Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER 6: Unyielding Firmness: Retreat and Attack in New York and New Jersey (October 1776 to January 1777) - The Life of George Washington
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CHAPTER 6: “Unyielding Firmness”: Retreat and Attack in New York and New Jersey (October 1776 to January 1777) - John Marshall, The Life of George Washington 
The Life of George Washington. Special Edition for Schools, ed. Robert Faulkner and Paul Carrese (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000).
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“Unyielding Firmness”: Retreat and Attack in New York and New Jersey (October 1776 to January 1777)
The British land at Frogsneck.—York Island, except fort Washington, evacuated.—Battle of the White Plains.—General Howe returns to Kingsbridge.—General Washington crosses the North river.—Fort Washington surrenders.—Fort Lee evacuated.—Weakness of the American army.—Ineffectual attempts to raise the militia.—Retreat through Jersey.—Capture of General Lee.—General Washington crosses the Delaware.—The British go into winter quarters.—Battle of Trenton.—Princeton.—Firmness of Congress.
Oct. 1776The armies did not long retain their position on York Island. General Howe determined to gain the rear of the American camp by the New England road, and also to possess himself of the Hudson above Kingsbridge. Having ascertained the practicability of passing the forts on the North river, he embarked a great part of his army in flat-bottomed boats on the East river, and, passing through Hurlgate into the Sound, landed on the 12th of October at Frogsneck, about nine miles from the camp on the heights of Haarlem, where he remained some days waiting for his artillery, military stores, and reinforcements from Staten Island, which were detained by contrary winds.
General Washington strengthened the fort at Kingsbridge, detached some regiments to West Chester for the purpose of skirmishing with the enemy should the occasion offer, and submitted the propriety of changing his ground to a board of general officers. The necessity of moving out of the island was too apparent not to be advised; but it was also determined to hold fort Washington, and to defend it as long as possible. A resolution of Congress of the 11th of October, desiring General Washington to obstruct if possible the navigation of the river, had great influence in producing this determination.
Measures were immediately taken for moving the army up the river, so as to extend its front, or left, beyond the British right. The rear division commanded by General Lee remained a few days longer at Kingsbridge, to secure and bring up the heavy baggage and military stores.
On the 18th of October, General Howe moved through Pelham’s Manor, and took post at New Rochelle, a village on the Sound. The American army occupied the heights between that place and the North river.
A corps of American loyalists, commanded by Major Rogers, lay east of the main army, and was supposed to be covered by it. A bold attempt to surprise him in the night and to bear off his whole corps, by passing between him and the British camp, was made by an American detachment commanded by Major Green of Virginia. Major Rogers was surprised, and about sixty of his regiment were killed and taken. The loss of the Americans was inconsiderable, but among the wounded was Major Green, who received a ball in his shoulder which disabled him through life.
Not long afterwards a regiment of Pennsylvania riflemen under Colonel Hand, engaged an equal number of Hessian chasseurs,1 with some advantage.
These evidences of enterprise on the part of his adversary served to increase the caution of the British General. He waited a few days at New Rochelle, for a division commanded by Knyphausen.2 After its arrival, both armies, the Brunx3 dividing them, moved towards the White Plains, a strong piece of ground already occupied by a detachment of militia.
General Washington took possession of the heights at White Plains, on the east side of the Brunx, seven or eight miles in front of the British column. This stream meandered so as to cover the front as well as the flank of his right wing, which extended along the road leading towards New Rochelle, as far as the brow of the hill where his centre was posted. His left, which formed almost a right angle with his centre, and was nearly parallel to his right, extended along the hills northward, so as to keep possession of the commanding ground, and secure a retreat to a still stronger position in his rear.
General M’Dougal4 with about sixteen hundred men, chiefly militia, occupied a hill, on the west side of the Brunx, about a mile from the right wing, for the purpose of covering the right flank. His communication with the main body was open, the river being fordable. Entrenchments were thrown up to strengthen the lines.
