Robert Tomes.

Battles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) online

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repeatedly on his round-about
passage by British ships-of-war,
succeeded in reaching Brest in safety
with his prize.

A gallant little exploit was achieved
by Captain Rathburne, in command of the
Providence, a twelve-gun sloop. Her met
al was only of the weight of four-pound
ers, and she carried a crew of but fifty
men. Rathburne, however, with his little
vessel, bore for New Providence, one of
the Bahamas, and lauded on the island
with twenty-five men. Here he was joined
by about thirty Americans, who were held
as prisoners by the British authorities;
and with this small force he r took posses
sion of the forts and stores, and in fact of
the whole island. The vessels in the har
bor, six in number, among which there

May 8,

was a privateer of sixteen guns, fell into
his hands. The inhabitants attempted to
overpower him, but Rathburne kept them
in check by threatening to set fire to the
town. After holding the place for two
days (during which a British sloop-of-war
looked into the harbor, but finding the
Americans in possession, she hurried off
again), Rathburne withdrew. On leav
ing, however, he spiked all the guns of
the fort, burned two of his prizes, and
took off with him all the ammunition and
the rest of the vessels. In this daring
expedition the Americans did not lose a
man. The very audacity of the enter
prise filled the enemy with such terror,
that they were not capable of striking a
blow in their defence.

A less glorious fortune than that of the
little Providence awaited some of the ves
sels lately built. The Virginia, a twenty-
eight gun ship, had just been launched,
and w r as proceeding down the Chesapeake
on her first cruise, in command of Captain
Nicholson, when she got aground during
the night, and lost her rudder. Her an
chor was let go, and the next morning,
as preparations were being made to refit
her, two British vessels-of-war were ob
served near at hand. Captain Nicholson
now thought it advisable to leave her, and
went ashore with his papers, while the
enemy took possession of his ship. Con
gress, after investigating the conduct of
the captain, acquitted him of all blame,
although there were many who censured
him for deserting his vessel.

We have already had occasion, in speak
ing of the movements of the British while
in possession of Philadelphia, to allude to



the destruction of the American vessels
on the Delaware. It is appropriate that in
this chapter we should narrate the facts
more in detail.

E;irly in May, an expedition, headed
by Major Maitland, left Philadelphia, and
ascended the Delaware, in order to de
stroy the American vessels which had been
taken above the city for the purpose of
escaping the British men-of-war below.
To the land-force of a battalion of light-
infantry and two fieldpieces was joined
a flotilla, under the command of Captain
Henry of the British navy, consisting of
the schooners Viper and Pembroke, the
galleys Hussar, Cornwallis, Ferret, and
Philadelphia, four gun-boats, and eighteen

The- expedition succeeded in its pur
pose, without the least show of resistance.
Landing a little above Bristol, the enemy
burnt the Washington, of thirty-two guns,
and the Effmgham, of twenty-eight, both
of which, being new ships, had never been
to sea ; also several privateers, and a num
ber of merchantmen. Their next point
was Crosswise creek, where the Sturdy
Beggar, an eighteen-gun privateer, and
eight other vessels, were destroyed. Six
more craft were set fire to at Bill s island ;
and on descending the river, on their re
turn to Philadelphia, the British burned
as many more, among which were proba
bly the Hornet, the Sachem, the Independ
ence, and the Musqueto, as nothing is re
corded of them after that period.

Captain Barry, whose spirited capture
of the enemy s armed storeships in the
Delaware has already been described, had
soon another opportunity of distinguish

ing himself. The Raleigh had been taken
from Captain Thompson, in consequence
of his having allowed his consort the Al
fred to be captured by the enemy without
going to her assistance, and was now given
to Barry.

" Under the orders of this new com
mander," says Cooper, of whose authority
as a naval historian we have freely availed
ourselves, " the Raleigh sailed from Bos
ton on the 25th of September, at six in
the morning, having a brig and a sloop
under convoy. The wind was fresh at
northwest, and the frigate ran off north
east. At twelve, two strange sail were
seen to leeward, distant fifteen or sixteen
miles. Orders were given to the convoy
to haul nearer to the wind, and to crowd
all the sail it could carry, the strangers in
chase. After dark the Raleigh lost sight
of the enemy, as by this time the two
ships were ascertained to be, and the wind
became light and variable.

