« PreviousContinue »
being about thirty miles. This line they ftrengthen ed with artillery. They were fpeedily joined by Colonel Putnam, an old and brave provincial officer, who had acquired experience and reputation in the two laft wars. He encamped with a large detachment of Connecticut troops in fuch a pofition, as to be readily able to fupport thofe who were before the town.
In the mean time the provincial congrefs, which Provinwas now removed to Watertown, drew up an ad- cial condrefs to the inhabitants of Great Britain, in which grefs they ftated the most material particulars, relative addrefs to the late engagement, and took pains to fhew, ple of G. that hoftilities were firft commenced, and blood Britain. drawn, both at Lexington and Concord by the regulars. They complain of the ravages committed by them in their retreat; place much dependence on the honour, wisdom, and valour of Britons, from which they hope their interference in preventing the profecution of meafures, which, they reprefent, as equally ruinous to the mother country and the colonies; they make great profeffions of loyalty; but declare, that they will not tamely fubmit to the perfecution and tyranny of a cruel miniftry, and (appealing to Heaven for the juftice of their cause) that they are determined to die or be free.
The provincial congrefs alfo paffed a vote for Measures the array and fupport of an army; fixed the pay purfued of the officers and foldiers, and publifhed rules and for the orders for its regulation and government. To pro- array and vide for the military expence, they paffed a of an arSupport vote for the iffuing of a confiderable fum in paper my. currency, which was to be received in all cafes as money, and the faith of the province pledged for its payment.
As the term for which they were chofen was to expire on the 30th of May, they gave notice for the election of a new congrefs, to meet on the 31ft of that month at the fame place, and to be continued for fix months, and no
1775. longer. They alfo paffed a refolution, that General May, 5th Gage had, by the late tranfactions, and many other means, utterly difqualified himself from ferving that colony as a governor, or in any other capacity, and that therefore no obedience was in future due to him; but that on the contrary he ought to be fixed, &c. confidered and guarded againft, as an unnatural and inveterate enemy to the country.
cers and foldiers
The affair at Lexington (though fome fuch event muft have been long forefeen and expected) excited the greatest indignation in the other colonies, and they prepared for war with as much eagerness and difpatch as if an enemy had already appeared at each of their doors. The bravery fhewn by the militia in this their firft effay, and the fuppofed advantages they had obtained over the regulars, were matters of great exultation; while those who fell in the action were regretted with the deepest concern, and honoured, not only as patriots, but as martyrs, who had died bravely in the cause of their country. The outrages and cruelties charged upon the king's forces, however unjustly founded, produced a great effect, and increased the public fever.
In fome places the magazines were seized, and in New-Jerfey the treafury; a confiderable fum of money in which was appropriated to the payment of the troops they were raifing. At the fame time, without waiting for any concert or advice, a ftop was almoft every where put to the exportation of provifions; and in fome places all exportation was stopt, till the opinion of the general congrefs upon that fubject was known. North's conciliatory plan, or the refolution founded upon it, was totally rejected by the assemblies of Penfylvania and New Jersey; nor was it received any where.
In the mean time, the governor and forces at Boston, as well as the inhabitants, continued closely blocked
blocked up by land; and being fhut out from all 1775. fupplies of fresh provifions and vegetables, which the neighbouring counties could have afforded by fea, they began to experience thofe inconveniencies which afterwards amounted to real diftrefs. As the inhabitants had now no other refource for their fubfiftance than the king's ftores, the provincials were the more ftrict in preventing all fupplies, hoping that the want of provifions would lay the governor under a neceffity of confenting to their departure from the town; or at least that the women and children would be fuffered to depart, which was repeatedly applied for. It is probable that the governor confidered the inhabitants as neceffary hoftages for the fecurity of the town, at least, if not of the troops. However it was, he at length en- Capitu tered into a capitulation with the inhabitants, by lation which, upon condition of delivering up their arms, with the they were to have free liberty to depart with all inhabitheir other effects. The inhabitants accordingly tants of delivered up their arms; but to their utter difmay and astonishment, the governor refufed to fulfil the hered to. conditions on his fide. This breach of faith, and the confequences that attended it, were much complained of. Many, however, both then, and at different times after, obtained permiffion to quit the town; but they were obliged to leave all their effects behind; fo that thofe who had hitherto lived in eafe and affluence, were at once reduced to the extremity of indigence and mifery. The general congrefs ranked amongst their bittereft complaints the fufferings of the inhabitants in this refpect. They fay, that paffports were granted or retained in fuch a manner, that families were broken and the dearest connections feparated; part being compelled to quit the town, and part retained against their will. This, by far the moft difhonourable to government, we are obliged in fairness to state according to the provincial narrative, no other having appeared to contradict or qualify it. The poor and helplefs were all fent out.
