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Clinton sent for the mayor, and expressed much surprise and concern at the distress caused by his arrival; which was merely, he said, on a short visit to his friend Tryon, and to see how matters stood. He professed a juvenile love for the place, and desired that the inhabitants might be informed of the purport of his visit, and that he would go away as soon as possible.


crying, and distressed voices heard in the roads | "have had two conferences. The result is in the dead of the night."* such as will agreeably surprise you. It is in the first place agreed, and justly, that to fortify the town against shipping is impracticable; but we are to fortify lodgments on some commanding part of the city for two thousand men. We are to erect enclosed batteries on both sides of the water, near Hell Gate, which will answer the double purpose of securing the town against piracies through the Sound, and secure our communication with Long Island, now become a more important point than ever; as it is determined to form a strong fortified camp of three thousand men, on the Island, immediately opposite to New York. The pass in the Highlands is to be made as respectable as possible, and guarded by a battalion. In short, I think the plan judicious and complete."

"He brought no troops with him," writes Lee, "and pledges his honor that none are coming. He says it is merely a visit to his friend Tryon. If it is really so, it is the most whimsical piece of civility I ever heard of."

A gentleman in New York, writing to a friend in Philadelphia, reports one of the general's characteristic menaces which kept the town in a fever.

"Lee says, he will send word on board of the men-of-war, that, if they set a house on fire, he will chain a hundred of their friends by the neck, and make the house their funeral pile." +

For this time, the inhabitants of New York were let off for their fears. Clinton, after a brief visit, continued his mysterious cruise, openly avowing his destination to be North Carolina-which nobody believed, simply because he avowed it.

The pass in the Highlands above alluded to, is that grand defile of the Hudson, where, for upwards of fifteen miles, it wends its deep channel between stern, forest-clad mountains and rocky promontories. Two forts, about six miles distant from each other, and commanding narrow parts of the river at its bends through these Highlands, had been commenced in the preceding autumn, by order of the Continental Congress; but they were said to be insufficient for the security of that important pass, and were to be extended and strengthened.

Washington had charged Lee, in his instructions, to keep a stern eye upon the tories, who were active in New York "You can seize upon the persons of the principals," said he; "they must be so notoriously known, that there will be little danger of committing mis

The Duke of Manchester, speaking in the House of Lords of the conduct of Clinton, contrasts it with that of Lord Dunmore, who wrapped Norfolk in flaines. "I will pass no censure on that noble lord," said he, "but I could wish that he had acted with that gener-takes." Lee acted up to the letter of these inous spirit that forbade Clinton uselessly to destroy the town of New York. My lords, Clinton visited New York; the inhabitants expected its destruction. Lee appeared before it with an army too powerful to be attacked, and Clinton passed by without doing any wanton damage."

The necessity of conferring with committees at every step, was a hard restraint upon a man of Lee's ardent and impatient temper, who had a soldierlike contempt for the men of peace around him; yet at the outset he bore it better than might have been expected.

structions, and weeded out with a vigorous hand, some of the rankest of the growth. This gave great offence to the peace-loving citizens, who insisted that he was arrogating a power vested solely in the civil authority. One of them, well-affected to the cause, writes: "To see the vast number of houses shut up, one would think the city almost evacuated. Women and children are scarcely to be seen in the streets. Troops are daily coming in; they break open and quarter themselves in any house they find shut."*

The enemy, too, regarded his measures with "The Congress committees, a certain num-apprehension. "That arch rebel Lee," writes a ber of the committees of safety, and your humble servant," writes he to Washington,

* Remembrancer, vol. iii.

† Am. Archives, 5th Series, iv. 941.

British officer, "has driven all the well-affected people from the town of New York. If some

Fred. Rhinelander to Peter Van Schaack, Feb. 23.

ET. 44.]



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thing is not speedily done, his Britannic Maj- | A regiment was stationed on the island, makesty's American dominions will be confined ing fascines, and preparing other materials for within a very narrow compass."*

In the exercise of his military functions, Lee set Governor Tryon and the captain of the Asia at defiance. "They had theatened perdition to the town," writes he to Washington, "if the cannon were removed from the batteries and wharves, but I ever considered their threats as a brutum fulmen, and even persuaded the town to be of the same way of thinking. We accordingly conveyed them to a place of safety in the middle of the day, and no cannonade ensued. Captain Parker publishes a pleasant reason for his passive conduct. He says that it was manifestly my intention, and that of the New England men under my command, to bring destruction on this town, so hated for their loyal principles, but that he was determined not to indulge us; so remained quiet out of spite. The people here laugh at his nonsense, and begin to despise the menaces which formerly used to throw them into convulsions."

