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over the Rahway. For upwards of half an hour Colonel Angel defended it with his handful of men against a vastly superior force. One fourth of his men were either killed or disabled: the loss of the enemy was still more severe. Angel was at length compelled to retire. He did so in good order, carrying off his wounded and making his way through the village to the bridge beyond it. Here his retreat was bravely covered by Colonel Shreve, but he too was obliged to give way before the overwhelming force of the enemy, and join the brigades of Maxwell and Stark upon the hill. General Greene, finding his front too much extended for his small force, and that he was in danger of being outflanked on the left by the column pressing forward on the Vauxhall road, took post with his main body on the first range of hills, where the roads were brought near to a point, and passed between him and the height occupied by Stark and Maxwell. He then threw out a detachment which checked the further advance of the right column of the enemy along the Vauxhall road, and secured that pass through the Short Hills. Feeling himself now strongly posted, he awaited with confidence the expected attempt of the enemy to gain the height. No such attempt was made. The resistance already experienced, especially at the bridge, and the sight of militia gathering from various points, dampened the ardor of the hostile commander. He saw that, should he persist in pushing for Morristown, he would have to fight his way through a country abounding with difficult passes, every one of which would be obstinately disputed; and that the enterprise, even if successful, might cost too much, beside taking him
1780.] THE JERSEYS EVACUATED. 71
too far from New York, at a time when a French armament might be expected. Before the brigade detached by Washington arrived at the scene of action, therefore, the enemy had retreated. Previous to their retreat they wreaked upon Springfield the same vengeance they had inflicted on Connecticut Farms. The whole village, excepting four houses, was reduced to ashes. Their second retreat was equally ignoble with their first. They were pursued and harassed the whole way to Elizabethtown by light scouting parties and by the militia and yeomanry of the country, exasperated by the sight of the burning village. Lee, too, came upon their rear-guard with his dragoons; captured a quantity of stores abandoned by them in the hurry of retreat, and made prisoners of several refugees. It was sunset when the enemy reached Elizabethtown. During the night they passed over to Staten Island by their bridge of boats. By six o'clock in the morning all had crossed, and the bridge had been removed—and the State of New Jersey, so long harassed by the campaignings of either army, was finally evacuated by the enemy It had proved a school of war to the American troops. The Incessant marchings and counter-marchings; the rude encampments; the exposures to all kinds of hardship and privation; the alarms; the stratagems; the rough encounters and adventurous enterprises of which this had been the theatre for the last three or four years, had rendered the patriot soldier hardy, adroit, and long-suffering; had accustomed him to danger, inured him to discipline, and brought him nearly on a level with the European mercenary in the habitudes and usages of arms, while he had the superior incitements of home, country, and independence. The ravaging incursions of the enemy had exasperated the most peace-loving parts of the country; made soldiers of the husbandmen, acquainted them with their own powers, and taught them that the foe was vulnerable. The recent ineffectual attempts of a veteran general to penetrate the fastnesses of Morristown, though at the head of a veteran force, “which would once have been deemed capable of sweeping the whole continent before it,” was a lasting theme of triumph to the inhabitants; and it is still the honest boast among the people of Morris County, that “the enemy never were able to get a footing among our hills.” At the same time the conflagration of villages by which they sought to cover or revenge their repeated failures, and their precipitate retreat, harassed and insulted by half-disciplined militia, and a crude, rustic levy, formed an ignominious close to the British campaigns in the Jerseys.
C H A P T E R W II.
WASHINGTON APPLIES TO THE STATE LEGISLATURES FOR AID–SUBSCRIPTIONS OF THE LADIES OF PHILADELPHIA—GATES APPOINTED TO COMMAND THE SOUTHERN DEPARTMENT—FRENCIH FLEET ARRIVES AT NEWPORT-PREPARATION FOR A COMBINED MOVEMENT AGAINST NEW YORK–ARNOLD OBTAINS OOMMAND AT WEST POINT—GREENE RESIGNS THE OFFICE OF QUARTERMASTER-GENERAL.
APPREHENSIVE that the next move of the enemy would be up the Hudson, Washington resumed his measures for the security of West Point; moving towards the Highlands in the latter part of June. Circumstances soon convinced him that the enemy had no present intention of attacking that fortress, but merely menaced him at various points, to retard his operations, and oblige him to call out the militia; thereby interrupting agriculture, distressing the country, and rendering his cause unpopular. Having, therefore, caused the milltary stores in the Jerseys to be removed to more remote and secure places; he countermanded by letter the militia, which were marching to camp from Connecticut and Massachusetts. He now exerted himself to the utmost to procure from the different State Legislatures, their quotas and supplies for the regular army. “The sparing system,” said he, “has been tried until it has brought us to a crisis little less than desperate.” This was the time, by one great exertion, to put an end to the war. The basis of every thing was the completion of the Continental battalions to their full establishment, otherwise, nothing decisive could be attempted, and this campaign, like all the former, must be chiefly defensive. He warned against those “indolent and narrow politicians, who, except at the moment of some signal misfortune, are continually crying all is well, and who to save a little present expense, and avoid some temporary inconvenience, with no ill designs in the main, would protract the war, and risk the perdition of our liberties.”” The desired relief, however, had to be effected through the ramifications of General and State governments, and their committees. The operations were tardy and unproductive. Liberal contributions were made by individuals, a bank was established by the inhabitants of Philadelphia to facilitate the supplies of the army, and an association of ladies of that city raised by subscription between seven and eight thousand dollars, which were put at the disposition of Washington, to be laid out in such a manner as he might think “most honorable and gratifying to the brave old soldiers who had borne so great a share of the burden of the war.” The capture of General Lincoln at Charleston, had left the Southern department without a commander-inchief. As there were likely to be important military operations in that quarter, Washington had intended to recommend General Greene for the appointment. He