What follows is an account of the war between Ober-Sitzenflesch and Saxe-Schweinrot. First will be an overview, followed by more detailed studies. The maps (northern Puget Sound) will give a general idea of the maneuvers of this campaign.
Note - none of the hyperlinks are active yet. Those will be filled in soon.
The Northern Sound War
The Stragegic Situation
To anyone familiar with the state of internal affairs in the Allied Coalition, a continuing state of war was no surprise, even after what had happened during the Spring Campaign. Despite what had happend, the Allies were firm in their goals. They were still determined to wrest control of the very fertile Skagit River delta, and just as firmly determined to capture Anacortes and Whidbey Island and thus establish themselves as the controlling power in the lower sound, they recognized that the French might not willingly acquiesce to a debasement of their power. To that end the Allies decided that they would secure their desired fruits of conquest by military means.
War, raw bloody war, that would do it, and so they set about raising an army. Regiments were called in from Vancouver Island, the Fraser Valley, the rolling hills north of Bellingham (the fortress city that guarded the southern border), and other points farther in the interior. Cavalry was mustered, infantry ordered and drilled, and artillery accumulated. In fine, everything was put together to assure the Allied possession of the the Lower Sound.
The French were well aware of the Allied build-up. They tried peaceful negotiation, they tried subtle diplomatic pressure, they tried everything they thought reasonable and prudent. Nothing worked. In the end they decided that the only thing left was to call up the Army. Regiments were called up or hired, and the whole array was drilled and marched to the theater of war. There they massed south of Conway, preparing for the expected Allied attack. At the same time they started construction of defensive works at Mount Vernon.
The Allies High Command demanded the French demolish the defenses they started building at Mount Vernon. When that didn't work, the Allied ambassadors immediately issued a joint declaration of war, citing "threatening defensive preparations" as the causus belli. They announced that they had no choice but settle the issues between them and the French by the use of the military. (The Allied logic was as follows: the French were building fortifications. The only reason they would do this would be to free up regular troops. And the only reason they would be
freeing up regular troops would be if they were going to use them for an attack on the Allies. Thus, by this logic, the Allies had no choice but to go to war to forestall an attack).
Referee's Note - I recruited two players (initially, they each recruited one more) to command the armies. I did not tell them very much of the campaign rules. Both played Warhammer® Ancients quite regularly. Both thought it would be interesting to try a "different" period. But the way it worked was simple. They issued their orders, I carried them out. I would also give them reports, but only upon request. A lot of their orders came by E-Mail.
Both armies undertook extensive training regimes. The cavalry, which had always maintained their level of proficiency, was ready in a few weeks. For the infantry, though, it was a daily diet of drill, firing practice, more drill, and more firing practice. The fancy evolutions of the prewar army were forgotten as leaders emphasized the drill and tactics they had found applicable on the modern battlefield. In three months both armies were in some form of shape and ready for the Autumn Campaign.
As the armies gained in numbers, the generals on each side studied their maps of the area, the Allies with a view to attacking the French, the French to defend themselves. The map to the right shows the general theater of campaign, and will serve as a handy reference during these opening moves. But, in essence, the French held Mount Vernon, with videttes north of Burlington and Sedro Woolley. They also held most of the major ports in the area. The Allied army, mustering near Bellingham, felt obligated to drive the French out of the Skagit river delta and secure that area for itself for the winter. That, in a nut shell, was the strategic genesis behind The Plan.
If the French could be driven farther south (which is off the lower edge of the map), so much the better. To this end, while their armies readied themselves for the campaign by marching all over ground north of Bellingham, the Allied politicians and generals engaged in an extended series of planning sessions to iron out the details of the campaign.
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Good Plans are Simple Plans. It does not follow that Simple Plans are Good Plans. Nor does it follow that Bad Plans are Complex Plans, but it certainly seems that way. It is unfortunate that when plans are proposed to higher authorities, complex plans will often win out over simple plans. The reasons for this are many and varied. Undoubtedly the foremost reason is that the higher authorities know that military matters can be very complex, and so they think, logically, that military plans must be complex. A more cynical appreciation is that complex plans are more dazzling, and like all bright and shiny gewgaws, appeals to the kind of minds that go into politics.
