Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, Vol. I., Chapter XXIV.







Boston Common. – Trip to Concord. – Major Barrett. – His Connection with the Revolution. – Concealment of Stores at Concord. – Concord Monument. – The Village. – Ride to Lexington. – The Lexington Monument. – The "Clark House" and its Associations. – Tradition of the Surprise. – Abijah Harrington. – Incidents of the Battle at Lexington. – Jonathan Harrington and his Brother. – Anniversary Celebration at Concord in 1850. – Ride to Cambridge. – Early History of the Town. – Washington’s Head-quarters. – Description of Washington’s Head-quarters at Cambridge. – Phillis, the black Poet. – Washington’s Letter to Phillis. – The "Riedesel House." – Description of the Place by Baroness Riedesel. – Attestation of the genuineness of Phillis’s Poetry. – Autograph of Riedesel. – The "Washington Elm." – Bunker Hill Monument. – Desecration of the Spot. – Description of Bunker Hill Monument. – View from its Chamber. – Its Construction and Dedication. – "Hancock" and "Adams." – View from Bunker Hill Monument. – The Past and the Present. – Dorchester Heights. – Condition of the Fortifications. – Mementoes of John Hancock. – The State House. – Chantrey's Washington. – Copp's Hill. – The Mather Tomb. – Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. – Colonial and other Relics. – Departure from Boston. – Appointment of a Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. – Washington’s acceptance of the Office. – His Modesty. – Departure of Washington for the Camp. – Reception at New York, Watertown, and Cambridge. – Takes Command of the Army. – Council of War. – Character of the Army. – Punishments. – Riflemen. – Number of Troops in the Field. – A model Order. – Arrangement of the Army. – Location of the several Divisions. – Officers of the same. – General Joseph Spencer. – Relative Position of the belligerent Armies. – American Fortifications. – Emerson’s Picture of the Camp. – Action of Congress. – Treason of Dr. Church. – The New England Colonies. – Franklin’s Post-office Book. – The belligerent Armies at Boston. – Skirmishes and other hostile Movements. – Naval Operations on the Coast. – Navy Boards. – Capture of Ammunition. – Attempt to seize Manly. – Repulse of Linzee. – Scarcity of Powder. – Expected Sortie. – Fortifications on Plowed Hill. – Heavy Bombardment. – Condition of Troops and People in Boston. – American Hand-bills in the British Camp. – Opinions concerning the Provincials. – Plan for relieving Boston. – Council of War. – Situation of the Army. – Washington’s Complaints. – Gage recalled. – His Life and Character. – Loyal Address to Gage. – Superiority of Howe. – Fortifications in Boston. – The "Old South" described. – Officers frightened. – Harsh Measures, and Retaliation. – Congress Committee at Head-quarters. – Little Navy organized. – Floating Batteries. –Vessels of War authorized by Congress. – Letters of Marque and Reprisal. – Condition of the Army before Boston.


"How suddenly that straight and glittering shaft
Shot thwart the earth! in crown of living fire
Up comes the day! As if they conscious quaff’d
The sunny flood, hill, forest, city spire
Laugh in the waking light."


"War, fierce war, shall break their forces;

Nerves of Tory men shall fail;
Seeing Howe, with alter’d courses,
Bending to the Western gale.
Thus from every bay of ocean
Flying back with sails unfurl’d,
Toss’d with ever-troubled motion,
They shall quit this smiling world."


It was a glorious October morning [1848.], mild and brilliant, when I left Boston to visit Concord and Lexington. A gentle land-breeze during the night had borne the clouds back to their ocean birth-place, and not a trace of the storm was left except in the saturated earth. Health returned with the clear sky, and I felt a rejuvenescence in every vein and muscle when, at dawn, I strolled over the natural glory of Boston, its broad and beautifully-arbored Common. I breakfasted at six, and at half past seven left the station of the Fitchburg rail-way for Concord, seventeen miles northwest of Boston. The country through which the road passed is rough and broken, but thickly settled. I arrived at the Concord station, about half a mile from the center of the village, before nine o’clock, and procuring a conveyance, and an intelligent young man for a guide, proceeded at once to visit the localities of interest in the vicinity. We rode to the residence of Major James Barrett, a surviving grandson of Colonel Barrett, about two miles north of the village, and near the residence of his venerated ancestor. Major Barrett was eighty-seven years of age when I visited him [October 1848.], and his wife, with whom he had lived nearly sixty years, was eighty. Like most of the few survivors of the Revolution, they were remarkable for their mental and bodily vigor. Both, I believe, still live [1850.]. The old lady – a small, well-formed woman – was as sprightly as a girl of twenty, and moved about the house with the nimbleness of foot of a matron in the prime of life. I was charmed with her vivacity, and the sunny radiance which it seemed to shed throughout her household; and the half hour that I passed with that venerable couple is a green spot in the memory.

Major Barrett was a lad of fourteen when the British incursion into Concord took place. He was too young to bear a musket, but, with every lad and woman in the vicinity, he labored in concealing the stores and in making cartridges for those who went out to fight. With oxen and a cart, himself, and others about his age, removed the stores deposited at the house of his grandfather into the woods, and concealed them, a cart-load in a place, under pine boughs. In such haste were they obliged to act on the approach of the British from Lexington, that, when the cart was loaded, lads would march on each side of the oxen and goad them into a trot. Thus all the stores were effectually concealed, except some carriage-wheels. Perceiving the enemy near, these were cut up and burned; so that Parsons found nothing of value to destroy or carry away.


From Major Barrett’s we rode to the monument erected at the site of the old North Bridge, where the skirmish took place, and I sketched, on my way, the residence of Colonel Barrett, depicted on page 526. The road crosses the Concord River a little above the site of the North Bridge. The monument stands a few rods westward of the road leading to the village, and not far from the house of the Reverend Dr. Ripley, who gave the ground for the purpose. The monument is constructed of granite from Carlisle, and has an inscription upon a marble tablet inserted in the eastern face of the pedestal. 2 The view is from the green shaded lane which leads from the highway to the monument, looking westward. The two trees standing, one upon each side, without the iron railing, were saplings at the time of the battle; between them was the entrance to the bridge. The monument is reared upon a mound of earth a few yards from the left bank of the river. A little to the left, two rough, uninscribed stones from the field mark the graves of the two British soldiers who were killed and buried upon the spot.

We returned to the village at about noon, and started immediately for Lexington, six miles eastward.

Concord is a pleasant little village, including within its borders about one hundred dwellings. It lies upon the Concord River, one of the tributaries of the Merrimac, near the junction of the Assabeth, and Sudbury Rivers. Its Indian name was Musketaquid. On account of the peaceable manner in which it was obtained, by purchase, of the aborigines, in 1635, it was named Concord. At the north end of the broad street, or common, is the house of Colonel Daniel Shattuck, a part of which, built in 1774, was used as one of the depositories of stores when the British invasion took place. It has been so much altered, that a view of it would have but little interest as representing a relic of the past.


The road between Concord and Lexington passes through a hilly but fertile country. It is easy for the traveler to conceive how terribly a retreating army might be galled by the fire of a concealed enemy. Hills and hillocks, some wooded, some bare, rise up every where, and formed natural breast-works of protection to the skirmishers that hung upon the flank and rear of Colonel Smith’s troops. The road enters Lexington at the green whereon the old meeting-house stood when the battle occurred. The town is upon a fine rolling plain, and is becoming almost a suburban residence for citizens of Boston. Workmen were inclosing the Green, and laying out the grounds in handsome plats around the monument, which stands a few yards from the street. It is upon a spacious mound; its material is granite, and it has a marble tablet on the south front of the pedestal, with a long inscription. 4 The design of the monument is not at all graceful, and, being surrounded by tall trees, it has a very "dumpy" appearance. The people are dissatisfied with it, and doubtless, ere long, a more noble structure will mark the spot where the curtain of the revolutionary drama was first lifted.


After making the drawings here given, I visited and made the sketch of "Clark’s House," printed on page 523. There I found a remarkably intelligent old lady, Mrs. Margaret Chandler, aged eighty-three years. She has been an occupant of the house, I believe, ever since the Revolution, and has a perfect recollection of the events of the period. Her version of the escape of Hancock and Adams is a little different from the published accounts, which I have adopted in the historical sketch. She says that on the evening of the 18th of April [1775.], some British officers, who had been informed where these patriots were, came to Lexington, and inquired of a woman whom they met, for "Mr. Clark’s house." She pointed to the parsonage; but in a moment, suspecting their design, she called to them and inquired if it was Clark’s tavern that they were in search of. Uninformed whether it was a tavern or a parsonage where their intended victims were staying, and supposing the former to be the most likely place, the officers replied, "Yes Clark’s tavern." "Oh," she said, "Clark’s tavern is in that direction," pointing toward East Lexington. As soon as they departed, the woman hastened to inform the patriots of their danger, and they immediately arose and fled to Woburn. Dorothy Quincy, the intended wife of Hancock, who was at Mr. Clark’s, accompanied them in their flight. Paul Revere soon afterward arrived, and the events already narrated then occurred.

I next called upon the venerable Abijah Harrington, who was living in the village. He was a lad of fourteen at the time of the engagement. Two of his brothers were among the minute men, but escaped unhurt. Jonathan and Caleb Harrington, near relatives, were killed The former was shot in front of his own house, while his wife stood at the window in an agony of alarm. She saw her husband fall, and then start up, the blood gushing from his breast. He stretched out his arms toward her, and then fell again. Upon his hands and knees he crawled toward his dwelling, and expired just as his wife reached him. Caleb Harrington was shot while running from the meeting-house. My informant saw almost the whole of the battle, having been sent by his mother to go near enough, and be safe, to obtain and convey to her information respecting her other sons, who were with the minute men. His relation of the incidents of the morning was substantially such as history has recorded. He dwelt upon the subject with apparent delight, for his memory of the scenes of his early years, around which cluster so much of patriotism and glory, was clear and full. I would gladly have listened until twilight to the voice of such experience, but time was precious, and I hastened to East Lexington, to visit his cousin, Jonathan Harrington, an old man of ninety, who played the fife when the minute men were marshaled on the Green upon that memorable April morning. He was splitting fire-wood in his yard with a vigorous hand when I rode up; and as he sat in his rocking-chair, while I sketched his placid features, he appeared no older than a man of seventy. His brother, aged eighty-eight, came in before my sketch was finished, and I could not but gaze with wonder upon these strong old men, children of one mother, who were almost grown to manhood when the first battle of our Revolution occurred! Frugality and temperance, co-operating with industry, a cheerful temper, and a good constitution, have lengthened their days, and made their protracted years hopeful and happy. 5 The aged fifer apologized for the rough appearance of his signature, which he kindly wrote for me, and charged the tremulous motion of his hand to his labor with the ax. How tenaciously we cling even to the appearance of vigor, when the whole frame is tottering to its fall! Mr. Harrington opened the ball of the Revolution with the shrill war-notes of the fife, and then retired from the arena. He was not a soldier in the war, nor has his life, passed in the quietude of rural pursuits, been distinguished except by the glorious acts which constitute the sum of the achievements of a GOOD CITIZEN.

