Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER 9: A Stubborn Contest in the Middle Colonies (September to December 1777) - The Life of George Washington
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CHAPTER 9: A Stubborn Contest in the Middle Colonies (September to December 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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A Stubborn Contest in the Middle Colonies (September to December 1777)
Measures to cut off the communication between the British army and fleet.—Battle of Germantown.—Attack on fort Mifflin.—On Red Bank.—The Augusta blown up.—General Washington takes post at White Marsh.—Fort Mifflin evacuated.—Fort Mercer evacuated.—The British open a communication with their fleet.—General Howe marches to Chesnut Hill.—Returns to Philadelphia.—General Washington goes into winter quarters.
Sept. 1777To prevent the co-operation of the fleet with the British army in Philadelphia, works had been erected on Mud island, a low marshy piece of ground near the junction of the Schuylkill with the Delaware, and at Red Bank, on the opposite Jersey shore, which were defended with heavy artillery. In the deep channel, under cover of these batteries, several ranges of frames, resembling chevaux-de-frise,1 had been sunk, which were so strong and heavy as to destroy any ship that might strike against them. No attempt to open the channel could be successful until the command of the shores on both sides should be obtained.
Other ranges of machines2 had been sunk about three miles lower down the river; and some considerable works were in progress at Billingsport, on the Jersey side, which were in such forwardness as to be provided with artillery. These works and machines were farther supported by two floating batteries, several galleys, a number of other armed vessels, and some fire-ships.3
The present relative situation of the armies gave a decisive importance to these works. Cutting off the communication of General Howe with his fleet, they intercepted his supplies by water; while the American vessels in the river above fort Mifflin, the fort on Mud island, opposed obstacles to his foraging in Jersey; and General Washington hoped to render his supplies on the part of Pennsylvania so precarious as to compel him to evacuate Philadelphia.
These advantages were considerably diminished by the capture of the Delaware frigate.
Lord Cornwallis, the day after entering Philadelphia, commenced three batteries for the purpose of acting against any American ships which might appear before the town. While incomplete, they were attacked by two American frigates, assisted by several galleys and gondolas.4 The largest, the Delaware, being left by the tide, grounded, and was captured. This event was the more interesting, as it not only gave the British general the command of the ferry, and free access to the Jersey shore, but also enabled him to intercept the communication between the forts below and Trenton, from which place the garrisons were to have drawn their military stores.
The expected reinforcements, except the state regiment and militia from Virginia, being arrived, the American army amounted to eight thousand continental troops and three thousand militia. With this force General Washington determined to approach the enemy, and seize the first opportunity of attacking him. The armySept. 30 took a position on the Skippack road, about sixteen miles from Germantown. The British line of encampment crossed this village near its centre, and Lord Cornwallis, with four regiments of grenadiers, occupied Philadelphia. Colonel Stirling had been detached with two regiments to take possession of the fort at Billingsport and destroy the works, after which service he was directed to escort a convoy of provisions from Chester to Philadelphia. For the security of this convoy, another regiment was detached from Germantown.
General Washington determined to avail himself of this division of the British force, and to attempt to surprise the camp at Germantown. His plan was to attack both wings in front and rear at the same instant.
The divisions of Sullivan and Wayne, flanked by Conway’s brigade, were to march down the main road, and attack the left wing; while General Armstrong, with the Pennsylvania militia, should turn its left flank and attack in the rear. The commander-in-chief accompanied this column.
The divisions of Greene and Stephens, flanked by M’Dougal’s brigade, were to take a circuit by the Limekiln road, and attack the right wing.
The militia of Maryland and Jersey, under Generals Smallwood and Forman, were to march down the old York road, and, turning its right, to fall on its rear.
The division of Lord Sterling, and the brigades of Nash and Maxwell, formed the reserve.
Parties of cavalry were silently to scour the roads, and to keep up the communication between the heads of the several columns.
