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point of the extended lines of the Americans, whose army did not amount to more than fourteen thousand and five hundred men. General Washington was fully apprized of his danger, and early summoned the general officers to deliberate upon the expediency of attempting to support their present position, or of taking one in their rear more compact. The council with unanimity advised to remain in their present lines. The reasons in support of this opinion were, the immediate effect which a retrograde movement would have to animate the British, and to depress the American troops; the unfavourable impression that would be made upon the public mind; the devastation of the fertile country that must be opened to the enemy, and the difficulty of finding a strong position in the rear. As a precautionary measure, it was determined that they would not take possession of the heights of Dorchester, nor oppose the attempt of General Gage to gain them. In case of an attack and defeat, the Welsh mountains in Cambridge, and the rear of the lines in Roxbury, were appointed as places of rendezvous. The enemy was watched with vigilant attention; and any movements which threatened a distant invasion, were communicated to Congress, and to the executives of the provinces particularly exposed.
The enemy had been taught respect for the American army by the battle of Breed's Hill, and their plans, from that period through the year, were directed to self defence. With little interruption, both armies were employed in strengthening their respective lines and posts. The few skirmishes
which took place between small parties, neither in their nature or consequences merit notice.
The mere defence of lines, did not satisfy the enterprizing and patriotic mind of General Washington. With extreme anxiety he noticed the expense of the campaign, without possessing the means of diminishing it.
He knew that his country was destitute of revenue, and apprehended that her resources must soon be exhausted. In a few months the
of course would be disbanded, and the inlistment of another, he conceived to be extremely difficult, if practicable ; powerful reinforcements to the enemy were, in the spring, to be expected from England: and he thought it doubiful, whether proportionate strength could be collected in the colonies to meet them in the field. He conceived it, therefore, of vast importance to the American cause to subdue the armyin Boston, before it could be reinforced. An event of this magnitude would unite and animate the colonies, and convince Great Britain, that America was determined in her opposition to the measures of parliament. Under these impressions he often reconnoitred the enemy,
and collected information of their numbers and strength, from every possible source. The attempt to dislodge the British, he well knew would be attended with extreme hazard; but, it was his opinion, that the probability of ultimate success, and the great advantages accruing from it, warranted the effort. In a letter to the general officers, he stated the questions, to which he desired thein to direct their close attention ; and after suffi
cient time had been given for deliberation, he called them into council to determine, whether an attack on Boston should be made ? The result was an unanimous opinion, " that for the present, at least, the attempt ought not to be made.” To continue the blockade, and to strengthen their lines, was all that remained in their power.
Although the Commander in Chief acquiesced in the decision of the council, yet it was evident, from his letter to Congress, that he himself felt inclined to risk the attack. Probably this inclination was increased by the wishes of Congress, previously communicated to him.
The scarcity of fresh provisions in Boston, induced the enemy to send small parties to collect the stock along the shores of the continent, within protecting distance of their armed vessels. This imposed a heavy burden upon the towns on the sea board, in the defence of their property; and the governors of several of the colonies were frequent and importunate in their request to General Washington, to detach forces from his army for their protection. He was embarrassed by repeated requisitions of this nature. To make the required detachments, would expose the main army to inevitable destruction ; and to deoy the requests, would occasion dissatisfactions, which endangered a cause that could be supported by public opinion only. To relieve him from this embarrassment, Congress passed a resolution, “ That the army before Boston was designed only to oppose the enemy in that place, and ought not to be weakened by detachments for the security of other parts of the country.”
General Washington early gave an example of the humane manner in which he determined to conduct the war. By the representations of individuals from Nova Scotia, Congress was led to suppose that a small force from the American army, aided by those inhabitants of that province, who were in the American interest, might surprise a British garrison at Fort Cumberland, at the head of the Bay of Fundy, and possess themselves of valuable military stores, if not retain the country; the measure was, therefore, recommended by that body to their General. On examination, he found that the stores were of no magnitude, and that the expedition would expose the friends of America in that province to inevitable ruin, from the prosecutions of their own government, and he discountenanced the scheme. The attempt was, however, eventually made by á few indiscreet individuals, but it failed, and involved the inhabitants of Nova Scotia, who engaged in it, in the predicted ruin.
Some of the American cruisers, acting without public orders, brought three of the principal inhabitants of the Island of St. John into General Washington's camp; he treated them with the greatest tenderness, and permitted them immediately to return to their distressed families.
In the course of the autumn, gradual approaches were made towards the British posts. The army being strengthened by the arrival of Morgan's riflemen, from Virginia, and of a lumber of regiments from Connecticut and
Rhode-island, General Washington detached Colonel Arnold (Sept. 1775] with a thousand men, by the rivers Kennebeck and St. Francis, to co-operate with General Montgomery in Canada ; and, if possible, to surprise Quebec, the capital of that province. Arnold, and about six hundred of his men, actuated by unconquerable resolution, with inconceivable fatigue reached Quebec. The situation of the garrison corresponded with the pre sumptions, on which the expedition was founded; but a number of circumstances, not open to human foresight, nor controulable by human prudence, rendered it unsuccessful.
Through the season, the highest endeavours of the Commander in Chief were exerted to procure arms and ammunition for his troops, and partial success attended the measures adopted in every part of the union, to accomplish this important purpose. A successful voyage was also made to Africa, and every pound of gun-powder for sale in the British factories on that coast, was obtained, in exchange for New England rum. Captain Manly, in the privateer Lee, captured a British ordnance ship, laden with military stores, 50 completely adapted to the wants of the American army, that bad Congress made out an invoice, a better assortment could not have been procured. Considerations respecting the reinlistment of the army, lay with immense weight on the mind of General Washington, and he repeatedly invited the attention of Congress to this subject. In September, Congress appointed a committee of their own body to repair to head