Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER 16: Near-Mutinies and Calming Influence; Skirmishes; the Allies Fail at Savannah (May to December 1779) - The Life of George Washington
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
CHAPTER 16: Near-Mutinies and Calming Influence; Skirmishes; the Allies Fail at Savannah (May to December 1779) - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
Near-Mutinies and Calming Influence; Skirmishes; the Allies Fail at Savannah (May to December 1779)
Discontents in a part of the American army.—Colonel Van Schaick destroys an Indian settlement.—Fort Fayette surrenders to the British.—Invasion of Connecticut.—General Wayne storms Stony Point.—Expedition against Penobscot.—Powles’ Hook surprised by Major Lee.—Arrival of Admiral Arbuthnot.—Of the Count D’Estaing.—Siege of Savannah.—Unsuccessful attempt to storm the place.—Siege raised.—Victory of General Sullivan over the Indians.—Spain declares war against England.—The army goes into winter quarters.
1779The barbarities committed by the Indians during the preceding year had added motives of resentment and humanity to those of national interest for employing a large force in the protection of the western frontier. The state governments also took a strong interest in the subject; and Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, had severally applied to Congress, urging the adoption of vigorous measures in that quarter. These papers were referred to the committee appointed to confer with General Washington, in conformity with whose report, it was resolved, “that the commander-in-chief be directed to take efficient measures for the protection of the inhabitants, and the chastisement of the savages.”
General Washington had always believed that it was impossible to defend the immense western frontier by any chain of posts; and that the country could be protected only by offensive war. His ideas had been communicated to, and approved by, Congress.
The Six Nations had made some advances towards acquiring the comforts of civilized life. Some few of their towns were attached to the United States, but most of them were under the influence of the British.1 It was determined to lead a sufficient force into these villages, and to destroy their settlements.
As the army destined for this expedition was about to move, alarming symptoms of discontent appeared in a part of it. The Jersey brigade, which had been stationed during the winter at Elizabethtown, was ordered, early in May, to march by regiments. This order was answered by a letter from General Maxwell, stating that the officers of the first regiment had delivered a remonstrance to their Colonel, addressed to the legislature of the state, declaring, that unless their complaints on the subjects of pay and support should obtain the immediate attention of that body, they were, at the expiration of three days, to be considered as having resigned. General Maxwell expressed his conviction that this step would be taken by all.
This intelligence made a serious impression on the commander-in-chief. He was strongly attached to the army and to its interests—had witnessed its virtue and its sufferings; and could no more deny the justice of the complaints made by the officers, than he could approve the measure they had adopted. In his letter to General Maxwell, designed to be laid before them, he made the strongest appeals to their patriotism, their honor, their military pride, and their real interest; and urged them, by these powerful motives, to abandon the resolution they had taken, and continue in the performance of their duty. He suggested, too, the real difficulties with which government was surrounded—difficulties which ought to excuse, to a considerable extent, its apparent inattention to their wants. It required all his influence to prevent the mischief threatened by this rash measure. While the officers still remained with their regiment, but no definitive step was taken, the legislature of Jersey, alarmed at this state of things, was at length induced to make some provision for them, they consenting to withdraw their remonstrance; and the troops marched according to their orders.
In communicating this transaction to Congress, General Washington took occasion to repeat his remonstrances on the necessity of some general and adequate provision for the officers of the army.
Before the troops destined for the grand expedition could be put in motion, an enterprise was undertaken against the towns of the Onondagas, the nearest of the hostile tribes of Indians. Colonel Van Schaick marched from fort Schuyler in the morning of the 19th of April, at the head of between five and six hundred men, and on the third day, reached the point of destination. The whole settlement was destroyed; and the detachment returned without the loss of a single man. The thanks of Congress were voted to Colonel Van Schaick and the officers and soldiers under his command.
The relative strength and situation of the parties rendered it improbable that any other offensive operation than that against the Indians could be carried on by the Americans, in the course of the present campaign. The British troops in New York and Rhode Island were computed at between sixteen and seventeen thousand men. The grand total of the American army, exclusive of those in the south and west, including officers of every description, amounted to about sixteen thousand; of whom three thousand were in New England, under the command of General Gates. On their part, therefore, the plan of the campaign was necessarily defensive.
