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fortune out of the question, were to be found Chap. V. in the lateness of the season when the troops 1776. were assembled, in a defect of the preparations necessary for such a service, and still more in the shortness of the time for which the men were inlisted. A committee of congress, appointed to inquire into the causes of the miscarriages in Canada, reported, "that the short inlistments of the continental troops in Canada, have been one great cause of the miscarriages there, by rendering unstable the, number of men engaged in military enterprises, by making them disorderly and disobedient to their officers, and by precipitating the commanding officers into measures which their prudence might have postponed, could they have relied on a longer continuance of their troops in service:
"That the want of hard money had been one other great cause of the miscarriages in Canada, rendering the supplies of necessaries difficult and precarious, the establishment of proper magazines absolutely impracticable, and the pay of the troops of but little use to them.
"That a-still greater, and more fatal source of misfortunes, has been the prevalence of the small-pox in that army; a great proportion whereof has thereby been usually kept unfit for duty."
A committee was also appointed to inquire into the conduct of general Wooster, who acquitted him of all blame.
voL. 11. 3 B
Chap.v. But had the expedition been crowned with 1776. the most complete success, the practicability of maintaining the country, is very much to be doubted. Whilst general Montgomery lay before Quebec, and counted on obtaining possession of the place, he extended his views to its preservation. His plan required a permanent army of ten thousand men, strong fortifications at Jaques Cartier and the rapids of Richelieu, and armed vessels in the river above the latter place. With this army, and these precautions, he thought the country might be defended, but not with an inferior force.
Experience has fully demonstrated the utter impossibility of keeping up such a force at that time, at such a distance from the strong parts of the union. The want of specie alone, had there not been other causes powerfully cooperating with it, would have forced the Americans to evacuate the country, unless the Canadians could have been prevailed on to consider themselves as principals in the war, and to give paper money the same currency which it received in the United Colonies.
It seems then to have been an enterprise, requiring means beyond those in the command of congress; and the strength exhausted on it would have been more judiciously employed, in preparing to secure the command of the lakes, and the fortified towns upon them.
Transactions in Virginia....Action at the Great Bridge.... Norfolk evacuated....And burnt....Transactions of North Carolina....Action at Moore's creek bridge....Invasion of South Carolina....British fleet- repulsed at fort Moultrie....Transactions in New York....Measures leading to Independence....Independence declared.
Whilst the war was carried on thus vigorously in the north, the southern colonies were
not entirely unemployed. The convention ws.
which met at Richmond in Virginia proceeded ■—
to put the colonv in a posture of defence. It Tran»action»
. . in Virginia.
was determined to raise two regiments of regular troops for one year, and to inlist a part of the militia as minute men, who should encamp by regiments for a certain number of days in the spring and fall, for the purpose of training; and should at all times be ready to march, at a minute's warning, to any part of the colony for its defence. ■
Lord Dunmore, who was joined by such of his friends as had become too obnoxious to the people in general to be permitted to reside in safety among them, and by a number of slaves whom he encouraged to run away from their, masters, and whom he furnished* with arms, was collecting, under cover of the ships of war on that station, a considerable naval force, which threatened to be extremely troublesome
Chap, vt. in a country so intersected with large navi1775. gable rivers, as the colony of Virginia. With octu, r. this force he carried on a small predatory wan* and at length attempted to burn the town of Hampton. The inhabitants having received some intimation of this design, gave notice of it to the commanding officer at Williamsburg, where some regulars and minute men were stationed, two companies of whom were detached to their assistance. Having marched all night, they reached the town in the morning, just as the ships had begun to cannonade it. This re-enforcement throwing themselves into the houses near the water, and firing from thence, with their small arms, into the vessels, soon
ocou:r2s. obliged them to retreat precipitately from their stations, with the loss of a few men and a tender which was captured.
In consequence of this repulse, his lordship
November?- proclaimed martial law, and summoned all persons capable of bearing arms to repair to the royal standard,* or be considered as traitors; and offered freedom to all indented servants and slaves who would join him.
This proclamation made some impression about Norfolk, and the governor collected such a force of the disaffected and negroes, as gave him an entire ascendency in that part of the colony. A body of militia assembled to oppose him, were easily dispersed, and he flattered himself that he should soon bring the lower country to submit to the royal authority.
Intelligence of these transactions being re- Chap.Vi cei ved at Williamsburg, a regiment of regulars, 1775. and about two hundred minute men, were ordered down under the command of colonel Woodford, for the defence of the inhabitants. Hearing of their approach, lord Dunmore took a very judicious position on the north side of Elizabeth river at the Great Bridge, where it was necessary for the provincials to cross in order to re#ch Norfolk, at which place he had established himself in some force. Here he erected a small fort on a piece of firm ground surrounded by a marsh, which was only accessible on either side by a long causeway. The American troops took post within cannon shot of the enemy, in a small village at the south end of the causeway, across which, just at its termination, they constructed a breastwork; but, being without artillery, were unable to make any attempt on the fort.
In this position both parties continued for a few days, when lord Dunmore, participating probably in that contempt for the Americans which had been so freely expressed in the December, house of commons, ordered captain Fordyce, the commanding officer at the Great Bridge, though inferior in numbers, to storm the works of the provincials. Between. daybreak and sunrise, this officer, at the head of about sixty grenadiers of the 14th regiment, who led the column of the enemy, advanced on the cause