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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 fellow 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.”
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 Wash·ington 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 practicability of a successful defence of New York. But the importance of the place, and the difficulty which he had already experienced in dislodging an army from a fortified town, open to the protection and supplies of a fleet, inclined him to make the attempt. His own disposition to the measure was strengthened by the wishes of Congress, the opinion of his general officers, and by the expectation of his country. . The resolution being formed, he called into action all the resources in his power to effect it. His first care was to put an end to the intercourse, which to this time had been continued, between the town and the British ships in the harbour, by which they were supplied with every necessary; and Tryon, the British governor, enjoyed the most favourable opportunity to concert his plans with the numerous disaffected inhabitants of the city and its vicinity; and by the aid of the committee of safety, this dangerous communication was effectually stopped. The general, with unremitted diligence, pushed on his works of defence. Hulks were sunk in the North and East rivers; forts were erected on the most commanding situations on their banks; and works were flung up to defend the narrow passage between Long and York Islands. The passes in the high lands, bordering on the Hudson, became an object of early and solicitous attention. The command of this river was equally important to the American and the British general. By its possession, the Americans easily conveyed supplies of provision and ammunition to the northern army, and secured an intercourse between the
southern and northern colonies, an intercourse essential to the success of the war. In the hands of the British, this necessary communication was interrupted, and an intercourse between the Atlantic and Canada was opened to them. General Washington ordered these passes to be fortified, and made their security an object of primary importance, through every period of his command. In these defensive preparations, the American army incessantly laboured until Lord and General How arrived at Sandy Hook with the British fleet and army. In the near prospect of active warfare, the mind of the Commander in Chief was agitated by innumerable embarrassments. He found himself destitute of the means to give his country the protection it expected from him; the colonies had not filled up their respective regiments; his force had been weakened by large detachments sent to reinforce the army in Canada; he was greatly deficient in arms, tents, clothing, and all military stores; and notwithstanding his urgent entreaties on this subject, such was the destitute state of America, that Congress with all their exertions were unable to supply him. Two thousand men in camp were at this time without arms; and no confidence could be placed in many of the muskets which were in the hands of the soldiery. In this weak and deficient condition, General Washington was to oppose a powerful and well appointed army, and to guard against the intrigues of those in New York and its neighbourhood, who were disaffected to the American cause: these were numerous, influential and enterprising. A
plan was laid by Governor Tryon, through the agency of the mayor of the city, to aid the enemy in landing, and to seize the person of General Washington. The defection reached the American army, and even some of the General's guard engaged in the conspiracy; but it was seasonably discovered, and a number of those concerned in it were executed. The permanent troops being found incompetent to defend the country, it became necessary to call detachments of the militia into the field; and Congress, placing implicit confidence in the judgment and patriotism of their General, invested him with discretionary powers, to call on the governments of the neighbouring colonies, for such numbers as circumstances should require; and they empowered him to form those magazines of military stores, which he might deem to be necessary. In pursuance of the measure recommended by Congress, a requisition was made for thirteen thousand and eight hundred of the militia from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. While these defensive preparations were going forward in the camp, Congress was ripening measures to declare the Colonies independent of Great Britain. The free exercise of their constitutional rights was the extent of the American claim at the commencement of the controversy, and a reconciliation with the parent state, by a redress of grievances, was the ardent desire of the great body of the American people; but the operations of war produced other feelings and views: a general