After the destruction of forts Clinton and Montgomery, in 1777, it had been determined to construct the fortifications intended for the future defence of the North river,2 at West Point; a position which, being more completely embosomed in the hills, was deemed more defensible. The works had been prosecuted with industry, but were far from being completed.
Some miles below West Point, about the termination of the highlands, is King’s ferry, where the great road affording the most convenient communication between the middle and eastern states crosses the river. The ferry is commanded by the two opposite points of land. That on the west side, a rough and elevated piece of ground, is denominated Stony Point. The other, a flat neck, projecting far into the water, is called Verplank’s Point. Washington had comprehended these points in his plan of defence for the highlands. A small but strong work termed fort Fayette, was completed at Verplank’s, and was garrisoned by a company commanded by Captain Armstrong. The works on Stony Point were unfinished. Sir Henry Clinton determined to open the campaign by a brilliant coup de main3 up the North river.
His preparations were communicated to General Washington, who penetrated his designs, and took measures to counteract them. Putnam and M’Dougal, who commanded on the north side of the Hudson, were ordered to hold themselves in readiness to march; and, on the 29th of May, the troops at Middlebrook moved by divisions towards the highlands. On the 30th, the British army, convoyed by Sir George Collier, proceeded up the river. The largest division, led by General Vaughan, landed next morning about eight miles below Verplank’s; and another division under the particular command of General Patterson, but accompanied by Sir Henry Clinton, landed on the west side within three miles of Stony Point. That place was abandoned, and General Patterson took immediate possession of it. The next morning he opened a battery on fort Fayette within one thousand yards. Two galleys passed the fort in the night, and prevented the escape of the garrison, which surrendered to the enemy. Immediate directions were given for completing the works at both posts. After their completion, Sir Henry Clinton placed a strong garrison in each, and finding the position of the Americans at West Point too strong to be forced, returned down the river to Philipsburg.
The relative situation of the hostile armies presenting insuperable obstacles to any great operation, they could act offensively only in detached expeditions. Connecticut was particularly exposed to invasion; and the activity of his cruisers in the Sound, as well as the large quantity of provisions with which she supplied the army, furnished great inducements to Sir Henry Clinton to direct his enterprises against that state. An expedition was therefore fitted out against Connecticut, the command of which was given to Governor Tryon.4 He reached New Haven bay on the 5th of July, with about two thousand six hundred men; and his appearance gave the first intimation of his approach.
The militia assembled in considerable numbers with alacrity; but the military and naval stores found at New Haven were destroyed; after which Tryon proceeded to Fairfield, which was reduced to ashes. The good countenance showed by the militia is attested by the apology made by Tryon for this destruction of private property. “The village was burnt,” he says, “to resent the fire of the rebels from their houses, and to mask our retreat.”
About the same time a still larger detachment from the British army directed its course towards Horse Neck, and made demonstrations of a design to penetrate into the country in that direction.
On the night of the 11th, Tryon sailed from Huntington bay and landed at the Cow Pasture, a peninsula on the east side of the bay of Norwalk. On the morning of the 12th, as soon as his troops were in motion, he was attacked by General Parsons, at the head of about one hundred and fifty continental troops supported by considerable numbers of militia. Parsons kept up an irregular distant fire throughout the day; but being too weak to protect any particular town on the coast, Norwalk was reduced to ashes; after which the British re-embarked and returned to Huntingdon bay, there to wait for reinforcements. Before their arrival, Tryon was directed to meet Sir Henry Clinton at the White Stone, where it was determined to proceed against New London with an increased force. But before this determination could be carried into execution, Sir Henry Clinton found it necessary to recall Tryon to the Hudson.
General Washington had planned an enterprise against the posts at King’s ferry; but the difficulty of a perfect co-operation of detachments incapable of communicating with each other, determined him to postpone the attack on Verplank’s, and to make that part of the plan dependent on the success of the other.
July 1779The execution of this enterprise was entrusted to General Wayne, who commanded the light infantry of the army. The night of the 15th, and the hour of twelve, were chosen for the assault.
Stony Point is a commanding hill, projecting far into the Hudson, which washes three-fourths of its base. The remaining fourth is, in a great measure, covered by a deep marsh, over which there is but one crossing-place; but at its junction with the river, is a sandy beach, passable at low tide. The place was skilfully fortified, and garrisoned by six hundred men commanded by Colonel Johnson.
