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ertions this party, in the course of the night, nearly covered themselves from the shot of the enemy. The appearance of their works caused no little surprise in the British camp. They were every hour advancing, so as to afford additional security to the Americans posted behind them.— The Admiral informed general Howe, that, if the Americans held possession of these heights, he would not be able to keep one of the British ships in the harbour. The enemy were now brought to the alternatives which Washington had desired. They must either risk an action beyond their lines, or abandon the place. General Howe preferred the former, and ordered three thousand men on this service. These were embarked and descended to the castle, with the intention of proceeding up the river to the attack, but were dispersed by a tremendous storm; and, before they could be again collected, the American works were advanced to such a state of security, as to discourage any attempt against them.
Expecting an immediate assault on the newly raised works at Dorchester, and judging that the best troops of the enemy would be ordered on that service, Washington had prepared to attack the town of Boston at the same time; and four thousand men were ready for embarkation at the mouth of Cambridge river, to proceed on this design, as soon as it was known that the British had gone out in force to their intended attack. It was now resolved by the British to evacuate Boston as soon as possible.--In a few days afterwards, a flag came out of Boston, with a paper signed by four selectmen, informing, “That they had applied to general Robertson, who, on application to general Howe, was authorized to assure them, that he had no intention of burning the town, unless the troops under his command were molested during their embarkation, or at their departure, by the armed force without.” When this paper was presented to General Washington, he replied, “that, as it was an unauthenticated paper, and without address, and not obligatory on general Howe, he could take no notice of it," but at the same time he intimated “his good wishes for the safety of the town.”
Washington made arrangements for the security of his army, but did not advance his works, nor embarrass the British army in their proposed evacuation. He wished to save Boston, and to gain time for the fortification of New York, to which place he supposed the evacuating army was destined.
Under this impression, he detached thither a consideratio part of his army, and with the remainder took possession of Boston on the 17th of March, as soon as the British troops had completed their embarkation.
On entering the town, Washington was received with marks of approbation, more flattering than the pomps of a triumph. Released from the severities of a garrison life, and from the various indignities to which they had been sub jected, the inhabitants hailed him as their deliverer. Reciprocal congratulations between those who had been confined within the British lines, and those who were excluded from entering them, were exchanged, with an ardour which cannot be described. General Washington was honoured by congress with a vote of thanks. They also ordered a medal to be struck, with suitable devices, to perpetuate the remembrance of the great event.
The Massachusetts council and house of representatives, complimented him in a joint address, in which they express their good wishes in the following words : “ May you still go on, approved by Heaven, revered by all good men, and dreaded by those tyrants who claim their fellow-men as their property." His answer was mo. dest and appropriate.
CAMPAIGN OF 1776. of the operations of General Washington in New York and
New Jersey-The battle on Long Island—The retreat from York Island, and through Jersey The battles of Trenton and Princeton.
The evacuation of Boston varied the scene, but did not lessen the labours of Washington. Henceforward, he had a much more formidable enemy to oppose. The royal army in Boston was on a small scale, designed to awe the inhabitants of Massachusetts into obedience; but the campaign of 1776 was opened in New York, with a force far exceeding any thing hitherto seen in America. Including the navy and army, it amounted to fifty-five thousand men, and was calcy
lated on the idea of reducing the whole united colonies. The operations contemplated, could be best carried on from the nearly central province of New York ; and the army could be supplied with provisions from the adjacent islands, and easily assisted by the British navy. For these reasons,
the evacuation of Boston, and the concentration of the royal forces at New York, had been for some time resolved upon in England.
The reasons which induced the British to gain possession of New York, weighed with Washington to prevent or delay it. 'He had therefore detached largely from his army before Boston, and sent general Lee to take the command; and, after providing for the security of Boston, proceeded soon after the evacuation of that city, with the main army to New York, and made every preparation in his power for its defence. Considerable time was allowed for this purpose ; for general Howe, instead of pushing directly for New York, retired to Halifax with the forces withdrawn from Boston.--He there waited for the promised reinforcements from England; but, impatient of delay, he sailed without them for New York, and took possession of Staten Island in the latter end of June. He was soon followed by his brother, admiral Howe, and their whole force was assembled about the middle of July, in apparent readiness for opening the campaign. Before hostilities commenced, the British general and admiral, in their quality of civil commissioners for effecting a re-union between Great Britain and the colonies, made an attempt at negotiation.
