« ZurückWeiter »
idea that the majority of the inhabitants of the colonies were favorably disposed towards the royal government, and were only restrained from manifesting their loyalty by a faction whom it would be easy with their assistance to subdue, but from this period they appear to have conducted their hostilities in a spirit of desperation and revenge.
CAMPAIGN OF 1779.
With a view of alarming the insurgent colonies by subjecting them to the unmitigated horrors of war, Sir Henry Clinton, on the 10th of May, 1779, sent an expedition into Virginia, under the command of Sir George Collier and General Matthews, who, landing at Portsmouth, proceeded to Suffolk, which town they reduced to ashes, and after burning and capturing upwards of 130 vessels of different sizes, and devastating the country in their line of march, sailed back loaded with booty to New York. About five weeks after their return, Governor Tryon, having received orders to attack the coast of Connecticut,* landed at East Haven, which he devoted to the flames, in violation of his promise of protection to all the inhabitants who should remain in their homes. Thence he proceeded to Fairfield and Norwalk, which were given up to plunder, and then destroyed. He effected this mischief with little loss in the space of ten days, at the end of which time he returned to the British head-quarters to make a report of his proceedings, to the commander-in-chief. Whilst this mode of warfare was carrying on, Washington could spare very few men for the defence of the invaded districts. His attention was engrossed by the main army of the British, to keep which in check he posted his forces at West Point, and on the opposite bank of the Hudson, pushing his patrols to the vicinity of his adversary's lines. As the British occupied with a strong garrison Stoney Point, some miles to the south of his position, he, on the 15th of July, despatched General Wayne with a competent force to dislodge them from that important post. This attempt was crowned with success. Wayne took the British works by storm, and brought off 543 prisoners, fifteen pieces of cannon, and a considerable quantity of military stores. Washington did not, however, think it prudent for the present to attempt to establish himself at Stoney Point, and it was speedily reoccupied by the British. Another instance of the enterprising boldness of the Americans soon after occurred in the surprise of the British garrison at Powles-Hook, opposite to New York, which was attacked on the 19th of July, by Major Lee, who sťormed the works and took 160 prisoners, whom he brought safely to the American lines. The joy which the Americans felt at the success of these daring enterprises was, however, damped by the failure of an expedition undertaken by the State of Massachusetts to dispossess the British of a fort which they had erected at Penobscot in the district of Maine. They here lost the whole of their flotilla, which was destroyed or captured by Sir George Collier, whilst their land forces were compelled to seek for safety by retreating through the woods.
** Early in the morning of the 5th of July, the fleet, consisting of about 40 sail, anchored off West Haven; and at sunrise, a detachment of 1000 troops, under general Garth, landed at that place. No soldiers were at this time stationed at New Haven ; but the militia and citizens made instant preparations to harass the enemy, whom they could not hope effectually to resist. Captain James Hillhouse with a small band of brave young men, some of whom were students at Yale College, advanced very near the royal troops while on parade near West Haven church; and, when they commenced their march, fired on the advanced guards, and drove them back to the main body. The enemy,
What idea hitherto prevailed.
though checked in their march, proceeded in force, and entered New Haven about one in the afternoon, from which time until eight in the evening the town was subjected to almost indiscriminate ravage and plunder. During these transactions on the west side of the harbor, Governor Tryon landed about 1000 troops at East Haven; and, though severely harassed, effected a junction with Garth's division in New Haven. The enemy evacuated the town the next morning. The fleet left the harbor the succeeding night, and the morning after anchored off Fairfield. The militia of that town and the vicinity, posting themselves at the court house green, gave the enemy considerable annoyance, as they advanced ; but soon retreated. The royal army plundered and burned the town; and the greatest part of the neighboring village of Green Farms. A few days afterwards they laid the town of Norwalk in ashes.