General Wayne arrived about eight in the afternoon at Spring Steel’s, one and a half miles from the fort; and made his dispositions to attack the works on the right and left flanks at the same instant. The regiments of Febiger and of Meigs, with Major Hull’s detachment, formed the right column; and Butler’s regiment with two companies under Major Murfree, formed the left. One hundred and fifty volunteers, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Fleury and Major Posey, constituted the van of the right; and one hundred volunteers under Major Stewart composed the van of the left.5 At half-past eleven the two columns moved to the assault, the van of each with unloaded muskets and fixed bayonets, preceded by a forlorn hope6 of twenty men, the one commanded by Lieutenant Gibbon, and the other by Lieutenant Knox. They reached the marsh undiscovered, and at twenty minutes after twelve commenced the assault.
Both columns rushed forward under a tremendous fire. They entered the works at the point of the bayonet; and, without discharging a single musket, obtained possession of the fort.
The humanity displayed by the conquerors was not less conspicuous, nor less honorable, than their courage. Not an individual suffered after resistance had ceased.
All the troops engaged in this perilous service manifested a high degree of ardour and impetuosity;7 and all distinguished themselves, whose situation enabled them to do so. Colonel Fleury was the first to enter the fort, and strike the British standard. Major Posey mounted the works almost at the same instant, and was the first to give the watch-word—“The fort’s our own.” Lieutenants Gibbon and Knox performed the service allotted to them with a degree of intrepidity which could not be surpassed. Of the twenty men who constituted the party of the former, seventeen were killed or wounded.
Sixty-three of the garrison were killed, including two officers. The prisoners amounted to five hundred and forty-three, among whom were one Lieutenant-Colonel, four captains, and twenty subalterns.8 The military stores taken in the fort were considerable.
The loss sustained by the assailants did not exceed one hundred men. General Wayne, who marched with Febiger’s regiment, received a slight wound in the head which stunned him for a short time, but did not compel him to leave the column. Supported by his aids, he entered the fort with the regiment. Lieutenant-Colonel Hay was also among the wounded.
According to the original plan, the attack on Verplank’s was immediately to have followed the surrender of Stony Point. In consequence of some inadvertencies which cannot be accounted for, it was not made. Notice of the success at Stony Point was not given to the detachment ordered on this service, in consequence of which the favorable moment was not seized; and before preparations were made for regular operations, Sir Henry Clinton relinquished his designs on Connecticut, and by a rapid movement relieved fort Fayette.
The possession of Verplank’s Point by the enemy, closing the road leading over King’s ferry, General Washington determined to evacuate Stony Point, and retire to the highlands. Sir Henry repossessed himself of that post; and, after placing a stronger garrison in it, retired first to Philipsburg, and afterwards to York Island.9
Colonel M’Clean with between six and seven hundred men had penetrated, early in June, from Nova Scotia into the eastern part of Maine, where he had taken possession of a peninsula on the eastern side of the Penobscot, and had thrown up entrenchments on the isthmus connecting it with the continent. The state of Massachusetts determined to dislodge him. A respectable fleet commanded by Commodore Saltonstal, and an army of near four thousand men under General Lovell, were prepared with so much celerity, that the whole armament appeared in the Penobscot as early as the 25th of July.
General Lovell effected a landing on the western part of the peninsula, where he ascended a precipice of two hundred feet; and, with the loss of fifty men, drove the party which defended it from the ground. A battery was erected within seven hundred and fifty yards of the main work of the besieged, and a warm cannonade was kept up for several days on both sides.
On the application of the government of Massachusetts, General Gates ordered Jackson’s regiment to Penobscot, and preparations were made to storm the works on his arrival.
Such was the posture of affairs on the 13th of August, when Lovell received information that Sir George Collier had entered the river with a superior naval force. He re-embarked his whole army; and, in the hope of gaining time until the transports might convey his land forces up the river, drew up his flotilla, as if determined to maintain his position. The British Admiral was too confident in his strength to permit this stratagem to succeed; and, as he approached, the Americans sought for safety in flight. A general chase, and unresisted destruction, ensued. The troops landed in a wild uncultivated country, and were obliged to explore their way through a pathless wilderness, for more than a hundred miles. Exhausted with famine and fatigue, they at length gained the settled parts of the state.
