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BATTLE OF BUNKER'S HILL.
between the breastwork and the fortified fence | Knowlton maintained their ground at the forpresented a weak point. It having been acci-tified fence; which indeed had been nobly dedentally discovered that the ammunition of the Americans was nearly expended, preparations were made to carry the works at the point of the bayonet; and the soldiery threw off their knapsacks, and some even their coats, to be more light for action.
fended throughout the action. Pomeroy distinguished himself here by his sharp shooting until his musket was shattered by a ball. The resistance at this last hastily constructed work was kept up after the troops in the redoubt had given way, and until Colonel Prescott had left the hill; thus defeating General Howe's design of cutting off the retreat of the main body; which would have produced a scene of direful confusion and slaughter. Having effect
General Howe, with the main body, now made a feint of attacking the fortified fence; but, while a part of his force was thus engaged, the rest brought some of the field-pieces to enfilade the breastwork on the left of the re-ed their purpose, the brave associates at the doubt. A raking fire soon drove the Americans out of this exposed place into the enclosure. Much damage, too, was done in the latter by balls which entered the sallyport.
fence abandoned their weak outpost, retiring slowly, and disputing the ground inch by inch, with a regularity remarkable in troops many of whom had never before been in action.
The main retreat was across Bunker's Hill, where Putnam had endeavored to throw up a breastwork. The veteran, sword in hand, rode to the rear of the retreating troops, regardless of the balls whistling about him. His only thought was to rally them at the unfinished works. "Halt! make a stand here!" cried he, "we can check them yet. In God's name, form, and give them one shot more."
The troops were now led on to assail the works; those who flinched were, as before, goaded on by the swords of the officers. The Americans again reserved their fire until their assailants were close at hand, and then made a murderous volley, by which several officers were laid low, and General Howe himself was wounded in the foot. The British soldiery this time likewise reserved their fire and rushed on with fixed bayonet. Clinton and Pigot had Pomeroy, wielding his shattered musket as reached the southern and eastern sides of the a truncheon, seconded him in his efforts to redoubt, and it was now assailed on three sides stay the torrent. It was impossible, however, Prescott ordered those who had no to bring the troops to a stand. They continued bayonets to retire to the back part of the reon down the hill to the Neck and across it to doubt, and fire on the enemy as they showed Cambridge, exposed to a raking fire from the themselves on the parapet. The first who ships and batteries, and only protected by a mounted exclaimed in triumph, "The day is single piece of ordnance. The British were ours!" He was instantly shot down, and so too exhausted to pursue them; they contented were several others who mounted about the themselves with taking possession of Bunker's same time. The Americans, however, had Hill, were reinforced from Boston, and threw fired their last round, their ammunition was up additional works during the night. exhausted; and now succeeded a desperate We have collected the preceding facts from and deadly struggle, hand to hand, with bay-various sources, examining them carefully, and onets, stones, and the stocks of their muskets. At length as the British continued to pour in, Prescott gave the order to retreat. His men had to cut their way through two divisions of the enemy who were getting in the rear of the redoubt, and they received a destructive volley from those who had formed on the captured works. By that volley fell the patriot Warren, who had distinguished himself throughout the action. He was among the last to leave the redoubt, and had scarce done so when he was shot through the head with a musket-ball, and fell dead on the spot.
While the Americans were thus slowly dislodged from the redoubt, Stark, Read, and
endeavoring to arrange them with scrupulous fidelity. We may appear to have been more minute in the account of the battle than the number of troops engaged would warrant; but it was one of the most momentous conflicts in our revolutionary history. It was the first regular battle between the British and Americans, and most eventful in its consequences. The former had gained the ground for which they contended; but, if a victory, it was more disastrous and humiliating to them than an ordinary defeat. They had ridiculed and despised their enemy, representing them as dastardly and inefficient; yet here their best troops, led on by experienced officers, had re
RESULTS OF THE BATTLE DEPARTURE FROM PHILADELPHIA.
peatedly been repulsed by an inferior force of | sleeves," has been sneered at by a contempo
that enemy,-mere yeomanry,-from works thrown up in a single night, and had suffered a loss rarely paralleled in battle with the most veteran soldiery; for, according to their own returns, their killed and wounded, out of a detachment of two thousand men, amounted to one thousand and fifty-four, and a large proportion of them officers. The loss of the Americans did not exceed four hundred and fifty.
To the latter this defeat, if defeat it might be called, had the effect of a triumph. It gave them confidence in themselves and consequence in the eyes of their enemies. They had proved to themselves and to others that they could measure weapons with the disciplined soldiers of Europe, and inflict the most harm in the conflict.
Among the British officers slain was Major Pitcairn, who, at Lexington, had shed the first blood in the Revolutionary war.
