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HOWE PLANS ATTACK ON DELAWARE FORTS.
Lafayette subsequently being as- While the British had been sucsigned to the command of Stephen's cessful in this battle, their position division.* In this engagement the was by no means comfortable, for it American army lost 673 killed and was certain that they could not mainwounded and about 400 taken pris- tain themselves for any great length oners, while the British loss was 535 of time in Philadelphia, unless the killed and wounded, among the slain Delaware were opened and free combeing General Agnew and Colonel munication established between the Bird.t Among the Americans killed fleet and the army.* As a large part was General Nash of North Carolina. of the inhabitants of the surrounding After the battle, Washington re country were favorable to the British turned to his encampment at Skip
cause, Washington sent out foraging pack Creek. I
parties and other detachments of
troops to prevent the British from * See the accounts of the battle by C. Lambdin securing the necessary supplies from in Pennsylvania Magazine of History, vol. i., pp. the adjacent territory, thus com368–403, also vol. ii., p. 112 et seq., vol. xvi., p. 197 et seg.: Stillé. Wayne and the Pennsylvania pelling the British to procure their Line, pp. 94-98; Gordon, American Revolution, supplies from the fleet or go without. vol. ii., pp. 521-527 (ed. 1788); Fiske, American
Howe therefore determined to proRevolution, vol. i., pp. 318–322; G. W. Greene, Life of Greene, vol. i., pp. 472–481; Johnson, Life
ceed with all despatch against the of Greene, vol. i., p. 83; F. V. Greene, Life of fortifications on the Delaware. The Greene, p. 85 et seq.; Hildreth, History of the United States. vol. iii.. pp. 222-224: Lowell. under line of chevaux-de-frise was Hessians in the Revolution, pp. 201-203; Ford's protected by a work named Fort ed. of Washington's Writings, vol. vi., pp. 93–100,
Mifflin, situated on Mud Island, a 113, 126-127; Irving, Life of Washington, vol. iii., pp. 297–305; Bancroft, vol. v., pp. 192–195;
marshy island near the Pennsylvanią Reed, Life of Joseph Reed, vol. i., pp. 319–323; bank of the river. On the Jersey Lee's Memoirs, vol. i., pp. 27-30; Thacher, Military Journal; pp. 117–118; Sparks, Life of Wash
side, at Redbank, was a redoubt ington, p. 238 et seq.; Stedman, American War, known as Fort Mercer. A short disvol. i., p. 299; Fisher, Struggle for American
tance below Mud Island and nearly Independence, vol. ii., pp. 37-41.
in a line with it was Hog Island, and 391; Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. between this and the Pennsylvania ii., p. 112. | Mr. Sparks, in recording this battle, speaks va
bank of the river was a narrow chanof the good effect of it upon the views of the nel of sufficient depth to admit ships Count de Vergennes, who remarked to the Ameri- of moderate draught. t If Howe can commissioners in Paris, “That nothing struck him so much as General Washington's attacking and giving battle to General Howe's army; that in-chief had an important bearing upon their final to bring an army, raised within a year, to this, decision to give aid to the American cause. promised every thing." - Life of Washington, p. * See Worthington C. Ford, The Defence of 241. From this, as well as from other occurrences, Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania Magazine of History it was evident that the French government nar- (October, 1895, to January, 1897). rowly scanned the military movements of Wash † On the obstructions placed in the river, see ington, and also, that his being the commander. Fisher, Struggle for American Independence, vol.
COUNT DOXOP ATTACKS FORT MERCER.
wished to continue long at Philadel- reduce Fort Mercer.* Crossing the phia, it was therefore necessary that Delaware at Philadelphia on the Forts Mifflin and Mercer be reduced.* night of October 21, Donop with his
On October 19, therefore, so that detachment advanced to the attack. he might be able to more conveni. Upon approaching the fort, he sumently assist in these operations, moned the commander to surrender Howe withdrew his army from Ger- with the threat that “if they stood
mantown and stationed it in the vi- battle no quarter whatever would be cinity of Philadelphia. He then sent given.”+ Colonel Christopher Count Donop, with 2,000 Hessians, to Greene, of Rhode Island, who com
manded the troops in the redoubt, ii., pp. 42-43; Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. ii., p. 86.
answered that he would defend the * Trevelyan, American Revolution, vol. iv., p. post to the best of his ability. Donop 252. In his instructions to Christopher Greene, Washington said: “The post with which you are
then ordered the assault to begin, he entrusted is of the utmost importance to America. himself leading the troops in the face The whole defence of the Delaware depends upon it; and consequently, all the enemy's hopes of keeping Philadelphia, and finally succeeding in the * Regarding the numbers, see the note in Trevel. present campaign."— Irving, Life of Washington, yan, p. 256. vol. iii., p. 310.
† Trevelyan, p. 257; Lossing, vol. ii., p. 87.
