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CHAP.IV. that time, and before they could again be in 1776. readiness for the attack, the works were made
so strong, that it was thought unadvisable to attempt to force them; and the evacuation of the town was resolved on.
In the expectation that the flower of the British troops would be engaged in the attack on the heights of Dorchester, general Washington had concerted a plan for availing himself of that occasion, to attack the town of Boston itself. Four thousand chosen men were held in readiness to embark at the mouth of Cam. bridge river, on a signal to be given, if the enemy should be out in such force, as to justify an opinion that an attack on the town might be made with a good prospect of success. These troops were to embark in two divisions, the first to be led by brigadier general Sullivan, the second by brigadier general Green, and the whole to be under the command of major general Putnam,. The boats were to be preceded by three floating batteries, which were to keep up a heavy fire on that part of the town where the troops were to land. It was proposed that the first division should land at the powder house, and gain possession of Bacon hill; the second at Barton's point, or a little south of it, and after securing that post, to join the other division, and force the enemy's works and gates so as to give admission to the troops from Roxbury.
Had this plan succeeded, the British army CHAP. IV. in Boston must have been entirely destroyed. 1776. Of its success general Washington entertained the most sanguine hopes, and very greatly regretted the storm which defeated the proposed attack on the heights of Dorchester, and consequently the residue of his plan, the execution of which was entirely dependent on that attack.
The general soon received information of the determination of the enemy to evacuate Boston.
A paper signed by some of the select men of the town, and brought out with a flag, stated the fact, and was accompanied with propositions said to be made on the part of general Howe, but not signed by him, relative to the security of the town, and the peaceable embarkation of his army. As this letter was not addressed to the commander in chief, nor authenticated by the signature of general Howe, nor by any act obligatory on him, it was thought improper that general Washington should directly notice it, and it was determined that the officer to whom it was delivered, should return an answer stating the reasons why a more particular regard was not paid to it.
In the mean time, the determination to continue to advance on the enemy, and to secure Nook's hill, was changed. The reason assigned for abandoning this plan was, that it was not deemed advisable, now that the evacuation of Boston was certain, to press the retreating
CHAP.IV. army too closely ; because their embarkation 1776. could not be prevented, and a longer delay
would give further time to strengthen New, York, which the general still persisted to think would be their destination. In this opinion he moved considerable detachments towards that place, before the town of Boston was actually evacuated. This event took place on the 17th of March, and was probably in a degree precipitated by some works thrown up on Nook's hill the preceding evening. As the enemy continued some time in Nantasket road, so as to create a suspicion that they might possibly design to reland, the general thought it necessary to take possession of the heights around the town, and to erect fortifications on Fort hill, a point of great natural strength, and commanding the place where an invading army would most probably debark. But in a few days, the whole fieet set sail, and the American army proceeded by divisions to New York.
The recovery of this important town was an event which gave very general joy. It was “resolved, that the thanks of congress in their own name, and in the name of the Thirteen United Colonies, whom they represent, be presented to his excellency general Washington, 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; and CHAP. IV. that a committee of three be appointed to prepare a letter of thanks, and a proper device for the medal."
The town of Boston was left standing, and much less mischief was done to the houses and property of the inhabitants, than had been apprehended. A great number of those who had been attached to the royal cause removed with the army, and transported their effects with them to Halifax. Several pieces of heavy ordnance were found, many of which the enemy had rendered useless by knocking off the trunnions, and the residue were spiked up. Other stores were also left, though not to a very considerable amount.
Invasion of Canada meditated.... The Americans enter
that province....Siege of St. Johns....Capture of fort Chambleé....Carleton defeated at Longueisle.... St. Johns capitulates.... Montreal surrenders....Arnold's expedition by the way of the Kennebec.... He arrives before Quebec ....And retires to Point Aux Trembles.... Montgomery lays siege to Quebec.... Unsuccessful attack on that place ....Death of Montgomery.... Blockade of Quebec continued....General Thomas takes command of the army.... The blockade of Quebec is raised.... General Sullivan takes the command...-Battle of the Three Rivers.... Canada evacuated.
1775. Whilst these transactions were passing in
Boston, other events of deep and serious interest to both parties, took place still further to the north.
Great dissatisfaction prevailed in Canada. The Quebec act, and other measures of administration, had disquieted the British settlers, without attaching to government, either the Indian or French inhabitants. Believing that province to be in a state of most perfect security, it had been left almost entirely undefended: and the regular troops on the continent of America, had been chiefly drawn to Boston. At the same time, Quebec was known to be a place of deposit for military stores to an immense amount, and it was also known that great efforts were making to conciliate the Canadians and Indians, in order to