Oct. 25General Howe having determined to attack Washington in his camp, advanced in two columns, the right commanded by Sir Henry Clinton, and the left by General Knyphausen; and, about ten, his van5 appeared in full view. His right formed behind a hill about a mile in front of the American centre.
After viewing Washington’s situation, Howe, who accompanied Knyphausen, determined to commence the action by carrying the hill occupied by M’Dougal; and directed Colonel Rall with a brigade of Hessians, to make a circuit so as to turn M’Dougal’s right flank, while Brigadier-General Leslie with a strong corps of British and Hessian troops should attack him in front. When Rall had gained his position, Leslie also crossed the Brunx and attacked with great animation. The militia instantly fled; but the regulars maintained their ground with great gallantry. Colonel Smallwood’s regiment of Maryland, and Colonel Reitzimer’s of New York, advanced boldly towards the foot of the hill to meet Leslie; but, after a sharp encounter, were compelled to retreat. The remaining troops were soon driven from the hill, but still kept up an irregular fire from the stone walls near the scene of action. General Putnam, with Beal’s brigade, was ordered to support them; but, the hill being lost, the attempt to regain it was deemed unadvisable. The American loss, in this spirited action, was between three and four hundred in killed, wounded, and missing. General Smallwood was among the wounded.6
A considerable part of the day having been exhausted in gaining the hill, Howe suspended further operations till the next morning; and the British army lay on their arms through the night in order of battle.
This interval was employed by General Washington in removing his sick and baggage, and adapting the arrangement of his troops to existing circumstances. His right was drawn back to stronger ground. Perceiving this, Howe resolved to postpone further offensive operations until Lord Percy should come up with the rear division of the army. This reinforcement was received on the evening of the thirtieth; but a violent rain which fell that night and the succeeding day still farther postponed the meditated assault.
Having now removed his sick, provisions, and heavy baggage, to stronger ground, General Washington retired, in the night of the first of November, to the heights of North Castle, about five miles from the White Plains. General Howe thought this position too strong to be attempted with prudence, and determined to change his plan of operation.
The American garrisons in forts Lee and Washington imposed a check on his movements, and rendered York Island insecure. As preliminary to an attack on these forts, he directed Knyphausen to take possession of Kingsbridge, which was defended by fort Independence. On his approach, the small garrison retired to fort Washington, and Knyphausen encamped between that place and Kingsbridge.
In the mean time General Howe retired slowly down the North river. General Washington penetrated his design, and prepared as far as was in his power to counteract it. His letter to Congress communicating his movements, states his conviction that his adversary was not about to close the campaign, but would immediately invest7 fort Washington, and make a descent into Jersey. A council of war determined unanimously that the troops raised on the west of the Hudson should cross that river immediately, and be soon afterwards followed by those from the eastern part of the continent, except three thousand men who were to remain for the defence of the Highlands. A letter was also addressed to the Governor of New Jersey, stating the probable invasion of that State, and urging the necessity of putting the militia in the best possible condition to reinforce his army, and to replace the new levies which were engaged only to the first of December. Immediate information of this movement was also transmitted to General Greene,8 who commanded in the Jerseys; and his attention was particularly pointed to fort Washington.
As the British army approached Kingsbridge, three ships of war passed up the Hudson, notwithstanding the additional obstructions placed in the channel, uninjured by the fire from the forts. This demonstration of the inefficacy of those obstructions justified, in the opinion of General Washington, the evacuation of those forts. “If,” said he, in his letter to General Greene, “we cannot prevent vessels from passing up, and the enemy are possessed of the surrounding country, what valuable purpose can it answer to hold a post from which the expected benefit cannot be derived? I am therefore inclined to think it will not be prudent to hazard the men and stores at Mount Washington. But as you are on the spot, I leave it to you to give such orders respecting the evacuation of the place as you may think most advisable; and so far revoke the orders given to Colonel McGaw to defend it to the last.”
