Officer in the late army.

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main army; — and to be in readiness to annoy, if practica-
ble, the rear of the enemy should they evacuate Phila-
delphia, an event which was speedily anticipated, the Mar-
quis de Lafayette was detached, by General Washington,
with an elite corps of rather more than two thousand men»
tnd a few pieces of cannon, to take post near the lines. As
this corps formed a very valuable part of the army, the
instructions of flie general recommended the utmost atten-
tion to its safety, and particularly advised him to avoid any
permanent station, since a long continuance in one positioa
would enable the enemy to concert their measures success-
fully against him. With this detachment, the marquis cross-
ed the Schuylkill and took post at Barren Hill, on the morn-
ing of the eighteentti of May, about eight or ten miles in
front of the army at Valley Forge. As soon as he arrived,
he addressed the following note to Captain M'Lane, who
commanded a light corps of observation charged with the
arduous but honourable duty of watching the movements of
the enemy, between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers :

• CharteUeez*! Trar. vol L p. 387-



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" W0od$ near Barren BUI Ckarch,
" 9 o'chck, A. M. IZth Mag, 177S

" I have just now rocetred your letter, and wish yon
would come dowa immediatelyi that I mi^t apeak to ycm
of several tfamgs. Inquke, if jou please, if the people
dunk there will be a market to-morrow 1 I wish, also, yoa
would see if some man, to be depended on, lind of credit
with the enemy^. would undeittake a visit to the city for
Cwehe guineas. Is it known toward die BritiBh lines, that
a detachment iias been ordered from our army f
"Your's

The ajigus-eyed M'Lane immediately waited on the gene*
fal, and assisted him in taking every possible precaution to
prevent surprise. His vigilance in securing his position,
flhows that the advantage obtained- over the marquis, on this
occastcxi, rested on grounds titUe understood, and whoHy
acquits him of want of caution; Lafayette, in persoq,
foarded the most direct road to bis position ; Brigadier*
<]teneral Potter, of the militia, was entrusted wHh the second ;
and patroles kept an eye on the third, which was the most
drouitous. A spy,> however, who had been formerly in the
American army, and who still kept up his intercourse with
his former comrades, and often visited Valley Forge, at this
period maintained a correspondence with the enemy through
the means of a messenger stationed at Frankford creek ;
and thus general Howe was apprized of the movement of
Ae marquis almost as soon as it was made. Seizing, with
Avidity, this fiivourable opportunity to overwhelm tiie
youthful, general, he resolved to make a vigorous efibrt
to surprise and cut him o(L So fully assured was he of
anoeess, that he is said to hav€ invited many ladies to meet
Lftbyette at supper on the following day. In prosecution
a/ &e plan which he had formed, he sent General Grant,
Mcompanied by Sir Wilkam firskine, with five thousand se-



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98 nxnowt or «hk

lect tfoops, bj a forced night march, to turn the mar*
quu' left and gain his rear, while General Graj, moving in
concert by the Ridge Road, was to take posseasiiMi of
the heights near the ialls of ScbujUdil, and prevent hia
escape by fording the river at that jplace. About ei^t
o'clock in the evening of ttie nineteenth of May, General
Grant marched out of Philadelphia on the Germantown
road, turned off at the Rising Sun tavern on the old York
road, thus diverging irom Barren Hill, and after passing
Plymouth Meeting House, and White Marsh, he arrived at
the position he was directed to occupy, about a mile in the
rear of the marquis, between him and Valley Forge. He
reached tins point of destination about sunrise, and now be-
lieved that he had got the marquis in a cui <2e $ac, and had
nothing more to do but spring the net

Captain M'Lane, who was posted in advance, and ever
OD the alert» could discover no indication of the enemy's
movement on the ei^eenth, nor before the night of the
nineteenth. The British General, to mask his enterprise,
had, by double guards, strictly interdicted all communica-
tion with the country ; but the silence which this precau-
tioB occasioned, caused M'Lane to increase his vigilance.
On the morniogof the nineteenth! M'Lane Wasjoioed by
Captain WtHiam Parr, of Morgan's rifle corps, an oflicer of
^ ^ TttSfin^uhed bravery. With eighty men, and .after night
^r'^'^'^'^^'^Av^ (all as was his custom, he advanced towards die enemy's
lines, his evening patrole having reported every thing quiet;
but, in crossing the country, he fell in with two of the ene*
my's grenadiers, who pretended to be deserters, from whom
he learned that general Grant had marched at twilight with
the grenadiers and light infantry on the Old York road, and
that a body of Germans were preparing to march up the
Schuylkill. These combined movements leaving no doubt
on his mind that the marquis was the object of attack^ he
immediately set out for head quarters by die shortest route^
after despatching Captain Parr across the country with tba



