Washington And The Cowards





BY WASHINGTON IRVING (ADAPTED)



During the evacuation of New York by Washington, two divisions of the

enemy, encamped on Long Island, one British under Sir Henry Clinton, the

other Hessian under Colonel Donop, emerged in boats from the deep wooded

recesses of Newtown Inlet, and under cover of the fire from the ships

began to land at two points between Turtle and Kip's Bays.



The breastworks were manned by patriot militia who had recently served

in Brooklyn. Disheartened by their late defeat, they fled at the first

advance of the enemy. Two brigades of Putnam's Connecticut troops,

which had been sent that morning to support them, caught the panic, and,

regardless of the commands and entreaties of their officers, joined in

the general scamper.



At this moment Washington, who had mounted his horse at the first sound

of the cannonade, came galloping to the scene of confusion. Riding in

among the fugitives he endeavored to rally and restore them to order.

All in vain. At the first appearance of sixty or seventy redcoats, they

broke again without firing a shot, and fled in headlong terror.



Losing all self-command at the sight of such dastardly conduct,

Washington dashed his hat upon the ground in a transport of rage.



"Are these the men," exclaimed he, "with whom I am to defend America!"



In a paroxysm of passion and despair he snapped his pistols at some of

them, threatened others with his sword, and was so heedless of his own

danger that he might have fallen into the hands of the enemy, who were

not eighty yards distant, had not an aide-de-camp seized the bridle of

his horse, and absolutely hurried him away.



It was one of the rare moments of his life when the vehement element of

his nature was stirred up from its deep recesses. He soon recovered his

self-possession, and took measures against the general peril.





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