General Washington crossed the North river on the 13th of November, in the rear of the troops destined to act in the Jerseys, and proceeded to the quarters of General Greene, near fort Lee.
Mount Washington is a high piece of rocky ground, very difficult of ascent, especially towards the north. The lines and outworks, which were chiefly on the southern side, were drawn quite across the island. The fortifications were believed to be capable of resisting any attempt to carry them by storm; and the garrison, which consisted of about two thousand regulars and a few militia, was commanded by Colonel McGaw, a brave and intelligent officer.
General Howe, having made the necessary preparations for an assault, summoned the garrison to surrender on the 15th of November. Colonel McGaw replied, that he should defend the place to the last extremity, and communicated the summons to General Greene at fort Lee, who transmitted it to the commander-in-chief, then at Hackensac. He immediately rode to fort Lee, and, though late in the night, was proceeding to fort Washington, when, in crossing the river, he met Generals Putnam and Greene returning from a visit to that fort. They reported that the garrison was in high spirits, and would make a good defence; on which he returned with them to fort Lee.
Early next morning, Colonel McGaw prepared for the expected assault. Colonel Rawlings, of Maryland, commanded a party posted on a hill towards Kingsbridge; and Colonel Cadwallader of Pennsylvania, commanded a body of troops who were posted in the outermost of the lines drawn across the island, and between the lines, on the rocky and precipitous heights fronting Haarlem river.
Nov. 16About ten, the assailants appeared before the works and moved to the assault in four different quarters. The first division consisting of about five thousand Germans, commanded by General Knyphausen advanced against the hill occupied by Colonel Rawlings. The second, on the east, was led by General Matthews, supported by Lord Cornwallis. These troops crossed Haarlem river in boats under cover of their artillery, and landed within the outer line which crossed the island. The third, conducted by Lieutenant-Colonel Stirling, crossed the river higher up; and the fourth, led by Lord Percy, accompanied by General Howe, assaulted the lines in front on the south side.
The attacks on the north and south were made at the same instant. While Colonel Cadwallader was engaged in the first line against Lord Percy, the second and third divisions crossed Haarlem river, made good their landing, and dispersed the troops fronting that river, as well as a detachment sent by Colonel Cadwallader to support them. As the British advanced between the fort and the lines, they were necessarily abandoned. In retreating to the fort, some of the troops were intercepted by the division under Colonel Stirling, and made prisoners.
The resistance on the north was of longer duration. After an obstinate conflict, the Germans gained the summit of the hill; and Rawlings, perceiving the danger which threatened his rear, retreated to the fort.
The summons to surrender was now repeated; and it being thought impracticable to defend the place, the garrison became prisoners of war.
The loss on this occasion was the greatest the Americans had ever sustained. That of the assailants, according to Mr. Stedman, amounted to eight hundred men.9 It fell chiefly on the Germans.
The determination to evacuate fort Lee was the consequence of the surrender of fort Washington, and a removal of the stores was immediately commenced. Before this operation could be completed, Lord Cornwallis with about six thousand men crossed the river, and endeavoured to enclose the garrison between the north and Hackensac rivers. A retreat from that narrow neck of land was effected, with the loss of the heavy cannon and military stores.
After crossing the Hackensac, General Washington posted his troops along its western bank, but was unable to dispute its passage. At the head of about three thousand effectives, he was in a level country, with the Passaic in his rear, which unites with the Hackensac, a small distance below the ground he occupied.
