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often led them on to meet a fresh partye who after giving them a few well-aimed vollies retired and left them in the fame manner to pursue as they were able; That by this method of fighting the provincials were very little exposed and yet did great execution upon their enemies.
In this engagement General Howe acted the part of a skillful General and did all that was in his
power to obtain a complete victory. --His detaching of Lord Cornwallis and his column was a wife and prudent manauvre, and in this he nearly out:schemed General Washington. But the other fhewed a readiness of invention and penetration in detaching Sullivan, that shewed he knew how to make the best even of a disadvantage. Whatever may be the merits ofboth generals it must be granted that the King's army was led on with great judgment, and commanded with much fagacity, and the commanding officers did all that could have been expected of great commanders.' It is to be observed, that in this battle the provincial forces were met in the open field, and with no great advantage of situation. The King's troops obtained a victory, but not of that final and decisive kind which the public were made to expect from the boatting of the ministry, and the fupposed valour of our men. It had been long imagined by some, and positively af. firmed by the fanguine fupporters of this war, that provided the King's trocps could meet the rebels in an open field they would soon put an end to the war; and now they had fought from break of day till the ffars appeared, and were little farther advanced than when they began. The armies were nearly equal in number, and by the confeffion of our men and officers the ground nearly the same to both, and yet a whole
day's desperate fighting made very little alteration in the late of the war. General Howe had gained a victory and the enemy had fled, but the conqueror was obliged to be as cautious and as much upon his guard after the victory as before ; which shews thať it was no way decisive: General Washington food repaired his loss and was in a few days ready for the field. The British army was now posted at Concord and Afhtern, whilft a detachment was sent to seize Wilmington, which was made a receptacle for the fick and the wounded. Upon his march towards Goshen, the British general received information, that the enemy had quitted Philadelphia, and were advanced upon the Lancaster road, a few miles above that place. Upon this advice he took fuch effe&tual meafures for bringing them to an engagement, that nothing but the event which happened could have prevented his design. An excessive fall of rain which overtook both armies upon their march, and which concinued without intermission for 24 hours, rendered both parties equally incapable for action.
General Howe lost this opportunity, and though he tried all his art for several days, and moved backwards and forwards, and in all directions belonging to the art of war, he could not bring the Americans into the situation they had been in before. While he was busied in marching and counter-marching, he received information that General Wayne with 1500 men, was lying in the woods upon some scheme of enterprize, in the rear, and at a small distance from the left wing of the army. He detached Major Gene: ral Grey with two regiments and a body of light infantry to surprize them in the night. General Grey conducted this enterprize with equal ability and fuc
cefs, though perhaps not with that humanity which is so generally conspicuous in his character. In imi. tation of a similar proceeding at the battle.of Minden, he took effectual measures that a single shot should not be fired in the course of the expedition, and that the execution should only be done by the point of the bayonets. The night favoured this design, as the troops marched filently on the enemy unawares; had 'they been perceived before they came near it would not have been easy to have attacked them, as they would have fpent some fires upon
their retreated for safety. In pursuing this design the provincial out.posts and pickets, were compleatly surprized and forced, without noise, about one in the morning, and the troops being directed by the light of their fires, rushed in upon the encamprent, where a fevere and horrible execution ensued, about 300 being either killed or wounded upon the spot, and a number of prisoners taken. The remainder escaped by the darkness of the night, and some prudent difpositions inade by the officer who commanded the A. mericans, with the loss of the greatest part of their baggage, arms, and stores. The conquerors in this action loft only a captain of light infantry, and three private men, and about as many wounded. The British troops as well as the officer that commanded them gained but little honour by this midnight flaughter.“ It shewed rather desperate cruelty ihan real valour to put
fo many men to the sword who were not under arins, but the greatest part asleep in their huts or tents funk in drowsiness which is common to all men in the night when they are expecting no danger. — The commanding officer of the provincials was much to blame for being at all off his guard when he was so
an enemy; for had his out guards been placed so as to have given the alarm in time, they might have been able either to have defended themselves, or fed from the fury of a desperate enemy.
It was faid that a great number of those that were killed on that occafion, were people who had left their houles and fled for fhelter into the woods for fear of the enemy; that few of them had any arms, and were not in a situation to defend themselves. It is the unavoidable consequence of all wars, but espea cially civil wars, to involve the innocent and helpless in the same hardships and distress, with the guilty; and it is frequently in some cases difficult to distin. guish the one from the other in the midit of the : bustle of war and the commixture of parties. Accidents of this nature falling out in the hands of Gené.
ral Grey, or Sir William Howe, carried a worse alpea, than if they had happened under the authority of a Vaughan, a Grairt, or a Prevost. The professions of liberty which these first gentlemen had fo often made, and their former character, as hu. mane and brave men, made any action that had the appearance of cruelty, or was inimical to the gene . ral rights of mankind, strike the attention of the public more forcibly, than any transactions from the hands of those from whom no better things were expected. It was even painful to many true friends of the Britifta constiturich, that one of the first and greatest officers in Europe, and a proteffed friend of the natural rights of mankind, should so much as be sufpected of an action unworthy of his character. They endeavoured to cover this transaction with the mantle of charity, and to put as favourable a construction upon it as polible. History must do justice to truth, M m
and transmit transactions to posterity as they happen. ed, without respect of persons or regard to particular attachments. These ideas of honour, which military men ofren are possessed of determine them to pursuits, which, as philosophers, their minds can never ap. prove. It has much the appearance of inconsistency, for men to disapprove of a war as unrighteous, and oppressive, and yet become the principal conductors of it, and leaders in the oppreffion.
General Howe finding that the enemy could not by any means be brought to action, and that'they were ardently abandoning the protection of the capital, rather than hazard a final decision, took measures, to possess himself of the command of the Schuylkill, which at length enabled him to pafs the army over that river without opposition. Upon September 26th he advanced to Germantown, and next morning Lord Cornwallis took possession of Philadelphia. Thus was this rich and flourishing city the capital of the most rising colony, and the seat of the general congress of delegates, who gave, laws and government to the continent of North America, reduced without opposition, and of consequence without damage. It remains as yet among the mysteries of this war, why the colonists, so easily gave up this city, and why the king's troops so soon abandoned and Teft it. The Americans on this occalion acted with a prudence, and foresight, which was not the priviledge of our commanders, and.commissioners. They well knew that the keeping of this city, and the obstacles which they had prepared in the river Delaware to embarrass the enemy, would so weaken General Howe's army before he could receive
any reinforce ments, that they would have it in their power either