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Be that fact as it may, several of the Americans were now killed and wounded; and such was the first encounter, the first bloodshed, in this unhappy civil war. *
The British detachment now pressed forward to Concord. Here they had leisure to spite three cannon, and to cast into the river five hundred pounds of ball and sixty barrels of flour, but they found that the greater part of the stores was already removed. Having thus, so far as they could, fulfilled their mission, they commenced their retreat. But by this time the whole country was in arms; Militia-men pouring in from all directions hung on their flank and rear, and galled them by an irregular but incessant fire. The number of such assailants continually increased; and before the British, now exhausted with long marching, could again reach Lexington their retreat had grown into a rout. Their utter destruction would have ensued had not General Gage, to guard against any adverse turn of fortune, sent forward that very morning another detachment under Lord Percy to support them. That new force they found just arrived at Lexington. Here Lord Percy's men formed a hollow square, into which the British of the first detachment flung themselves at full length, utterly spent with fatigue, says one of their own Commissaries, and "their tongues hanging out of "their mouths like those of dogs after a chase!"* After some brief interval for rest and refreshment the whole united force, amounting to eighteen hundred men, continued the retreat, and towards sunset reached the shores of Boston Harbour, harassed all the way by the American fire from behind stone walls, and every other place of ambush. Their total loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners was 273, while that of the Americans did not exceed 90. It was said (though in all probability the j est was not devised till afterwards) that as Lord Percy marched forward in the morning he had bid his band, in defiance of his adversaries, play the air of
* Stedman'a History of the American War, vol. i. p. 118.
Yankee-doodle ; but that as he retreated in the afternoon the Americans called out for Chevy-chase ! *
This affair, as is well observed by an American historian, was trivial in itself, though in its consequences of the utmost importance.** The Americans at the time proclaimed it as their glorious victory in the "battle of Lexington;" for it is worthy of note that through the whole ensuing war they were inclined to give the name of "battle" to almost every action which occurred, even down to a slight skirmish. In the casS of Lexington the greatest exaggerations flew from mouth to mouth, and from pen to pen. The retreat of the British troops to Boston, which was always intended as soon as they had accomplished the object of their march, was held forth as an undesigned and ignominious flight before a conquering enemy, and their far greater loss in killed and wounded was ascribed to the military prowess of their adversaries, and not to the plain fact that these adversaries were practised marksmen, and had fired from places of ambush. Such highly coloured representations of the conflict removed the doubts of the wavering, while the conflict itself added ardour to the resolute. From all parts of Massachusetts the Militia-men flew to arms, and flocked to the popular standard. In the other New England provinces a similar spirit was roused. Thus in Connecticut a brave and deserving officer, Colonel Israel Putnam, had since the peace retired to cultivate a farm and also to keepa tavern.*** The Lexington news was brought him while he was dressed
* Grahame's History of the United States, vol. iv. p. 574. In my Appendix will be found, as derived from the State Paper Office, the Report of Colonel Smith to Governor Gage on the whole transaction. This officer, it will be seen, distinctly charges the Americans with having "scalped "and otherwise ill-treated one or two of our men who were either killed uor severely wounded, this being seen by a party that marched by soon "after."
»» Marshall's Life of Washington, vol. ii. p. 185 ed. 1805. *** Gordon's History, vol. ii. p. 2. "Such a junction," adds Dr. Gordon, "is frequent in New England, and not at all inconsistent with a Roman "character." Yet this latter point of the tavern is, I scarce know why, (for what possible discredit could it bring?) eluded — that ia, neither affirmed nor denied, — in the recent biography of General Israel Putnam by his countryman Mr, Oliver Peabody (Boston, 1837).
in a leathern frock and apron, and working at the stone fences of his land. He hastened home, mounted his horse, and by sunrise the next morning was at Concord. There he was soon afterwards appointed to head three thousand men who had followed from Connecticut. In this manner a force amounting, on paper at least, to twenty thousand men, was speedily collected around Boston harbour. The chief command was vested in, or rather was allowed to, Colonel Artemas Ward, with the rank of Major General. Under his direction a long line of blockade was formed. On the other hand General Gage had not as yet received his expected reinforcements from England. The works which he had constructed on the Neck secured him from assault, but he durst not stir beyond them, and found himself encompassed on every side by foes. And thus by a singular turn of fortune the town of Boston, which had been the principal hot-bed of disaffection, became the chief stronghold of the Royal troops.