1775. May 10.
ment of a
paper currency and to prevent British fisheries
From the meeting of the General Congrefs at Philadelphia, May 10, 1775, (purfuant to adjournment, from Oct. 26, 1774) to the blockade of Bofton, in July following, by the generals Washington and Lee; with a particular account of the action of Bunker's-Hill.
THE Continental Congrefs having met at the
time appointed at Philadelphia, foon adopted fuch meafures as confirmed the people in their refolution and conduct. Among their first acts were tions for refolutions for the raifing of an army, and the estaraising an blishment of a large paper currency for its payment; army, the the United Colonies," (by which appellation they refolved that they fhould be known and diftinguifhed for the future) being fecurities for realizing the nominal value of this currency. They alfo ftrictly prohibited the fupplying of the British fisheries with any kind of provifions; and to render this order the more effectual, ftopt all exportation to those from be- colonies, iflands, and places which ftill retained ing fup- their obedience. This meafure, which does not plied with feem to have been expected, or even apprehended at home, occafioned no fmall diftrefs to the people at Newfoundland, and to all thofe employed in the fisheries; infomuch that to prevent an abfolute famine, feveral fhips were under a neceffity of returning light from that ftation, to carry out cargoes of provifions from Ireland.
The city and province of New-York, notwithftanding their former moderation, feemed, upon receiving an account of the late action, to receive alfo a plentiful portion of that fpirit which operated in the other colonies. A moft numerous affociation was accordingly formed, and a Provincial Congrefs elected. But as fome regiments from Ireland were expected fpeedily to arrive there, and that capital, befides, lies open to the fea, its fituation
became critical. In these circumstances, a body 1775. of Connecticut men arrived in the neighbourhood of that city, avowedly for its protection, and probably alfo to support the prefent difpofition of the people. Their strength was not, however, fufficient to afford an effectual protection; nor, if it had been greater, would it have availed against an attack by fea. The city accordingly applied, through Applicaits delegates, to the Continental Congrefs for in- tion from ftructions how to act upon the arrival of the troops. the peoThe Congrefs advifed them for the prefent, to act ple of N. defenfively with refpect to the troops, fo far as it the Gen. could be done confiftently with their own fecurity; Congrefs. -to fuffer them to occupy their barracks, fo long as they behaved peaceably and quietly; but not to fuffer them to erect any fortification, or in any manner to cut off the communications between the city and country; and if they attempted hoftilities, that they should defend themselves, and repel force by force. They alfo recommended to them, to provide for the worst that might happen, by fecuring places of retreat for the women and children; by removing the arms and ammunition from the magazines; and by keeping a fufficient number of men embodied for the protection of the inhabitants in general. The departure of fo many helpless objects from the places of their habitation, was a very affecting fpectacle. That once flourishing commercial city was now become almost a defart. It was by its own inhabitants devoted to the flames. It hap pened, perhaps happily for New-York, that the troops being more wanted at Bofton, were not landed there.
In the mean time, feveral private perfons belong- Crowning to the back parts of Connecticut, Maffachufett's, point and and New-York, undertook at their own rifque, and Ticondewithout any public command or participation, an roga furexpedition of the utmost importance, and which not only in its confequences moft materially affect