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MABWm OB LAFAnTTX, 39

^et&chmeiit, to get podseasioQ of VandeviD's Hill, with or-
ders to oppose the columa of Ake enemy which might ad-
vance on the Ridge Road, to the last extremity. . ^

In &e mean-time, General Gray, with a strong detach-
ment, advanced abng the soath ride of the Schuylkill, and
took post at a ford, two w three miles in front of the right
flank of Lafayette. The residue of the British army en-
camped on Cfaesnut Hill. Captain M'Lane reached Barren
Hill about daybreak, and communicated the impending
danger lo La&yette, who could hardly credit the report ;
but an express from Captain Parr's detachment, which had
got possession of the heights of Schuylkill in season to
engage general Gray's column and check its advance, and
another, at ttie same moment, from an opposite quarter,
giving information of die movements of General Grant soon
brought sorrowful confirmation of bis perilous situation.
The manner in which the last mentioncid information was
conveyed, affords an instance of patriotic zeal, worthy of
being recorded. In passing White Marsh, the noise of the
British column awoke a Captain Stone of the militia, resi-
ding there, who, on making the discovery, jumped from a
back window of his house, and ran naked across the coun-
try toward Barren Hill, until he was entirely exhausted :
his report was then taken up and carried to the marquis, in
the same manner, by Richard Burtleston, who resided near
Pljmouth Meeting House.

The Marquis now found himself in a state of extreme
danger. Finding Hiat he was turned, he justly concluded,
like an experienced warrior, that the column marched
against him would not be die first to attack, and that it
would wait until the other was in readiness. In fact, Gene-
ral Grant, after marching, under cover of the night, nearly
twenty miles in nine hours, was attending the movements
of the column on the Ridge Road. At his position the
roads forked ; one branch led to the camp of Lafayette.
, Vas than a mile distant ; the other went to Matson's Ford



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•40 zmtfiBM €19 xnm

over the Schuylbill, at «bi(Mit the smm diBtaacd. The te^
treat of Lafayette waa thua cut. off from everj paattge but
MatsoD a Ford ; and as the line from his position fonned the
hase of an obtuse^angled triaiigle»it is obvious that his dis-
tance from it was much greater than that of the British.

General Lafajette now changed hts front, and todc m
good position opposite the column of General Ghrant, having
before him Barren Hill Church, and behind him the open-
ing which served as a retreat. About this time his periiooa
situation was perceived by glasses from the camp at Valley
Forge, and the whole army was put under arms to act aa
circumstances migjbt require ; and six alarm guns fired by
General Washington, intended to give his detachment no-
tice of the danger, served also to keep the enemy in awe»
who imagined the whole American army was in march.-*-*
Nothing now remained but to retreat ; and Lafayette, with
a veteran composure, and with a promptness of decision so
essential in moments of critical danger, took the only course
which could have preserved his troops. He therefore ad-
vanced the head of a column toward Grant, as if to attack
him, while the rear filed off rapidly toward the Schuylkill:
this movement gained ground even for the front, which,
while it advanced towards, the ei^cmy, also approached the
river, and at the same time induced General Grant to lose
time in order to prepare for battle. While this inanceuvre
was performing in the face of the detachment under Grant,
a ^mall party was^ thrown into the churchyard, which was
surrounded by a wall, on the road toward General Gray,
which also gave the appearance of an intention to attack in
that quarter. By these dispositions, happily conceived, and
executed with regularity, the marquis extricated himself and
his party fix)m the destruction which had appeared almost
inevitable. The only road he could take m^de him ap-
proach the column of General Grant, and exposed him to
be attacked by it in front, while Gray and the main body
fell on his rear. In this situation, his own greatness of mind
suggested to the young soldier the proper course to be pur-*



