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Operation: Holdfast

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  • #31
    Operation Nemo: Aftermath
    Date: August 16th, 1776
    Location: the East River, off the shores of Manhattan Island
    Time: 10:00 AM

    In the aftermath of the sinking of the British flagship HMS Eagle, Admiral Richard Howe gathers the ship’s remaining officers. Rather than call off the landing attempt, he orders “let the wounded and the dead be taken ashore and attended to. What happened to the flagship could only have been some damnable Colonial trick; therefore, I want a line of picket boats thrown out above and below the fleet. Have them crewed by troops from the some of the regiments aboard ship. Let their instructions be that any vessel or other craft not flying the British flag is to be fired upon without warning. Indeed, it be better that we shoot first and ask questions later, rather than to risk another such sinking.” To a man, the assembled officers respond “aye, sir.”

    Word is passed to the other ships in the fleet of the change in command, and of Admiral Howe’s intention to go forward with the landing. Within the next two hours, picket boats are placed upstream and downstream of the fleet. In addition to a full squad of soldiers in each boat, there is also a swivel gun in the bow. Next, a fast packet boat is sent to General William Howe’s ships in Hudson’s River in order to carry word of what happened, and to say that all due precautions should be taken. Below Harlem Heights, orders are passed for an artillery bombardment to be opened against the colonial works. Battery after battery of British artillery thunders forth, the intention being to deceive the Colonial army that a frontal assault is imminent.

    Unfortunately for the redcoats, the all-seeing eye of General Garrity’s reconnaissance balloon is still aloft. The two observers see and document everything within their field of view, then send it via telegraph to the ground station. Immediately, a dispatch rider is sent with the information to General Garrity at the Continental Army’s headquarters; he arrives just as the British guns open fire.

    Along with General Washington, those officers present include General Artemas Ward, General Israel Putnam, General Nathaniel Greene, General Henry Lee, Colonel Henry Knox, Surgeon-General John Morgan and Quartermaster-General Thomas Mifflin. Together, General Washington, General Garrity and the upper echelon of the army’s command staff are conferring on what to do next when a headquarters orderly comes up and says “begging your pardon, sirs; this dispatch just arrived for General Garrity.” Washington nods, and the document is handed to Garrity. He reads it and says “General Washington, my observers relate that the British flagship HMS Eagle has been sunk by my submarine and that the British are on the move; apparently, the loss of that ship hasn’t dissuaded them from continuing with their plans.”

    “Of course, sir; what better evidence could there be than the firing against our lines…”

    “Yes, sir. My observers relate that the British fleet has divided itself into two separate bodies; one is moving on the East River and the other on Hudson’s River. I believe that the artillery barrage against our front lines is merely a ruse, meant to draw our attention there and away from our flanks. I believe that the true thrust of the attack will come when the redcoats land on Manhattan Island behind our right and left flanks, then come at us from the rear.”

    General Garrity’s words cause much excited discussion among Washington’s officers; Washington allows the discussion to run its course for the next several minutes, then silences it with a wave of his hand…

    “This is grave news indeed, sir. Can your troops not hinder the British advance, as they did in the late action on Long Island?”

    “Yes, sir. I’ll begin by saying that the correlation of forces arrayed against the Continental Army is adverse in the extreme; even with the losses that my brigade inflicted on the redcoats, they still outnumber us by an unhealthy four-to-one. This being said, I will post four hundred of my men on the front lines; to bolster them, I respectfully request that Colonel Morgan’s regiment of riflemen be tasked with providing additional support. Together, he and I will use the superior range and accuracy of our weapons to discomfit the British where and when we may.”

    “What of your other troops?”

    “Sir, two of my artillery batteries will stay in position to reinforce Colonel Knox’ artillery. The remainder of my men will be divided into two separate bodies of 1,000 men each. As soon our cavalry tells us where the British are actually going to come ashore on Manhattan Island, they and my other two batteries will position themselves so as to oppose the redcoats when they actually do come ashore. Furthermore, my flying artillery and the Black Horse Cavalry will conduct raids at selected points to keep the British off-balance. Even so, these efforts are but a temporary measure.”

    “How say you, General Garrity?”

    “Sir, a wise man one said ‘quantity has a quality all its own.’ The British must not be allowed to cut off our ability to retreat; all of what I have proposed thus far is but a delaying action. I respectfully advise that you give orders for the army to retreat up Manhattan Island, into Westchester County and cross over Hudson’s River into the town of White Plains.”

    “I understand, General Garrity. You’ll not have to worry about the British coming up Hudson’s River; you’ll please recall that I had troops from Pennsylvania undertake the construction of a pair of forts on either side of the river. Fort Washington is sited on the highest point of Manhattan Island, while Fort Lee is directly across from Fort Washington atop the New Jersey Palisades; these fortifications are so stout and so well-located that they can resist any force the British send against them. For now, I and my other officers will take counsel and give due regard to your recommendations; you’ll have my decision within the hour.”

    “Very good, sir. In the meantime, I will dispose my troops so as to be able to move at a moment’s notice. Additionally, I will have the reconnaissance balloon remain on station until the bulk of the Continental Army begins to move out. The intelligence thus gathered will be of critical importance in determining when the British have committed themselves to their landings.”

    “Very well, sir. You have my permission to proceed; make haste, I pray you.”

    General Garrity salutes smartly, then leaves Washington’s command tent. General Washington now turns to his other officers and says “gentlemen, I would have your thoughts on the situation facing us.” Colonel Knox replies “sir, what General Garrity says makes good sense to me. If we were to stand and fight, the British would surround us and destroy the Continental Army in detail.”

    “Very well, Colonel. General Ward, what say you?”

    “Sir, my first impulse is to defy the British by standing and fighting them. However, such action would be foolhardy and dangerous in the extreme. If the army is lost, then our cause is lost; surviving to fight another day should be our first, last and only concern.”

    “Thank you, General Ward. General Greene?”

    “General Washington, I am of the opinion that General Garrity has sufficiently made his case to the point where you must give the order to withdraw.” Surgeon-General Morgan and Quartermaster-General Mifflin nod their heads in agreement with General Greene’s pronouncement. Seeing the looks on his officers faces is all the encouragement that Washington needs, so he says “this is a grave duty that fate has placed upon me; I see no other way out than to do as General Garrity suggests. General Ward?’


    “Send word to all commands that they are to make ready to move out as soon as possible. Colonel Knox, you are to coordinate with General Garrity’s artillery and put down such fire as will convince the British to think that we mean to stay and fight. Colonel Morgan’s riflemen and General Garrity’s detachment will operate in support of you.”

    “Very good, sir.”

    Washington dismisses his staff with the pronunciation “go with God, gentlemen.” The officers file out of the command tent and dispose themselves to carry out General Washington’s orders. Over the next three days, the Continental Army’s camp is consumed with activity as tents are struck and supplies, rations & rations are packed up. All the while, Colonel Knox’ and General Garrity’s artillery are keeping up a furious barrage at the British positions below Harlem Heights. There are several forays by British skirmishers in order to gather intelligence of the Colonials’ intentions, but these are driven off handily by long-range rifle fire.

