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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.-
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
fluence with the tory part of the population, much reliance was placed. These cities were to be very 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 men-of-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.” *
* Am. Archives, 4th Series, iii. 1281.
LEE'S MILITARY PLANS.
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 batteries 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 propose that you 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