I left Lexington at about three o’clock, and arrived at Cambridge at half past four. It was a lovely autumnal afternoon. The trees and fields were still green, for the frost had not yet been busy with their foliage and blades. The road is Macadamized the whole distance; and so thickly is it lined with houses, that the village of East Lexington and Old Cambridge seem to embrace each other in close union.

Cambridge is an old town, the first settlement there having been planted in 1631, cotemporaneous with that of Boston. It was the original intention of the settlers to make it the metropolis of Massachusetts, and Governor Winthrop commenced the erection of his dwelling there. It was called New Town, and in 1632 was palisaded. The Reverend Mr. Hooker, one of the earliest settlers of Connecticut, was the first minister in Cambridge. In 1636, the General Court provided for the erection of a public school in New Town, and appropriated two thousand dollars for that purpose. In 1638, the Reverend John Harvard, of Charlestown, endowed the school with about four thousand dollars. This endowment enabled them to exalt the academy into a college, and it was called Harvard University in honor, of its principal benefactor.

Cambridge has the distinction of being the place where the first printing-press in America was established. Its proprietor was named Day, and the capital that purchased the materials was furnished by the Reverend Mr. Glover. The first thing printed was the "Freeman’s Oath," in 1636; the next was an almanac; and the next the Psalms, in meter. 6 Old Cambridge (West Cambridge, or Menotomy, of the Revolution), the seat of the University, is three miles from West Boston Bridge, which connects Cambridge with Boston. Cambridgeport is about half way between Old Cambridge and the bridge, and East Cambridge occupies Lechmere’s Point, a promontory fortified during the siege of Boston in 1775.


Arrived at Old Cambridge, I parted company with the vehicle and driver that conveyed me from Concord to Lexington, and hither; and, as the day was fast declining, I hastened to sketch the head-quarters of Washington, an elegant and spacious edifice, standing in the midst of shrubbery and stately elms, a little distance from the street, once the highway from Harvard University to Waltham. At this mansion, and at Winter Hill, Washington passed most of his time, after taking command of the Continental army, until the evacuation of Boston in the following spring. Its present owner is HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, professor of modern languages in Harvard University, and widely known in the world of literature as one of the most gifted men of the age. It is a spot worthy of the residence of an American bard so endowed, for the associations which hallow it are linked with the noblest themes that ever awakened the inspiration of a child of song.

"When the hours of Day are number’d,

And the voices of the Night
Wake the better soul that slumber’d
To a holy, calm delight;
Ere the evening lamps are lighted,
And, like phantoms grim and tall,
Shadows from the fitful fire-light
Dance upon the parlor wall," – LONGFELLOW,

then to the thoughtful dweller must come the spirit of the place and hour to weave a gorgeous tapestry, rich with pictures, illustrative of the heroic age of our young republic. My tarry was brief and busy, for the sun was rapidly descending – it even touched the forest tops before I finished the drawing – but the cordial reception and polite attentions which I received from the proprietor, and his warm approval of, and expressed interest for the success of my labors, occupy a space in memory like that of a long, bright summer day.

This mansion stands upon the upper of two terraces, which are ascended each by five stone steps. At each front corner of the house is a lofty elm – mere saplings when Washington beheld them, but now stately and patriarchal in appearance. Other elms, with flowers and shrubbery, beautify the grounds around it; while within, iconoclastic innovation has not been allowed to enter with its mallet and trowel to mar the work of the ancient builder, and to cover with the vulgar stucco of modern art the carved cornices and paneled wainscots that first enriched it. I might give a long list of eminent persons whose former presence in those spacious rooms adds interest to retrospection, but they are elsewhere identified with scenes more personal and important. I can not refrain, however, from noticing the visit of one, who, though a dark child of Africa and a bond-woman, received the most polite attention from the commander-in-chief. This was PHILLIS, a slave of Mr. Wheatley, of Boston. She was brought from Africa when between seven and eight years old. She seemed to acquire knowledge intuitively; became a poet of considerable merit, and corresponded with such eminent persons as the Countess of Huntingdon, Earl of Dartmouth, Reverend George Whitefield, and others. Washington invited her to visit him at Cambridge, which she did a few days before the British evacuated Boston; her master, among others, having left the city by permission, and retired, with his family, to Chelsea. She passed half an hour with the commander-in-chief, from whom and his officers she received marked attention. 7


A few rods above the residence of Professor Longfellow is the house in which the Brunswick general, the Baron Riedesel, and his family were quartered, during the stay of the captive army of Burgoyne in the vicinity of Boston. I was not aware, when I visited Cambridge, that the old mansion was still in existence; but, through the kindness of Mr. Longfellow, I am able to present the features of its southern front, with a description. In style it is very much like that of Washington’s head-quarters, and the general appearance of the grounds around is similar. It is shaded by noble linden-trees, and adorned with shrubbery, presenting to the eye all the attractions noticed by the Baroness of Riedesel in her charming Letters. 9 Upon a window-pane on the west side of the house may be seen the undoubted autograph of that accomplished woman, inscribed with a diamond point. It is an interesting memento, and is preserved with great care. The annexed is a fac simile of it.

During the first moments of the soft evening twilight I sketched the "Washington elm," one of the ancient anakim, of the primeval forest, older, probably, by a half century or more, than the welcome of Samoset to the white settlers. It stands upon Washington Street, near the westerly corner of the Common, and is distinguished by the circumstance that, beneath its broad shadow, General Washington first drew his sword as commander-in-chief of the Continental army [July 3, 1775.]. 10 Thin lines of clouds, glowing in the- light of the setting sun like bars of gold, streaked the western sky, and so prolonged the twilight by reflection, that I had ample time to finish my drawing before the night shadows dimmed the paper.


Early on the following morning I procured a chaise to visit Charlestown and Dorchester Heights. I rode first to the former place, and climbed to the summit of the great obelisk that stands upon the site of the redoubt upon Breed’s Hill. As I ascended the steps which lead from the street to the smooth gravel-walks upon the eminence whereon the "Bunker Hill Monument" stands, I experienced a feeling of disappointment and regret, not easily to be expressed. Before me was the great memento, huge and grand – all that patriotic reverence could wish – but the ditch scooped out by Prescott’s toilers on that starry night in June, and the mounds that were upheaved to protect them from the shots of the astonished Britons, were effaced, and no more vestiges remain of the handiwork of those in whose honor and to whose memory this obelisk was raised, than of Roman conquests in the shadow of Trajan’s Column – of the naval battles of Nelson around his monument in Trafalgar Square, or of French victories in the Place Vendôme. The fosse and the breast-works were all quite prominent when the foundation stone of the monument was laid, and a little care, directed by good taste, might have preserved them in their interesting state of half ruin until the passage of the present century, or, at least, until the sublime centenary of the battle should be celebrated. Could the visitor look upon the works of the patriots themselves, associations a hundred-fold more interesting would crowd the mind, for wonderfully suggestive of thought are the slightest relics of the past when linked with noble deeds. A soft green-sward, as even as the rind of a fair apple, and cut by eight straight gravel-walks, diverging from the monument, is substituted by art for the venerated irregularities made by the old mattock and spade. The spot is beautiful to the eye untrained by appreciating affection for hallowed things; nevertheless, there is palpable desecration that may hardly be forgiven.

The view from the top of the monument, for extent, variety, and beauty, is certainly one of the finest in the world. A "York shilling" is charged for the privilege of ascending the monument. The view from its summit is "a shilling show" worth a thousand miles of travel to see. Boston, its harbor, and the beautiful country around, mottled with villages, are spread out like a vast painting, and on every side the eye may rest upon localities of great historical interest. Cambridge, Roxbury, Chelsea, Quincy, Medford, Marblehead, Dorchester, and other places, where

"The old Continentals,
In their ragged regimentals,

Falter’d not,"

and the numerous sites of small fortifications which the student of history can readily call to mind. In the far distance, on the northwest, rise the higher peaks of the White Mountains of New Hampshire; and on the northeast, the peninsula of Nahant, and the more remote Cape Anne may be seen. Wonders which present science and enterprise are developing and forming are there exhibited in profusion. At one glance from this lofty observatory may be seen seven rail-roads, 12 and many other avenues connecting the city with the country; and ships from almost every region of the globe dot the waters of the harbor. Could a tenant of the old grave-yard on Copp’s Hill, who lived a hundred years ago, when the village upon Tri-mountain was fitting out its little armed flotillas against the French in Acadia, or sending forth its few vessels of trade along the neighboring coasts, or occasionally to cross the Atlantic, come forth and stand beside us a moment, what a new and wonderful world would be presented to his vision! A hundred years ago!

"Who peopled all the city streets

A hundred years ago?
Who fill’d the church with faces meek
A hundred years ago?"

They were men wise in their generation, but ignorant in practical knowledge when compared with the present. In their wildest dreams, incited by tales of wonder that spiced the literature of their times, they never fancied any thing half so wonderful as our mighty dray-horse,

"The black steam-engine! steed of iron power –
The wond’rous steed of the Arabian tale,
Lanch’d on its course by pressure of a touch –
The war-horse of the Bible, with its neck
Grim, clothed with thunder, swallowing the way
In fierceness of its speed, and shouting out,
‘Ha! ha!"
13 A little water, and a grasp
Of wood, sufficient for its nerves of steel,
Shooting away, ‘Ha! ha!’ it shouts, as on
It gallops, dragging in its tireless path
Its load of fire."


I lingered in the chamber of the Bunker Hill monument as long as time would allow, and descending, rode back to the city, crossed to South Boston, and rambled for an hour among the remains of the fortifications upon the heights of the peninsula of Dorchester. The present prominent remains of fortifications are those of intrenchments cast up during the war of 1812, and have no other connection with our subject than the circumstance that they occupy the site of the works constructed there by order of Washington. These were greatly reduced in altitude when the engineers began the erection of the forts now in ruins, which are properly preserved with a great deal of care. They occupy the summits of two hills, which command Boston Neck on the left, the city of Boston in front, and the harbor on the right. Southeast from the heights, pleasantly situated among gentle hills, is the village of Dorchester, so called in memory of a place in England of the same name, whence many of its earliest settlers came. The stirring events which rendered Dorchester Heights famous will be noticed presently.

I returned to Boston at about one o’clock, and passed the remainder of the day in visiting places of interest within the city – the old South meeting-house, Faneuil Hall, the Province house, and the Hancock House, all delineated and described in preceding pages. I am indebted to John Hancock, Esq., nephew of the patriot, and present proprietor and occupant of the "Hancock House," on Beacon Street, for polite attentions while visiting his interesting mansion, and for information concerning matters that have passed under the eye of his experience of threescore years. He has many mementoes of his eminent kinsman, and among them a beautifully-executed miniature of him, painted in London, in 1761, while he was there at the coronation of George III. He also owns the original portrait of Governor Hancock, of which the engraving on page 515 is a copy.


