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been thrown into disorder by contradictory intelligence; by disobedience of orders; by the meddling and blundering of individuals ; and he had not felt disposed, he said, to beard the whole British army, with troops in such a situation.
“I have certain information,” rejoined Washington, “that it was merely a strong covering party."
“That may be, but it was stronger than mine, and I did not think proper to run such a risk.”
“I am very sorry,” replied Washington, “that you undertook the command unless you meant to fight the enemy.'
“I did not think it prudent to bring on a general engagement.”
“Whatever your opinion may have been,” replied Washington, disdainfully, “I expected my orders would have been obeyed.
All this passed very quickly. The immediate and pressing necessity was to change the fortune of the day. The ground where Washington had met Lee was favorable for a stand, being elevated and capable of approach from in front, only over a narrow causeway. The troops were hastily formed upon the high ground, with batteries upon the height, and, masked by the woods, on the left, for their support. Lee expected to be relieved, but Washington ordered him to take command of this position, while he himself formed the main body upon the next elevation.
A warm cannonade held the enemy for a time, and Washington had formed his reserve in an advantageous position between woods and a morass, before Lee was directly assailed. The latter made a gallant resistance, and was himself the last to leave the ground, when obliged to give way; his troops retired in good order, across the causeway leading to the position of the American right, under command of Lord Stirling. The British advanced, but, finding themselves warmly opposed by the American front, changed their tactics and made an effort to turn the left, where General Greene was in command. Here again were they checked, Greene's artillery doing great execution upon them, and also enfilading the British force in front of the left. General Wayne, advancing with an infantry reserve, opened so hot and well directed a fire as to compel the enemy to withdraw to the ground from which they had driven Lee. Though this position was very strong, Washington determined to assail it, and advanced his artillery to the causeway, while he detached forces, on either hand, to attack the enemy's flanks. The battle was renewed on this ground with great spirit, and was continued until night fell, and left the Americans with the advantage upon their side. Two hours more of daylight would have been enough to make the result decisive. The American force slept on their arms, Washington himself lying, wrapped in a blanket, at the foot of a tree, with Lafayette beside him. During the night, however, the British, sending their wounded in advance, deserted the field, and, as it was certain that they
must reach the strong ground about Middletown, before they could be overtaken, and the advantage would then be all on their side, it was deemed wise not to attempt a pursuit. The Americans lost in the battle eight officers and sixty-one privates, killed; and one hundred and sixty wounded. The burying parties found four British officers, and two hundred and forty-five non-commissioned officers and privates, dead on the field, and many fresh graves. About one hundred prisoners were also taken, most of whom were wounded. Lafayette says of the battle : “Never was General Washington greater in victory, than in this action. His presence stopped the retreat. His disposition fixed the victory. His fine appearance on horseback; his calm courage, roused by the animation produced by the vexation of the morning, gave him the air best calculated to excite enthusiasm."
The conduct of Lee had excited the most decided disapproval of Washington, yet it is more than likely that a frank explanation, on the part of the former, might have smoothed the matter over, for he certainly was outnumbered, and he afterward made the very plausible explanation that his intention in retreating was only to form upon more advantageous ground, and that the spot where he met Washington was that which he had selected for his stand. He did not, however, choose so wise a course, but, stung by his public rebuke, wrote the commander in chief a very impertinent letter, calling for an explanation of "the very singular expressions" used by the latter in their encounter. Washington answered in a dignified tone, when Lee replied in a still more objectionable manner, demanding an investigation, and indicating a preference for a court-martial, rather than a simple court of inquiry. Washington promised to gratify this desire, and, at the earliest moment caused the arrest of Lee, and preferred against him the following charges :
First. For disobedience of orders in not attacking the enemy on the 28th of June, agreeably to repeated instructions.
Secondly. For misbehavior before the enemy, on the same day, in making an unnecessary, disorderly, and shameful retreat.
Thirdly. For disrespect to the commander in chief, in two letters.
A court-martial was at once appointed, and sat from day to day, following the march of the army, from the 4th of July to the 12th of August. The testimony revealed extenuating circumstances, and, in the end, Lee was found guilty upon all the charges, the sole amendment being to strike out the word shameful from the second. He was sentenced to suspension for one year, subject to the approval of Congress, and, that body having somewhat reluctantly confirmed the judgment, the sentence went into effect. Though he had courted investigation, and had requested that it be by court-martial, he chose, from the moment of his arrest, to pose as a persecuted and injured man. He was loud and constant in his abuse of Washington, while the latter, so far as possible, avoided mentioning his name in public, and.
when compelled to use it, spoke of him with the greatest forbearance.
As Lee's name does not again appear in connection with the conduct of the war, it may be well to dismiss him, with a few words regarding his further history. Upon the confirmation of his sentence, he purchased and retired to a plantation in Virginia, having previously been wounded by Colonel Laurens, one of Washington's aides, in a duel arising from a particularly abusive remark concerning the commander in chief. The house in which he lived upon this plantation was little more than a shell, having no partitions to divide it. Lee, with a grim humor which was one of his characteristics, chalked off lines upon the floor, dividing the house into sleeping rooms, drawing and dining rooms, etc., and, as he said, had the advantage of sitting in one corner and overlooking the whole, without the trouble of rising. Becoming tired of a country life, he made efforts to sell his plantation, and, while in Philadelphia upon that mission, was seized with a fever and died. The closing lines of his will were these. “I desire most earnestly that I may not be buried in any church or churchyard, or within a mile of any Presbyterian or any Baptist meetinghouse, for, since I have resided in this country, I have kept so much bad company while living, that I do not choose to continue it when dead." He was, however, buried with military honors in the cemetery of Christ church, Philadelphia.
ARRIVAL OF A FRENCH FLEET-ATTEMPT AGAINST NEWPORT-STONY POINT.
AFTER the battle of Monmouth, Washington, apprehending a British
movement against the Hudson, forced his march in that direction, coming to a halt, for the purpose of resting his men, only when, having reached Paramus, he learned that the enemy, dividing his army into three divisions, had gone into camp upon Long island, Staten island and New York island. It was while still at Paramus, and on the night of the 13th of July, that he received from Congress, notice of the arrival of a French fleet, under Admiral the Count D'Estaing, with directions to communicate with the latter and concert a plan for co-operation with liim. The fleet consisted of six ships of the line and twelve frigates, and brought a land force of four thousand men. Leaving Toulon on the 12th of April, the adversity of the wind had prolonged the passage to eighty.five days. It finally dropped anchor, off the mouth of the Delaware, on the 8th of July, just too late to entrap the British fleet, which had sailed to New York. D'Estaing, immediately upon his arrival, sent a very courteous letter to Washington, from which the following is an extract: “I have the honor of imparting to your Excellency, the arrival of the king's fleet, charged by His Majesty with the glorious task of giving his allies, the United States of America, the most striking proofs of his affection. Nothing can be wanting in my happiness, if I can succeed in it. It is augmented by the considera tion of concerting my operations with a general such as your Excellency. The talents and great actions of General Washington have insured him in the eyes of Europe, the title, truly sublime, of Deliverer of America."
Accompanying D’Estaing, were the newly and first appointed French minister to the United States, and Mr. Silas Deane, one of the American commissioners who had negotiated the alliance. These were sent up to Philadelphia in a frigate, and the remainder of the squadron sailed along the coast to Sandy Hook, where, having arrived, D'Estaing discovered the