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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 made, 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 night, 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 mea 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 attempt, the American works became too formidable to be assaulted.
General WASHINGTON, on this occasion, in. dulged a confident expectation of the success of his plans; and wished the meditated attack upon Dor. chester 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 Aeet and army, ren. dered the evacuation of Boston a necessary meas. ure; and the arrangements of the enemy for this purpose, were soon communicated to Gen. WASHINGTON. A paper, under the signature of four of the Selectmen, was sent out by a flag, containing a proposal, purporting to be made by General Howe, that on condition his 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 delivered, to return an
answer to the Selectmen, informing them that their letter had been communicated to his General, and as. signing the reasons why it had not been officially noticed; but both the commanders 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 publicķ 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 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 publick 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 WashINCTON, 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 WASHINGTON and Colonel Patterson.... State of the British and American Forces.... Camp at Brooklyn....Battle on Long Island.... Retreat from it.... The City and Island of New York evacuated....Manæuvres at White Plains.... Fort Washington taken....General Howe invades New Jersey.... Depression of the Americans....General WASHINGTON in. vested 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 nec