Washington appears to have shared the merriment. In his reply to Lee, he writes, "I could not avoid laughing at Captain Parker's reasons for not putting his repeated threats into execution," -a proof, by the way, under his own hand, that he could laugh occasionally; and even when surrounded by perplexities.

According to Lee's account, the New Yorkers showed a wonderful alacrity in removing the cannon. "Men and boys of all ages," writes he, "worked with the greatest zeal and pleasure. I really believe the generality are as well affected as any on the continent." Some of the well-affected, however, thought he was rather too self-willed and high-handed. Though General Lee has many things to recommend him as a general," writes one of them, "yet I think he was out of luck when he ordered the removal of the guns from the battery; as it was without the approbation or knowledge of our Congress."t-Lee seldom waited for the approbation of Congress in moments of exigency.

He now proceeded with his plan of defences. A strong redoubt, capable of holding three hundred men, was commenced at Horen's Hook, commanding the pass at Hell Gate, so as to block up from the enemy's ships the passage between the mainland and Long Island.

* Am. Archives, v. 425.

† Fred. Rhinelander to Peter Van Schaack.

constructing the works for an intrenched camp, which Lee hoped would render it impossible for the enemy to get a footing there. "What to do with this city," writes he, “I own, puzzles me. It is so encircled with deep navigable water, that whoever commands the sea must command the town. To-morrow I shall begin to dismantle that part of the fort next to the town, to prevent its being converted into a citadel. I shall barrier the principal streets, and, at least, if I cannot make it a continental garrison, it shall be a disputable field of battle." Batteries were to be erected on an eminence behind Trinity Church, to keep the enemy's ships at so great a distance as not to injure the town.

King's Bridge, at the upper end of Manhattan or New York Island, linking it with the mainland, was pronounced by Lee "a most important pass, without which the city could have no communication with Connecticut." It was, therefore, to be made as strong as possible.

Heavy cannon were to be sent up to the forts in the Highlands; which were to be enlarged and strengthened.

In the midst of his schemes, Lee received orders from Congress to the command in Canada, vacant by the death of Montgomery. He bewailed the defenceless condition of the city; the Continental Congress, as he said, not having, as yet, taken the least step for its security. "The instant I leave it," said he, "I conclude the Provincial Congress, and inhabitants in general, will relapse into their former hysterics. The men-of-war and Mr. Tryon will return to their old station at the wharves, and the first regiments who arrive from England will take quiet possession of the town and Long Island."

It must be observed that, in consequence of his military demonstrations in the city, the enemy's ships had drawn off and dropped down the bay; and he had taken vigorous measures, without consulting the committees, to put an end to the practice of supplying them with provisions.

"Governor Tryon and the Asia," writes he to Washington, "continue between Nutten and Bedlow's Islands. It has pleased his Excellency, in violation of the compact he has made, to seize several vessels from Jersey laden with flour. It has, in return, pleased my Excellency to stop all provisions from the city,



and cut off all intercourse with him,-a measure which has thrown the mayor, council, and tories into agonies. The propensity, or rather rage, for paying court to this great man, is inconceivable. They cannot be weaned from him. We must put wormwood on his paps, or they will cry to suck, as they are in their second childhood."


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We would observe, in explanation of a sarcasm in the above quoted letter, that Lee professed a great contempt for the titles of respect which it was the custom to prefix to the names of men in office or command. He scoffed at them, as unworthy of a great, free, manly, equal commonwealth." "For my own part,' said he, "I would as lief they would put ratsbane in my mouth, as the Excellency with which I am daily crammed. How much more true dignity was there in the simplicity of address among the Romans: Marcus Tullius Cicero, Decius Bruto Imperatori, or Caio Marcello Consuli, than to 'His Excellency MajorGeneral Noodle,' or to the 'Honorable John Doodle.'"


THE siege of Boston continued through the winter, without any striking incident to enliven its monotony. The British remained within their works, leaving the beleaguering army slowly to augment its forces. The country was dissatisfied with the inaction of the latter. Even Congress was anxious for some successful blow that might revive popular enthusiasm. Washington shared this anxiety, and had repeatedly, in councils of war, suggested an attack upon the town, but had found a majority of his general officers opposed to it. He had hoped some favorable opportunity would present, when, the harbor being frozen, the troops might approach the town upon the ice. The winter, however, though severe at first, proved a mild one, and the bay continued open. General Putnam, in the mean time, having completed the new works at Lechmere Point, and being desirous of keeping up the spirit of his men, resolved to treat them to an exploit. Accordingly, from his "impregnable fortress" of Cobble Hill, he detached a party of about two hundred, under his favorite officer, Major Knowlton, to surprise and capture a British guard stationed at Charlestown. It was a daring enterprise, and executed with


spirit. As Charlestown Neck was completely protected, Knowlton led his men across the mill-dam, round the base of the hill, and immediately below the fort; set fire to the guard-house and some buildings in its vicinity; made several prisoners, and retired without loss; although thundered upon by the cannon of the fort. The exploit was attended by a dramatic effect on which Putnam had not calculated. The British officers, early in the winter, had fitted up a theatre, which was well attended by the troops and tories. On the evening in question, an afterpiece was to be performed, entitled "The Blockade of Boston," intended as a burlesque on the patriot army which was beleaguering it. Washington is said to have been represented in it as an awkward lout, equipped with a huge wig, and a long rusty sword, attended by a country booby as orderly sergeant, in rustic garb, with an old firelock seven or eight feet long.