Near Mr. Hancock’s residence is the State House, a noble structure upon Beacon Hill, the corner-stone of which was laid in 1795, by Governor Samuel Adams, assisted by Paul Revere, master of the Masonic grand lodge. There I sketched the annexed picture of the colossal statue of Washington, by Chantrey, which stands in the open center of the first story; also the group of trophies from Bennington, that hang over the door of the Senate chamber. 15 Under these trophies, in a gilt frame, is a copy of the reply of the Massachusetts Assembly to General Stark’s letter, that accompanied the presentation of the trophies. It was written fifty years ago.

After enjoying the view from the top of the State House a while, I walked to Copp’s Hill, a little east of Charlestown Bridge, at the north end of the town, where I tarried until sunset in the ancient burying-ground. The earliest name of this eminence was Snow Hill. It was subsequently named after its owner, William Copp. 16 It came into the possession of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company by mortgage; and when, in 1775, they were forbidden by Gage to parade on the Common, they went to this, their own ground, and drilled in defiance of his threats. The fort, or battery, that was built there by the British, just before the battle of Bunker Hill, stood near its southeast brow, adjoining the burying-ground. The remains of many eminent men repose in that little cemetery. Close by the entrance is the vault of the Mather family. It is covered by a plain, oblong structure of brick, three feet high and about six feet long, upon which is laid a heavy brown stone slab, with a tablet of slate, bearing the names of the principal tenants below. 17


I passed the forenoon of the next day [October 7, 1848.] in the rooms of the Massachusetts Historical Society, where every facility was afforded me by Mr. Felt, the librarian, for examining the assemblage of things curious collected there. 18 The printed books and manuscripts, relating principally to American history, are numerous, rare, and valuable. There is also a rich depository of the autographs of the Pilgrim fathers and their immediate descendants. There are no less than twenty-five large folio volumes of valuable manuscript letters and other documents; besides which are six thick quarto manuscript volumes – a commentary on the holy Scriptures – in the hand-writing of Cotton Mather. From an autograph letter of that singular man the annexed fac-simile of his writing and signature is given. Among the portraits in the cabinet of the society are those of Governor Winslow, supposed to have been painted by Vandyke, Increase Mather, and Peter Faneuil, the founder of Faneuil Hall.


I had the pleasure of meeting, at the rooms of the society, that indefatigable antiquary, Dr. Webb, widely known as the American correspondent of the "Danish Society of Northern Antiquarians" at Copenhagen.


He was sitting in the chair that once belonged to Governor Winslow, writing upon the desk of the speaker of the colonial Assembly of Massachusetts, around which the warm debates were carried on concerning American liberty, from the time when James Otis denounced the Writs of Assistance, until Governor Gage adjourned the Assembly to Salem, in 1774. Hallowed by such associations, the desk is an interesting relic. Dr. Webb’s familiarity with the collections of the society, and his kind attentions, greatly facilitated my search among the six thousand articles for things curious connected with my subject, and made my brief visit far more profitable to myself than it would otherwise have been. Among the relics preserved are the chair that belonged to Governor Carver, very similar in its appearance to the ancient one delineated on page 438; the sword of Miles Standish; the huge key of Port Royal gate; a samp-pan, that belonged to Metacomet, or King Philip; and the sword reputed to have been used by Captain Church when he cut off that unfortunate sachem’s head.


The dish is about twelve inches in diameter, wrought out of an elm knot with great skill. The sword is very rude, and was doubtless made by a blacksmith of the colony. The handle is a roughly-wrought piece of ash, and the guard is made of a wrought-iron plate. The circumstances connected with the death of Philip will be noticed hereafter.


I lingered in the rooms of the society, copying and sketching, with busy hands, until after one o’clock. An urgent call beckoning me homeward, I departed in the cars for Norwich and New-London between two and three o’clock in the afternoon, regretting that my tarry in the city of the Pilgrims was necessarily so brief, and that I was obliged to forego the pleasures of a visit to the neighboring villages, all of which are associated with events of the Revolution. Before departure let us revert to the history of Boston subsequent to the battle of Bunker Hill. That event was but the beginning of the stirring scenes of the siege, which terminated in success for the Americans.

On the 15th of June, 1775, two days before the Bunker Hill battle, the Continental Congress, in session in Philadelphia, resolved "That a general be appointed to command all the Continental forces, raised or to be raised for the defense of American liberty;" also, "That five hundred dollars per month be allowed for the pay and expenses of the general." 20 The most difficult question then to be decided was the choice of the man for the responsible office. Military men of much experience were then in the field at the head of the army beleaguring Boston, and by the common consent of the New England colonies General Artemus Ward was the commander-in-chief. It was conceded that he did not possess all the requisites of a skillful and judicious commander, so essential for the service; yet, it being doubtful how the New England people, and particularly the soldiery, would relish the supercession of General Ward by another, Congress was embarrassed respecting a choice. The apparent difficulty was soon overcome by the management of the New England delegation. The subject of the appointment had been informally discussed two or three days before, and John Adams had proposed the adoption of the provincial troops at Boston as a CONTINENTAL ARMY. At the conclusion of his remarks, he expressed his intention to propose a member from Virginia for the office of generalissimo. All present understood the person alluded to to be Colonel George Washington, whose commanding military talents, as displayed in the service of Virginia, and his capacity as a statesman, as exhibited in the Congress of 1774, had made him exceedingly popular throughout the land. Acting upon this suggestion, Thomas Johnson, a delegate from Maryland, nominated Colonel Washington, and by a unanimous vote he was elected commander-in-chief. On the opening of the session on the following morning, President Hancock communicated to Washington, officially, a notice of his appointment. He rose in his place, and signified his acceptance in a brief and truly patriotic reply. 21 Richard Henry Lee, Edward Rutledge, and John Adams were appointed a committee to draught a commission and instructions for the general; these were given to him four days afterward. 22 Four major generals, eight brigadiers, and one adjutant general were appointed, 23 and the pay of the several officers was agreed upon. 24

Washington left Philadelphia for the camp at Cambridge on the 21st of June [1775.], where he arrived on the 2d of July. He was every where greeted with enthusiasm by crowds of people, and public bodies extended to him all the deference due to his exalted rank. He arrived at New York on the 25th, escorted by a company of light horse from Philadelphia. Governor Tryon arrived from England on the same day, and the same escort received both the distinguished men. There Washington first heard of the battle of Bunker Hill. He held a brief conference with General Schuyler, and gave that officer directions concerning his future operations. Toward evening, on the 26th, he left New York, under the escort of several military companies, passed the night at Kingsbridge, at the upper end of Manhattan or York Island, and the next morning, bidding adieu to the Philadelphia light horse, pressed on toward Boston. He reached Watertown on the morning of the 2d of July. The Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, presided over by James Warren, was in session, and voted him a congratulatory address. Major-general Lee, who accompanied him, also received an address from that body. They arrived at Cambridge at two o’clock in the afternoon, and Washington established his head-quarters at the house prepared for him, delineated on page 555.


On the morning of the 3d of July, at about nine o’clock, the troops at Cambridge were drawn up in order upon the Common to receive the commander-in-chief. Accompanied by the general officers of the army who were present, Washington walked from his quarters to the great elm-tree that now stands at the north end of the Common, and, under the shadow of its broad covering, stepped a few paces in front, made some remarks, drew his sword, and formally took command of the Continental army. That was an auspicious act for America; and the love and reverence which all felt for him on that occasion never waned during the eight long years of the conflict. When he resigned that commission into the hands of Congress at Annapolis, not a blot was visible upon the fair escutcheon of his character; like Samuel, he could boldly "testify his integrity" 26 in all things.

Washington called a council of war on the 9th [July, 1775.]. It was composed of the major generals and the brigadiers, and the object of the council was to consult upon future operations. The commander-in-chief found himself at the head of an army composed of a mixed multitude of men of every sort, from the honest and intelligent citizen, possessed of property and station, to the ignorant knave, having nothing to lose, and consequently every thing to gain. Organization had been effected in a very slight degree, and thorough discipline was altogether unknown. Intoxication, peculation, falsehood, disobedience, and disrespect were prevalent, and the punishments which had been resorted to were quite ineffectual to produce reform. 27 It was estimated by the Council that, from the best information which could be obtained, the forces of the enemy consisted of eleven thousand five hundred effective men, while the Americans had only about fourteen thousand fit for duty. 28 It was unanimously decided by the Council to maintain the siege by strengthening the posts around Boston, then held by the Americans, by fortifications and recruits. It was also agreed that, if the troops should be attacked and routed by the enemy, the places of rendezvous should be Wales’s Hill, in the rear of the Roxbury lines; and also that, at time present, it was "inexpedient to fortify Dorchester Point, or to oppose the enemy if he should attempt to take possession of it."

Some riflemen from Maryland, Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania, enlisted under the orders of Congress, and led by Daniel Morgan, a man of powerful frame and sterling courage, soon joined the camp. 29 Upon their breasts they wore the motto "LIBERTY OR DEATH." A large proportion of them were Irishmen, and were not very agreeable to the New Englanders. Otho Williams, afterward greatly distinguished, was lieutenant of one of the Maryland companies. Both these men rose to the rank of brigadier.

The first care of the commander-in-chief was to organize the army. 30 He arranged it into three grand divisions, each division consisting of two brigades, or twelve regiments, in which the troops from the same colony, as far as practicable, were brought together. The right wing, under Major-general Ward, consisted of two brigades, commanded by Generals Thomas and Spencer, 31 and was stationed at Roxbury and its southern dependencies. The left wing was placed under the command of General Lee, and consisted of the brigades of Sullivan and Greene. The former was stationed upon Winter Hill; the latter upon Prospect Hill. The center, stationed at Cambridge, was commanded by General Putnam, and consisted of two brigades, one of which was commanded by Heath, and the other by a senior officer, of less rank than that of brigadier. Thomas Mifflin, who accompanied Washington from Philadelphia as aid-de-camp, was made quarter-master general. Joseph Trumbull, a son of the patriot governor of Connecticut, was appointed commissary general, and upon Joseph Reed, of Philadelphia, was bestowed the post of secretary to the commander-in-chief. In the course of a few months Reed returned to Philadelphia, and was succeeded in office by Robert H. Harrison, a Maryland lawyer.

The relative position of the belligerent armies was, according to a letter written by Washington to the President of Congress, on the 10th of July [1775.], as follows: the British were strongly intrenched on Bunker Hill, about half a mile from the chief place of action on the 17th of June, with their sentries extending about one hundred and fifty yards beyond the narrowest point of Charlestown Neck. Three British floating batteries were in the Mystic River near Bunker Hill, and a twenty-gun ship was anchored below the ferry-place between Boston and Charlestown. They had a battery upon Copp’s Hill in Boston, and the fortifications upon the Neck, toward Roxbury, were strengthened. Until the 8th, the British advance guards occupied Brown’s Buildings, about a mile from Roxbury meeting-house. On that day a party from General Thomas’s camp surprised the guard, drove them in, and burned the houses. The bulk of the army, commanded by General Howe, lay upon Bunker Hill; and the light horse, and a corps of Tories, remained in Boston.

