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three miles in the rear of his advanced corps. Such was the 1778. disposition of the two armies on the evening of the 27th of June. About 12 miles in front of the British, the high grounds about Middletown would afford them a position, which would effectually secure them from the impression of the Americans. General Washington determined to risk an attack on their rear before they should reach those heights. General Lee was accordingly ordered to make his dispositions for the attack, and to keep his troops constantly lying on their arms, that he might take advantage of the first movement of the enemy; and corresponding orders were given to the rear division of the army. The British army marched in two divisions, the van com- June 28.
Battle at manded by general Knyphausen, and the rear by lord Cornwallis ; Monmouth but the British commander in chief, judging that the design of court house. the American general was to make an attempt on his baggage, put it under the care of general Knyphausen, that the rear division, consisting of the flower of the British army, might be ready to act with vigour. This arrangement being made, general Knyphausen's division marched, in pursuance of orders, at break of day on the 28th of June ; but the other division, under lord Cornwallis, attended by the commander in chief, did not move until eight, that it might not press too closely on the baggage. General Lee appeared on the heights of Freehold soon after the British had left them; and, following them into the plain, made dispositions for intercepting their covering party in the rear. While he was advancing to the front of a wood adjoining the plain, to reconnoitre the enemy in person, Sir Henry Clinton was marching back his whole rear division, to attack the Americans. Lee now perceived that he had mistaken the force, which formed the rear of the British; but he still proposed to engage on that ground. While both armies were preparing for action, general Scott, mistaking an oblique march of an American column for a retreat, left his position, and repassed a morass in his rear. Lee, dissatisfied with the ground on which the army was drawn up, did not correct the error of Scott; but directed the whole detachment to repass the morass, and regain the heights. During this retrograde movement, the rear of the army, which at the first firing had thrown off their packs and advanced rapidly to the support of the front, approached the scene of action ; and general Washington, riding forward, met the advanced corps, to his extreme mortification and astonishment, retiring before the enemy. On coming up to Lee, he spoke to him in terms of disapprobation; but, though warm, he lost not for a moment that self command, than which at so critical a moment nothing could be more essential to the command of others. He instantly ordered colonel Stewart's and lieutenant colonel Ramsay's battalions
1778. to form on a piece of ground, which he judged suitable for giving
a check to the enemy; and, having directed general Lee to take proper measures with the residue of his force to stop the British columns on that ground, he rode back himself to arrange the rear division of the army. His orders were executed with firmness. A sharp conflict ensued; and though Lee was forced from the ground on which he had been placed, he brought off his troops in good order, and was then directed to form in the rear of Englishtown. The check, which he had given to the enemy, procured time to make a disposition of the left wing and second line of the American army, in the wood and on the eminence to which Lee was retreating. Lord Stirling, who commanded the left wing, placed some cannon on the eminence, which, with the cooperation of some parties of infantry, effectually stopped the advance of the British in that quarter. The enemy attempted to turn the left flank of the Americans, but were repulsed. They also made a movement to the right, but were there repelled by general Greene, who had taken a very advantageous position. Wayne, advancing with a body of troops, kept up so severe and well directed a fire, that the British soon gave way, and took the position which Lee had before occupied, where the action commenced immediately after the arrival of general Washington. Here the British line was formed on very strong ground. Both flanks were secured by the woods and morasses, and their front could only be reached through a narrow pass. The day had been intensely hot;l and the troops were greatly fatigued; yet general Washington resolved to renew the engagement. He ordered brigadier general Poor with his own and the Carolina brigade to gain the enemy's right flank, while Woodford with his brigade should turn their lefi. The artillery was ordered at the same time to advance and play on them in front. These orders were promptly obeyed; but there were so many impediments to be overcome, that before the attack could be commenced, it was nearly dark. It was therefore thought most advisable to postpone farther operations until morning; and the troops lay on their arms in the field of battle. General Washington, who had been exceedingly active through the day, and entirely regardless of personal danger, reposed himself at night in his cloak, under a tree, in the midst of his soldiers. His intention of renewing the battle was frustrated. The British troops marched away about midnight in such profound silence, that the most advanced posts, and those very near, knew nothing of their departure until morning. The American 1778. general, declining all farther pursuit of the royal army, detached some light troops to attend its motions, and drew off his troops to the borders of the North river. Sir Henry Clinton, after remaining a few days on the high grounds of Middletown, proceeded to Sandy Hook, whence he passed his army over to New York.1
1 An effect of heat and fatigue, “unparalleled in the history of the New World,” was experienced on this memorable day. Fifty nine British soldiers perished without a wound; and several of the American soldiers died through the same cause.