The theatre was crowded, especially by the military. The first piece was over, and the curtain was rising for the farce, when a sergeant made his appearance, and announced that "the alarm guns were firing at Charlestown, and the Yankees attacking Bunker's Hill." At first this was supposed to be a part of the entertainment, until General Howe gave the word, "Officers, to your alarm posts."

Great confusion ensued; every one scrambled out of the theatre as fast as possible. There was, as usual, some shrieking and fainting of ladies; and the farce of "The Blockade of Boston" had a more serious than comic termination.

The London Chronicle, in a sneering comment on Boston affairs, gave Burgoyne as the author of this burlesque afterpiece, though perhaps unjustly. "General Burgoyne has opened a theatrical campaign, of which himself is sole manager, being determined to act with the Provincials on the defensive only. Tom Thumb has been already represented; while, on the other hand, the Provincials are preparing to exhibit early in the spring, Measure for Measure.'"

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The British officers, like all soldiers by profession, endeavored to while away the time by every amusement within their reach; but, in truth, the condition of the besieged town was daily becoming more and more distressing. The inhabitants were without flour, pulse, or vegetables; the troops were nearly as destitute. There was a lack of fuel, too, as well as food.

ET. 44.]



The smallpox broke out, and it was necessary | loss, but believed it would be successful if the to inoculate the army. Men, women, and chil- men should behave well. Within a few days dren either left the city voluntarily, or were after the date of this letter, the bay became sent out of it; yet the distress increased. Sev- sufficiently frozen for the transportation of eral houses were broken open and plundered; troops. "This," writes he to Reed, "I thought, others were demolished by the soldiery for knowing the ice would not last, a favorable fuel. General Howe resorted to the sternest opportunity to make an assault upon the troops measures to put a stop to these excesses. The in town. I proposed it in council; but behold, provost was ordered to go the rounds with the though we had been waiting all the year for hangman, and hang up the first man he should this favorable event, the enterprise was thought detect in the fact, without waiting for further too dangerous. Perhaps it was; perhaps the proof for trial. Offenders were punished with irksomeness of my situation led me to underfour hundred, six hundred, and even one thou- take more than could be warranted by prusand lashes. The wife of a private soldier, dence. I did not think so, and I am sure yet convicted of receiving stolen goods, was sen- that the enterprise, if it had been undertaken tenced to one hundred lashes on her bare back, with resolution, must have succeeded; without at the cart's tail, in different parts of the town, it, any would fail." and an imprisonment of three months.

Meanwhile, Washington was incessantly goaded by the impatient murmurs of the public, as we may judge by his letters to Mr. Reed. "I know the integrity of my own heart," writes he, on the 10th of February; "but to declare it, unless to a friend, may be an argument of vanity. I know the unhappy predicament I stand in; I know that much is expected of me; I know that, without men, without arms, without ammunition, without any thing fit for the accommodation of a soldier, little is to be done; and, what is mortifying, I know that I cannot stand justified to the world without exposing my own weakness, and injuring the cause, by declaring my wants; which I am determined not to do, further than unavoidable necessity brings every man acquainted with them.

"My own situation is so irksome to me at times, that, if I did not consult the public good more than my own tranquillity, I should long ere this have put every thing on the cast of a die. So far from my having an army of twenty | thousand men, well armed, I have been here with less than one-half of that number, including sick, furloughed, and on command; and those neither arined nor clothed as they should be. In short, my situation has been such, that I have been obliged to use art, to conceal it from my own officers."

How precious are those letters! And how fortunate that the absence of Mr. Reed from camp, should have procured for us such confidential outpourings of Washington's heart at this time of its great trial.

He still adhered to his opinion in favor of an attempt upon the town. He was aware that it would be attended with considerable

His proposition was too bold for the fieldofficers assembled in council (Feb. 16th), who objected that there was not force, nor arms and ammunition sufficient in camp for such an attempt. Washington acquiesced in the decision, it being almost unanimous; yet he felt the irksomeness of his situation. "To have the eyes of the whole continent," said he, "fixed with anxious expectation of hearing of some great event, and to be restrained in every military operation for want of the necessary means of carrying it on, is not very pleasing, especially as the means used to conceal my weakness from the enemy, conceal it also from our friends, and add to their wonder."