The Americans had thrown up intrenchments on Winter and Prospect Hills, in full view of the British camp, which was only a mile distant. Strong works were also thrown up at Roxbury, two hundred yards above the meeting-house. Strong lines were made across from the Charlestown Road to the Mystic River, and by connecting redoubts, there was a complete line of defense from that river to Roxbury. 32

A letter written by the Reverend William Emerson, a chaplain in the army, a few days after Washington’s arrival, gives the following life-like picture of the camp: "New lords, new laws. The generals, Washington and Lee, are upon the lines every day. New orders from his excellency are read to the respective regiments every morning after prayers. The strictest government is taking place, and great distinction is made between officers and soldiers. Every one is made to know his place, and keep in it, or to be tied up and receive thirty or forty lashes, according to his crime. Thousands are at work every day from four till eleven o’clock in the morning. It is surprising how much work has been done. The lines are extended almost from Cambridge to the Mystic River; so that very soon it will be morally impossible for the enemy to get between the works, except in one place, which is supposed to be left purposely unfortified, to entice the enemy out of their fortresses. Who would have thought, twelve months past, that all Cambridge and Charlestown would be covered over with American camps, and cut up into forts and intrenchments, and all the lands, fields, and orchards laid common – horses and cattle feeding in the choicest mowing land, whole fields of corn eaten down to the ground, and large parks of well-regulated locusts cut down for fire-wood and other public uses. This, I must say, looks a little melancholy. My quarters are at the foot of the famous Prospect Hill, where such preparations are made for the reception of the enemy. It is very diverting to walk among the camps They are as different in their form as the owners are in their dress, and every tent is a portraiture of the temper and taste of the persons who encamp in it. Some are made of boards, and some of sail-cloth; some partly of one and partly of the other. Again, others are made of stone or turf, brick or brush. Some are thrown up in a hurry; others are curiously wrought with doors and windows, done with wreaths and withes, in the manner of a basket. Some are your proper tents and marquees, looking like the regular camp of the enemy. In these are the Rhode Islanders, who are furnished with tent equipage and every thing in the most exact English style. However, I think this great variety rather a beauty than a blemish in the army." 33

While Washington was organizing the Continental army, Congress was active in the adoption of measures to strengthen his hands, and to organize civil government. Acting upon the suggestion of the Provincial Congress of New York, we have already observed (ante, page 316) that Congress authorized the emission of bills of credit [June 23, 1775.]. Articles of war were agreed to on the 30th of June, and on the 6th of July a Declaration was issued, setting forth the cause and necessity for taking up arms. A firm but respectful petition to the king was drawn up by John Dickinson, the author of "Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer," &c., and adopted on the 8th; and addresses to the inhabitants of Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, and Jamaica, were adopted in the course of the month. The Indians were not overlooked; it was important to secure their neutrality at least; and three boards for Indian affairs were constituted: one for the Six Nations and other northern tribes; a second for the Cherokees, at the South; and a third for the intervening nations, on the borders of Pennsylvania and Virginia. Already some Stockbridge Indians, from Massachusetts, near the New-York line, the last remnant of the tribes of Western New England, were in the camp at Boston; and Kirkland {original text has "Kirtland".}, the missionary among the Six Nations of New York, was making overtures to the Oneidas and the Mohawks. Congress also established a post-office system of its own, extending in its operations from Falmouth (now Portland, Maine) to Savannah, and westward to remote settlements. Dr. Franklin was appointed post-master general. 34 An army hospital for the accommodation of twenty thousand men was established. At its head was placed Dr. Benjamin Church, of Boston, till this time a brave and zealous compatriot of Warren and his associates. Soon after his appointment he was detected in secret correspondence with Gage. He had intrusted a letter, written in cipher, with his mistress, to be forwarded to the British commander. It was found upon her; she was taken to head-quarters, and there the contents of the letter were deciphered, and the defection of Dr. Church established. He was found guilty, by a court martial, of criminal correspondence with the enemy. Expulsion from the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, and close confinement in Norwich Jail, in Connecticut, by order of the general Congress, speedily followed. His health failing, he was allowed to leave the country. He sailed for the West Indies; but the vessel that bore him was never afterward heard from. His place in the hospital was filled by Dr. John Morgan, one of the founders of the Medical School in Philadelphia. Church was the first traitor to the American cause.

The New England colonies, sustained by the presence of a strong army, labored energetically in perfecting their civil governments. Connecticut and Rhode Island, as we have observed, were always democratic, and through the energy of Trumbull, the governor of the former, that colony took an early, bold, and commanding stand for freedom. Nor was the latter colony much behind her democratic colleague. Benning Wentworth, governor of New Hampshire, having lost all political power, shut himself up, for two months, in Fort William and Mary at Portsmouth, during which time his house was pillaged by a mob. He prorogued the Assembly in July, and then fled to Boston for safety. Massachusetts organized a House of Representatives under the original charter; and as, according to the provisions of that charter, the executive authority devolved upon the Council in the absence of the governor and his lieutenant, that body, chosen on the 21st of July [1775.], assumed such authority. Such continued to be the government of the colony until the adoption of a state constitution in 1780. A single executive committee was constituted, vested with all the powers hitherto exercised by the several committees of correspondence, inspection, and safety. This consolidation produced far greater efficiency. Of the civil and military operations of other colonies I shall write hereafter; for the present, let us view the progress of events at Boston.

During the remainder of the summer, and throughout the autumn, the belligerents continually menaced each other, but neither appeared ready for a general engagement. The British were awaiting re-enforcements, and the Americans were too feeble in men, discipline, and munitions of war, to make an assault with a prospect of success. Several skirmishes occurred, and on two or three occasions a general battle was apprehended.

The declaration of Congress, setting forth the causes and the necessity for taking up arms, was read by President Langdon, 35 of Harvard, before the army at Cambridge, on the 15th of July [1775.]. On the 18th, it was read to the division under General Thomas, at Roxbury, and also to the troops under Putnam, upon Prospect Hill. At the close of the reading a cannon was fired, three hearty cheers were given by the army, and the flag that was presented to Putnam a few days before was unfurled. 36 "The Philistines on Bunker Hill," said the Essex Gazette, in its account of the affair, "heard the shouts of the Israelites, and being very fearful, paraded themselves in battle array." The 20th was observed as a day of fasting by the whole army. On the 30th (Sunday), five hundred British troops marched over Charlestown Neck, and built a slight breast-work; at the same time a British floating battery was rowed up the Charles River. Another party of troops sallied out toward Roxbury, drove in the American sentinels, and set fire to a tavern. Frequent excursions were made by both parties to the islands in the harbor, and skirmishes, sometimes severe, were the consequences. These things kept the two armies on the alert, and disciplined them in habits of vigilance.

British cruisers kept the New England coast, from Falmouth to New London, in a state of continual alarm. They were out in every direction, seeking plunder and endeavoring to supply the camp with fresh provisions. Lieutenant Mowatt, commander of a British brig, made a descent upon Gloucester, Cape Anne, and attempted to land. He was repulsed, after he had thrown several bombs into the town without serious effect [August 13.]. Stonington, in Connecticut, was bombarded for a day; two men were killed, and the houses were much shattered [September 30.]. In October, Mowatt was sent to Falmouth (now Portland, in Maine), to obtain a supply of provisions from the inhabitants, and to demand a surrender of their arms. They refused obedience, and boldly defied him; whereupon, after giving time sufficient for the women and children to leave the town, he bombarded and set it on fire. It contained about five hundred buildings, and presently a large portion of them were in flames [October 7.]. One hundred and thirty-nine houses, and two hundred and seventy-eight stores and other buildings were destroyed; but the resolute inhabitants maintained their ground, repulsed the enemy, and prevented his landing. Bristol, on the east side of Narragansett Bay, and other towns in the neighborhood, were visited in like manner by the depredators. These wanton cruelties excited intense indignation, and the American troops that environed Boston could hardly be restrained from attacking the oppressors of their countrymen.

The Americans, as a countervailing measure, fitted out cruisers, and in a short time each colony had a navy board. These privateers became very formidable to the enemy, and the extent of British depredations along the coast was greatly lessened. Washington sent out five or six armed vessels to intercept supplies coming into the port of Boston, and some important captures were made. Some of the American naval officers proved very inefficient. Captain Manly, almost alone, at that time, sustained the character of a bold and skillful commander, and he and his crew did good service to the cause. They bravely maintained their position off Boston Harbor, and in the course of a few weeks captured three valuable vessels, one of which was laden with heavy guns, mortars, and intrenching tools – a valuable prize for the Americans at that time. Only thirteen days before, Washington wrote to Congress, "I am in very great want of powder, lead, mortars, indeed most sorts of military stores." Captain Manly supplied him more promptly and bountifully than Congress could do. The fittest of the mortars was named Congress, and placed in the artillery park at Cambridge.

Manly soon became a terror to the British, and the Falcon sloop-of-war, Captain Linzee, was sent out to attempt to seize him. He was chased, in company with a schooner, into Gloucester Harbor. The schooner was seized by the enemy. Manly ran his brig ashore. Linzee fired more than three hundred guns, and sent barges of armed men to take the brig; but the crew and the neighboring militia behaved so bravely that Linzee was repulsed, having lost nearly half his men. Manly’s vessel was got off without much damage, and was soon cruising again beneath the pine-tree flag. 37


Early in August [1775.], Washington discovered that a great mistake had been made in reporting to him the condition of the commissariat, in the article of powder. "Our situation," he said, in a letter to Congress, "in the article of powder, is much more alarming than I had the most distant idea of." "Instead of three hundred quarter-casks," wrote Reed, "we have but thirty-two barrels." Powder-mills were not yet in successful operation in the province, and great uneasiness prevailed lest the enemy should become acquainted with their poverty. Vessels were fitted out, on private account, to go to the West Indies for a supply of powder. The Provincial Congress of Massachusetts passed a law [August 12.] prohibiting a waste of powder in shooting birds or for sports of any kind, and every precaution was adopted to husband the meager supply on hand.

Although Washington did not feel strong enough to make an assault upon Boston, he was prepared to receive an attack from the enemy, and was anxious for such an event. For weeks it had been rumored that the British intended to make a sortie in full force; and, finally, the 25th of August was designated as the day selected for the demonstration. It was understood that Earl Percy was to have the command of Boston Neck, where he expected to retrieve the honors which he lost in his retreat from Lexington. In the mean while, the British were daily practicing the maneuvers of embarking and debarking, and every movement indicated an intention to make an effort to break up the circumvallating line of provincials that hemmed them so closely in.