    The observation crew in General Garrity’s reconnaissance balloon reports that British ships are continuing to move up the East River and Hudson’s river. These reports keep coming until the second day, at which time it is judged necessary to bring the balloon down and pack it away for later use. At David Bushnell’s secret shipyard on shores of the East River, there is a brief consideration on repeating the Turtle’s earlier attack; this idea is quickly dismissed because of the heavy presence of picket boats out in front of the British fleet. Therefore, the Turtle is dismantled and the pieces burned to keep them out of British hands. The remaining four explosive charges are re-purposed into floating mines. These are fitted with contact fuzes and released up-river of the British ships; the intention is that they should float downstream, come into contact with British shipping and explode. Only two of the four floating mines have any effect, resulting in the destruction of HMS Cerberus (a 28-gun 6th rate ship-of-the-line) and one of its tenders. The other two are destroyed by fire from alert sentries in the picket boats.

    On August 19th, the British intentions become clear when the first landing boats come ashore at Throgs Neck in Westchester County. Opposing them are 2,000 men and two batteries of artillery from General Garrity’s brigade, with his flying artillery and the Black Horse Cavalry operating in support. Garrity’s defense is so stoutly-conducted that the British commanders quickly withdraw to seek another landing along the shores of Long Island Sound. Six days later, the British again come ashore, this time at a location called Pell’s Point (three miles north of Throgs Neck).

    In this action, General Garrity’s men are reinforced by a further 750 troops under the command of Colonel John Glover. Together, they fight the British from behind the stone walls that are common in the area. Canister and grape from Garrity’s howitzers (along with explosive shells from his rifled guns take a severe toll on the attacking British. As each position is over-run, Garrity and Glover make a fighting withdrawl to the next wall in line.

    The effects of the colonial defense are such that the British eventually break off the assault and withdraw back to the beach on which they landed. Now that British advance up Hudson’s river is stalled because of the heroic resistance of Forts Washington and Lee, General Washington is able to evacuate the entire Colonial army across Hudson’s River and into the town of White Plains.


    • #32
      Going another round
      Date: August 20th, 1776
      Location: the vicinity of White Plains, New York
      Time: various

      After the Continental Army encamps itself in and around the town of White Plains, New York, General Washington immediately sets about the task of preparing his defenses against an expected assault by the British. He establishes his headquarters in a house owned by local farmer & businessman Elijah Miller, then orders the construction of two lines of entrenchments. These are fortified by arrangements of cheval-de-frise in various locations and reinforced by batteries of artillery situated so that they are mutually supporting.

      General Garrity’s brigade has been assigned the task of holding the left flank, while the army’s right flank is protected by the swampy ground next to the Bronx River. In back of the right flank, the local prominence known as Chatterton’s Hill is held by a force of several hundred militia troops; prominent among this force is the company commanded by Captain John Brooks. While the defensive preparations are going on, General Garrity sends one of his staff messengers out to find the company commanded by Captain John Lowdon from Northumberland County, Pennsylvania; two of the troops attached to this unit are Sgt. Timothy Murphy and his brother John; it is Garrity’s intention to meet with these men and make a certain presentation to them.

      In due course, the Murphy brothers present themselves at General Garrity’s headquarters; salutes are exchanged and Timothy Murphy says “you wished to see us, sir?”

      “Yes I did, sergeant. I have taken note of the service done by you and your brother John in the Northumberland County Riflemen during the Siege of Boston and the Battle of Long Island; I have also heard of you and your brother’s skill with a rifle. Therefore, I’d like to recognize it.”

      “Thank you, sir; that is most kind of you.”

      General Garrity nods and bids his visitors to take their seats. He calls for one of his orderlies to bring in the weapons he intends to present; they are placed on his desk and removed from their felt-lined canvas cases. As soon as the Murphy brothers see these weapons, they instantly realize that they are like nothing else that they are familiar with. General Garrity holds on of the guns up and says “Sgt. Murphy, this rifle is of my own design. It is a .45-caliber weapon, and the rifling principle is different from the one you know. Whereas your own rifle uses a patched round ball, this gun doesn’t. Instead, it uses a hexagonal lead bullet that weighs 525 grains that directly fits the rifling (that has a twist of 1 turn in 20 inches); the effect is as a nut turning on its bolt.”

      The eyes of Murphy and his brother blaze with pleasure as they examine the rifle; then, he asks “sir, what kind of powder charge does this gun use? What is its effective range?”

      “Sgt. Murphy, this weapon uses a charge of 85 grains of fine rifle powder. In terms of accuracy, it is capable of hitting a 4” target at 400 yards. The effective range is between 800 and 1,000 yards, while the maximum range is 1,500 yards. Previously by using your own flintlock longrifle, you were able to hit a 7” target at 250 yards; with this weapon, you will be able to hit the same size target at three times the range; or, 700 yards. Now, if you gentlemen will please direct your attention to the lock mechanism, I will explain the differences between it and the common locks used on muskets and longrifles.”

      General Garrity takes out a screwdriver from the rifle’s tool kit and quickly removes the lock mechanism from the rifle. He hands it to Timothy Murphy and says “Sergeant, the lock is fitted with a waterproof pan that will keep the priming safe and dry, even in the heaviest weather. Please examine the frizzen spring and you’ll see that there is a roller bearing on which the toe of the frizzen works; having this bearing speeds up lock time considerably and makes its functioning more reliable. Inside the lock, the mainspring doesn’t bear directly on the tumbler; instead, there is a direct linkage between the mainspring and the tumbler. This link is called a ‘stirrup’ because it resembles the stirrup on a horse’s saddle.”

      “Sir, what is the purpose of this ‘stirrup’, as you call it?”

      “The stirrup acts in concert with the roller bearing on the frizzen spring to make the lock’s function more reliable and to shorten lock time.” The Murphy brothers consider what they just heard while General Garrity reaches inside the rifle’s leather ball bag and takes out one of the bullets. He hands it over for examination and says “gentlemen, the shape of this projectile is as I described it earlier’ a hexagon; it goes down the barrel with a smooth, slip fit. When it is fired, the fast twist of the rifling give it far greater accuracy than patched round balls fired from a long rifle. If you were to compare this weapon’s rate of fire with that of a smoothbore musket, you’ll find that it can be fired almost as fast (three aimed shots per minute, compared to a musket’s four shots per minute). This rifle’s accuracy, reliability and rate of fire make it an extraordinarily deadly weapon.”

      The Murphy brothers exchange looks with each other, then Sgt. Murphy says “sir, my brother and I thank you for these gifts; we’ll make sure to put them to good use against the Redcoats.”

      “Indeed. Along with each rifle, there are the tools necessary to keep it in good order. There is also a bullet mold and a steel swaging die to bring the bullets down to their proper size after they have been cast; take care of the rifle and its tools, and they will take care of you.”

      So dismissed, the Murphy brothers return to their unit and General Garrity turns his attention to other business.

      Date: August 22nd, 1776

      General Howe established a camp at New Rochelle, New York, which effort was aided by the landing of 8,000 Hessian troops under the command of General Wilhelm von Knyphuasen. It pleased Howe that his advance guard was at Marmaroneck, just 7 miles from White Plains. After a brief night engagement between a unit of Loyalists and troops under the command of Colonel John Haslet, Howe decided to move elements of his right wing into Marmaroneck itself. Between August 22nd and August 25th, General Howe moves his main body into camp at Scarsdale, New York.

      Date: August 26th, 1776
      Time: 11:00 AM
      Location: Continental Army headquarters

      At the Miller House, scouts have just reported to General Washington that the British Army is on the move from their camp near Scarsdale, New York. This camp had been established in order to cover the east bank of Hudson’s River and catch the Continental column led by Charles Lee; the effort was in vain because Lee avoided the trap by having his troops carry out a forced night march.
      The British advance has General Henry Clinton and his regulars on the right, with General Leopold Phillip de Heister’s Hessians on the left. Accordingly, General Washington orders out the 2nd Connecticut Regiment (under the command of Brigadier-General Joseph Spencer) to slow down the British line of advance; the 2nd Connecticut is aided in so doing by General Garrity’s Black Horse Cavalry and his flying artillery. Additionally, a force composed of the 1st Delaware Regiment (commanded by Colonel John Haslet) and General Alexander McDougall’s brigade (3rd New York, 19th Continental, 1st Maryland and the 1st & 2nd New York regiments) was ordered to reinforce the militia stationed on Chatterton’s Hill.

