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whose retreat it was designed to favor, effected their escape over marsh and creek, with the loss of a single man drowned." In his official report, Lord Howe speaks of numbers who perished in crossing the inlet. But this, I am convinced, is incorrect. The self-devoted heroes of this exploit were surrounded, and made prisoners of war.
We may readily conceive with what feelings their brethren in the camp beheld the undeserved ill fortune of the troops engaged in the action. General Putnam, a warrior of the true stamp, constrained to remain within the fortifications, and so little prepared for the events of the day, as to be only able, where the enemy appeared, to detach troops to meet them, saw with dismay the manœuvre which made them masters of the field. His efforts had all along been directed to General Grant's motions. For the defence in front, he relied on General Sullivan to provide, and great was his surprise, on seeing the enemy turn that officer's flank. As the engagement between Lord Stirling and General Grant grew warmer, his attention was attracted by the broadside which the British frigate Roebuck opened upon the Red Hook battery in his rear. Too late aware of his mistake, he was compelled to await the issue.
At this juncture, General WASHINGTON reached the lines, and beheld, with infinite grief, the discomfiture of his beloved troops. Wringing his hands, he is said, when he saw no aid could reach them, to have given vent to expressions of the keenest anguish. From the height he stood upon, the movements of both parties were revealed to him. Here, was seen Lord Stirling, gallantly attacking Cornwallis; there, a troop of Americans, escaping with thinned numbers through the British ranks, were pursued to the very entrenchments. By the creek, soldiers plunging into the unknown depths of its waters, or struggling through the miry bog, were fired upon by the foe; toward Flatbush, the Hessians and British were combining to enfold, in a still narrower circle, the few and undaunted continentals.
Lest the foregoing imperfect description should have left obscure some of the details of this affair, let me briefly recapitulate its successive disasters. I have supposed the reader to be, where all would have chosen to stand on that occasion, on the American side. A glance at the motions of the British, will show how admirably their maneuvres were planned and executed. The success of the concerted movement was insured by the unforeseen malady of General Greene. All the passes to Brooklyn were defended, save one; and it was by this that the troops, which decided the fortunes of the day, and were the same we left filing off from Flatland to New-Lots, on the previous night, turned the American flank. The road from Jamaica to Bedford was left unprotected; the enemy early ascertained this fact; and, to enable them to profit by our neglect, General Grant's advance, which was a diversion, had been devised. The fleet and General de Heister cooperated with him in this maneuvre. General Putnam, taking this feint for a bona fide attack, was deceived; and the Americans were entrapped by forces superior in discipline, in tactics, in numbers, in good fortune, but not in courage ; for though eleven hundred were either killed or taken, near four thousand fought their way back
To the absence of General Greene, who had studied, and would doubt
to the camp
less have guarded, all the approaches to the camp, and to the want of a general commanding officer throughout the day, may this disaster be attributed. General Putnam could not leave his lines, and the double care of New-York and Long-Island devolved upon the commander-in-chief. General Woodhull, who had been ordered to guard the road from Bedford to Jamaica, with the Long-Island militia, remained at Jamaica. The neglect which lost us the day, cost him his life. Riding home, after disbanding the volunteers under his command, he was captured by the British, and infamously cut to pieces, on his refusing to say, 'God save the king.'
Impartiality must award high praise, on this occasion, to the bravery of the enemy's troops, who followed so hotly in pursuit, that they were with difficulty withheld from attacking the American trenches. At night, the patriots within them told their missing brethren ; and when their loss became known, and uncertainty veiled the fate of the absent ones, gloom and despondency pervaded the camp. The victorious British, on the contrary, hastened to secure the ground they had gained, and, flushed with victory, passed the night in exultation.
On the twenty-eighth, a violent rain kept the two armies in their respective encampments. That night, the enemy broke ground within about six hundred yards of Fort Greene, and on the following day were busily engaged in throwing up entrenchments. Their main force was advancing, by slow but sure approaches, to besiege the American fortifications, and their superior artillery would doubtless soon silence our batteries. The advanced sentinel of the British army was surprised, on the morning of the thirtieth, by the unwonted stillness within the American lines. Calling a comrade or two around him, they proceeded to reconnoitre. Emboldened by the silence, they crept near the embankment, and cautiously peeping into our camp, perceived not a vestige of the army to whose challenges they had listened the night before. The alarm was given, and the party who first rushed in, to take possession of the works, saw in the mid-stream, out of gun-shot and filled with well-pleased Americans, the last of the barges which had borne their comrades across the waters that night. Beyond it, in a small boat, there sat an American officer, of calm and dignified mien. On his pale countenance the anxious muscles were relaxing into a heavenly smile. This bark bore Cæsar and his fortunes ; and a prayer seemed to escape the lips of WASHINGTON, as a glance at the distant shore told him the American army was beyond the reach of danger.
Nine thousand men, with all their stores and ammunitions, crossed the East River during the night, unperceived by the enemy. For four-and-twenty hours previous, the commander-in-chief had not left the saddle. The immediate embarcation of the troops was under the direction of General M’Dougall, to whose vigilant activity high praise is due.
