Page images
PDF
EPUB

HESSIAN OFFICER.

4. General Howe had succeeded General Gage in the command at Boston, some time in the year 1775. About the end of December, Washington had discovered that a plan was on foot for making an attack on some part of the coast-perhaps New York. To prevent this, as well as to gain possession of Boston, he began to meditate an attack on the town.

5. It had been his purpose to make the attack in February, when both Charles River and the harbor were firmly frozen over; but in a council of war the plan was opposed, and he yielded his opinion, though he did it reluctantly. It was now determined to get possesssion of Dorchester Heights, near

[graphic]

uth Boston, and which commanded the harbor.

6. On the 2d of March the movement was begun. To conceal his real design from the enemy, Washington first made an attack on the town from Cambridge and Lech'-mere's Point with bomb-shells. This was continued for two or three days, especially at evening. The object was to divert the attention of the British from Dorchester Heights, which lay in the opposite direction.

7. During the night of March 4, 1776, immediately after the firing began from Cambridge and elsewhere, General Thomas, with eight hundred men, and a working party of twelve hundred, with the ne

ssary tools, passed over from Roxbury, as silently as possible, to the Heights, and went to work. The ground was very hard, but by daylight they were able so far to complete an entrenchment, that it served to shield them, in a good degree, from the shot of the enemy.

8. When the British saw these works in the morning, they were greatly astonished. They perceived, in a moment, what an advantage this position gave to the Americans, and that they must either dis

4. What of General Howe? Washington? 5. What was his purpose? How was the plan changed! 6. What was done on the 2d of March? Why was this done? 7. What was done on March 4th?

THE BRITISH EVACUATE BOSTON.

205

lodge them or give up the town. They sent out two thousand troops against them in boats, but a storm prevented them from landing so as to act in concert.

9. At a council of war held by them the next morning, it was determined to quit the town. But as they did not depart at once, the Americans continued to strengthen and extend their works, till, on the 17th of March, they had made such progress that the British dared not remain longer; and by ten o'clock in the forenoon they were all under sail.

10. Great was the joy of the Boston people when they saw the last of the British troops embark, and a division of Washington's army, under General Putnam, marching triumphantly over the Neck into the town. Washington himself, with the rest of his army entered next day amid general acclamations.

11. Boston must have presented a dismal spectacle at this time. For sixteen months it had been subjected to all the distresses of a close siege, and to all the multiplied abuses of a foreign soldiery. Churches had been used for quarters for the soldiers, and their furniture and benches destroyed, and shops and houses, in many instances, had been pillaged of goods and clothing.

12. The sufferings of the citizens, for want of food and fuel, had become extreme. Wood could not be had for less than ten dollars a cord; fish was twenty-two cents a pound; ham forty-five cents; ducks a dollar apiece; turkeys three dollars; sheep eight dollars, and vegetables could scarcely be had. Apples were seven or eight dollars a barrel. Some, in the scarcity of food, were glad to eat horseflesh.

13. Yet there were some Americans who did not share in the gen eral joy at seeing the British depart. They believed America was wrong in resisting the parent country, and could not conscientiously afford their aid. These were called Tories or Refugees. More than a thousand such-some say fifteen hundred-left the town with the British fleet for Halifax; and many never returned.

14. The Boston people, after the battle of Lexington, had been permitted to leave the town with their effects, provided they lodged their arms in Faneuil Hall; and nearly two thousand fire-arms and six hundred and thirty-four pistols, &c., had been deposited there. These inhabitants now began to return with the army of Washington, consisting of twentyone thousand eight hundred regular troops and six thousand eight hun、 dred militia, which gave quite a new appearance to the face of things. 8. What did the British do when they saw the American works on Dorchester Heights! 9. How did the Americans secure their advantage over the British? 10. Describe tho feelings of the Boston people. 11. What was the state of Boston at this time? 12. What were the prices of fuel and provisions? rejoice at the departure of the British? ton? Of what did the army consist?

18. Who were those Americans who did not 14. What had been done at the battle of Lexing

CHAPTER XCVI.

PERIOD OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR, CONTINUED. The British meditate an attack on New York and also on Charleston.-Battle at Sullivan's Island.

1. THUS driven from Boston, the British generals now turned their thoughts toward the capture of New York and Charleston. The attack on the latter place was to be attempted first. For this purpose the British admiral, Sir Peter Parker, and General Clinton, having met at Cape Fear, sailed to the south, and, on the 4th of June, anchored about six miles from the city.