The loss of the Americans in this battle was 8 officers and 61 privates killed, and about 160 wounded. Among the slain, and much regretted, were lieutenant colonel Bonner of Pennsylvania and major Dickenson of Virginia. The loss of the British army, in killed, wounded, and missing, is stated to have been 358 men, including officers. Among their slain was lieutenant colonel Monckton, who was greatly and deservedly lamented. About 100 were taken prisoners; and nearly 1000 soldiers, principally foreigners, many of whom had married in Philadelphia, deserted the British standard during the march.
Both parties claimed the victory in the battle of Monmouth. It is allowed, that in the early part of the day, the British had the advantage, but it is contended, that in the latter part, the advantage was on the side of the Americans ; for “they maintained their ground; repulsed the enemy by whom they were attacked; were prevented only by the night and the retreat of Sir Henry Clinton from renewing the action ; and suffered in killed and wounded less than their adversaries."
The very day on which the British army embarked at Sandy Arrival of Hook, the count D'Estaing arrived on the coast of Virginia with a French twelve ships of the line and six frigates, having on board about 4000 French troops. Failing in his first object, which was to surprise the British fleet in the Delaware, he proceeded along the coast of New York, in the hope of being able at that harbour to attack the fleet which he sought. This design being found impracticable, because the large ships could not be carried
1 The British army arrived at the high lands of Navesink, in the neighbourhood of Sandy Hook, on the last of June; and the fleet from the Delaware, under lord Howe, had most opportunely arrived at the Hook the preceding day. This peninsula, by the storms of the preceding winter, had been converted into an island; but by the extraordinary efforts of the seamen, under the direction of their noble commander, a floating bridge was made with such expedition, that the whole army was passed over this new channel on the 5th of July.
2 He had been selected that day for a hazardous service, on account of the cool intrepidity of his character. That gallant officer, who had frequently encountered death in all its forms, had been “ more than once grievously wounded, both in the last war and the present; and, after a hairbreadth escape of a recovery, when left among the dead on the field, was only reserved to be killed on this day, at the head of the second battalion of grenadiers.” Annual Register. “During the confusion of a dangerous cannonade, the battalion, in parties, relieved each other, until with their bayonets they perfected a grave, where they laid the body of their commanding officer, placing over it with their hands the earth they had moistened with their tears." Stedman.
1778. over the bar, D'Estaing, by the advice of general Washington,
left Sandy Hook, and sailed for Newport to act in conjuction with the Americans in an attempt on Rhode Island. The fleet arrived off Newport on the 25th of July.
