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With extreme anxiety he noticed the expense of the cainpaign, without possessing the means of diminish.
He knew that his country was destitute of revenue, and apprehended that her resources must soon be exhausted. In a few months the arıny of course would be disbanded, and the enlistment of another he conceived to be extremely difficult, if practicable; powerful reinforcements to the enemy were, in the Spring, to be expected from England ; and he thought it do ubtful, whether proportionate strength could be collected in the Colonies to meet them in the field. He conceived it, therefore, of vast importance to the American cause to subdue the army in Boston, before it could be reinforced. An event of this magnitude would unite and animate the Colonies, and convince Great Britain, that America was determined in her opposition to the measures of Parliament. Under these impressions he often reconnoitred the enemy, and collected information of their numbers and strength from every possible source. The attempt to dislodge the British he well knew would be attended with ex. treme hazard , but it was his opinion, that the probability of ultimate success, and the great advantages accruing from it, warranted the effort. In a letter to the General Officers, he stated the questions, to which he desir3d them to direct their close attention; and after sufficient time had been given for deliberation, ho called them into council to determine, whether an attack on Boston should be made. The result was an unanimous opinion, “ that for the present, at least, the attempt ought not to be made.” To continue the blockade, and to strengthen their lines, was all that remained in their power.
Although the Commander in Chief acquiesced in the decision of the Council, yet it was evident, from his letter to Congress, that he himself felt inclined to risk the attack. Probably this inclination was in
creased by the wishes of Congress, previously sommunicatod to him.
The scarcity of fresh provisions in Boston induced the enemy to send small parties to collect the stock along the shores of the continent, within protecting distance of their armed vessels. This imposed a heavy bur den upon the towns on the seaboard, in the defence of their property; and the Governours of several of the Colonies were frequent and importunate in their request to General WASHINGTON to detach forces from his army for their protection. He was embarrassed by repeated requisitions of this nature. To make the required detachments, would expose the rain army to inevitable destruction; and to deny the requests, would occasion dissatisfactions, which endangered a cause that could be supported only by publick opinion. To relieve him from this embarrassment, Congress passed a resolution, “ That the army before Boston was de. signed only to oppose the enemy in that place, and ought not to be weakened by detachments for the se curity of other parts of the country.”
General WASHINGTON early gave an example of the humane manner in which le determined to conduct the war. By the representations of individuals from Nova Scotia, Congress was led to suppose that a small for from the American army, aided by thos inhabit. ants of that Province who were in the American interest, might surprise a British garrison at Fort Cumberland, at the head of the Bay of Fundy, and possess themselves of valuable military stores, if not retain the country; the measure was, therefore, recommended by that body to their General. On examination he found that the stores were of no magnitude, and that the erpedition would expose the friends of America in that Province to inevitable ruin, from the prosecutions of their own Government, and he discountenanced the scheme. The attempt was, however,
ntually made by a few indiscreet individuals, but it failed, and in Vol. I.
volvea che inhabitants of Nova Scotin, who engaged in it, in the predicted ruin.
Sonic of the American cruisers, acting without publick orders, brought three of the principal inhabitants of the Island of St. John into General WASHINGTON'S camny; he treated then with the greatest tenderness, and permitted them immediately to return to their distressed families.
In the course of the Autumn, gradual approaches were niade towards the British posts. The army being strengthened by the arrival of Morgan's Riflemen from Virginia, and a number of regiments from Connecticut and Phode-Island, General WASHINGTON de
tached Colonel Arnold, with a thousand men, SEPT. 1775.
by the rivers Kennebeck and St. Francis, to
co-operate with General Montgomery in Canada; and, if possible, to surprise Quebeck, the capital of that Province. Arnold, and about six hundred of bis men, actuated by unconquerable resolution, with inconceivable fatigue reached Quebeck. The situation of the garrison corresponded with the presumptions on which the expedition was founded; but a number of circumstances, not open to human foresight, nor controllable by human prudence, rendered it unsuccessful.
Through the season, the highest endeavours of the Commander in Chief were exerted to procure arms and ammunition for his troops, and partial success at tended the measures adopted in every part of the union to accomplish this important purpose. A successful voyage was also made to Africa, and every pound of gunpowder for sale in the British factories on that coast was obtained in exchange for NewEngland rum. Capt. Manly, in the privateer Lee, captured . British ordnance ship, laden with military stores, so completely adapted to the wants of the American arıny, that had Congress made out an in. vuice, a better assortment could not have been pro
cured. Considerations respecting the re-enlistment of the army lay with iminense weight on the mind of General Washington, and he repeatedly invited the attention of Congress to this subject. In September, Congress appointed a Committee of their own bcay to repair to Head Quarters, to consult with the Commander in Chief, and the Executives of the New-England. Provinces, on the most effectual method of continuing, supporting, and regulating a Continental ar my.” The result of their deliberation was, that the new army should consist of twenty thousand three hundred and seventy-two inen ; but unhappily, the men were to be enlisted only for one year. The evils resulting from short enlistments were severely felt at the close of the next campaign, even to the utmost hazard of the independence of the country.
Various causes operated to lead Congress to the al. most fatal plan of temporary military establishıments. Among the most important of these, was a prospect of accommodation with the parent state.
Want of er perience in tho management of war upon an extensive scale was another. The revolutionary conflict placed the people of America in a situation in which all the energies of the human mind are brought into action, and man makes his noblest efforts; the occasion called upon the publick theatre statesmen and warriours, who, by the wise and honourable execution of the complicat ed duties of their new characters, surprised the world; still from them errours of inexperience were to be expected. The fear of accumulating expense, which the resourcos of the country could not discharge, had a leading influence to deter the American Government from the adoption of permanent military establishments; although the recommendations of Congress, and the regulations of State Conventions had, in the day of enthusiasm, the force of law, yet the ruling power thought it inexpedient to attempt to raise lar sums by direct taxes, at a time wher, the commerce of
the country was annihilated, and thą cultivators of the ground were subjected to heavy services in the field of war. The only recourse was to
paper medium, without funds for its redemption, or for the supe port of its credit, and therefore of necessity subject to depreciation, and, in its nature, capable of only a temporary currency ; Congress, therefore, was justly afraid of the expense of a permanent army. Jua. lousy toward a standing army had a powerful influence upon the military arrangements of America; this jealous spirit early insinuated itself into the Legislative bodies of the Colonies, and was displayed in many of their measures. It appears in the address presented by the Provincial Assembly of New-York to General Washington, while on his journey to the American camp. “ We have the fullest assurance, say they, that whenever this important contest shall be decided, by that fondest wish of each American soul, an accommodation with our Mother Country, you will cheerfully resign the important de. posito committed into your hands, and reassume tho character of our worthiest citizen.” Congress, as a body, unquestionably felt this jealousy, and was afraid to trust a standing army with the power necessary to conduct the war, lest, at its successful termination, this army should become the master of the country for whose liberties it had fought. The plan of temporary enlistments was adopted by Congress, in the confident persuasion, that draughts on every occasion might be made from the militia, to oppose any force Britain could bring into the field; and that the native patriotism and bravery of the Americans would prove superiour to the mechanical movements of disciplined troops.
There being no magazines of arms in the country, the soldiers of the first campaign were of necessity permitted to bring their own muskets into service, although their different length and size occasioned