Oct. 4The army moved from its ground about seven in the afternoon, and before sunrise the next morning, the advance of the column led by Sullivan drove in a piquet. The main body followed close in the rear, and engaging the light infantry and the fortieth regiment, forced them to give way. Though closely pursued, Lieutenant-Colonel Musgrave, with five companies, threw himself into a large stone house belonging to Mr. Chew, which stood directly in the way of Wayne’s division, and poured on the Americans an incessant and galling fire5 from the doors and windows.
After some unsuccessful and bloody attempts to carry the house by storm, and battering it with field artillery, which was too light to make any impression on its walls, a regiment was left to observe the party within it, and Wayne moved forward, passing to the left of the house.
In rather more than half an hour after Sullivan had been engaged, the left wing came also into action, and drove the light infantry posted in front of the British right from its ground. While pursuing the flying enemy, Woodford’s brigade, which was on the right of this wing, was arrested by a heavy fire from Chew’s house, directed against its right flank. The brigade was drawn off to the left by its commanding officer, and the field-pieces attached to it were ordered to play on the house, but were too light to be of service. The advance of that brigade being thus retarded, this part of the line was broken, and the two brigades composing the division of Stephens were not only separated from each other, but from the other division which was led by General Greene in person. That division, consisting of the brigades of Muhlenberg and Scott, encountered and broke a part of the British right wing, entered the village, and made a considerable number of prisoners.
Thus far the prospect was flattering. Had the American troops possessed the advantages given by experience, there is yet reason to believe that the hopes inspired by this favorable commencement would not have been disappointed. But the face of the country, and the darkness of the morning produced by a fog of uncommon density, co-operating with the defective discipline of the army, and the derangements of the corps by the incidents at Chew’s house, blasted these flattering appearances.
The grounds over which the British were pursued abounded in small and strong inclosures, which frequently broke the line of the pursuer’s army. The two divisions composing the right wing had been separated at Chew’s house, and immediately after their passing it, the right of the left wing was stopped at the same place, so as to cause a division of that wing also. The darkness of the morning rendered it difficult to distinguish objects; and it was impossible for the commander-in-chief to learn the situation of the whole, or to correct the confusion which was commencing. The same cause which obstructed the re-union of the broken parts of the American army, also prevented their discerning the real situation of the enemy, so as to improve the first impression.
The attacks on the flanks and rear which formed a part of the original plan, do not appear to have been made.
These embarrassments gave the British time to recover from the consternation into which they had been thrown. General Knyphausen, who commanded their left, detached two brigades to meet the right of Sullivan, which had penetrated far into the village, before his left, which had been detained at Chew’s house, could rejoin him; and the action became warm in that quarter. The British right also recovered from its surprise, and advanced on that part of Greene’s division which had entered the town. After a sharp engagement these two brigades began to retreat, and those who were most in advance were surrounded and compelled to surrender. About the same time the right wing also began to retreat. It is understood that their ammunition was expended.
Every effort to stop this retrograde movement proved ineffectual. The division of Wayne fell back on that of Stephens, and was for some time mistaken for the enemy. General confusion prevailed, and the confidence felt in the beginning of the action was lost. With infinite chagrin General Washington found himself compelled to relinquish all hope of victory, and to turn his attention to the safety of his army. The enemy not being sufficiently recovered to endanger his rear, the retreat was made without loss under cover of the division of Stephens.
In this battle about two hundred Americans were killed, near three times that number wounded, and about four hundred made prisoners. Among the killed was General Nash, of North Carolina; and among the prisoners was Colonel Matthews of Virginia, whose regiment had penetrated into the centre of the town. The loss of the British, as stated in the official return, did not exceed five hundred, of whom less than one hundred were killed. Among the latter, were General Agnew and Colonel Bird.
The American army retreated about twenty miles to Perkiomen creek, where a small reinforcement, consisting of about fifteen hundred militia, and a state regiment, was received from Virginia; after which it again advanced towards Philadelphia, and reoccupied the ground from which it had marched to fight the battle of Germantown.
