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GLOOMY OPENING OF THE NEW YEAR. 173
army; for with that month expired the last of the old terms of enlistment. "We never have been so weak, writes Greene, "as we shall be to-morrow, when we dismiss the old troops." On this day Washington received cheering intelligence from Canada. A junction had taken place, a month previously, between Arnold and Montgomery at Point aux Trembles. They were about two thousand strong, and were making every preparation for attacking Quebec. Carleton was said to have with him but about twelve hundred men, the majority of whom were sailors. It was thought that the French would give up Quebec, if they could get the same conditions that were granted to the inhabitants of Montreal.*
Thus the year closed upon Washington with a ray of light from Canada, while all was doubt around him.
On the following morning (January 1st, 1776), his army did not amount to ten thousand men, and was composed of but half-filled regiments. Even in raising this inadequate force, it had been necessary to indulge many of the men with furloughs, that they might visit their families and friends. The expedients resorted to in equipping the army, show the prevailing lack of arms. Those soldiers who retired from service, were obliged to leave their weapons for their successors, receiving their appraised value. Those who enlisted, were required to bring a gun, or were charged a dollar for the use of one
* Letter of Washington to the President of Congress, Dec. 31.
during the campaign. He who brought a blanket was allowed two dollars. It was impossible to furnish uniforms; the troops, therefore, presented a motley appearance, in garments of divers cuts and colors; the price of each man's garb being deducted from his pay.
The detachments of militia from the neighboring provinces which replaced the disbanding troops, remained but for brief periods; so that, in despite of every effort, the lines were often but feebly manned, and might easily have been forced.
The anxiety of Washington, in this critical state of the army, may be judged from his correspondence with Reed. "It is easier to conceive than to describe the situation of my mind for some time past, and my feelings under our present circumstances," writes he on the 4th of January. "Search the volumes of history through, and I much question whether a case similar to ours is to be found, namely, to maintain a post against the power of the British troops for six months together, without powder, and then to have one army disbanded and another raised within the same distance (musket shot) of a reinforced enemy. What may be the issue of the last manœuvre, time only can unfold. I wish this month were well over our head. We are now left with a good deal less than half-raised regiments, and about five thousand militia, who only stand engaged to the middle of this month; when, according to custom, they will depart, let the necessity of their stay be ever so urgent. Thus, for more
than two months past, I have scarcely emerged from one difficulty before I have been plunged in another. How it will end, God, in his great goodness, will direct. I am thankful for his protection to this time. We are told that we shall soon get the army completed, but I have been told so many things which have never come to pass, that I distrust everything."
In a subsequent letter to Mr. Reed, he reverts to the subject, and pours forth his feelings with confiding frankWhat can be more touching than the picture he draws of himself and his lonely vigils about his sleeping camp? "The reflection on my situation and that of this army, produces many an unhappy hour, when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people know the predicament we are in on a thousand accounts; fewer still will believe, if any disaster happens to these lines, from what cause it flows. I have often thought how much happier I should have been, if, instead of accepting the command, under such circumstances, I had taken my musket on my shoulder and entered the ranks; or, if I could have justified the measure to posterity and my own conscience, had retired to the back country and lived in a wigwam. If I shall be able to rise superior to these and many other difficulties, which might be enumerated, I shall most religiously believe that the finger of Providence is in it, to blind the eyes of our enemies; for surely if we get well through this month, it must be for want of their knowing the disadvantages which we labor under."
Recurring to the project of an attack upon Boston, which he had reluctantly abandoned in deference to the adverse opinions of a council of war,-"Could I have foreseen the difficulties which have come upon us; could I have known that such a backwardness would have been discovered among the old soldiers to the service, all the generals upon earth should not have convinced me of the propriety of delaying an attack upon Boston till this time. When it can now be attempted, I will not undertake to say; but thus much I will answer for, that no opportunity can present itself earlier than my wishes."
In the midst of his discouragements, Washington received letters from Knox, showing the spirit and energy with which he was executing his mission, in quest of cannon and ordnance stores. He had struggled manfully and successfully with all kinds of difficulties from the advanced season, and head winds, in getting them from Ticonderoga to the head of Lake George. "Three days ago," writes he, on the 17th of December, "it was very uncertain whether we could get them over until next spring; but now, please God, they shall go. I have made fortytwo exceedingly strong sleds, and have provided eighty yoke of oxen to drag them as far as Springfield, where I shall get fresh cattle to take them to camp."
It was thus that hardships and emergencies were bringing out the merits of the self-made soldiers of the Revolution; and showing their commander-in-chief on whom he might rely.
MILITARY PREPARATIONS IN BOSTON.-A SECRET EXPEDITION.-ITS OBJECT.LEE'S PLAN FOR THE SECURITY OF NEW YORK.-OPINION OF ADAMS ON THE SUBJECT.-INSTRUCTIONS TO LEE.-TRANSACTIONS OF LEE IN CONNECT· ICUT.-LEE'S POLICY IN REGARD TO THE TORIES.-UNEASINESS IN NEW YORK.-LETTER OF THE COMMITTEE OF SAFETY TO LEE.-HIS REPLY.-HIS OPINION OF THE PEOPLE OF CONNECTICUT.-OF THE HYSTERICAL LETTER FROM THE NEW YORK CONGRESS.
ARLY in the month of January, there was a
great stir of preparation in Boston harbor. A fleet of transports were taking in supplies, and making arrangements for the embarkation of troops. Bomb-ketches and flat-bottomed boats were getting ready for sea, as were two sloops-of-war, which were to convey the armament. Its destination was kept secret; but was confidently surmised by Washington.
In the preceding month of October, a letter had been laid before Congress, written by some person in London of high credibility, and revealing a secret plan of operations said to have been sent out by ministers to the commanders in Boston. The following is the purport: Possession was to be gained of New York and Albany, through the assistance of Governor Tryon, on whose in.