No general reminds them of the other adage: no plan survives contact with the enemy. Political leaders don't want to hear that. They believe, right or wrong, that you can plan out a successful military campaign to the last button and flint. When they look at plans, they want to see plans like they see in civilian life--one politician likened it to planning a building, with everything laid out, one thing inevitably following another. They want to see completeness, they want to see an end result. They have nothing but contempt for the general who tells them: "We will hit the enemy and see what happens." That is not the way it is in Politics, and, politicians have been assured, war is just politics carried on with the a little more violence than normal.
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The Plan that the politicians blessed was complex. It grew out of two things: a desire to avoid shoving troops south into what appeared to be a grinder, and the paucity of roads in the initial campaign area. It also capitalized upon the local command of the sea, though that was a condition everyone recognized was open to some dispute, and not really valid south of Fidalgo Island.
The Objective of The Plan was the conquest and occupation of all the desirable ground in the Skagit River Delta before the autumn rains shut things down. This would mean fighting at least one battle with the French, but the Plan envisioned doing this only after dividing the French into smaller groups. That way superior force could be brought to bear in each battle, and the French comfortably crushed.
To accomplish the Objective, four forces were set in motion. We will examine them one at a time, in the order in which they were expected to contact the enemy.
- First, the Fleet would transport three infantry regiments and two regiments of cavalry to capture Stanwood. This would be a naval descent, and it was hoped to seize the town by coup de main. The regiments would garrison the town, while the cavalry would launch a raid on the main supply line of the French army only a few miles away.
- Second, a day later, the Fleet would land a force of two infantry regiments as close to the bridge to Fidalgo Island as they could. Their job would be to capture the bridges granting entrance to one of the many local islands and set up defenses to repulse any enemy attack. These islands would serve as an advanced base for the army, a thorn in the side of the French, and, possibly, an advanced base for the Navy. The commander of this force was not told that his troops were really a feint.
- Third, on the same day as the forces landed on Fidalgo Island, two regiments of cavalry and four regiments of infantry would descend on Sedro Wooley from the north. They were to capture the town (note, due to poorly worded orders, the all-important bridge was not mentioned).
- Fourth, two days after steps two and three, the main force, the rest of the infantry and cavalry, and all the artillery, would move directly south on the high road, headed right towards the main French army. If the diversions had worked fully, the French would be scattered trying to re-open the road to Fidalgo Island and Anacortes, facing the Allies at Sedro Wooley, and trying to re-capture Stanwood. Even if the diversions worked only partially, the French would not have their full force present, and could be defeated by superior numbers. And if the diversions had not worked at all, then the French would have their flank turned by the troops from Sedro Wooley and would be defeated and driven south in wreck and ruin.
In essence, then, the Plan was for a series of blows that were designed to catch the enemy off-balance. The Plan was bold, it was detailed, and it was clever. The Plan was examined by the High Command. It was pronounced to be Good. Great praises were heaped upon the officers who had devised such a clever plan. The defeat of the enemy was held to be certain, though privately every senior officer conceded that if it just chased the French south out of the Mount Vernon area that it would have achieved a level of success as well.
It is, perhaps, a pity that the French did not get a copy of the Plan so they would know the role they were supposed to play in the campaign.
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The French Plan
At this time it seems only fair to consider the French Plan (yes, they had one). The French had many meetings to discuss their plan. The staff was directed to consider "all" alternatives, not a wise thing to order when dealing with certain literal minded staff officers.
In the three months since the previous campaign ended, the staff surveyed every possible approach that the Allies could use. Each route, down to foot paths frequented by hunters, was examined for food, water, road grade, and security. Each route had a number of defensive positions surveyed. Each route was given its own document listing the way the campaign should be fought, assuming the Allies used that particular route. This was all carefully compiled, and presented to the Defense Minister during his inspection tour in the weeks following the closing of the Spring Campaign.
The Defense Minister, well-trained by his civil servants, duly took the presented documents under advisement. The staff relaxed, suffused by the glow of hard work successfully accomplished…until it was asked what if the enemy came by multiple approaches? The staff resumed their study, trying out every possible scenario involving multiple approaches over every possible route. The paper budget for the staff tripled, then tripled again, then tripled one more time.
What the hey, it kept the staff busy and out of mischief.
The General, of course, had his own plan. But it was not one to gladden the Defense Minister. The General personally surveyed the principle routes near his army, and selected a concentration point that surrendered the ground north of Mount Vernon to the Allies. He stationed aggressive cavalry officers at each major road (he rejected the minor roads as impractical for supply wagons). Their orders were simple: when the Allies moved, these French cavalry units were to go as hard as they could at the Allies in an attempt to gain information. Once they had identified the infantry units involved, they were to fall back on the main body, keeping in contact with the army.