The attention of both armies was now principally directed to the forts below Philadelphia.
A garrison of continental troops was placed in the fort at Red Bank, called fort Mercer, which commanded the channel between the Jersey shore and Mud island, and afforded protection to the American flotilla. The militia of Jersey were relied upon to reinforce this garrison; and also to form a corps of observation which might harass the rear of any detachment investing6 the place.
General Howe was indefatigable in his preparations to attackOct. 1777 fort Mifflin from the Pennsylvania shore. He erected batteries at the mouth of the Schuylkill, which were silenced by Commodore Hazlewood; but a detachment crossed over Webb’s ferry into Province Island in the following night, and constructed a slight work opposite fort Mifflin, from which they were able to throw shot and shells into the barracks. This was attacked at daylight by three galleys and a floating battery, and the garrison surrendered. While the boats were bringing off the prisoners, a large body of British troops reoccupied the fortress. The attack was renewed by the flotilla, without success; and two attempts made by Lieutenant-Colonel Smith to storm it, entirely failed. In a few nights, works were completed on the high ground of Province Island, which enfiladed7 the principal battery of fort Mifflin.
The aids expected from the Jersey militia not being received, Colonel Angel of Rhode Island, with his regiment, was ordered to Red Bank; and Lieutenant-Colonel John Goune of Virginia, with about two hundred men, to fort Mifflin.
Immediately after the battle of Brandywine, Admiral Howe8 sailed for the Delaware; but his van did not get into the river until the 4th of October. The ships of war and transports which followed, came up from the 6th to the 8th, and anchored from New Castle to Reedy Island. It was not till the middle of the month, that the frigates in advance of the fleet could make a narrow and intricate passage through the lower impediments sunk in the river. In the meantime the fire from the Pennsylvania shore had not produced all the effect expected from it; and General Howe perceived that greater exertions would be necessary for the reduction of the works than could be safely made in the present relative situation of the armies. Under this impression, he withdrew his troops from Germantown into Philadelphia, as preparatory to a combined attack by land and water on forts Mercer and Mifflin.
After effecting a passage through the works sunk in the river at Billingsport, other difficulties still remained to be encountered by the ships of war. Several rows of chevaux-de-frise had been sunk about half a mile below Mud island, which were protected by the guns of the forts, as well as by the moveable water force. To silence these works, therefore, was a necessary preliminary to the removal of the obstructions in the channel.
On the 21st of October, Colonel Count Donop, at the head of twelve hundred Hessians, crossed the Delaware at Philadelphia, with orders to storm the works at Red Bank. Late in the evening of the 22d, he appeared before the fort, and attacked it with great intrepidity. It was defended with equal resolution. The outer works, being too extensive to be manned by the garrison, were used only to gall the assailants while advancing. On their near approach, the Americans retired within the inner entrenchment, whence they poured upon the Hessians a heavy and destructive fire. Colonel Donop received a mortal wound; and Lieutenant-Colonel Mengerode, the second in command, fell about the same time. Lieutenant-Colonel Minsing, the oldest remaining officer, drew off his troops, and returned next day to Philadelphia. The loss of the assailants was estimated at four hundred men. That of the Americans amounted to only thirty-two in killed and wounded.
The ships having been ordered to co-operate with Count Donop, the Augusta and four smaller vessels passed the lower line of chevaux-de-frise opposite Billingsport, and lay above it, waiting for the assault. The flood tide setting in as the attack commenced, they moved with it up the river. The obstructions sunk in the Delaware, having in some degree changed its channel, the Augusta and the Merlin grounded a considerable distance below the second line of chevaux-de-frise; and a strong wind from the north so checked the rising of the tide, that they could not be floated by the flood. The next morning, their situation was discovered, and four fire-ships were sent to destroy them, but without effect. Meanwhile, a warm cannonade was kept up on both sides, in the course of which the Augusta took fire, and it was found impracticable to extinguish the flames. Most of the men were taken out, the frigates withdrawn, and the Merlin set on fire; after which the Augusta blew up, and a few of the crew were lost in her.
