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GW_051-100.indd 83 5/2/12 7:34 AM CHAPTER 7 The Army and Independence Maintained (January to July 1777) American army inoculated. -State ofthe army. -Destruction ofstores at Peekskill. at Danbury.-Expedition to Sagg Harbor.- Camp formed at Middle Brook.- British move out to Somerset Court-House. -Return to Amboy. -Attempt to cut offthe retreat ~fthe American army at Middle Brook.-Lord Cornwallis skirmishes with Lord Sterling .- General Prescot surprised and taken.- The British army embarks. THE EFFECT ofthe proclamation published by Lord and General Howe, on Jan. 1777 taking possession ofJersey, was in a great degree counteracted by the conduct ofthe invading army. The hope that securitywas attainable by submission was soon dissipated. The inhabitants were treated rather as conquered rebels than returning friends. Whatever may have been the exertions of the General to restrain his soldiers, they indulged in every species of licentiousness . The loyalists as well as those who had been active in the American cause, were the victims of this indiscriminating spirit of rapine and violence . A sense of personal wrongs produced a temper which national considerations had been too weak to excite; and, when the battles of Trenton and Princeton relieved the people from the fears inspired by the presence of their invaders, the great body of the people flew to arms. Small parties of militia scoured the country, and were collecting in such numbers as to threaten the weaker British posts with the fate which had befallen Trenton and Princeton. To guard against this spirit, the British General found it expedient to abandon the positions taken for the purpose ofrecovering the country, and to confine himself to New Brunswick and Amboy. The militia and volunteers who came in aid of the small remnant of continental troops, enabled General Washington to take different positions GW_051-100.indd 84 5/2/12 7:34 AM ~ COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE REVOLUTION *" near the lines ofthe enemy, to harass him perpetually, restrain his foraging parties,1 and produce considerable distress in his camp. In the midst of these operations, he came to the hazardous resolution of freeing himselfand his troops from the fear ofa calamity which had proved more fatal than the sword of the enemy. The small-pox had found its way into both the northern and middle army, and had impaired the strength of both to an alarming degree. To avoid the return of this evil, the General determined to inoculate all the soldiers in the American service. This determination was carried into execution , and an army, exempt from the fear of a calamity which had, at all times, endangered the most important operations, was prepared for the next campaign. The example was followed through the country, and this alarming disease ceased to be the terror of America. As the British army was divided between New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, General Washington cherished hopes of being enabled to strike a decisive blow against some one of its divisions during the winter. The state sovereignties, which possessed all the real energies ofgovernment, were incessantly urged to fill their regiments and to bring their quotas into the field; but the inherent defects of the American system rendered it impracticable to collect a force competent to those vigorous operations which had been anticipated. Some ofthe State Assemblies did not even complete the appointment of officers till the spring. After these arrangements were made, the difficulty ofenlisting men was unexpectedly great. The immense hardships to which the naked soldiers had been exposed; the mortality resulting from those hardships, and probably from an injudicious arrangement of the hospital department which proved to be the tomb of the sick, had excited extensive disgust to the service, and a consequent unwillingness to engage in it. A letter of the 4th of March, addressed to Congress, states that the whole effective force in Jersey fit for duty, was less than three thousand, of whom not quite one thousand were regulars. Still a war of skirmishes was kept up through the winter. The British foraging parties were often attacked to advantage; and these small successes, magnified by the press into victories, served to increase the confidence of the American r. Troops seeking supplies, specifically food for horses and cattle, bur also provisions generally . GW_051-100.indd 85 5/2/12 7:34 AM ~ The Army andIndependence Maintained ~ soldiers in themselves, and to animate the people. Hopes were even entertained that, from the scarcity offorage, neither the British cavalry nor draft...


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