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have been expected from an ill-disciplined militia, few of whom had before seen the face of an enemy; but their hearts were nerved by the consciousness of being in the right, and their arms were strengthened by the desire of obtaining liberty and independence.
After the engagement the British entrenched themselves on Bunker's Hill, the scene of action; and the Americans on Prospect Hill, at a small distance in front of them. The colonists had been driven from their entrenchments; the
oyal troops had suffered severely in the battle, and neither party was forward to renew the conflict. Each fortified his post, and stood on the defensive.
On the 2d of July, General Washington, accompanied by General Lee and several other officers of rank, arrived at Cambridge, the headquarters of the provincial army. On his journey he had everywhere been received with much respect, and escorted by companies of gentlemen, who volunteered their services on the occasion.
General Washington found between fourteen and fifteen thousand men encamped before Boston ; and he and the other generals exerted themselves in establishing more exact discipline than had been observed before. Under their care the colonists in arms soon acquired somewhat of the mechanism and movements, as well as the name of an army; but still they were ill-disciplined, and ill-armed.
The Americans, who had been made prisoners at Bunker's Hill, were indiscriminately thrown into jail at Boston, and treated with little humanity. On the 11th of August, General Washington addressed a letter to General Gage on he subject, and informed him that his treatment of British prisoners should be regulated by that which the Americans experienced. General Gage replied that the prisoners had been treated with care and kindness, but indiscriminately, because he acknowledged no rank that was not derived from the king; and at the same time retorted on the Americans the charge of cruelty. General Washington replied : “ I have taken time, sir, to make a strict inquiry, and find the intelligence you have received has not the least foundation in truth. Not only your officers and soldiers have been treated with the tenderness due to fellowcitizens and brethren; but even those execrable parricides, whose council and aid have deluged this country with blood, have been protected from the fury of a justly enraged people. You affect, sir, to despise all rank not derived from the same source with your own; I can not conceive one more honorable than that which flows from the uncorrupted choice of a brave and free people, the purest source and original fountain of all power."
This epistolary correspondence did not suspend military operations : some skirmishing took place between the advanced parties of the two armies; and the Americans fortified themselves on an eminence within half a mile of the British post on Bunker's Hill. There was a good deal of firing on the occasion, without much loss to either side ; but it in some measure accustomed the colonists to the use of arms, the noise of artillery, and the operations of war.
The American army was extremely deficient in gunpowder ; but in the beginning of September it received a supply of 7,000 pounds from Rhode Island, procured, it is said, from the British forts on the coast of Africa. Saltpetre was collected in all the colonies; powder-mills were erected at Philadelphia and New York; and upward of 100 barrels of powder were obtained by American agents from the magazine at Bermuda.
General Washington soon began to feel the difficulties of his situation. He perceived that the expense of maintaining the army far exceeded any estimate of congress, and was very uneasy on the subject. The time for which the continental soldiers were engaged to serve was drawing to a close, and the danger of very short enlistments was felt. A council of war, therefore, unanimously
agreed that the men about to be levied should be engaged till the 1st of December, 1776. This was a very inadequate remedy for the evil, which was severely felt in the course of the war; but some hopes of a reconciliation between Britain and the colonies were still entertained.
On the 10th of October, General Gage sailed for Britain, and the command of the British army devolved on General (afterward viscount) Howe, who issued a proclamation condemning to military execution such of the inhabitants of Boston as should be caught attempting to leave the town without a written permission. About that time the royal cruisers on the coasts of New England began a system of piratical and predatory warfare against the inhabitants, which considerably injured, but neither intimidated nor subdued them. Captain Wallace, of the Rose man of war, with two tenders, pursued a vessel which took refuge in the port of Stonington, in Connecticut; and on the morning of the 1st of September, he began to fire on the town, and continued his hostilities, with little intermission, throughout the day. He killed two men, damaged the houses, and carried off some vessels. At Rhode Island some firing took place between the minute-men and the ships, on occasion of carrying off some cattle. Captain Wallace afterward sailed to Bristol, and demanded 300 sheep, which not being complied with, he began a heavy cannonade on this unprotected place, and continued it till some persons went on board and purchased the peace of the town with forty sheep.
On the 18th of October Captain Mowat, with a few armed vessels, in a cowardly manner, burnt the town of Falmouth, in the northern part of Massachusetts Bay, and declared that his orders were to set on fire all the seaport towns between Boston and Halifax. The destruction of unprotected towns alarmed and exasperated, but did not intimidate the colonists.
Meanwhile the troops in Boston were reduced to a very uncomfortable condition: they could not procure provisions and other necessaries from the country, and their maritime supplies were much interrupted; for, on the 9th of October, the assembly of Massachusetts Bay resolved to fit out armed vessels for the defence of the American coast; and afterward appointed courts of admiralty, to condemn such captured vessels as should be proved to belong to persons hostile to the united American colonies. Privateers were soon at sea, and in a few days took an ordnance ship from Woolwich, and several store-ships, with valuable cargoes, which afforded a seasonable supply to the American camp, while the loss was severely felt by the British army in Boston. A military transport, having been becalmed off Cohassett, was gallantly captured by Isaiah Doane, at the head of twenty men; who boarded her at night, attacking in two whale boats with muffled oars. She was carried into Cohassett and her stores were found to be very useful to the American army. Congress also soon resolved to fit out and commission ships of war.
But although the British army in Boston was in very disagreeable circumstances, and success attended the naval operations of the Americans, yet the affairs of the provinces wore no flattering aspect. The term for which many of the men had enlisted was about to expire. Irritation of spirit had made them fly to arms; and, in the fervor of their zeal, they would at first have readily engaged to serve during the war: but the opportunity was lost, and congress severely felt the error in the course of the struggle. At the same time the colonial treasury was but ill-replenished, and the provincial paper-money soon became depreciated. In these circumstances congress, wishing by a bold movement to put an end to the war, or at least by the splendor of a successful operation to reanimate the zeal of the people, was desirous that an attack should be made on Boston ; but a council of war deemed the measure inexpedient.
Congress early turned its attention toward Canada, and endeavored to gain the co-operation, or at least to secure the neutrality of the inhabitants, in its dispute with Britain. The congress of the preceding year, although professing allegiance to the British crown, had circulated an address to the Canadians, evidently intended to render them disaffected to the British administration, and to make them enter into the sentiments and measures of the other provinces. Although that address did not make on the minds of the Canadians all that impression which was intended and desired, yet it was not altogether without effect; for the great body of the people wished to remain neutral in the contest.
Congress mistook the reluctance of the Canadians to engage in active operations against them for a decided partiality to their cause, and resolved to antici pate the British, by striking a decisive blow in that quarter In this purpose they were encouraged by the easy success of the enterprise against the forts on the lakes, and by the small number of troops then in Canada. They appointed General Schuyler commander of the expedition, with General Montgomery under him. Early in September, those officers, with about 1,000 men, made a feeble attempt on Fort St. John, situated on the river Sorel, which flows from Lake Champlain and joins the St. Lawrence, but found it expedient to retire to Isle aux Noix, at the entrance of the lake, about twelve miles above the fort, and wait for reinforcements.
Fig. 66.-St. John, on the Sorel. Meanwhile General Schuyler was taken ill, and returned to Albany, leaving the command in the hands of General Montgomery, with instructions to prosecute the enterprise, on receiving the expected reinforcements. The reinforcements arrived: the attack on Fort St. John was renewed ; and after a vigorous defence, it surrendered about the middle of November. In it the Americans found a considerable number of brass and iron cannon, howitzers, and mortars a