" The Raleigh now cleared for action,
and kept her people at quarters all night,
having tacked toward the land. In the
morning it proved to be hazj 7 , and the
strangers were not to be seen. The Ra
leigh was still standing toward the land,
which she shortly afterward made ahead,
quite near. About noon, the haze clear
ing away, the enemy were seen in the
southern board, and to windward, crowd
ing sail in chase. The weather became
thick again, and the Raleigh lost sight of
her two pursuers, when she hauled off to
the eastward.

" Finding nothing visible at six in the
morning, the Raleigh crowded sail once
more, and stood southeast by east. At



[PART n.

. 26,

half-past nine, the two ships were

. ,. -,

again discovered astern, and in

chase. The Raleigh now hauled close
upon a wind, heading northwest, with her
larboard tacks aboard. The enemy also
came to the wind, all three vessels carry
ing hard with a staggering breeze. The
Raleigh now fairly outsailed the stran
gers, running eleven knots two fathoms,
on a dragged bowline."


Unfortunately., at noon the wind mod
erated, when the leading vessel of the en
emy overhauled the Raleigh quite fast,
and even the ship astern held way with
her. At four o clock in the afternoon, the
Raleigh tacked to the westward, with a
view to discover the force of the advanced
vessel in pursuit; while at the same time
she made several signals, which were not
recognised. " At live o clock, the leading
vessel of the enemy having nearly closed,
the Raleigh edged away and crossed her
forefoot, b railing her mizzen and taking

/ O O

in her staysails." In passing, the Raleigh
delivered her broadside, which was re
turned by her antagonist, who set the St.
George s ensign, and showed her force,
which proved to be a battery of fourteen
guns of a side, including both decks. The
Englishman now came up under the lee
quarter of the Raleigh, and the two were
soon warmly engaged ; but the former,
apparently getting the worst of it, shot

The Raleigh having lost her fore-top
mast and mizzen-top-gallantmast. her crew
were busy in clearing the wreck ; and an
opportunity was thus given to the enemy
to get to the windward, and fire at the
disabled vessel from a distance. The Eu<>-

lishman, however, soon edged away, and
made an attempt to rake the Raleigh ;
when Barry, finding that, with the loss
of his spars, he could not manoeuvre his
ship as he had done before, bore up and
bringing her alongside strove to board
his antagonist. But the enemy, having
all his canvas, and sailing best in the light
wind then blowing, succeeded in defeat
ing the American s object.

The Englishman s consort now draw
ing near, Barry called a council of his
officers, when, as in the crippled condi
tion of the ship there was no chance of
escaping by flight, it was determined to
run her ashore upon one of the unknown
islands observed early in the afternoon,
and which was now only a few miles dis
tant. The Raleigh therefore wore round,
and stood directly for the land, with her
antagonist close to her side, while both
ships in the meantime kept up a brisk fire.
Thus they continued till midnight, when
the Englishman hauled off, for fear of
grounding, and left the Raleigh to pursue
her dangerous course alone among the

Captain Barry now began to bend new
sails, with the hope of escaping, as he was
concealed by the increasing darkness of
the night. It was not long, however, be
fore both of the enemy s ships again hove
in sight, closing fast. The Raleigh wan
driven with all speed right on the land,
firing her stern-guns as she went, which

O o 7

kept off her pursuers awhile. They nev
ertheless soon renewed the attack, pour
ing in their shot, which Barry gallantly
returned until his ship struck the ground.
The enemy hauled oftj to avoid a similar



fate, and, taking a position at a safe dis
tance 011 the Raleigh s quarter, opened
their broadsides upon her. Barry now
determined to land, to burn his ship, and
defend the island. He had got a large
portion of his crew ashore, and was about
returning for the rest, when he found that
the Raleigh, through the treachery of one
of his officers, had struck to the enemy !
Barry and his men escaped from the isl
andwhich proved to be Wooden Bell,
one of the group of rocky islands ott the
mouth of the Penobscot and on reach
ing the mainland, and relating the ac
count of their struggle, were greatly ap
plauded for their gallantry.

The Raleigh was immediately taken

possession of by the two antagonist ships,
which turned out to be the Experiment,
of fifty guns, Captain Wallace, and the
Unicorn, of twenty-two. It was the latte
which clung so closely and so obstinately
to the Raleigh during the long engage
ment. She was well cut up in hull and
rigging, and had ten men killed and a
considerable number wounded. The en
tire loss of the Americans was twenty-
five killed and wounded.