Incurious popular opinion has admitted this to have been a shameful defeat. I trust that all who have watched the phases of the day, and the concurrence of good and evil fortune on the respective parts of the British and Americans, will acknowledge the injustice of this decision. One great advantage of the assailant lies in the choice of points for attack, presented by any extensive field. This was peculiarly the case in the battle of the twenty-seventh of August. The outer line of defence was disproportioned to the force employed ; and the enemy's subsequent moves, compelling cur army to retreat, proved the fortifications within, to have been planned on too small a scale for the defence of that part of the island.
It was no disgraceful rout. We have shown, that the troops behaved with high spirit; and would that we might do justice to the distinguished courage displayed by the bands under General Sullivan and Lord Stirling, on this occasion. In particular, may the attack of the latter upon Lord Conwallis, be singled out as a feat of chivalrous gallantry; and the stand long maintained by the Marylanders, upon the hill, with flying colors, under the enemy's severest fire, be cited as examples of Spartan heroism. Some blame has been attached by Gordon to General Sullivan, for neglect of vigilance upon the unfortunate Jamaica road. This officer is defended by Judge Marshall, who observes, that the paucity of his troops, and the entire want of cavalry, forced him to rely upon General Woodhull for the defence of that pass.
It may be asked, why a defeat has been selected for my theme, in lieu of some one of the victories of the revolution. I answer, that even a reverse, when stamped by so much bravery, and incurred through such unforseen ill-chance, is itself a high encomium upon the valor of our ancestors. We have no stronger comment to offer those who would stigmatise it, than our actual liberties. By falling, the infant learns to walk; by losses, the merchant learns to gain; by defeat, and all history tends to prove it, an army is taught to conquer. Moreover, the reverses imbue us with a saner spirit than the triumphs of the revolution. They recall to mind the price of our liberty. If success flushes the brow of the victorious, and lends impetuosity to determination, defeat still more powerfully operates to paralyze courage, and depression is its immediate, if not lasting, result. It is, then, a manlier study, to mark the workings of the spirit which took breath in discomfiture for renewed resistance at Harlem, where Leitch and Knowlton fell, and at White-Plains. Such a soul filled the breast of WASHINGTON. His glory lay more in retrieving the war's losses, throughout the long struggle, than even in the laurels of Princeton, and Trenton, and York.
This splendid retreat won civic crowns for the American hero; and its parallel is only to be found in the Spanish campaign of the conqueror of Gaul. But the favorable breeze, the calm water, and the thick fog which, toward two in the morning, veiled the Americans from the British, and yet left the river clear, seem direct interpositions of that gracious Providence, which in after days, guided our revolution to victory.
I began this paper with the remark, that all knowledge is history. Who can now gaze upon our magnificent city, from Flatbush Hill, or wind his way among the populous streets, which intersect a portion of the old battle-ground, without owning that the chapter of past events I have reviewed, is the most instructive lesson we can derive from the metamorphosed present ? I recently visited the localities of this conflict, on one of those genial days, when the opening earth sympathises with the heart-thaw of memory. Beneath the fight-scene, the dead are soon to rejoin those who perished there. A grave-garden has been laid out among the hills of Gowanus ; and beneath the trees, quiet tomb-stones will soon be reflected in the lake, whose banks rëechoed, sixty-two years since, the alarum of soldiers then mirrored in its placid bosom, now engulfed in the stream of eternity.
L I NES
THE VALE OF THE GRAYLOCK, WILLIAMSTOWN, MASSACHUSETTS.
Sweet vale! reclining in the soft embrace
From out their circling groves, where studious thought,
But hence, sweet vale, adieu ! the parting hour
THE TRESPASSER IN MAINE:
MEMORABLE EXPULSION OF A SPECULATOR FROM CERTAIR DISFCTED TERRITORT.
In the autumn of 1836, while travelling through a portion of the interior of the state of Maine, I stopped at a small new village, between the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers, nearly a hundred miles from the sea-board, for the purpose of giving my horse a little rest and provender, before proceeding some ten miles farther that evening. It was just after sun-set; I was walking on the piazza, in front of the neat new tavern, admiring the wildness of the surrounding country, and watching the gathering shadows of the gray twilight, as it fell upon the valleys, and crept softly up the hills, when a light onehorse wagon, with a single gentleman, drove rapidly into the yard, and stopped at the stable door.
• Tom, said the gentleman to the ostler, as he jumped from his wagon, take my mare out, rub her down well, and give her four quarts of oats.
Be spry, now, Tom; you need n't give her any water, for she sweats like fury. I'll give her a little when I am ready to start.'
Tom sprang, with uncommon alacrity, to obey the orders he had received, and the stranger walked toward the house. He was a tall, middle-aged gentleman, rather thin, but well proportioned, and well dressed. It was the season of the year when the weather began to grow chilly, and the evenings cold; and the frock-coat of the stranger,