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CHAP. IV. of order and subordination, always considerable 1775. among raw troops, was greatly increased by
the short terms for which enlistments had been made. The time of service of many, was to 'expire in November, and none were engaged to continue longer than the last of December. The early orders issued by the general, evidence a loose and unmilitary state of things, even surpassing what might reasonably be inferred from the circumstances under, which the war was commenced.
An additional inconvenience, derived from the manner in which the army had been brought together, and the mingling of congressional and colonial authorities, was thus stated by general Washington in a letter addressed to congress. “I should be extremely deficient in gratitude as well as justice, if I did not take the first opportunity, to acknowledge the readiness and attention which the congress and different committees have shown to make every thing as convenient and agreeable as possible: but there is a vital and inherent principle of delay, incompatible with military service, in transacting business through such various and different channels. * I esteem it my duty,
• The general was under the necessity of carrying on a direct correspondence, not only with the several colonial governments, but with the committees of all the important towns, and some inferior places.
therefore, to represent the inconvenience that chap. IV. must unavoidably ensue, from a dependence 1775. on a number of persons for supplies, and submit it to the consideration of congress whether the public service will not be best promoted by appointing a commissary general for the purpose."*
To the many other wants of the army was added that of clothes, a supply of which had been rendered much more difficult than it would otherwise have been by the non-importation agreement which had preceded the commencement of hostilities.
Their operations were greatly affected too, by the total want of engineers, in addition to which, they were very insufficiently furnished with working tools.
To increase the derangements, already so considerable, the appointment of general officers made by congress, gave extensive dissatisfaction, and determined several of those who thought themselves injured, to retire from the service.
These disadvantages deducted essentially from the efficiency of the American force; but under them all, the general observed with pleasure, “the materials for a good army.” There were “a great number of men, able
* Is it not strange that an army should have been formed without such an officer?
CHAP. IV. bodied, activé, zealous in the cause, and of 1775. unquestionable courage.” Possessed of these
materials he employed himself incessantly and. indefatigably in so organizing as to render them serviceable. The army was arranged into divisions and brigades; even this regulation had not yet been made; and congress was urged to the appointment of a paymaster, quarter. master-general, and such other general staff, as are indispensable in the structure of a regular military establishment, but had yet been omitted.
About this time general Gage received a small re-enforcement from New York, after which his whole number, including the American loyalists, was computed at something less than eight thousand men.
The facility with which this force could be drawn together, so as to act against any one point of the very extended lines occupied by the Americans, probably rendered it competent to an attack on them. But it is also probable that the enemy were entirely deceived with respect to the number and condition of the provincial troops: and the severe reception given them at Breed's hill, had inspired some respect for the courage of their opponents, and a consequent degree of caution in attacking their lines.
General Washington was sensible of the diffi. culties of his situation, and on first joining the
army, called a council of war to deliberate on CHAP. IV. it. In this council it was unanimously deter. 1775. mined to maintain their present position. The effect which a change of it would have had on both armies, and on public opinion; the destruction of a considerable and valuable extent of country, which, by removing, would have been exposed to the enemy; and the difficulty of finding a stronger position, were the motives for this determination. But it was resolved in the same council, not to take possession of Dorchester point, nor to oppose any attempt of the enemy to occupy that ground. It was, however, thought essential, in order to avoid the absolute dissolution of the present undisciplined army, in the event of their being forced from their lines by the enemy, to appoint a place of general rendezvous; and the Welsh mountains near Cambridge, and the rear of the lines at Roxbury were fixed on. In the mean time, great vigilance was used in watching the enemy. All the whale boats, for several miles along the coast, were collected, and employed · in keeping a look-out by night on the water; and express horses were kept in perpetual readiness at the different stations, for the purpose of communicating the most prompt intelligence of any movement which might be discovered. :
The two armies continued to work on their fortifications without seriously molesting each VOL. II.
CHAP. IV. other. Slight skirmishes occasionally happened, 1775. in which very little execution was done; and
although the Americans made some advances towards the enemy, no attempt was made to dislodge them.
This state of apparent inactivity was ill suited to the enterprising temper of the commander in chief, and was very reluctantly submitted to. The situation of America appeared to him to require great efforts to destroy totally the army now in Boston, before it should be strength. ened by the re-enforcements which might be expected in the ensuing spring. Such an event he persuaded himself would decide the contest. It would give to the British nation and minister, such evidence of the vigour and determination of the colonies, as would induce them to desist from the further prosecution of the war; while it would encourage and unite all America in the common cause. If, on the other hand, this measure should not be adopted, the affairs of the united colonies appeared to him to wear a very serious aspect. A very powerful armament would certainly arrive in the spring, and the duration of the war could not be calculated. He perceived with pain the immense expenses unavoidably incurred, the amount of which could not be diminished; and seeing no solid revenues to support them, he was extremely apprehensive that the finances of his country must sink under such a burden. He reflected