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were collected, and money was provided for the payment of troops.
In vain the governors of the different provinces'endea. · voured to put a stop to these proceedings by their procla
mations; the Rubicon was passed, the fatal period was I now arrived ; and the more the servants of government attempted to repress the spirit of the Americans, the more violent were their exertions.
* At this time the inhabitants of Boston were reduced to great distress. The British troops, (now commonly called - the enemy,) were in absolute possession of it; the inhabitants were kept as prisoners, and might be made accountable for the conduct of the whole colonies ; various were the means contrived to relieve the latter from their - *disagreeable situation. It was proposed to remove the inhabitants altogether; but this was impracticable without the governor's consent: others recommended burning the town, after valuing the houses, and indemnifying the proprietors; but this was found equally impracticable; it was åt last resolved to' wait for some favourable opportunity, as the garrison 'was not very numerous, and not being supplied with necessaries by the inhabitants, might soon be obliged to leave the place.
The friends of the British government attempted to do something in opposition to the voice of the people; but ulafter a few ineffectual meetings and resolutions, they were futterly silenced, and obliged to yield to superior numbers. Matters had "now proceeded so far that the Americans without further ceremony, seized on the military stores belonging to goveroment. This first commenced at New
port' in Rhode-Island, where the inhabitants carried off - forty pieces of cannon, appointed for the protection of the
place; and on being asked the reason of this proceeding, replied, " that the people had seized them, lest they should be made use of against themselves;" after this the assem
bly met, and resolved that ammunition and warlike stores Oshould be purchased with the public money.
New Hampshire followed the example of Rhode-Island, batid seized a small fort for the sake of the powder and
military stores it contained. In Pennsylvania, however, Sa convention' was held, which expressed an 'earnest de'sire of reconciliation with the mother country; though
at the same time in the strongest manner declaring, that they were resolved to take up arms in defence of their , just rights, and defend, to the last, their opposition to the late acts of Parliament; and the people were exhorted to apply themselves with the greatest diligence to the prosecution of such manufactures, as were necessary for .p their defer.ce and subsistence ; such as salt, salt-petre, gun-powder, steel, &c. This was the universal voice of the colonies, New York only excepted. The assembly of that province, as yet ignorant of the fate of their last remonstrance, refused to concur with the other colonies in their determination, to throw off the British yoke : their attachment was nevertheless, very faint, and by the event, it appeared, that a perseverance of the measures which the ministry had adopted, was sufficient to unite them to
In the beginning of February the provincial congress met at Cambridge, and as no friends to Britain could now find admittance into that assembly, the only consideration was how to make proper preparations for war. Expertness in military discipline was earnestly recommended, and several military institutions established ; among which that of the minute-men was most remarkable. These were chosen from the most active and expert among the militia ; and their business was to keep themselves in constant readiness, at the call of their officers; from which perpetual diligence they derived their appellation.
It was now thought that a very slight occasion would bring on hostilities, for both parties were so much exasperated by a long course of reproaches, and literary warfare, that they were filled with the utmost inveteracy against each other.
On the twenty-sixth of February, 1775, general Gage, having been informed that a number of field pieces had been brought to Salem, dispatched a party to seize them. Their road was obstructed by a river, over which was a draw-bridge. This the people had pulled up, and refused to let down : upon which the soldiers seized a boat to ferry them. over, but the people cut out her
bottom. Hostilities would immediately have commenced had it not been for the interposition of a clergyman, who represented to the military, on the one hand, the folly of opposing
such numbers ; and to the people on tne otħer, that as the day was far spent, the military could not execute their design, so that they might, without any fear, leave them in the quiet possession of the draw-bridge. This was complied with ; and the soldiers, after having remained some time at the bridge, returned without executing their orders.
The next attempt was attended with more serious consequences. General Gage understanding that a large quantity of ammunition and military stores, had been collected at Concord, about twenty miles from Boston, and where the provincial congress was sitting, sent a detachment, under the command of colonel Smith and major Pitcairn, to destroy the stores ; and, as was reported, to seize Hancock and A'dams, two leading men of the congress.