This gloomy state of things was not brightened by the prospect before him. No confidence could be placed on receiving reinforcements from any quarter. But in no situation could Washington despond. Understanding that Ticonderoga was no longer threatened, he directed General Schuyler to hasten the troops of Pennsylvania and Jersey to his assistance, and ordered General Lee to cross the North river and be in readiness to join him. But under the same fatal cause which had acted elsewhere, their armies were melting away, and would soon be almost totally dissolved. General Mercer, who commanded part of the flying-camp stationed about Bergen, was also called in; but these troops who had engaged to serve only till the first of December, had already abandoned the army in great numbers. No hope existed of retaining them after they should be entitled to a discharge; and there was not much probability of supplying their places with other militia. To New England he looked with anxious hope; and his requisitions on those states received prompt attention. Six thousand militia from Massachusetts, and a considerable body from Connecticut, were ordered to his assistance; but some delay in assembling them was unavoidable, and their march was arrested by the appearance of danger in their immediate neighborhood. Three thousand men commanded by Sir Henry Clinton took possession, late in November, of Newport in Rhode Island.
Not intending to maintain his present position, General Washington crossed the Passaic and took post at Newark. Having now entered the open country, his purpose was to halt a few days, and endeavor to collect such a force as would keep up the semblance of an army. General Mifflin was deputed to the government of Pennsylvania, and Colonel Reid, his Adjutant-General, to that of New Jersey, with orders to represent the real situation of the army, and the certainty that, without great reinforcements the state of New Jersey would be overrun, and Philadelphia be lost. General Lee was at the same time pressed to hasten his march, and cautioned to keep high enough up the country to avoid the enemy.
This perilous state of things was rendered still more critical by indications of an insurrection in the county of Monmouth, in New Jersey. In other places, too, an indisposition to further resistance was manifested. These appearances obliged him to make detachments from the militia of his army, to overawe the disaffected of Monmouth, who were on the point of assembling in force.
As the British army crossed the Passaic, General Washington retreated to Brunswick. At this place, the levies drawn fromDec. 1 Maryland and Jersey, to compose the flying camp, became entitled to their discharge; and no remonstrances could detain them. The Pennsylvanians were engaged to serve till the first of January. So many of them deserted, that guards were placed on the roads and ferries over the Delaware, to apprehend and send them back to camp. The next day, the van of the British army appeared in sight, and General Washington retreated to Trenton. Directions had already been given to collect all the boats from Philadelphia for seventy miles up that river, in the hope that the progress of the enemy might be arrested until the arrival of reinforcements, which would enable him to dispute its passage.
The army which was thus pressed slowly through the Jerseys, at no time, during the retreat, exceeded four thousand men. On reaching the Delaware, it was reduced to less than three thousand; of whom not quite one thousand were militia of New Jersey. The regulars were badly armed, worse clad, and almost destitute of tents, blankets, or utensils for dressing their food.10
In this crisis of American affairs, a proclamation was issued by Lord and General Howe, commanding all persons assembled in arms against his majesty’s government, to disband, and return to their homes; and offering pardon to every person who should, within sixty days, appear before certain officers of the crown, and testify his obedience to the laws, by subscribing a declaration of his submission to the royal authority. Numbers flocked in daily to make their peace, and obtain protection.
Among the many valuable traits in the character of Washington, was that unyielding firmness which supported him under these accumulated circumstances of depression. Undismayed by the dangers which surrounded him, he did not for an instant relax his exertions, nor omit any thing which could retard the progress of the enemy. He did not appear to despair; and constantly showed himself to his harassed and enfeebled army, with a serene unembarrassed countenance, betraying no fears in himself, and inspiring others with confidence. To this unconquerable firmness—to this perfect self-possession under the most desperate circumstances, is America, in a great degree, indebted for her independence.
The exertions of General Mifflin to raise the militia of Pennsylvania, were successful in Philadelphia. A large proportion of the inhabitants of this city had associated for the general defence; and on this occasion, fifteen hundred of them marched to Trenton. A German battalion11 was also ordered to that place by Congress. On the arrival of these troops, General Washington moved towards Princeton; but was stopped by intelligence that Lord Cornwallis, having received large reinforcements, was advancing rapidly from Brunswick by different routes, and endeavoring to gain his rear. He immediately crossed the Delaware, and placed his army in such a manner as to guard its fords. As his rear passed the river, the British van appeared in sight.
