« PreviousContinue »
these places, which it was indispensibly necessary to hold as important posts. General Howe had once intended to have taken a greater force with him up: on this occasion, but upon the representation of Sir Henry Clinton, who was to command in his absence, of the danger which the iflands would be expofed to from the extensiveness of their coasts, and the great number of posts that were neceffarily to be maintained; he acknowledged the force of these arguments by disembarking several regiments.
Many conjectures were formed by the provincials concerning this expedition, though they were as yet uncertain concerning its rcal destination. It however alarmed them greatly, though it did not dispirit them. There was another thing that seemed to threaten them at this time with dreadful consequences. General Burgoyne was making a rapid progress in the North, and some of their own officers but had behav. ed indifferently. Ticonderago had been given up in a manner that was not expected, and some of the officers were greatly b!amed for giving it up fo easily. They on this occasion behaved with a firmness that would have done honour to a Roman fenate, and did not fhew the smallest defpondency under these misfor, tunes. They immediately issued orders to recal all the troops to the head quarters, and an enquiry to be made into the conduct of the general officers who had abandoned Ticonderago ;--they directed General Washington to appoint other commanders, and to fummon fuch numbers of the militia from the Eastern and central provinces for the Northern service, as he Mould judge sufficient for restraining the progress of the enemy. The measures taken on this occafion to check the progress of General Burgoyne, in the con
clufion fulfilled their most fanguine expectations, as we İhall see in its proper place.
This new expedition was at first not attended with favourable circumstances; the winds were contrary, and its progress to the place of destination was flow.-It colt them a week before they could gain the Capes of the Delaware. When they arrived there the commanders received information that the enemy had taken measures for rendering the navigation of that river impracticable, which damped the spirits of the commanders in pursuing their design by that way. They at last gaye it up, and adopted anoth
and adopted another plan. The passage by Chesapeak Bay to that part of Maryland, which liés towards the east of that vast inlet, which is por far from Philadelphia, was now fixed upon as more open, and being attended with fewer obstacles to hinder their operations. But here again the winds were contrary in this part of the voyage, so that it was part the middle of August before they entered Chesapeak Bay; this was a circumstance very unfavourable at this season of the year, when the weather was hot, and when the ships were crowded with men and horses cooped up together in the same vefsels. And which must have been attended with the most fatal confequences, provided the commander in chief had 101 taken care to guard against every event, by the unbounded provision he had made for the voyage, as a failure of any one article, even that of water, would have been irremediable in those parts at that feason.
As soon as they entered the Bay the winds turned favourable, so that the fleet reached the mouth of che Elk, near its extremity, in safety, through a mort ntricate and dangerous navigation, for such a multi
tude of vefsels, in which the Admiral performed the different parts of a commander, inferior officer, and pilot, with great ability and perseverance. Having proceeded up the Elk as far as it was capable of admitting their pasiage, tie army was at length relieved from its long and tedious confinement on board the transports, being landed without opposition at Elk Ferry on the 25th of August, in a degrce of health and spirits scarcely to have been expected. One part of the army advanced at the head of the Elk, and the other continued at the landing place, to protect and forward the artillery stores and necessary provifions; for the General did not permit the troops to be encumbered with any baggage, and the scarcity of carriage rendered a great abridgement in the article of tents necessary.
General Wallington, who had for some time been in suspense concerning the destination of this armament was at lail crely informed of the place of its appointment; this had generally been well conjectured from the firit of its preparation, though none pretended to be particularly certain of the very point where it would operate. Tie General as soon as he was fufficiently iafor nel of the landing of the enemy, marched his army from the Jericys to the defence of Philadelphia, and upon hearing that the en my was landed at the Elk, advanced to the Brandy Wine Creek or River which runs cross the country about half
way to that city, and falls into the Delaware.The force of the coloniils, including the militia, ao mounted to near 15000 men, making allowance for posts, and parties placed to keep a proper communication with thole parts that were of the most effen.. țial service to them to maintain. The King's forces
were near about the same number or somewhat more namerous.
In order to quiet the minds of the people in Pensylvania, Delaware counties, and the adjacent parts of Maryland, and to preventthe total de fertion, and delo. tion of the country in the front of the army, the Ge. neral published a declaration, promising that the ftricteft regularity should be observed, and good order and discipline kept up by the army; that the most effeétual security and protection should be given to all his Majeity's peaceable and well disposed subjects ;extending at the same time this security and protection to such persons, who not ha ing been guilty of affum: ing legin tive power, might otherwise have aéted le. gally in subordinate stations, upon the provision of their immediate returning to their habitation, and
be havin peaceably for the future. This declaration also offered pardon to all officers and soldiers in arms, who hould surrender themselves to the royal army.. This was like many other declarations of the fame kind very little regarded, and produced to effect. It proceeded upon a supposition which has been the univerfal infatuation of the royal party from the beginning of this ruinous war, namely, that there were great numbers of persons well affected to the King through all their colonies, when in truth, except in a very few places, there were none but fuch as were thoroughly enemies to the royal cause, and were ready to take up arms againit it. Had General Wath. ington publislied a similar declaration to the King's army, he would have found as many deserters as Sir William Howe did, and his declaration would have produced wuch the same effect. There has been no. thing which has rendered our General cfficers and
commissioners more ridiculous than their proclamations and official declarations. These have been so defective in point of composition, and so enigmatical in their stile, that they have had generally the appearance of being the compositions of some blundering lawyers, who always write not to be understood. All the papers in general which have been published since the beginning of this war, whether the accounts of battles, the victory and other transactions have been written more in the stile of the Sibyline oracles than in the expession of narrations intended to inform the public concerning matters of faci.
The royal arıny did not leave the head of the Elk until the third of September, when they began their march towards Philadelphia. In the mean time the provincials had advanced from Brandy Wine, and taken post at Red Clay Creek, from whence they pushed forward detachments . to leize the difficult posts in the woods, and to interrupt the march of the royal forces by continual fkirmishes. As the country was woody and difficult, and not well known by the roy. alists, and the colonills understood how to improve such circumstances, the General was obliged to march Nowly, and observe great caution ; and considering his situation, and the character of the commander in opposition, there was much necessity for caution and circumspection in every step of his march. The Bri. tish troops, were indeed brave, well commanded, and under good discipline; they were ready and willing to fight at command, but then they could not perform impossibilities. They had lately felt that the colonists could fight, and make a more formidable impreslion upon their ranks than they had beed taught to believe that they ever could. This had removed