While Sir Henry Clinton was encamped just above Haarlem, and the American army continued in the highlands, Major Lee,10 who was employed to watch the enemy on the west side of the Hudson, obtained intelligence which suggested the idea of surprising and carrying off the garrison at Powles’ Hook,11 a neck of land immediately opposite the town of New York, penetrating deep into the river. Some works had been constructed on the point nearest New York, which were garrisoned by five or six hundred men.
A deep ditch which could be passed only at low water, had been cut across the isthmus. Thirty paces within it was a row of abatis12 running into the river, and some distance in front of it a creek fordable only in two places. This difficulty of access, added to the remoteness of the nearest corps of the American army, impressed the garrison with the opinion that they were perfectly secure, and this opinion produced an unmilitary remissness in the commanding officer, which did not escape the vigilance of Lee.
General Washington withheld his assent from this enterprise until satisfied that the assailants could make good their retreat. The long and narrow necks of land formed by the water courses which run almost parallel with the North river, along which the British troops were encamped above Powles’ Hook, afforded points of interception of which the enemy would certainly avail himself should the American party be discovered. To diminish this danger, it was intended to occupy the roads leading through the mountains of the Hudson to the Hackensack.
Early preparatory arrangements being made, a detachment from the division of Lord Sterling13 was ordered down as a foraging party. His lordship followed with the residue of his division, and encamped at the New Bridge, on the Hackensack.
Aug. 18Major Lee, at the head of three hundred men, part of the foraging detachment, took the road through the mountains which run parallel to the North river; and, having guarded the passes into York Island, reached the creek which surrounds the Hook, between two and three in the morning. About three he entered the main work, and with the loss of only two killed and three wounded, made one hundred and fifty-nine prisoners, including three officers. Very few of the British were killed. Major Sutherland who commanded the garrison, saved himself with forty or fifty Hessians in a strong redoubt. Major Lee hastened to bring off his prisoners and his detachment. The retreat was effected with immense toil and great address.
This critical enterprise reflected much honor on the partisan with whom it originated, and by whom it was conducted. General Washington announced it to the army in his orders with much approbation; and Congress bestowed upon it a degree of applause more apportioned to the talent displayed in performing the service, than to its magnitude.
A few days after the surprise of Powles’ Hook, Admiral Arbuthnot arrived at New York with a strong reinforcement to the British army. He was soon followed by the Count D’Estaing, who arrived on the southern coast of America with twenty-two ships of the line, having on board six thousand soldiers; after which Sir Henry Clinton deemed it necessary to turn his attention to his own security. Rhode Island was evacuated, and the whole army was collected in New York.
It was immediately determined to lay siege to Savannah, the head quarters of General Prevost. D’Estaing was to land three thousand men at Beaulieu on the 11th of September, and Lincoln was to cross the Savannah on the same day with one thousand Americans and to effect a junction with him.
On the 11th, General Lincoln reached Zubly’s ferry, and on the 15th was assured that the French had disembarked in force. A junction of the two armies was formed the next day.
After bringing up the heavy ordnance and stores from the fleet, the besieging army broke ground; and, by the first of October, had pushed their sap14 within three hundred yards of the abatis on the left of the British lines.
The situation of D’Estaing was becoming critical. More time had already been consumed on the coast of Georgia than he had supposed would be required for the destruction of the British force in that state. He became uneasy for the possessions of France in the West Indies, and apprehensive for the safety of his ships. The naval officers remonstrated strenuously against longer exposing his fleet on an insecure coast, at a tempestuous season.
In a few days the lines of the besiegers might have been carried into the works of the besieged, which would have rendered the capture of the town and garrison inevitable. But D’Estaing declared that he could devote no more time to this object; and it only remained to raise the siege, or to attempt the works by storm. The latter part of the alternative was adopted.
On the left of the allied army was a swampy hollow way, which afforded a cover for troops advancing on the right flank of the besieged, to a point within fifty yards of their principal work. It was determined to march to the main attack along this hollow; and, at the same time, to direct feints against other parts of the lines.
