« ZurückWeiter »
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valoable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:...
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring them selves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases what soever.
He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection, and waging war against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is, at this time, transporting large armies of foreign merce naries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, ale ready begun, with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the exe cutioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has en. deavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merci less Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.
In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for re. dress, in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury: A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a Free People.
Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time, of attempts made by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over
We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emi. gration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connexions and correspondence. They, too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which de nounces our separation, and hold thens, as we hold the rest of mankind....enemies in war...in
peace, friends. We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, Do, in the name and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solean. ly declare, that these United Colonies are, and, of right ought to be Free and Independent States :....that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connexion, between them and the State of Great Britain, is, and ought to be totally dissolved ; and that, as Free and Independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances,
establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.”
Previous to this, a circular letter had been sent through each colony, stating the reasons for it; and such was the animosity now every where prevailing against Great Britain, that it met with general approbation, except in the province of Maryland alone. It was not long, however, before the people of that colony, finding themselves left in a very dangerous minority, thought proper to accede to the measures of the rest.
The manifesto itself, was in the usual nervous style, stating a long list of grievances, for a redress of which they had often applied, but in vain ; for these reasons they determined on a final separation ; and to hold the people of Great Britain as well as the rest of mankind “enemies in war, in peace, friends."
After thus publicly throwing off all allegiance and hope of re conciliation, the colonists soon found that an exertion of all their strength would be necessary to support their pretensions. Their arms had not been successful in Canada. Reinforcements had been promised to general Arnold, who still continued to blockade Quebec ; but they did not arrive in time to second his operations. But being sensible that he must either desist from the enterprize, or finish it successfully, he recommenced his operations in form, and attempted to destroy the shipping, and burn the town. They succeeded so far as to burn a number
of houses in the suburbs, and the garrison were obliged to pull down the remainder, in order to prevent the fire from spreading. Notwithstanding the provincials were unable to reduce the town, they kept the garrison in contimual alarms, and in a very disagreeable situation.
Some of the nobility collected in a body under the command of one gentleman whose name was Beaujeau, in order to relieve their capital; but they were met on their march by the provincials and defeated. The Americans had but little reason to plume themselves upon this success. Their want of artillery convinced them that it was impracticable in their situation to reduce a town so strongly fortified; the small-pox at the same time made its appearance in their camp, and carried off great numbers; intimidating the rest to such a degree, that they deserted in crowds. To add to their misfortunes, the British reinforcements unex pectedly appeared, and the ships made their way with such surprising celerity through the ice, that the one part of the army was separated from the other, and general Carleton sallying out, as soon as the reinforcement was landed, obliged them to fly with the utmost precipitation, leaving behind them all their cannon, and military stores ; at the same time that their shipping was captured by vessels sent up the river for that purpose.
On this occasion, the provincials fled with such haste, that they could not be overtaken; so that none fell into the hands of the
British, excepting the sick and the wounded. General Carleton now gave an instance of his humanity : being well apprised that many of the provincials had not been able to accompany the rest in their retreat; and, that they were concealed in the woods, &c in a very deplorable situation, he generously issued a proclamation, ordering proper persons to seek them out, and give them relief at the public expense; and at the same time, lest through fear of their being inade prisoners, they should refuse these offers of humanity, he promised, that as soon as their situation enabled them, they should be at liberty to depart to their respective homes.
The British general, now freed from any danger of an attack; was soon enabled to act offensively against the provincials, by the arrival of the forces destined for that purpose from Britain,' By these he was put at the head of twelve thousand regular troops; among whom were those of Brunswick. With this force he set out for the Three rivers, where he expected Arnold would have made a stand ; but he had retired to Sorel, a place one hundred and fifty miles from Quebec ; where he was at last met by the re. inforcements ordered by Congress.
Here, though the preceding events were by no means calculated to inspire much military ardour, a very daring enterprize was un dertaken ; and this was to surprise the British troops, posted under generals Fraser and Nesbit : of whom the former commanded those on land ; the latter such as were on board the transports, and were but a little way distant. The enterprize was very hazardous, both on account of the strength of the parties, against whom they were to act, and as the main body of the British forces were advanced within fifty miles of the place; besides that a number of armed vessels, and transports with troops, lay between them and the Three Rivers. Two thousand chosen men, however, under general Thomson, engaged in this undertaking. Their suce cess was by no means answerable to their spirit and valour.
Though they passed the shipping without being observed, ge. neral Fraser had notice of their landing; and thus, being prepared to receive them, they were soon thrown into disorder; at the same time that general Nesbit, having landed his forces, prepar. ed to attack them in the rear. On this occasion, some field pieces did prodigious execution ; and a retreat was found to be unavoidable. General Nesbit was now between them and their boats; SO that they were obliged to take a circuit through a deep swamp, while they were hotly pursued by both parties at the same time, who marched for some miles on each side of the swamp, till at last the unfortunate provincials were sheltered from furiher dan. ger by a wood at the end of the swamp. Their general, however, was taken, with two hundred of his men.