On Saturday night, the 26th of August [1775.], General Sullivan, with a fatigue party of one thousand men, and a guard of two thousand four hundred, marched, in imitation of the feat of Prescott’s, to Plowed Hill (now Mount Benedict), within point blank shot of the enemy’s batteries on Bunker Hill, and before morning cast up such intrenchments as afforded excellent protection against the cannons of the British. Washington hoped this maneuver would bring on a general action, and he rejoiced to hear the cannonade that opened upon the American works in the morning, from Bunker Hill and a ship and two floating batteries in the Mystic. More than three hundred shells were thrown by the enemy on that occasion. 39 On account of the scarcity of powder the cannonade was not returned. A nine pounder, planted on a point at the Ten Hills Farm, played so effectually against the floating batteries that one of them was sunk and the other silenced. The British cannonade ceased at night. In the morning, troops were observed to be drawn up on Bunker Hill, as if for marching. Washington now expected an attack, and sent five thousand men to Plowed Hill 40 and to the Charlestown Road. It was a bold challenge for the enemy, but he prudently refused to accept it. For several days he fired a few cannon shots against the American works, but, perceiving them to be ineffectual, he ceased all hostilities on the 10th of September. It was about this time that the Continental army received seven hundred pounds of powder from Rhode Island; "probably a part," says Gordon, "of what had been brought from Africa." 41

The close investment of Boston by troops on land and privateers at sea began to have a serious effect upon the officers, troops, and people in the city. 42 They had an abundance of salt provision, but, being unaccustomed to such diet, many fell sick. Gage, doubtless, spoke in sentiment, if not in words, as Freneau wrote:

"Three weeks, ye gods! nay, three long years it seems
Since roast beef I have touched, except in dreams.
In sleep, choice dishes to my view repair;
Waking, I gape, and champ the empty air.
Say, is it just that I, who rule these bands,
Should live on husks, like rakes in foreign lands?
Come, let us plan some project ere we sleep,
And drink destruction to the rebel sheep.
On neighboring isles uncounted cattle stray;
Fat beeves and swine – an ill-defended prey –
These are fit ’visions for my noonday dish;
These, if my soldiers act as I could wish,
In one short week would glad your maws and mine;
On mutton we will sup – on roast beef dine."


In daily apprehension of an attack from the provincials, and the chances for escape hourly diminishing, they experienced all the despondency of a doomed people. Gage was convinced that the first blow against American freedom had been struck in the wrong place, and that the position of his troops was wholly untenable. He had been re-enforced since the battle of Bunker Hill, but the new-corners were a burden rather than an aid; for he had the sagacity to perceive that twice the number of troops then under his command were insufficient to effectually disperse the Continental army, backed, as it was, by other thousands ready to step from the furrow to the intrenchment when necessity should call. Idleness begat vice, in various forms, in his camp, and inaction was as likely as the weapons of his enemy to decimate his battalions. 43 Much annoyance to the British officers was produced by the circulation of hand-bill addresses among the soldiers. They found their way into the British camp; how, no one could tell. 44 They were secret and powerful emissaries; for the soldiers pondered much, in their idle moments, upon the plain truths which these circulars contained.

Every thing now betokened ruin to the royal cause. Even as early as the 25th of June [1775.], Gage said, in a letter to Dartmouth, when giving an account of the battle of the 19th, "The trials we have had show the rebels are not the despicable rabble too many have supposed them to be; and I find it owing to a military spirit encouraged among them for a few years past, joined with an uncommon degree of zeal and enthusiasm, that they are not otherwise." Toward the close of July he wrote despairingly to Lord Dartmouth. After averring that the rebellion was general, he said, "This province began it – I might say this town; for here the arch rebels formed their scheme long ago." He spoke of the disadvantageous position of the troops, and suggested the propriety of transferring the theater of operations to New York, where "the friends of government were more numerous."

The few patriots who remained in Boston were objects of continual suspicion, and subject to insults daily. They were charged with sketching plans of the military works, telegraphing with the provincials by signals from steeples, and various other acts, for which some were thrown into prison. At length provisions became so scarce, and the plundering expeditions sent out by Gage to procure fresh food were so unsuccessful, 45 that the commander determined to make arrangements for the removal of a large number of the inhabitants from the town. It was notified that James Urquhart, the town major, would receive the names of those who wished to leave [July 24, 1775.]. Within two days more than two thousand names were handed in, notwithstanding there was a restriction that no plate was to be carried away, and no more than five pounds in cash by each person. Many people of property who would gladly have left, were unwilling to do so, for they knew that what property remained would become a prey to the soldiery. Of those who departed, many women quilted silver spoons into their garments. Coin was smuggled out of the city in the same way. These refugees landed principally at Chelsea, and scattering over the country, were all received with the open arms of hospitality every where, except a few Tories who ventured to leave the city. These were treated with bitter scorn, and there were many martyrs for opinion’s sake. This measure was a great relief to Gage; and the capture, about that time, of an American vessel laden with fresh provisions, made food quite plentiful in the city for a while.

The inactive and purely defensive policy pursued by both armies became exceedingly onerous to Washington, and he resolved, if expedient, to endeavor to put an end to it. Congress, too, became impatient, and requested Washington to attack the enemy if he perceived any chance for success. The commander-in-chief, accordingly, called a council of war on the 11th of September [1775.]. In view of the rapid approach of the time when the term of enlistment of many of the troops would expire, and also of the general unfavorable condition of the army, Washington desired to make an immediate and simultaneous attack upon the city and the camp of the enemy on Bunker Hill. But his officers dissented; and the decision of the Council was "that it is not expedient to make the attempt at present." Ten days afterward, Washington wrote a long letter to the President of Congress, in which, after making a statement which implied a charge of neglect on the part of that body, he drew a graphic picture of the condition of the army. "But my situation," he said, "is inexpressibly distressing, to see the winter fast approaching upon a naked army, the time of their service within a few weeks of expiring, and no provisions yet made for such important events. Added to these, the military chest is totally exhausted; the paymaster has not a single dollar in hand; the commissary general assures me that he has strained his credit for the subsistence of the army to the utmost; the quarter-master general is in precisely the same situation; and the greater part of the troops are in a state not far from mutiny, upon a deduction from their stated allowance. I know not to whom I am to impute this failure; but I am of opinion that, if the evil is not immediately remedied, and more punctuality observed in future, the army must absolutely break up." Thus we perceive, that within three months after his appointment to the chief command, Washington had cause to complain of the tardy movements of the general Congress. Throughout the war, that body often pressed like a dead weight upon the movements of the army, embarrassing it by special instructions, and neglecting to give its co-operation when most needed. It was only during the time when Washington was invested with the powers of a military dictator, that his most brilliant military achievements were accomplished.

It was in September that the expedition to Quebec, under Arnold, by the way of the Kennebec, was planned. This important measure, and the progress and result of the expedition, have already been noticed on pages 190 to 194 inclusive.

Convinced of the inefficiency of Gage, and alarmed at the progress of the rebellion, the king summoned that officer to England to make a personal explanation of the state of affairs at Boston. Gage sailed on the 10th of October [1775.], leaving affairs in the hands of General Howe. 46 Before his departure, the Mandamus Council, a number of the principal inhabitants of Boston, and several who had taken refuge in the country, in all about seventy persons, addressed him, in terms of loyal affection, amounting to panegyric. It was certainly unmerited; for his civil administration had been weak, and his military operations exceedingly inefficient. This was felt by all parties. His departure was popular with the army; and the provincials, remembering the spirit displayed by General Howe in the battle on Breed’s Hill, anticipated a speedy collision. Howe was superior to Gage in every particular, and possessed more caution, which was generally founded upon logical deductions from fact. Governed by that caution, he was quite as unwilling as Gage to attack the Americans. He remembered the disparity in numbers on the 17th of June, and the bravery of the provincials while fighting behind breast-works cast up in a single night. He properly argued that an army of the same sort of men, fifteen thousand strong; intrenched behind breast-works constructed by the labor of weeks, was more than a match for even his disciplined troops of like number, and prudently resolved to await expected re-enforcements from Ireland before he should attempt to procure that "elbow-room" which he coveted. 47 In the mean while, he strengthened his defenses, and prepared to put his troops into comfortable winter quarters.


This was a well-built redoubt. The parapet was from six to fifteen feet broad; the ditch from fourteen to eighteen feet wide, and the banquet about four feet broad. The galleries and parapet before them were raised about twenty feet high, and the merlons at the six-gun battery in the center were about twelve feet high. a a, two temporary magazines; b b, barracks; c, guard-houses; d, magazine; e, advanced ditch; h h, bastions.


He built a strong fort on Bunker Hill, and employed six hundred men in making additional fortifications upon Boston Neck. In the neighborhood of the hay-market, at the south end of the city, many buildings were pulled down, and works erected in their places. Strong redoubts were raised upon the different eminences in Boston, and the old South meeting-house was stripped of its pews and converted into a riding-school for the disciplining of the cavalry. 48 This last act took place on the 29th of October, and the desecration greatly shocked the feelings of the religious community. On the next day [October 30, 1775.] Howe issued three proclamations, which created much indignation, and drew forth retaliatory measures from Washington. The first forbade all persons leaving the town without permission, under pain of military execution; the second prohibited persons who were permitted to go from carrying with them more than twenty-five dollars in cash, under pain of forfeiture – one half of the amount to be paid to the informer; and the third ordered all the inhabitants within the town to associate themselves into military companies. Washington retaliated by ordering General Sullivan, who was about departing for Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to seize all officers of government unfriendly to the patriots. Similar orders were sent to Governor Trumbull, of Connecticut, and Deputy-governor Cooke, of Rhode Island.

While Howe was thus engaged, Washington was not idle. A committee of Congress, consisting of Dr. Franklin, Thomas Lynch, and Benjamin Harrison (father of the late President Harrison), arrived at head-quarters on the 18th of October, to confer with the commander-in-chief respecting future operations. Deputy-governor Griswold and Judge Waln, of Connecticut; Deputy-governor Cooke, of Rhode Island; several members of the Massachusetts Council, and the President of the Provincial Congress of New Hampshire, were present at the conference, which lasted several days, and such a system of operations was matured as was satisfactory to General Washington. 49 A plan was agreed upon for an entirely new organization of the army, which provided for the enlistment of twenty-six regiments of eight companies each, besides riflemen and artillery. Already measures had been adopted to organize a navy. As early as June [1775.], Rhode Island had fitted out two armed vessels to protect the waters of that colony; Connecticut, at about the same time, one or two armed vessels; and, on the 26th of June, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts resolved to provide six armed vessels. None of the latter had been got in readiness as late as the 12th of October, as appears by a letter from Washington to the President of the Continental Congress.

