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Fort Mercer Attacked
enemy entered at two places, and, imagining the day their own, the two columns pushed on with shouts to storm different parts of the redoubt. As yet, no troops were to be seen ; but as one of the columns approached the redoubt on the north side, a tremendous discharge of grape-shot and musketry burst forth from the embrasures in front, and a half-masked battery on the left. The slaughter was prodigious ; the column was driven back in confusion. Count Donop, with the other column, in attempting the south side of the redoubt, had passed the abatis; some of his men had traversed the fosse ; others had clambered over the pickets, when a similar tempest of artillery and musketry burst upon them. Some were killed on the spot, many were wounded, and the rest were driven out. Donop himself was wounded, and remained on the spot; Lieutenant-Colonel Mingerode, the second in command, was also dangerously wounded. Several other of the best officers were slain or disabled.
Lieutenant-Colonel Linsing, the oldest remaining officer, endeavored to draw off the troops in good order, but in vain; they retreated in confusion, hotly pursued, and were again cut up in their retreat by the flanking fire from the galleys and floating batteries.
The loss of the enemy in killed and wounded, in this brief but severe action, was about four hundred men.
That the Americans, eight killed and twenty-nine wounded.
As Captain Mauduit Duplessis was traversing the scene of slaughter after the repulse, he was accosted by a voice from among the slain : “Whoever you are, draw me hence.”
It was the unfortunate Count Donop. Duplessis had him conveyed to a house near the fort, where every attention was paid to his comfort. He lanquished for three days, during
during which Duplessis was continually at his bedside. “This is finishing a noble career early,” said the count sadly, as he found his death approaching,—then, as if conscious of the degrading service in which he had fallen, hired out by his prince to aid a foreign power in quelling the brave struggle of a people for their liberty, and contrasting it with that in which the chivalrous youth by his bedside was engaged, -"I die," added he bitterly, “the victim of my ambition, and of the avarice of my sovereign."* He was but thirty-seven years of age at the time of his death.
According to the plan of the enemy, Fort Mifflin, opposite to Fort Mercer, was to have been attacked at the same time by water. The force employed was the Augusta of sixty
* De Chastellux, vol. i., p. 266.
Fort Mitilin Attacked
guns, the Roebuck of forty-four, two frigates, the Merlin sloop of eighteen guns, and a galley. They forced their way through the lower line of chevaux-de-frise ; but the Augusta and Merlin ran aground below the second line, and every effort to get them off proved fruitless. To divert attention from their situation, the other vessels drew as near to Fort Mifflin as they could, and opened a cannonade ; but the obstructions in the river had so altered the channel that they could not get within very effective distance. They kept up a fire upon the fort throughout the evening, and recommenced it early in the morning, as did likewise the British batteries on the Pennsylvania shore ; hoping that under cover of it the ships might be got off. A strong adverse wind, however, kept the tide from rising sufficiently to float them.
The Americans discovered their situation, and sent down four fire-ships to destroy them, but without effect. A heavy fire was now opened upon them from the galleys and floating batteries. It was warmly returned. .
In the course of the action, a red-hot shot set the Augusta on fire. It was impossible to check the flames. All haste was made with boats to save the crew, while the other ships drew off as fast as possible to get out of reach of the
explosion. She blew up, however, while the second lieutenant, the chaplain, the gunner, and several of the crew were yet on board, most of whom perished. The Merlin was now set on fire and abandoned ; the Roebuck and the other vessels dropped down the river, and the attack on Fort Mifflin was given up.
These signal repulses of the enemy had an animating effect on the public mind, and were promptly noticed by Congress. Colonel Greene, who commanded at Fort Mercer, LieutenantColonel Smith of Maryland, who commanded at Fort Mifflin, and Commodore Hazelwood, who commanded the galleys, received the thanks of that body; and subsequently, a sword was voted to each, as a testimonial of distinguished merit.
END OF VOLUME IV.