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NEWS FROM COLONEL KNOX.
that such a backwardness wonld have been dis. covered 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
I have made forty-two 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 Connecticut. — 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 flatbottomed 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 influence with the tory part of the population, much reliance was placed. These cities were to be very
A SECRET EXPEDITION.
strongly garrisoned. All who did not join the king's forces were to be declared rebels. The Hudson River, and the East River or Sound, were to be commanded by a number of small menof-war and cutters, stationed in different parts, so as wholly to cut off all communication by water between New York and the provinces to the northward of it; and between New York and Albany, except for the king's service ; and to prevent, also, all communication between the city of New York and the provinces of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and those to the southward of them. • By these means,” said the letter, " the administration and their friends fancy they shall soon either starve out or retake the garrisons of Crown Point and Ticonderoga, and open and maintain a safe intercourse and correspondence between Quebec, Albany, and New York; and thereby offer the fairest opportunity to their soldiery and the Canadians, in conjunction with the Indians to be procured by Guy Johnson, to make continual irruptions into New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and so distract and divide the provincial forces, as to render it easy for the British army at Boston to defeat them, break the spirits of the Massachusetts people, depopulate their country, and compel an absolute subjection to Great Britain.” 1
It was added that a lord, high in the American department, had been very particular in his inquiries about the Hudson River ; what sized vessels could get to Albany ; and whether, if ba!
1 An. Archives, 4th Series, iii. 1281.
teries were erected in the Highlands, they would not control the navigation of the river, and prevent vessels from going up and down.
This information had already excited solicitude respecting the Hudson, and led to measures for its protection. It was now surmised that the expedition preparing to sail from Boston, and which was to be conducted by Sir Henry Clinton, might be destined to seize upon New York. How was the apprehended blow to be parried ? General Lee, who was just returned from his energetic visit to Rhode Island, offered his advice and services in the matter. In a letter to Washington, he urged him to act at once, and on his own responsibility, without awaiting the tardy and doubtful sanction of Congress, for which, in military matters, Lee had but small. regard.
“New York must be secured,” writes he, “but it will never, I am afraid, be secured by due order of the Congress, for obvious reasons.
They find themselves awkwardly situated on this head. You must step in to their relief. I am sensible no man can be spared from the lines under present circumstances ; but I would
should detach me into Connecticut, and lend your name for collecting a body of volunteers. I am assured that I shall find no difficulty in assembling a sufficient number for the purposes wanted. This body, in conjunction (if there should appear occasion to summon them) with the Jersey regiment under the command of Lord Stirling, now at Elizabethtown, will effect the security of New York, and the expulsion or suppression of that
LEE'S MILITARY PLANS.
dangerous banditti of tories, who have appeared on Long Island, with the professed intention of acting against the authority of Congress. Not to crush these serpents before their rattles are grown would be ruinous.
“ This maneuver, I not only think prudeut and right, but absolutely necessary to our salvation. and if it meets, as I ardently hope it will, with your approbation, the soorer it is entered upon the better ; the delay of a single day may be fatal.”
Washington, while he approved of Lee's military suggestions, was cautious in exercising the extraordinary powers so recently vested in him, and fearful of transcending them. John Adams was at that time in the vicinity of the camp,
and he asked his opinion as to the practicability and expediency of the plan, and whether it might not be regarded as beyond his line.”
Adams, resolute of spirit, thought the enterprise might easily be accomplished by the friends of liberty in New York, in connection with the Connecticut people, “ who are very ready,” said he,“ upon such occasions."
As to the expediency, he urged the vast importance, in the progress of this war, of the city and province of New York, and the Hudson River, being the nexus of the northern and southern colonies, a kind of key to the whole continent, as it is a passage to Canada, to the Great Lakes, And to all the Indian nations. No effort to secure it ought to be omitted.
That it was within the limits of Washington's