Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

cially, as the means ussd to conceal my weakness from the enemy, conceal it also from my friends, and add to their wonder.” t By the last of February, the stock of powder was considerably increased, and the regular army amounted to 14,000 men, which was reinforced by . 6,000 of the militia of Massachusetts. General Washington 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 embarkation must be inade, in case the enemy was disposed 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. General 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 might, the party by great exertions erected works that 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 Roxbury. 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 at- \ tempt, 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 wished 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 the arrangements of the enemy for this purpose, were soon communicated to General Washington. A paper, under the signature of four of the select-men, was sent out by a flag, containing a proposal, purporting to be made by General Howe, that en condition the 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 deliwered, to return an answer to the select-men, informing them that their letter had been communicated to his general, and assigning the reasons why it had not been officially noticed; but both the commandcrs 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, the town was evacuated, and left in a better state than was expected; the houses were not damaged in any great degree; but the British left few public stores of value.

Although Halifax was mentioned, as the destined place of the British armament, yet General Washington apprehended that New York was their object: On this supposition, he detached several brigades of his army to that city, before the evacuation of Boston,

General Howe remained a number of days in Nantasket Road, and the Commander in Chief, when he entered Boston, as a measure of security, fortified Fort Hill. The issue of the campaign was highly gratifying to all classes; and the gratulations of his fel- 's low citizens upon the repossession of the metropolis of Massachusetts, was more pleasing to the Commander in Chief than would have been the honours of a triumph. Congress, to express the public approbation of the military achievements of their general, resolved, “That the thanks of Congress, in their own name, and in the name of the thirteen United Colonies, be presented to his Excellency General Washington, and the officers and soldiers under his command, for their wise and spirited conduct in the siege and acquisition of Boston; and that a medal of gold be struck, in commemoration of this great event, and presented to his Excellency.” In his letter, informing Congress that he had executed their order, and communicated to the army the vote of thanks, he observes, “They were indeed, at first, a band of undisciplined husbandmen, but it is, under God, to their bravery and attention to their duty, that I am indebted for that success which has procured me the only reward I wish to receive, the affection and esteem of my countrymen.”

CHAPTER III.

General Washington marches the Army to New York—Fortifications of the City and River—Independence declared—General Howe lands on Staten Island—Interview between General Washington and Colonel Patterson—State of the British and American Forces—Camp at Brooklyn—Battle on Long IslandRetreat from it—The City and Island of New York evacuated —Manauvres at White Plains Fort Washington taken— General Howe invades New Jersey—Depression of the Americans—General Washington invested with new Powers—Success at Trenton, and at Princeton—New Jersey recovered.

1776..] As soon as the necessary arrangements were made in Boston, in the persuasion that the Hudson would be the scene of the next campaign, General Washington marched the main body of his army to New York, where he arrived himself the 14th of April. |

The situation of New York was highly favourable for an invading army, supported by a superior naval force. The Sound, the North and East rivers, opened a direct access to any point on Long Island, York Island, or on the continent bordering upon those waters. To the effectual defence of the city, the passage up the rivers must be obstructed by forts and other impediments; and an army was necessary, of force sufficient to man the posts and lines of defence, and to meet the invading foe in the field. Aware, of these facts, General Washington doubted the practica

« ZurückWeiter »