      Battle was joined when the 2nd Connecticut advanced down the Old York Road towards the village of Hart’s Corners and began exchanging musket volleys with Colonel Johann Rall’s Hessians. This initial engagement continued until General Howe’s column threatened General Spencer’s left flank. Rather than stand and fight it out, Spencer ordered his men to make a fighting retreat, and this was done. Spencer’s men moved out in good order, pausing only to fire when behind the several stone walls in the area; this action was further supported by fire from Chatterton’s Hill. Colonel Rall’s Hessians made several attacks on the hill, but were repelled each time by concentrated fire from Haslet’s regiment and McDougall’s Brigade. At this same time, an attempt was made by a force of British dragoons to overcome the 2nd Connecticut and prevent their escape; it was foiled by the timely intervention of the Black Horse Cavalry and General Garrity’s flying artillery.

      Garrity’s cavalry and flying artillery had been engaged in making life miserable for the British by riding all around their flanks and conducting attacks of opportunity, sometimes hitting the same target from two different directions at once. The combined defense was so stout that, not only did the 2nd Connecticut complete its pullout, General Howe’s entire force was brought to a halt. A hurried command conference was called for, and Howe and his top officers discussed how best to proceed.

      After some discussion, it was decided to have the Hessian artillery on the British left flank open fire on Chatterton’s Hill in order to keep the heads of the defenders down while a simultaneous assault was mounted; on the right, the forces engaged were Colonel Rall’s Hessians. The center was attacked by Colonel Carl von Donop’s regiment of chasseurs and four regiments of Hessian grenadiers (from Linsing, Mingerode, Lengereck and Kochler) and the left was attacked by General Alexander Leslie, who led the 5th, 28th, 35th and 49th Regiments of Foot.

      On the American left, the strength of General Garrity’s position is such that his brigade and those troops positioned nearby were (with the aid of fire from the Sons of Thunder artillery battery) able to defeat several assaults from troops under the command of General Henry Clinton. In likewise fashion, General Garrity’s artillery is able to support the center of the Continental Army’s line and help keep it from being overrun by Colonel von Donop’s chasseurs and grenadiers

      On the Continental Army’s right flank however, the situation was entirely different; the lay of the land is such that the Sons of Thunder could not effectively brought to bear on that location. So, the troops there have had to look to their own devices for their defense. They do have artillery of their own, but the majority of these pieces are 4-, 6- and 9-pdr guns; outclassed by the much-heavier Hessian artillery before them. It was here that the British attacks broke through the Continental lines and into the rear.

      The assault began when the Hessian artillery on the British left were ordered to open fire on the crest of Chatterton’s Hill to keep the heads of the defenders down while a simultaneous assault was carried out. The Hessian artillery fire caused the colonial militia troops on the crest of the hill to begin to retreat. In the midst of doing so, Alexander McDougall’s brigade arrived and caused the militia to rally; a combined defense was mounted, with the militia on the right and McDougall’s troops on the left.

      General Clinton’s troops on the Continental right were joined by those of Colonel Rall (whose troops attacked the American right flank), while the center would be attacked by Colonel von Donop’s force as previously mentioned. On the left, the attack was mounted by General Alexander Leslie and his five regiments of foot. Von Donopp’s force has some difficulty in crossing the river, so General Leslie’s men weer the first across.

      Colonel Johann Rall’s troops charged the American militia on the right; which action exposing the flank of McDougall’s brigade. After some fifteen minutes of pouring musket fire into the ranks of the advancing British, Colonel McDougall realized that tghe situation was becoming increasingly tenuous. Therefore, he ordered that a fighting retreat be made. McDougall’s withdrawl caused the rest of the defenders on Chatterton’s Hill to give way and retreat. Amon the last to leave were Colonel Haslet and the 1st Delaware Regiment; this unit anchored the left of the American line and gave covering fire while the other troops evacuated to the north.

      The fighting was intense and vicious, with substantial casualties being taken by both sides. When the action was finally over, the Continentals had suffered 50 killed and 167 wounded. By way of comparison, the British had 150 killed and 500 wounded. For the next two days, General Washignton and General Howe maintained their positions; Howe used the time to reinforce his posirtion on Chatterton’s Hill, while Washington began to organize a retreat into the hills to the north. On August 30th, additional Hessian and Waldeck troops under the command of Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland landed to reinforce General Howe; Howe planned to move against General Washington the very next day, but the weather intervened. An ntense rainfall began late on the night of August 30th and lasted all throughout the 31st. By the time the weather cleared on September 1st, General Howe found that General Washington and the Continental Army had escaped.

      Washington established a new camp in the vicinity of North Castle, New York. Over the next five days, General Howe tried several times to draw Washington out and give battle. On September 5th, he decided it would be more productive to take his army south and complete the task of removing the last Continental forces from the island of Manhattan. This was accomplished 11 days later on September 16th, when Howe won the Battle of Fort Washington. This fortification had been defended by Colonel Nathanael Greene and a garrison that eventually numbered 2,660 men; Green and 1,200 troops having been left by General Washington to defend the fort when the retreat to White Plains began. At the end of the battle, Colonel Greene’s force had suffered 60 killed, 100 wounded and 2,500 prisoners; the British and Hessians had taken 85 killed and 400 wounded. In addition to the casualties, the Continentals lost 34 cannon, two howitzers and a great deal of military stores (tents, blankets, rations, tools and ammunition).

      Mindful of his agreement with General Garrity regarding the treatment of prisoners-of-war, General Howe ordered that the 2,500 captives taken be treated with respect and honor; a messenger with information to this effect was sent to General Washington under a flag of truce. When Hessian troops began to mis-treat the American prisoners, Howe cashiered the officers responsible and saw to it that the offenders were punished harshly.

      Away in the Caribbean
      Date: September 1st - September 4th, 1776
      Location: The Bahamas
      Time: various

      Previously on August 17th, a fleet of seven ships under the command of Commodore Esek Hopkins sailed from Cape Henlopen, Delaware with orders to make for the Bahamas and capture supplies of powder, shot and military equipment known to be stored there; the fleet included the 14-gun brig USS Andrea Doria (named after the 16th-century Genoese admiral and commanded by none other than John Paul Jones). General Garrity’s armed merchant ship Columbia sailed along with the fleet; when the ships arrived in the waters off the Port of Nassau on September 1st, her commanding officer conferred with Commodore Hopkins on how best to proceed. After some discussion, offensive operations commenced immediately.

      Columbia stood out to sea with the mission of intercepting British shipping headed for Nassau, while Commodore Hopkins took his ships in and landed troops on the island of New Providence south and east of Fort Montagu. These troops were 200 men from the Continental Marines and commanded by Captain Samuel Nicholas; Nicholas’ company was reinforced by a further 50 sailors from Commodore Hopkins’ ships. After landing, the Marines advanced on the fort and took it, but not before three of the fort’s guns had been fired as a warning to the town.

