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of ill health, and was treated by some Philadelphia families with unmerited hospitality.1
At the time of the foregoing correspondence with Howe, Washington was earnestly occupied preparing works for the bombardment of Boston, should that measure be resolved upon by Congress. General Putnam, in the preceding month, had taken possession in the night of Cobble Hill without molestation from the enemy, though a commanding eminence; and in two days had constructed a work, which, from its strength, was named Putnam's impregnable fortress.
He was now engaged on another work on Lechmere Point, to be connected with the works at Cobble Hill by a bridge thrown across Willis's Creek, and a covered way. Lechmere Point is immediately opposite the north part of Boston; and the 'Scarborough' ship-of-war was anchored near it. Putnam availed himself of a dark and foggy day (Dec. 17), to commence operations, and broke ground with four hundred men, at ten o'clock in the morning, on a hill at the Point. "The mist," says a contemporary account, "was so great as to prevent the enemy from discovering what he was about until near twelve o'clock, when it cleared up, and opened to their view our whole party at the Point, and another at the causeway throwing a bridge over the creek. The 'Scarborough,' anchored off the Point, poured in a broadside. The enemy from Boston threw shells. The garrison at Cobble Hill returned fire. Our men were obliged to decamp from the Point, but the work was resumed by the brave old general at night."
On the next morning, a cannonade from Cobble Hill
■ Thomas Walker, a merchant of Montreal, who, accused of traitorous dealings with the Americans, had been thrown into prison during Prescott's sway, and his country-house burnt down, undertook a journey to Philadelphia in the depth of winter, when he understood the general was a captive there, trusting to obtain satisfaction for his ill-treatment. To his great surprise, he found Mr. Prescott lodged in the best tavern of the place, walking or riding at large through Philadelphia and Bucks Counties, feasting with gentlemen of the first rank in the province, and keeping a levee for the reception of the grandees. In consequence of which unaccountable phenomena, and the little prospect of his obtaining any adequate redress in the present unsettled state of public affairs, Mr. Walker has returned to Montreal.—Am. Archives, Fourth Series, vol. iv., 1178.
obliged the 'Scarborough' to weigh anchor, and drop down below the ferry; and General Heath was detached with a party of men to carry on the work which Putnam had commenced. The enemy resumed their fire. Sentinels were placed to give notice of a shot or shell; the men would crouch down or dodge it, and continue on with their work. The fire ceased in the afternoon, and Washington visited the hill accompanied by several officers, and inspected the progress of the work. It was to consist of two redoubts, on one of which was to be a mortar battery. There was, as yet, a deficiency of ordnance; but the prize mortar was to be mounted which Putnam had recently christened, "The Congress." Prom the spirit with which the work was carried on, Washington trusted that it would soon be completed, "and then," said he, "if we have powder to sport with, and Congress gives the word, Boston can be bombarded from this point."
For several days the labour at the works was continued; the two redoubts were thrown up, and a covered way was constructed leading down to the bridge. All this was done notwithstanding the continual fire of the enemy. The letter of a British officer gives his idea of the efficiency of the work.
"The rebels for- some days past have been erecting a battery on Phipps' Farm. The new constructed mortar taken on board the ordnance brig, we are told, will be mounted upon it, and we expect a warm salute from the shells, another part of that vessel's cargo; so that, in spite of her capture, we are likely to be complimented with the contents of her lading."
"If the rebels can complete their battery, this town will be on fire about our ears a few hours after; all our buildings being of wood, or a mixture of brick and woodwork. Had the rebels erected their battery on the other side of the town, at Dorchester, the admiral and all his booms would have made the first blaze, and the burning of the town would have followed. If we cannot destroy the rebel battery by our guns, we must march out and take it sword in hand."
Putnam anticipated great effects from this work, and especially from his grand mortar, " The Congress." Shells
there were in abundance for a bombardment; the only thing wanting was a supply of powder. One of the officers, writing of the unusual mildness of the winter, observes: "Everything thaws here except old Put. He is still as hard as ever, crying out for powder—powder—powder. Ye gods, give us powder!"
Mount Vernon in Danger—Mrs. Washington invited to the Camp— Lund Washington, the General's Agent—Terms on which he serves —Instructed to keep up the hospitality of the house—Journey of Mrs. Washington to Camp—Her Equipage and Liveries—Arrival at Camp—Domestic Affairs at Head-quarters—Gaieties in Camp—A Brawl between Round-jackets and Rifle-shirts.
