Imagens das páginas

ed to 14,000 bien, which was reinforced by 6,000 of the militia of Massachusetts. General Washington now resolved to take possession of the Heights of Dorchester, in the prospect that this movement would bring on a general engagement with the enemy, under favourable circumstances; or, should this expectation fail, from this position he would be enabled to annoy the ships in the harbour, and the troops in the town. Possessing these heights, he might erect works upon the points of land nearest to the southerly part of Boston, which wouid command the harbour and a great part of the town, as well as the beach from which an embarcation must be made, in case the enemy was dis pos to evacuate the place.

To mask the design, a severe cannonade and bombardment were opened on the British works and lines, for sereral nights in succession. As soon as the firing began on the night of the 4th of March, a strong dotachment marched from Roxbury, over the neck, and, without discovery, took possession of the heights. General Ward, who commanded the division of the army in Roxbury, had, fortunately, provided fascines before the resolution passed to fortify the place ; these were of great use, as the ground was deeply frozen; and, in the course of the night, the party ly uncommon exertions erected works which defended them against the shot of the enemy. On the next morning, the British inanifested surprise and consternation at sight of the American fortifications. Mutual firings took place, but with little effect; and the Americans laboured indefatigably to complete their works.

On the contingence of an attack upon Dorchester Heights, by a strong force, it had been resolved, that four thousand of the American troops, in boats, should cross Charles river, protected by threc floating batteries, and attempt to carry the British posts in Boston, and open the communication by the neck to the Ameri. can forces in Roxbury

Admiral Shuldham informed General Howe, that the Americans must be dislodged, or he could not remain with his fleet in Boston harbour. In pursuance of this intimation, on the afternoon of the 5th, a detachment consisting of three thousand men fell down in Castle Island, now Fort Independence, a position which would facilitate the attack on the next morning but a violent storm, during the nigiit, deranged the plan, and before the British were again in readiness to make the attempt, the American works became too formidable to be assaulted.

General Washington, on this occasion, indulged a confident expectation of the success of his plans; and wished the meditated attack upon Dorchester to be made, in the sanguine hope, that the complete conquest of the British troops in Boston would be its ultimate effect; but the storm frustrated his prospects.

The safety of the British fleet and army, rendered the evacuation of Boston a necessary measure ; and che arrangements of the enemy for this purpose, were soon communicated to General Washington. A pa per, under the signature of four of the Selectmen, was sent out by a flag, containing a proposal, purporting to be made by General Howe, that on condition his army was perritted to embark without molestation, the town should be left without injury. The letter was directed to the Commander in Chief, but it did not bear the signature of General Howe, nor bina him to the observance of the condition. General WASHINGTon did not, therefore, officially notice it; but he directed the American officer, to whom it was delivered, to return an answer to the Selectinen, inforining them that their letter had been communicated to his Geno ral, and assigning the reasons why it had not been officially noticed ; but both the commanders appear to have tacitly complied with the conditions. The British army was not annoyed in the preparations to leave their post, nor was Nook's point fortified. On the 17th,

the town was evacuated, and left in a better state than was expected; the houses were not damaged in any great degree ; but the British left few publick stores of value.

Although Halifax was mentioned, as the destined place of the British armament, yet General Washing. TOn apprehended that New-York was their object On this supposition, he detached several brigades of his army to that city, before the evacuation of Boston

General Howe remained a number of days in Nan tasket Road, and the Commander in Chief, when he entered Boston, as a measure of security, furtified Fort Hill.

The issue of the campaign was l.ighly gratifying to all classes; and the gratulation of his fellow-citizens upon the repossession of the metropolis of Massachusetts, was more pleasing to the Commander in Chief than would have been the honours of a triumph. Con gress, to express the publick approbation of the milita ry achievements of their General, resolved, “ That the thanks of Congress, in their own name,

and in the name of the thirteen United Colonies, 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 coinmemora. tion of this great event, and presented to his Ex cellency.”

In his letter, informing Congress that he had exe cuted their order, and communicated to the ariny the vote of thanks, he cbserves, “ They were indeed, at first, a band of undisciplined husbandmen, but it is under God, to their bravery and attention to their dutv, that I am indebted for that success which has procured me the only reward I wish to receive, the aftection und esteem of my countrymen.”


General Washington marches the army to New-York-Fortifica

tions of the City and River-Independence declared-General Howe lands on Staten Island - Interview between General Washington and Colonel Patterson-State of the British and American Forces-Camp at Brooklyn-Battle on Long Island-Retreat from it--The City and Island of New-York evacuated—Maneuvres at White Plains-Fort Washington taken-General Howe invades New-Jersey--Depression of the Americans-Gencral Washington invested with new Powers--Success at Trenion, and at Princeton-New-Jersey recovered.

1776. As soon as the necessary arrangements were made in Boston, in the persuasion tivat the Hudson would be the scene of the next campaign, General Washington marched the main body of his army to New-York, where he arrived himself the 14th of April.

The situation of New-York was highly favourable for an invading army, supported by a superiour naval force. The Sound, the North and East rivers, opened a direct access to any point on Long Island, York Island, or on the continent bordering upon those waters. To the effectual defence of the city, the passage up the rivers must be obstructed by forts and other impediments; and an army was necessary, of force sufficient to man the posts and lines of detence, and to meet the invading foe in the field. Aware of these facts, General Washe Ington doubted the practicability of a successful de. fence of New York. But the importance of the place., and the difficulty which he had already experienced in dislodging an army from a fortified town, open to the protection and supplies of a fleet, inclined him to make the attempt. His own disposition to the measure was strengthened by the wishes of Congress, the opinion of his general officers, and by the expectation of his country. The resolution being formed, he called into action, all the resources in his power, to effect it. His first care was to put an end to the intercourse, which

to this time had been continued, between the learn and the British ships in the harbour, by which thoy wero supplied with every necessary; and Tryon, the British Go sernour, enjoyed the most favourable opportunity to concert his plans with the numerous disaffected inhabitants of the city and its vicinity; and by the aid of the Committee of Safety, this dangerous communication was effectually stopped. The General, with unremitted diligence, pushed on his works of defence. Hulks were sunk in the North and East rivers ; forts were erected on the most commanding situations on their banks; and works were raised to defend the narrow passage between Long and York Islands.

The passes in the High Lands, bordering on the Hudson, became an object of early and solicitous attention. The command of this river was equally im portant to the American and the British General. By its possession, the Americans easily conveyed supplies of provision and ammunition to the northern army, and secured an intercourse between the southern and northern colonies, an intercourse essential to the success of the war. In the hands of the British, this necessary communication was interrupted, and an intercourse between the Atlantic and Canada, was opened to them. General WASHINGTON ordered these passes to be fortified, and made their security an object of primary importance, through every period of his command.

In these defensive preparations, the American army incessantly laboured until Lord and General Howe arrived at Sandy Hook with the British fleet and army. In the near prospect of active warfare, the mind of the Commander in Chief was agitated by innumerable em barrassments. He found himself destitute of the means to give his country the protection it expected from him ; the Colonies haa ! lilled up their respec. tive regiments ; his force had been weakened by large detachments sent to reinforce the army in Canada ; he

« AnteriorContinuar »