      Fort Montagu’s garrison of 80 militiamen was then ordered by their commanding officer Lieutenant Preston Burke to evacuate, which they managed to do successfully. When word was received by Governor Montfort Browne of the landing, he and his council decided to try and evacuate much of the gunpowder stored at Fort Nassau. At midnight, some of Governor Browne’s troops removed 162 of the 200 barrels of gunpowder in Fort Nassau’s magazine and loaded them aboard two ships in the harbor; the ‘Mississippi Packet’ and HMS Saint John. These ships cast off and set sail at 2:00 AM on the morning of September 2nd. They would have made a clean getaway (as Commodore Hopkins had not stationed any ships off the mouth of Nassau’s harbor), but for the intervention of the Columbia; which vessel was patrolling the waters nearby. As soon as the ship’s captain saw that two British vessels were trying to escape, he hove to and gave chase. An hour later, a shot from the Columbia’s forward 200-pdr pivot gun across the bows of HMS Saint John convinced that ship and the Mississippi Packet to strike their colors.

      Back in Nassau Harbor, Governor Browne ordered the captain of HMS Glasgow (a 20-gun 6th -rate ship) to make his escape in order to bring news of what happened to the Admiralty. He didn’t make it, as John Paul Jones and his crew aboard USS Andrea Doria gave chase. Though HMS Glasgow outclassed Jones’ ship in terms of her battery (20 9-pdr guns vs 14 4-pdr guns) and her crew compliment (160 men vs 112 men), Jones’ seamanship (and the accurate gunnery of his crew) proved to be superior. USS Andrea Doria got the weather gage and with it, control of the engagement. After a fierce struggle that lasted the better part of an hour, HMS Glasgow was forced to strike her colors.

      A prize crew was put aboard the British ship, then she and USS Andrea Doria sailed together back to port. So too did the Columbia and her two prizes, the Mississippi Packet and HMS Saint John. Commodore Hopkins noted Captain Jones’ valor in his logbook, then the Continental forces spent the next two weeks loading the military stores from Fort Nassau. In total, 200 barrels of gunpowder, 800 tons of shot & shell, 88 guns, 17 mortars, 8 howitzers, 50 tons of cabin bread, 100 casks of salted beef, 80 casks of salt pork, 1,000 barrels of wheat flour, 1,000 barrels of cornmeal, medical supplies, numerous bales of cloth for the making of uniforms & blankets and other supplies were taken. On September 18th, the fleet set sail back to New London, Connecticut. Along the way, a further six British supply ships were captured.

      Immediately upon arrival, word was sent to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. After hearing the report in full, Commodore Hopkins, Captain Jones and Captain James Terrell of the Columbia were voted the thanks of Congress. The British crews were marched off to captivity under the terms of the Prisoner-of-War agreement, while Governor Browne was kept under house arrest in comfortable quarters.

      Elsewhere out in the Atlantic, Captain John Higgins and the crew of the Juggernaut have been making life miserable for British civilian shipping. Over the past few months, Juggernaut has taken 37 ships of varying sizes. The cargoes were stripped of their most valuable contents, while the ships were disarmed by the simple expedient of forcing their crews to throw all of their ordnance over the side. Afterwards, the British ships and crews were released as Captain Higgins had no facilities for holding prisoners.

      Before sailing back home, Captain Higgins elected to make one more raid; this one against the British colony on the Island of St. John (later known as Prince Edward Island) in the southern part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Juggernaut sailed for the Northumberland Strait and anchored there on September 18th (at nearly the same time that Commodore Hopkins and his fleet were sailing back to New London). Previously in 1775, two armed privateering schooners out of Beverly, Massachusetts (the Franklin and the Hancock) had raided in the southern part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and taken eight fishing vessels as prizes; some thought was given to making a landing on the Island of St. John, but it was never carried through.

      Such is definitely not the case now. Captain Higgins met with his officers and decided that the most prudent course of action would be to put a landing force ashore to the west of Charlottetown, make for the settlement, take Governor Walter Patterson and hold him for ransom. We’ll also reduce the island’s capacity for defense by going after Fort Amherst on Anchor Point and Fort Augustus on the Hillsboro River northeast of Charlottetown.

      Captain Higgins’ plan was put into practice when a landing party from the ship’s company went ashore on the evening of September 20th. They stealthily approached Charlottetown from the west and, using the historical information loaded on their HUDs, were quickly able to locate Government House; the quarters where Governor Patterson and the colony’s legislature conducted their business. It so happened that Patterson was meeting with some of his officials (namely Phillip Callbeck and Thomas Wright) to discuss the rumors that had been flying amongst the island’s population regarding the sightings of a strange ship offshore.

      Suddenly and without warning, Roger Slater (OIC of the landing party) and his men kicked down the doors to Government House and shouted “HANDS UP! THIS IS A RAID!!” Governor Patterson rose indignantly from his chair and said “see here, my good man; what do you mean by this unwarranted intrusion??...”Patterson is shoved back into his chair by Slater, who says “we’re here on behalf of the United States of America, with whom Great Britain is at war. As officials of that government, you and your associates will be enjoying my hospitality until such time as what passes for a legislature decides to ransom you. Let us hope for your sake that this isn’t long...”

      The three men have their hands cuffed before them and are taken by the landing party to the point where they came ashore. Before leaving, Roger Slater leaves a note to the effect that Governor Patterson, Phillips Callbeck and Surveyor-General Thomas Wright will be released on the payment of 50,000 pounds sterling as a ransom. Seeing the colony’s great seal in a case at the head of the table, Slater chooses to take it along. The landing party boards their boats, blindfolds their prisoners and sails out to the Juggernaut which is lying at anchor offshore. The party comes aboard, and Slater reports his success to Captain Higgins.

      Higgins exclaims “excellent work, Mr. Slater; my compliments to you and your men on a job well-done. How are our guests reacting to their change in circumstances?” Slater replies “sir, they’re mad enough to chew nails and spit tacks. Right now, they’re in irons in the ship’s brig. Another thing, I grabbed the colony’s great seal while on the way out of Government House; I thought it might make a nice souvenir for General Garrity.”

      “Very good, Mr. Slater.”

      Captain Higgins calls out and says “sailing master, all hands to stations if you please. Set course for the waters off Anchor Point; we’ve got an appointment with the Redcoats at Fort Amherst and it would be unkind of us to be late.”

      “Aye, sir.”

      The sailing master raises his speaking trumpet and bellows forth “RAISE ANCHOR; TRIMMERS ALOFT AND MAKE ALL PLAIN SAIL.” Immediately, the Juggernaut’s weather deck resounds with the feet of crewmen on the teak decking as they run to their assigned duty stations. On the foredeck, bars are inserted in the capstan; the anchor is raised back into position and made fast. High above the deck, the sail handlers have climbed into the rigging and out onto the spars where the sails are unfurled to take the evening breeze.

      Two hours later, the Juggernaut is in position off Anchor Point. She anchors in such a way as to present her full broadside to Fort Amherst. Instead of opening fire immediately, Captain Higgins chooses to send a messenger ashore under flag of truce. The party approaches the gates of Fort Amherst and requests to speak with the commanding officer.

      When Captain James Gordon comes out, Roger Slater salutes and says “my compliments to you sir; I am Lieutenant Roger Slater of the United States Ship Juggernaut and I am here to accept your honorable surrender. My captain has Governor Patterson and two of his officials in custody; they will remain unharmed, even if you refuse my request. Look out on the waters off the point and tell me if you have ever seen such a ship in all your life; believe me when I say that resistance is futile.”

      Captain Gordon replies “Lieutenant Slater, my honor as an officer and a gentleman forbids me from striking my colors without defending them. Return to your ship and tell your captain to come and get them...”

