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AFFAIR AT LEXINGTON.

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Fight at Concord Bridge. commence, the royal party should be the aggressors. With their habitual reverence for law and justice, they resolved to place their adversaries in the wrong, and to keep the right on their own side. It was equally their determination to repel with firmness the first hostile attack which should be made. An occasion was soon furnished in which these principles of action were put to the test.

On the evening preceding the 19th of April, 1775, General Gage detached Lieutenant Colonel Smith and Vajor Pitcairn, with 800 grenadiers and light infantry, to destroy some military stores which had been collected at Concord, about eighteen miles from Boston. Information of this movement was sent into the country by Dr. Warren, and the whole surrounding region was soon in arms, and marching, in small parties, towards the scene of action.

When the British troops reached Lexington, about five o'clock in the morning, a small body of militia was pa. raded in front of the meeting house. Major Pitcairn, who led the van, rode up, calling out, · Disperse, rebels, dise perse.' His soldiers rushed forward, with loud huzzas, and commenced a scattering fire. This was soon followed by a general discharge, which continued until the militia retreated. Eight men were killed, and a considerable, number wounded. The main body now proceeded tu Concord and destroyed the stores.

The British commander then attempted to cut off the approach of the Americans from the neighbouring towns,

For what purpose were British troops sent to Concord ?-What took place at Lexington ?

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142

RE'TREAT FROM CONCORD,

by destroying or occupying the bridges. A party was sent to the south bridge and tore it up. Another force was sent to the north bridge to guard it, and being attacked by the Americans, who were desirous of keeping open the communication with the town, a smart action took place, which terminated in the retreat of the British, after the loss of several killed and wounded, to the centre of the town. After hastily burying their dead in the public square, they recommenced their march, or rather their fight, towards Boston At the sound of the alarm guns, and the ringing of the church bells, the people had hastily armed themselves, and mustered in such numbers, that the British found themselves surrounded on all sides by enemies, firing upon them in detached scouting parties, from every covert they could find. • Every patch of trees, every rock, every stream of water, every building, every stone wall, was lined with an unintermitted fire.

At Lexington they were partially relieved by a reinforcement of 900 men, with two field pieces, commanded by Lord Percy. After resting under protection of this strong party for half an hour, the British resumed their march under a continued and heavy fire of the Americans. Near 100 men fell in the retreat; a considerable number were made prisoners; a round or two of ammunition only remained : and it was not till late in the evening that the exhausted remnant of the British reached the heights of Charlestown. Here they received an additional reinforcement from Boston, who protected them during the night; and before the close of the next day the royal army was formally besieged in Boston.*

This, the first battle of the revolution, was important, not only on account of its placing the parties in an attitude of open hostility, but also from its moral influence on the spirit and subsequent proceedings of the colonies. It fully demonstrated the efficiency of the provincial troops, when acting against regulars, and the fatal precision of their marksmen. It secured the position which they had been so anxious to take in the outset, as the party aggrieved and attacked, acting entirely on the defensive. They had been careful not to give the first fire at Concord, even after the affair at Lexington, so anxious were the leaders

What took place at Concord ?-What obliged the British to retreat ?Describe the retreat.-What was their loss ?-Why was this battle im

purtant ?

* Everett

CAPTURE OF CROWN POINT AND TICONDEROGA. 143

this point.

to cover their proceedings with the letter of the law. The provincial congress even took_pains to send letters and depositions to their agents in England, establishing

Having thus entrenched their position with law and justice, the congress prepared to defend it with the whole available force of the country. They immediately passed resolutions for raising an army of 30,000 men in New England. A considerable part of these levies was soon added to the besieging army which surrounded Boston ; and General Gage became seriously alarmed for the safety of his garrison.

Meantime a small force was raised in Connecticut, and marched to Castleton, where they were met by Colonels Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold, with an additional force; and, under their command, proceeded towards the fortress of Ticonderoga. They reached Lake Champlain in the night of the 9th of May. With a detachment of 83 men, Allen and Arnold crossed the lake, and succeeded in surprising and capturing the fort without firing a gun. Colonel Warren was then sent off with a small party, and took possession of Crown Point, which was garrisoned only by a sergeant and twelve men.

At both these places a considerable amount of cannon and military stores were taken.