The British army in Rhode Island, consisting of about 6000 certed to men, commanded by major general Sir Robert Pigott, lay prin
cipally at Newport. The American army, consisting of about 10,000 men, commanded by major general Sullivan, lay on the main, about the town of Providence. Soon after the arrival of the British feet, a plan of attack on the town of Newport was concerted between general Sullivan and count D'Estaing. The fleet was to enter the harbour, and land the troops of his Christian majesty on the west side of the island, a little to the north of Dyer's Island; and the Americans were to land at the sarne time on the opposite coast, under cover of the guns of a frigate. On the 8th of August, general Sullivan joined general Greene at Tiverton, to which place, lying on the east side of the east channel, this general had marched a detachment of continental troops with some militia ; and it was agreed, that the fleet should enter the main channel immediately, and that the descent should be made the next day. The ships of war entered the channel accordingly, but, the militia not arriving precisely at the expected time, general Sullivan stated to the count the necessity of postponing the attack. The next day, lord Howe, who had sailed from New York for the relief of Newport, appeared in sight; and D'Estaing the morning after went out of the harbour determined to give him battle. The French fleet having the weather gage, lord Howe weighed anchor and put out to sea. D'Estaing followed him; and both fleets were soon out of
sight. Aug. 9.... On the morning of the 9th, general Sullivan, discovering that
as the British troops at the north end of the island had been revan passes over with called in the night into the lines at Newport, determined to take the army to immediate possession of the works, which had been abandoned.
In conformity to this determination, the whole army immediately
crossed the east passage, and landed on the north end of Rhode Besieges Island. On the 14th, the army moved toward the lines, and Newport.
encamped between two and three miles from the town of Newport; and the next morning commenced the siege of the place.
The two admirals, after maneuvring two days without coming French fleet to action, were separated by a violent storm; and it was not until sails for Boston.
the evening of the 19th, that the French fleet made its reappearance. Instead, however, of the expected cooperation in the
1“ My number on the Island is about nine thousand rank and file." of General Sullivan to the President of Congress, 14 Aug. 1778.
Letter siege, the fleet sailed on the 22d for Boston to refit, to the ex- 1778. treme dissatisfaction of the Americans. The militia, thus deserted m by their allies, on whose cooperation much dependance had been placed, went home in great numbers; and general Sullivan soon found it expedient to raise the siege. Having on the 26th sent off his heavy artillery and baggage, he on the night of the 28th retreated from his lines. Very early the next morning, the enemy, discovering his retreat, followed in two columns; and the whole day was spent in skirmishes between them and covering parties of the Americans, which successively fell back on the main body of the army. This was now encamped in a commanding situation at the north end of the island, and, on the approach of the enemy, it drew up in order of battle. The British formed on Quaker Hill, about a mile in front of the American line. Sullivan's rear was covered by strong works, and in his front, somewhat to the right, was a redoubt. A can- Aug. 29. nonade and skirmishes having mutually been kept up until about Battle on
R. Island. two o'clock, the enemy, then advancing in force, attempted to turn the right flank, and made demonstrations of an intention to dislodge general Greene, who commanded the right wing, from the redoubt in its front. Four regular regiments were moved forward to meet them, and general Greene advanced with two other regiments of continental troops, and Lovell's brigade of militia. Colonel Livingston's regiment was ordered to re-enforce the right. After a very sharp and obstinate engagement of half an hour, the enemy gave way, and retreated to Quaker Hill. The loss of the Americans, in killed, wounded, and misssing, was 211. The loss of the enemy is stated to have been 260.
The day after the action, a cannonade was kept up by both — 30. armies. A letter was now received by general Sullivan from Americans general Washington, informing him that a large body of troops had R. Island. sailed from New York, most probably for the relief of Newport; and a resolution was immediately formed to evacuate the island. This movement was effected with great judgment, and entire success. General Sullivan, while making every show of an intention to resist the enemy and maintain his ground, passed his
1 The American loss, as stated by general Sullivan, was 30 killed, 137 wounded, and 44 missing; total 211. Nearly 1200 Americans were engaged in the action; and they are said to have shown great firmness. Particular praise was bestowed on colonel Henry B. Livingston, and John Laurens, aid de camp to general Washington, who had the command of light troops, and led them on against the two columns of the advancing enemy. Mr. Laurens (who, for his good conduct on this occasion, received from congress a continental commission of lieutenant colonel) was declared by general Greene to have displayed, in an eminent degree, the talents of a partisan and a general. Colonel Jackson, lieutenant colonel Livingston, lieutenant colonel Fleury, and major Talbot, were also particularly mentioned.