      “Very well, sir. Never let t be said that you weren’t given a chance to surrender when you had the chance.”

      Slater returns back aboard ship and reports to Captain Higgins what happened. He says “oh really? We’ll just have to demonstrate to Captain Gordon’s boys that discretion if often the better part of valor. Master Gunner?”

      “Yes, sir?”

      “Load the fore and aft pivot guns along with the port battery; lay your point of aim on Fort Amherst but do not fire until I give the word.”

      “Aye, Captain.”

      For its time, Fort Amherst is well-sited and heavily built. The seaward works consist of an earthworks with an exterior palisade and a ditch measuring 25' wide and 9' deep. Backing up the earthworks is a wall/gun platform made of locally-quarried sandstone and measuring 8' thick. At the corners of the fort, there are four stoutly-built blockhouses, while the gate is defended by a pair of stone & timber towers with an 18-pdr pivot gun on each of the two top decks. The fort’s artillery battery consists of six 42-pdr smoothbores on the wall, plus eight 32-pdrs on the flanking walls and the 18-pdrs on the roofs of the blockhouse and the gatehouse towers; Indirect fire is provided by a battery of four 10" bronze mortars.

      As the sun rises further into the sky, Captain Gordon raises his telescope to get a better look at the enemy ship offshore; his heart falls somewhat because he has never seen such an enormous vessel before in his life. Still, there his duty to the Crown; the same duty that causes him to order his gun crews to their stations. The guns on the seaward wall are charged with powder & shot, then run out into firing position (as are the 18-pdrs in the gatehouse towers and the two seaward blockhouses).

      The gun crews stand ready for the command to open fire; the order is given with all speed. The gun captains at each piece lower their linstocks to the touchholes, where the burning matches ignite the fine-grained powder therein. In quick succession, the 42-pdrs thunder forth, one after the other. They are joined by the 18-pdrs and together, they vent their fury at the strange enemy ship. All at once, the water around the Juggernaut is lashed by high-velocity spherical iron projectiles that raise great spouts of water upon impact. Of the initial broadside, only two 42-pdr cannonballs found their mark; both of which bounced off the Juggernaut’s armored hull leaving little more than small dimples in the paintwork. None of the 18-pdr cannonballs hit anything of substance, except for one shot which punched a ragged hole in the mainmast’s topsail.

      Below, Juggernaut’s guncrews greet the ineffective British fire with shouts and laughs of derision; the ship’s master gunner allows this to continue for a brief time, then he orders “ALL HANDS, PIPE DOWN AND SILENCE ON DECK!!” On shore, two more volleys are fired; all to no effect.

      While the British gunners are reloading for a fourth volley, Captain Higgins comes to the master gunner and says “Guns, I’ll be obliged if you were to give those lobsterbacks a dose of good American steel and high explosives; target the fort’s gatehouse with the fore and aft pivot guns, then rake the seaward wall with the port battery.”

      “My pleasure, sir.”

      Instructions are issued to the gun captains, who have the pieces under their command trained on their targets. The 200-pdr pivot guns are trained to port and aimed at the fort’s gatehouse, barely 3/4 mile away. The seas are calm and steady, and will present no problems in hitting the target. Firing lanyards are pulled, and each of the 8" guns gives forth a volcanic-scale blast of fire and smoke as its shell speed towards the target in the blink of an eyes. The barest fraction of a second later, the shells go off. Instead of being loaded with ordinary black powder, each 200-lb projectile carries a filling of 20 lbs of TNT; the shells detonate almost simultaneously, with the explosive payload and associated steel fragmentation tearing great gaping holes in Fort Amherst’s gatehouse.

      Inside the fort, Captain Gordon exclaims to his executive officer “Mother of God; what matter of hellfire was that?? Just two shots and the gatehouse is in ruins...”

      “I know not, sir. Methinks we’re about to be on the receiving end of more fire form those damnable colonials.” Outside on the gun platform, the British crews have just completed the laborious process of reloading their pieces and running them back into position when the portside battery aboard Juggernaut opens fire. Each of the ten 30-pdr rifle breechloaders fires a shell that contains 3 lbs of TNT; though far less powerful than the 200-pdr shells from the ship’s pivot guns, the combined effects of ten such shells detonating in very quick succession proves to be devastating on the fort’s gun platform. A number of great, gaping craters are blown into the wall’s turf and stonework; one of the fort’s six 42-pdr smoothbores is instantly put out of action when its carriage is struck and destroyed by one of Juggernaut’s shells; the crew of that particular gun is down, with most of them being killed or wounded by the explosion and associated fragmentation.

      Rather than firing a second volley, Captain Higgins orders that a white flag be raised as a signal that second parley is requested. After seeing this, Captain Gordon orders his gun crews to cease fire. One hour later, Lt. Slater again approaches the gates of Fort Amherst under a flag of truce. Captain Gordon comes out and salutes are exchanged. Slater speaks up and says “sir, my commanding officer salutes the valor of you and your men and again requests that you surrender honorably. As you can already see, my ship is completely unharmed despite your best efforts. Please, as one gentleman to another, I beg you to have a care for the men under your command and surrender. If you do not, my ship will open fire and reduce Fort Amherst to the point where no stone or block of turf is standing upon another.”

      Captain Gordon’s emotions are displayed on his face as he considers Slater’s words. Eventually he comes to the conclusion that further resistance will mean the death of himself and his entire command. Therefore, he draws his sword, hands it over hilt-first and says “your prisoner, sir.”

      “That will not be necessary, sir. I have the discretion to allow you and your officers to retain your swords and sidearms. As Fort Amherst is now a prize of war, my captain will put landing parties ashore and see to the disarmament of the fort and the removal of all military stores contained therein. Of course, we will leave behind all medical supplies and rations because you have more need of them than we do. I also urge you to send a messenger to the commanding officer of Fort Augustus and tell him what happened here; say that his surrender is required.”

      “Very well, lieutenant.”

      The messenger is sent and a reply is dispatched in acknowledgment. Fort Augustus is taken without a single shot being fired and over the next two weeks, both installations are disarmed by the removal of their artillery, stores of powder and all shot. The material is taken aboard Juggernaut and safely stored away. During this time, negotiations are entered into regarding the release of Governor Patterson, Philip Callbeck and Thomas Wright. The price for their release is set at 50,000 pounds sterling; these funds comprise the majority of the colony’s treasury and are regretfully handed over in exchange for the prisoners.

      Date: October 2nd, 1776
      Location: Charlottetown Harbor

      Captain Higgins raises anchor and sets sail back to Long Island, his ship’s holds stuffed to overflowing with all kinds of military supplies and other equipment. The guns taken in the recent actions are securely housed on the weather deck; in addition to the 50,000 pounds taken from the Island of St. Johns’ treasury and the cargo from the 37 British ships, Juggernaut’s haul amounts to 250,000 pounds sterling in value.


    • #33
      Action in the Northeast
      Date: October 4th, 1776
      Location: the Hudson River, near Fort Lee
      Time: 2:00 PM

      On the morning of September 20th, Fort Lee fell to a combined British/Hessian assault. In this action, General Howe had ordered his two subordinates General Charles Cornwallis and Colonel Carl von Donopp to take 5,000 troops, have them cross the Hudson River on the night of September 19th-20th via barges and take the fort by storm. Knowing that the fall of Fort Washington had left Fort Lee defenseless, General Washington conferred with Fort Lee’s commanding officer General Nathaniel Greene and ordered that the fort be evacuated; this action being completed on the morning of September 20th.

