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-cach a piece of brass ordnance, from nine, to twenty-four
pounders, or howitzers. Several long-boats were fitted out in the same manner, and a vast number of boats and ten. ders of various sizes to be used as transports for ti.e troops and baggage. It was manned by a number of select scamen ; and the gun-boats were served by a detachment from the corps of artillery. The officers and soldiers appointed for this expedition, were also chosen out of the whole army.
The American force was too inconsiderable to withstand this formidable armament; general Arnold who commanded it, after engaging the British fleet for a whole day, took advantage of the darkness of the night to set sail without being perceived, and was next morning out of sight: but he was so quickly pursued by the British, that on the second day after, he was overtaken and forced to a second engagement. And notwithstanding bis gallant lehaviour, le was obliged to run his ships ashore, and set them on fire. A few only escaped to lake George ; and the garison of Crown Point having destroyed or carried off every thing of value, retired to Ticonderoga.
Thither greneral Carleton intended to have pursued them ; but the difficulties he had to encounter were so many, and so great, that it was thought proper to march back into Canada, and desist from any further operations until the next spring
The American afluirs now seemed crery where going to wreck; even those who had been most sanguine in her cause, began to despair. The time also for which the soldiers had enlisted, was now expired ; and the badi success of the preceding campaign had been so very discouraging, that no person was willing to engage himself during the continuance of a war, of which the event appeared so doubtfül. General Washington had the mortifying evj. dence of the daily decrease of his army; so that from thirty thousand, of which it consisted when general Howe landed on Staten Island, scarce a tenth part could be mustered, General Lee had collected a body of troops to assist the commander in chief, but having imprudently taken up his lodgings at a clistance from the troops, information was given to colonel Harcourt, who happened at that time to: be in the neighbourhood, and who took him prisoner.
The loss of this general was much regretted, the more especially as he was of superior quality to any prisoner in possession of the colonists, and could not therefore be exchanged. Six field officers were offered in exchange for him; and refused ; and congress was highly irritated at its being reported that he was to be treated as a deserter, har. ing been a half-pay officer in the British service at the commencement of the war. They therefore issued a proclamation, threatening to retaliate on the prisoners in their possession, whatever punishment should be inflicted on any of thicse taken by the British ; and especially that their conduct should be regulated by their treatment of general Lee.
Congress now proceeded with the utinost diligence to recruit their army ; and bound their soldiers to serve for the term of three years, or during the continuance of the war. The army for the ensuing campaign, was to consist of eighty-eight battalions, of which each province was to contribute its quota ; and twenty dollars were offered as a bounty to each soldier, besides an allotment of lands at the end of the war. In this agreement it was stipulated, that each soldier should have one hundred acres, an ensign one hundredi and fifty, a lieutenant two hundred, a captain three hundred, a major four hundred, a lieutenant colonel four hundred and fifty, and a colonel five hundred. Those who only enlisted for three years were not entitled to any lands. Those who were wounded in the service, both officers and soldiers, were to enjoy half-pay during life. To meet this expense, congress borrowed five millions of dollars at five per cent, for which the United States was security.
At the same time a declaration was published tending to animate the people to vigorous exertions, in which they set forth the necessity there was of taking proper methods for securing success. They endeavoured to palliate as much as possible, the misfortunes which had already happened ; ! and represented the true cause of the present distress to be the short term of enlistment.
This declaration, and the imminent danger of Philadel. phia, rouzed the Americans to exert themselves to the ut most, to obtain reinforcements for general Washington's army. An exploit of that general, however, did more to animate the Americans in the cause, than all the declar..! tions of congress. As the royal army extended in different cantonments for a great way, general Washington saw the necessity of making an attempt on some of those divisions which lay nearest to Philadelphia. These happened to be the Hessians, who lay in three divisions, the last only twen. ty miles from that city. On the twenty-fifth of December, having collected as considerable a force as he could, he set out with an intent to surprize that body of the enemy which lay at Trenton.
His army was divided into three bodies ; one of which he ordered to cross the Delaware at Trenton ferry, a little below the town : the second at a distance below, at a place called Bordentown, where the second division of Hessians was piaced; while he himself with the third, directed his course to a ferry some miles above Trenton, which he intended to have passed at midnight, and make the attack at break of day ; but various impediments so far obstruci. ed his plans, that it was eight in the morning before he reached the place of his destination. The enty w however, did not perceive his approach till tliey were suddenly at. tacked. Colonel Rahl, their commander, did all that could be expected from a brave and experienced officer ; but every thing was in such confusion, that no efforts of valour or skill, could now retrieve matters. The colonel bimself' was mortally wounded, his troops were entirely broken, their artillery seized, and about one thousand taken prisoners. After this gallant exploit, general Washingion returned into Pennsylvania.
