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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 9


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The English - now augmented to about two thousand men - marched on. There were several ways of ascending the hill, the best of which was to have landed in the rear of the American entrenchment, where the hill was easiest of ascent, and where the enemy had no batteries; the very worst was in front of the entrenchments, and where the hill was steepest, and most exposed to the fire of the camp above, and that of the riflemen in Charlestown. The English officers, as if perfectly demented, took the most arduous and destructive way. They advanced up the hill, formed in two lines, the right headed by general Howe, the left by brigadier Pigott. The left was immediately severely galled by the riflemen posted in the houses and on the roofs of Charlestown, and Howe instantly halted and ordered the left wing to advance and set fire to the town. This was soon executed, and the wooden buildings of Charlestown were speedily in a blaze, and the whole place burnt to the ground. Howe halted the right line till this was done; and Burgoyne, watching the scene from Boston, afterwards thus described it in a letter to lord Stanley, his brother-in-law: " Now ensued one of the greatest scenes of war that can be conceived. If we looked to the height, Howe's corps, ascending the hill in the face of entrenchments, and in very disadvantageous ground, was much engaged; to the left, the enemy pouring in fresh troops by thousands over the land; and, on the arm of the sea, our ships and floating batteries cannonading them. Straight before us, a large and noble town in one great blaze, and the church-steeples, being timber, were great pyramids of fire above the rest; behind us, the church- steeples and heights of our own camp covered with spectators of the rest of our army which was engaged; the hills round the country also covered with spectators; the enemy all in anxious suspense; the roar of cannons, mortars, and musketry; the crash of churches, ships upon the stocks, and whole streets falling together, to fill the ear; the storm of the redoubts, with the other objects, to fill the eye; and the reflection that, perhaps, a defeat was a final loss to the British empire in America, to fill the mind; made the whole a picture, and a complication of horror and importance beyond anything that ever came to my lot to witness."

The Americans reserved their fire till the English were nearly at the entrenchments, when they opened with such a deadly discharge of cannon and musketry as astonished and perplexed the British. The musketry continued one unpermitted blaze, for the men in the rear handed up to the front loaded guns as fast as the others were discharged. The English lines, amid smoke and slaughter, were swept back, numbers of the Americans shouting, in memory of past taunts, "Well, are the Yankees cowards?" Most of the men and the staff standing around general Howe were killed, and he stood for a moment almost alone. Some of the newer troops never stopped till they reached the bottom of the hill. To add to the misery of the soldiers, they were oppressed by their knapsacks, loaded with three days' provisions, with their muskets, one hundred and twenty- five pounds weight! though only about to scale a hill in face of their own camp, and should have been as lightly equipped as possible. This stupid management and the broiling sun doubled the arduous labour of climbing a rugged steep, up to the knees in grass, and amongst inclosures.

The officers, however, speedily rallied the broken lines, and led them a second time against the murderous batteries. But here was discovered one of those disastrous pieces of mismanagement which so often disgrace our service. The balls sent from the ordnance department at Boston were too large for the field-pieces, and they were useless! Against the artillery and musketry of the Americans our men had only muskets to return the fire with. A second time they gave way. But general Clinton, seeing the unequal strife, without waiting for orders, and attended by a number of resolute officers, hastened across the water in boats, and, rallying the fugitives, led them a third time up the hill. By this time the fire of the Americans began to slacken, for their powder was failing, and the English, wearied as they were, rushed up the hill, and carried the entrenchments at the point of the bayonet. There was a loud hurrah, and the next moment the Americans were seen running for their lives down the easy descent of the hill, towards the blazing ruins of Charlestown. Had Gage had a proper reserve ready to rush upon the flying route on the Neck, few of them would have remained to join their fellows. But the inconceivable imbecility which distinguished the English commanders in this war looks more like a benumbing agency of Providence than anything in the long and glorious annals of England, under usual circumstances. The flying Americans were pretty sharply enfiladed, in passing Charlestown Neck, from the Gloucester man-of-war and two floating batteries; but there the pursuit ended, and the Americans were let off with a loss of four hundred and fifty killed and wounded; whilst we had one thousand and fifty killed and wounded, including eighty-nine commissioned officers. On our side, lieutenant-colonel Abercrombie, major Pitcairn, major Williams, and major Spendlove, fell. The chief officer on the American side who was killed was Dr. Warren.

The Americans, though driven from the hill, and leaving the victorious English there, spread everywhere the boast of a splendid victory on their part; and they did not hesitate to declare that they had only five hundred men engaged against a British force of five thousand. The most correct of the American historians estimate their troops engaged that day at four thousand; but general Gage declared that the Americans were three times the number of the English, or nearly seven thousand. The battle was called the battle of Bunker's Hill, though really fought on the lower, or Breed's Hill.

On the English side, the men and officers were confessed to have fought bravely: the mischief lay in the stupid arrangements of the commander, both in attacking in the very worst place, and not following up the advantage with fresh troops. On the American side, Washington blamed considerably the conduct of the officers, whilst praising the men, and, after a strict inquiry, cashiered captain Callender, of the artillery.