      In the aftermath of Fort Lee’s capture by the British, General Howe began planning an operation to take the town of Newport, Rhode Island in order to prevent the use of its port facilities as a base for the Colonials to re-take New York and to deny the use of Narragansett Bay as a secure anchorage for Colonial shipping. Accordingly, Howe ordered General Henry Clinton and Hugh Earl Percy to take 6,000 men by ship and capture Newport. As Fort Lee, Fort Washington and their surroundings are now under British control, 70 transports of the Royal Navy were brought upriver to take aboard the men of Clinton & Percy’s force. The first troops began to board early in the morning of October 4th, and the loading was completed by mid-afternoon. The ships immediately weighed anchor and set sail for Narragansett Bay; the total distance is 138 nautical miles. Given the size of the fleet and that it isn’t expected to make more than six knots, the voyage is expected to take all of the next 23 hours.

      Under escort from eleven warships (commanded by Captain Sir Peter Parker), Clinton’s transports began by sailing down Hudson’s River and towards New York Harbor. Rather than sailing through the harbor and standing out to sea, the ships transporting General Clinton’s troops rounded the southern tip of Manhattan Island, sailed up the East River past what would later be known as Riker’s Island and into Long Island Sound. This was done in order to use Long Island itself as a screen to hide their movements from the prying eyes of any colonial ships that happened to be in the nearby waters. Given how narrow the Sound is, the British ships were almost always in sight of land; when the fleet passed just to the south of New Haven, Connecticut, word was sent to New London that the British might attempt a landing there.. After the ships sailed on by, it was realized that Rhode Island might be the real target.

      Word was quickly sent from New London to Providence, Rhode Island via a fast dispatch rider. When word was received, Governor Nicholas Cooke and the State legislature reacted with alarm. Governor Cooke immediately sent out a call for what remained of Rhode Island’s militia (some 800 men) to muster and be available for the defense of the State. These troops were placed under the command of General William West and marched to the shores of Narragansett Bay with all possible speed. Once there, the militiamen were transported over to Aquidneck Island by boat. For artillery support, West’s force had two 12-pdr howitzers and a battery of four 6-pdr field guns. Additionally, riders were sent to the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire asking that they send troops to aid in Rhode Island’s defense.

      The British are coming, the British are coming
      Date: October 5th, 1776
      Location: Narragansett Bay, Rhode island
      Time: noon

      Owing to a slightly-favorable wind, the ships carrying General Clinton’s troops arrived in Narragansett Bay and dropped anchor just before noon. Immediately, preparations were made to begin landing Clinton’s force on Aquidneck Island near Middletown. From his position on the island, General West took out his telescope and observed what the British were doing. Then, he turns to his second-in-command Colonel Christopher Greene and says “I like not the size of the force that the Redcoats will be landing against us; it looks as if we’re going to be severely outnumbered.”

      Colonel Greene replies “Indeed, sir. What are your orders?”

      “Hmmm. As we can’t hope to forestall this invasion, the best we can do is to delay it for some little while. Pass the word to the artillery to hold themselves in readiness; as soon as the first landing boats start to approach, they are to open fire. No more than two or three shots are to be given, then the artillery is to move to a different location. Methinks as soon as we open up, those warships out there will be more than happy to return fire. Also, have the men take cover in the woods just back of the shore and load their muskets with buck & ball. As soon as the Redcoats are in range, tell the boys to give them everything they’ve got.”

      “Very good, sir.”

      Colonel Greene hurries to give General West’s orders, then hunkers down with the rest of the men to wait. By 2:00 PM, the first British longboats are being rowed towards the shore. Their progress is marked with interest and the opening phase of the engagement lasted the better part of the next half-hour. It began with General West’s artillery opening up the approaching British longboats at the range of 900 yards. The howitzers were loaded with common shell, while the 6-pdr field guns were loaded with solid shot. After each piece fire three shots, it was quickly moved to another position so that it could resume firing. This turned out to be a wise precaution, as the British warships began to return fire less than five minute later. Solid shot flew back & forth, while exploding shells form the howitzers dropped on and around the longboats as they were rowed towards the beach; in one or two cases, these shells scored direct hits, causing the death or injury of everyone aboard. All told, some two dozen boats were put out of action.

      It is a sure sign of British resolve that the landing boats continued their approach. When they got to within 300 yards of the beach, General West’s 6-pdr field guns switched from firing solid shot to firing double loads (one each of canister and grape); the howitzers continued to fire explosive shells as before. At 100 yards, General West’s infantry joined the fight. His 800 men were disposed in two separate bodies of 400 men each, with each formation having four ranks of 100 men. While they waited for the attack, the infantry put their time to good use by constructing breastworks in front of their position; these works consisting of shallow trenches with the excavated earth heaped up in front. On top of the earthen embankments, timber headworks were built to provide additional cover.

      While the artillery continued to fire, General West unsheathed his sword and began to walk back and forth behind his lines. All the while, he shouted words of encouragement to his men in order to keep their spirits up. When the British boats came to within 100 yards of the beach, General West shouted out the order to “OPEN FIRE BOYS AND MAKE IT COUNT.” All at once form both ends of the line, a rolling volley of musket fire poured forth at the British. As soon as one rank would fire and retire to reload, it would be replaced by one of the ranks behind. In this manner, the infantry kept up a continuous fire on the British as they hit the beach. What made the Colonial fire so murderously effective was that (instead of a single round ball) each musket was loaded with buck & ball (which consisted of a musket ball and three smaller pellets of shot). At ranges of 100 yards or less, this load virtually guaranteed that someone would get hit.

      When General Clinton saw that his troops were meeting unexpectedly-heavy resistance, he sent word to the warships that escorted his transports that they were to direct some of their fire in an attempt to break up the Colonial line. Very soon thereafter, more than 100 naval guns of varying calibers were pouring fire all over the Colonial position. Seeing that the situation was becoming increasingly untenable, General West turned to his second-in-command and said “Colonel Greene, those damnable Redcoats are pressing us rather hotly, are they not?”

      “Indeed they are sir. Do you mean to fight it out here, or withdraw?”

      “I intend to make a fighting withdrawl, as staying here would result in the troops being killed to no purpose. We have delayed the British advance for as long as I had hoped, and it is time to leave. Send word to the artillery that they are to keep up a good, hot masking fire; have the howitzers switch over from common shell to either grape of canister. Do you understand me?”

      “I do indeed sir; you may rely upon me.”

      Colonel Greene relayed General West’s orders with the utmost dispatch. The guns kept up their fire, while the infantry fired by ranks and retreated in the same way. Even after one of the field guns was put out of action by a direct hit to its carriage from a British 18-pdr round shot, the others kept up their firing. To deny the use of the disabled gun to the British, it was spiked by its crew and the cascabel smashed off with a sledgehammer. Afterwards, the crew joined the rest of the infantry.

      The British are now ashore on Acquidneck Island near Middletown in force. General Clinton’s troops attempted to press their advantage against the retreating Colonials, but are held off by General West’s skillful use of combined fire from his infantry and remaining artillery. Eventually, West’s force manages to break contact with their pursuers; it so happened that General Clinton ordered a halt to the chase so that his men could turn their attention towards Newport. In passing back through Middletown on the way to Newport, various depredations (including the looting of houses, barns and taverns) were committed on the populace; thankfully, these did not include the burning of houses or barns.

