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was immediately given, and in the hurry of the moment, General Wayne paraded them in front of their fires, thus exposing them to the full view of the enemy, who rushed upon them with their bayonets, and committed great execution, before Wayne had time to make a single manœuvre. Near 300 Americans were killed and wounded, and about 80 made prisoners, among whom were several officers. The Americans lost also a large quantity of arms, and eight wagons loaded with baggage and stores; while the enemy lost only 8 killed and wounded. As soon as it was possible for General Wayne to recover from the surprise into which he had been thrown, he was enabled by the darkness of the night to escape without further loss, and join the main army.
Sir William, in the mean time, having succeeded in his stratagem of drawing Washington to a distance from the city, very unexpectedly crossed the Schuylkill at Fatland ford, on the night of the 22d, and moved on without opposition to Philadelphia, which he entered in triumph on the 26th. He had previously detached several parties of Grenadiers, Light Infantry, and Chasseurs, to cross the various fords, and by this means. Washington was deceived with contradictory accounts of his movements, being nearly a day's march in his rear, at the moment he believed himself in a position to meet his front. The Congress had made their escape on the 18th and repaired to Lancaster, from which they again adjourned before the end of the month to Yorktown; having before their adjournment given still further powers to the Commander in Chief, by the following resolution: "That General Washington be authorised and directed to suspend all officers who shall misbehave, and to fill up all va
cancies in the American army under the rank of Brigadiers, until the pleasure of Congress be communicated; to take, wherever he may be, all such provisions and other articles as may be necessary for the comfortable subsistence of the army under his command, paying or giving certificates for the same; to remove and secure for the benefit of the owners, all goods and effects which may be serviceable to the enemy; provided that the power hereby vested, shall be exercised only in such parts of these States as may be within the circumference of seventy miles of the head quarters of the American army, and shall continue in force for the space of sixty days, unless sooner revoked by Congress."
Upon receiving certain intelligence of Sir William's movements, General Washington moved with his army to Skippack Creek, about sixteen miles from Germantown, on the western side of which he encamped, determined to seize the first opportunity of offering battle. Lord Howe, after the battle of Brandywine, finding that his brother would no longer have occasion for the fleet in the Chesapeake, prepared with all expedition to put to sea and move round into the Delaware, that he might be ready to cooperate with the army at Philadelphia. This had been foreseen by Washington, and every precaution had been taken to obstruct the passage of the river by the erection of batteries, and the sinking of chevaux de friese, near the city. Two fortresses had been erected; one on Mud Island, and the other about three miles lower down on the Jersey side, at a point of land called Billingsport. A redoubt was also thrown up opposite to Mud Island, at a place called Red Bank; and the channel opposite to these fortifications was obstructed by hea
vy pieces of timber forming chevaux de frise, as before said. Besides these defences, there were several gallies, and floating batteries, mounted with heavy cannon, fire ships and rafts. The fort on Mud Island was called Fort Mifflin, in honour of the General, and that at Red Bank, after General Mercer, who had been mortally wounded at the battle of Princeton.
Sir William Howe, being informed by an avant courier, of the approach of the fleet, sent Colonel Stirling with two regiments to drive the Americans from their lower position at Billingsport, which he effected without much trouble-the Americans having retired to Red Bank on his approach, after spiking the cannon and firing the barracks. This enabled one of the enemy's ships which lay off Chester to move up, and after great labour and difficulty, remove so much of the obstructions in the river as to afford a narrow passage for ships. Cornwallis with his division had followed Sir William to Philadelphia, while the main body still lay at Germantown, where they had taken post on the day Sir William entered Philadelphia. Washington rightly judging that Sir William would detach a considerable part of his force against the two forts Mifflin and Mercer, conceived the idea of advancing from Skippack and attacking the main body at Germantown. He had been reinforced by 2500 men, and moving from his position, on the evening of the 3d October, reached Germantown early on the morning of the 4th-The enemy were encamped about the centre of the town, with their left wing resting upon the Schuylkill, covered in front by the Chasseurs: The Queen's American rangers, and a battalion of Light Infantry covered the right; and the 40th regiment with another battalion of infantry, were posted on Chesnut
Hill, a short distance in advance, as an outguard. The plan of attack as devised by Washington, was in every respect calculated to ensure him success; but the fortune of the day turned upon his too easily yielding, as in many other cases, to the judgment of others. The attack commenced about sunrise, on the advance guard of the British, which were soon overpowered and compelled to retreat. Lieutenant Colonel Musgrave, in order to avoid the bayonets of the pursuers, threw himself with six companies of the 40th regiment into Chew's stone house; and this manœuvre, more than any thing, led to the unfortunate issue of the action. The Americans in full pursuit, attracted by this manœuvre, halted before the house, and a consultation ensued, whether they should continue the pursuit or stop and reduce this new fortress. It is remarkable, that all the youngest officers, among whom were General Reed, Colonel Pickering, Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton and Captain Lee, decided in favour of passing the house and continuing the pursuit ; but General Knox, and others whose opinions were more depended on, were in favour of first carrying the house, contending that it was contrary to every principle of military science, to leave an enemy's fortress in the rear. This being determined upon, before the attack was made, it was agreed to summon the garrison to surrender, and Captain Smith of the first Virginia regiment was sent with a flag for that purpose; but the firing from the house did not cease, no attention was paid to the summons, and Captain Smith was killed as he approached with a flag in his hand. While Washington, with the main body of his army, halted before Chew's house, almost literally doing nothing, the column under General Greene came up with the right
wing of the enemy, and a spirited attack was made by Colonel Matthews, in which he completely routed the opposing party, killed a great number, and made 110 prisoners. He pursued them with ardour, but the atmosphere was so extremely dense and foggy, that objects could scarcely be distinguished at the distance of twenty yards; and being separated from his brigade in the desire of following up his advantage, his whole regiment were taken prisoners. In the mean time the Generals Grey and Agnew, with the 3d and 4th British brigades, moved in from the left wing of the enemy, and joined in the conflict against Greene: to these were soon added General Grant, with the 49th regiment, while two other regiments began an attack on the American left. The contest was hot and vigorous for a considerable time, when at length the Americans began to yield on every side and at the moment of their turning to leave the town, Cornwallis came up with a squadron of horse, and the route was complete. The Americans were closely followed for a few miles, but the enemy were at length compelled to abandon the pursuit by the judicious management of General Stephens's artillery, which formed the rear guard of the retreating army. The loss was very considerable on both sides of the Americans 673 were killed and wounded, and about 400 taken prisoners: General Nash, of North Carolina, was among the number of killed-the British had 800 killed and wounded, and among the former were General Agnew, and Lieutenant Colonel Bird. The troops of the Maryland line (which belonged to Sullivan's division,) greatly distinguished themselves in this battle; particularly those which were led on by General Conway. The defence of the house made by