friendship, and partly from policy—was anxious to afford the Marquis de la Fayette every opportunity to distinguish himself, and ordered him to take a strong body of troops and cross the Schuylkill, at a spot on the left of the British position, and cut off their rear-guard, if the opportunity should occur. La Fayette had already brilliantly distinguished himself at the Battle of Brandyivine, where he had received a ball in the leg.
We left about midnight, silently crossed the Schuylkill, and took up a position in a wood very close to Philadelphia, in order to be able to reconnoitre the enemy at daybreak, and attack if we had the chance. The main body of our army was ready to support us in less than two hours if we signalled for help.
The British, who had spies amongst our men, were soon informed of our plans. The greater part of their army was still in Philadelphia; they made a sortie, carried the weak post we had established on the banks of the Schuylkill to secure our retreat, and then marched in our rear, hop-