Having received no instructions from Congress on the subject, Washington took the responsibility, under his general delegated powers, of making preparations to annoy the enemy by water. Agents were appointed to superintend the construction of vessels, and to furnish supplies. Captain Broughton, of Marblehead, received a naval commission from Washington, dated September 2d, 1775, the first of the kind issued by the Continental Congress through its authorized agent. Before the close of October, six vessels of small size 50 had been armed and manned, and sent to cruise within the capes of Massachusetts Bay.


Two strong floating batteries were launched, armed, and manned in the Charles River; and, on the 26th of October, they opened a fire upon Boston that produced great alarm and damaged several houses. The six schooners commissioned by Washington, and the floating batteries, sailed under the pine-tree flag. The Continental Congress authorized two vessels to be fitted out and manned [October 13, 1775.]; afterward two others, one of twenty and one of thirty-six guns, were ordered [October 30.]. On the 28th of November, a code of naval regulations was adopted. On the 1st of February following (1776), the navy, if so it might be properly called, was formed into a new establishment, being composed of four vessels – the Hancock, Captain Manly; the Warner, Captain Burke; the Lynch, Captain Ayres; and the Harrison, Captain Dyer. Captain Manly was the commodore of the little fleet. 52 In November, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress issued letters of marque and reprisal, and established courts of admiralty. Such was the embryo of the navy of the United States. A more detailed account of the organization of the navy and its operations during the Revolution, will occupy a chapter in another portion of this work. I have mentioned here only so much as related to operations connected with the siege of Boston.

The term of enlistment of many of the troops was now drawing to a close, and Washington felt great apprehensions for the result. Nearly six months had elapsed since the battle of Bunker Hill, yet nothing had been done, decisively, to alter the relations in which the belligerents stood toward each other. The people began to murmur, and the general Congress fretted. New enlistments were accomplished tardily, and in December not more than five thousand recruits had joined the army. It became excessively weakened in numbers and spirit, and as the cold increased, want of comfortable clothing and fuel became an almost insupportable hardship. Many regiments were obliged to eat their provisions raw, for the want of wood to cook them. Fences, and the fruit and shade trees for more than a mile around the camp, were used for fuel. The various privations in the camp produced frequent desertions. The Connecticut troops demanded a bounty, and being refused, resolved to leave the camp in a body on the 6th of December. Measures were taken to prevent the movement, yet many went off and never returned. The commander-in-chief was filled with the greatest anxiety. Still, he hopefully worked on in preparation for action, either offensive or defensive. A strong detachment under Putnam broke ground at Cobble Hill (now M’Lean Asylum); the works on Lechmere’s Point were strengthened, and a call that was made upon the New England militia to supply the places of the troops that left the army in its hour of peril, was nobly responded to.

At the close of the year most of the regiments were full; and about ten thousand minute men, chiefly in Massachusetts, were held in ready reserve to march when called upon. The camp was well supplied with provisions; 53 order was generally observed, and in the course of a fortnight a wonderful change for the better was wrought. The ladies of several of the officers arrived in camp; and the Christmas holidays were spent at Cambridge quite agreeably, for hope gave joy to the occasion. 54



1 This song of forty-eight lines, by an anonymous writer, is entitled "A Military Song, by the Army, on General Washington’s victorious entry into the town of Boston."

2 The following is a copy of the inscription:


On the 19th of April, 1775,
was made the first forcible resistance to
On the opposite bank stood the American
militia, and on this spot the first of the enemy fell
which gave Independence to these United States.
In gratitude to God, and in the love of Freedom,
This Monument was erected,
A. D. 1836.


3 This view is from the Concord Road, looking eastward, and shows a portion of the inclosure of the Green. The distant building seen on the right is the old "Buckman Tavern," delineated in Doolittle’s engraving on page 524. It now belongs to Mrs. Merriam, and exhibits many scars made by the bullets on the morning of the skirmish.

4 The following is a copy of the inscription:


"Sacred to the Liberty and the Rights of Mankind!!! The Freedom and Independence of America – sealed and defended with the blood of her sons – This Monument is erected by the Inhabitants of Lexington, under the patronage and at the expense of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to the memory of their Fellow-citizens, Ensign Robert Monroe, Messrs. Jonas Parker, Samuel Hadley, Jonathan Harrington, Junr., Isaac Muzzy, Caleb Harrington, and John Brown, of Lexington, and Asahel Porter, of Woburn, who fell on this Field, the first victims of the Sword of British Tyranny and Oppression, on the morning of the ever-memorable Nineteenth of April, An. Dom. 1775. The Die was Cast!!! The blood of these Martyrs in the Cause of God and their Country was the Cement of the Union of these States, then Colonies, and gave the Spring to the Spirit, Firmness, and Resolution of their Fellow-citizens. They rose as one man to revenge their Brethren’s blood, and at the point of the Sword to assert and defend their native Rights. They nobly dared to be Free!!! The contest was long, bloody, and affecting. Righteous Heaven approved the Solemn Appeal; Victory crowned their Arms, and the Peace, Liberty, and Independence of the United States of America was their glorious Reward. Built in the year 1799."


5 The seventy-fifth anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord was celebrated at the latter place on the 19th of April, 1850. In the procession was a carriage containing these venerable brothers, aged, respectively, nearly ninety-one and ninety-three; Amos Baker, of Lincoln, aged ninety-four; Thomas Hill, of Danvers, aged ninety-two; and Dr. Preston, of Billerica, aged eighty-eight. The Honorable Edward Everett, among others, made a speech on the occasion, in which he very happily remarked, that "it pleased his heart to see those venerable men beside him; and he was very much pleased to assist Mr. Jonathan Harrington to put on his top coat a few minutes ago. In doing so, he was ready to say, with the eminent man of old, ‘Very pleasant art thou to me, my brother Jonathan!’ "

6 Records of Harvard College.

7 Phillis wrote a letter to General Washington in October, 1775, in which she inclosed a poem eulogistic of his character. In February following the general answered it. I give a copy of his letter, in illustration of the excellence of the mind and heart of that great man, always so kind and courteous to the most humble, even when pressed with arduous public duties.


"Cambridge, February 28, 1776.

"Miss PHILLIS, – Your favor of the 26th of October did not reach my hands till the middle of December. Time enough, you will say, to have given an answer ere this. Granted. But a variety of important occurrences, continually interposing to distract the mind and withdraw the attention, I hope will apologize for the delay, and plead my excuse for the seeming, but not real neglect. I thank you most sincerely for your polite notice of me in the elegant lines you inclosed; * and however undeserving I may be of such encomium and panegyric, the style and manner exhibit a striking proof of your poetical talents; in honor of which, and as a tribute justly due to you, I would have published the poem, had I not been apprehensive that, while I only meant to give the world this new instance of your genius, I might have incurred the imputation of vanity. This, and nothing else, determined me not to give it a place in the public prints. If you should ever come to Cambridge, or near head-quarters, I shall be happy to see a person so favored by the Muses, and to whom nature has been so liberal and beneficent in her dispensations. I am, with great respect, your obedient, humble servant,



* "I have not been able to find," says Mr. Sparks, "among Washington’s papers, the letter and poem addressed to him." Her lines "On the Death of Whitfield," "Farewell to America," and kindred pieces, exhibit considerable poetic talent. The following is a specimen of her verse, written before she was twenty years of age. It is extracted from a poem on "Imagination."

"Though winter frowns, to fancy’s raptured eyes
The fields may flourish and gay scenes arise;
The frozen deeps may break their iron bands,
And bid their waters murmur o’er their sands;
Fair Flora may resume her fragrant reign.
And with her flowery riches deck the plain
Sylvanus may diffuse his honors round,
And all the forests may with leaves be crown’d;
Showers may descend, and dews their gems disclose,
And nectar sparkle on the blooming rose."

In 1773, when she was at the age of nineteen, a volume of her poems was published in London, dedicated to the Countess of Huntingdon. They give evidence of quite extensive reading and remarkable tenacity of memory, many of them abounding with fine allusions to freedom, her favorite theme. After the death of her master, in 1776, she married a man of her own color, but who was greatly her inferior. His name was Peters. She died in Boston, in extreme poverty, on the 5th of December, 1794, aged nearly forty-one years.

The following curious attestation of the genuineness of the poems of Phillis is printed in the preface to the volume. Many of the names will be recognized as prominent in the Revolution.

"TO THE PUBLIC. – As it has been repeatedly suggested to the publisher, by persons who have seen the manuscript, that numbers would be ready to suspect they were not really the writings of Phillis, he has procured the following attestation from the most respectable characters in Boston, that none might have the least ground for disputing their original: ‘We, whose names are underwritten, do assure the world that the poems specified in the following page were (as we verily believe) written by Phillis, a young negro girl, who was, but a few years since, brought an uncultivated barbarian from Africa, and has ever since been, and now is, under the disadvantage of serving as a slave in a family in this town. She has been examined by some of the best judges, and is thought qualified to write them.

"His Excellency THOMAS HUTCHINSON, Governor.

"The Hon. ANDREW OLIVER, Lieut. Governor.

" ‘The Hon. Thomas Hubbard,

The Rev. Charles Chauncey, D. D.,

The Hon. John Erving,

The Rev. Mather Byles, D. D.,

The Hon. James Pitts,

The Rev. Edward Pemberton, D. D.,

The Hon. Harrison Gray,

The Rev. Andrew Eliot, D. D.,

The Hon. James Bowdoin,

The Rev. Samuel Cooper, D. D.,

John Hancock, Esq.,

The Rev. Mr. Samuel Mather,

Joseph Green, Esq.,

The Rev. Mr. John Moorhead,

Richard Carey, Esq.,

Mr. John Wheatley (her master).’ "

8 This is from a pencil sketch by Mr. Longfellow. I am also indebted to him for the fac-simile of the autograph of the Baroness of Riedesel. It will be perceived that the i is placed before the e in spelling the name. I have heretofore given it with the e first, which is according to the orthography in Burgoyne’s State of the Expedition, &c., wherein I supposed it was spelled correctly. This autograph shows it to be erroneous. Mr. Longfellow’s beautiful poem, "The Open Window," refers to this mansion.

9 She thus writes respecting her removal from a peasant’s house on Winter Hill to Cambridge, and her residence there:

"We passed three weeks in this place, and were then transferred to Cambridge, where we were lodged in one of the best houses of the place, which belonged to Royalists. Seven families, who were connected by relationship, or lived in great intimacy, had here farms, gardens, and splendid mansions, and not far off orchards, and the buildings were at a quarter of a mile distant from each other. The owners had been in the habit of assembling every afternoon in one or another of these houses, and of diverting themselves with music or dancing, and lived in affluence, in good humor, and without care, until this unfortunate war at once dispersed them, and transformed all their houses into solitary abodes, except two, the proprietors of which were also soon obliged to make their escape.