Such being the state of Boston, many of the inhabitants were desirous to leave the town, which General Gage agreed that they might do with their families and effects on giving up their arms. Neither party appears to have fulfilled their part in this agreement. General Gage complained that the arms- had not been faithfully delivered; and he further contended that the word "effects" was never meant to include merchandise. On the other part the people ill-affected to the Government declared, and not without some show of reason, that the main object of Gage was to retain them or their families as hostages within his hands. In the result therefore but few of the desired passports were accorded.
It was not only by sending auxiliaries to Massachusetts that the people of Connecticut displayed their zeal. Some leading men in that province, — as Wooster and Silas Deane, —. deeming war inevitable or resolved to make it so, formed the project of marching across the frontier of New York, and surprising the forts of Ticonderoga and Crown Point on Lake Champlain. Some forty volunteers well supplied with arms and money set out in secret for this object. Near the Green Mountains they received an accession of almost three hundred men under Colonel Ethan Allen, an active partisan of that district, who now assumed the command in chief. Further onward they were also joined by Benedict Arnold, lately a druggist and horsedealer at Newhaven, who had received a commission as •Colonel from the Massachusetts Congress.* Thus stealthily advancing they reached the shores of Lake Champlain. Captain De La Place, the commander at Ticonderoga, had under him forty-four soldiers, but believed himself in profound peace and most complete security. Early on the morning of the 10th of May he was surprised in bed by Ethan Allen and required to surrender. "By what authority?" said the astonished commander. "I demand it," answered Allen, "in the name of the Great Jehovah and of the Con"tinental Congress!" The summons though unusual could not be resisted; and in like manner the fort at Crown Point, which indeed had but twelve men for its garrison, was suddenly seized. And further still, the Enterprise sloop, the only vessel of the Royal Navy on Lake Champlain, yielded to the skill and energy of Arnold.
It is diverting to find several British writers, misled by Allen's birthplace in New England, and by his summons "in the name of the Great Jehovah," describe him as a formal or fanatic Puritan. So far from this he was not even a believer in the Christian Revelation, but composed a book against it, entitled "Reason the only Oracle of "Man." The void left in his mind by religous truth was, as we often see it, filled by silly fancies. According to some of his biographers he was wont to assure his friends that he expected to return to this life, not indeed once more as a biped, but in the form of a "large white horse!" **
* Sparks's Life of Arnold, p. 8. and 14.
The same day on which the Americans surprised Ticonderoga heheld the meeting of their second Congress at Philadelphia. Early in the year Lord Dartmouth had issued a Circular to the Governors of the several Colonies enjoining them to prevent, if possible, the election of delegates to that Congress as highly displeasing to the King. Nevertheless the elections took place without hindrance and without hesitation in the twelve Colonies which had already combined for that object. Dr. Franklin had arrived at Philadelphia on the 5th of May, and the very next morning by an unanimous vote of the Assembly of the province he was added to the number of its delegates to Congress. Considering how long he had resided in the mother country, and how many of her leading statesmen he had seen and known, his testimony as to their real views and feelings was of course much relied on. And throwing as he did promptly and keenly his whole weight into the scale most adverse to Great Britain, his unfavourable representations and predictions had probably no little influence in making that scale preponderate.
Inflamed still further by the recent events at Lexington, the second Congress met in no complying humour. They chose for their President first Peyton Randolph, and on his retirement soon afterwards John Hancock, the owner of the Liberty sloop at Boston. They assumed as their future title The United Colonies. They rejected with little ceremony the conciliatory proposition of Lord North, which indeed had been already tossed aside by most of the Provincial Assemblies. They prohibited the export of provisions to the British fisheries, or to any Colony which still continued in obedience to Great Britain, — a measure which, as they intended, was productive for the time of great distress. In like manner they forbade the supply of any necessaries to the British army or navy inMassachusetts Bay, and the negotiation of bills of exchange drawn by any British officer. They declared that no obedience was due to the Act of Parliament repealing the Charter of Mas