Little else, beyond what has been nar
rated in this chapter, was done or suffered
during the year 1778 by the navy of the
United States, privateering was, howev
er, carried on with great spirit and suc


Washington at Wkite Plains. Strengthening of Forts and Highlands of the North River. General Putnam at West
Point. Small Designs of Sir Henry Clinton. Attack on Egg Harbor. Washington at Fishkill. Lord Comwallis
plans a Surprise.- General Wayne timely warned. Baylor less fortunate. "No-Flint Grey." Yagers caught.
Cruelty of Grey. A Worthy Son, Earl Grey. Devastation at Egg Harhor. Work of Death. Indians rooted out.
A Formidable Expedition. Suffering: Return from Schoharie. A Salvo of Artillery. Tories and Savages.
Butler and his Rangers. Cherry Valley. Massacre. Cruel Indians and Hardened Partisans. General Sullivan
sent against the Indians. Desolation. A Severe Lesson. The Savage less formidable.


WASHINGTON, after moving his en
campment from BrunswicK to Pa-
ramus, finally quitted New Jersey, and,
crossing the Hudson, took post at White
Plains, in Westchester county, New York.
Here he remained until September, when
he made a different disposition of his ar
my, with the view of protecting both the
Highlands of the Hudson and New Eng
land, either of which it was thought might
be the object of the extensive prepara-

tions being made by Sir Henry Clinton
in New York. Washington accordingly
strengthened the forts on the North river,
and posted General Putnam with two bri
gades at West Point. G eneral Gates with
three brigades, and General M Dougall
with two, were despatched to D anbury,
in Connecticut; while Washington him
self encamped his main body at Freder-
icksburg, on the borders of Connecticut,
and about thirty miles distant from West



[FART n.

Point, in order that lie might be in readi
ness to defend either the Hudson or New
England, as the plans of the enemy should
render necessary.

Sir Henry Clinton, however, did not ap
pear to have any very extensive military
designs, and contented himself with ap-

O - 1 -

parently insignificant forays. He now
planned an attack upon Little Egg Har
bor, on the New-Jersey coast, where the
Americans had a number of privateers
and prizes, and some extensive salt-works.
But, in order to divert the attention of
Washington from his object, and at the
same time to procure a supply of forage
and fresh provisions for his troops, the
British general-in-chief sent Lord Corn-
wallis with one detachment to New Jer
sey, and General Knyphausen with an
other to the cast side of tlte Hudson. These
two, being separated only by the river,
and well supplied with boats, were able to
form a junction within twenty-four hours
and thus with their combined troops pre
sent a very formidable force.

Washington, on discovering this move
ment, believed its object was to forage,
and therefore sent General Wayne with
a detachment of troops to aid the militia
of New Jersey in checking the enemy.
In order, however, to be ready for any
more serious attempt which might be
made upon the forts on the Hudson, Put
nam was directed to be on the alert nt
West Point, and Washington himself with
a division of his army marched to Fish-

General Wayne had posted himself at
New Tappan, with the militia; but Lieu
tenant-Colonel Baylor had taken up his

quarters, with his detachment of light-
horse, at Old Tappan, near the enemy.
Lord Cornwallis now devised a scheme
with Knyphausen for surprising the en
tire American force. The former was to
send a detachment to take the Americans
under Wayne ; while the latter was to
throw across the river another detach
ment, to take those under Baylor. Some
deserters from Knyphausen s troops, how
ever, having gone over to General Wayne,
gave him timely warning, by which he
was enabled to defeat the Hessians part
in the scheme.

Baylor was less fortunate. His men,
quite unconscious of the movement, lay
unguardedly in barns, when. General Sir
Charles Grey, who had been despatched
for the purpose by Lord Cornwallis, came
suddenly upon them in the middle of the
night, Having cutoff the sergeant s pa
trol of twelve men quickly, the enemy
were enabled to fall upon Baylor s troop
ers while they were asleep and unarmed.
"No-Hint Grey," with his usual faith in
cold steel, ordered his men to take the
flints out of their muskets, that they might
be confined entirely to the use of their
bayonets. They thus rushed in upon the
helpless dragoons, who, finding themselves
unable to strike a blow in their defence,
sued for quarter. Little quarter, howev
er, was given ; and the merciless enemy
were thrusting their bayonets wherever
they could find any sign of life, until one
of the British officers, less ferocious than
his commander, interposed and saved the
lives of forty prisoners. Sixty-seven, out
of the one hundred and four of Baylor s
company, were either killed, wounded, 01

taken. Baylor himself escaped with a
severe but not a dangerous wound.

