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and his communication with the main army was CHAP. VIII. perfectly open, that part of the river being 1776. every where passable without any difficulty.
Hasty intrenchments were thrown up to strengthen, as much as time would admit, every part of the lines; and make them as defensible as possible.
The enemy, who had advanced from New Rochelle and Mamaraneck, and were within seven or eight miles of the White Plains, now October 28. made arrangements to attack general Washing- Battle of the ton in his camp. Early in the morning they advanced in two columns, the right commanded by sir Henry Clinton, and the left by general Knyphausen, accompanied by general Howe in person. Their advanced parties having encountered, and driven in the patrols they fell in with on the march, their van appeared, about ten o'clock, in full view of the American lines, and a cannonade commenced without much execution on either side.
The right of the enemy formed behind a rising ground about a mile in front of the camp, and extended from the road leading from Mamaraneck towards the Brunx, so that it was opposed to the centre of the American army.
On viewing general Washington's situation, general Howe determined to possess himself of the hill occupied by M‘Dougal, which he considered as important to the success of an
CHAP. VIII. attack on the centre and right of the American 1776.
camp. He therefore directed colonel Rawle with a brigade of Hessians which he com. manded, to cross the Brunx and make a cir. cuit so as to gain a position from which hę might annoy the right flank of general M‘Dougal, while brigadier general Leslie with the second brigade of British troops, the Hessian grenadiers under colonel Donop, and a Hessian battalion, should attack him in front. When colonel Rawle had gained the position he had been ordered to take, the detachment under the command of general Leslie also crossed the Brunx, and commenced a very vigorous attack on the Americans. The militia immediately fled, but the attack was sustained by the regulars with great gallantry. Colonel Smallwood's regiment of Maryland, and colonel Reitzimar's of New York, advanced boldly towards the foot of the hill to meet them; but after a sharp encounter, those regiments were overpowered by numbers and compelled to retreat. The enemy advanced with great resolution on the remaining part of M‘Dougal's forces, consisting of his own brigade, the Delaware battalion, and a small regiment of Connecticut militia, who were soon driven from the hill, but who kept up for some time an irregular engagement from the stone walls,
General Howe's letter.
and other enclosures about the scene of action. CHAP. VII. General Putnam, with general Beal's brigade, 1776. was ordered to their support, but not having arrived while they were in possession of the hill, it was deemed improper to attempt to regain it, and the troops retreated to the main army.
In this engagement, which, during its continuance, was very animated on both sides, the loss was supposed to have been about equal. That of the Americans was between three and four hundred in killed, wounded, and taken. Colonel Smallwood was among the wounded.
General Washington continued in his lines expecting an attack; to prepare for which his sick and baggage were removed into his rear; but as a considerable part of the day had been exhausted in gaining the hill which had been occupied by M‘Dougal, all attempts on his intrenchments were postponed until the next morning, and the whole British army lay on their arms the following night, in order of battle, and on the ground they had taken during the day.
The night was employed by general Washington in strengthening his works, removing his sick and baggage, and preparing, by changing the arrangement of his troops, for the expected attack. His left maintained its posi. tion, but his right was drawn back to stronger ground. Perceiving this, and being unwilling VOL. II.
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CHAP. VIII. to leave any thing to hazard, Howe resolved to 1776. postpone further offensive operations until lord
Percy should arrive with four battalions from
New York, and two from the post at MamaOctober 30. raneck. This re-enforcement was received on
the evening of the 30th, and preparations were then made for the attack next morning. In the night, however, and during the early part of the succeeding day, a violent rain fell which induced a further postponement of the assault. The provisions, and heavy baggage of the army, being now removed to much stronger grounds, and apprehending that the enemy, whose left wing, on the height taken from general M.Dougal, extended to his rear, might turn his camp, and occupy the strong grounds to which he designed to retreat, if an attempt on his lines should terminate unfortunately, general Washington changed his position in the night and withdrew to the heights of North
Castle, about five miles from the White Plains. November 1. At the same time he detached general Beal's
brigade to take possession of the bridge on Croton river, which lay a few miles in his rear, and over which is the road leading up the Hudson.
His present position was so strong that an attempt to force it was deemed imprudent, and general Howe determined to change entirely his plan of operations, and to give a new direc- CHAP. VIII. tion to his efforts.
s General Howe's letter.
1776. It has been already stated, that the anxiety to preserve, if possible, the navigation of the Hudson above King's bridge, had induced the American general to maintain the posts of forts Washington and Lee, on both sides that river. These posts, while held by the Americans, checked very essentially the movements of general Howe, who very justly deemed the complete possession of York island an object of too much importance to be longer neglected. With a view to the acquisition of them he directed general Knyphausen to cross the country from New Rochelle, and to take possession of King's bridge, where a small party of Americans were stationed in fort Independence. This he effected without opposition. On his approach the Americans retired to fort Washington, and Knyphausen entered York island, and encamped to the north of fort Washington, between that place and King's bridge.
In the mean time general Howe broke up his Nov. 5. camp at the White Plains, and marched to The British Dobbs' ferry, from whence he retired slowly to King's down the North river towards King's bridge. The American general was immediately aware of his views on fort Washington and the Jer.
army returns to King's bridge.
+ General Howe's letter.