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munication with Long Island, where it was chap. IV. determined to form a strong fortified camp for 1776. three thousand men; and to make the defences of the highlands as respectable as possible, which were immediately to be garrisoned by a battalion of regular troops.
General Clinton arrived almost at the same instant with general Lee, but without any troops. He gave out that none were coming; that no hostilities were contemplated against New York, and that he was himself merely on." a visit to his friend Tryon. “ If it be really so,” added general Lee, in his letter containing this communication, “it is the most whimsical piece of civility I ever heard of.” General Clinton did not affect to conceal his objects, but declared that he was to proceed to North Carolina, where he expected the small force he should carry with him would be joined by five regiments from Europe.
The fortifications of New York were prose. cuted with vigour, and captain Parker, finding his threats entirely disregarded, no longer uttered them, but avowed his wish to save a town which contained so many loyal inhabi. tants.
About the middle of February, the severe cold set in, and the ice became sufficiently firm to bear the troops. General Washington was now disposed to execute the bold plan he had formed, of attacking the enemy in Boston.
CHAP. IV. Several considerations concurred in recom1776, mending this hazardous enterprise. There
being no prospect of a sufficient supply of
Towards the latter end of February, there
CHAP. IV. Since the allowance of a bounty, recruiting 1776. had been rather more successful. The effective
regular force engaged for the year, now amounted"
To facilitate the execution of this plan, and
in pursuance of the advice given in a council March. of war, a heavy bombardment and cannonade
on the town and lines of the enemy, was commenced on the evening of the second of March, from the forts, which was repeated the two succeeding nights. On the night of the fourth, immediately after the firing had begun, a con.
Possession taken of the heights of Dorchester,
siderable detachment of the Americans, under CHAP. IV. the command of general Thomas, crossing the 1776. neck from Roxbury, took possession of the po heights without opposition; and though the best escer. ground was so hard as to be almost impenetrable, in consequenee of which they were obliged to avail themselves of fascines and other inaterials carried to the place, yet, by very great activity and industry through the night, the works were so far advanced by the morning, as in a great degree to cover them from the shot of the enemy. When day light disclosed their operations to the British, a considerable degree of embarrassment appeared, and an ineffectual fire was commenced on the party in possession of the heights, who opened in turn a battery on them, and continued with unremitting labour to strengthen their position. . It was now necessary to dislodge the Amer- March so icans from the heights, or to evacuate the town; and the British general as had been foreseen, determined to embrace the former part of the alternative. Lord Percy with part of five regi. ments, and the grenadiers, and light infantry, amounting to about three thousand men, was ordered on this service; and the next day, the troops were embarked and fell down to the castle, in order to proceed from thence up the river to the intended scene of action; but they were scattered by a furious storm which disabled them from prosecuting the enterprise at