In the death of
Warren the Americans had to lament the loss of a distinguished patriot and a most estimable man. It was deplored as a public calamity. His friend Elbridge Gerry had endeavored to dissuade him from risking his life in this perilous conflict; "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori," replied Warren, as if he had foreseen his fate-a fate to be envied by those ambitious of an honorable fame. He was one of the first who fell in the glorious cause of his country, and his name has become consecrated in its history.
There has been much discussion of the relative merits of the American officers engaged in this affair a difficult question where no one appears to have had the general command. Prescott conducted the troops in the night enterprise; he superintended the building of the redoubt, and defended it throughout the battle; his name, therefore, will ever shine most conspicuous, and deservedly so, on this bright page of our Revolutionary history.
Putnam also was a leading spirit throughout the affair; one of the first to prompt, and of the last to maintain it. He appears to have been active and efficient at every point; sometimes fortifying; sometimes hurrying up reinforcements; inspiriting the men by his presence while they were able to maintain their ground, and fighting gallantly at the outpost to cover their retreat. The brave old man, riding about in the heat of the action, on this sultry day, "with a hanger belted across his brawny shoulders, over a waistcoat without
rary, as "much fitter to head a band of sickle men or ditchers than musketeers." But this very description illustrates his character, and identifies him with the times and the service. A yeoman warrior fresh from the plough, in the garb of rural labor; a patriot brave and generous, but rough and ready, who thought not of himself in time of danger, but was ready to serve in any way, and to sacrifice official rank and self-glorification to the good of the cause. He was eminently a soldier for the occasion. His name has long been a favorite one with young and old; one of the talismanic names of the Revolution, the very mention of which is like the sound of a trumpet. Such names are the precious jewels of our history, to be garnered up among the treasures of the nation, and kept immaculate from the tarnishing breath of the cynic and the doubter.
other occurrences about Boston at this period of the In treating of the battle of Bunker's Hill, and of Revolution, we have had repeated occasion to consult the History of the Siege of Boston, by Richard Frothingham, Jr.; a work abounding with facts as to persons and events, and full of interest for the American
In a preceding chapter we left Washington preparing to depart from Philadelphia for the army, before Boston. He set out on horseback on the 21st of June, having for military companions of his journey Major-Generals Lee and Schuyler, and being accompanied for a distance by several private friends. As an escort he had a "gentleman troop" of Philadelphia, commanded by Captain Markoe; the whole formed a brilliant cavalcade.
General Schuyler was a man eminently calculated to sympathize with Washington in all his patriotic views and feelings, and became one of his most faithful coadjutors. Sprung from one of the earliest and most respectable Dutch families which colonized New York, all his interests and affections were identified with the country. He had received a good education; applied himself at an early age to the exact sciences, and became versed in finance, military engineering, and political economy. He was one of those native-born soldiers who had acquired experience in that American
GENERALS SCHUYLER AND LEE-TIDINGS OF BUNKER'S HILL.
school of arms, the old French war. When | On his march along the banks of the Hudson, but twenty-two years of age he commanded a he acted as if in a conquered country, impresscompany of New York levies under Sir William ing horses and oxen, and seizing upon supplies, Johnson, of Mohawk renown, which gave him without exhibiting any proper warrant. It an early opportunity of becoming acquainted was enough for him, "they were necessary for with the Indian tribes, their country and their the service of his troops." Should any one policy. In 1758 he was in Abercrombie's ex- question his right, the reply was a volley of pedition against Ticonderoga, accompanying execrations. Lord Viscount Howe as chief of the commis- Among those who experienced this unsolsariat department; a post well qualified to give dierly treatment was Mrs. Schuyler, the aunt him experience in the business part of war. of the general; a lady of aristocratical station, When that gallant young nobleman fell on the revered throughout her neighborhood. Her banks of Lake George, Schuyler conveyed his cattle were impressed, herself insulted. She corpse back to Albany, and attended to his had her revenge. After the unfortunate affair honorable obsequies. Since the close of the at Ticonderoga, a number of the wounded were French war he had served his country in va- brought down along the Hudson to the Schuyrious civil stations, and been one of the most ler mansion. Lee was among the number. zealous and eloquent vindicators of colonial The high-minded mistress of the house never rights. He was one of the "glorious minority" alluded to his past conduct. He was received of the New York General Assembly; George like his brother officers with the kindest symClinton, Colonel Woodhull, Colonel Philip Liv-pathy. Sheets and table-cloths were torn up ingston, and others; who, when that body to serve as bandages. Every thing was done was timid and wavering, battled nobly against to alleviate their sufferings. Lee's cynic heart British influence and oppression. His last stand was conquered. "He swore in his vehement had been recently as a delegate to Congress, manner that he was sure there would be a where he had served with Washington on the place reserved for Mrs. Schuyler in heaven, committee to prepare rules and regulations for though no other woman should be there, and the army, and where the latter had witnessed that he should wish for nothing better than to his judgment, activity, practical science, and share her final destiny!"* sincere devotion to the cause.