While this was going on, the General would concentrate his troops. He designated one force as his rearguard, and spent a week rigorously enforcing the baggage regulations, sending the jugglers, cooks, clowns (this included some subordinates) and other "impedimenta" to his central concentration well south of Conway. When he had identified where the Allied main body was, he would organize a counterattack to drive them back. Hopefully, though, the Allies would be induced to attack him in his prepared positions in the rough high ground south of Conway.
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Execution of The Plan
There have been many compliments paid to the Allied Army. Precision and celerity of maneuver was not one of those compliments. Bad winds, drizzle, heavy clouds, "driving" officers, lethargic officers ("daybreak in the morning" was interpreted in a different way by each commander), slow wagon trains, bad map reading, poor intelligence, worry about flank security, mud--everything conspired to throw off the Allies careful timetable. It is instructive to look at each Allied force, and consider when they came into action. See the General Map for details of what followed.
The Advance on Sedro Wooley
The first force in action was the column aimed at Sedro Wooley. They came into view early in the afternoon of the 9th. They spent the balance of the afternoon deploying and preparing for a formal assault on the town. Little effort was expended to discover just what was in the town. The commander had been present at the Battle of Burlington the previous spring, and so he assumed that this important post would be heavily garrisoned.
The French commander of the force at Sedro Wooley mustered his single squadron of dragoons and the single section of 3# artillery in the town park. He had little else to do, couriers were already racing south with the news of this attack. As the Allies were deploying, he reviewed this force with all of the solemnity of a Marshal reviewing a large army. Then, when he was convinced that every last button-hook was accounted for, and that all of the officer's had settled their bills with the local establishments (there was later a scandal when it was found that 13 florins 3 were still owed a tailor in the town by one of his officers), he ordered his main body to the south bank of the river. The bridge had long since been prepared for demolition. All the fuses were double-checked. He only awaited the Allied advance.
Eventually, at 6 PM, the Allies advanced. The French dragoon commander fired his carbines, fired the 3# cannon his men had found in the basement of the local ale house, and withdrew across the bridge. The men carefully removed the flooring for the center span behind them. His men, already spread out in individual sections along the river, kept watch through the evening for any attempt to cross the river. There was none. The Allied commander's orders were merely to seize the town of Sedro Wooley. Nothing had been said about the bridge just south of the town.
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The second force was the two regiments landed to cut the road to Anacortes and Whidbey Island. They had been delayed by the force headed towards Stanwood. In one of those farcical events that would not have been believed in a fictional account of the campaign, ships to transport his troops had been requisitioned by the Stanwood force. An unseemly tussle ensued over the transport ships, senior officers wrestling with each other on the docks. Eventually the senior colonel of the Fidalgo Island force, acting on his own initiative, simply occupied the nearest boats he could find, and, with the other regiment following close behind, simply put to see. He decided that success would justify his theft, and that he didn't want to be in close proximity to any senior officer when they found out what he had done.
In the middle of the night of the 9th/10th, a day late, his troops splashed ashore, finding no opposition. They quickly set to work building a pair of redoubts. Dawn found the redoubts complete. The men lay inside, tensing for an attack they expected at any hour. They would have been disappointed to discover that the French didn't learn of this attack for another day, and then only because the regular mail courier didn't show up.
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The Attempted Escalade of Stanwood
The third force had been dispatched for a descent on Stanwood. It had the trickiest approach, and suffered in a way that clearly highlighted every fault with The Plan.
First, the approach was by sea. This made it dependent upon the winds and tides. The winds were light and variable, and the tide was generally against the ships. Ships, the staff had forgotten, could not move with the alacrity and regularity of troops marching on a road.
To reach Stanwood, the approach had to pass one of two choke points. One proposed route took the force through Deception Pass. With any sort of seaway this was hazardous in the extreme. The other route took the force down the west side of Whidbey Island, then north between Whidbey and Camano Islands, before finally reaching Stanwood. French observers could watch the force for nearly the entire length of their voyage. Worse, there were enough French naval forces on hand in those waters to intercept and utterly ruin the approach voyage by this route.