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««Md. EDowag that more bonoiir was loat flun time gftined,
in coaTertiRg a retreat into a flight, he coalioued his march
la a traeqail aed r^lar order, and passed over at Matson's
Ford wiUiottt beiog tiilerc€|^ted by Grmt, or sustaiiiiDg a
greater loss than niike flieo*— *Goiuliderabie time was lost by
General Grant, in makiag a dispositioa for Uie expected at-
tack, during which deky, a corps of cavalry, that had formed
the advanced guard on the raareh, took possesstoo of a hill
between.the two roads leading fnom Us position to Lafay-
ette's encampment and to Motsoo's Ford. From this ele-
vation the troops d Lafayette were, first discovered on
their retreat through the low, woo^ gronnds which bor-
dered the river. Information of this circomstaoce was im-
mediately conveyed to General Gusnt, and his superior
proximity to Matson's Ford is said to have been uiged to
him, and even pointed out, in the strongest* manner ; but,
under a persuasion &at these were only a part of La&y*
ette's troops, detached for some unaccountable reason, the
geeeral persisted in his resolution of advancing to Barren
IfiU, notwidistanding the strong remonstrances^ of Sir Wil-
liam Enkine against that measure. That post was for-
tunately concealed from view by intervemng trees ; oth^-
wise (he desertion of it by the Amerioans would, have been
perceived.

The British having advanced to Barren Hiil church, and
found the ground lately occupied by Lafiqrette abandoned,
followed i^ his rear, and appeared at the £>rd just after the
Americans had crossed it, as if by enchahtmeqt, with all
their artillery. Finding Lafayette advantageously posted
on the high and broken grounds which = arose. ifrom the
water's edge on the opposite side of the river, the British
generals perceived that nothing farther could be attempted
against him, and returned to Philadelphia without having
effected any thing. '' The ladies," says CfaastelletiK, " did
not see M. De Laiayette, and the« generals themselves, ar-
rived too late for supper."



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1



43 KttTMLT or TtDB

General Gruit 4id net escape cemure, for having allowed
Om great advantage he hatl acquired, in gaining the rear eif
the American encampment unperceived, to 8]ip through hts
hands unused. He might, with the utmoat certainty, have
reached Matson's Ford before the marquis, and thus have
cut off the only retreat which remained for hiip. Lafay-
ette would then have been compelled to seek for safety by
flying toward the Delaware, and the army of Washington
would have been consequently dismembered. Had General
Grant pushed, forward his troops without a halt ; — had he,
instead of keeping the road to Barren Hill, occupied the
strong grounds at Matson's Ford, or those near to Spring
Mills; — ^the American corps must ei&er have fallen into
his hands or been dispersed, and the remainder of the
army placed in a situation of extreme danger. Had trea-
son been triumphant, — ^hadthe rapidity of the enemy been
more, or the military vigilance of Lafayette less, — a cala-
mity would have fallen on the American army, which, while
it deprived it of one of its brightest ornaments, would have
defeated Ihe operations of the approaching campaign, and
either left the British general in undisturbed possession of
the principal city of the union, or suffered the invading airny
to retreat without opposition through New-Jersey.

The conduct of Lafayette in this affair, was not only
free from merited censure, but worthy of universal admira-
tion ; yet it was remarked, that the same degree of military
talent was npt discovered in guarding against the approach
of danger, as in afterwards extricating himself from it
But the imputation which generally attaches to an officer,
who peftnits an enemy to pass in full force unobserved,
within a short distance of his flank, into his rear, is entirely
removed by the fact, stated by Lafayette in his vindication,
that the Pennsylvania militia were posted on his left flank,
and relied on to guard the roads about White Marsh ; but
ihat, without his knowledge, they changed their position,
and retired into the rear, leaving that important pass open



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MABUmt 9B LATATXTTS. 4S

to ihe enemy; who, moreover, had positive intelligence
that these militia did not occtpy the post assigned to them.
The position he had taken at Barren Hill was almost im-
practicable in front and flank, and, warned by the monoto-
rial voice of Washington, he had taken every possible pre-
caution to secure it A corps of observation was posted
six or eight miles in advance, to watch the movements of
the enemy, who practised every means to elude the vigi-
lance of Captain M'Lane, but without success. The man-
ner in which the young Frenchman outmanoeuvred the
experienced generals of Britain, and extricated himself
from almost inevitable destruction in the face of seven
thousand British regulars, produced a lively sensation of
admiration throughout the army ; and his conduct was for
ever and triumphantly vindicated by the words of Wash-
ington, who applauded his " well timed and masterly re-
treat:'

