« PreviousContinue »
linew that general Lincoln was advancing with a superior force; and that he would be liable to be inclosed between his forces and those in the town. So that certain destruction awaited lim upon the failure of his first attempt upon the town. He therefore, prudently resolved to withdraw his forces, and took possession of two islands called St. James's and St. John's, lying to the southward; where, in a short time, his force was augmented by the arrival of two frigates ; with these he determined to make himseif Mister of Port Royal, another island possessed of a good harbour, and many other natural advantages, commanding all the sea coast from Charleston to Savannah river. This However, lie could not accomplish without opposition from the American general, wito attempted to dislodge him from his post on St. John's island; but after an obstinate and unsuccessful attempt, Was Ubliged to retire with conSklerable loss.
The principal occasion of the success of the British was an armed float which galled the right flank of the Americ Cans so effectualiy, that they could direct their efîorts only against the strongest part of the lines, which was impreg.
able to their attacks. This disappointment was followed by the loss of Port Royal, which general Prevost took possession of, and stationed his troops in proper places, waiting the arrival of such reinforcements as were expected for the intended attack upon Charleston.
Count D'Estaing in the mean time, had put into Boston Harbour to refit, and used his utmost efforts to gain the good will of the inhabitants. He also published a proclamation to be dispersed through Canada, inviting the people to return to their original friendship with France ; declaring that all who renounced their allegiance to the king of Great Britain, should be protected by the king of France.
The Canadians, however, were too wise to relinquish a present good, to depend upon the unsubstantial promises of a courtier, whose means were inadequate to his profes. sions, and whose chief aim was to divide and ruin the Bii. tish interest in America.
The French admiral, as soon as bis fleet was refitted, and while admiral Byron's had been shattered by a storm, took that opportunity of sailing to the West Indies.....
During his operations there, the Americans represented his conduct as totally unserviceable to them ; upon which he received orders from Europe to assist the colonies with all possible speed. Agreeably to these orders he directed bis course towards Georgia, with the avowed design of recovering that province from the British, and to put it, as well as South Carolina, in such a state of defence, as would secure them from any future attack. This, upon a superficial view, appeared easy to be effected, as he knew there was but a small force to oppose him.
The British fleet and army at New York was next to be destroyed, and their total expulsion from America was anticipated as an event at no great distance. Fuil of these towering hopes the French admiral arrived off the coast of Georgia, with a fleet of twenty sail of the line and ten fria gates.
His arrival was so unexpected, that several vessels laden with provisions fell into his hands. The Experiment, a fifty gun ship, commanded by Sir James Wallace, was taken, after a stout resistance. On the continent, the Bri. tish troops were divided. General Prevost, with an inconsiderable party, was at Savannah ; but the main force under colonel Maitland was at Port Royal.
On the first appearance of the French fleet, an express was sent off to colonel Maitland, but it was intercepted by the enemy; so that before he could set out to join the commander in chief, the Americans had secured the prin. cipal passes by Jand, while the French effectually blockaded the passage by sea. But by taking advantage of creeks and inlets, and marching over land, he arrived just in time to relieve Savannah.
D'Estaing had allowed general Prevost twenty-four hours to deliberate whether he should capitulate or not; this interval he made use of in making the best preparations in his power, and during this time colonel Muitland arrived. D'Estaing's summons was now rejected. The garrison consisted of three thousand men of approved valour and experience. The united force of the French and Americans was about ten thousand.
The event was answerable to the expectation of the British general : having the advantage oi a strong fo.ification, and excellent engineers, the fire of t..calli:s mad, but little
impression; so that D'Estaing resolved to bora bard the town, and a batlery of nine mortars was erected for that purpose.
The allied commanders, from motives of policy, refused general Prevost's request to permit the women and children to retire to a place of safety, and they resolved to make a general assault. This was attempted on the ninth of October ; but the assuilants were every where repulsed with great slaughter ; one thousand two hundred were killed and wounded ; among the first was Count Pulaski, one of the conspirators against the king of Poland, and among the latter was D’Estaing himself.
This defeat entirely overthrew the sanguine hopes of the French and Americans ; after waiting eight' days longer, the allied forces retreated; the French to their shipping, and the Americans to Carolina. About this time Sir George Collier was sent with a fleet, having general Matthews and a body of land forces on board, to Virginia. Their first attempt was against the town of Portsmouth, where the British troops carried off twenty vessels with an immense quantity of provisions, designed for general Washington's army, together with a variety of naval and military stores: at the same time and place were burnt one hundred and twenty vessels, after which the British rei:'0d to New York with little or no loss.