From Bordentown, the course of the river turns westward, making an acute angle with its course from Philadelphia to that place; so that a British division might cross a considerable distance above Trenton, and be almost as near Philadelphia as the troops opposite to that place. Lord Cornwallis made dispositions to cross both above and below. The American army was so arranged as to counteract this design.
The commander-in-chief had ordered General Gates,12 with the regulars of the northern army, and General Heath, with those at Peekskill, to march to his assistance.
Although General Lee had been repeatedly urged to join him, that officer proceeded reluctantly in the execution of his orders, manifesting a strong disposition to retain his separate command, and rather to threaten the rear of the British army, than to strengthen that in its front. On the 12th of December, while passing slowly through Morris county, he was surprised in his quarters, about three miles from his army, by a detachment of cavalry, commanded by Colonel Harcourt, and was carried off in triumph.
General Sullivan, on whom the command devolved, obeyed promptly the orders which had been given to Lee, and, crossing the Delaware at Philipsburg, joined the commander-in-chief. On the same day, General Gates arrived with a few northern troops. By these and other reinforcements, the army was augmented to about seven thousand effective men.
All the attempts of the British General to get possession of boats for the transportation of his army over the Delaware having failed, he gave indications of an intention to close the campaign, and to retire into winter quarters. About four thousand men were cantoned13 on the Delaware, at Trenton, Bordentown, the White Horse, and Mount Holly; and the residue of the army of Jersey was distributed from that river to the Hackensac. Strong corps were posted at Princeton, Brunswick, and Elizabeth Town. General Howe hoped, by covering so large a portion of Jersey, to intimidate the people, and to impede the recruiting service. To counteract these views, three regiments from Peekskill were ordered to halt at Morristown, and to unite with the Jersey militia assembled at that place under Colonel Ford. General Maxwell was sent to take command of these troops.
The short interval between this cantonment of the British troops and the recommencement of active operations, was employed by General Washington in repeating the representations he had so often made to Congress respecting preparations for the ensuing campaign.
The present aspect of American affairs was gloomy in the extreme. The existing army, except about fifteen hundred men, would dissolve in a few days. New Jersey had, in a great measure, submitted; and the militia of Pennsylvania had not displayed the alacrity expected from them. General Howe would most probably avail himself of the ice, which would soon be formed, and of the dissolution of the American army, to seize Philadelphia. It was feared, and with reason, that this event would deter the American youth from engaging in a service which was becoming hopeless.
To extricate the affairs of America from this desperate situation, General Washington formed the daring plan of attacking all the British posts on the Delaware at the same instant. If successful in all or any of these attacks, he hoped to relieve Philadelphia from immediate danger—to compel his adversary to compress himself, so as no longer to cover Jersey, and above all, to restore public confidence.
The positions taken to guard the river, were equally well adapted to offensive operations. It was intended to cross, in the night of the 25th of December, at M’Konkey’s ferry, about nine miles above Trenton, and to march down in two divisions, by the river and Pennington roads, the first of which enters the western part of the town, and the last towards the north. This part of the plan was to be executed by the General in person, at the head of about two thousand four hundred continental troops. It was thought practicable to pass the river by twelve, and to reach the point of destination by five in the morning. General Irvine was directed to cross at the Trenton ferry, and to secure the bridge below the town. General Cadwallader was to cross over at Dunks’ ferry, and to secure the post at Mount Holly.
The cold, on the night of the 25th, was intense. Snow, mingled with hail and rain, fell in great quantities, and so much ice was made in the river, that the division commanded by the General in person could not effect its passage till three, nor commence its march till near four. As the distance to Trenton, by either road, is nearly the same, orders were given to attack at the instant of arrival, and, after driving in the outposts, to follow them rapidly into town, and prevent the main body from forming.
