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George. Numerous designs were
submitted to Congress, but the first recognized Continental standard was
that raised by Washington, January 2, 1776. By resolution of Congress,
June 14, 1777, this was replaced by the pattern as it is to-day,
excepting in the number of stars. The rule is that whenever a new State
is admitted to the Union its representative star shall appear in the
blue field of the banner on the 4th of July following its admission.

Despite the enthusiasm with which the Declaration of Independence was
received everywhere, the affairs of the States (as they must now be
called) were by no means encouraging. Montgomery and Arnold were engaged
upon their disastrous invasion of Canada, and the city of New York was
in grave peril from the enemy. Moreover, England was not to be
frightened by the Declaration of Independence. The angered king and
Parliament put forth more strenuous efforts than before to conquer their
rebellious subjects.


When Washington entered Boston after the British evacuation, he
immediately sent six of his best regiments to New York, which he was
convinced would soon be attacked. General Charles Lee had been placed in
command there and Washington intended to follow. The people in New York
were alive to their danger and Lee did his utmost to strengthen the
defenses. An intrenched camp was laid out on Columbia Heights, on the
Brooklyn side, to guard the town against an attack from the sea, and
another intrenched camp was erected on the New York side, between Fulton
and Wall Streets. This was named Fort Stirling and was an important
position, since it permitted the batteries to sweep the channel, or, in
case of the occupation of the city by an enemy, they could be bombarded.
A fort was built opposite Hell Gate to defend an approach by way of the
Sound, while works were placed below Canal Street to cover the river.
There were no fortifications, however, on the Jersey shore.

Lee ruled with a high hand in New York, showing no consideration to the
Tories and making himself highly popular with the revolutionary party.
Having been placed in command of the southern department, he left New
York, and Lord Stirling (an American who inherited his title) succeeded
him. He put forth every effort to make the city impregnable, following
the advice and orders of Washington, who knew the necessity of such
rigorous measures.


The British plan of campaign was to capture the city of New York,
overrun the State, push the war in the South, and invade the Northern
States from Canada. The South Carolinans, as soon as they heard the news
of Lexington, began fortifying the harbor of Charleston. These included
the barricading of the streets, in case of the capture of the harbor
defenses. General Lee, as soon as he arrived, inspected the defenses and
gave it as his opinion that they were not strong enough to resist the
British fleet and the forts would be knocked into ruins.

"Then," said Colonel Moultrie, "we'll fight behind the ruins."

"You have no means of retreat."

"Since we shall not retreat, no means are needed."

Lee, although still apprehensive, yielded to the bravery of the
defenders and agreed to do his utmost to assist them in their defense.

On the 17th of June, 2,500 British troops landed with the intention of
wading across to Sullivan's Island, but found the supposed ford too
deep. Delays followed, and on the 28th the fleet under Admiral Parker
opened the attack on the fort. The palmetto logs of which it was
composed were the best possible material, since they were too spongy to
be shattered, and seemed to absorb the ponderous balls hurled against
them. The return fire of the garrison wrought great havoc among the
vessels, and the battle raged fiercely for hours.

When everything was obscured by the blinding smoke, the flag staff of
the fort was cut away by a cannon ball. It had scarcely fallen, when
Sergeant William Jasper sprang through one of the embrasures, caught up
the flag, climbed the wall amid a frightful fire, waved it defiantly at
the enemy, fastened it to a pike, fixed it in place, and then coolly
leaped down among his comrades.

HARBOR. (Presented to the United States by Bartholdi.)]

That night Admiral Parker withdrew his fleet, having lost more than two
hundred in killed and wounded, while of the Americans only ten had been
killed and twenty-nine wounded. The triumph of the patriots was
absolute, and General Lee in a letter to Washington wrote that he was
enraptured by the coolness and bravery of the defenders. In honor of the
gallant conduct of Colonel Moultrie, the fort was given his name, and
the whole country was inspired by what was certainly one of the most
remarkable achievements of the Revolution.


