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the cockades from their hats, and trampled them under their feet. By the colonists it was received with indifference. The British commissioners endeavoured to make it as public as possible ; and Congress, as usual, ordered it to be printed in all the newspapers. Governor Tryon inclosed several copies of the bill in a letter to general Washington, intreating him, that he would allow them to be circulated; to which the general returned for answer, a newspaper, in which the bill was printed, with the resolutions of congress upon it, which were, that whosoever presumed to make a separate agreement with Great Britain, should be deemed a public enemy; that the United States could not, with any propriety, keep correspondence with the commissioners, until their independence was acknowledged, and the British fleets and armies removed from America.
The colonies were also warned not to suffer themselves to be deceived into security by any offers that might be made ; but to use their utmost endeavours to send their quotas into the field. Some individuals, who conversed with the commissioners on the subject of the conciliatory bill, intimated to them that the day of reconciliation was past ; that the haughtiness of Britain had extinguished all filial regard in the breasts of the Americans.
Silas Deane about this time arrived from France with two copies of the treaty of commerce and alliance, to be signed by congress. Advices of the most flattering nature were received from various parts, representing the friendly dispositions of the European powers; all of whom it was said, wished to see the independence of America settled upon the most permanent basis.
Considering therefore, the situation of the colonies at this time, it was no wonder that the commissioners did not succeed. Their proposals were utterly rejected, and themselves threatened 10 be treated as spies. But before any answer could be obtained from congress, Sir Henry Clinton had taken the resolution of evacuating Philadelphia. Accordingly on the eighteenth of June, after having made the necessary preparations, the army marched out of the city, and crossed the Delaware before noon, with all its baggage, and other incumbrances. General Washington, apprised of this design, had dispatched expresses into the
Jerseys, with orders to collect all the force that could be assembled, in order to obstruct the march of the enemy. After various movements on both sides, Sir Henry Clinton, with the royal army, arrived at a place called Freehold, on the twenty-seventh of June, where expecting the enemy would attack him, he chose a strong situation. General Washington, as was expected, meditated an attack as soon as the army began to march. The night was spent in making the necessary preparations, and general Lee was ordered with his division to be ready at day break. Sir Henry Clinton, justly apprehending that the chief object of the enemy was the baggage, committed it to the care of general Knyphausen, whom he ordered to set out early in the morning, while he followed with the rest of the army. The attack was made, but the British general had taken such care to arrange his troops, and so effectually support. ed his forces when engaged with the Americans, that they not only made no impression, but were with difficulty preserved from a total defeat, by general Washington, who advanced with the whole of the American army.
The British troops retreated in the night, with the loss of three hundred men, of whom many died through fatigue (the weather being extremely hot), not a wound being seen upon them. In this action, general Lee was charged by general Washington with disobedience and misconduct, in retreating before the British army. He was tried by a court martial, and sentenced to a suspension from his command for one year. When the British army had ar. rived at Sandy Hook, a bridge of boats was by lord Howe's directions, thrown from thence over the channel which separated the island from the main land, and the troops were conveyed on board the fleet; after which they sailed to New York. General Washington then moved towards the North River where a great force had been collected to join him, and where it was now expected that operations of great magnitude would take place.
France in the mean time, was preparing to assist the Americans. On the fourteenth of April, 1778, count D'Estaing had sailed from Toulon, with a strong squadron of ships of the line, and frigates; he arrived on the coast of Virginia, in the beginning of July, whilst the British fleet was employed in conveying the forces from Sandy
hook to New York. The French fleet consisted of one'ship of 120 guns, one of eighty, six of 74, and four of 64, besides several large frigates; and exclusive of its complement of sailors, it had six thousand marines and soldiers on board. To oppose this, the British had only six ships of 64 guns, three of 50, and two of 40, with some frigates and sloops. Notwithstanding this inferiority, the British admiral had posted himself so advantageously, and displayed such superior skill, that D'Estaing did not think it adviseable to attack him: he was also informed by the pilots, that his large vessels could not go over the bar into the hook. In the mean time, General Washington press. ed him to sail to Newport. He, therefore, remained at anchor four miles off Sandy hook, till the twenty-second of July, without effecting any thing more than the capture of some vessels; which, through ignorance of his arrival, fell into his hands.
