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to suppress the tories, who were collecting in that vicinity.* Also to call on New-Jersey for support.
Congress at the same time ordered an armed force into the colony of New York, to disarm every one who had voted against choosing members to the convention; but these orders were countermanded, and Gen. Lee proceeded according to orders, raised twelve hundred men, and marched down to New-York.
Captain Parker, of the Asia man ©f war, spread a general alarm with his threats, that if Gen. Lee was permitted to enter the city, he would immediately destroy it. The committee of safety communicated this threat to Gen. Lee, and expressed their fears; but Gen. Lee entered the city. Congress also sent a committee to confer with the committee of safety, and Gen. Lee, upon the expediency of his measures ; but Lee overruled both, and entered upon the work of fortifying New-York, and the adjacent posts, at Hell gate and upon Long-Island, as well as at the Highlands. Capt. Parker recalled his threats, for the sake of the many loyal inhabitants who resided in the city.
At this critical moment Gen. Clinton arrived at NewYork, and finding Gen. Lee strongly fortified, offered his apology as being only on a visit to his old friend Tryon, and assured his friends that he was destined to North-Carolina. Gen. Clinton had no troops with him.
Pending these movements, the weather became severe, and about the middle of February, Gen. Washington considered that the ice might be sufficiently strong to admit of the contemplated attack upon Boston. The general in chief summoned a council of war upon the occasion, and endeavoured to impress their minds with the importance, as well as expediency of the measure; but the council took
, * Gen..Washington consulted John Achms, Esq. then a member off^ongress, and at Watertown to attend the Prorinoial Congress there, upon the extent of his powers, as well as the expediency of the measure in detaching Gen. Lee.
into consideration, that their powder would douMfless fail them before the attempt could be carried through, and that if it should fail, the army would lie at the mercy of the enemy, and be ruined; they were therefore almost unanimous against the attack, and it failed.
The regret which the general felt upon this occasion, is thus expressed in his letter to Congress. i 1 , •,•
"Perhaps the irksomeness of my situation may have given different ideas to me, from those which influenced the gentlemen I consulted; and might have inclined me to put more to the hazard than was consistent with prudence. If it had this effect, I am not sensible of it, as I endeavoured to give the subject all the consideration a matter of such importance required. True it is, and 1 cannot help acknowledging, that I have many disagreeable sensations 'on account of my situation; for to have the eyes of all the continent fixed on me, with anxious expectations of hearing of some great event, and to be restrained in every military operation for the want of necessary means to carry it on, is not very pleasing; especially as the means used to conceal my weakness from the enemy, conceal it also from our friends, and add to their wonder."
The recruiting under the new regulations had progressed so successfully, that by the 1st of March, the army before Boston amounted to about 14,000 men, and General Washington again called into the field about 6000 militia, making in the whole, a force of about 20,000 strong; with this force General Washington resolved to bring the enemy to an action, or drive him from Boston. To effect this, he commenced his operations by ordering General Thomas, with a detachment from Roxbury, to march onto Dorchester heights, and fortify this position. Preparatory to this movement, a general bombardment of the town commenced, on the nights of the 2d, 3d, and 4th of March, successively, which alarmed the enemy with the apprehension of a general attack; and on the night of the 4th, General Thomas marched on to the heigths; and such was the activity and zeal of the troops, that they had penetrated through the deep frost, and thrown up a breast-work sufficient to cover them from the fire of the enemy in the morning. This movement gave a general alarnj in Boston, and General Howe saw at once, that he must either dislodge the Americans, or evacuate Boston; for Dorchester heights commanded the harbour, and endangered the fleet. The first was resolved upon, and Lord Piercy was ordered to the service, and actually embarked with about fhree thousand men, upon the expedition; but the weather was so tempestuous for several days, that it defeated the enterprise.
General Washington had made his arrangements to commence an attack upon Boston, as soon as this detachment should become engaged at Dorchester; but the storm which defeated the expedition of Lord Piercy, most probaby, saved the British army in Boston.
Thus pressed upon all sides, General Howe soon made known his intentions to leave Boston, which were communicated to General Washington by the select-men of the town, through a special flag. General Washington now turned his attention to New-York, and sent on several detachments to strengthen that post, before the enemy had embarked his troops at Boston, that he might support General Lee. On the 17th of march General Howe embarked his troops; evacuated Boston; and fell down to Nantasket roads, and from thence in a few days he sailed for Halifax. The joy excited upon the recovery of Boston became universal throughout the united colonies; and called forth the following resolution of Congress—" That the thanks of Congress, in their own name, and in the name
Vol. III. 22
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 that a committee of three be appointed to prepare a letter of thanks, and a proper device for the medal."
The enemy removed all his valuable effects from Boston, and carried off all the tories to Halifax, and the town was left without much damage.
Pending these operations in the north, the patriots of Virginia proceeded to organise their militia, to raise minute men, and thus strengthen the cause of liberty in that colony. But Lord Dunmore, the governor, made as great preparation to collect a military force to support the royal cause, which was covered by several ships of war, then stationed upon that coast. To overawe the patriots, the fleet attempted to burn the town of Hampton; but the commanding officer at Williamsburg, sent a detachment in the night, who reached Hampton in the morning, at the time the enemy commenced bis cannonade, and repelled the attack by their small arms, and he withdrew with precipitation, leaving one tender, which was captured by the patriots. This brave defence highly incensed the governor, and he proclaimed martial law in the colony, and at the same time called on all persons capable of bearing arms, to rally around the standard of the king, bn penalty of being considered, and treated as rebels, and traitors :*he also offered freedom to all indented servants, (such as apprentices and others,) and to all negroes, or slaves that would join him.
Under the impression of this proclamation, his lordship collected a very considerable force, wt.o were assembled about Norfolk, and threatened the subjugation of that part of the colony. The patriots at Williamsburg detached a regiment of regulars, with a party of minute men, who marched down to Norfolk, and besieged his lordship in his fort, by throwing up a breast-work, and watching his movements; but they had no cannon to carry forward their siege.
His lordship resented this indignity, and detached Capt. Fordyce at the head of about 60 grenadiers, of the 14th regiment to storm the breast-work of the patriots. This officer obeyed his order with great bravery, and on the morning of the 14th of December, advanced to the attack with fixed bayonets; but the patriots opened upon the column such a well directed fire, both in front, and on the flanks, that the detachment was broken and dispersed, and Capt. Fordyce left dead on the field, within a few paces of the breastwork, with the whole column of grenadiers. The patriots did not loose one man.
The next night his lordship abandoned his fort, and took refuge with his principal followers, or adherents, on board the fleet, and the patriots entered Norfolk in triumph, where they amused themselves by firing into the vessels that lay within musket shot, from the buildings near the harbour.
To revenge this indignity, his lordship ordered the ships f j destroy the town, which order was obeyed on the night of the 1st of January, 1776, by a heavy cannonade ; and a party were landed who set fire to the town. By some strange fatality, the patriots rejoiced at this event, and cheerfully saw the flames rage in Norfolk for more than a week, and then coolly and deliberately set fire to, and destroyed the remainder; thus wantonly reducing the handsomest town in Virginia, to a heap of ruins.
His lordship continued his depredations upon the coast, burning, plundering and destroying, like a common marauder, until his own party were disgusted with his savage depredations, and then he withdrew with his min