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cited. "When you are informed that New York is deserted by its old inhabitants, and filled with soldiers from New England, Philadelphia, Jersey etc., you will naturally conclude the environs of it are not very safe from so undisciplined a multitude as our provincials are represented to be; but I do believe there are very few instances of so great a number of men together, with so little mischief done by them. They have all the simplicity of ploughmen in their manners, and seem quite strangers to the vices of older soldiers: they have been employed in creating fortifications in every part of the town. Governor Tryon
loses his credit with the people here prodigiously; he has lately issued a proclamation, desiring the deluded people of this colony to return to their obedience, promising a speedy support to the friends of government, declaring a door of mercy open to the penitent, and a rod for the disobedient, The friends of government were provoked at being so distinguished, and the friends to liberty hung him in effigy, and printed a dying speech for him. A letter, too, was intercepted from him, hastening Lord Howe to New York, as the rebels were fortifying. These have entirely lost him the good-will of the people.
You cannot think how sorry I am the governor has so lost himself, a man once so much beloved. O Lucifer, once the son of morn, how fallen! General Washington is expected hourly; General Putnam is here, with several other generals, and some of their ladies. The variety of reports keeps one's mind always in
WASHINGTON AT NEW YORK.
agitation. Clinton and Howe have set the con tinent a racing from Boston to Carolina. Clin. ton came into our harbor: away flew the women, children, goods, and chattels, and in came the soldiers flocking from every part. No sooner was it known that he was not going to land here, than expresses were sent to Virginia and Carolina, to put them on their guard; his next expedition was to Virginia; there they were ready to receive him; from thence without attempting to land, he sailed to Carolina. Now General Howe is leading us another dance." 1
Washington came on by the way of Providence, Norwich and New London, expediting the embarkation of troops from these posts, and arrived at New York on the 13th of April. Many of the works which Lee had commenced were by this time finished; others were in progress. It was apprehended the principal operations of the enemy would be on Long Island, the high grounds of which, in the neighborhood of Brooklyn, commanded the city. Washington saw that an able and efficient officer was needed at that place. Greene was accordingly stationed there, with a division of the army. He immediately proceeded to complete the fortifications of that important post, and to make himself acquainted with the topography, and the defensive points of the surrounding country.
The aggregate force distributed at several extensive posts in New York and its environs, and on Long Island, Staten Island, and elsewhere,
1 Remembrancer, vol. iii. p. 85.
amounted to little more than ten thousand men; some of those were on the sick list, others absent on command, or on furlough; there were but about eight thousand available and fit for duty. These, too, were without pay; those recently enlisted, without arms, and no one could say where arms were to be procured.
Washington saw the inadequacy of the force to the purposes required, and was full of solicitude about the security of a place, the central point of the Confederacy, and the grand deposit of ordnance and military stores. He was aware, too, of the disaffection to the cause among many of the inhabitants, and apprehensive of treachery. The process of fortifying the place had induced the ships of war to fall down into the outer bay, within the Hook, upwards of twenty miles from the city; but Governor Tryon was still on board of one of them, keeping up an active correspondence with the tories on Staten and Long Islands, and in other parts of the neighborhood.
Washington took an early occasion to address an urgent letter to the committee of safety, pointing out the dangerous and even treasonable nature of this correspondence. He had more weight and influence with that body than had been possessed by General Lee, and procured the passage of a resolution prohibiting, under severe penalties all intercourse with the king's ships.
Head-quarters, at this time, was a scene of incessant toil on the part of the commander-in-chief, his secretaries and aides-de-camp. "I give in to no kind of amusements myself," writes he, "and
A MILITARY DILEMMA.
Consequently those about me can have none, but are confined from morning until evening, hearing and answering applications and letters." The presence of Mrs. Washington was a solace in the midst of these stern military cares, and diffused a feminine grace and decorum, and a cheerful spirit over the domestic arrangements of head-quarters, where everything was conducted with simplicity and dignity.
The wives of some of the other generals and officers rallied around Mrs. Washington, but social intercourse was generally at an end. "We all live here," writes a lady of New York, "like nuns shut up in a nunnery. No society with the town, for there are none there to visit; neither can we go in or out after a certain hour without the countersign."
In addition to his cares about the security of New York, Washington had to provide for the perilous exigencies of the army in Canada. Since his arrival in the city, four regiments of troops, a company of riflemen, and another of artificers had been detached under the command of Brigadiergeneral Thompson, and a further corps of six regiments under Brigadier-general Sullivan, with orders to join General Thomas as soon as possible. Still Congress inquired of him, whether further reinforcements to the army in Canada would not be necessary, and whether they could be spared from the army in New York. the peculiar perplexities of his tormenting uncertainty in which he was kept, as to where the next storm of war would break. "With respect to sending more troops to that
His reply shows situation, and the
country, I am really at a loss what to advise, as it is impossible, at present, to know the designs of the enemy. Should they send the whole force under General Howe up the river St. Lawrence, to relieve Quebec and recover Canada, the troops gone and now going, will be insufficient to stop their progress; and, should they think proper to send that, or an equal force, this way from Great Britain, for the purpose of possessing this city and securing the navigation of Hudson's River, the troops left here will not be sufficient to oppose them; and yet, for anything we know, I think it not improbable they may attempt both; both being of the greatest importance to them, if they have men. I could wish, indeed, that the army in Canada should be more powerfully reinforced; at the same time, I am conscious that the trusting of this important post, which is now become the grand magazine of America, to the handful of men remaining here, is running too great a risk. The securing of this post and Hudson's River is to us also of so great importance, that I cannot, at present, advise the sending any more troops from hence; on the contrary, the general officers now here, whom I thought it my duty to consult, think it absolutely necessary to increase the army at this place with at least ten thousand men ; especially when it is considered, that from this place only the army in Canada must draw its supplies of ammunition, provisions, and most probably of men."
Washington at that time was not aware of the extraordinary expedients England had recently