Before day on the 9th of October, a heavy cannonade was commenced as preliminary to the assault. Three thousand five hundred French, and one thousand Americans, of whom between six and seven hundred were regulars and the residue militia of Charleston, advanced in columns led by D’Estaing and Lincoln, aided by the principal officers of both nations, and made a furious assault on the British lines. Their reception was warmer than had been expected. The fire from the batteries of the besieged did great execution. Yet the assailants advanced with unabated ardor, passed through the abatis, crossed the ditch, and mounted the parapet. Both the French and Americans planted their standards on the walls, and were killed in great numbers, while endeavouring to force their way into the works. For near an hour the contest was extremely obstinate: at length, the columns of the assailants began to pause, and the vigor of the assault to relax.
At this critical moment Major Glaziers, at the head of a body of grenadiers and marines, rushing from the lines, on those who had made their way into the redoubts, drove them over the ditch and abatis into the hollow through which they had marched to the attack. It became apparent that farther perseverance could produce no advantage, and a retreat was ordered.
In this unsuccessful attempt, the French lost in killed and wounded about seven hundred men. Among the latter were the Count D’Estaing, Major-General de Fontanges, and several other officers of distinction. The continental troops lost two hundred and thirty-four men, and the Charleston militia had one captain killed and six privates wounded. The loss of the garrison, in killed and wounded, amounted only to fifty-five. So great was the advantage of the cover afforded by their works.
After this repulse, the Count D’Estaing announced to General Lincoln his determination to raise the siege. The remonstrances of that officer were unavailing; and both armies moved from their ground on the 18th of October. The Americans recrossing the Savannah, again encamped in South Carolina, and the French re-embarked. The militia dispersed; and the affairs of the southern states wore a more gloomy aspect than at any former period.
Congress passed resolutions requesting General Washington to order the troops of North Carolina, and such others as could be spared from the northern army, to the aid of that in the south; and assuring the states of South Carolina and Georgia, of the attention of government to their security.
During these transactions in the South, the long-meditated expedition against the Indians was prosecuted with success.
The largest division of the western army was to assemble at Wyoming. Another passed the winter on the Mohawk. On the 22d of August, these two divisions, amounting to five thousand men, united, and marched up the Tioga, which led into the heart of the Indian country. They resolved to risk a battle in defence of their settlements, and selected their ground with judgment.
About a mile in front of Newtown, the Indians collected their whole force, estimated by General Sullivan at fifteen hundred men, by themselves at eight hundred. Five companies of whites,15 amounting to two hundred men, were united with them. They had constructed a breastwork half a mile in length, on a piece of rising ground. The right flank of this work was covered by the river, which, bending to the right, and winding round their rear, exposed only their front and left to an attack. On the left was a high ridge nearly parallel to the general course of the river, terminating somewhat below the breastwork; and, still farther to the left, was another ridge running in the same direction, and leading to the rear of the American army. The ground was covered with pine, interspersed with low shrub oaks, many of which, for the purpose of concealing their works, had been cut up and stuck in front of them, so as to exhibit the appearance of being still growing. The road, after crossing a deep brook at the foot of the hill, turned to the right, and ran nearly parallel to the breastwork, so as to expose the whole flank of the army to their fire, if it should advance without discovering their position. Parties were stationed on both hills, so as to fall on the right flank and rear of Sullivan, so soon as the action should commence.
About eleven in the morning of the 29th of August, this work was discovered by Major Par, who commanded the advance guard of the army; upon which General Hand formed the light infantry in a wood, about four hundred yards distant from the enemy, and waited the arrival of the main body. A continual skirmishing was kept up between Par’s rifle corps and small parties of Indians who sallied from their works, and suddenly retreated, apparently with the hope of being incautiously pursued.
Sullivan ordered General Poor to take possession of the hill which led into his rear, and, thence, to turn the left, and gain the rear of the breastwork, while Hand, aided by the artillery, should attack in front. These orders were promptly executed. While the artillery played on the front, Poor pushed up the mountain and commenced a sharp conflict with the Indians occupying it, which was sustained for some time with considerable spirit. Poor continued to advance rapidly, pressing the enemy with the bayonet, until he gained the summit of the hill. The savages perceiving that their flank was uncovered, and that they were in danger of being surrounded, abandoned their breastwork, and fled with the utmost precipitation.
This victory cost the Americans thirty men. The loss of the Indians was also inconsiderable; but they were so intimidated that every idea of farther resistance was abandoned; and, as Sullivan advanced, they continued to retreat before him.
