Just before the dawn of June 18, 1778, the British
began their evacuation of Philadelphia
They crossed the Delaware
to Gloucester Point
, and that evening encamped around Haddonfield
, a few miles southeast from
Camden, N. J.
The news of this evacuation reached Washington
, at Valley Forge
, before morning.
He immediately sent General Maxwell
, with his brigade, to cooperate with the New Jersey militia under General Dickinson
in retarding the march of the British
, who, when they crossed the river, were 17,000 strong in effective men. They marched in two divisions, one under Cornwallis and the other led by Knyphausen
, whose wounds kept him from the field, entered Philadelphia
with a detachment before the rear-guard of the British
had left it. The remainder of the army, under the immediate command of Washington
, crossed the Delaware
Gen. Charles Lee
(q. v.), who had been exchanged, was now with the army, and persistently opposed all interference with Clinton
's march across New Jersey
, and found fault with everything.
had intended to march to New Brunswick
and embark his army on Raritan Bay
for New York; but, finding Washington
in his path, he turned, at Allentown
, towards Monmouth
, to make his way to Sandy Hook
, and thence to New York by water.
followed him in a parallel line, prepared to strike him whenever an opportunity should offer, while Clinton
wished to avoid a battle, for he was encumbered with baggage-
Old Monmouth Court-House.|
wagons and a host of camp-followers, making his line 12 miles in length.
He encamped near the court-house in Freehold, Monmouth co., N. J.
, on June 27, and there Washington
resolved to strike him if he should move the next morning, for it was important to prevent his reaching the advantageous position of Middletown Heights
. General Lee
was now in command of the advanced corps.
ordered him to form a plan of attack, but he omitted to do so, or to give any orders to Wayne
, or Maxwell
, who called upon him. And when, the next morning (June 28）—a hot Sabbath—Washington was told Clinton
was about to move, and ordered Lee
to fall upon the British
rear, unless there should be grave reasons for not doing so, that officer so tardily obeyed that he allowed his antagonist ample time to prepare for battle.
did move, he seemed to have no plan, and by his orders and counterorders so perplexed his generals that they sent a request to Washington
to appear on the field with the main army immediately.
And while Wayne
was attacking with vigor, with a sure prospect of victory, Lee
ordered him to make only a feint.
At that moment Clinton
changed front, and sent a large force, horse and foot, to attack Wayne
, believing there was now a good opportunity to gain the rear of the British
, rode quickly up to Lee
and asked permission to attempt the movement.
He at first refused, but, seeing the earnestness of the marquis, he yielded a little, and ordered him to wheel his column by the right and attack Clinton
At the same time he weakened Wayne
's detachment by taking three regiments from it to support the right.
Then, being apparently disconcerted by a movement of the British
, he ordered his right to fall back; and Generals Scott
, who were then about to attack, were ordered to retreat.
At the same time Lafayette
received a similar order, a general retreat began, and the British
In this flight and pursuit Lee
showed no disposition to check either party, and the retreat became a disorderly flight.
was then pressing forward to the support of Lee
, when he was met by the astounding intelligence
that the advance division was in full retreat.
had sent him no word of this disastrous movement.
The fugitives, falling back upon the main army, might endanger the whole.
's indignation was fearfully aroused, and when he met Lee
, at the
head of the second retreating column, he rode up to him, and, in a tone of withering reproof, he exclaimed, “Sir, I desire to know what is the reason and whence comes this disorder and confusion?”
replied sharply, “You know the attack was contrary to my advice and opinion.”
The chief replied in a tone that indicated the depth of his indignation, “You should not have undertaken the command unless you intended to carry it out.”
There was no time for altercation, and, wheeling his horse, he hastened to Ramsay
, in the rear, and soon rallied a greater portion of their regiments, and ordered Oswald
to take post on an eminence near, with two guns.
These pieces, skilfully handled, soon checked the enemy.
's presence inspired the troops with courage, and ten minutes after he appeared the retreat was ended.
The troops, lately a fugitive mob, were soon in orderly battle array on an eminence on which Gen. Lord Stirling
placed some batteries.
The line, then, was commanded on the right by General Greene
, and on the left by Stirling
The two armies now confronted each other.
, about 7,000 strong, were upon a narrow road, bounded by morasses.
Their cavalry attempted to turn the American
left flank, but were repulsed and disappointed.
The regiments of foot came up, when a severe battle occurred with musketry and cannon.
The American artillery, under the general direction of Knox
, did great execution.
For a while the result seemed doubtful, when General Wayne
came up with a body of troops and gave victory to the Americans
, perceiving that the fate of the conflict depended upon driving Wayne
away or capturing him, led his troops to a bayonet charge.
So terrible was Wayne
's storm of bullets upon them that almost every British officer was slain.
Their brave leader was among the killed, as he was pressing forward, waving his sword and shouting to his men. His veterans then retreated, and fell back to the heights occupied by Lee
in the morning.
The battle ended at twilight, when the wearied armies rested on their weapons, prepared for another conflict at dawn.
Through the deep sands of the roads, Clinton
withdrew his army so silently towards midnight that he was far on his way towards Sandy Hook
when the American
sentinels discovered his flight in the morning (June 29). Washington
did not pursue, and the British
escaped to New York.
They had lost 1,000 men by desertion while crossing New Jersey
, and they left four officers and 245 non-commissioned officers and privates on the field, taking with them many of the wounded.
They lost fifty-nine by the terrible heat of the day. More than fifty Americans
died from the same cause.
The loss of the Americans
was 228, killed, wounded, and missing.
Many of the latter afterwards returned to the army.
marched northward, crossed the Hudson River
, and encamped in Westchester county, N. Y.
, until late in the autumn.
See Pitcher, Molly