Congress expressed its high sense of the merits of Colonel Greene, of Rhode Island, and of Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, of Maryland, who had commanded in the forts; and of Commodore Hazlewood, who had commanded the galleys, and presented a sword to each of those officers.
This repulse inspired sanguine hopes that the posts on the Delaware might be defended so long as to induce the evacuation of Philadelphia. But their condition did not justify this confidence.
Having failed in every attempt to draw the militia of Jersey to the Delaware, General Washington determined to strengthen the garrisons by further drafts from his army. Three hundred Pennsylvania militia were detached to be divided between them, and General Varnum’s brigade was ordered to take a position near Red Bank, and to relieve and reinforce the garrisons of both forts. The hope was entertained, that the appearance of a respectable continental force might encourage the militia to assemble in greater numbers.
In this state of things, intelligence was received of the successful termination of the northern campaign;9 in consequence of which, great part of the troops who had been employed against Burgoyne might be drawn to the aid of the army in Pennsylvania. Colonel Hamilton10 was dispatched to General Gates, to make the proper representations to that officer, and to urge him, if he contemplated no other service of more importance, to send immediately the regiments of Massachusetts and New Hampshire to aid the army of the middle department.
On reaching General Putnam, Colonel Hamilton found that a considerable part of the northern army had joined that officer; but that Gates had detained four brigades at Albany, for an expedition intended to be carried on in the winter against Ticonderoga.
Having made arrangements with Putnam for the immediate march of a large body of continental troops, Colonel Hamilton proceeded to Albany, for the purpose of remonstrating with General Gates against retaining so large and valuable a part of the army unemployed at a time when the most imminent danger threatened the vitals of the country. Gates was by no means disposed to part with his troops. He would not be persuaded that an expedition then preparing at New York was designed to reinforce General Howe; and insisted, that by a sudden movement up the Hudson, it would be in the power of the enemy, should Albany be left defenceless, to destroy the valuable arsenal at that place, and the military stores captured with Burgoyne.
After obtaining, by repeated remonstrances, an order directing three brigades to the Delaware, Hamilton hastened back to Putnam, and found the troops which had been ordered to join General Washington, still at Peekskill. The detachment from New York had suggested to Putnam the possibility of taking that place; and he does not appear to have made any great exertions to divest himself of a force which might enable him to accomplish an object that would give so much splendor to his military character. In addition to this circumstance, an opinion had insinuated itself among the soldiers that their share of service for the campaign had been performed, and that it was time for them to go into winter quarters. Great discontent, too, prevailed concerning their pay, which the government had permitted to be more than six months in arrear; and, in Poor’s brigade, a mutiny broke out, in the course of which a soldier, who was run through the body by his captain, shot the officer dead before he expired. Colonel Hamilton came in time to borrow money of the Governor of New York, to put the troops in motion; and they proceeded by brigades to the Delaware. But delays retarded their arrival until the contest for the forts on that river was terminated.
The preparations of Sir William Howe being completed, a large battery on Province Island, of twenty-four and thirty-two pounders, and two howitzers of eight inches each,11 opened early in the morning of the 10th of November, upon fort Mifflin, at the distance of five hundred yards, and kept up an incessant fire for several days. The block-houses were reduced to a heap of ruins; the palisades were beaten down;12 most of the guns disabled, and the barracks battered in every part so that the troops could not remain in them. They were under the necessity of working and watching through the night; and, if in the day a few moments were allowed for repose, it was taken on the wet earth, which incessant rains had rendered a soft mud. The garrison was relieved by General Varnum every forty-eight hours; but his brigade was so weak that half the men were constantly on duty.