These difficulties were not unknown to the creators of The Plan. The general commanding the force ordered the naval commander to chance the passage through Deception Pass. This limited him to an approach only when the tide was favorable. Worse, he could not get more than a third of his force through the Pass on any tide. He chose to push one of his three regiments through on each tide. What The Plan envisaged as taking two hours, took 18. Nevertheless, he led the first contingent through the Pass and pressed on to Stanwood.
The Plan had envisaged a naval borne coup de main on Stanwood. When the Allied force arrived outside Stanwood on the 12th, they discovered that there was no harbor for them to penetrate in the dead of the night. There were docks, of sorts, the kind used in river traffic. But the weir upstream of Stanwood had been partially closed, reducing the flow of water near the docks. The only approach was through a channel-the defenders had thoughtfully removed the buoys that marked the channel to prevent just such a descent. The attacking force found itself 200 yards short of their goal, with no way to reach it.
The naval commander wasn't without some enterprise, though. Balked at Stanwood, he decided to put his troops ashore where they could do the most good. He sailed north a few miles, and landed a cavalry regiment across a beach on Whidbey Island. While this was in progress he sailed back to Deception Pass. This did two things-it got rid of the meddlesome column commander (he was with the cavalry), and it gave the Allies a presence on Whidbey Island, which might be important in the future. He also considered landing the embarked infantry regiment on Whidbey Island as well. But that regimental commander saw no reason why his regiment should be isolated on Whidbey Island and subjected to who knew what perils. After some argument, the Hesse-Fizzenpop Regiment was put ashore at La Conner.
Strong Allied naval forces in Skagit Bay did not go unnoticed by the French. Several French squadrons sailed north to see what was going on. This led to a running scrap that lasted most of the day. The Allied commander was more interested in withdrawing through Deception Pass than he was in securing a naval victory that would otherwise be barren. In late afternoon, as the wind picked up, he withdrew. The French, who had been getting the worst of the encounter, were glad to see him leave.
The other infantry regiments of this force (the two Prussian regiments), along with the remaining cavalry regiment, landed on the west side of Fidalgo Island later that day. The infantry pressed inland enough to secure the beachhead while the cavalry got itself into shape. The next morning the cavalry pressed up against the walls of Anacortes, driving the garrison back inside the defenses. One infantry battalion was left to support the cavalry while the other five battalions marched to the bridgehead held by the first force landed two days before. After some discussion, this force left two battalions behind and marched to link up with the regiment in La Conner. This gave them a total of 9 battalions of infantry. They were in a bit of a precarious position, isolated as they were. But the commander of the force had an idea. He sent one courier back to find the cavalry brigade commander, while another courier picked his way through the back roads to carry word of their success to the main force commander. While these men were carrying their vital messages, his infantry marched 6 of the 8 miles to Conway, and then rested without fires. Then, in the middle of the night, he hurled 5 battalions straight at Conway and its newly rebuilt bridge.
Surprise was complete, nobody had told the two companies garrisoning the town to expect trouble. The bridge was taken intact, troops were pushed astride the main north-south road, and two of the redoubts the French had built on the high ground overlooking Conway were occupied by Allied infantry. The commander braced himself for an onslaught by the obviously aroused French.
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The Main Body
The fourth force was the main body. The Allied commander had tried to regulate his progress by that of the flanking force going to Sedro Wooley. Owing to the narrow mountain roads of the approach march, this was almost impossible. And an enterprising commander in the advance guard pushed ahead, seizing the crossroads and intact bridges at Burlington on the evening of the 10th. The main body came down out of the hills on the next day to discover the French falling back behind a rearguard, and no battle. Undaunted, the main body pressed aggressively forward the five miles to the French position at Mount Vernon. There they paused. The river was unfordable, and the main bridge was so sturdily built it could not be demolished. A quick survey showed fully four redoubts parked at the end of the main bridge, along with another 30 guns set to sweep the northern approaches to the bridge. Attacking here would be a noisy way of committing suicide. So, on the afternoon of the 11th, the two main armies confronted each other at Mount Vernon with no way to get at each other.
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The French Reaction
The French were more puzzled than anything else. The commander of the French received reports of the French at Conway. He reasoned that this was a raid. He had heard rumors of the attempted landing at Stanwood, and decided this had to be a feint. He sent two regiments of cavalry to Conway to investigate matters and chase the raiders off. He was more interested in reports of the force at Sedro Wooley. That force, apparently, was attempting to slip across the river farther east. He ordered his dragoons in the area to push patrols up the river to keep an eye on things.
