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which had been sent by the King of France, to assist them in their struggle for independence.
The Count intended to surprise Admiral Howe in the Delaware, but adverse winds detained him on the passage, until the British fleet had sailed for New York. He appeared before that harbour, but on sounding found that his largest ships could not enter it. A combined attack, by land and water, upon the British forces at Newport, in Rhode Island, was then projected.
General Sullivan, who had been appointed to command the troops, called upon the militia of New England to aid him in the enterprise. His army soon amounted to ten thousand men, and, as he was supported by the fleet, he felt confident of success. On the ninth of August, he took a position on the north end of Rhode Island, and afterwards moved nearer to Newport. Admiral Howe, having received a reinforcement, now appeared before the harbour, and the Count instantly put to sea to attack him.
While making the preparatory manœuvres, a furious storm came on, which damaged and dispersed both fleets. As soon as the weather would permit, each commander sought the port from which he had sailed. The army, intent upon their own object, witnessed with joy the return of the French fleet; and great was their disappointment when the Count announced his intention of proceeding to Boston to refit. The American officers remonstrated, but he was inflexible, and departed.
The army, deserted by the fleet, could remain no longer with safety on the island, as the enemy might easily transport by water large reinforcements from New York to Newport. General Sullivan immediately retreated to his first position. He was pursued, and shortly after halting, was attacked by the enemy. They were gallantly resisted and repulsed with loss.
The next day, the two armies cannonaded each other, and the succeeding night the American general, deceiving the enemy by a show of resistance to the last, made a skilful retreat to the continent. A few hours afterwards, the British received such an augmentation of their force, that all resistance on the part of the Americans would have been vain. At the close of the season, the French fleet sailed to the West Indies.
During this year, the British troops and their allies, displayed in several instances, a degree of barbarity seldom equalled in contests between civilized nations. That they were contending against revolted subjects, seemed to release them, in their view, from all regard to the common usages of war. The late alliance with France, the hated rival of their nation, increased their hostility. Instead of striving to conquer an honourable foe, they thirsted as for vengeance on a criminal and outlaw.
With such vindictive feelings, Wyoming, a happy and flourishing settlement in Pennsylvania, was attacked by a band of tories and Indians. The men were butchered, the houses burned, and the cattle driven off or killed. Those who had been made widows and orphans were left without shelter and without food. Seldom has war spread distress and ruin over a more delightful region.
New Bedford, Martha's Vineyard, Egg harbour, and Cherry valley, were also visited and ravaged by the enemy. All the property within reach was destroyed, and multitudes of peaceful and unoffending inhabitants were reduced to poverty and wretchedness.
But in no instance did the enemy evince more ferocious, unrelenting cruelty than in their attack upon Colonel Baylor's troop of light dragoons. While asleep in a barn at Tappan, they were surprised by a party under General Grey, who commanded his soldiers to use the bayonet only, and to give the rebels no quarter. Incapable of defence, they sued for mercy.
But the most pathetic supplications were heard without awakening compassion in the commander. Nearly one half of the troop were killed. To many, repeated thrusts were barbarously given as long as signs of life remained. Several who had nine, ten, and eleven stabs through the body, and were left for dead, afterwards recovered. A few escaped, and forty were saved by the humanity of a British captain, who dared to disobey the orders of his general.
Late in the fall, the army under Washington erected huts near Middlebrook, in New Jersey, in which they passed the winter. In this campaign, but little on either side was accomplished. The alliance with France gave birth to expectations which events did not fulfil; yet the presence of her fleets on the coast deranged the plans of the enemy, and induced them to relinquish a part of their conquests. At the close of the year, it was apparent that Great Britain had made no progress in the accomplishment of her purposes.
CAMPAIGN OF 1779.
The campaign of 1779 was distinguished by a change of the theatre of war, from the northern to the southern section of the confederacy. Thither the enemy were invited by the prospect of easier victory. The country was rendered weak by its scattered population, by the multitude of slaves, and by the number of tories intermingled with the whigs.
Near the close of the preceding year, Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, with 2500 men, sailed from New York to the coast of Georgia, and lapded his troops. Marching towards Savanuah, the capital, he met on his route a small body of Americans, whom he defeated, and immediately took possession of the city. A detachment from Florida under General Prevost invested Sunbury, which, after the fall of the capital, surrendered at discretion. These were the only military posts in Georgia. All the troops that could escape retreated into South Carolina.
Soon after the conquest of Georgia, General Lincoln took command of the American troops in the southern department. In April, leaving South
Carolina, he marched into the interior of Georgia; upon which the British army, entering the state he had left, invested Charleston, the capital. Lincoln hastened back to its defence. On hearing of his approach, the enemy retired to Stono ferry, Thither Lincoln pursued them.
An indecisive action was fought; and a few days afterwards they continued their retreat to Savannah.
The heat of the season suspended farther operations until September. Count de Estainge, with a fleet carrying 6000 troops, then arrived on the coast. The two armies, in concert, laid siege to Savannah. At the expiration of a month, the Count, impatient of delay, insisted that the siege should be abandoned, or that a combined assault upon the enemy's works should immediately be made. General Lincoln determined upon an assault. Great gallantry was displayed by the French and American, but greater by the British troops. They repulsed the assailants, killing and wounding nearly a thousand men, and sustaining on their part but little loss. The Count Pulaski, a celebrated polish nobleman, in the service of the states, was mortally wounded; the next day the siege was raised, the French returning home, and the Americans to South Carolina.
In the midst of these events, General Matthews, sailing from New York, conducted an expedition against Virginia. On the 10th of May, he took possession of Portsmouth, without opposition, and ravaged, for two weeks, that city and the adjacent country. The booty obtained, and the property destroyed, were of immense value. Before the