In the council of war above mentioned, a cannonade and bombardment were considered advisable, as soon as there should be a sufficiency of powder; in the mean time, preparations might be made for taking possession of Dorchester Heights, and Noddle's Island.

At length the camp was rejoiced by the arrival of Colonel Knox, with his long train of sledges drawn by oxen, bringing more than fifty cannon, mortars, and howitzers, beside supplies of lead and flints. The zeal and perseverance which he had displayed in his wintry expedition across frozen lakes and snowy wastes, and the intelligence with which he had fulfilled his instructions, won him the entire confidence of Washington. His conduct in this enterprise was but an earnest of that energy and ability which he displayed throughout the war.

Further ammunition being received from the royal arsenal at New York, and other quarters, and a reinforcement of ten regiments of militia, Washington no longer met with opposition to his warlike measures. Lechmere Point, which



Putnam had fortified, was immediately to be supplied with mortars and heavy cannon, so as to command Boston on the north; and Dorchester Heights, on the south of the town, were forthwith to be taken possession of. "If any thing," said Washington, "will induce the enemy to hazard an engagement, it will be our attempting to fortify those heights, as, in that event taking place, we shall be able to command a great part of the town, and almost the whole harbor." Their possession, moreover, would enable him to push his works to Nook's Hill, and other points opposite Boston, whence a cannonade and bombardment must drive the enemy from the city.

The council of Massachusetts, at his request, ordered the militia of the towns contiguous to Dorchester and Roxbury, to hold themselves in readiness to repair to the lines at those places with arms, ammunition, and accoutrements, on receiving a preconcerted signal.

Washington felt painfully aware how much depended upon the success of this attempt. There was a cloud of gloom and distrust lowering upon the public mind. Danger threatened on the north and on the south. Montgomery had fallen before the walls of Quebec. The army in Canada was shattered. Tryon and the tories were plotting mischief in New York. Dunmore was harassing the lower part of Virginia, and Clinton and his fleet were prowling along the coast, on a secret errand of mischief. Washington's general orders evince the solemn and anxious state of his feelings. In those of the 26th of February, he forbade all playing at cards and other games of chance. "At this time of public distress," writes he, men may find enough to do in the service of God and their country, without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality. * * * It is a noble cause we are engaged in; it is the cause of virtue and mankind; every advantage and comfort to us and our posterity depend upon the vigor of our exertions; in short, freedom or slavery must be the result of our conduct; there can, therefore, be no greater inducement to men to behave well. But it may not be amiss to the troops to know, that if any man in action shall presume to skulk, hide himself, or retreat from the enemy without the orders of his commanding officer, he will be instantly shot down as an example of cowardice; cowards having too frequently disconcerted the best formed troops by their dastardly behavior."



In the general plan it was concerted, that, should the enemy detach a large force to dislodge our men from Dorchester Heights, as bad been done in the affair of Bunker's Hill, an attack upon the opposite side of the town should forthwith be made by General Putnam. For this purpose he was to have four thousand picked men in readiness, in two divisions, under Generals Sullivan and Greene. At a concerted signal from Roxbury, they were to embark in boats near the mouth of Charles River, cross under cover of the fire of three floating batteries, land in two places in Boston, secure its strong posts, force the gates and works at the Neck, and let in the Roxbury troops.


THE evening of Monday, the 4th of March, was fixed upon for the occupation of Dorchester Heights. The ground was frozen too hard to be easily intrenched; fascines, therefore, and gabions, and bundles of screwed hay, were collected during the two preceding nights, with which to form breastworks and redoubts. During these two busy nights the enemy's batteries were cannouaded and bombarded from opposite points, to occupy their attention, and prevent their noticing these preparations. They replied with spirit, and the incessant roar of artillery thus kept up, covered completely the rumbling of waggons and ordnance.

How little the enemy were aware of what was impending, we may gather from the following extract of a letter from an officer of distinction in the British army in Boston to his friend in London, dated on the 3d of March:

"For these last six weeks or near two months, we have been better amused than could possibly be expected in our situation. We had a theatre, we had balls, and there is actually a subscription on foot for a masquerade. England seems to have forgot us, and we have endeavored to forget ourselves. But we were roused to a sense of our situation last night, in a manner unpleasant enough. The rebels have been for some time past erecting a bomb battery, and last night began to play upon us. Two shells fell not far from me. One fell upon Colonel Monckton's house, but luckily did not burst until it had crossed the street. Many houses were damaged, but no lives lost. The rebel army," adds he, "is not brave, I believe,

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