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In these circumstances no alternative remainea but to abandon the town, or dislodge the enemy, and destroy the new works. General Howe adopted the Jarter, and took the necessary meafures for the embarkation on that very evening, for five regiments, with the light infantry and grenadiers, upon a service which the whole army must of course have ultimately been engaged in. Providence at this time frustrated the designs of the General, and probably for his own good, for had he proceeded to attack the work, it is not improbable that his whole army would have been ruined. The provincials were eager for a battle, and they were provided for an attack, and would have mnade such a resistance as would have been fatal to our army.
This design was frustrated by a violent storm, which raged that night, and rendered an embarkation impossible, and so faved the lives of many brave men, which must have fallen in such a rash encounter. -- Whatever intrepidity there might be in General Howe's intention on this occasion, it does not appear that his purpofe was dictated by wisdom; for before he had stormed the works of the enemy, his army must have been greatly thinned, and the colonists were likely after that to have stood their ground, and to have disputed every inch with his Excellency for the palm of victory. Bunker's Hill might have taught the General what the provincials could do, even when they were but indifferently armed, and ill provided with ammunition ; and now, that they were greatly reinforced and supplied with stores, arms, and ammunition of all forts, they were not likely to give way fo easily, but to use their utmost power to be revenged upon men whom they considered as in
vaders of their country, and murderers of their friends. The General's scheme was the very scheme the colonists wanted him to pursue, and had he pursued his design, his whole army must have been cut off.,
It is not however to be wondered at, that with an high fenfe of the British military honour, as well as of his own, the General should hazard much, rather than submit to the indignity of abandoning the town. He commanded a force which he knew had been confidered and represented here as sufficient to look down all the opposition in America; and which in reality, with respect to the number of regiments, if not of men, the excellency of the troops, the character of the of. ficers, and the powerful artillery which they poffeffed, would have been respectable in any country, and dangerous to any enemy.
With such troops to give up that town which had been the original cause of the war, and the constant object of contention since it commenced, to a raw and undisciplined militia, seemed, exclusive of all other ill consequences, a disgrace not co be borne. But these brave men had by a variety of events, and perhaps it will be thought, and not without good reason, through original error and mifconduct in the arrangement of the war, been reduced to such circumstances, and hedged in in such a manner, that no means were left for the exertion of their force and courage; that they were now subject to the greatest danger, without affording any prospect of fuccess. The wild roda montade of Bricish valour, which had been refounded through all corners of the empire, were now proved to be only empty founds, without any meaning; for tho' British troops will fight as well as any others, when under a proper influence, yet there is nothing in either the men on
the country that gives claim to an exclusive monopoly of bravery. They were now fighting with their own countrymen, animated with the strong inspiring spirit of liberty, with all that is dear to mankind at the point of their swords, and not with men who were fighting for the honour of a grand monarch, whose interest and theirs are, very different. Though the idea of military glory may inspire some officers that have suffered their minds to roam in the field of romance, and have, through an habit of thinking, wrought up their minds to think it a glory to die in battle, yet she common soldiers are not acquainted with such refinement, but both feel and fear natural evils, especially when their consciences hint to them fome doubt concerning the justice of the cause of a
Fortune, or in better phrase, Providence prevented the perilous trial which the General proposed. On the day that succeeded the tempest the design was refumed; but on a closer inspection new difficulties arofe: it was discovered that a new work had been thrown up, which was much stronger than any of the former, and that the whole were now so compleatly fortified, that all hope of forcing them was at an end. It now also became evident that Boston was not a place very happily chosen for the improvement of any advantage which might be obtained towards the reduction of the colonies. This was foreseen by many from the beginning, but the ministry, who were so fure of conquering the colonists with a few grenadiers and red coats, thought all places equally easdy fubdued. It was an infatuation which from the beginning of this ruinous war had poffeffed all its friends, that they hate always boasted of their own strength and
despised their enemies; from the meanest court toadeater to the minister himself, nothing was ever to be heard but the sounds of the victories, valour, and intrepidity of the British troops; when after all, every year has been attended with repeated losses, disappointment, and disgrace. People that think gravely, and believe in providence, have all along inferred, that there has been somerhing of a divine hand in our present disasters, and that the national infidelity and wickedness has had a great share in our misfortunes, while others reciprocate the blame upon each other, and endeavour to clear themselves of having an hand in the mismanagement, but have done every thing for the best. In ages past, which we, now turned a polite people, call barbarous, it was always the fashion in going to war to consider providence as the best ally, and for that reason our fathers seldom neglected to pse the proper means to procure the allistance there.' of, but this is now accounted a weakness and imbe. cility of mird, unworthy ef an enlightened age.
Upon viewing the situation of the rebels, and the resolution which they fhewed to make a vigorous refistance, if not a bold attack upon our men, nothing remained but to abandon the town, and to convey the troops, artillery, and stores aboard the fhips. This last resort was not 'free of difficulty. This part of the history of the war is very differently represented. Government writers affirm that the enemy remained quiet during the tiine of the embarkation, and made not the finallest attempt to give the troops any disturbance, while others, and some who were present witnesses and had a hare of the disaster, have asfirmed that our troops suffered prodigiously by an heavy fire from che prorincials, owing, as they allirm, to a breach of
agreement on the part of General Howe, who had engaged with Washington to remove peaceably, and nor destroy any of the stores which he did not carry away, nor touch the works and fortifications of the
This agreement was broken by the English General, it is said, upon which the enemy opened their batteries upon our men, and destroyed many of them in the embarkation. This can hardly be belier. ed of General Howe, who is a man of honour and veracity, and must certainly have proceeded from fome other cause. The ministry have declared that there was not any convention or agreement between the two Generals, though it has been generally understood tliat the saving of the town depended upon some fort of convention between them. It is not very pro. bable that the English troops would have left Boston withont demolishing it, had there not been some promise made on both sides for this purpose. Had the troops fet fire to the town before the embarkation, the provincials would have attacked them with all their force, and probably have ruined the whole army, but as they did not stir at the first till the embarkation was almost finished, it gives reason to conclude that there was some agreement which fome of the soldiers might break through, when they thought they were nearly safe from the attack of their enemy.-This might happen without the General's knowledge. That there was a design of burning the town, is confirmed from combustibles being laid ,and ready for firing in different parts of the town, and that the feleet men were permitted to go out and hold a conference with General Wahington upon the subje&t. This seems not to have been contradicted on either hand.