BRITISH REPULSED; PLAN TO ATTACK FORT MIFFLIN.
of a close fire from the fort and from the morning the Americans perthe American war vessels and float- ceived the precarious situation of the ing batteries on the river. He suc- British ships and began to fire on ceeded in capturing an extensive and them, also sending fire ships against unfinished outwork, but was unable them. The Augusta caught fire but to make any impression on the re- the crew after the greatest difficulty doubt. The count himself now fell succeeded in escaping, though some mortally wounded; shortly afterward of the officers and men perished in the second officer in command was the flames. The Merlin was abandisabled; and, after suffering a doned and destroyed.* severe loss, the British beat a hasty Howe, nevertheless, did not abanretreat under a fire similar to that don his effort to reduce the forts. which had met them in their advance. On the Pennsylvania bank opposite Count Donop was captured and soon Mud Island, he ordered batteries to died of his wounds. The British loss be erected, but because of the marshy was about 400, but the American loss ground and the difficulty in transportwas only 8 killed and 29 wounded.* ing heavy artillery through the
The British fleet had also partici- swamps, it was a long time before the pated in the attack, and was equally batteries were in working order. unfortunate. Through an opening in Province Island was also occupied by the lower line of chevaux-de-frise the the British and other works erected Augusta, Roebuck, Liverpool, Pearl, upon it. † On November 15 everyand Merlin had succeeded in passing, thing was ready for the attack upon and with the flowing tide moved up Fort Mifflin. Three British ships, the the river. But the obstructions in Isis, Somerset, and Roebuck, went up the river had altered the course of the main channel as far as the second the channel and raised up sand banks line of chevaux-de-frise and stationed where none had previously existed themselves in front of the fort. The Unaware of this, the Merlin and Au- Vigilant, an armed ship, and a hulk, gusta grounded a short distance both mounted with heavy cannon, below the second row of chevaux-de- were sent up the strait between Hog frise, and every effort made to and Province Islands and the Pennfree them resulted in failure. In sylvania bank, stationing themselves
* Lowell, Hessians in the Revolution, pp. 203208; Bancroft. vol. v., pp. 195–197: Thacher. Military Journal, p. 118; Carrington, Battles of the Revolution, pp. 393-395; Fisher, Struggle for American Independence, vol. ii., pp. 46-47 ; Ward's letter in Sparks' ed. of Washington's Writings, vol. v., p. 112; Heath's Memoirs, pp. 127–128 (Abbatt's ed.); Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 87--88.
* See Commodore Hazelwood's letter in Sparks, correspondence of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 12– 13; Heath's letter of October 25, in ibid, vol. ii., pp. 18-20; Washington's letter of November 13 to Patrick Henry, in Henry, Life of Patrick Henry, vol. iii., p. 118.
† Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. ii., p. 90.
REDUCTION OF FORTS MIFFLIN AND MERCER.
so as to be able to sweep the weakest by land batteries, the American shippart of the fortification. At this time ping retired up the river. By keepthe garrison at Fort Mifflin consisted ing close to the Jersey side, a few of of not more than 300 men, under the ships were able to pass the batcommand of Colonel Samuel Smith.
teries at Philadelphia and thereby They had put forth every exertion to escape, but the rest were set on fire retard the operations of the British
and abandoned.* The ships that fleet and army against them; and
escaped at this time were shortly when the British finally succeeded in
afterward destroyed. Thus the Britcompleting their works, the little gar
ish succeeded in opening navigation rison still kept up its courage and de
on the Delaware and in establishing termined to defend themselves as
free communication between the fleet best they could. The British bat
and the army. teries and ships now opened a terrific cannonade against the fort,
After receiving reinforcements which was answered by the fort, the
from the northern army,t Washingworks on the Jersey banks, and the
ton left his encampment at Skippack galleys and floating batteries on the
eries on the Creek and took up a position at river. At the end of the day, the fort White Marsh, twelve miles from was almost demolished and many of Philadelphia and nearer the British. the guns had been dismounted. Find- In front was a valley and a rivulet, ing their position untenable, there while his right was protected by an fore, the garrison retired during the abattis, or a fence of trees cut down night.* Two days after, Lord Corn with their branches sharpened and wallis marched against Fort Mercer pointed outward. Believing that, beat Redbank, but the garrison having cause of his reinforcements, Washevacuated the fort some time pre- ington would hazard a battle to reviously, he occupied it without
take the capital of Pennsylvania, opposition. † Being now unprotected Howe, on the evening of December 4,
marched from Philadelphia and on * Carrington, Battles of the Revolution, p. 395;
the next morning took a position on Trevelyan, American Revolution, vol. iv., pp. 262265; Fisher, Struggle for American Independence, Chestnut Hill in front of the right vol. ii., pp. 47–50; Lossing, pp. 91–93. See also Smith's reports in Sparks, Correspondence of the
374. See also Wayne's plan for the relief of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 7–8.
fort, in Stillé, Wayne and the Pennsylvania Line, † Bancroft, vol. v., pp. 198–199; Fisher, Struggle for American Independence, vol. ii., p. 58;
pp. 103-107. Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. ii., p.
* Trevelyan, American Revolution, vol. iv., pp. 93. See also Reed, Life of Joseph Reed, vol. i.,
265–266. pp. 335–341; Stedman, American War, vol. i., p. † For the difficulties of Hamilton in persuading 301; Ford's ed. of Washington's Writings, vol. vi., the northern generals to send aid, see Irving, Life pp. 131, 137, 143–148, 157–159, 168–169, 176–177, of Washington, vol. iii., p. 330 et seq. 187–188, 190-206, 217–218, 220, 224, 227–228, 373— Baker, The Camp of the Old Gulph Mill, p. 4.