At East Haven the British burned several houses; but they burned nothing in New Haven, excepting some stores on the Long Wharf. There were burnt at Fairfield 85 dwelling houses, 2 churches, a handsome court house, several school houses, 55 barns, 15 stores, and 15 shops; at Green Farms, 15 dwelling houses, 1 church, 11 barns, and several stores; at Norwalk, 80 dwelling houses, 2 churches, 87 barns, 17 shops, 4 mills, and 5 vessels.—The royal commanders, in addresses to the inhabitants of the places which they invaded, invited them to return to their allegiance, and promised protection to all who should remain peaceably in their usual places of residence. One of these addresses was sent by a flag to Colonel Whiting of the militia near Fairfield, who was allowed an hour for his answer; but he had scarcely time to read the address before the town was in flames. His answer expressed at once the general principles of the colony, and the certain influence of this outrage: “Connecticut, having nobly dared to take up arms against the cruel despotism of Great Britain, and the flames having preceded the answer to your flag, they will persist to oppose to the utmost the power exerted against injured innocence.”—The loss of the British troops in this expedition was 20 killed, 96 wounded, and 32 missing."
Spain having now declared war against Great Britain, it was hoped by sanguine politicians, favorable to the cause
What was Washington doing during this time?
of the new republic, that this additional pressure of foreign foes would compel the British ministry to withdraw their forces from North America. But the energies of the mother country were roused in proportion to the increase of her peril. Her fleets maintained their wonted sovereignty over the ocean, and her monarch was determined to strain every nerve to reduce his revolted colonies to obedience; and at this period the ease with which the reduction of Georgia had been effected, and the advantages which it might afford in making an attack upon the rest of the southern States, induced his ministers to renew their efforts in that quarter. The back settlements, as well as those of the Carolinas, abounded with enterprising men of desperate fortunes, as also with tories who had been compelled, by the persecution which they sustained from the more ardent republicans, to withdraw into these wilds from the more settled part of the country. These adventurers and loyalists having joined the royal forces under the command of Major-general Prescot, which had also received reinforcements from Florida, that officer found himself in a condition to commence active operations. His preparations filled the neighboring States with alarm. The American regular troops had, with few exceptions, been sent from the Carolinas to reinforce the army of General Washington; and the only reliance of the republicans in this portion of the union rested on the militia, the command of which was delegated by congress to General Lincoln. On inspecting his forces, Lincoln found them ill equipped and very deficient in discipline. In these circumstances, the activity of the enemy did not allow him any time to train them. Soon after his arrival at head-quarters, a division of the royal
What was the state of affairs in the southern states?
army advanced, under the command of Major Gardiner, to take possession of Port Royal, in South Carolina, but was driven back with loss by General Moultrie. This repulse for a while suspended the enterprise of the British, who took post at Augusta and Ebenezer, situated on the Savannah river, which forms the boundary between Georgia and South Carolina. Here they waited in expectation of being joined by a body of tories, who had been collected in the upper parts of the latter province. But these obnoxious allies, giving way to long-smothered resentment, were guilty of such atrocities on their march, that the country rose upon them, and they fell an easy prey to a detachment commanded by Colonel Pickens, sent to intercept them at Kettle Creek. Five of the prisoners taken on this occasion, were tried and executed for bearing arms against the United States. This proceeding led to acts of retaliation on the part of the tories and the king's troops, which for a long time gave in the southern States additional horror to the miseries of war. Emboldened by his success, Lincoln sent an expedition into Georgia, with a view of repressing the incursions of the enemy, but his forces were surprised by General Prevost, from whom they sustained so signal a defeat, that, of 1500 men, of which the expedition consisted, only 450 returned to his camp. In this emergency, the legislative body of South Carolina invested their governor, Mr. John Rutledge, and his council, with an almost absolute authority, by virtue of which, a considerable force of militia was embodied and stationed in the center of the State, to act as necessity might require. Putting himself at the head of these new levies, Lincoln again determined to carry
Describe what passed at Port Royal?