During the advance of the British on this occasion, a
laughable incident occurred, which, after the lapse of more
than forty-six years, has been revived among the reminiscen-
ces which Attended the affecting meeting of Lafayette with
the venerable Colonel Willet of New- York. In the spring
of 1778, the marquis sent to the latter officer, then station-
ed on the frontiers, for fifty young Indian warriors. These
savages accompanied him to Barren Hill, and were placed in
ambuscade, after their fashion, in the woods. Fifty English
dragoons, who had never seen any Indians, marching at the
head of a column, entered the wood where the savages were
concealed, who on their part had never seen dragoons.
Starting suddenly up, they raised a horrible yell, threw down
their arms, and escaped by swimming across the Schuylkill
The dragoons, on the other hand, equally astounded and
terrified, turned about their horses, and did not recover their
panic till they had got back to Philadelphia.*

* For McmiDtsortheretraatfifomBarrcnHilLvMfeManbairt Wash,
vol iii chap^ viii. SCadman'a Amer. War, voL i. p. 4Sa Botta's War



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44 HUTORT or THB

The following notice of the afiair at Barren Hill, publish*
ed by the British after their return to Philadelphia, showi
the manner in which they misrepreseated many of the oc-
currences of the time: " lotelligence having been received,
last Tuesday, that Mr. Washington and his tattered retinue
had abandoned their mud-holes,, and were on their way to
Germantown, a detachment, of British and Hessian troops
went out to meet, and escort them into this city ; but the
rebels being apprised of their approach^ fled back with pre-
cipitation to what they term thoir camp, determined to act
no further on the offensive than might be consistent with
their personal safety."

In the beginning of the year 1778» a general joy was
diffused throughout the. American community. The second
of May was the day destined to carry their exultation to its
utmost height, and to put the seal to the dismemberment of
the vast and powerful British empire. On that day arrived*
at Casco Bay, die French fiigate La Sensible, which bore to
Congress the treaties concluded with France. The Mar-
quis De Lafayette, whose letters to France had no small
share in producing this happy event, was among the first in
the American army who received the welcome tidings of
the treaty. In a transport of joy, mingled with tears, he
embraced General Washiogton, exclaiming. *' The king, my
master, has acknowledged your independence, and entered
into an alliance with you, for.its .esiablisfament" The joy
which spread from breast to breast, exceeded description.
The name of Lonis XVI. was in every body's mouth;
every where he was proclaimed ibe protecAor of liberty,
the defender of America, ^ aaviottr of the coui^try. The
several brigades at Valley Forge assembled by order of the
commander^n-cbief. Their chaplains offered up thaoka to
Almighty God, and delivered discourses suitable to the oc-
sion. A feu-de-joie was fired, and, on a proper signal being

of Indepeod. rol< ii. book 8.. WilkioMD^ MansiffB, v«il i. bou atS^^SSL
ChasteUeox'i Tnr. toI. Lp. ^8.



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UMM^SUn Bft LAFAISTTB. 45

giren, tfie air retounded with " long live the king of
France," poured forth from the breast of every private in
the annj.*

About the first of June, the three pacificatoiy eommia-
Bioners from Great Britain, Carliale, £den, and Johnstone,
arrived, with powers to give e^K^i to the conciliatoiy acts
of parliament, wMch had been proposed by h>rd North. The
terms offered were stti&h as America would, at one time,
have most joyfully accepted ; but that time was now passed.
The union of the force of the two nations under one com*
mon sovereign, was a measure to which the government was
no longer disposed, nor even at liberty to accede. A dis-
tressing war had eradicated all those affections which parts
of the same empire should feel toward each other; Uie
great body of the nation was determined, at every sacrifice,
to maintain its independence ; and the treaty with France
had pledged them, by every principle of honour and national
fiiifh, never to consent to a re-union with the British empire.
On reading the letter of the commissioners to Congress,
some observations were found to be mingled with them,
reflecting on the conduct of France. No sooner were they
heard, than a violent clamour rose, many members ex-
claiming that the reading'otight to be interrupted on account
of the offensive language against his roost Christian majesty.
The words which produced this confusion were the follow-
ing ; " We cannot but remark the insidious interposition of
a power, which has, from the first settlement of the colonies,
been actuated with enmity to us both ; and notwithstanding
the pretended date, or present form, of the French offers to
North America, it is notorious that they have only been
made, because it was believed that Great Britain had con-
ceived the design of an amicable arrangement, and with a
view to prevent reconciliation, and prolong this destructive
war." After animated debates, the further consideration
of the subject was adjourned to the next sitting; but the
question was agitated with equal vehemence, on the follow*

