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men with artillery—had been detached and was marching rapidly toward the upper fords of the Brandywine. This report was followed by others of the most contradictory nature; it was believed by some that the movement was a feint, and that the detached troops, having decoyed away a portion of the American army, would return and join Knyphausen, who was formed opposite the ford. Some stated the force to be greater, some less; a man who left the fords of the Brandywine, after it should have arrived there, said that no enemy had been seen. Washington's first intention had been to detach Lord Stirling to oppose in force the crossing above, while he crossed the ford and attacked Knyphausen, but this he relinquished, in the absence of definite information as to the movements of the enemy. Finally, late in the day, all conjecture was set at rest by the news that Cornwallis had crossed the river above in great force, and was rapidly moving down upon the American position. Preparations were at once made to meet and resist the attack. The divisions of Sullivan, Stirling, and Stephens moved up the river, and formed to meet the column of Cornwallis; Wayne and Maxwell remained at the ford to hold knyphausen in check, and Washington, taking a position between the two, held the rest of the army in reserve.
The Americans, detached to meet Cornwallis, were scarcely formed at a point above Birmingham meeting-house, when the British appeared in order of battle, and at about half past four the fight began. For some time the firing was kept up hotly on both sides; then the American right, unable longer to withstand the terrible fire and the pressure of superior numbers, broke and fell back, exposing the next division to a fire upon its flanks, which no force could long endure. So that, as well others in turn followed, and soon all were engaged in a disorderly retreat. Washington sent Greene with two brigades hurriedly forward to the support of the retreating army. He was, however, too late to check, he could only cover the retreat. This he did most gallantly, again and again repulsing the pursuing British, until the advance of fresh men in his front, coupled with the approach of darkness, led Cornwallis to give over pursuit and encamp for the night. In the meantime Knyphausen, only awaiting the opening of the fight in the other quarter, proceeded to cross the ford, which was defended by a small redoubt, mounting three field pieces and a howitzer. After a most brave and stubborn resistance, the work was carried by the Hessians, and the defeat of the right becoming known, the left retired and the American army encamped at Chester. The Americans lost in this battle three hundred killed and six hundred wounded. The British took six hun. dred prisoners, of whom nearly all are included in the number of the wounded. The loss of the British was still more heavy. The defeat of the right was due to the giving way of Deborre's brigade. After the close of the campaign an inquiry into the conduct of its commander was
ordered and he at once resigned. The battleground of the day was but twenty-six miles from Philadelphia, and all day long the inhabitants of that city remained in the public streets listening to the distant muttering of artillery. They stood in separate crowds, tories and whigs, wishing and praying for opposite results. In the evening came a courier announcing the defeat of the Americans, and a panic seized the patriots; whole families fled, the roads leading from the city were blocked with loads of household goods, while many deserted all they possessed, only seeking safety for themselves. All considered that Philadelphia was lost. Congress determined to remove from the city to Lancaster, and but awaited further news before carrying this resolve into execution, in the meantime ordering the Pennsylvania militia and fifteen hundred regulars from the Hudson to join Washington. They also conferred upon the commander in chief for a period of sixty days very extraordinary powers over all territory within ninety miles of headquarters. These included the right to impress stock and provisions, to suspend officers for misbehavior and to fill vacancies, under that of brigadier-general.
In this battle fought for the first time the young Marquis de Lafayette, who served as a volunteer, having a short time before come from France and received an honorary commission in the American army. Besides Lafayette, Count Pulaski, Captain Louis Fleury and General Conway also served as volunteers, with distinguished bravery, all being foreign officers. Congress made Pulaski a brigadier-general with command of cavalry, and voted Fleury a horse to replace the une killed under him in the fight. The unlucky Deborre, whose sensitiveness led to his resignation, as stated, was a Frenchman and a soldier of fortune. To Lafayette's pen we owe one of the most vivid and picturesque descriptions of the battle extant. On the inorning of the 12th, Washington retreated through Derby and halted at Germantown, near Philadelphia, where he desired to give his army a day's rest. In spite of the retreat of the Americans, which was, in fact, nothing less than a total rout, General Howe, with the lack of promptness which had more than once saved the Continental army, neglected to pursue at once his manifest advantage, passed the night on the field of battle, spent the two days following at Dilworth, sending out detachments to seize several neighboring towns. Lafayette says, apropos of this dilatory course: “Had the enemy marched directly to Derby the American army would have been cut up and destroyed; they lost a precious night, and it is perhaps the greatest fault in this war, in which they have committed many."
