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and roused the energies, of the friends of American independence.
In the month of March, 1777, General Howe sent a party of five hundred men, under Colonel Bird, who destroyed the American stores at Peekskill, about fifty miles from New-York. Washington had in vain cautioned the commissaries not to collect large quantities of provisions in places accessible to shipping ; but they neglected his prudent advice, and discovered their error when too late. Soon after this incursion, Gen. Tryon embarked at New-York with a detachment of two thousand men to destroy the stores at Danbury, in Connecticut. The British accomplished their object, but it cost them dear, for they were attacked by the Americans, who harrassed them in their retreat to the ships.
Though the spring was now far advanced, the British army was prevented from taking the field, through the want of camp equipage. This delay gave Washington leisure to make the requisite preparations for the ensuing campaign.
Though vested with extraordinary powers to raise troops, he found it very difficult to keep those he had, together. A few were influenced by the persuasion of tbeir officers,
to remain and defend the common cause, but the major part of the army were induced to serve, by their attachment to their general. Indeed, the high estimation in which he was held by his countrymen, was of the greatest efficacy on many occasions, and now it absolutely prevented the troops from disbanding themselves.
The recruits supplied by the several provinces, fell short of the intended number
; vet, while the British troops were detained at New-York, Washington received numerous reinforcements. He now moved from his winter encampment at Morristown, to the highlands around Middle-Brook, in the vicinity of Brunswick. In this strong position, he threw up works along the front of his lines, but his principal advantage was the difficulty to approach his camp, the ground being so judiciously occupied as to expose the enemy to every kind of danger in an attack. On the one side he covered the Jersies, and on the other he observed the motions of the British army at Brunswick, of which he commanded a full prospect.
Many stratagems were employed by the British general to draw Washington from this strong siiuation, but without effect, so that it was found necessary to make an attempt on Philadelphia by sea.
On the 23d of July the British fleet sailed from Sandy Hook with thirty-six battalions of British and Hessian infantry, a regiment of light dragoons, and a corps of American loyalists on board. After a tedious navigation, the fleet entered Chesapeak Bay, and was conducted as far up the river Elk as was prac-* ticable. Here the army landed without opposition on the 25th of August. Part of the troops was left to guard the stores, while General Howe proceeded with the main body to the head of the Elk.
When Washington received the information that the British Aeet had sailed Chesapeak, he marched with all possible expedition to the defence of Philadelphia.---His army, amounting to fourteen thousand, passed through that city to meet the Britisi forces, which consisted of fifteen thousand... He encamper! on the Brandywine Creek, about midway from the Elk to Philadelphia, and sent detachments to harrass the Britislı army on their march.
On the approach of the enemy, Washington retired to the side of the Creek, next Philadelphia, with a determination to dispute the passage. On the 11th of September, the royal army advanced to the attack at day break, and after a well contested battle,
which lasted till night, the Americans were defeated with the loss of one thousand killed and wounded, besides four hundred taken prisoners. On the side of the conquerors, the loss did not exceed five hundred. The victory was so complete, that darkness alone prevented the pursuit, and consequent destruction or capture of the whole provincial army. The greatest valour had been displayed by the officers and soldiers on both. sides. Among the American troops who distinguished themselves most, were the Virginians, who, from their affection to Washington, had, on all occasions, evinced the greatest intrepidity and enthusiasm.
Immediately affer the battle, the Americans retired to Chester, whence Washington wrote an account of his defeat to the President of Congress. His letter is dated at twelve o'clock at night, and is, perhaps, the most faithful picture ever given of the reflections of a great mind amid disaster and difficulty. His troops, though defeated, were not dispirited, and they considered their misfortune rather as the consequence of superior skill on the side of their enemies, than as proceeding from any defect of valour on theirs.
General Howe continued his march to Philadelphia, while Washington retired to
wards Lancaster, an inland town at considerable distance from that city. When the British general was apprised of this movement, he advanced with a determination to compel him to another action, but a heavy fall of rain prevented him, and enabled the provincials to avoid the danger.
Meanwhile, Washington posted several detachments in such a manner as to command all the roads to the British encampment. An ambuscade, consisting of fifteen hundred men, commanded by Gen. Wayne, lay concealed in the depth of a forest that stood at a small distance, in the rear of the
When Gen. Howe received intelligence of this ambuscade, he dispatched Gen. Grey with a party to surprise it. This enterprise was conducted with singular address and intrepidity. The General ordered his men not to fire a single shot; he advanced in silence to the out-posts of the eneniy, which were secured without noise. It was now between twelve and one; the main body were retired to rest.
On the approach of the British, however, they were alarmed, ran to arms, and incautiously paraded in the light of their fires, by which they were exposed to the enemy. The British party rushed upon them with their bayonets, and killed