* Ramsay's RsroIiitioD, p-.ttl*



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46 H»Tt&T 09 TBB

ing 4ajr« But, at length, Congress* haying dettonstrated bj^
die warmth of this discussioo the respect they bore to their
august ally, and reflecting that a refiisal to notice them mi^t
occasion discontents prejadicial to the state, determined to
read the despatches of the commissioners. — ^But the high*
minded and ingenuous Lafayette coald not silently brook
the aspersions which were cast upon his royal master. In-
dignant at the duplicity of the commissioners, who endea-
youred so artfully to weaken the neidy-formed connexion
between France and America, be wrote a letter to the Earl
of Carlisle, as the principal member of the commission
complaining of the reflections cast upon his couptry, de-
manding reparation, and challenging that nobleman to meet
him in the field. The noble iord» however, refused to grant,
in a national concern, that satisfaction which he conceived
ought to be exclusively confined to personal difierenccs.
This afiair, however, served to display the spirit and zeal
of the young marquis for the honour of his country ; and it
was no small addition to the mortification of the commis-
sioners, to find themselves the objects of animadversion, in
a private, as well as public capacity.* Thb conduct,
which, on a conmion occasion, might have been considered
as resulting from mere bravado on the part of a young
oAic^, wa9 in the present instance neither useless nor liable
to thjft imputation. The Americans were not yet acquainted
with the character of the French. They had been accus-
tomed, from the prejudices of education, to consider them
as less brave than the English, and it was useful to convince
them that a Frenchman* of high rank was not afraid to
measure his strength with that of an Englishman. Besides^
it in some measure, diminished the consequence of the
commissioners, in the opinion of the people, and gave them
a high idea of the courage and attachment of their new

* Bfanhtll's WasUngrton, toL iil p. 6S4 — ^Botta*8 War of lodepend*
aBoe,7olii. p. 501,3.— Andrew's American War, vol iii. p. 161. - Hist
of France, vol. iil p. t7a— Mot Bio^. sur le Gen. Fayette, p. 5.



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MA&QVM BX LAVATBTTS. 47

allies. Hiis action, in fact, greatly increated his populanty ;
and tb^ most judicious. men attributed it wholly to the
ardour of a youi^ hero, inflamed with the desire of gain-
ing distinction by avenging the cause of his injured country.
It cannot be denied that the Earl of Carlisle acted, as a com*^
missiooer, with propriety in refusing the challenge ; but at
the same time the Slarquis De Lafayette obtained beneficial
results by sending it

These commissioners having brought positive and secret
orders for the immediate evacuation of Philadelphia, Sir
Henry Clinton, who had succeeded Lord Howe in the com-
mand of the British army, prepared to execute the orders
of his government. On the eighteenth of June, 1778, the
whole army passed the Delaware, and encamped at Glou*
cester Point on the Jersey shore. Clinton pursued his re«
treat slowly, passing through Haddonfield, Mount Holly,
Slabtown, and Crosswick, to AUentown and Imlaytown,
which places he reached on the twenty-fourth. He betray-
ed no symptoms of precipitation, but rather indicated a dis*
potttion for battle

Before Clinton left Philadelphia, General Washington
had penetrated bis design ; and General Maxwell, with the
Jersey brigade, was ordered over the Delaware to take
post about Mount Holly, and to join Major General Dick-
enson, who was beginning to assemble the militia of that
state, for the purpose of co-operating with the continental
troops, in breaking up the bridges, falling trees in the roads,
and otherwise embarrassing the march of the enemy. When
authentic intelligence was received that the enemy had
crossed the Delaware, a council of war was summoned to
deliberate on the proper measures to be pursued. General
Washington submitted to their deliberations whether it was
proper, by harrassing the enemy's rear, to annoy him as much
as possible, without, however, coming to a general engage-
ment; or whether it was more advisable to attack him in
front, and try the fortune of a decisive battle* A great di-
versity of opinion prevailed General Lee, who bad latelf



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48 flraTevrM^THX

beta exchanged for Presoott, and whose mifituy experience
gave great weight to his opinions, was vehement against risk-
bg either a general or partial engagement. He maintained
&at, with the equality of force that existed, it would be



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