"On the 3d of June, 1778, I gave a ball and supper, in celebration of my husband’s birth-day. I had invited all our generals and officers, and Mr. and Mrs. Carter. General Burgoyne sent us an apology, after he had made us wait for him till eight o’clock. He had always some excuse for not visiting us, until he was about departing for England, when he came and made me many apologies, to which I made no other reply than that I should be extremely sorry if he had put himself to any inconvenience for our sake. The dance lasted long, and we had an excellent supper, to which more than eighty persons sat down. Our yard and garden were illuminated. The king’s birth-day falling on the next day, it was resolved that the company should not separate before his majesty’s health was drank; which was done, with feelings of the liveliest attachment to his person and interests. Never, I believe, was ‘God Save the King’ sung with more enthusiasm, or with feelings more sincere. Our two eldest girls were brought into the room to see the illumination. We were all deeply moved, and proud to have the courage to display such sentiments in the midst of our enemies. Even Mr. Carter * could not forbear participating in our enthusiasm." – Letters and Memoirs relating to the War of American Independence, and the Capture of the German Troops at Saratoga: By Madame De Riedesel.

* Mr. Carter was the son-in-law of General Schuyler. Remembering the kindness which she had received from that gentleman while in Albany, the baroness sought out Mr. and Mrs. Carter (who were living in Boston) on her arrival at Cambridge. "Mrs. Carter," she says. "resembled her parents in mildness and goodness of heart, but her husband was revengeful and false." The patriotic zeal of Mr. Carter had given rise to foolish stories respecting him. "They seemed to feel much friendship for us," says Madame De Riedesel; "though, at the same time, this wicked Mr. Carter, in consequence of General Howe’s having burned several villages and small towns, suggested to his countrymen to cut off our generals’ heads, to pickle them, and to put them in small barrels, and, as often as the English should again burn a village, to send them one of these barrels; but that cruelty was not adopted."

10 This important event is recorded on page 564, where a picture of the tree is given.

11 This monument stands in the center of the grounds included within the breast-works of the old redoubt on Breed’s Hill. Its sides are precisely parallel with those of the redoubt. It is built of Quincy granite, and is two hundred and twenty-one feet in height. The foundation is composed of six courses of stones, and extends twelve feet below the surface of the ground and base of the shaft. The four sides of the foundation extend about fifty feet horizontally. There are in the whole pile ninety courses of stone, six of them below the surface of the ground, and eighty-four above. The foundation is laid in lime mortar; the other parts of the structure in lime mortar mixed with cinders, iron filings, and Springfield hydraulic cement. The base of the obelisk is thirty feet square; at the spring of tile apex, fifteen feet. Inside of the shaft is a round, hollow cone, the outside diameter of which, at the bottom, is ten feet, and at the top, six feet. Around this inner shaft winds a spiral flight of stone steps, two hundred and ninety-five in number. In both the cone and shaft are numerous little apertures for the purposes of ventilation and light. The observatory or chamber at the top of the monument is seventeen feet in height and eleven feet in diameter. It has four windows, one on each side, which are provided with iron shutters. The cap-piece of the apex is a single stone, three feet six inches in thickness and four feet square at its base. It weighs two and a half tons.

Almost fifty years had elapsed from the time of the battle before a movement was made to erect a commemorative monument on Breed’s Hill. An association for the purpose was founded in 1824; and to give eclat to the transaction, and to excite enthusiasm in favor of the work, General La Fayette, then "the nation’s guest," was invited to lay the corner-stone. Accordingly, on the 17th of June, 1825, the fiftieth anniversary of the battle, that revered patriot performed the interesting ceremony, and the Honorable Daniel Webster pronounced an oration on the occasion, in the midst of an immense concourse of people. Forty survivors of the battle were present; and on no occasion did La Fayette meet so many of his fellow-soldiers in our Revolution as at that time. The plan of the monument was not then decided upon; but one by Solomon Willard, of Boston, having been approved, the present structure was commenced, in 1827, by James Savage, of the same city. In the course of a little more than a year, the work was suspended on account of a want of funds, about fifty-six thousand dollars having then been collected and expended. The work was resumed in 1834, and again suspended, within a year, for the same cause, about twenty thousand dollars more having been expended. In 1840, the ladies moved in the matter. A fair was announced to be held in Boston, and every female in the United States was invited to contribute some production of her own hands to the exhibition. The fair was held at Faneuil Hall in September, 1840. The proceeds amounted to sufficient, in connection with some private donations, to complete the structure, and within a few weeks subsequently, a contract was made with Mr. Savage to finish it for forty-three thousand dollars. The last stone of the apex was raised at about six o’clock on the morning of the 23d of July, 1842. Edward Carnes, Jr., of Charlestown, accompanied its ascent, waving the American flag as he went up, while the interesting event was announced to the surrounding country by the roar of cannon. On the 17th of June, 1843, the monument was dedicated, on which occasion the Honorable Daniel Webster was again the orator, and vast was the audience of citizens and military assembled there. The President of the United States (Mr. Tyler), and his whole cabinet, were present.

In the top of the monument are two cannons, named, respectively, "Hancock" and "Adams," which formerly belonged to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. The "Adams" was burst by them in firing a salute. The following is the inscription upon the two guns:



"This is one of four cannons which constituted the whole train of field-artillery possessed by the British colonies of North America at the commencement of the war, on the 19th of April, 1775. This cannon and its fellow, belonging to a number of citizens of Boston, were used in many engagements during the war. The other two, the property of the government of Massachusetts, were taken by the enemy.

"By order of the United States in Congress assembled, May 19th, 1788."


12 When I visited Boston, in 1848, it was estimated that two hundred and thirty trains of cars went daily over the roads to and from Boston, and that more than six millions of passengers were conveyed in them during the preceding year.

13 Job, xxxix., 24, 25.

14 This is a picture of Chantrey’s statue, which is made of Italian marble, and cost fifteen thousand dollars.

15 See map on page 395.

16 On some of the old maps of Boston it is called Corpse Hill, the name supposed to have been derived from the circumstance of a burying-ground being there.

17 The following is the inscription upon the slate tablet: "The Reverend Doctors Increase, Cotton, and Samuel Mather were interred in this vault.



August 27, 1723,





Feb. 13, 1727,





Jan. 27, 1785,


79." *

* The library of Dr. Samuel Mather was burned at Charlestown, when it was destroyed by the British in 1775.

18 This society was incorporated in February, 1794. The avowed object of its organization is to collect, preserve, and communicate materials for a complete history of this country, and an account of all valuable efforts of human industry and ingenuity from the beginning of its settlement. Between twenty and thirty octavo volumes of its "Collections" have been published.

19 This desk is made of ash. The semicircular front is about three feet in diameter. The chair, which belonged to Governor Winslow, is of English oak. It was made in 1614.

20 Journals of Congress, i., 111, 112.

21 The following is a copy of his reply:


Mr. President, – Though I am truly sensible of the high honor done me in this appointment, yet I feel great distress, from a consciousness that my abilities and military experience may not be equal to the extensive and important trust. However, as the Congress desire it, I will enter upon the momentous duty, and exert every power I possess in their service, and for the support of the glorious cause. I beg they will accept my most cordial thanks for this distinguished testimony of their approbation. But, lest some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered, by every gentleman in this room, that I this day declare, with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with. As to pay, sir, I beg leave to assure the Congress that, as no pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to accept the arduous employment at the expense of my domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make any profit from it. I will keep an exact account of my expenses. Those, I doubt not, they will discharge, and that is all I desire."


His expressions of distrust in his own ability to perform the duties imposed by the acceptance of the appointment were heartfelt and sincere. In a letter to his wife, dated the day after his appointment, he said, "You may believe me, my dear Patsy [the familiar name of Martha], when I assure you, in the most solemn manner, that, so far from seeking the appointment, I have used every endeavor in my power to avoid it, not only from my unwillingness to part with you and the family, but from a consciousness of its being a trust too great for my capacity; and that I should enjoy more real happiness in one month with you at home than I have the most distant prospect of finding abroad, if my stay were to be seven times seven years." Washington was at this time forty-three years of age.

22 His commission was in the following words:


"TO GEORGE WASHINGTON, ESQ. – We, reposing special trust and confidence in your patriotism, valor, conduct, and fidelity, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint you to be general and commander-in-chief of the army of the United Colonies, and of all the forces now raised, or to be raised by them, and of all others who shall voluntarily offer their services, and join the said army for the defense of American liberty, and for repelling every hostile invasion thereof; and you are hereby vested with full power and authority to act as you shall think for the good and welfare of the service. And we do hereby strictly charge and require all officers and soldiers under your command to be obedient to your orders, and diligent in the exercise of their several duties. And we do also enjoin and require you to be careful in executing the great trust reposed in you, by causing strict discipline and order to be observed in the army, and that the soldiers be duly exercised, and provided with all convenient necessaries. And you are to regulate your conduct in every respect by the rules and discipline of war (as here given you), and punctually to observe and follow such orders and directions, from time to time, as you shall receive from this or a future Congress of these United Colonies, or committee of Congress. This commission is to continue in force until revoked by this or a future Congress. Signed,

JOHN HANCOCK, President."


The original of this commission, with other relics of the illustrious chief, is carefully preserved in a glass case, in a room of the Patent Office building at Washington City.

23 The names of these several officers are contained in a note on page 190.

24 The pay of the several officers was as follows, per month: major general, $166, and when acting in a separate department, $330; brigadier general, $125; adjutant general, $125; commissary general, $80 quarter-master general, $80; his deputy, $40; paymaster general, $100; his deputy, $50; chief engineer, $60; three aids-de-camp for the general, each, $33; his secretary, $66; commissary of the musters, $40.

25 The house seen in this sketch is one of the oldest in Cambridge, having been built about 1750. It has been in the possession of the Moore family about seventy-five years. Since I visited Cambridge I have been informed that a Mrs. Moore was still living there, who, from the window of that house, saw the ceremony of Washington taking command of the army.

26 1 Samuel, xii., 3.

27 These punishments consisted in pecuniary fines, standing in the pillory, confinement in stocks, riding a wooden horse, whipping, and drumming out of the regiment.

28 The following return of the army was made to Adjutant-general Gates on the 19th of July:



No. of regiments.

Commissioned officers and staff.

Non-commissioned officers.

Present fit for duty.

Sick Present.

Sick absent.

On furlough.

On command.






















New Hampshire.










Rhode Island.





















29 These men attracted much attention, and on account of their sure and deadly aim, they became a terror to the British. Wonderful stories of their exploits went to England, and one of the riflemen, who was carried there a prisoner, was gazed at as a great curiosity.

30 The following general order was issued on the 4th of July, the day after Washington took command of the army:


"The Continental Congress having now taken all the troops of the several colonies, which have been raised, or which may be hereafter raised for the support and defense of the liberties of America, into their pay and service, they are now the troops of the UNITED PROVINCES OF NORTH AMERICA; and it is hoped that all distinction of colonies will be laid aside, so that one and the same spirit may animate the whole, and the only contest be, who shall render, on this great and trying occasion, the most essential service to the great and common cause in which we are all engaged. It is required and expected that exact discipline be observed, and due subordination prevail through the whole army, as a failure in these most essential points must necessarily produce extreme hazard, disorder, and confusion, and end in shameful disappointment and disgrace. The general most earnestly requires and expects a due observance of those articles of war, established for the government of the army, which forbid profane cursing, swearing, and drunkenness; and in like manner, he requires and expects of all officers and soldiers, not engaged on actual duty, a punctual attendance on divine service, to implore the blessings of Heaven upon the means used for our safety and defense."