The day after the capture of Conway he finally rode the few miles south to see the situation for himself. After just one glance he decided that he had an opportunity squarely in front of him if he would only reach out to take it. This Allied force was isolated, and if he could cross the river and drive west, he could cut them off and capture the lot. There was a ford somewhere near Conway that the Allies had used before, but he suspected it was covered by the Allied troops in the town. He knew there was a perfectly good bridge at Mount Vernon that would do just fine. He detailed his German regiments to watch the Allies, gathered up the rest of his force less a regiment of cavalry watching Conway and the Dragoons watching Sedro Wooley, and at 2 AM, crossed the river at Mount Vernon headed west.
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The Allied commander had spent two days at Mount Vernon staring across the river at the French. The courier from the south had been very welcome, and the plan dropped into place neatly. He would link up with the force from La Conner, and after a day of organizing things and resting, would advance through the bridgehead at Conway at dawn. That would give him all day to align his troops on the heights over Conway and prepare for a battle he knew his opponent wouldn't want to fight, but would be forced to.
That decided, he had to gather all the troops he could. He needed to thin out his troops in Sedro Wooley, and ordered the patrols sent up river to be called back. That evening all of the troops at Sedro Wooley save three infantry battalions and a troop of cavalry were ordered to make a short march to join the main army at Burlington. He left the four regiments of the Danes to watch Mount Vernon, along with one of his three battalions of artillery. With everything else he turned west, and then south, marching in the pre-dawn darkness towards Fidalgo Island and a link up with the troops there. The stage was now set for the first battle of the campaign, the The Battle of Fredonia.
Fredonia and Clear Lake
Fredonia was a chaotic affair, and Clear Lake was a frustrating one. Worse was to come. At the same time as the affair at Clear Lake, the Allied Commander decided on a bold stroke. He would strike directly at Mount Vernon with his troops. The only ones immediately available were the Danes: two regiments of grenadiers, two regiments of line troops, and a regiment of cavalry. He also had two battalions of medium artillery that could help.
Unfortunately, the bold stroke that was conceived for the Battle of Mount Vernon was a failure. Things did not go according to plan. But the French pulled out of the city, the Allies occupied it, and the Allies claimed the victory by virtue of occupying the battlefield. The French deployed their army above Conway, the Allies considered an assault. This time there would be no mistakes.
The stage was now set for a big, set-piece battle.
For a brief referee interlude, click here.
The Maneuver on McMurray
A Change of Heart
The Allied Commander took stock of his forces. The Plan was in utter ruins, but that did not bother him. The French Army was now in front of him, and he meant to hit them a blow from which they would not recover. The British were fresh, the Dutch were a bit shot up, and the Danes currently had low morale (well, M4). And the Germans were busy holding the far side of the bridge at Conway, as well as La Conner. One regiment (Hesse-Fizzenpop) was blockading the approaches to Anacortes.
He studied his proposed battlefield (i.e. he drove over it while returning from Bellingham). To attack he would have to cross a small stream with steep banks fordable nearly everywhere but probably a serious obstacle. Then he would have to advance uphill against the French, who had thoughtfully dotted the hillside with redoubts. And he would have to leave a substantial force watching his left flank because he knew there were forces (reported by the commander from Sedro Wooley) back down that way (estimated at 18 battalions, but surely it couldn't be that big). He read the Reference sheet for the modifiers, and began to think that, just perhaps, the French would hold a lot of the advantages in this battle. Just perhaps it was he who would be smashed, rather than the Allies.
He began thinking about that. All that infantry was in front of him. Now, if they were here, there couldn't be that many troops guarding their flank. If he left, say, the Danes and some of the cavalry near Mount Vernon, and happened to descend on that flanking force in the early morning with everything else (except the Germans), then he could turn their flank. That would force them back, and he could pursue, looking to snap off a piece of them. That sounded a lot better than a massive frontal assault.
He issued the orders at once. The Danes were ordered to keep the fires burning below the heights so as to help the deception (part of the actual orders he issued through the referee). Almost everyone else would make the march to MacMurray and turn the French flank.