Seventeen years had since elapsed, and Lee and the nephew of Mrs. Schuyler were again allied in military service, but under a different banner; and recollections of past times must have given peculiar interest to their present intercourse. In fact, the journey of Washington with his associate generals, experienced like
war, was a revival of early campaigning feelings.
Many things concurred to produce perfect harmony of operation between these distinguished men. They were nearly of the same age, Schuyler being one year the youngest. Both were men of agricultural, as well as military tastes. Both were men of property, living at their ease in little rural paradises; Wash-him in the wild expeditions of the old French ington on the grove-clad heights of Mount Vernon, Schuyler on the pastoral banks of the upper Hudson, where he had a noble estate at Saratoga, inherited from an uncle; and the old family mansion, near the city of Albany, half hid among ancestral trees. Yet both were exiling themselves from these happy abodes, and putting life and fortune at hazard in the service of their country.
Schuyler and Lee had early military recollections to draw them together. Both had served under Abercrombie in the expedition against Ticonderoga. There was some part of Lee's conduct in that expedition which both he and Schuyler might deem it expedient at this moment to forget. Lee was at that time a young captain, naturally presumptuous, and flushed with the arrogance of military power.
They had scarcely proceeded twenty miles from Philadelphia when they were met by a courier, spurring with all speed, bearing despatches from the army to Congress, communicating tidings of the battle of Bunker's Hill. Washington eagerly inquired particulars; above all, how acted the militia? When told that they stood their ground bravely; sustained the enemy's fire-reserved their own until at close quarters, and then delivered it with deadly effect; it seemed as if a weight of doubt and solicitudo were lifted from his heart. "The liberties of the country are safe!" exclaimed he.
* Memoirs of an American Lady (Mrs. Grant, of Daggan), vol. ii., chap. ix.
THE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK-THE JOHNSON FAMILY.
The news of the battle of Bunker's Hill had startled the whole country; and this clattering cavalcade escorting the commander-in-chief to the army, was the gaze and wonder of every town and village.
The journey may be said to have been a continual council of war between Washington and the two generals. Even the contrast in character of the two latter made them regard questions from different points of view. Schuyler, a warm-hearted patriot, with every thing staked on the cause; Lee, a soldier of fortune, indifferent to the ties of home and country, drawing his sword without enthusiasm; more through resentment against a government which had disappointed him, than zeal for liberty or for colonial rights.
their forefathers were lords of the land, and felt an innate propensity to join in resistance to the government by which their supremacy had been overturned. A great proportion of the more modern families, dating from the downfall of the Dutch government in 1664, were English and Scotch, and among these were many loyal adherents to the crown. Then there was a mixture of the whole, produced by the intermarriages of upwards of a century, which partook of every shade of character and sentiment. The operations of foreign commerce, and the regular communications with the mother country through packets and ships of war, kept these elements in constant action, and contributed to produce that mercurial temperament, that fondness for excitement, and
from their neighbors on either side-the austere Puritans of New England, and the quiet "Friends" of Pennsylvania.
One of the most frequent subjects of conver-proneness to pleasure, which distinguished them sation was the province of New York. Its power and position rendered it the great link of the confederacy; what measures were necessary for its defence, and most calculated to secure its adherence to the cause? A lingering attachment to the crown, kept up by the influence of British merchants, and military and 'civil functionaries in royal pay, had rendered it slow in coming into the colonial compact; and it was only on the contemptuous dismissal of their statement of grievances, unheard, that its people had thrown off their allegiance as much in sorrow as in anger.
No person was better fitted to give an account of the interior of New York than General Schuyler; and the hawk-eyed Lee during a recent sojourn had made its capital somewhat of a study; but there was much yet for both of them to learn..
There was a power, too, of a formidable kind within the interior of the province, which was an object of much solicitude. This was the "Johnson Family." We have repeatedly had occasion to speak of Sir William Johnson, his majesty's general agent for Indian affairs, of his great wealth, and his almost sovereign sway over the Six Nations. He had originally received that appointment through the influence of the Schuyler family. Both Generals Schuyler and Lee, when young men, had campaigned with him; and it was among the Mohawk warriors, who rallied under his standard, that Lee had beheld his vaunted models of goodbreeding.