The successful issue of this expedition, encouraged them to undertake another. The Americans had erected two strong forts on the Hudson river, the one at Verplank's neck on the east, and the other at Stoney point on the west side ; these were likely to be of the utmost service to the Americans, as they commanded the principal pass called King's ferry, between the northern and southern colories. The force employed upon this occasion, was di. vided into two bodics, one of which was directed against Verplank's under the command of general Vaughan, the latter by general Patterson, while the shipping was under the direction of Sir George Collier. General Vanhan met with no resistance; the enemy abandoned their iciks at his approach, but at Stoney point, a vigorous aclance was made. The garrison, notwithstanding was obliged to carsitulate, but upon honourable conditions. General Clinton desirous to secure the possession of this last removed from
his former situation, and encamped in such a manner, that general Washington could not give any assistance.
The Americans, bowever, revenged themselves of the British by distr. ssing the trade of New York, by their numerous privateers. These privateers were chiefly built and harboured in Connecticut ; an expedition therefore, under the command of governor Tryon, and general Garth, an officer of known valour and experience, was undertaken under a convoy of a considerable number of armed vesseis; they landed at New Haven, where they destroyed the bat. téries that had been erected to oppose them, besides a number of shipping and naval stores; but as the inhabitants did not fire upon the troops from the houses, the buildings in town were spared.
From New Haven they proceeded to Fairfield, which they reduced to ashes. Norwalk was next attacked, and afterwards Greenfield, a small sea-port in the neighbourhood, both of which were burnt.
These successes were alarming, as well as detrimental to the Americans, so that general Washington was determined at all events, to drive the enemy from Stoney Point. For this purpose general Wayne was sent with a detachment of chosen men, with directions to take it by surprize, After the capture of it by the British, the fortifications had been compleated and made very strong; notwitbstanding the Americans passed through a heavy fire of inusquetry and grape shot, and in spite of all opposition obliged the surviving part of the garrison, consisting of five hundred inen, to surrender themselves prisoners of war.
The Americans did not attempt to retain possession of Stoney Point, but their success in surprizin, it, encouraged them to make a similar attack on Paulus Hook, a post sti'ongly fortified on the Jersey side opposite to New York. After having completely surprized the posts, major Lee, the American commander, finding it impossible to retain them, made an orderly retreat with about one hundred and sixty-014 prisoners, among whom were seven officers.
Another expedition, and of greater importance was now undertaken by the Americans. This was against a post on the river Penobscot, on the borders of Nova Scotia, of which the British had taken possession, and where they had begun to erect a fort which threatened to be very
inconvenient to the Americans. The armament destined against it was so expeditiously fitted out, that colonel Maclane, the commanding officer at Penobscot, was obliged to content himself with putting the works already constructed, in as good a posture of defence as possible, The Americans could not effect a landing, or bring the guns of the largest vessels to bear upon the shore, without much difficulty.
As soon as this was done, they erected several batteries, and kept up a brisk fire, for the space of a fortnight ; after which they proposed to give a general assault ; but before this could be effected Sir George Collier with a British fleet was seen sailing up the river to attack them. On this they instantly embarked their artillery and stores, sailing up the river as far as possible, to avoid being taken. But they were so closely pursued, that not a single vessel escaped ; thus the American fleet consisting of nineteen armed vessels and twenty-four transports were destroyed.. The soldiers and sailors were obliged to wander through iinmense desarts, where they suffered much for want of provisions; and to add to their calamities a quarrel between the seamen and soldiers broke out, concerning the cause of their misfortunes; a violent affray ensued, in which a great number were killed:
Thus the arms of France and America being every where unsuccessful, the independency of the latter seemed yet to be in danger, notwithstanding the assistance of so powerful an ally.
The hopes of the Americans were again revived by the accession of Spain to the confederacy against Great Britain. The eager desire of Spain to humble Great Britain appeared to have deprived her of that cautious reserve which seems interwoven with the constitution of the Spanish government. They certainly did not consider that by establishing an independent empire so near them, their rich possessions in South America would be in danger, and open to the incursions of a powerful and enterprizing people, whenever they chose to extend their territory
The first act of hostility against Great Britain, by the Spaniards was an invasion of West Florida, in September, 1779. They easily made themselves masters of the whole, as there was little or no opposition ; the country being in