The progress of the war, however, was less satisfactory in the North. On
the same day that the British attacked Fort Moultrie, a part of the
fleet from Nova Scotia appeared off Sandy Hook, with the purpose of
attacking the city. Before Lee left for the South, he expressed the
opinion that no fleet could capture it, but Washington, after arriving
and inspecting the defenses, failed to share his confidence, and
strengthened the works in every way possible.

Believing Governor's Island a place of strategic importance, General
Putnam had seized it before the arrival of Washington, and threw up a
number of breastworks, occupying also Red Hook on Long Island. Then
Paulus Hook (now Jersey City) was fortified and hulks were sunk in the
channel between Governor's Island and the Battery. The erection of Fort
Lee, up the Hudson, was begun during the summer, on the Palisades, while
Fort Washington was built on the New York side. By the time the fleet
arrived, about a hundred cannon and mortars were ready for service.


Governor Tryon, formerly of North Carolina, was now Governor of New York
and a bitter Tory. There were thousands who thought like him, and they
welcomed General Howe, whose intention was to land on Long Island, but
the strong defenses of the Americans caused him to disembark his troops
on Staten Island. Admiral Howe, brother of the general, arrived soon
after, and, in August, the Hessians swelled the British force to 32,000
men. The Hessians were natives of Hesse-Cassel, Germany, and were hired
by England. De Heister, their commander, was a veteran of many
campaigns, and they formed fully one-fourth of the enemy's forces.
Compared with this formidable array, the Americans presented a pitiful
plight. They were scarcely one-half as numerous, were poorly armed and
disciplined, most of them without uniforms, while many were lacking in
courage, as their commander was to learn to his cost.

General Howe's first move was to send two ships and three tenders up the
Hudson, aiming to cut off Washington's communication with the country
and Canada. At the same time, he wished to take soundings of the river
and encourage the Tories, who were more plentiful than would be
supposed. Several weeks were spent in this work, during which one of
the tenders was burned by the Americans.

[Illustration: AN OLD NEW YORK MANSION.]


In the latter part of August, the British troops were moved from Staten
Island to Gravesend Bay on Long Island, and it was evident that Howe,
instead of bombarding New York, meant to advance upon it from across
Long Island. In anticipation of this movement, Washington had stationed
General Greene's division at Brooklyn. Unfortunately that admirable
officer was ill, and General Sullivan took his place. He boastingly
declared that no force of the British could carry his fortification,
and, indeed, was so foolishly confident, that Washington superseded him
with Israel Putnam, who was no better, for he left the pass on the
British right unguarded. Quick to discover the oversight, the enemy took
advantage of it, and in the battle of Long Island, fought August 27th,
the Americans suffered disastrous defeat. Sullivan was caught between
two fires, and, fighting with the energy of desperation, most of his men
cut their way through the English line and reached Brooklyn. Lord
Stirling's division was surprised in the same manner and few escaped the
enemy. By noon the victory of the British was complete.

Washington with deep anguish witnessed the overwhelming disaster. He
hurriedly crossed to Brooklyn and sent forward every man that could be
spared, but nothing availed to check the panic of the rest of the
forces, who were chased to the foot of the lines in Brooklyn. Howe was
so confident of bagging the whole lot that, in order to save loss of
life, he resorted to regular approaches.

The situation of the Americans could not have been more critical, for,
when the British fleet passed up the river, their supplies would be cut
off. Three hundred patriots had been killed and wounded, and among the
prisoners were Lord Stirling and General Sullivan. The Americans in
Brooklyn numbered 10,000, while the enemy were twice as numerous.

When it looked as if all hope was gone, the elements came to the relief
of the sorely beset patriots. A violent head-wind held back the ships,
and a tremendous downpour of rain on the 28th and 29th suspended
operations. It was so clear that the only course open was to evacuate
Brooklyn, that the work was begun and pressed incessantly for thirteen
hours, the rain and fog hiding the movement from Howe. Too weak to hold
the city against him, there was nothing left to do but to retreat,
future movements being guided by events.


Four ships ascended the river, September 13th, and anchored a mile above
the city. Others followed. The movement, however, was a feint, intended
to cover General Howe's attack by land. Before the latter, the Americans
made such a cowardly flight that Washington and other officers were
filled with irrestrainable rage, struck many with the flat of their
swords, and threatened to run them through.

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