In the recent difficulties between the crown and colonies, Sir William had naturally been in favor of the government which had enriched and honored him, but he had viewed with deep concern the acts of Parliament which were goading the colonies to armed resistance. In the height of his solicitude, he received despatches ordering him, in case of hostilities, to enlist the Indians in the cause of government. To the agitation of feelings produced by these orders many have attributed a stroke of apoplexy, of which he died, on the 11th of July, 1774, about a year before the time of which we are treating.
The population of New York was more varied in its elements than that of almost any other of the provinces, and had to be cautiously studied. The New Yorkers were of a mixed origin, and stamped with the peculiarities of their respective ancestors. The descendants of the old Dutch and Huguenot families, the earliest settlers, were still among the soundest and best of the population. They inherited the love of liberty, civil and religious, of their forefathers, and were those who stood foremost in the present struggle for popular rights. Such were the Jays, the Bensons, the Beekmans, the Hoffmans, the Van Hornes, the Roosevelts, His son and heir, Sir John Johnson, and his the Duyckinks, the Pintards, the Yateses, and sons-in-law, Colonel Guy Johnson and Colonel others whose names figure in the patriotic Clause, felt none of the reluctance of Sir Wildocuments of the day. Some of them, doubt-liam to use harsh measures in support of royalless, cherished a remembrance of the time when ty. They lived in a degree of rude feudal style
GOVERNOR TRYON-ARRIVAL AT NEW YORK.
in stone mansions capable of defence, situated on the Mohawk River and in its vicinity; they had many Scottish Highlanders for tenants; and among their adherents were violent men, such as the Butlers of Tryon County, and Brant, the Mohawk sachem, since famous in Indian warfare. They had recently gone about with armed retainers, overawing and breaking up patriotic assemblages, and it was known they could at any time bring a force of warriors in the field.
Recent accounts stated that Sir John was fortifying the old family hall at Johnstown with swivels, and had a hundred and fifty Roman Catholic Highlanders quartered in and about it, all armed and ready to obey his orders. Colonel Guy Johnson, however, was the most active and zealous of the family. Pretending to apprehend a design on the part of the New England people to surprise and carry him off, he fortified his stone mansion on the Mohawk, called Guy's Park, and assembled there a part of his militia regiment, and other of his adherents, to the number of five hundred. He held a great Indian council there, likewise, in which the chiefs of the Six Nations recalled the friendship and good deeds of the late Sir William Johnson, and avowed their determination to stand by and defend every branch of his family.
As yet it was uncertain whether Colonel Guy really intended to take an open part in the appeal to arms. Should he do so, he would carry with him a great force of the native tribes, and might almost domineer over the frontier.
Tryon, the governor of New York, was at present absent in England, having been called home by the ministry to give an account of the affairs of the province, and to receive instructions for its management. He was a tory in heart, and had been a zealous opponent of all colonial movements, and his talents and address gave him great influence over an important part of the community. Should he return with hostile instructions, and should he and the Johnsons co-operate, the one controlling the bay and harbor of New York and the waters of the Hudson by means of ships and land forces; the others overrunning the valley of the Mohawk and the regions beyond Albany with savage hordes, this great central province might be wrested from the confederacy, and all intercourse broken off between the eastern and southern colonies.
All these circumstances and considerations, many of which came under discussion in the course of this military journey, rendered the command of New York a post of especial trust and importance, and determined Washington to confide it to General Schuyler. He was peculiarly fitted for it by his military talents, his intimate knowledge of the province and its concerns, especially what related to the upper parts of it, and his experience in Indian affairs.
At Newark, in the Jerseys, Washington was met on the 25th by a committee of the provincial Congress, sent to conduct him to the city. The Congress was in a perplexity. It had in a manner usurped and exercised the powers of Governor Tryon during his absence, while at the same time it professed allegiance to the crown which had appointed him. He was now in the harbor, just arrived from England, and hourly expected to land. Washington, too, was approaching. How were these double claims to ceremonious respect, happening at thẹ same time, to be managed?
In this dilemma a regiment of militia was turned out, and the colonel instructed to pay military honors to whichever of the distinguished functionaries should first arrive. Washington was earlier than the governor by several hours, and received those honors. Peter Van Burgh Livingston, president of the New York Congress, next delivered a congratulatory address, the latter part of which evinces the cautious reserve with which, in these revolutionary times, military power was intrusted to an individual:
"Confiding in you, sir, and in the worthy generals immediately under your command, we have the most flattering hopes of success in the glorious struggle for American liberty, and the fullest assurance 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 deposit committed into your hands, and reassume the character of our worthiest citizen."
The following was Washington's reply, in behalf of himself and his generals, to this part of the address:
(( "As to the fatal, but necessary operations of war, when we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen; and we shall most sincerely rejoice with you in that happy hour, when the establishment of American liberty on the most firm and solid foundations, shall