He penetrated into the heart of the country, which his parties laid waste in every direction. Houses, corn-fields, gardens, and fruit-trees, shared one common fate; and Sullivan executed strictly the severe but necessary orders he had received, to render the country uninhabitable.
The object of the expedition being accomplished, the army returned to Easton in Pennsylvania, having lost only forty men. Congress passed a resolution approving his conduct and that of his army.
Aug. 1779While Sullivan laid waste the country on the Susquehanna, another expedition under Colonel Brodhead was carried on from Pittsburg up the Alleghany. He advanced two hundred miles up the river, and destroyed the villages and corn-fields on its head branches. Here, too, the Indians were unable to resist the invading army; and after one unsuccessful skirmish, abandoned their villages to a destruction which was inevitable, and sought for personal safety in their woods.
Although these great exertions did not afford complete security to the western frontier, they were attended with considerable advantages. The savages were intimidated; and their incursions became less formidable, as well as less frequent.
The summer of 1779 passed away without producing any circumstance in America having a material influence on the issue of the war. In Europe, however, an event took place which had been long anxiously expected, and was believed to be of decisive importance. Spain at length determined to make one common cause with France against Great Britain. Despatches giving notice of this determination were forwarded to Don Galvez, the governor of Louisiana, who collected a considerable military force at New Orleans, and reduced the settlements held by the British crown on the Mississippi, which had not been apprized of the war.
On receiving information that D’Estaing had sailed for the West Indies, Sir Henry Clinton resumed his plan of active operations against the southern states. A large body of troops commanded by himself sailed from the Hook, towards the end of December, convoyed by a fleet commanded by Admiral Arbuthnot. The defence of New York and its dependencies was entrusted to General Knyphausen.
The preparations made in New York for some distant enterprise were communicated to General Washington, who conjectured the object, and hastened the march of the troops designed to reinforce General Lincoln.
The season for action in a northern climate being over, the commander-in-chief turned his attention to the distribution of his troops in winter quarters. One division of the army, commanded by General Heath, was to be encamped in huts in the highlands of the North river. Its chief object was the security of West Point, and of the posts on the river as low as King’s ferry. Subordinate to this was the protection of the country on the Sound, and down the Hudson to the neighborhood of Kingsbridge. The other and principal division, under the immediate command of General Washington, was put under cover, late in December, in the neighborhood of Morristown.
[1. ]The Iroquois League or Confederacy of six aboriginal tribes in upper New York was known as the Six Nations (Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, Tuscarora); many of the Oneida and Tuscarora sided with the Americans in the Revolutionary War, but most of the Iroquois maintained the attachment to the British established in the French and Indian War (among the few tribes to support the British in that war).
[2. ]At the time of the Revolution, the Hudson was also called the North River.
[3. ]French, literally “stroke of hand”; a sudden, surprise attack.
[4. ]William Tryon (1729–88), British army officer, Royal Governor of North Carolina (1765 to 1771) and New York (from 1771); by 1779 Major General in the British army.
[5. ]Captain John Marshall (promoted soon after the Battle of Monmouth) served with Wayne’s elite light infantry in the attack on Stony Point in 1779, though his detachment was not in the vanguard and did not participate in the combat; see Beveridge, Life of Marshall, I, pp. 138–41.
[6. ]A small body of select troops that precedes the main body in an attack.
[7. ]Fury, vehemence, sheer violence.
[8. ]Commissioned officers below the grade of captain.
[9. ]At the time of the Revolution, Manhattan Island was often called York Island or New York.
[10. ]Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee (1756–1818) of Virginia, in 1779 Major-Commandant of Lee’s Legion, an elite irregular force of infantry and cavalry.
[11. ]Also known as Paulus Hook; in New Jersey.
[12. ]An obstacle consisting of trees felled or placed with their tops toward the enemy.
[13. ]William Alexander (1726–83) of New York and New Jersey, Major General in the Continental army; he claimed the earldom of Sterling (or Stirling) in Scotland and thus termed himself Lord Stirling.
[14. ]A narrow trench which is pushed toward the enemy by digging away the earth within the trench, at its head, and throwing it to the front or exposed flank as a cover for the engineers and troops.
[15. ]I.e., loyalists.