" It was a small compensation" for this
affair, as Washington said, that Colonel
Butler, three or four days subsequently,
with a party of infantry and Major Lee s
light-horse, surprised about a hundred
German yagers (riflemen) below Tarry-
town, killed ten on the spot, and took a
lieutenant and eighteen men prisoners.

The American public was greatly in
dignant at the cruelty of Grey, and did
not hesitate to term his action a cold
blooded massacre. Grey made himself
memorable by his unsparing cruelty, but
was considered so efficient a servant by
those who employed him, that he was
soon after raised to the peerage, as a re
ward for his military services. He gave
birth to Earl Grey, the famous whig min
ister, who was as firm an advocate for lib
erty as his father was a rigid executioner
of tyranny.

The expedition to Little Egg Harbor,
on iJie eastern coast of New Jersey, was
in the meantime in full progress.
Captain Ferguson was selected
to conduct this enterprise, and he sailed
from New York with three hundred reg
ular troops and a number of New-Jersey
royalists. The people at Egg Harbor,
having heard of his coming, sent out to
sea such of the privateers as could be got
ready; hauled the larger vessels, chieil y

/ / O /

prizes, to Chestnut Neck, about twenty
miles from the mouth of the river; and
the smaller privateers and other craft still
farther. None but those which put to
sea,, however, escaped the insatiable Fer
guson. On reaching Egg Harbor, and

Oct. 8,


not being able to enter with the trans
ports, the troops took to the boats, and
pushed up the river until they arrived at
Chestnut Neck, where they landed. Here
all the vessels, shipyards, store and dwel
ling houses, and salt-works, were burned.
These were inglorious enterprises for the
Britons, but they inflicted great injury
upon the Americans, and especially upon
privateering, which had become a very
effective though independent branch of
service. The purpose of the enemy was
to destroy those places where the priva
teers were chiefly built, fitted out, and
supplied for sea,

On Ferguson s return to the ships, he
found a French captain and several pri
vates, who had deserted from Count Pu-
laski s legion, then stationed in New Jer
sey. They gave such an account of the
careless manner in which three troops of
horse and the same number of companies
of infantry were cantoned, at no great dis
tance, that the British naval and military
officers made up their minds to beat up
their quarters. The ships were accord
ingly moved along the coast to a favora
ble point, and two hundred and
fifty men embarked in boats. Af
ter rowing ten miles, the troops landed
and took possession of an unguarded
bridge, to which they were directed by
the deserters, as necessary to secure their
return to the vessels. Having posted a
guard at the bridge, the rest of the men
pushed on. After a short march in the
darkness and silence of the night, they
came suddenly upon Pulaski s force ; and
the cruel Ferguson, as ruthlessly as "No-
flint Grey," bayoneted fifty of them with-

Oct. 15.




Oct. 1.

out heeding their cries for quarter ! Two
French officers were left among the dead,
Baron de Bos-e and Lieutenant de la Bor-
.lerie. As soon as Pulaski was aroused,
he brought his cavalry to the rescue, and
the enemy were thus driven away from
their work of death.

The American loyalists and their sav
age confederates the Indians had, by their
ruthless depredations, excited so much in
dignation, that it was determined to at
tack them in their haunts and root them
but. Accordingly, Colonel William But
ler set out from Schoharie coun
ty. New York, with a Pennsylva
nia regiment, and some riflemen and ran-


gers to act as scouts. [laving gained the
head-waters of the Delaware, he marched
for two clays along its banks, and then
crossed the Alleghany mountains to the
Susquehanna. The journey was toilsome
and dangerous. Each man carried on his
back provisions for six days, and, thus
loaded down, was forced to wade through

7 o

streams and to swim rivers. As the sol
diers were without tents, they were ex
posed to the heavy rains and cold nights
of that autumnal season. They reached
their destination, however, but were dis
appointed in finding that the Indians and
tory settlers had by flight cheated them
of their revenge. After having totally
destroyed every Indian fort and village,
and laid waste the tory settlements, But
ler led his men back.