The French commander was well pleased with what he was seeing. His front was guarded like it was a moat, and he held most of the advantages. His troops would be stationary, while the Allies would not. He could have cross-fire between his little redoubts. He had cavalry who could counterattack when the Allied infantry wavered. This was looking better and better. The only thing bothering him was the amount of troops massing in front of him. Every time he looked there were more (the referee was telling him what he could see as troops deployed for battle on the flats). He thought of the 18 battalions on his right. He could leave two regiments there, along with the dragoons, and mass the rest on the road below the heights. When the Allies were fully committed to the attack he would hit them with that force, crush their flank, drive them against the Skagit river, and destroy them. Oh, a few would get out through Conway, but he would have the rest.
That sounded good, so he issued the orders. He left the 1/2nd and 2/2nd Germans there, and ordered everyone else to march to where he wanted them. They were to move that night so nobody would see them move.
The Next Move(s)
So here we had the specter of the two forces sliding past each other separated by the hills to the southeast of Mount Vernon. The Germans duly marched. As did the Allies. Dawn brought the Allies face to face with the two German regiments (he had said everyone else, so they brought the Dragoons with them).
The referee ruled that the Germans would not do a fight to the death, but instead pulled back up on the heights and watched the Allied force go by. They sent couriers off to explain what they saw. And then the Dutch were sent up in to the hills after the Germans, who quite sensibly marched away on a side road. The Dutch set up permanent possession of the small town of McMurray.
The French commander was aghast. There went his nice battle. He sent the Aquaviva Dragoons down the road to check things out, while everyone else got on the main road and marched south. We were finally in a "walking war". The dragoons found the Dutch firmly ensconced in McMurray, reported that, and pulled out as a rearguard.
The French commander looked at his map. His next stop had to be the land to the west of Arlington, between Stanwood and Bryant. He could get there and force the Allies to turn to face him somewhere in that area. If he could hit them hard enough, they would have to go back north. If not, well, there had to be some good fighting ground somewhere around Arlington. The only question in his mind was who would get there first?
The Decision for Battle
The Allied commander arrived in Bryant near sunset. His men were weary. They had marched from around Mount Vernon to Bryant, 25 miles, almost without stopping. The army was in no shape for a fight. But he forced some of the regiments onward, grabbing a crossing over the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River at Arlington. That kept his options open, in case he wanted to move farther south. But for now, it was time to rest his army. His men made camp between Bryant and Arlington.
The French commander sent cavalry patrols into Arlington. They clashed briefly with the Allied Advanced Guard. Other cavalry patrols, riding the Stanwood-Bryant road clashed with Allied cavalry. The French commander considered the reports, and decided to give battle. He would attack Arlington, and bottle the Allies up north of the Stillaguamish River.
His army wasn't as tired as that of the Allies, and they had just been reinforced by three more infantry regiments (Royal Boullibaise, Procurer General, and the Spanish Regiment of Don Juan). His men had had a 13 mile march from the heights above Conway to where the main road intersected the Stanwood-Bryant road. He ordered an early camp. The preliminaries were over, now things would be settled by battle.
The Retreat from Arlington
The day after the Battle of Arlington the Allied Army managed to get across the Stillaguamish at Cicero, but only because Grootdefeatfontein, Kriek and Westmalle fought a successful action against the pursuing troops of 1/2nd Navarre and the Provincial Grenadiers. There were about 500 casualties (2 hits) on the French, and 250 on the Allies (1 hit on Kriek) before the French withdrew (more Allied troops were on the way).
Once the Allied troops got over the Stillaguamish, they had a variety of bad choices. The Allied commander elected to follow Route 530 through Darrington and Concrete. It was a melancholy retreat, with the bonds of discipline slipping, men and horses going hungry, and deserters slipping away every day.
The French Army sent a force of the 1/1st and 2/1st Germans and the Spanish Atrasos Cavalry up Route 530 to keep up the pressure. Their orders were to avoid action and to fall back a the slightest sign of resistance, but keep up the pressure and drive the Allies. The French Commander sent still other troops to get to Sedro Wooley and other points in an attempt to get ahead of the main Allied army.
The Danish commander north of Arlington now found himself the senior Allied officer in contact with anyone. The French Army was preparing to cross the river and outflank him, and he had positive orders to fall back, resisting the French at every step. Meanwhile the main Allied army would fall back through the mountain valleys to the east. He sent couriers back through MacMurray and on to Mount Vernon, Sedro Wooley and Fidalgo Island, informing them of the situation.
There was nothing to stop the French from seizing Mount Vernon. The Danish commander ordered his troops to march north through MacMurray, with the cavalry leading. The infantry would follow hard on their heels, and any straggler who couldn't keep up would be captured.