In the hope that the place might be maintained till reinforcements should arrive from the northern army, General Washington ordered that it should be defended to the last extremity; and never were orders better executed.
Several of the garrison were killed, and among them Captain Treat, a gallant officer who commanded the artillery. Colonel Smith received a contusion on his hip and arm, which compelled him to give up the command, and retire to Red Bank. Major Fleury, a French officer of distinguished merit, who served as engineer, reported that the place was still defensible, but the garrison was so worn down with fatigue, and so unequal to the extent of the lines, that he dreaded the event of an attempt to carry them by storm. The command was taken first by Colonel Russell, and afterwards by Major Thayer; and the artillery, commanded by Captain Lee, continued to be well served. The besiegers were several times thrown into confusion, and a floating battery which opened on the morning of the 14th was silenced in the course of the day.
Nov. 15The defence being unexpectedly obstinate, the besiegers brought up their ships as far as the obstructions in the river permitted, and added their fire to that of the batteries. The brave garrison, however, still maintained their ground with unshaken firmness. In the midst of this stubborn conflict, the Vigilant, and a sloop-of-war,13 were brought up the middle channel, between Mud and Province islands, which had, unperceived by the besieged, been deepened by the current, in consequence of the obstructions in the main channel; and taking a station within one hundred yards of the works, not only kept up a destructive cannonade, but threw hand-grenades into them; while the musketeers from the round-top14 of the Vigilant, killed every man that appeared on the platform.
Major Thayer applied to the Commodore15 to remove these vessels; and six galleys were ordered on the service; but they returned without attempting any thing. Their report was that these ships were so covered by the batteries on Province Island, as to be unassailable.
It was apparent that the fort could be no longer defended; and on the night of the 16th, the garrison was withdrawn; soon afterwards a detachment from Province Island occupied the ground that had been abandoned.
The day after receiving intelligence of the evacuation of fort Mifflin, the commander-in-chief deputed Generals De Kalb and Knox, to confer with General Varnum, and the officers at fort Mercer, on the practicability of continuing to defend the obstructions in the channel. Their report was favorable; but a council of naval officers had already been called by the commodore, in pursuance of a request made by the commander-in-chief, previous to the evacuation, who were unanimously of opinion that it would be impracticable for the fleet, after the loss of the island, to maintain its station, or to assist in preventing the chevaux-de-frise from being weighed by the ships of the enemy.
General Howe had now completed a line of defence from the Schuylkill to the Delaware, and a reinforcement from New York had arrived in the river at Chester. These two circumstances enabled him to form an army in Jersey for the reduction of fort Mercer, without weakening himself so much in Philadelphia as to put his lines in hazard. He detached Lord Cornwallis in the morning of the 17th, with a strong body of troops, who formed a junction with the reinforcement from New York, at Billingsport.
General Washington communicated the movement of Lord Cornwallis to General Varnum, with orders to defend fort Mercer to the last extremity; and, with a view to military operations in that quarter, ordered one division of the army to cross the river at Burlington, and despatched expresses to the troops who were marching from the north by brigades, directing them to move down the Delaware, on the northern side. Major-General Greene was selected for this service. But before Greene could cross the Delaware, Lord Cornwallis approached fort Mercer, and the place was evacuated.
Washington still hoped to recover much of what had been lost. A victory would restore the Jersey shore, and his instructions to General Greene indicated the expectation that he would be in a condition to fight Lord Cornwallis.
That judicious officer feared the reproach of avoiding an action less than the just censure of sacrificing the real interests of his country by fighting on disadvantageous terms. The numbers of the British, unexpectedly augmented by the reinforcement from New York, exceeded his, even counting his militia as regulars; and he determined to wait for Glover’s brigade, which was marching from the north. Before its arrival Lord Cornwallis took post on Gloucester Point, entirely under cover of the guns of the ships, from which place he was embarking his baggage and the provisions he had collected, for Philadelphia.