- To introduce this business, they sent a flag ashore with a letter, addressed to “George Washington, Esq.” This, he refused to receive, as not being addressed to him with the title due to his rank, and at the same time wrote to congress, “ That he would not, on any occasion, sacrifice essentials to punctilio, but in this instance, deemed it a duty to his country, to insist on that respect, which, in any other than a public view, he would willingly have waived." Some time after wards, adjutant general Patterson was sent by general Howe, with a letter addressed to “George Washington, &c. &c. &c.' On an interview, the adjutant general, after expressing his high esteem for the person and character of the American general, and declaring that it was not intended to derogate from the respect due to his rank, expressed his hopes that the et ceteras would remove the impediments to their correspond
ence. General Washington replied : “ That a letter directed to any person in a public character, should have some description of it, otherwise it would appear a mere private letter, that it was true the et ceteras implied every thing, but they also implied any thing, and that he should therefore decline receiving any letter directed to him as a private person, when it related to his public station.”. A long conference ensued, in which the adjutant general observed, that “the commissioners were armed with great powers, and would be very happy in effecting an accommodation.” He received for answer, “ that, from what appeared, their powers were only to grant pardons ; that they who had committed no fault wanted no pardon."
On the arrival of general Howe at Staten Island, the American army
did not exceed ten thousand men ; but, by sundry reinforcements, before the end of August it amounted to twentyseven thousand. Of these, a great part were militia, and one fourth of the whole were sick. The diseases incident to new troops prevailed extensively; and were aggravated by a great deficiency in tents. These troops were so judiciously distributed on York Island, Long Island, Governor's Island, Paulus Hook, and on the Sound towards New Rochelle, and East and West Chester, that the enemy were very cautious in determining when or where to commence offensive operations.--Every probable point of debarkation was watched, and guarded with a force sufficient to embarrass, though very insufficient to prevent, a landing. From the time of the arrival of the British army at Staten Island, the Americans were in daily expectation of being attacked. General Washington was therefore strenuous in preparing his troops for action. He tried every expedient to kindle in their breasts the love of their country, and a high toned indignation against its invaders.--In general orders, he addressed them as follows: “ The time is now near at hand, which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves ; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness, from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of a brave resistance, or the most abjeeg
submission.We have therefore to resolve to conquer or to die.--Our own, our country's honour, calls upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us then rely upon the goodness of our cause, and the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble actions. The eyes of all our countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the tyranny meditated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world, that a freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.”
Meanwhile, General Washington was extremely desirous of making some impression upon the enemy, before their whole force should be collected. He conceived it to be very practicable to cross over in the night from the mouth of Thompson's creek, a little below Elizabethtown, on the New Jersey shore, to Staten Island, and cut off some detached posts of the enemy near the Blazing Star, within a peninsula formed by two creeks, which could not easily be re-inforced. This plan was to be executed by general Mercer, who commanded the flying camp, and had assisted in forming it; but the weather, on the night appointed for its execution, was so very tempestuous, as to make it impossible to cross the sound in such boats as had been provided.
The re-inforcements to the British army, about four hundred and fifty of whom had been captured by the American cruizers, were now arriving daily from Europe, and general Howe had been joined also by the troops from the southward. His strength was not accurately known, but was estimated on the whole, at about twenty-four thousand men. The last division of the Germans had not reached him, but they were not expected soon, and he thought himself strong enough to open the campaign without them.
When the whole re-inforcements of the enemy had arrived, General Washington, in expectation of an immediate attack, again addressed his army, and called on them to remember that “liberty, property, life, and honour, were all at stake ; that
upon their courage and conduct, rested the hopes of their bleeding and insulted country; that their wives, children, and parents, expected safety from them only; and that they had