      By the end of the day, the British were in full control of Newport. All told, General West’s troops suffered just 17 killed and 32 wounded. British casualties were far higher, at 136 killed and 200 wounded (which figures including those killed or wounded when the longboats were fired on by General West’s artillery). The Colonials are now safely back on the mainland; General West’s instructions are that his force is to take up positions in Tiverton and Bristol so that a possible British attack can be countered. As soon as Greene’s men are encamped, a messenger is sent to Providence to inform Governor Cooke and the legislature about the engagement.

      Better Late than Never
      Date: October 20th, 1776
      Location: New Haven, Connecticut
      Time: mid-afternoon

      Instead of heading back to his home base on the easternmost end of Long Island, Captain Higgins elects to take his vessel out into the Atlantic in order to harass and interdict and British shipping that he might come across. Two weeks later and after taking eight more prizes, the Juggernaut’s holds are full to capacity. As Juggernaut’s home base has no facilities for the handling of cargo, the ship makes for the port of New Haven Connecticut.

      Immediately upon making fast to the docks, Captain Higgins hears from the city authorities of the British taking Newport, Rhode Island. The next two days are spent in unloading the cargo taken from the 45 British ships, plus the materiel from the ship’s visit to St. John’s Island. Afterwards, Higgins and his crew weigh anchor and make forth to the waters south of Narragansett Bay. Before going into action, Captain Higgins and his officers gather on the quarterdeck for a council of war.

      “Gentlemen, it’s unfortunate that we were not here when the British made their attack on Newport. Otherwise, we would have been able to intervene; but, those are the fortunes of war.” The ship’s sailing master speaks up and says “sir, now that we are here, what do you intend to do?”

      “Mr. Jenkins, I intend to attack whatever ships are in Narragansett Bay. From what the mayor of New Haven told me, there were at least 80 ships in the British fleet; a tall order, even for this vessel. It might be that there are nowhere near that many ships there. In any case, we’re going to make them sorry they ever decided to stay.”

      “Agreed, sir. Are we going to bombard the town?”

      “No Mr. Jenkins, we will not. It is not the fault of the residents of Newport that the British came calling, and I see no reason why we should compound the difficulties that they face. If the Redcoats have any sense, they will leave on their own accord.”

      While this is going on, Governor Cooke’s call for assistance from the neighboring states has been answered. Governor Trumbull of Connecticut and the Massachusetts Provincial Congress both sent supplies and troops to aid in Rhode island’s defense. Part of the Massachusetts contingent of three regiments is composed of three newly-raised companies of infantry from General Garrity’s base in Westfield, along with two batteries of artillery. For Connecticut’s part, two regiments were sent.

      Location: North Castle, New York
      Time: late afternoon

      General Washington and his top officers are meeting in order to decide how to respond to the fall of Fort Lee and to the taking of Newport, Rhode Island. He begins by saying “gentlemen, though the British army that pursues us be reduced in size by the 6,000 troops that General Howe sent to Rhode Island, his force still outnumbers us by more than three-to-one. If we were behind strong fortifications, I would consider giving battle. Since we are out in the open, it behooves us to preserve the army until such time as we can give battle on more favorable terms. I will hear your thoughts on what is to be done next.”

      General Henry Knox speaks up and replies “sir, I am of the opinion that the cause would best be served by evacuating the army across Hudsons’ River into New Jersey. The key to our escape would be to delay the Redcoats until the last of the army is safely across. If they were to catch us on the river, it would be disastrous.”

      “A cogent observation, sir. General Ward, what say you?”

      “General Washington, I am in complete agreement with General Knox. The army must be evacuated into New Jersey. After all, he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day...”

      “That’s not exactly how I would have put it, but your sentiments are correct.” Just then, Washington looks to General Garrity and sees a predatory gleam in the latter officer’s eyes, along with a smile this is most unpleasant.

      “What are your thoughts, sir? You have the look of a fox in a hen house, deciding which he’s going to eat first.”

      “Sir, I agree with General Knox and General Ward that the army has to be evacuated. However, the safe doing thereof will take quite some time. I have two ideas on how to delay the British in their advance until such time as the army is in New Jersey. The first of these concerns the British supply depot in New Brunswick. Not only are there mountains of supplies, General Howe’s entire payroll is there. My intelligence sources say that the total amount is 70,000 pounds sterling in coined silver and gold. My first idea is to detach my personal escort and have them pay the British a visit; they’ll set fire to the storehouses and also relieve the British of that entire payroll. In connection with the materiel taken from the British by my ship Juggernaut, this will make a very nice contribution to the army’s payroll.”

      “A bold idea, sir. Are you not concerned that this might be too difficult a task to accomplish?”

      “Not at all, sir. If you were to order it, my men and I would storm the ramparts of the infernal regions and I would personally punch the Devil in the nose.”

      “What of your second idea?”

      “General Washington, when the Redcoats find out that their treasury is as empty as a broken promise and that their larder is just as empty as their heads, it will take some time for them to recover. The British soldier will fight for pay, but this presupposes that he’ll actually get paid. This delay will allow you to begin taking the army across Hudson’s River. As far as my second idea is concerned, it involves that I and my brigade be placed in the position of rear guard. Do please recall that my troops and I held off Howe’s entire army for the better part of an hour during the Battle of Long Island, so the correlation of forces doesn’t concern me in the slightest.”

      “Very well, Sir. I give you my permission to proceed. I have an engineering officer by the name of Colonel Tadeusz Kościuszko. He is from the Kingdom of Poland & Lithuania and I will assign him to you. When your brigade takes up the rear-guard position, he will help you construct your defensive works.”

      “Very good, sir. I am of Lithuanian descent and I will welcome Colonel Kościuszko’s assistance.”


      • #34
        The Raid
        Date: October 20th, 1776
        Time: early evening

        After leaving Washington’s headquarters, General Garrity returns to his command tent and begins to plan the operation against the British barracks in Middlesex County, New Jersey. This operation will be conducted entirely by members of his uptime staff, so there won’t be any need to conceal their identities from one another (or to maintain military courtesies when alone). As soon as everyone is assembled, Garrity begins by saying “gentlemen, General Washington has given his approval to slow the British advance down by raiding the cantonment at New Brunswick in Middlesex County, New Jersey. We’re going to blow up the warehouses holding their supplies and use this as cover for the real job, which is stealing the British payroll.”

        Jim Swenson speaks up and says “Mike, what do the British have in the bank?”

        “Unless the historical database is in error, the Redcoats have a total of 70,000 pounds sterling available to pay their troops. In the present day, enlisted men in the British Army receive eight pence per day, while sergeants get proportionally more according to their rank. It’s of interest to know that officers in the British Army purchase their commissions, and must likewise pay for their promotions; therefore, they have their own independent incomes (usually from a family inheritance or the ownership of some estate of nobility or other. As far as the funds are concerned, further research has revealed that they are in the form of gold coins; specifically, the guinea. This coin weighs just ¼ ounce, so 70,000 of them come out to just a fraction under 1,100 lbs. There’s twenty of you guys, so you’ll each be carrying out 55 lbs.”

        “Understood. What’s the plan; I mean, the redcoats aren’t likely to just let us waltz in and steal their bankroll.”

        “Jim, the striek team numbers sixty men in all; basically, my entire prsonal escort. The team has tow elements, and you’re in charge of both. The first element has forty men and their task will be to create the distraction by planting explosives and incendiary charges; when the charges go off, that part of the team will start shooting at the Redcoats. Under cover of the resulting confusion and disorder, you and the second element will make their way to the commandant’s office. Unless I miss my guess, that’s where the money will be kept.”

        “How about the rules of engagement?”

