[CENTER][SIZE="5"]The Battle of Manitock Spring[/size][/CENTER]
[SIZE="4"]August, 1775 New London, Connecticut[/size]
New London County, Connecticut
[SIZE="4"]I[/size] have seen the results of Mars, and it is most horrible.
[SIZE="4"]T[/size]he army took a fortnight to move from Boston, Massachusetts, to Providence, Rhode Island. General Howe had passed through two days prior. The long hours abused me, un-used as I was to the march. The country we passed through was indescribable. I fell in love with the verdant greens of the meadows, the vastness of the forests and woods. We encountered no resistance, nary a shot rang out. Our presence was neither cheered or openly jeered. Most people just silently stared as we passed. General Gage would brook no plunder or pillage and all forage must be paid for in script or pounds sterling. Another fortnight and we arrived in camp west of New London on the eve of the 27th. General Gage and his aides arrived at General Howe's, he being senior to General Clinton, headquarters where dispatches from Admiral Howe and from Boston had been forwarded to us.
[SIZE="4"]A[/size]ugust had proved to be a bustling month. Rebel cavalry had raided Newbury Port and Cambridge. Governor General Carleton reported the raising of a Provincial regiment of Scot's Emigrants, the Royal Highland Emigrants, in Quebec. In Georgia, Colonel Brown besieged Savannah with his Provincials. Norfolk was occupied by Rebel militia while Lord Dunmore was out raising a regiment of Provincials. Most shockingly he has issued a controversial proclamation calling on all able bodied men to assist him in the defense of the Colony, including the enslaved Africans of rebels. These recruits have been promised their freedom in exchange for service in the Army. Apparently 800 flocked to Norfolk to join up and they have been organized into an 'Ethiopian' Regiment. Currently he is besieging the rebel militia in Norfolk. And in South Carolina another Provincial regiment has been raised. Of the 'Continental Army' we had no word. General Gage left orders for General Burgoyne's Division to move east along the Kings Rd to the town of Lyme on the morn and sent orders to Colonel Grant to find and destroy the rebel cavalry, before retiring about midnight. I retired soon after to a spot on the floor in one of the rooms upstairs.
Rebel Cavalry Raids Peabody
Grant goes in pursuit.
Royal Highland Emigrants R.
Brown sieges Savannah
Lord Dunmore at Norfolk
South Carolina Loyalists Rally
[SIZE="4"]I[/size] was awoken by the distant boom of cannon about eight o'clock. Downstairs I found the command in confusion, milling about outside the headquarters. General Howe had ordered assembly to be sounded and had already sent an aide and a patrol off to inquire about the noise of battle. At quarter past eight the patrol returned with a few wounded Royal Marines and Grenadiers, who indicated that their column had been ambushed by the what they claimed was a rebel force of a size three times their own! General Howe swore, 'The Damnnedable Traitors are here!' His Division ready, he ordered them towards the sound of the guns with the 2nd Grenadiers in the van, and urging General Gage and Clinton to quickly follow. By half past eight o'clock, the rest of the Army was moving to battle. The account below is my interpretation of the events that then transpired from reports after the battle.
[SIZE="4"]N[/size]ear Manitock Spring west of town, a bloody battle was waged. About half past seven o'clock in the morn, the Royal Marine Battalion in the van of Burgoyne's column suffered heavy losses and broke in the first few volley's by rebels hiding in the woods along the north side of Kings Rd. General Burgoyne had not followed protocol and sent out pickets to either side or ahead and had been completely surprised. Seeing the rebels coming out of the woods into the fields to the south and having more rebels coming up the road towards them, he ordered the 1st Grenadier Battalion who was following the marines to form and hold off the rebel attack while he brought up the rest of the division. This they bravely did.
