A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
The spectators
were confident of seeing the invaders hurled back again, but saw to
their dismay a slackening of the fire of the Americans, while the
troops, rushing over the intrenchments, fought with clubbed muskets.

At the very moment victory was within the grasp of the patriots, their
recklessly fired ammunition gave out, and they began sullenly
retreating, fighting with clubbed weapons. As it was, their retreat
would have been cut off, had not a company of provincials checked the
British until the main body of Americans had fallen back. The battle of
Bunker Hill was over and ended with the defeat of the patriots, who had
lost 150 killed, 270 wounded, and 80 taken prisoners. General Gage gave
his loss as 224 killed and 830 wounded. Among the killed was Major
Pitcairn, the leader of the English troops who fired upon the minute men
at Lexington. The American Colonel Prescott had his clothing torn to
shreds by bayonet thrusts, but was not hurt. A British officer,
recognizing the brilliant Warren, snatched a musket from the hands of a
soldier and shot him dead.

Prescott and Putnam conducted the retreat by way of Charlestown Neck to
Prospect Hill, where new intrenchments commanding Boston were thrown up.
The British fortified the crest of Breed's Hill. General Gage, in
reporting the affair to his government, used the following impressive
language:

"The success, which was very necessary in our present condition, cost us
dear. The number of killed and wounded is greater than our forces can
afford to lose. We have lost some extremely good officers. 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 uncommon zeal and
enthusiasm. They intrench and raise batteries; they have engineers. They
have fortified all the heights and passes around the town, which it is
not impossible for them to occupy. The conquest of this country is not
easy; you have to cope with vast numbers. In all their wars against the
French, they never showed so much conduct, attention, and perseverance
as they do now. I think it my duty to let you know the situation of
affairs."

General Washington, accompanied by his aide, Mifflin, Joseph Reed, his
military secretary, and General Lee, arrived at Cambridge, July 2, 1775.
He was joyfully welcomed, and he and his companions remained for a few
days the guests of President Langdon of Harvard College. On the 3th of
July, Washington's commission was read to a part of the army and to the
provincial congress of Massachusetts, and he assumed command of the
Continental forces.

[Illustration: NOMINATION OF WASHINGTON AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE
CONTINENTAL ARMY.]

A prodigious task confronted him. The undisciplined and wretchedly clad
swarm came and went as they chose, none having enlisted for more than a
brief term. About 2,000 were sick or absent on furlough, out of a total
of 16,771 soldiers. Several thousand more were needed to resist the
attack that it was believed the enemy would soon make. But the British
had received so severe treatment that it required weeks for them to
recover, and the summer became oppressively hot. England recalled Gage,
who sailed for home in October, and was succeeded by Howe. Washington
closely besieged the enemy in Boston. Throwing up intrenchments, he
steadily approached the city, and day by day and week by week the
situation of Howe became more critical. When winter arrived, Washington
formed the plan of crossing Charles River on the ice, but at a council
of war the majority of officers declared the scheme too hazardous.

Washington now decided to fortify and occupy Dorchester Heights, which
would command the city and in a large degree the harbor. General Knox
brought a number of cannon from Ticonderoga, that were dragged over the
Green Mountains on sleds. Their arrival did much to cheer the spirits of
the patriots, who numbered about 14,000. The commander called upon
Massachusetts to furnish him with 6,000 militia, which was partly done.

[Illustration: FANEUIL HALL, BOSTON, "THE CRADLE OF LIBERTY."]

With a view of concealing his real purpose, Washington kept up a
bombardment of the British lines throughout the nights of March 2, 3,
and 4, 1776. On the night last named, General Thomas moved with 1,200
men from Roxbury and took possession undetected of the higher hill which
commanded Nook's Hill, nearer the city. General Howe was amazed the next
morning when he saw what had been done, for his position had become
untenable. Preparations were made to embark men in boats and attack the
Americans, but a violent storm prevented. Then it was agreed that but
one thing could be done, and that was to evacuate Boston.

The evacuation took place March 17th. The British destroyed a great
deal of property, but left many supplies behind which fell into the
hands of the Americans. Washington entered the city on the 19th, the
main body of troops following the next day. The street through which he
rode still bears his name. The Massachusetts Legislature voted their
thanks to the great man, and Congress ordered a commemorative medal in
gold and bronze to be struck. This medal is now in the possession of the
Massachusetts Historical Society.

