« ПредишнаНапред »
station itself between the camp and that city, all would be inevitably lost.
In this extremity, Washington exerted all his characteristic vigilance, and circumspection. In the night of the 29th of August, favoured by darkness, and in the most profound silence, he conveyed his troops on board the boats, and landed them on the opposite shore. He also carried off as much of their baggage, military stores, and artillery, as the time would permit. This retreat was conducted with so much secrecy, that with the dawn, the British troops were surprised to see the rear guard of the American army in the boats, and beyond the reach of danger.
When Washington returned with the army to New York, he ordered batteries to be erected on every spot whence they could annoy the ships of war, which were now station ed in that part of the river which faces the city.
The men of war were continually engaged with those batteries, some of which they silenced, and enabled the British troops to proceed
up the river, to a bay about three miles distant. Here the troops landed, under the cannon of the fleet, and marched directly to. wards the city, on which Washington retreated with his men to the north of York Island. On this occasion, he lost a great part of his artillery and military stores, yet he engaged the British troops wherever he could make an advantageous stand.
Washington had been particularly careful to fortify the pass called King's Bridge, and had chosen this position for his army, with the greatest judgement. He could advance or retire at pleasure, without any danger of being cut off in a case of defeat. Though he was determined not to risk a general engagement; yet in order to inure his troops to actual service, and at the same time annoy the enemy, he employed them in continual skirmishes, in consequence of which they gradually became expert soldiers.
Their distance from the British encampment was about two miles, and as the situation of the two armies was very inconvenient for the British general, he resolved to compel General Washington to relinquish his strong situation.
The Americans were accused of a design of burning the city of New York at the time of evacuation ; the precipitation with which they had been obliged to retreat, prevented that measure, but they left some persons behind to carry it into execution. In the dead of the night, those incendiaries took advantage of the dry weather, and a high wind, and set the city on fire in several places at the same time. The conflagration was terrible; and notwithstanding the activity of the soldiers and sailors, in extinguishing the flames, about one fourth part of the city was destroyed. Several of those who were said to be the incendiaries, were treated without mercy, insomuch that the incensed seamen and soldiers instantly seized and threw them into the fire.
It was now determined to force the Americans to a greater distance, lest others of their einissaries should engage in a similar attempt to destroy the city. Accordingly, General Howe left a sufficient garrison at New-York, and embarked his army in flat-bottomed boats, by which they were conveyed through the dangerous passage called Hell Gate, and landed near the town of West-Chester, on the continent. After having received fresh reinforcements, the royal army made such movements as threatened to distress the Americans, by cutting off their supplies of provisions from Connecticut, and thus force them to an engagement.
Washington eld a council of war with his officers, in which it was resolved to quit
their present position, and extend the army in a long but well secured line. This the
general accomplished, by keeping the Brunx, a river of considerable length, in front between the two armies, with the North River on his rear.
On the 28th of October, at break of day, the British troops, divided into two columns, advanced towards the White-Plains, an extent of high ground, full of craggy hills and defiles.
The Americans maintained their ground in front till noon, when they were attacked with such vigour by the British army, that they were compelled to retire to their entrenchments.
During the night, Washington, ever intent on the defence and preservation of his army, ordered several additional works to be thrown up
in front of the lines, in consequence of which the English General thought it imprudent to attack him till the arrival of reinforcements.
On mature deliberation, however, Washington thought it advisable to retreat; his camp was broken up on the first of November, and he retired with his army into a mountainous country, called the Township of Newcastle. By these judicious movements,
he avoided a general action. was to harrass the enemy, and habituate his men to danger, so that, when the emergency required it, they might be able to act with energy
“The same short sighted politicians, says Dr. Ramsay, who hid before censured Gen. Washington, for his cautious conduct, in not storming the British lines at Boston, renewed their clamours against him, for adopting this evacuating and retreating system. Supported by a consciousness of his own integrity, and by a full conviction that those measures were best calculated for securing the independence of America, he, for the good of his country, voluntarily subjected his fame to be overshadowed by a temporary cloud.”
When General Ilowe found that all his attempts to bring the enemy to an action were ineffectual, he turned his attention to the reduction of Forts Washington and Lee. A division of his army advanced to King'sBridge, from which the Americans withdrew into Fort Washington, which was immediately invested. This fort was situated on the western side of New York island, in the vicinity of the city, and nearly opposite to Fort Lee, which had been lately erected on the other side of the water, in the state of Jer