While these events were passing, Generals Howe, Burgoyne, and Clinton arrived at Boston; and, soon after, General Gage sent forth a proclamation, declaring martial law to be in force; and offering pardon to all who would submit to the king, excepting Samuel Adams and John Hancock.

In Virginia, the royal governor, Lord Dunmore, seized some powder belonging to the colony, and conveyed it on board an armed vessel, lying in the harbour of Williamsburg. The irritation caused by this measure great, that the governor was soon compelled to retire and take refuge on board the Fowey man-of-war; and thus terminated for ever the royal government in that colony. A similar result took place in South Carolina, in consequence of the royal governor being detected in tampering with the Indians. In North Carolina, also, the governor, having made hostile preparations, was compelled to seek

What was done by congress ?-What is said of Gage ?--Describe the taking of Ticonderoga and Crown Point.-Who now arrived in Boston ! What was proclaimed by General Gage ?-What took place in Vir. ginia ?-In South Carolina ?-In North Carolina 1

was SO

144

WASHINGTON COMMANDER IN CHIEF.

safety on board a sloop of war in Cape Fear river. The other colonies were thus rapidly assuming a position not less warlike than that of New England.

On the 10th of May, the continental congress assembled at Philadelphia. Addresses were voted to the inhabitants of Great Britain, to the people of Canada, and to the assembly of Jamaica, and a second petition to the king. Congress next voted that 20,000 men should be, immediately equipped, and proceeded to organise the higher departments of the army. GEORGE WASHINGTON, then a delegate from Virginia, was unanimously chosen commander in chief; and accepted the appointment with his characteristic modesty and dignity. Bills of credit were issued for three millions of dollars, to defray the expenses of the war, and the UNITED COLONIES were pledged for their redemption.

Intelligence respecting the movements of the British army in Boston having led to the suspicion that General Gage designed to penetrate into the country, it was determined to fortify Dorchester Neck and Bunker's Hill. A detachment of 1000 men being ordered for the latter service, under the command of Colonel Prescott, by some mistake took possession of Breed's Hill, an eminence much nearer to Boston than Bunker's, and completely commanding the town. Moving silently to this point, on the evening of the 16th of June, they reached it unobserved, and proceeded to throw up an intrenchment of eight rods square, during the night. At break of day, their operations being discovered by the commander of the armed ship Lively, then lying in the harbour, a brisk cannonade from the ship was commenced. A battery of six guns was soon after opened upon them from Copp's Hill, in Boston, directly opposite Breed's. Undaunted by the constant shower of shot and bombs which was poured upon them, the provincial troops laboured indefatigably upon their works, until they had extended a breast-work from the east side of the redoubt to the bottom of the hill, towards Mystic river.

General Gage deeming it absolutely necessary to dislodge the Americans from this commanding eminence, detached Major General Howe, and Brigadier General

When did congress assemble at Philadelphia ?-What addresses did they vote ? - What men and money ?-Who was appointed commander in chief ?--What occasioned the fortifying of Breed's Hill ?--When was it fortified ?-- What look piace in the morning ?--How far were the

works extended ?

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Pigot, about noon, with ten companies of grenadiers, en of light infantry, and a body of artillery, to perform that service. They landed at Moreton's Point, but finding the Americans did not desert their intrenchments, as they had expected, they awaited the arrival of a reinforce ment from Boston. Meantime the provincials also received a fresh accession of troops, under the command of Generals Warren and Pomeroy; and made a further addition to their defences by pulling up some post and rail fences, placing them in parallel lines, and filling up the intervening space with new mown hay.

The British troops, being now reinforced, marched to the attack in two lines. It was commenced by a heavy discharge of fieldpieces and howitzers, the troops advancIng slowly to allow time for the artillery to produce effect on the works. While they were advancing, orders were given to set fire to the village of Charlestown, which was soon enveloped in flames. This added, in no small de gree, to the terror and sublimity of the spectacle, which was contemplated by thousands of interested spectators, assembled on the surrounding heights, and the roofs of buildings in Boston, awaiting in breathless expectation the issue of the contest.

The Americans permitted the enemy to approach within What force was sent to dislodge the Americans ?-Under what generals ?-After landing, what did they wait for ?-Who reinforced the Americans?-How did they extend their works?-Describe the advance of the enemy.- What town was burnt ?-Who were the spectators of the battle ?

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