Page images

Chap, viii it on the Jersey shore, afterwards denominated 1776. fort Lee, without sustaining any injury from prober 9. the batteries, or being at all impeded by the chevaux-de-frize which had been sunk in the channel, between those forts.*

This point being attained, he, in pursuance of his plan either to force Washington out of his present lines, or to enclose him in them, Twciith. embarked a great part of his army on board flatbottomed boats, and passing through Hellgate Thr enemy into the Sound, landed at Frogs' neck, not far


dog*'neck. fr0m West Chester on the east, on Connecticut side of the Sound, and about nine miles from the camp on the heights of Haerlem.

Frogs' neck is completely surrounded by the water, which, at flood tide, is unfordable; so that it is, in fact, an island communicating with the main land by bridges thrown over the intervening water. These bridges were broken down by the Americans, and works were immediately thrown up to obstruct the march of the enemy from their present encampment into the country. General Washington, who was

* The command of the upper part of the river, at all times important to the military operations in that quarter, was rendered peculiarly interesting by the certain information, that a very great proportion of the inhabitants were in the royal interest, and were actually meditating an insurrection for the purpose of seizing the posts in the highlands; to prevent which, the militia of New Hampshire were ordered to Fishkill.

well aware of the intention with which general Chap, Vhl Howe had taken this new position, moved a 1776. part of his troops from York island to join those at King's bridge, and detached some regiments to West Chester, for the purpose of opposing, and skirmishing with the enemy, so soon as they should march from their present station. The road from Frogs' point to King's bridge leads through a strong country, intersected in every direction by numerous stone fences; so that it would have been very difficult to move artillery, or even infantry, in compact columns, except along the main road, which had been broken up in several places. The general, therefore, entertained sanguine hopes of the event, should a direct attack be made on his present camp.

General Howe continued some days, quietly waiting for his artillery, military stores, and re-enforcements from Staten island, which were detained by an unfavourable wind, during which, it was impracticable to pass from the East river into the Sound.

In the mean time, as the habits of thinking in America absolutely required that" every important measure should be the result of consultation, and should receive the approbation of a majority; a council of general officers was October is. called, and the propriety of removing the American army from its present position laid before them. The obstructions in the North river

Vol. 11. 3 s

Chap. vm. having proved insufficient to stop the ships, 1776. and the British having landed, in full force, at Frogs' neck, on the east of the Sound; it was, after much investigation, declared to be impracticable, without a change of position, to prevent the enemy from cutting off their communication with the country, and compelling them, either to fight under great disadvantages, or to surrender themselves prisoners of war. General Lee, who had but two days before joined the grand army, and whose experience, as well as his late success, gave him great weight, maintained this opinion with peculiar earnestness; and general Clinton was the only officer dissenting from it. At the same time,

The Ameri. jj; was determined still to hold fort Washington,

can army o 1

Y^khSiid, and to defend that post as long as possible.

wS*ng£n., The hope was still cherished, that, by increasing the obstructions in the river, ships might be prevented from passing them; and the object was deemed so all important, as to justify considerable hazard in the attempt to secure it. The resolution of congress of the 11th of October, desiring general Washington, by every art and expense, to obstruct if possible the navigation of the river, contributed, not inconsiderably, to the determination for maintaining this post. The necessary measures were now taken for moving the army, so as to extend its front, or left, up the North river towards the White Plains, beyond the right of the enemy, and thus keep perfectly open its Chap. vm. communication with the country. The right 1776. or rear division remained a few days about King's bridge under the command of general Lee, in order to cover and secure the heavy baggage and military stores, which, in consequence of the extreme difficulty of obtaining waggons, could be but slowly removed to a place of safety.

Having received the expected re-enforce- October is. ments, which landed at Pell's point, to which place he also transported the troops from Frogs' neck, and brought up his military stores; general Howe moved forward his whole army, except four brigades destined for the defence of New York, throughPelham's manor, towards New Rochelle. Some skirmishes took place on the march, near East Chester, with a part of Glover's brigade, in which the conduct of the Americans was mentioned with satisfaction by the commander in chief; and as general Howe took post at New Rochelle, a village on Twenty-tint the Sound; general Washington occupied the heights between that place and the North river.

At New Rochelle, the British army was joined by the second division of Germans under the command of general Knyphausen, and by an incomplete regiment of cavalry from Ireland; some of whom with one of the transports had been captured on their passage. Both armies arm"s

1 lift- T11 ■ towards the

now moved towards the White Plains, a strong whitePiaiM.

Chap. viii piece of ground where a large camp had been 1776. marked out, and was already occupied by a detachment of militia sent for the particular purpose of guarding some magazines of provisions which had been there collected. The main body of the American troops formed a long line of intrenched camps, extending from twelve to thirteen miles, on the different heights from Valentine's hill, near King's bridge, to the White Plains; fronting the British line of march, and the Brunx, which lay between them, so as to collect in full force at any point, as circumstances might require. The motions of the enemy were anxiously watched, not only for the purposes of security, and of avoiding a general action, but in order to seize every occasion which might present itself, of engaging any of their out posts with advantage. While their army lay about New Rochelle, major Rodgers, with his regiment, was advanced further eastward to Mamaraneck, on the Sound, where he was believed to be in a great degree covered by the position of the other troops. An attempt was made to surprise him in the night, by a detachment which should pass between him and the main body of the British army, and by a coup de main bear off his whole corps. Although the plan was well formed, and major Rodgers was actually surprised; yet the at* tempt did not completely succeed. About sixtv of the enemy were killed and taken, and about

« PreviousContinue »