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1776]

WASHINGTON'S RETREAT.

229

even the use of a Bible, were denied him; and letters which he had written to his mother and sisters were destroyed. His last words were, “I only regret that I have but one life to give to my country.”

CHAPTER VIII.

WASHINGTON'S RETREAT.-BATTLE OF WHITE PLAINS.

318. On the 15th of September, a large detachment of the British army crossed the East River, three miles above the city, and spread out across the island. Most of the American army had made good their retreat towards the Harlem River; but the rear-guard, consisting of 4,000 men under Putnam, would have been cut off, had not a whig lady, at whose house the British generals called for refreshments, managed to detain them with her hospitalities till the danger was past. Putnam's men had been fifteen hours under arms, and not a few fell before reaching camp from the effects of fatigue and excessive heat.

319. So discouraged were the Americans by their recent disasters that Washington found some vigorous movement necessary to restore their confidence. The morning after the British landed, an opportunity occurred. Several parties of the enemy approached the American camp. Engaging their attention by an attack in front, Washington sent Colonel Knowlton and Major Leitch to fall upon their rear.

The British, though reënforced, were driven from the field with the loss of more than 100 men. The Americans lost about half that number, among whom were the two brave officers just mentioned.

320. The British now held possession of New York. At midnight on the 20th of September, a fire broke out in the was undertaken by Capt. Nathan Hale? Give an account of it. What was Hale's fate?

318. What movement was made by the British, September 15th, 1776? Whither had the main body of the American army retreated ? How was their rear-guard saved ? 319. What took place on the morning of September 16th? What was the loss on both sides ? 320. What took place in New York on the 20th of Septem

of

city, which was not arrested till 493 buildings, including Trinity Church, were consumed. Meanwhile, the Americans were strengthening their position on the upper part of the island. A double line of intrenchments was hastily thrown up, and Fort Washington was erected on a rocky height overlooking the Hudson. Among those who distinguished themselves by their skill in the construction of these defences was Alexander Hamilton, now about 20 years age.

The mathematical perfection of his work elicited the admiration of Washington, who invited him to his quarters, and soon made him his chief aide-de-camp and counsellor.

321. Deeming the American works too strong to be attacked in front, Howe determined to gain their rear; and, having sent part of his fleet up the Hudson to prevent communication with the west and south, he moved up the Sound with the greater part of his army, and took a position northeast of Washington's camp. To avoid an engagement, the American commander, after leaving a garrison of about 3,000 men in Fort Washington, which it was resolved to hold to the last extremity, withdrew his main body from Manhattan Island, and, after a trying march, fixed his head-quarters at White Plains. On the 28th of October, Howe came up, and a furious cannonade commenced. The Americans, having been driven from one of their positions, fell back a short distance, and intrenched themselves so strongly during the ensuing night that Howe deemed it prudent to wait for reenforcements. Before he was ready to renew the attack, Washington withdrew to North Castle, among the hills south of the Croton River. Howe did not follow, but, after remaining several days at White Plains, retired towards New York.

322. The plans of the British general were not known; but Washington, apprehending a descent upon Philadelphia, left Gen. Lee with about 4,000 men at North Castle, and

ber? Meanwhile, what were the Americans doing? Who distinguished himself in this work? To what post was Hamilton soon raised ? 321. What were the next movements of the British? How did Washington meet them? Where did be fix his head-quarters ? What took place, October 28th? Where did Washington finally go? What did Howe do? 322. What did Washington apprehend ?

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What course did he pursue ? [See Map.- Where did the British land, October
12th? What river lay between their route and that of the Americans ? What
river still farther to the west ?] Where did Washington fix his head-quarters ?
What intelligence did he here receive? 323. What took place, November 17th ?
How many Americans surrendered ? What was the British loss ?

What was

meeting the enemy in the field. Without knowing the disadvantages under which he labored, many condemned his successive retreats, which alone insured the safety of his army and the ultimate establishment of American liberty.

324. On the 19th of November, the British crossed the Hudson. After taking Fort Lee, which was abandoned on their approach, they started in pursuit of Washington's army, now reduced to 3,000 men. Orders had been sent to Lee, to bring on his detachment from North Castle, but they were disobeyed on various pretexts. A rapid and melancholy retreat across New Jersey was conducted by Washington in his usual masterly manner, the British pressing closely on his rear. The American troops suffered much, many of them being without shoes, and leaving blood-stained tracks on the frozen ground. At last they reached the Delaware at Trenton, and, the boats having been secured for a distance of 70 miles, crossed to Pennsylvania. Cornwallis came up soon after; but, instead of bridging the river or building boats, he preferred waiting till the ice should enable him to cross, stationing detachments at Princeton, New Brunswick, and various points on the Jersey shore of the Delaware.

CHAPTER IX.

BATTLES OF TRENTON AND PRINCETON.

325. WASHINGTON'S

army

seemed on the eve of dissolution. The defeats it had sustained, its lamentable condition, and the news of advantages gained by the British in Rhode Island and elsewhere, led to constant desertions, and deterred those who favored the patriot cause from arming in its dethe effect of the capture of Fort Washington ? 324. What was the next movement of the British ? How large was Washington's army? What orders were sent to Lee! Describe the retreat of the Americans. What was their condition ? How far did Cornwallis continue the pursuit? While waiting to cross on the ice, what disposition did he make of his troops ?

325. What was the condition of Washington's army? What causes led to de sertions ? What did Congress deem it prudent to do? What befell Gen. Lee?

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BATTLE OF TRENTON.

233

fence. Philadelphia was in danger, and Congress deemed it prudent to remove to Baltimore. General Lee, advancing leisurely in spite of Washington's commands, and taking quarters at a distance from his troops, was captured by a scouting party of the enemy. But Sullivan, who had been exchanged for a British general, succeeded to his command, and speedily effected a union with Washington. About the same time, some recruits from Pennsylvania reached the American

camp, and the commander-in-chief thus found himself, at the head of about 5,000 men,

326. To revive the spirits of his countrymen, Washington resolved on a bold enterprise. Trenton was occupied by 1,500 Hessians, under Col. Rahl, and a troop of British horse. Supposing that the Germans, according to their custom, would spend Christmas in revelry, and rest soundly after their carousals, he determined to attempt a surprise. The night of December 25th was starless and stormy. The Delaware was full of ice. Two divisions of the American army were unable to cross; but the third, under Washington and Sullivan, made the passage, and at four on the morning of the 26th commenced their march for Trenton.

The surprise was successful. Col. Rahl, still engaged in his revels,

Maidenhead was suddenly startled by the sound of musketry. Hastening to his men, he found them hemmed in on all sides, and, while endeavoring to

to form them for action, he MOVEMENTS ABOUT TRENTON, DEC. 26TH,

1776-JAN. 3D, 1777. was mortally wounded. Nearly a thousand Hessians at once threw down their arms.

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What became of his army? How was Washington's force further increased ? 326. On what did Washington resolve? By whom was Trenton occupied ? Describe the crossing of the Delaware. [See Map.-At the junction of what two streams is Trenton? Which general took the route nearest the river ?] How was Col. Rahl engaged? What did he do? What befell him ? How many Hessians surrendered? What was Washington's next movement? How many men

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