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show itself, and the avowal of a determination CHAP. IV. to join the king's standard, is said to have been 1775. made with impunity. Justly alarmed at these threatening appearances, which were rendered the more serious by some confidential communications from England, stating the intention of the administration to be, to possess themselves immediately of the Hudson, and to oc. cupy both New York and Albany, an effort was made in congress to obtain a'resolution for removing what was believed to be the primary cause, by seizing the governor. He had, however, been artful enough so to conduct himself, as to make impressions in his favour on several of the popular leaders, and he was defended by a part of the delegation from New York, with so much earnestness, that the advocates of the proposition forbore for a time to press it.
When, afterwards, the increasing defection in that province induced them to resume the subject, the resolution was expressed in general terms, and assumed the form of a recommendation to those who exercised the legisla. tive and executive authorities in the several provinces, “to arrest and secure every person in the respective colonies, whose going at large might, in their opinion, endanger the safety of the colony, or the liberties of America."
Intelligence of this resolution is supposed to have been received by the governor, who, after some correspondence with the mayor of
CHAP. IV. the city respecting his personal safety, retired 1775. for security on board the Halifax packet; from
whence he continued to carry on his intrigues with nearly as much advantage as while on shore.
This temper manifested by New York, excited serious fears respecting the highlands on the Hudson, a post of so much importance as to have engaged the attention of the convention, who applied to congress on that subject, and transmitted a plan of the works proposed to be there erected for the defence of the river. Congress warmly recommended a prosecution of this plan, and determined on establishing a continental post in the highlands, for the garrisoning of which measures were immediately taken. Two regiments were directed to be raised by New Jersey on continental establishment, to serve for one year, and a detachment from these troops was ordered to the Hudson. Those not ordered to the highlands, were directed to approach New York, probably, for the purpose of giving confidence to their friends in that place.
But the subject which, next to the supply of arms and ammunition, most interested the American government, was the re-inlistment of the army before Boston.
The early attention of congress to this essen. tial object had been most earnestly solicited by general Washington, and, on the 29th of September, a committee had been appointed CHAP. IV. with directions to repair to the camp at Cam. 1775.
bridge, there to consult with the commander i in chief, and with the chief magistrates of New
Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, and the council of Massachussetts, “on the most effectual method of continuing, supporting, and regulating a continental army.” On the return of this committee, it was determined, that the new army intended to lie before Boston should consist of twenty thousand, three hundred and seventy-two men, including officers, to be raised as far as practicable from the troops already in service at that place. Unfortunately, in constituting this first military establishment of the union, an essential, possibly an inevi. table error was committed, the consequences of which were ever afterwards very severely felt. The inlistments instead of being for the war, were only for the term of one year, if not sooner discharged by congress. It is not easy entirely to account for this fatal error. Some jealousy of a permanent army was, probably, intermingled with the hope, that the war would not be of long duration, and with the fear, that much difficulty would be experienced in prevailing on men to enter into engagements of unlimited extent. Perhaps the habits of the northern colonies, where it had been usual to raise men for a single campaign, may have contributed to this measure. And
CHAP IV. it very probably might have been supposed, 1775. that as hostilities progressed, the public re.
sentments would increase, the people would be more united, and the ranks would be filled with more facility. Whatever motives led to its adoption, its consequences were of the most serious nature; and no one part of the Ameri. can system brought their ultimate success into such real hazard. .
Accompanying the resolution for raising and establishing the new army, were others, some of which serve to exhibit the perilous condition of the country, and how unprepared it was for the arduous conflict it was engaged in.
The soldiers had brought with them into service their own arms, a practice at all times inconvenient, as they will be of different caliber; yet it was deemed necessary to retain at a valuation, for the new army, those belonging to men who would not re-inlist. The government being entirely unprovided with blankets, two dollars were offered to every person who would bring with him an article so necessary in a winter campaign ; and as no regimentals had been procured for the troops, various coloured clothes were purchased up, to be deli. vered to them, and the price deducted from their pay. But no regulation was more extraordinary, or evidenced more strongly the public necessity, than that which required the soldiers to find their own arms, or to pay six shillings
for the use of arms furnished by the continent CHAP. IV. for the campaign.
1775. As soon as the arrangements had been made by the committee, and before they had been confirmed by the approbation of congress, general Washington proceeded to take the prepara. tory steps towards carrying them into operation. In his general orders he required, that all officers who intended to decline the further October 22. service of their country, and to retire from the army at the expiration of the terms for which they were at present engaged, should signify their intentions in writing to their respective colonels, to be communicated to the general by the officers commanding brigades. “Those brave men and true patriots, who resolved to continue to serve, and defend their brethren, privileges and property,” were also requested to signify their intentions in the same manner, and to consider themselves engaged to the last day of December 1776, unless sooner discharged by congress.
But the high spirit, and enthusiastic ardour, Difficulty of which had brought such numbers into the field the army. after the battle of Lexington, was already beginning to dissipate, and all the alacrity for the service which had been expected, was not displayed. Many were unwilling to continue in it, and others annexed special conditions to their further engagement. Very many insisted on stipulating for leave to visit their families VOL. II.