When Howe sailed away, he took with him more than a thousand Tories, who
dared not remain behind and meet their indignant countrymen. Instead of
going to New York, as he originally intended, the British commander went
to Halifax, where he waited for reinforcements and gave his thoughts to
forming campaigns for the conquest of the colonies.


DISASTROUS INVASION OF CANADA.

While the siege of Boston was in progress, the Americans fixed upon a
plan for the invasion of Canada. The mistake, which has been repeated
more than once, was in believing that the Canadians, if given the
opportunity, would make common cause against Great Britain. General
Philip Schuyler was placed in command of the expedition, but fell ill,
and Richard Montgomery, the second in command, took charge. He was a
valiant Irishman, who had done brilliant service in the British army,
and was full of ardor for the American cause.

In several unimportant skirmishes, his men were so insubordinate and
cowardly that he was disgusted, and expressed his regret that he had
ever taken command of such a lot of troops. Nevertheless, he pressed on
from Ticonderoga, while Schuyler at Albany used every effort to forward
him supplies. St. John was invested, and the impetuous Ethan Allen, one
of his officers, hastened to Chambly to raise a force of Canadians. He
recruited nearly a hundred, and, being joined by a few Americans, set
out to capture Montreal. The promised reinforcements did not reach him,
and, being attacked by a powerful force, he made the best defense he
could, but was finally compelled to surrender, with all of his men who
had not escaped. Allen was sent to England, where he was held a prisoner
for a long time.

The British fort at Chambly was besieged, and surrendered October 18th.
With its capture, the Americans secured six tons of powder and seventeen
cannon. The fort of St. John was captured November 3d. By that time,
Carleton, the British commander, was so alarmed that he abandoned
Montreal, which surrendered on the 20th. Taking possession, Montgomery
issued a proclamation, urging the Canadians to unite with the colonies
in the war for independence, and to elect representatives to the
Continental Congress.

Benedict Arnold, at the head of eleven hundred men, had withdrawn from
the camp before Boston, September 13th, and was pressing forward to join
Montgomery. His course was up the Kennebec, through the gloomy
wilderness to the Chaudière, down which he passed to Point Levi. The
journey was of the most trying nature. The weather became bitterly cold,
and the stream was too swift at times for them to make headway against
it, except by wading the chilly current and slowly dragging the boats
against it. At other places, even this was impossible, and the heavy
boats had to be laboriously carried around the falls and rapids.

Finally the time came to leave the river and plunge into the snowy
forests, where all would have been lost, had not a small party, sent in
advance, "blazed" the trees. There was plenty of ice in the swamps, but
none was strong enough to bear their weight, and they sank through to
their knees in the half-frozen ooze. Toiling doggedly forward, a month
passed before they reached Duck River, by which time they were in a
starving condition. Their provisions gave out, and they ate dogs and
candles. Some, in their extremity, chewed boiled moccasins for the
infinitesimal nourishment to be extracted from them. Roots and the bark
of saplings were devoured, and the wonderful courage of Arnold was all
that prevented the men from throwing themselves on the ground and giving
up. So many fell ill and died that Colonel Enos, in command of the rear
division, turned about with his men and returned to Cambridge.

Nothing, however, could shake the dauntless courage of Arnold. He pushed
on, and, obtaining a few cattle, was able to give his men temporary
relief. Winter was closing in, the weather was growing colder every day,
many men were barefoot, and without any protection against the icy rain
except the branches of the leafless trees. The wonder is that the whole
band did not perish.

Finally on the 4th of November, the famishing band caught sight of the
first house they had seen in weeks. Traveling now became better, and
about a week later they reached Point Levi, opposite Quebec. There they
had to wait several days to procure canoes, with which the seven hundred
men, resembling so many shivering tramps, crossed the St. Lawrence and
huddled together under the Heights of Abraham.

What earthly hope could such a body of men, without cannon, with injured
muskets and powder, and cartridges partly spoiled, have in attacking the
walled town of Quebec? None, unless the Canadians made common cause with
them. Following the steep path up which Wolfe and his brave men had
climbed seventeen years before, the gaunt Americans struggled after
their intrepid leader.

The next act in the grim comedy was to send forward a flag of truce with
a demand for the surrender of Quebec.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.