« PreviousContinue »
with a very unusual degree of recollection as well as resolution, took a third position with so much judg. ment, that their front was covered by a marshy hol. low, which scarcely admitted the possibility of an at: tack. This does not well agree with a complete and total defeat. The truth of the matter is, that the whole manner and method of the colonists proceeding was but one plan. They perceived the intention of the British general, and knew the pressing circumstances he was in : that he intended to make a re. solute and vigorous attack to save his baggage, and if poflible to defeat that advanced party that hung upon his rear. They therefore provided against a defperate attack, by forming in two lines, and taking new posts, to which they retired regularly when they were severely preffed. This both saved their men, and fatigued their enemy, and afforded new advantages, which the English forces could not obtain. By the resistance which our men had met with from the first and second lines, but especially from the second, their vigour was fufficiently abated, and they found from experience that those men whom they had so often determined to be cowards, were very different from what they apprehended.
General Clinton found, from the vigorous resistance the provincials had made against his best troops, and from the post they had now taken, that the issue would be very doubtful, should he attempt to diflodge them from the post they were now in. After he had made some dispositions, as if he meant to attack them, by bringing up the second line, and making the light infantry and rangers turn to the left, he desisted from the attempt. His best troops had now done
all that they were able to do; they were overpowere: ed with heat, wearied with fatigue, and had been feyerely handled in the two former attacks ; and the others that were now ready to have made the third, were neither of the fame character for intrepidity, nor in case of a repulse, were they likely to have made a good retreat in their present situation. He therefore thought it better not to press the affair any further. In this he behaved prudently, for as he had as yet been engaged with but a part of the American army, and the main force was advancing, he would have been obliged to have engaged fresh. troops, with an army already very much fatigued by the former actions. He had so far gained his intention, with regard to the baggage, as the convoy was Dow without the reach of danger. The American army made a bold attempt to cut off the retreat of the light infantry, which laid the general under the necessity of making some new arrangements, which, considering the excessive heat of the day, were ex. ceedingly difficult to be effected, but were absolutely necessary for the preservation of the army. The British forces at length returned to the post, from whence the provincials had at first retreated, after quitting the plain.
The event justified the opinion of General Clinton, with respect to the Americans design on the baggage, and the propriety of his attacking the provincials at the time, and in the manner he did. Two brigades of the American light troops had passed our army, one on each flank, with that view, and had made the attempt, but were repulsed by the fortieth regiment and the light horse. Matters, however, were like
to turn very serious and critical, and Sir Henry Clinton began to perceive, should he perfist in the engagea, ment, that the issue would be very doubtful, as the , colonists were advancing, and seemed eager in main., taining the dispute ; he therefore thought it prudent to pursue the baggage as fast as he was able. Our accounts of this affair set it forth in this manner: " Sir Henry Clinton having now fully attained his objeét, for the Generals Knyphausen and Grant, with the first division and baggage, were asrived at Nutą. Swamp near Middletown, could have no inducement for continuing in his present situation. The troops had already, gained sufficient honour, in forcing suca cessively from two strong positions, a corps of the enemy, which he was informed, amounted to near 12,000 men, and the merit of the service was much enhanced by the unequalled circumstances of heat and fatigue under which it was performed. The enemy were much superior in force to the division immedia ately under his command; and if the equality had been even nearer, it would still have seemed imprudent to have hazarded an engagement, at such a distance from the rest of his army, in a country not only hofa tile, but which, from its nature, must have been ruinous to strangers, under any circumstance of defeat. And as the heat of the weather rendered marching by day intolerable, so the moon-light ad. ded to the elegibility of the night, for that purpose. Upon some or all of these accounts, the troops have ing reposed till ten o'clock, the army was again put in motion, and they marched forward to join their fellows."
When matters are faithfully compared, it does not appear that there were any such great numbers of American troops present at this engagement: That only the 5000 men that were sent to harrass the march of our troops, were all the force that had yet been engaged. That those troops, by the order of Gen. Lee, had retreated, and were again rallied by the command of General Washington, and made such an impression upon our forces, as gave the General reason to believe, that, provided he should adventure the issue of the action, it would at least be very doubtful. It was plain to the impartial part of our army, that the colonists upon this occasion, withstood, with much bravery, the very best of our troops, and seemed to behave like veteran soldiers. The grena. diers, the
from all the regiments, together with the guards, who generally claim the post of honour, found in experience, that they could fupport their honoar with difficulty, against the attacks of men who fought for the rights of human nature, more than for the empty honours of war. The former boasting of our officers and men, and the contempt.in which they held the Americans, began now more to decrease, and our officers began to find that caution was now a very necessary part of practice in carrying on the American war.
The loss on our side is represented as very inconsiderable in point of the number of the sain, buc particularly grievous by the loss of the brave Colonel Monkton, who had behaved with much military bravery in several former actions, and had been grievously wounded, both in the last war and the present. After several narrow escapes in the field,
he was reserved to be killed on this day, at the head of the second battalion of grenadiers. A very particular circumstance rendered this day and action remarkable, and unparallelled in the History of America. Fifty-nine soldiers perifhed, without receiving a wound, merely through excessive heat and fatigue. Some of the Americans are said to have suffered in the same manner, though bred in the country and inured to the climate. Of all the actions since the commencement of the war, our troops were in this exposed to the greatest hardships, though they sus. tained greater loss of men in some others. A good part of the management of this retreat, and conducting of our troops out of danger, depended upon General Grey, whom our accounts do not mention in the whole of this affair : He had some narrow escapes, having his horse killed under him, and the heads of some soldiers, which had been taken off by cannonballs, lying beside him, when he recovered from the entanglement of his horse. And there is much rea, son to conclude that the loss of this day has not as yet been fully ascertained. The account which the Americans give of the loss on our fide is different from ours, and has some internal marks of authenticity in them, not so clearly to be perceived in our official representations. From the plainest and best accounts it appears, that though our men behaved with much bravery, yet they were hard pressed, and with difficulty supported their march, which they were obliged to do in the night, when they escaped by the favour of darkness.
The Americans claimed great honour to that detachment of their troops, which was engaged in the