This brief order may be regarded as a model. In a few words, it evokes harmony, order, the exercise of patriotism, morality, sobriety, and an humble reverence for and reliance upon Divine Providence. It includes all the essential elements of good government. These principles were the moral bonds of union that kept the little Continental army together during the dreary years of its struggle for the mastery.

31 JOSEPH SPENCER served as a major and colonel during the Seven Years’ War. He was a native of East Haddam, in Connecticut, where he was born in 1714. He was with the Continental army in the expedition against Rhode Island, in 1778, and assisted in Sullivan’s retreat. He soon afterward resigned his commission, and left the army, when he was chosen to be a delegate in Congress from his native state. He died at East Haddam in January, 1789, aged seventy-five years. General Seth Pomeroy, who was appointed with Spencer and others, refused to serve, and Spencer took rank next to Putnam in the army at Boston. This removed, in a degree, the difficulty that was apprehended in settling the rank of some of the officers. By this arrangement, General Thomas, who was Ward’s lieutenant general, was made the first brigadier.

32 The reader will more clearly understand the relative position of the hostile forces and their respective fortifications, by a careful examination of the map on the preceding page. It shows the various works thrown up during the summer and autumn of 1775, and at the beginning of 1776.

33 Spark’s Life and Writings of Washington (Appendix), iii., 491.

34 In the General Post-office at Washington city I saw, several years ago, the book in which Franklin kept his post-office accounts. It is a common, half-bound folio, of three quires of coarse paper, and contained all the entries for nearly two years. The first entry was November 17, 1776. Now more than fifteen hundred of the largest-sized ledgers are required annually for the same purpose; the number of contractors and other persons having accounts with the office being over thirty thousand. There are about one hundred clerks employed in the department.

35 Reverend Samuel Langdon was a native of Boston, and graduated at Harvard in 1740. He succeeded Mr. Locke as president of that institution, in 1774. On account of a lack of urbanity, he was disliked by the students, who made his situation so disagreeable that he resigned the presidency in 1780. In 1781, at Hampton Fall, New Hampshire, he resumed his ministerial labors, in which he continued faithful until his death. This event occurred on the 29th of November, 1797, at the age of seventy-four.

36 This was the flag before alluded to, which bore on one side the motto "An appeal to Heaven," and on the other ‘‘Qui transtulit, sustinet."

37 Bradford’s History of Massachusetts, page 75.

38 This engraving is a reduced copy of a vignette on a map of Boston, published in Paris in 1776. The London Chronicle, an anti-ministerial paper, in its issue for January, 1776, gives the following description of the flag of an American cruiser that had been captured: "In the Admiralty office is the flag of a provincial privateer. The field is white bunting; on the middle is a green pine-tree, and upon the opposite side is the motto, ‘Appeal to Heaven.’ "

39 During this cannonade, Adjutant Mumford, of Colonel Varnum’s Rhode Island regiment, and another soldier, had their heads shot off and a rifleman was mortally wounded.

40 Bunker Hill, Plowed Hill, and Winter Hill are situated in a range from east to west, each of them on or near the Mystic River.

41 Early in 1775, two vessels, laden with New England rum, sailed from Newport to the coast of Africa. The rum was exchanged, at the British forts, for powder; and so completely did this traffic strip the fortresses of this article, that there was not an ounce remaining that could be taken from the use of the garrisons. This maneuver produced a seasonable supply for the provincials.

42 The number of inhabitants in Boston, on the 28th of July, was six thousand seven hundred and fifty -three. The number of the troops was thirteen thousand six hundred.

43 Most of the soldiers were encamped on the Common, which was not, as now, shaded by large trees, but exposed to the heat of the summer sun. "It is not to be wondered," said a letter-writer, in August, "that the fatigue of duty, bad accommodations, and the use of too much spirits, should produce fever in the camp. The soldiers can not be kept from rum. Six-pence will buy a quart of West India rum, and four-pence is the price of a quart of New England rum. Even the sick and the wounded have often nothing to eat but salt pork and fish."

44 I saw one of these hand-bills among the Proclamations, &c., in the Massachusetts Historical Society. It was an address to the soldiers who were about embarking for America, and was printed in London. The writer, in speaking of the course of the provincials, emphasizes, by italics, printed in a single conspicuous line, the expression,

"Before God and man they are right!"

On the back of this address is the following endorsement, which was evidently printed in this country, the type and ink being greatly inferior to the other. It alludes to the two camps: the one on Prospect Hill, under Putnam; the other on Bunker Hill, under Howe.







Seven dollars a month.


Three-pence a day.


Fresh provisions, and in plenty.


Rotten salt pork.




The scurvy.


Freedom, ease, affluence, and a good farm.


Slavery, beggary, and want.


45 One of these, in August, was quite successful. In the neighborhood of New London, a small British fleet obtained eighteen hundred sheep and more than one hundred head of oxen. Frothingham (page 236) quotes a letter from Gage to Lord Dartmouth, in which this important fact is announced. This letter was published, and in the anti-ministerial London Chronicle the following impromptu appeared:

"In days of yore the British troops

Have taken warlike kings in battle;
But now, alas! their valor droops,
For Gage takes naught but – harmless cattle.

"Britons, with grief your bosoms strike!
Your faded laurels loudly weep!
Behold your heroes, Quixotte like,
Driving a timid flock of – sheep!"

46 Thomas Gage, the last royal governor of Massachusetts, was a native of England, and was an active officer during the Seven Years’ War. He was appointed Governor of Montreal in 1760, and, at the departure of Amherst from America, in 1763, was commissioned commander-in-chief of the British forces in America. He superseded Hutchinson as Governor of Massachusetts and had the misfortune to enter upon the duties of his office at a time when it became necessary for him, as a faithful servant of his king, to execute laws framed expressly for the infliction of chastisement upon the people of the capital of the colony over which he was placed. From that date his public acts are interwoven with the history of the times. He possessed a naturally amiable disposition, and his benevolence often outweighed his justice in the scale of duty. Under other circumstances his name might have been sweet in the recollection of the Americans; now it is identified with oppression and hatred of freedom. He went to England in the autumn of 1775, where he died in April, 1787. Gage expected to return to America and resume the command of the army; but ministers determined otherwise, and appointed General Howe in his place. The situation was offered to the veteran Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia. but as he would not accept the commission unless he could go to the Americans with assurances from government that strict justice should be done them, the post was assigned to Howe. This was a tacit admission, on the part of ministers, that justice to the Americans formed no part of their scheme.

47 It is said that both officers and soldiers regarded the Americans with a degree of superstitious fear, for many highly exaggerated tales of their power had been related. Dr. Thatcher says (Journal, p. 38) that, according to letters written by British officers from Boston, some of them, while walking on Beacon Hill in the evening, soon after the arrival of Gage, were frightened by noises in the air, which they took to be the whizzing of bullets. They left the hill with great precipitation, and reported that they were shot at with air-guns. The whizzing noise which so much alarmed these valiant officers was no other than the whizzing of bugs and beetles while flying in the air. Trumbull, in his M‘Fingall, thus alludes to this ludicrous circumstance:

"No more the British colonel runs
From whizzing beetles as air-guns:
Thinks horn-bugs bullets, or, through fears,
Mosquitoes takes for musketeers;
Nor ’scapes, as if you’d gain’d supplies
From Beelzebub’s whole host of flies.
No bug these warlike hearts appals;
They better know the sound of balls."

48 A Mr. Carter, quoted by Frothingham, writing on the 19th of October, says, "We are now erecting redoubts on the eminences on Boston Common; and a meeting-house, where sedition has been often preached, is clearing out to be made a riding-school for the light dragoons." Gordon says. "In clearing every thing away, a beautiful carved pew, with silk furniture, formerly belonging to a deceased gentleman [Deacon Hubbard] in high estimation, was taken down and carried to Mr. John Armory’s house, by the order of an officer, who applied the carved work to the erection of a hog-stye."

49 While Dr. Franklin was at head-quarters, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts paid him the remaining moneys due him for services as agent for the colony in England, amounting to nine thousand two hundred and seventy dollars. Five hundred dollars had been sent to him from London as a charitable donation for the relief of the Americans wounded in the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord, and for the widows and orphans of those who were killed. This sum he paid over to the proper committee.

50 The names of five of these vessels were Hannah, Harrison, Lee, Washington, and Lynch. The six commanders were Broughton, Selman, Manly, Martindale, Coit, and Adams.

51 I am indebted to the kindness of Peter Force, Esq., of Washington city (editor of "The American Archives"), for this drawing of one of the American floating batteries used in the siege of Boston. It is copied from an English manuscript in his possession, and is now published for the first time. I have never met with a description of those batteries, and can judge of their construction only from the drawing. They appear to have been made of strong planks, pierced, near the water-line, for oars; along the sides, higher up, for light and musketry. A heavy gun was placed in each end, and upon the top were four swivels. The ensign was the pine-tree flag, according to Colonel Reed, who, in a letter from Cambridge to Colonels Glover and Moylan, dated October 20th, 1775, said, "Please to fix some particular color for a flag, and a signal by which our vessels may know one another. What do you think of a flag with a white ground, a tree in the middle, the motto ‘Appeal to Heaven?’ This is the flag of our floating batteries."

52 Sparks’s Life and Writings of Washington, iii., 516.

53 The rations for the soldiers were as follows: corned beef and pork four days in the week, salt fish one day, and fresh beef two days. Each man had a pound and a half of beef, or eighteen ounces of pork a day; one quart of strong beer, or nine gallons of molasses, to one hundred men per week; six pounds of candles to one hundred men per week; six ounces of butter, or nine ounces of hogs’ lard per week; three pints of beans or pease, per man, a week, or vegetables equivalent; one pound of flour per day, and hard bread to be dealt out one day in the week.

54 Mrs. Washington arrived on the 11th of December, accompanied by her son, John Parke Custis, and his wife. Some persons thought her in danger at Mount Vernon, as Lord Dunmore was making the most determined hostile movements against republicanism in Virginia. It was feared that he might attempt to seize the person of Lady Washington, to be held as a hostage. As the commander-in-chief could not leave the army, she was requested to pass the winter with him at Cambridge. The expenses incurred by the occasional visits of Mrs. Washington to the camp during the war were charged to the government. Washington was careful to call attention to this fact, and in the rendition of his accounts for settlement he refers to it, and expresses a hope that the charges will be considered right, inasmuch as he had not visited his home during his time of service, a privilege which be was allowed by the terms of his appointment.



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