Washington would not admit to himself that the battle was decisive. He sounded his soldiers upon their feelings, and, finding that they regarded the result at Brandywine as a check, not a defeat, resolved to have one more test of skill with Howe. He placed a militia guard in Philadelphia, distributed other detachments along the Schuylkill, removed the boats, form
ing the floating bridge over the river, to his own side, then, on the 14th, re-crossing the river with his main army, advanced along the Lancaster road, in the hope of turning the left flank of the British. The enemy was prepared and had extended his right with the intention of outflanking. The forces approached each other near the Warren tavern, twenty-three miles from Philadelphia. The skirmish between the advance lines had actually commenced when began a heavy rain, which lasted twenty-four hours, effectually suspending the fight. The Americans suffered more from this storm than did the British, being unprovided with shelter or suitable clothing, and, worse than all, the ill-fitted locks of their muskets and the poor construction of their cartridge boxes, admitting water, so that an army already mostly without bayonets was, for the time, nearly without firearms as well. Such being the case, Washington felt that an attack would be suicidal; hence he began a retreat along roads deep with mud, a powerful enemy in his rear, ruined arms and useless cartridges his only defense; before him a helpless city. It was one of the most mortifying and trying moments of his long service. He had intended to halt for the remainder of the night at Yellow Springs, but an inspection at that point showed that scarcely one musket in a hundred, or one cartridge in a box could be discharged. Hence, the march was continued, and at Warwick Furnace, on the southern branch of French creek, ammunition and a few muskets were obtained. General Smallwood was already in the rear of the British force, and from French creek General Wayne was directed to move with his division, join Smallwood and, keeping his movements concealed as much as possible, to engage the enemy at every favorable opportunity. While occupying this position the British received minute information as to his force and situation. A night attack was made upon his position on the 20th of September. He was taken completely by surprise, but formed his men, fired a few volleys, retired and re-formed, saving all of his division but about two hundred and fifty killed, wounded, and prisoners. Wayne, severely criticised for allowing himself to be thus surprised, later demanded a court-martial, which being accorded, he was honorably discharged. Howe, with his rear thus disencumbered, marched to French creek and set himself down before Washington in such a manner that he might turn the right flank of the latter. Seeing his danger the American general effected one of his quick changes, and encamped in a more advantageous position. Howe seemed to despair of coming to blows, for he at once gave up the effort to engage, readily forced the fords of the Schuylkill, and moved toward Philadelphia, resting for the first night in a strong position upon the road. The commander was now placed in a very delicate and distressing position. Public opinion demanded the defense of Philadelphia at all hazards; Congress echoed the desire. A battle, so light a thing in the estimate of these civilians, seemed to Washington to mean almost certain disaster. His army had
not yet been joined by the forces detached under Wayne and Smallwood. His reinforcements from the Hudson had been detained by an incursion from New York, but were now approaching, while a militia reinforcement was daily expected from New Jersey. He would soon be comparatively strong. Now he was weak,-lamentably weak—and, look at it as he might, he could see nothing to justify him in risking an open fight with a superior force. A council of war was accordingly held; the situation was carefully canvassed, and the unanimous voice of the officers, composing the council, was against risking the existence of an army upon which everything depended, in what must prove a vain effort to succor even so important a city as Philadelphia.
The condition of the army was now indeed most distressing. It was the old story. Winter was coming with no provision to meet it. A thousand men in the army were absolutely without shoes. Clothing of every kind was scanty and ragged. Food for the winter was to be found; hospital stores for the sick, who at times threatened to be in a majority. Lieutenantcolonel Alexander Hamilton, one of Washington's aides, was sent to Philadelphia with a message recommending that cloths, medicines, and other stores needed by the army be seized, warrants given for their value, and the whole removed to a place of safety, for the double purpose of supplying a great want and of preventing them from falling into the hands of the British. In spite, however, of all his address, Hamilton failed to obtain a supply approaching adequacy, though nearly all such supplies in the city, whether in the public stores or the property of individuals, were carried away so thắt when the British entered on the 26th of September they found, like Mother Hubbard, only a very bare cupboard.
BATTLE OF GERMANTOWN-CLOSE OF THE CAMPAIGN.
FTER the loss of Philadelphia, Washington's first desire and effort
were to make the British tenure of that city insecure. He therefore erected works on Mud island, near the junction of the Schuylkill and the Delaware, which were christened Fort Mifflin; another work-Fort Mercer—was thrown up at Red Bank, opposite Mud island, on the Jersey shore, and, between the two, in the deep water of the channel, was sunk a line of chevaux de frise, which could not be penetrated so long as the American defenses were held. Three miles below, another line of obstructions was placed in the river, defended by a fort at Billingsport. Several American vessels of war, including two frigates and a number of galleys, were disposed above Fort Mifflin, and it was hoped, by the combined action of all, to prevent the co-operation of the British feet with the army at Philadelphia; to render impossible the obtaining of supplies for the latter by water, and to so command the upper river shores as to prevent the collection of supplies from New Jersey. Such a blockade, if maintained, was certain to compel the evacuation of Philadelphia. At the very outset of this endeavor the Americans were so unfortunate as to lose the frigate Delaware, which was left aground by the receding tide and captured, while cannonading the unfinished works of the British near Philadelphia. Lord Howe was not slow in perceiving the necessity of opening the communication by water between the captured city and the sea. To this end he detached a force into the Jerseys, to accomplish the capture of the American works at Billingsport, and to co-operate with the fleet in the clearing of remaining obstacles to the navigation of the Delaware.
A close observation of Washington's tactics during the war, will show how uniform was his practice of striking offensive blows, when the enemy was divided in his force; such a policy was likely, even when not crowned with success, to compel the recall of detachments and the abar donnoi