The next attempt of the French admiral, in conjunction with the Americans, was against Rhode Island. It was proposed that D'Estaing, with the six thousand troops he had with him, should make a descent on the southern part of the island, while the Americans took possession of the North; at the same time, the French squadron was to enter the harbour of Newport, and take, and destroy all the British shipping there. On the eighth of August, the French admiral entered the harbour, as was proposed, but was unable to do any material damage. Lord Howe, however, instantly set sail for Rhode Island, and D'Estaing confiding in his superiority, immediately came out of the harbour to attack him. A violent storm parted the two fleets, and did so much damage, that they were rendered totally unfit for action. The French suffered the most, and several of their ships being afterwards attacked by the English, very narrowly escaped being taken. On the twentieth of August, the French admiral returned to Newport in a shattered condition; but not thinking himself safe there, sailed two days after for Boston.
In the mean time, general Sullivan had landed on the northen part of the island, with ten thousand men. On the seventeenth of August, they began their operations, by erecting batteries, and making their approaches to the British lines. General Pigot, however, had so secured
himself on the land side, that the Americans could not attack him with any probability of success, without the assistance of a marine force. D'Estaing's conduct in abandoning them when he was master of the harbour, gave great disgust to the Americans, and Sullivan began to prepare for a retreat. On perceiving his intentions, the garrison sallied out upon him, with such vigour, that it was with great difficulty he effected it. He had not been long gone, when Sir Henry Clinton arrived with a reinforcement of four thousand men. The Americans, thus having left the island, the British undertook an expedition to Buzzard's bay, on the coast of New England, and in the neighbourhood of Rhode Island; where they destroyed a great number of privateers, and merchantmen, magazines, and store-houses, &c. They proceeded next to Martha's Vineyard, from whence they carried off ten thousand sheep, and three hundred black cattle.
Another expedition under the command of lord Cornwallis and general Knyphauzen, went up the North River; the principal object of which was the destruction of a regiment of cavalry, called Washington's light-horse.
A third expedition was directed to Little Egg Harbour in New Jersey, a place noted for privateers; it was conducted by captains Ferguson and Collins, who compleatly destroyed the enemy's vessels. At the same time, a body of American troops, called Pulaski's legion, were surprized, and a great number cut off.
The conquest of West Florida in the beginning of the year, was projected by some Americans under the command of captain Willing, who had made a successful excursion into the country. This rouzed the attention of the British to the southern colonies, and an expedition against them was resolved on. Georgia was the place of destination, and the more effectually to ensure success, colonel Campbell, with a sufficient force, under convoy of some ships of war, commanded by commodore Parker, embarke ed at New York, while general Prevost, who commanded in East Florida, was directed to set out with all the force he could spare.
The armament arrived off the coast of Georgia in the month of December, 1778, and though the Americans were very strongly posted, in a very advantageous situa
tion on the shore, the British troops made good their landing, and advanced towards Savannah, the capital of the province. The same day they defeated the American forces which opposed them, and entered the town of Savannah with such celerity, that the enemy had not time to burn the town, as they had intended. In ten days the whole province was subdued, except Sunbury; and this was also obliged to submit to general Prevost in his march southward.
To secure the tranquillity of the province, was now the main object of the British. Rewards were offered for apprehending committee, and assembly men, and such as had taken a decided part against the British government. On the arrival of general Prevost, the command of the troops devolved on him, as the senior officer; and the conquest of Carolina was next projected. - In this attempt they were encouraged by many of the loyal inhabitants who had joined them; and there was not in the province any considerable body of the enemy capable to oppose regular and well disciplined troops.
On the first news of general Prevost's approach, the loyalists assembled in a body, imagining themselves able to maintain their station until their allies should arrive ; but they were disappointed. The Americans attacked and defeated them with the loss of half their number. The remainder retreated into Georgia, and with difficulty effected a junction with the British forces. General Lincoln, in the mean time, encamped within twenty miles of the town of Savannah, and another strong party of the provincials posted themselves at Briar Creek, which circumscribed the British government within very narrow bounds.
General Prevost therefore determined to dislodge the enemy at Briar Creek; and the provincials, trusting to their strong situation, were remiss in their guard, by which neglect, they were unexpectedly surprized on the thirtieth of March, 1779, and totally routed, with the loss of three hundred killed and taken prisoners, besides a great number drowned in the river: all the artillery stores, baggage, and almost all the arms of this party were taken, so that they were incapable of making any further opposition to the British in that quarter.