        “It’s very simple; if there’s someone in a British uniform and they’re in the way, drop the hammer. Otherwise, minimum force only.”

        “Copy that, Mike.”

        Swenson and the others file out of Garrity’s command tent and make preparations to move out. Shortly thereafter, one of Garrity’s downtime orderlies comes up, salutes and says “sir, Colonel Kościuszko is here to see you.”

        “Ahh, excellent. Show him in, if you please.”

        Colonel Kościuszko is escorted into the tent; he snaps to attention, renders a crisp salute and responds in a thickly-accented voice “good afternoon, Sir. I am given to understand that you requested that I be assigned to you and so, here I am.”

        “Welcome to the brigade, Colonel. As to why I asked for you, General Washington intends to take the Continental Army across Hudson’s River and into New Jersey. I and my brigade have been assigned the task of serving as the rear guard during the crossing. Given that the Redcoats will outnumber my troops by a very wide margin, I think it only proper to do everything possible to slow or otherwise obstruct the British advance; this means the construction of fieldworks.”

        “Ach; I begin to understand you, sir. You seek my assistance in designing and building such works, yes?”

        “Exactly. Your skills as an engineer are known to me, as is your previous military experience. I have some skill in the design and construction of fieldworks; between the two of us, we’ll make things decidedly unpleasant for the British.”

        “Just so, General Garrity, just so. My only concern is how to keep the Redcoats from coming upon our works while they are in progress.”

        “Colonel, you need have no fear in that regard. Just now, certain members of my staff are undertaking an operation whereby the British will find themselves most seriously inconvenienced. Now if you are ready, my orderlies will see to providing you with suitable quarters; one last thing, I know that your regard for the American cause is such that you haven’t requested any pay. I’ll have you know that everyone in the brigade (from the lowest-ranking private to my staff officers) gets paid a proper wage; now that you’re part of the organization, your pay will be commensurate with your rank.”

        Colonel Kościuszko clicks his heels together, snaps off a perfect salute and replies “your servant, sir.”

        Elsewhere in camp, General Garrity’s personal escort of twenty men is making preparations to carry out the raid on the New Brunswick barracks & cantonment. Aside from the stealthsuits (worn underneath their uniforms), each man will be carrying 40 lbs of TNT in his saddlebags (along with detonators & timers). For weapons, each man has his Sharps .54-caliber percussion carbine & 10-gauge double-barreled shotgun (both in saddle scabbards) and a pair of Remington .44-caliber percussion revolvers (with extra pre-loaded cylinders) in belt holsters. Lastly, there are a dozen grenades; six HE-frag and six incendiary. For disguise, all of the men going on the raid are wearing standard Continental Army uniforms with ankle-length brown cloaks.

        Date: October 21st, 1776
        Time: Dawn

        Garrity’s operatives ride out of camp like malign phantoms bent on some evil errand, their cloaks streaming behind them in the early-morning breeze. After exiting the camp, they make for one of the several ferry crossings along Hudson’s River; crossing the palms of the boat’s master with silver coin ensures a speedy passage across the river, no questions are asked and no memories made of whom he transported.

        Half an hour later, the team is across the river. After the ferryboat puts off for the New York shore, Jim Swenson gathers his men together and says “gentlemen, we’ve got some three hours of hard riding ahead of us. Before we head out, let’s review the route and other relevant information on our macrovisors.”

        Back in camp, General Garrity is attending to various administrative tasks relating to the running of his brigade and of the coming action against the British. Just then, one of his downtime staff comes up, salutes and says “sir, there’s a young boy by the name of Andrew Jackson here to see you.”

        “Excellent; I’ve been waiting to see him, so show him in.”

        “Very good, sir.”

        Jackson is escorted into General Garrity’s headquarters tent and stands there unafraid; already, the boy is beginning to show signs of his future resoluteness of character. Almost without being bidden to do so, he speaks up and says “you asked to see me, sir?”

        “Yes I did, Mr, Jackson; do please come in and have a seat.” The boy does so and General Garrity says “I asked for your transfer to my command because I have a need to expand my staff. You have potential, the likes of which you can’t even begin to imagine. Therefore, I am promoting you to the rank of Sergeant; effective immediately. While in my service, I will teach you how to ride hard, shoot straight and speak the truth. I am aware of your family’s situation, so I am minded to have your brothers Hugh and Robert come to serve along with you. Have no fear for your mother, as I will see to it that she will be looked after. Well, what say you?”

        Without the slightest hesitation, Jackson responds firmly “I accept your kind offer, sir.”

        “Very well. I’ll enter you in the brigade’s books and have my quartermaster issue you a proper uniform. My staff are all mounted, and none of them go anywhere unarmed at any time, so you’ll be getting a horse, a sword, a carbine and a pair of pistols in a pommel holster. As a bonus, you’ll also receive one month’s pay in advance; the sum of 67 shillings, 10 pence.”

        “Thank you, sir. I will endeavor to prove myself worthy of the trust that you have reposed in me.”

        General Garrity nods and silently says to himself ‘of that, I have absolutely no doubt.’

        The Raid
        Date: October 21st, 1776
        Location: New Brunswick Barracks, Middlesex County, New Jersey
        Time: late evening

        After riding a round-about route to New Brunswick, Jim Swenson and the others arrive on the outskirts of town just as the sun is setting. The plan is to wait until later in the evening, then make the approach under the cover of darkness. Accordingly, the team finds a convenient patch of heavy brush to hide out in; they tether their horses and settle down to wait; while waiting, the plan for the assault is further refined.

        New Brunswick Barracks dates from 1757, when it and other similar facilities were constructed by order of New Jersey’s General Assembly in April of the year in order to house British troops which had heretofore been quartered with the local civilian population. As of the present day, there are eight separate buildings; each of these is built of brick & stone, with a timber frame and a slate roof. These buildings each have 24 rooms, with each room capable of accommodating twelve soldiers. The walls in the rooms are plastered, and there are two windows, a fireplace and a door. Aside from the daily rations for subsistence, there are weekly issues of firewood, candles, vinegar, molasses, salt and beer.

        On the grounds of the barracks complex, there is room for additional numbers of troops to be housed in tents. Now that war has broken out between the Colonies and Great Britain, this cantonment has become an important depot for the storage of rations, supplies and other equipment. The materiel is stored in large, timber-framed warehouses with two floors. These buildings are roofed over with split cedar shingles. In order to reduce the amount of rations lost to the depredations of mice and rats, the warehouses are built on top of square brick pillars that have been fitted with tin shields to keep the vermin from climbing the pillars and up into the warehouses.

        As security, there are patrols of guards at irregular intervals; not so much to guard against theft, but against the possibility of fire. The goods stored in the warehouses consist of casks of salt beef, salt pork and bacon; barrels of flour, cornmeal, hard cheese, molasses, salt, dried vegetables & rice, plus boxes of hard biscuits (twice-baked so as to better-preserve them). There are also sundries such as boxes of candles, barrels of lamp oil and bolts of cloth for the making of uniforms and blankets. On the far side of the cantonment (well-away from the barracks and the grounds where tents might be pitched), there is a powder house.

        Tonight and on each of the three succeeding nights, Jim Swenson and his operatives will infiltrate the barracks complex for a total of three hours, while the first element waits back in camp. These surveillance missions will be for the purpose of determining such information as how many troops are in residence, where the guards are posted, how many guards there are and what routines they follow (if any). Special emphasis will be placed on locating the chests where the gold used to pay the troops is stored; on these missions, Swenson and the others will be greatly aided by the use of macrovisors and hand-held multiscanners.