« ZurückWeiter »
was far short of what the American people expected. Common fame represented the troups under the command of Washington to be nearly treble the royal army. This ample force was supposed to be furnished with every thing necessary for the most active operations. Their real numbers and deficient equipments were, for obvious reasons, · carefully concealed. The ardour and impatience of the public had long since counted on the expulsion of the British from Boston. Washington was equally ardent, but better informed and more prudent. He well knew the advantages that would result to the cause in which he was engaged from some brilliant stroke, nor was he insensible to in. sinuations by some that he was devoid of energy, and by others that he wished to prolong his own importance by continuing the war. He bore these murmurs with patience; but nevertheless, had his eyes directed to Boston, and wished for an opening to commence 'offensive operations. The pro. priety of this measure was submitted to the consideration of repeated councils of war, who uniformly declared against it. A hope was nevertheless indulged that ice in the course of the winter, would be favourable to an assault. That this opportunity might not be lost, measures were adopted for procuring large reinforcements of militia to serve till the first of March, 1776. From four to five thousand men were accordingly procured. Contrary to what is usual, the waters about Bos, ton continued open till the middle of February. Councils of war were hitherto nearly unanimous against an assault. General Washington was l ss opposed to it than some others, but the want of ammunition for the artillery, together with the great probability of failure, induced him to decline the atteinpt. In lieu of it he formed a bold resolution to take a new position that would either compel the British General to come to æi action, or to evacuate Boston. The American army was now stronger than ever. Recruiting for the two last months had been unusually successful. The regular army exceeded fourteen thousand men, and the militia were about six thousand. Washington, thus reinforced, determined to fortify the heights of Dorchester, from which he could annoy the ships in the harbour, and the army in the town. To favour the execution of this plan, the town and lines of the enemy were bombarded on the 2d. 3d, and 4th. of March. On the night of the 4th. Gen. Thomas, with a considerable detachment, took possession of the heights of Dorchester. By great exertions 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. These were every hour advancing so as to afford additional security to the Americans posted behind them. The Admiral informed Gen. Howe, that if the Americans kept 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 alternative which Washington wished for. They must either risk an action with. out their lines, or abandon the place. Gen. Howe preferred the former, and ordered three thousand men on this service. These were embarked, and fell down to the Castle with the intention of pro
place he supposed the evacuating army was destined. Under this impression, he detached a considerable part of his army to that place, and with the remainder took possession of Boston, 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.
The inhabitants, released from the severities of a garrison life, and from the various indignities to which they were subjected, 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. Gen. 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 expressed their good wishes in the fol. lowing 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 modest and proper.
Of the operations of General Washington in New York and New Jer
sey..... The battle op 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 contend with. The royal army in Boston was, on a small scale, calculated 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 calculated 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 defended 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 that induced the British to gain possession of New York, weighed with Washing