedness are, comparatively speaking, no more than a drop in the ocean. As the war must be carried on systematically, you níust establish your army upon a permanent footing, and give your officers good pay, that they may be, and sups port the character of gentlemen, and not be driven, by a scanty allowance, to the low and dirty arts, which many of them prace tise, tu filch the public of more than the difference of pay would amount to. The me'n must be engaged by a good bounty for the continuance of the war. To depend upon militia is assuredly resting on a broken staff. They cannot brook subordination. It would be cheaper to keep fifty or hundred thousand in constant. pay, than depend upon half the number, and supply the other half occasionally by militia. If I was to declare upon oath, whether