Believing that Lord Cornwallis would immediately follow his magazines, and that the purpose of Sir William Howe was to attack the American army while divided, General Washington ordered General Greene to re-cross the Delaware and to join him.
Thus, after one continued and arduous struggle of more than six weeks, the British army secured itself in the possession of Philadelphia, by opening a free communication with the fleet.
The opinion that Sir William Howe meditated an attack on the American camp, was confirmed by unquestionable intelligence from Philadelphia. On the 4th of December, Captain M’Lane, a vigilant officer on the lines, discovered that this design was to be immediately carried into execution, and communicated his discovery to the commander-in-chief. On the evening of the same day, General Howe marched out of Philadelphia with his whole force; and, about eleven at night, M’Lane, who had been detached with one hundred chosen men, attacked his van with some success at Three-Mile run, on the Germantown road. He hovered on the front and flank of the advancing army until three next morning, when the British encamped on Chesnut Hill, in front of the American right, and distant from it about three miles. The Pennsylvania militia, under General Irvine, had also engaged the advanced light parties of the enemy. The general was wounded, and the militia dispersed.
The range of hills on which the British were encamped, approached nearer to those occupied by the Americans as they stretched northward.
Having passed the day in reconnoitring the right, Sir William Howe changed his ground in the course of the night, and moving along the hills to his right, took an advantageous position in front of the American left. The next day he inclined still farther to his right, and approached still nearer to the left wing of the American army. Supposing a general engagement to be approaching, Washington detached Gist, with some Maryland militia, and Morgan, with his rifle corps, to attack the flanking and advanced parties. A sharp action ensued, in which Major Morris, of Jersey, a brave officer in Morgan’s regiment, was mortally wounded, and twenty-seven of his men were killed and wounded. A small loss was also sustained in the militia. The parties attacked were driven in; but the enemy reinforcing in numbers, and Washington, unwilling to move from the heights and engage on the ground which was the scene of this skirmish, declining to reinforce Gist and Morgan, they, in turn, were compelled to retreat.
Sir William Howe continued to manoeuvre towards the flank and in front of the left wing of the American army. Expecting to be attacked in that quarter, Washington made such change in the disposition of his troops as the occasion required; and the day was consumed in these movements. In the course of it, the American chief rode through every brigade of his army, delivering his orders in person, exhorting his troops to rely principally on the bayonet, in the use of which weapon their higher ground would give them the advantage, and encouraging them by the steady firmness of his countenance, as well as by his words. The dispositions of the evening indicated an intention to attack him next morning; but, in the afternoon, the British suddenly filed off from their right, and retreated to Philadelphia.
The loss of the British in this expedition rather exceeded one hundred men. It was sustained chiefly in the skirmish of the 7th, in which Major Morris fell.
On no former occasion had the two armies met uncovered by works, with equal numbers. The effective force of Sir William Howe has been since stated by Mr. Stedman,16 who then belonged to his army, to have amounted to fourteen thousand. The American army consisted of precisely twelve thousand one hundred and sixty-one regular troops, and three thousand two hundred and forty-one militia. This equality in point of numbers rendered it a prudent precaution to maintain a superiority of position. As the two armies occupied heights fronting each other, neither could attack without giving its adversary some advantage in the ground; an advantage which neither seemed willing to relinquish.
The return of Sir William Howe to Philadelphia without bringing on an action, after marching out with the avowed intention of fighting, is the best testimony of the respect he felt for his adversary.
The cold was now becoming too intense for an army, neither well clothed, nor sufficiently supplied with blankets, longer to keep the field. It had become necessary to place the troops in winter quarters; and the selection of a position had been a subject of serious reflection. They could not be placed in villages without uncovering the country, or exposing them to the hazard of being beaten in detail.