General Washington accompanied the upper column; and, arriving at the outpost on that road precisely at eight o’clock, drove it in, and followed it with such ardor that its attempts to make a stand were unavailing. In three minutes, the fire of those who had taken the river road was heard. Colonel Rall, who commanded in the town, paraded his men, and met the assailants. He fell in the commencement of the action, and his troops, in apparent confusion, attempted to gain the road to Princeton. General Washington threw a detachment into their front, and advanced rapidly on them in person. Finding themselves surrounded, and their artillery already seized, they laid down their arms and surrendered themselves prisoners of war. About twenty of the enemy were killed, and about one thousand made prisoners. The American loss was two privates killed, two frozen to death, and three or four wounded. One officer, Lieutenant Monroe, was wounded.14
The ice rendered it impracticable for General Irvine to execute that part of the plan which devolved on him, and about five hundred men, stationed in the lower end of Trenton, crossed the bridge, early in the action, and escaped down the river. The same cause prevented General Cadwallader from attacking the post at Mount Holly. With great difficulty a part of his infantry passed the river, but returned on its being found impossible to cross with the artillery.
General Washington, thinking it unadvisable to hazard the loss of the very important advantage already gained, by attempting to increase it, recrossed the river with his prisoners and military stores.
Nothing could surpass the astonishment of the British commander at this unexpected display of vigor on the part of the American General. His condition, and that of his country, had been thought desperate. He had been deserted by every man having a right to leave him, and two-thirds of the continental troops still remaining with him would be entitled to a discharge on the first of January. The spirits of the people were sunk to the lowest point of depression. New Jersey appeared to be subdued, and the best judges of the public sentiment thought that immense numbers in Pennsylvania also would not permit the sixty days allowed in the proclamation of Lord and Sir William Howe to elapse, without availing themselves of the pardon it proffered. Instead of offensive operations, the total dispersion of the small remnant of the American army was confidently anticipated.
Finding that he was contending with an adversary who could never cease to be formidable, and that the conquest of America was more distant than had been supposed, General Howe determined, in the depth of winter, to recommence active operations; and Lord Cornwallis, who had retired to New York, with the intention of embarking for Europe, returned to the Jerseys in great force for the purpose of recovering the ground which had been lost.
General Washington, finding himself, by a reinforcement of Pennsylvania militia, at the head of a force with which it seemed practicable to act on the offensive, determined to employ the winter in endeavoring to recover Jersey.
He directed Generals Heath and Maxwell to approach the British cantonments, while he again crossed the Delaware with his continental troops, and took post at Trenton. The regulars of New England were entitled to a discharge on the last day of December. With great difficulty, and a bounty of ten dollars, many of them were induced to renew their engagements for six weeks.
Jan. 1, 1777The British were now collected in force at Princeton, under Lord Cornwallis. His Lordship advanced on the morning of the 2d of January; and, about four o’clock in the afternoon, his van reached Trenton. On its approach, General Washington retired across Assumpinck creek, which runs through the town. The British attempted to cross the creek at several places; but finding all the fords guarded, they desisted from the attempt, and kindled their fires. The Americans kindled their fires likewise, and a cannonade was kept up till dark.
The situation of General Washington was once more extremely critical. A few days of mild foggy weather had softened the ice in the Delaware, and rendered its passage very difficult. In his present situation, he would certainly be attacked early in the morning by an overwhelming force, which must render his destruction inevitable.
In this embarrassing state of things, he formed the bold design of abandoning the Delaware, and marching by a circuitous route along the left flank of the British army, into its rear at Princeton; and, after beating the troops at that place, to move rapidly on Brunswick, where the baggage and principal magazines of the British army lay under a weak guard.
