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of the troops engaged in the expedition. This, CHAP. II. it was understood, would happen before day, 1779. as it had been designed to make the attack at midnight. Day having made its appearance without any intelligence from major Lee, the officer guarding the boats was led to believe that the attack had been postponed. The danger of his situation, and the fear that his being discovered would disclose the object, and prevent its execution on a subsequent night, induced him to retire with the boats to Newark. The head of the retreating column soon afterwards reached the ferry, where they had the mortification to perceive that the boats were gone. Fatigued as they were, no alternative remained but to pass as rapidly as possible up the narrow neck of land between the two rivers, to the new bridge. A horseman was dispatched with this information to lord Stirling, and the line of march was immediately taken up.
About nine in the preceding evening, major Buskirk had been detached up the North river with a considerable part of the garrison of Powles-hook, and some other troops, for the purpose of falling in with the American party supposed to be foraging about the English neighbourhood.
On receiving intelligence of the disappointment respecting the boats, lord Stirling took the precaution immediately to detach colonel Ball, with two hundred freshmen to meet Lee,
CHAP. 11, and cover his retreat. . Just after he had passed 1779. Ball, Buskirk entered the main road, and fired
on his rear. Taking it for granted, as was indeed very probable, that this was only the advanced corps of a much larger body which had been detached to intercept the party retreating from Powles-hook, Ball made a circuit to avoid the enemy, and Buskirk, finding a detachment he had not expected, took the same measure to secure his own retreat. The two parties narrowly missing each other, returned to their respective points of departure.
This critical enterprise, reflected much honour on the talents of the partisan with whom it originated, and by whom it was conducted. General Washington announced it to the army in his orders with much approbation, and congress bestowed upon it a degree of applause more adapted to the merit and talent displayed in performing the service, than to its magni. tude.*
* Sir Henry Clinton in his official account of this affair remarks that the retreat of the Americans was as precipitate and disgraceful, as the attack had been spirited and well conducted. Sir Henry seems to have entirely lost sight of the nature and object of the expedition. It was never designed to retain the post, but to surprise and carry off the garrison. That celerity which he terms precipitation, was indispensable to success, and adds to the reputation of the officer he censures. The orders of general Washington too on this point were peremptory.
A few days after the surprise of Powles. CHAP. II. hook, the long expected feet from Europe, 1779. under the command of admiral Arbuthnot, having on board a re-enforcement for the Bri. tish army, arrived at New York.
This re-enforcement, however, did not enable the British general to enter immediately on that active course of offensive operations which had been meditated. It was soon followed by the count D'Estaing, who arrived on the southern coast of America with a powerful fleet; after which, sir Henry Clinton deemed it necessary to turn all his attention to his own security.
Previous to the receipt of this information, lord Cornwallis had embarked with a considerable detachment for Georgia and South Caro. lina, but he returned in a few days; soon after which, Rhode Island and the posts up the North river were evacuated, and the whole army col. lected in New York, the fortifications of which were carried on with unremitting industry.
St. Lucia taken by the British.... St. Vincents and Gre.
nada by the French....Count D'Estaing with his fleet arrives on the southern coast of America....Siege of Savannah by the combined armies....Unsuccessful at. tempt to storm it.... The siege raised.... Victory gained by general Sullivan over the Indians at Newtown.... Spain offers her mediation to the belligerent powers.... War between Spain and England... Letter from general Washington to congress.... The American army go into winter quarters.
taken by the British.
and Grenada by the French
1779. HE count D'Estaing and admiral Byron
having sailed about the same time from the
continent of North America, met in the West St. Lucia Indies, where the war was carried on with
vigour, and with various success. St. Lucia
surrendered to the British, in compensation for St. Vincents which the French took St. Vincents, and Gre.
nada. About the time of the capture of the latter island, such large re-enforcements were received by D'Estaing as to give him a decided naval superiority; after which, a battle was fought between the two hostile fleets, in which the count claimed the victory, and in which so many of the British ships were disabled as to compel the admiral to retire into port, in order to refit; while his adversary remained in a condition to keep the sea.
The earnest representations made on the part of the United States of the great advan
tages which would result to the allied arms CHAP, IN. from a powerful fleet employed on their coast, 1779. had prevailed on the cabinet of Versailles, to instruct the count D'Estaing to afford all the aid in his power to the Americans, whenever a fair occasion for doing so should present itself.
The present moment seemed a fit one for paying obedience to these orders. The British fleet had retired into port to repair the damage sustained in the late action; and letters received from general Lincoln, from the executive of South Carolina, and from the French consul at Charleston, urged him strongly to pay a visit to the southern states; and represented the situation of the British in Georgia to be such, that the destruction of the army in that quarter, and the recovery of the state, would be almost certainly achieved so soon as he should appear.
Yielding to these solicitations, the count sailed with twenty-two ships of the line and eleven frigates, having on board about six thousand land forces, from Cape Francois, to count which place he had retired after the naval en- with his gagement near Grenada, and arrived so sud-on the denly on the southern coast of America, that; the Experiment of fifty guns, and three British frigates fell into his hands. A vessel was dispatched to Charleston with information of his arrival, on the receipt of which, general Lincoln concerted a plan for the siege of Savannah, with major general viscount De Fontanges,
southern oast of America,