To avoid these calamities, it was determined to take a strong position in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, equally distant from the Delaware above and below that city; and there to construct huts in the form of a regular encampment. A strong piece of ground at Valley Forge, on the west side of the Schuylkill, between twenty and thirty miles from Philadelphia, was selected for that purpose; and before day, on the morning of the 11th of December, the army marched to take possession of it. Lord Cornwallis had been detached on the morning of the same day to forage on the west side of the Schuylkill. He had dispersed a brigade of Pennsylvania militia under General Potter, and, pursuing the fugitives, had gained the heights opposite Matson’s ford, and had posted troops to command the defile called the Gulf, just as the van of the American army reached the bank of the river. These positions had been taken without any knowledge of the approach of the American army, for the sole purpose of covering the foraging party.
Apprehending that General Howe had taken the field with his whole army, Washington moved rather higher up the river for the purpose of discovering the real situation, force, and designs of the enemy. The next day Lord Cornwallis returned to Philadelphia; and, in the course of the night, the American army crossed the river.
Here the commander-in-chief communicated to his army the arrangements intended for the winter. He expressed in strong terms his approbation of their conduct, exhorted them to bear with continuing fortitude the hardships inseparable from their situation, and assured them that those hardships were not imposed by caprice, but were necessary for the good of their country.
The winter had set in with great severity, and the sufferings of the army were extreme. They were, however, soon diminished by the erection of logged huts, which formed comfortable habitations, and satisfied men long unused to the conveniences of life.
[1. ]French for “Friesland horses” (a province of the Netherlands); portable obstacles in the form of a sawhorse, having two or more sets of self-standing legs or crosspieces, and covered with spikes or barbed wire; first used to defend against cavalry.
[2. ]A general term for engineered works of warfare; engines of war.
[3. ]A floating battery is a unit of artillery guns erected on rafts; galleys, in the American Revolutionary navy, were keelless boats with a hold and upper deck, rigged with two square sails on a single mast (though usually propelled by oars), carrying roughly eighty men and twelve or more guns (up to eighteen-pounders); fireships are those filled with combustible material so as to set fire to enemy vessels.
[4. ]Frigates were the second-largest class of sailing ships of war, carrying from twenty to sixty guns on two decks; gondolas were flat-bottomed boats, pointed at both ends, rigged with two square sails on a single mast (though usually propelled by oars), carrying three or more guns (twelve- and nine-pounders) and roughly forty-five men.
[5. ]A harassing, annoying fire.
[6. ]Surrounding, besieging.
[7. ]Subjected to fire along the length of a battery, trench, or line of troops.
[8. ]Lord Richard Howe (1726–99), Chief British naval commander in America, 1776 to 1778; older brother of General William Howe.
[9. ]The surrender of the British army under Major General Burgoyne after the Second Battle of Saratoga, October 17, 1777; see chapter 10.
[10. ]Alexander Hamilton (1757–1804), of British West Indies (Nevis) and New York, formerly Captain of a New York artillery company, since March 1777 aide-de-camp and secretary to General Washington, with rank of Lieutenant Colonel; later artillery commander at Yorktown and full Colonel, Confederation Congressman, co-author of The Federalist Papers, and first Secretary of the Treasury.
[11. ]In the eighteenth century cannon, or artillery, were classified by the weight of the shell they used (from two-pounders to thirty-two-pounders); a howitzer is a short cannon, with low velocity and a curved trajectory, classified by the size of its muzzle (usually from five and a half to eight inches).
[12. ]Blockhouses are small, isolated buildings which give protection from enemy fire and from which fire can be delivered; palisades are fences made of long, pointed stakes.
[13. ]Next below in size to a frigate, a ship of war carrying from eighteen to thirty-two guns.
[14. ]A platform, usually circular, around the mast of a sailing ship.
[15. ]John Hazelwood (c. 1726–1800), of England and Pennsylvania, leader in Pennsylvania’s naval warfare efforts from 1775, named Commodore in the Pennsylvania Navy in 1777.
[16. ]Charles Stedman, British officer in the war, later historian; see chapter 6, note 9.