This plan being approved by a council of war, preparations were made for its immediate execution. The baggage was removed to Burlington; and about one o’clock in the morning the army decamped silently, and took a circuitous road to Princeton, where three British regiments had encamped he preceding night, two of which commenced their march early in the morning to join the rear of their army. At sunrise, after proceeding about two miles, they saw the Americans on their left; and, immediately facing about, advanced upon their van, which was conducted by General Mercer. A sharp action ensued, which was not of long duration. General Mercer was mortally wounded, and the van was routed. But the fortune of the day was soon changed. The main body, led by General Washington in person, followed close in the rear, and attacked with great spirit. The British in turn were compelled to give way. The two regiments were separated. Colonel Mawhood, who commanded that in front, retired to the main road, and continued his march. The fifty-fifth regiment, which was on the left, being hard pressed, fled in confusion across the fields into a back road leading towards Brunswick. General Washington pressed forward to Princeton. The regiment remaining in that place took possession of the college,15 and made a show of resistance, but some pieces of artillery being brought up to play upon that building, it was abandoned, and the greater part of them became prisoners.
In this engagement, the British lost rather more than one hundred killed, and near three hundred prisoners. The loss of the Americans in killed was somewhat less; but in their number was included General Mercer, Colonels Haslet and Potter, Captains Neal and Fleming, and five other valuable officers.
On perceiving that the American army had decamped in the night, Lord Cornwallis marched with the utmost expedition to the protection of Brunswick, and was close in the rear of the Americans before they could leave Princeton.
The situation of General Washington was again perilous in the extreme. His small army was exhausted with fatigue, without blankets, and many of them barefooted. He was closely pursued by a superior enemy, who must necessarily come up with him before he could accomplish his designs on Brunswick. Under these circumstances, he abandoned the remaining part of his original plan, and took the road leading up the country to Pluckamin, where his troops took some refreshment. Lord Cornwallis continued his march to Brunswick; and General Washington, finding it impracticable to continue offensive operations, retired to Morristown, in order to put his men under cover, and give them some repose.
The bold, judicious, and unexpected attacks made at Trenton and Princeton had a much more extensive influence on American affairs than would be supposed from a mere estimate of the killed and taken. They saved Philadelphia for the winter; recovered the state of Jersey; and, which was of still more importance, revived the drooping spirits of the people, and gave a perceptible impulse to the recruiting service throughout the United States.
The firmness of Congress through the gloomy period which intervened between the loss of fort Washington and the battle of Princeton, give the members of that time a just claim to the admiration of the world and to the gratitude of their fellow-citizens. Undismayed by impending dangers, they did not, for an instant, admit the idea of surrendering the independence they had declared, and purchasing peace by returning to their colonial situation.
[1. ]The German army of the time termed their light infantry Jäger (also called Yagers by Americans), and the French and British termed theirs Chasseurs—both terms mean “huntsmen”; even the Hessians, though, used the term chasseurs for their light infantry not in their elite Jäger Corps.
[2. ]Baron Wilhelm von Knyphausen (1716–1800), German Lieutenant General, Commander in Chief of Hessian mercenaries in America, 1777 to 1782.
[3. ]The Bronx River.
[4. ]Alexander McDougall (1732–86) of Scotland and New York, Brigadier General (ultimately Major General) in the Continental army.
[5. ]Vanguard, forefront of the troops.
[6. ]A Colonel in command of a Maryland regiment at White Plains, William Smallwood of Maryland (1732–92) ultimately was a Major General in the Continental army.
[7. ]Enclose, surround.
[8. ]Nathanael Greene (1742–86) of Rhode Island, Major General in the Continental army. Later in the war he commanded the Southern department and was instrumental in regaining the South for the Americans; see chapter 20, below.
[9. ]Charles Stedman (c. 1745–1812), British officer throughout the Revolutionary War; author of The History of the Origin, Progress, and Termination of the American War, 2 volumes (London, 1792; Dublin: P. Wogan, P. Byrne, J. Moore & W. Jones, 1794).
[10. ]Preparing food for eating.
[11. ]A battalion or regiment raised from Pennsylvania and Maryland by order of Congress in May 1776, initially led by Colonel Nicholas Haussegger.
[12. ]Horatio Gates (1728–1806) of England and Virginia, Major General in the Continental army.
[13. ]Temporarily lodged.
[14. ]James Monroe (1758–1831) of Virginia, later fifth President of the United States.
[15. ]Later, Princeton University.