They set out before day break, on the nineteenth of April, marching with the utmost silence, and securing every one they met with upon the road, that they might not be discovered : but, notwithstanding all their care, the continual ringing of the bells and firing of guns as they went along, soon gave them notice, that the country was alarmed : about five in the morning they had reached Lexington, fifteen miles from Boston, where the militia of the place were exercising. A British officer called out to them to disperse; but as they still continued in a body, he advanced and discharged his pistol, and ordered his men to fire; who instantly obeyed, and killed and wounded several of the militia ; the detachment then proceeded to Concord, where, having destroyed the stores, they were encountered by the Americans; and a scuffle ensued, in which several fell on both sides.
The purpose of their expedition being accomplished, it was necessary for the king's troops to retreat, which they did through a continual fire kept upon them from Concord to Lexington. Here their ammunition was total. ly expended; and they would have been unavoidably cut off, had not a considerable reinforcement, commanded by lord Percy, met them. The Americans, however, continued the attack with great fury, and galled the British from behind stone fences, as they retreated ; and had it not been for two field pieces, which lord Percy brought with
him, the whole detachment would still have been in the utmost danger.
The impetuosity of the Americans being thus checked, the British made good their retreat to Boston, with the loss of two hundred and fifty killed and wounded ; that of the Americans, about sixty.
The spirits of the Americans were raised by this engagement, and the power of Britain became less formidable in their view ; they now meditated nothing less than the total expulsion of the troops from Boston. An army of twenty thousand men was assembled ; a line of encampment was formed from Roxbury to Mystic, through a space of about thirty miles; and here they were soon after joined by a large body of Connecticut troops, under the command of general Putnam, an old officer of great bravery and experience. By this formidable force was the town of Boston shut up. General Gage, however, had so strongly fortified it, that the enemy, powerful as they were, feared to make the attack.
But towards the end of May a considerable reinforcement having arrived, with the generals, Howe, Burgoyne, and Clinton, he was soon enabled to attempt something of consequence; and this the boast of the provincials seemed to render necessary. Some skirmishing in the meantime, happened in the islands lying off Boston harbour; in which the Americans had the advantage, and burnt an armed shooner. Nothing decisive, however, took place, till the seventeenth of June. In the neighbourhood of Charlestown, a place on the northern shore, opposite the peninsula on which Boston stands, is an high ground, called Bunker's-bill, which overlooks and commands the whole town of Boston. On the night of the sixteenth, the provincials took possession of this place; and worked with such indefatigable industry, that, to the astonishment of their enemies, they had before day-light, almost compleated a redoubt, with a strong entrenchment, reaching half a mile eastward, as far as the river Mystic.
After this, they were obliged to sustain a heavy and incessant fire from the ships, and floating batteries, with which Charlestown neck was surrounded ; as well as the cannon that could reach the place from Boston. In spite of all opposition, they continued their work, and finished
it before mid-day. A considerable body of foot was then landed at the foot of Bunker's-hill, under the command of generals Howe, and Pigot; the former being appointed to attack the lines, and the latter the redoubt. The Americans having the advantage of the ground, as well as of entrenchments, poured down upon the British such incessant vollies, as threatened the whole body with destruction; and general Howe was for some time left almost alone; all his officers being either killed or wounded.
The provincials in the mean time, had taken possession of Charlestown, so that general Pigot was obliged to contend with them in that place, as well as those in the redoubt. The consequence was, that he was overmatched ; his troops were thrown into disorder, and he would, in all probability, have been defeated, had not general Clinton advanced to his relief: upon which the attack was renewed with fresh fury, so that the provincials were driven beyond the neck that leads to Charlestown.
In the heat of the engagement, the British troops, in order to deprive the enemy of a cover, set fire to Charlestown, which was totally consumed ; and, eventually, the Americans were obliged to retreat over Charlestown neck, which was incessantly raked by the fire of the Glasgow man of war, and several floating batteries. The loss on the side of the British was computed at one thousand; among whom were nineteen officers killed, and seventy wounded. The loss of the Americans did not exceed fire hundred.
This was a dear-bought victory to the British. The Americans boasted that the advantage lay on their side, as they had so weakened the enemy, that they durst not afterwards move out of their entrenchments. This being the first time the provincials were in actual service, it must be owned they behaved with great spirit; and, by no means merited the appellation of cowards, with which they were so often branded in Britain. In other places the same determined spirit appeared.
Lord North's conciliatory scheme was utterly rejected by the assemblies of Pennsylvania, and New-Jersey ; and afterwards, in every other province. The affray at Lexington determined the colony of New York, which had hitherto continued to waver; and, as the situation of New-York