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condition to defend, yet the cost of marching home one set of men, bringing in another, the havock and waste occasioned by the first, the repairs necessary for the second, with a thousand incidental charges and inconveniences which have arisen, and which it is scarce possible to recollect or describe, amount to near as much as the keeping up a respectable body of troops the whole time, ready for any emergency, would have done. To this may be added, that you never can have a well disciplined army. “To bring men well acquainted with the duties of isoldier, requires time. To bring them under proper discipline and subordination, not only requires time, but is a work of great difficulty; and in this army, where there is so little distinction between the officers and soldiers, requires an uncommon degree of attention. To expect then, the same service from raw and undisciplined recruits, as from veteran soldiers, is to expect what never did, and perhaps never will happen. Men who are familiarized to danger, meet it without shrinking ; whereas, those who have never seen service, often apprehend danger where no danger is. Three things prompt men to a regular discharge of their duty in time of action—natural bravery, hope of reward, and fear of punishment. The two first are common to the untutored and the disciplined soldier; but the latter most obviously distinguishes the one from the other. A coward, when taught to believe, that if he break his ranks and abandon his colours, he will be punished with death by his own party, will take his chance against the enemy; but a man who thinks little of the one, and is fearful of the other, acts from present feelings, regardless of consequences. “Again, men of a day's standing will not look forward; and, from experience we find, that as the time approaches for their discharge, they grow careless of their arms, ammunition, camp utensils, &c. Nay, even the barracks themselves, lay us under additional expense in providing for every fresh set, when we find it next to impossible to procure such articles as are absolutely necessary in the first instance. To this may be added, the seasoning which new recruits must have to a camp, and the loss consequent thereupon. But this is not all : men, engaged for a short, limited time only, have the officers too much in their power: for to obtain a degree of popularity, in order to induce a second enlistment, a kind of familiarity takes place, which brings on a relaxation of discipline, unlicensed furloughs, and other indulgences, incompatible with order and good government; by which means, the latter part of the time for which the soldier was engaged, is spent in undoing, what you were aiming to inculcate in the first. “To go into an enumeration of all the evils we have experienced in this late great change of the army, and the expenses incidental to it—to say nothing of the hazard we have run, and must run, between the discharging of one army and the enlistment of another, unless an enormous expense of militia be incurred— would greatly exceed the bounds of a letter. What I have already taken the liberty of saying, will serve to convey a general idea of the matter; and therefore I shall, with all due deference, take the liberty to give it as my opinion, that if the Congress have any reason to velieve that there will be occasion for troops another year, and consequently of another enlistment, they would save money, and have infinitely better troops, if they were, even at a bounty of twenty, thirty, or more dollars, to engage the men already enlisted, till January next; and such others as may be wanted to complete the establishment, for, and during the war I will not undertake to say, that the men can be had upon these terms; but I am satisfied that it will never do to let the matter alone, as it was last year, till the time of service was near expiring. The hazard is too great in the first place; in the next, the trouble and Vol. 1.
perplexity of disbanding one army, and raising another at the same instant, and in such a critical situation as the last was, is scarcely in the power of words to describe, and such as no man, who has experienced it once, will ever undergo again.” Unhappily, the reasons which first induced Congress to adopt the plan of short enlistments, still had influence on that body, and on many of the general officers of the army; nor were they convinced of their errour, but by the most distressing experience. The ice now became sufficiently strong FEB. 14. for General WASHINGTON to march his forces upon it, into Boston; and he was himself inclined to risk a general assault upon the British posts, although he had not powder to make any extensive use of his artillery; but his general of ficers in Council voted against the attempt, with whose decision he reluctantly acquiesced. In his communication of their opinion to Congress, he observed, “Perhaps the irksomeness of my situation may have given different ideas to me, from those which influence the judgment of the gentlemen whom I consulted, and might have inclined me to put more to hazard than was consistent with prudence. If it had this effect, I am not sensible of it, as I endeavoured to give the subject all the consideration a matter cf such importance required. True it is, and I cannot help acknowledging, that I have many disagreeable sensations on account of my situation; for, to have the eyes of the whole continent fixed on me, with anxious expectation of hearing of some great event, and to be restrained in every military operation, for the want of the necessary means to carry it on, is not very pleasing; especially, as the means used to conceal my weakness from the enemy, conceal it also from my friends, and add to their wonder.” By the last of Fehruary, the stock of powder was considerably increased, and the regular army amounted to 14,000 unen, which was reinforced by 6,000 of the militia of Massachusetts. General W AshingtoN now resolved to take possession of the Heights of Dorchester, in the prospect that this movement would bring on a general engagement with the enemy, under favourable circumstances; or, should this expectation fail, from this position he would be enabled to annoy the ships in the harbour, and the troops in the town. Possessing these heights, he might erect works upon the points of land nearest to the southerly part of Boston, which would command the harbour and a great part of the town, as well as the beach from which an embarcation must be made, in case the enemy was dis posed to evacuate the place. To mask the design, a severe cannonade and bombardment were opened on the British works and lines, for several nights in succession. As soon as the firing began on the night of the 4th of March, a strong detachment marched from Roxbury, over the neck, and, without discovery, took possession of the heights. słeneral Ward, who commanded the division of the army in Roxbury, had, fortunately, provided fascines before the resolution passed to fortify the place ; these were of great use, as the ground was deeply frozen ; and, in the course of the night, the party ty uncommon exertions erected works which defended them against the shot of the enemy. On the next morning, the British manifested surprise and consternation at sight of the American fortifications. Mutual firings took place, but with little effect; and the Americans laboured indefatigably to complete their works. On the contingence of an attack upon Dorchester Heights, by a strong force, it had been resolved, that four thousand of the American troops, in boats, should cross Charles river, protected by three floating batteries, and attempt to carry the British posts in Boston, and open the communication by the neck to the American forces in Roxburv
Admiral Shuldham informed General Howe, that the Americans must be dislodged, or he could not remain with his fleet in Boston harbour. In pursuance of this intimation, on the afternoon of the 5th, a detachment consisting of three thousand men fell down to Castle Island, now Fort Independence, a position which would facilitate the attack on the next morning but a violent storm, during the night, deranged the plan, and before the British were again in readiness to make the attempt, the American works became too formidable to be assaulted. General WASHINGTON, on this occasion, indulged a confident expectation of the success of his plans; and wisned the meditated attack upon Dorchester to be made, in the sanguine hope, that the complete conquest of the British troops in Boston would be its ultimate effect; but the storm frustrated his prospects. The safety of the British fleet and army, rendered the evacuation of Boston a necessary measure ; and ..he arrangements of the enemy for this purpose, were soon communicated to General WASHINGTON. A pa per, under the signature of four of the Selectmen, was sent out by a flag, containing a proposal, purporting to be made by General Howe, that on condition his army was permitted to embark without molestation, the town should be left without injury. The letter was directed to the Commander in Chief, but it did not bear the signature of General Howe, nor bind him to the observance of the condition. General WASHINGTon did not, therefore, officially notice it ; but he directed the American officer, to whom it was delivered, to return an answer to the Selectmen, informing them that their letter had been communicated to his General, and assigning the reasons why it had not been of ficially noticed ; but both the commanders appear to have tacitly complied with the conditions. The British army was not annoyed in the preparations to leave their post, nor was Nook's point fortified. On the 17th,