The hardships of the return were still
more formidable than those of the ad
vance march. The smaller streams and
the Susquehanna itself had become great
ly swollen by the heavy rains. The pa

triots were in an enemy s country, their
provisions were nearly consumed, and it
seemed impracticable for them to con
tinue their journey. Butler, nevertheless,
overcame every obstacle. He mounted
his men, one after another, upon the few
horses which he had brought with him.
and, forcing the animals to swim the swol
len* waters, succeeded in getting them all
over in safety. On their arrival in Scho
harie, they were so overjoyed at reaching
their homes, of which they had almost
despaired, that they gave vent to their
happiness by firing thirteen round of can
non and a feu de joie of musketry.

The tories and their Indian allies, not
withstanding, continued as active in their
cruelties as ever. Walter Butler (the son
of Colonel John Butler, who led the at
tack against Wyoming in the preceding
July), having escaped from his prison at
Albany, where his neck had only been
saved from the gallows by the interposi
tion of some of his father s friends, was
now thirsting for revenge. The elder
Butler soon gave his son the opportunity
which he sought. A detachment of ran
gers, and the Indians with Brant the fa
mous Mohawk chief as their leader, were
placed under the command of young But
ler, to carry out an expedition against the
settlers of Try on county.

Walter Butler, eager for the enterprise,
hastened from Niagara with his rangers.
and formed a junction with the Indians
at Genesee. Brant disliked young But
ler, and was moreover piqued at being
obliged to serve in subjection to so youth
ful a leader. He was, however, finally
prevailed upon to join the expedition.



which now numbered a combined force
of seven hundred men.

Cherry Valley, situated near the head
waters of the eastern branch of the Sus-
qnehanna, within the state of New York,
was the chief object of the proposed at
tack, as it was the most thriving of all
the settlements. Colonel Ichabod Alden,
with two hundred and fifty men, was in
command of the fort called by his name.
Fort Alden was, however, merely a strong
stone dwelling-house, which had been for
tified, and surrounded with rude pickets
and earthen embankments. The colonel
had been duly informed of the approach
of his barbarous enemy, but he gave no
heed to the intelligence. The inhabit
ants, nevertheless, were greatly alarmed,
and begged that they and their most val
uable property might be received within
the fort. Alden, ridiculing their fears, re
fused, and was only prevailed upon by
their earnest entreaties to send out scouts
to gain information, and to keep guard
against any sudden surprise.

The scouts seem to have shared in the
confident security of their colonel ; for,
on being sent out, they had not gone far,
when they lighted a fire, and laid them
selves down to sleep. The enemy caught
them napping and made them prisoners,
and, obtaining from them the intelligence
which they wished, pushed on and took
post upon a wooded hill that overlooked
the settlement of Cherry Valley. Here
they encamped until the next morning,

when they rushed into the vil-
IVov, 10, . ...

lageand began an indiscriminate


slaughter of the defenceless innabitants.
Whole families were destroyed by the


savage invaders. Old men. women, and
children, appealed equally in vain to the
cruel instincts of the Indian and the still
more cruel ferocity of the hardened par

In the course of the next year, Wash
ington determined to strike a de
cisive blow against the Indians in
their homes and haunts. He accordingly
placed a considerable body of continental
troops under the command of General
Sullivan, to whom was soon after joined
General Clinton, of New York, with one
thousand men. The Mohawks, or the Six
Nations* as they were termed, were the
principal objects of the expedition. These
tribes inhabited the fertile tract of land
lying between New England, the middle
states, and the province of Canada. At
the beginning of the Revolutionary War.
they had pledged themselves to neutrali
ty, but soon proved faithless to their word.
The Oneidas, and a few besides, alone re
mained faithful ; while the rest, won over
by the Johnsons and the profuse gifts of
the British agents, became hostile to the

Americans, and destroved their lives and


property on every occasion.

The Indians, on becoming aware of the
approach of the Americans, made prepa-

* This confederacy of Indians, first known as the "Five
Nations," was composed of the Scnecas, Cayugas, Oneidas,
Oriondagas, and Mohawks; but, in 1713, the Tuscaroras,
being driven out of the Carolinas by the whites, migrated
northward and joined the former tribes, who were thence
called the " Six Nations." After Sullivan s expedition, a

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 87 of 126)