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into their hands. All these had been carefully removed by the Americans. Instead of this enterprize, Sir Henry Clinton undertook an expedition to Rhode Island, and became master of it without losing a man. His expedition was attended with this further advantage, that the American fleet under commodore Hopkins was obliged to sail so far up Providence river, that it was entirely useless. The same ill success attended the Americans in other parts. After their expulsion from Canada, they had crossed lake Champlain, and taken up their quarters at Crown Point, as we have already mentioned. Here they remained for some time in safety, as the British had no vessels on the lake ; and consequently general Burgoyne could not pursue them.
To remedy this deficiency, there was no other method, but to construct vessels on the spot, or take to pieces some vessels already constructed, and drag them up the river into the lake. This, however, was effected in the space of three months; and the British general, after incredible toil and difficulty, saw himself in possession of a great number of vessels, by which means, he was enabled to pursue his enemies, and invade them in his turn. The labour undergone at this time, by the sea and land forces, must indeed have been prodigious; since there were conveyed over land, and dragged up the rapids of St, Lawrence, no fewer than thirty large long-boats, four hundred batteaux, be sides a vast number of flat-bottomed boats, and a gondola of thirty tons. The intent of the expedition, was to push forward, before winter, to Albany, where the army would take up its winter quarters; and the next spring effect a junction with that under general Howe; when it was not doubted, that the united force and skill of the two commanders, would speedily put an end to the war.
It was the beginning of October, before the expedition could be undertaken; it was then allowed to be compleatly able to answer the purpose for which it was intended.
The fleet consisted of one large vessel of three masts, carrying 18 twelve pounders; two schooners, the one carrying 14, the other 12 six pounders; a large flat-bottomed radeau, with 6 twenty-four, and 6 twelve pounders ; and a gondola with 8 nine pounders; besides these, there were lwenty vessels of a smaller size; also gun-boats, carrying
each a piece of brass ordnance, from nine, to twenty-four pounders, or howitzer's. Several long-boats were fitted out in the same manner, and a vast number of boats and tenders of various sizes to be used as transports for the troops and baggage. It was manned by a number of select seamen; 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
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 his gallant Jehaviour, he was obliged to run his ships ashore, and set them on fire. A few only escaped to Jake George ; and the garrison of Crown Point having destroyed or carried off every thing of value, retired to Ticonderoga.
Thither general 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 affairs now seemed every where going to wreck ; even those who had been most sanguine in her cause, began to despair. The time also for which the sol. diers had enlisted, was now expired; and the bad 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 doubtful. General Washington had the mortifying evidence 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 bis lodgings at a distance 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, having been a hall-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 those taken by the British ; and especially that their conduct should be regulated by their treatment of general Lee.
Congress now proceeded with the utmost 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 hundred and fifty, a lieutenant two hundred, a captain three hundred, a major four hundred, a lieutenant colonel four hundred and fifiy, 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 hap. pened ; 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 utmost, 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 declara.
tions of congress. As the royal army extended in differeni 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 twenty 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 placed; 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 obstructed his plans, that it was eight in the morning before he reached the place of his destination.
The enemy however, did not perceive his approach till they were suddenly attacked. Colonel Rahl, their commander, did all that could be expected from a brave and experienced officer; but every thing was in such confusion, ihat no efforts of valour or skill, could now retrieve matters. The colonel himself was mortally wounded, his troops were entirely broken, their artillery seized, and arout one thousand taken prisoners. After this gallant exploit, general Washington 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 had till now put in them; it also raised the desponding hopes of the Americans, and gave a new spring to wil their operations. Reinforcements now came in fiom all quarters, and general Washington soon found himself in a condition once more to repass the Delaware, and take his quarters in Trenton, where he was emboldened to take his station, notwithstanding that accounts were received of the enemy's rapid advance towards him under lord Cornwallis. who shortly after made his appearance in full force ; and on
the evening of bis arrival, the little town of Trenton contained the two 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 William Erskine, general Washington's defeat would have been inevitable ; but a night's delay turned the fortune of the war, 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 Washington stated the calamitous situation to which his army was reduced, and after hearing the various opinions of his officers, 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 approved, and as soon as it was dark, the necessary measures were effected for accomplishing '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, suddenly changed to a hard-frost; and rendered the road, which had been deep and heavy, smooth and firin as a pavement. The Americans considered this as a providential interposition 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; wbile the Americans in triumph retired to Morristown. Geneneral Washington, however, omitted no opportunity in recovering what had been lost; and by dividing his army