2. The fleet consisted of two fifty-gun ships, four frigates, each of twenty-eight guns, and several smaller vessels. The land forces of General Clinton were twenty-eight hundred. Their anchorage was only three miles from Sullivan's Island, which the Americans had fortified, and which was defended by three hundred and seventy-five regular soldiers and a few militia.

3. Before proceeding against Charleston itself, it was thought advisable to destroy the works on Sullivan's Island, situated ten miles below the city, at the entrance of the harbor. An attack was therefore made on the 28th of June, a little before noon. The fort on the island was built of palmetto wood, so spongy that the shot buried themselves in it, without shivering it to pieces. It was defended, moreover, by sixty pieces of cannon.

4. For ten long hours, the contest was terrible. Ship after ship poured in upon the fort its tremendous broadsides. The Americans also fought with great energy and effect. The whole harbor seemed to be in a flame. Two of the vessels were soon disabled, and a third almost destroyed, while great numbers of their men were slain.

5. In one instance the fire of the fort completely ceased. Their powder was exhausted. The British now thought themselves sure of victory. But a new supply of powder came, and the battle went on hotter than ever for a considerable time longer.

6. In another instance, the flagstaff of the fort being shot away, a sergeant, by the name of Jasper, leaped down upon the beach, took up the flag, and, in spite of the incessant firing of the shipping,

What prep.

CHAP. XCVI.-1. What of the British after being driven from Boston? arations were made to attack Charleston? 2 Of what did the forces of the British consist? How was Sullivan's Island defended? 3. Where was Sullivan's Island? 4 Describe the attack. 5. What hap, ened at one time?

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

207

mounted and placed it again upon the rampart. This sergeant was afterward presented with a sword and a commission; but the latter he refused to accept.

7. The firing ceased between nine and ten in the evening, and the ships hauled off. They were exceedingly shattered, and two hundred of their men were killed or wounded. The Americans had but ten killed and twenty-two wounded; though the damage done to the island was immense-every hut and even every tree being destroyed. 8 This defence of Sullivan's Island was considered as one of the most brilliant events of the Revolutionary War. Great credit was given to the commanding officer, Colonel Moul'-trie, in honor of whom the fort was afterward called Fort Moultrie.

CHAPTER XCVII.

PERIOD OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR, CONTINUED.-Declaration of Independence.

1. THE reader will understand that the government of the country, during the Revolutionary War, consisted of what was called the Continental Congress, composed of members deputed by the several colonies. They held their sessions at Philadelphia, during the greater part of the period.

2. The first Continental Congress, as we have stated, was opened at Philadelphia, in September 1774, all the thirteen colonies being represented, except Georgia. Peyton Randolph, of Virginia, was chosen President, and George Thomson, of Pennsylvania, secretary.

3. The second Continental Congress convened in May, 1776, John Hancock, of Massachusetts, being elected President. The session was one of great and permanent interest. The independence of the colonies had, indeed, already been talked of among the people; but now it became an early topic of discussion by their delegates.

4. The first resolution of this body, on the subject, was introduced June 7, by Richard Henry Lee, one of the delegates from Virginia.

6. Tell the anecdote of the flagstaff. 7. When did the battle cease? What was the loss on both sides? 8. What was thought of the defence of Sullivan's Island? What

was it afterward called?

CHAP. XCVII. 1.—What was the government of the colonies during the whole Revolu Honary War? Where did the Continental Congress generally hold their sessions? 2 What of the first Continental Congress? 8. When did the second Continental Congress meet? Who was elected President? Why was the second Congress one of

particular interest?

[graphic][merged small]

It was, "that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown; and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved."

5. His speech, on introducing this resolution, was one of the most eloquent ever heard in the councils of America, and drew forth able remarks from others. On the 11th of June, it was still further discussed, and again on the 1st of July. On the 2d of July, a committee was elected to draft a declaration according to the spirit of Mr. Lee's resolution.

6. This committee, consisting of Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, John Adams, of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin, of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman, of Connecticut, and Robert R. Livingston, of New York, reported a DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, which, on the 4th of July, was adopted, and ordered to be handsomely engrossed on parchment, in order to be signed.

4. What was the first resolution passed by the body in relation to our National Independence? 5. What of Richard Henry Lee's speech? 6. Who were the members of the committee to draft the Declaration?

« PreviousContinue »