1st Grenadiers at Manitock Springs
[SIZE="4"]C[/size]ompletly outnumbered and suffering enveloping fire, they bravely held their ground for fifteen crucial minutes. In that time Burgoyne had formed his two remaining regiments, the 38th R. Foot and 52nd R. Foot into line behind a stone wall that bisected a field and ran along the road, and returned fire. The remnants of the Marines and the 1st Grenadiers retired to Burgoyne's line, leaving scores dead and wounded behind. Burgoyne's fire had stopped the initial rebel assault and his heavy volley's were beginning to effect the untrained militia, but more units kept streaming in as others retired. At five to eight o'clock two regiments of what appeared to be trained rebels, the Continental regulars we came to call them, appeared on the field with two cannon who opened up on our lines. Five minutes later the Continentals were formed and began to exchange fire with Burgoyne. For twenty-five long, murderous minutes they stood opposite one another emptying volley after volley into each other. Rebel militia began to envelop the 52nd on the left. An assault by some overzealous militia on the tip of the line was met with the rallied remnants of the 1st Grenadiers and Marines and the militia gave way. At half past eight o'clock while we were moving towards the guns, the Continentals began to withdraw in good order. They had been blooded and had performed better than we had expected from this rabble. Another two militia regiments came forward and continued the attack but soon retired under the disciplined fire of the regulars. During the lull, said to be about ten minutes during which they were shelled by the rebel cannon, Burgoyne's men gathered cartridges from the dead and maimed in their lines and the order was given to fix bayonets. At ten to nine o'clock the rebels had formed again and advanced. I received accounts from many long serving officers and sergeants that they did not expect untrained militia to be able to absorb the punishment of our fires, rally, and come on again. The rebels advanced and exchanged two volley's. After the second they charged. With unexpected skill, rebel General Washington had placed his rallied Continentals in column of assault and was personally leading them to assault the juncture of the 38th and 52nd Regiments, where the road wall meets the field wall, at about a 120 degree angle. It was at this critical time that the 2nd Grenadiers arrived, flowing out of the woods along the road and slamming into the militia regiments on the rebel left. Their arrival broke the rebel assault, the militia fleeing in a jumbled mess down the road to the east. Howe ordered his men to reform as the 22nd R. of Foot came upon the scene and was sent in pursuit. Would that we had Grant's Dragoons with us. Burgoyne's division was shattered. I came upon the carnage with General Gage and the headquarters soon after Howe had called back the 22nd. We spent the rest of the day collecting and burying our dead and administering to our wounded. That night General Gage ordered us back to New London proper.
The Battle of Manitock Spring
[SIZE="4"]C[/size]asualties were high, 279 dead, 303 wounded not effective, and 287 wounded recoverable. We counted 499 rebels dead or severely wounded on the field and captured 120 militia. The remains of the 1st Grenadiers were folded into the 2nd Grenadiers and the twenty marines remaining were to be used as a headquarters guard until they could be returned to Admiral Howe's fleet for service. Later that night General Gage held a council of war with his staff and Generals. General Howe said we needed to follow up this victory aggressively with the troops which had not been engaged, Burgoyne and Clinton advocated against it. General Clinton put it more succinctly when he said to Howe, "Victory? My Lord a few more such victories will surely put an end to British dominion here." General Gage feeling his army had been mauled enough elected to stay in New London and recover saying, " Yes General Clinton it is a victory. A dear bought victory, and another such will ruin us." In his report to England which I drafted later that night, General Gage said, "To win ultimate victory here in the Americas, a large army must at length be employed to reduce these people, and will require the hiring of foreign troops."
[SIZE="4"]G[/size]eneral Howe continued to pressure General Gage to pursue the rebel army with the remaining regiments which had not been engaged at Manitock Spring. Our scouts put them south of Norwich to the north, where they were apparently recovering from their losses. General Gage finally, on the night of the 30th, relented and on the morning General Howe would lead twelve regiments north along the Norwich Rd. General Gage remained in New London with the battered remnants of Burgoyne's Division.
Continental Army at Norwich
Howe marches out to destroy the rebels.
Gage remains behind.