By this disaster, the provincials lost all hopes of accomplishing any thing in Canada. They, therefore, demolished their works, and carried off their artillery, with the utmost expedition. They were pursued by general Burgoyne, against whom it was expect. ed they would have collected all their force, and made a resoluts
stand. But they were now too much dispirited by misfortune, to make any more exertions of valour. On the eighteenth of June, the British general arrived at Fort St. Johns, which he found abandoned and burnt. Chamblee had shared the same fate ; as well as all the vessels that were not capable of being dragged up the river. It was thought they would have made some resistance at Nut-Island, the entrance to lake Champlain : but this also they abandoned ; and retreated across the lake to Crown point, whither they could not be immediately followed.
Thus was the province of Canada entirely'evacuated by the provincials, whose loss in their retreat from Quebec, was calcu. lated at not less than one thousand men, of whom four hundred in one body, fell into the hands of the enemy at a place called the Cedars, about fifty miles from Montreal.' General Sullivan who .conducted this retreat, after the affair of general Thomson, had great merit in what he did, and received the thanks of Congress accordingly.
This bad success in the north was in some measure compensato
ed by what happened in the southern colonies..... It has been for. cimerly noticed that governor Martin of North Carolina, had been
obliged to leave his province, and take refuge on board of a man of war. He notwithstanding did not despair of reducing it again to obedience. He therefore, applied to the regulators, a daring set of banditti; who lived in a kind of independent state ; and though considered by government as rebels, yet had never been molested, on account of their known skill in the use of fire arms. To the chiefs of these people commissions were sent, in order to vaise some regiments; and a colonel Macdonald was appointed to command them. In the month of February he erected the king's standard, issued proclamations, &c. and collected some forces ; expecting soon to be joined by a body of regular troops, who were known to be shipped from Britain to act against the southern colonies.
The Americans, sensible of their danger, despatched immediately what forces they had to act against the royalists, at the same time they exerted themselves to support these with suitable reinforcements. General Moore's numbers at first were inferior to Macdonald's, which induced the latter to hope that he might in. timidate him to join the king's standard ; with this intention hè summoned him under the pain of being treated as a rebel if he refused. But Moore being well provided with cannon, and conscious that nothing could be attempted against him, returned the compliment, by acquainting Macdonald, that if he and his party would lay down their arms, and subscribe an oath of fidelity to Congress, they should be treated as friends, but if they persisted in an undertaking for which it was evident they had not sufficient strength, they could not but expect the severest treatment.
In a few days general Moore found himself at the head of 8,000 men, by reason of the continual supplies which daily arrived from all parts. The royal party only amounted to -2,000, and as they
were destitute of artillery, they were prevented from attacking the enemy with suocess, when they had the advantage of numbers. Nothing now remained but to have recourse to a desperate exertion of their own personal valour; by dint of which they effeçted a retreat for eighty miles to Moore's Greek, within sixteen miles of Wilmington. Could they have gained this place they expected to have been joined by governor Martin, and general Clinton, who had lately arrived with a considerable detachment. But Moore with his army pursued them so close, that they were obliged to attempt the passage of the creek, on the opposite side of which was colonel Caswell with a considerable body of provin. cials posted to oppose his passage, with fortifications well planted with cannon. On attempting the creek it was found not to be ford. able. They were obliged therefore, to cross over a wooden bridge, which the provincials had not time entirely to destroy. They had, however, by pulling up part of the planks, and greasa ing the remainder, made the passage so difficult that the royalists could not attempt it.
In this situation they were on the 27th of February, 1776, at tacked by Moore and his superior army and totally defeated, with the loss of their general and most of their leaders, as 'well as the best and bravest of their men. Thus was the power of the provincials established in North Carolina. Nor were they less SUC cessful in Virginia, where Lord Dunmore, having long continued a predatory war, was at last driven from every creek and road in the province. The people he had on board were distressed to the highest degree, by confinement in small vessels. The heat of the season, and the numbers crowded together, produced a pestilen tial fever, which made great havoc, especially among the blacks. At last finding themselves in the utmost hazard of perishing by fa mine, as well as disease, they set fire to the least valuable vessels
, reserving only about fifty for themselves, in which they bid a final 'adieu to Virginia, some sailing for Florida, some to Bermuda, and the rest to the West Indies.
In South Carolina the provincials had a more formidable ene my to deal with. A squadron, whose object was the reduction of Charleston had been fitted out in December 1775, but by reason of unfavourable weather did not reach Cape Fear in North Carolina till the month of May : 1776 : and here it met with further obstacles to the end of the month. Thus the Americans had time to strengthen the works of Charleston in such a manner as rendered it extremely difficult to be attacked.
The British squadron consisted of two fifty gun ships, four of thirty guns, two of twenty, and an armed schooner and bomb ketch, all under the command of sir Peter Parker. The land for ces were commanded by lord Cornwallis, with generals Clinton and Vaughan. As they had yet no intelligence of the evacuation of Boston, general Howe despatched a vessel to Cape Fear with some instructions, but it was too late ; and in the beginning of June, the squadron anchored off Charleston bar. Here they met