Amid the various concerns of the war, and the multiplied perplexities of the camp, the thoughts of Washington continually reverted to his home on the banks of the Potomac. A constant correspondence was kept up between him and his agent, Mr. Lund Washington, who had charge of his various estates. The general gave clear and minute directions as to their management, and the agent rendered as clear and minute returns of everything that had been done in consequence.
According to recent accounts, Mount Vernon had been considered in danger. Lord Dunmore was exercising martial law in the Ancient Dominion, and it was feared that the favourite abode of the "rebel commander-in-chief" would be marked out for hostility, and that the enemy might land from their ships in the Potomac, and lay it waste. Washington's brother, John Augustine, had entreated Mrs. Washington to leave it. The people of Loudoun had advised her to seek refuge beyond the Blue Eidge, and had offered to send a guard to escort her. She had declined the offer, not considering herself in danger. Lund Washington was equally free from apprehensions on the subject. "Lord Dunmore," writes he, "will hardly himself venture up this river, nor do I believe he will send on that errand. You may depend I will be watchful, and upon the least alarm persuade her to move."
Though alive to everything concerning Mount Vernon, Washington agreed with them in deeming it in no present danger of molestation by the enemy. Still he felt for the loneliness of Mrs. Washington's situation, heightened as it must be by anxiety on his own account. On taking command of the army, he had held out a prospect to her, that he would rejoin her at home in the autumn; there was now a probability of his being detained before Boston all winter. He wrote to her, therefore, by express, in November, inviting her to join him at the camp. He at the same time wrote to Lund Washington, engaging his continued services as an agent. This person, though bearing the same name, and probably of the same stock, does not appear to have been in any near degree of relationship. Washington's letter to him gives a picture of his domestic policy:—
"I will engage for the year coming, and the year following, if these troubles and my absence continue, that your wages shall be standing and certain at the highest amount that any one year's crop has produced you yet. I do not offer this as any temptation to induce you to go on more cheerfully in prosecuting those schemes of mine. I should do injustice to you were I not to acknowledge, that your conduct has ever appeared to me above everything sordid; but I offer it in consideration of the great charge you have upon your hands, and my entire dependence upon your fidelity and industry.
"It is the greatest, indeed it is the only comfortable reflection I enjoy on this score, that my business is in the hands of a person concerning whose integrity I have not a doubt, and on whose care I can rely. Were it not for this, I should feel very unhappy on account of the situation of my affairs. But I am persuaded you will do for me as you would for yourself."
The following were his noble directions concerning Mount Vernon:—
"Let the hospitality of the house with respect to the poor be kept up. Let no one go hungry away. If any of this kind of people should be in want of corn, supply their necessities, provided it does not encourage them to idleness; and I have no objection to your giving my money in charity to the amount of forty or fifty pounds a year, when you think it well bestowed. What I mean by having no
objection is, that it is my desire it should be done. You are to consider that neither myself nor wife is now in the way to do those good offices."
Mrs. Washington came on with her own carriage and horses, accompanied by her son, Mr. Custis, and his wife. She travelled by very easy stages, partly on account of the badness of the roads, partly out of regard to the horses, of which Washington was always very careful, and which were generally remarkable for beauty and excellence. Escorts and guards of honour attended her from place to place, and she was detained some time at Philadelphia, by the devoted attention of the inhabitants.
Her arrival at Cambridge was a glad event in the army. Incidental mention is made of the equipage in which she appeared there. A chariot and four, with black postilions in scarlet and white liveries. It has been suggested that this was an English style of equipage, derived from the Fairfaxes; but in truth it was a style still prevalent at that day in Virginia.
It would appear that dinner invitations to head-quarters, were becoming matters of pride and solicitude. "I am much obliged to you," writes Washington to Eeed, " for the hints respecting the jealousies which you say are gone abroad. I cannot charge myself with incivility, or what, in my opinion, is tantamount, ceremonious civility to gentlemen of this colony; but if such my conduct appears, 1 will endeavour at a reformation; as I can assure you, my dear Eeed, that I wish to walk in such a line as will give most general satisfaction. You know that it was my wish at first to invite a certain number of the gentlemen of this colony every day to dinner, but unintentionally we somehow or other missed of it. If this has given rise to the jealousy, I can only say that I am very sorry for it; at the same time I add, that it was rather owing to inattention, or more properly, too much attention to other matters, which caused me to neglect it."
And in another letter:—
"My constant attention to the great and perplexing objects which continually arise to my view, absorbs all lesser considerations; and, indeed, scarcely allows me to reflect that there is such a body as the General Court of