This action though to appearance of no very decisive nature, was what turned the fortune of war in favour of America. It lessened the apprehensions which the Americans had of the Hessians, at the same time that it equally abated the confidence which the British hrad till now put in them ; it also raised the desponding hopes of the Americans, and gave a new spring to all their operations, Reinforcements now came in from all quarters, and general Washington soon found himself in a condition once more to repass the Delaware, and take up his quarters in
Trenton, where he was embo dened to take his station, notwithstanding that accounts were received of tie enemy's rapid advance towards him under lord Cornwallis, who shortly after made his appearance in full force; and on
the evening of his arrival, the little town of Trenton contained the isvu hostile armies, separated only by a small creek, which was fordable in many places.
This was indeed the crisis of the American revolution ; and had his lordship made an immediate attack, in pur. suance of what is reported to have been the advice of Sir Viliam Erskine, general Washington's defeat would have been inevitable ; but a night's delay turned the fortune of the W..., and produced an enterprize, the magnitude and glory of which, can only be equalled by its success.
A council of war having been called, general Washing. ton stated the calamitous situation to which his army was reduced, and after hearing the various opinions of his offi. cers, finally proposed a circuitous march to Princeton, as the means of avoiding; at once, the imputation of a retreat, and the danger of a battle, with forces so inferior and in a Situation so ineligible. The idea was unanimously approred, afthanssoon as it was dark, the necessary measures were effected to complishing it. A line of fires were kindled, which served to give light to the Americans, while it obscured them from the observation of the enemy : the weather, which had been for some time warm and foggy, snd. den!y changed to a hard frost; and rendered the road, which had been deep and heavy, smooth and firm as a pavement. The Americans considered this as a providential interposi. tion in their favour. - At break of day general Washington was discovered by a party of British troops consisting of three regiments, under the command of colonel Mawhood, near Princeton, on their march to Trenton. With these the centre of the Americans engaged, and after killing sixty, wounding many, and taking three hundred prisoners, obliged the rest to make a precipitate retreat ; some towards Trenton, and others to Brunswick. The loss of the Americans, as to number, was inconsiderable, but the fall of general Mercer was sensibly felt.
The British, astonished and discouraged at the success and spirit of these repeated enterprizes, abandoned both Trenton and Princeton, and retreated to Brunswick; while the Americans in triumph retired to Morristown. General Wasliington, howe: er, omitted no opportunity in re. covering what had been lost; and by dividing his arms into small parties, which could be called into general action at a few hours notice, he in a manner almost entirely covered the country with it, and took possession of the most important places.
Thus ended the campaign of 1776, with no other real advantage to the British, than the acquisition of New York, and a few fortresses in the neighbourhood, where the troops were constrained to act with as much circumspection, as if they had been besieged by a victorious army, instead of being themselves the conquerors.
The British in New York began in 1777, to carry on a · kind of predatory war, by sending out parties to destroy magazines, make incursions, and take or destroy such forts as lay on the banks of rivers accessible to their shipping ; in this they were generally successful: the provincial magazines at Peek's kill, a place about fifty.miles distant from New York, were destroyed; the town of Danbury in Connecticut was burnt, and that of Ridgefield in the same pro. vince was taken possession of. The British, however, as they were returning from this last expedition, were harassed by generals Arnold, Wooster, and Sullivan ; but they made good their retreat, in spite of all opposition, with the loss of only seventy killed and wounded. On the Ameri. can side the loss was much greater: general Wooster was killed, and Arnold was in the most imminent danger. On the other hand the American destroyed the stores at Sagg harbour, in the east end of Long Island, and made prisoners of all who defended the place. · As this method of making war answered no essential purpose, it was resolved to make an attempt on Philadelphia. It was first proposed to pass through the Jerseys to that city : but the impolitic conduct of the British in countenancing the devastation of their plundering parties, had created universal abhorrence, and the large reinforcements which had joined general Washington, who had posted himself so strongly, that it was concluded to be impracticable. Many stratagems were used to draw him from his secure situa. tion, but without success; it was therefore determined to make the attempt by sea.
While the preparations were going forward for this enterprize, the Americans found means to capture general l'rescot and one of his aids, who were seized in their quar