Notwithstanding the real outbreak of the war, congress yet professed to entertain hopes of ultimate reconciliation When the reinforcements had arrived from England, and it was supposed that part of them were destiŁed for New York, it issued orders that, so long as the forces remained quiet in their barracks, they should not be molested; but if they attempted to raise fortifications, or to cut off the town from the country, they should be stoutly opposed. When the news of the surprise of the forts on the Lake Champlain arrived, congress endeavoured to excuse so direct a breach of the peace by feigning a belief in a design of an invasion of the colonies from Canada, of which there was notoriously no intention; and they gave orders that an exact inventory of the cannon and military stores there captured should be made, in order to their restoration, " when the former harmony between Great Britain and her colonies, so ardently wished for by the latter, should render it consistent with the overruling law of self-preservation."

After the battle of Bunker's Hill, congress still maintained this tone. On the 8th of July they signed a petition to the king, drawn up by John Dickenson, in the mildest terms, and who, when to his own surprise the petition was adopted by the congress, rose, and said that there was not a word in the whole petition that he did not approve of, except the word " congress." This, however, was far from the feeling of many members, especially from New England and Virginia, the homes of such fiery democrats as Patrick Henry, Jefferson, Hancock, and Samuel Adams; and Benjamin Harrison immediately rose and declared that there was but one word in the whole petition that he did approve, and that was the word " congress." The petition to the king expressed an earnest desire for a speedy and permanent reconciliation, declaring that, notwithstanding their sufferings, they retained in their hearts " too tender a regard for the kingdom from which they derived their origin to request such a reconciliation as might be inconsistent with her dignity or welfare."

At the same time, they resolved that this appeal, which they called " The Olive Branch," and which they sent on by Mr. Richard Penn, one of the descendants of William Penn, and a proprietary still of Pennsylvania, should, if unsuccessful, be their last. And, at the same time, they drew up two other documents in a very different tone. One was an address to the people of Great Britain, and another to the people of Ireland. In the address to the people of England, they recapitulated the heads of the controversy, and called on them to oppose these outrages of their ministry, as equally fatal to English as to American freedom. They thanked, in the address to the people of Ireland, that people for their sympathy, and glanced significantly at the like grievances of the Irish. They accompanied these documents by another to the city of London, through the medium of Wilkes, and followed these by one to Jamaica, in which, though they admitted that by its insular situation it could not help them, they yet felt the consolation of its kindred feeling for their oppressions.

At the same time, congress also took measures for cultivating the goodwill of the Indians. They established three boards of Indian affairs - one for the Six Nations and other northern tribes, one for the Cherokees and Creeks, and a third for intervening nations. They voted money for the education of Indian youth at Wheelock's school, at Hanover, in New Hampshire; and sent Kirkland, a missionary, and other agents, to the Six Nations. But Guy Johnson, the British Indian agent, who had a wonderful influence with those Indians, ordered these agents out of the country.

To express their sense of Franklin's services in England, and to recompense him for his dismissal by the king from the office of Postmaster-General of America, they appointed him the Postmaster-General themselves. Franklin, thus rewarded, continued to play the same double part as he had done. He signed the mild and tender petition of Dickenson to the king, and with the same hand, almost at the same moment, he wrote this letter to an old friend in London: - "Mr. Strahan, - You are a member of parliament, and are of that majority which has doomed my country to destruction. You have begun to burn our fcowns, and murder our people. Look upon your hands; they are stained with the blood of your relatives! You and I were long friends; you are now my enemy, and I ain yours, " Benjamin Franklin."

The spirit of hostility which now blazed out in minds which disdained the double-dealing of Franklin showed itself from north to south. Wooster, at the command of congress, marched some regiments of his Connecticut men into the vicinity of New York, to keep down the royalists there, and prevent the landing of British troops. Wooster quartered himself near Haerlem, five miles from New York. This led to increased confusion. The governor Tryon had orders from lord Dartmouth to treat the place as in rebellion, if any attempt was made to raise fortifications, or to seize the king's stores. The insurgents had already endeavoured to carry away the guns from the battery; and the Asia ship of war, lying in the harbour, had fired on them, and wounded severely three men. Some days after, in retaliation, the insurgents seized and destroyed two of the Asia's boats. The provincial congress ordered new boats to be built, but these were sawn in pieces on the stocks in the night. This state of things continued till November, the royalists and the insurgents growing ever more embittered. At the head of a company of ardent Connecticut republicans was one captain Sears, who, with many others, had gone over from New York disgusted with the lukewarmness of that place. Incensed at the freedom of the royalist newspaper, published by James Rivington, Sears, one day in November, at noon, marched into New York at the head of seventy-five indignant sons of Liberty, entered Rivington's house, destroyed his papers, and carried off into Connecticut his types, and there cast them into bullets. On their way back through West Chester, they also seized the clergyman and a justice of the peace as tories, and carried them away.

The New York congress highly resented this outrage as an invasion of their rights as a distinct colony, and demanded the return of the types to the chairman of the committee of safety of New York. But Trumbull, the governor of Connecticut, declared, in the true spirit of chicane, that Sears was one of their own citizens; that it was, therefore, no invasion by Connecticut, shutting his eyes to the broad fact, that Sears was in the pay of Connecticut, and attended by citizens of Connecticut. He asserted that it was merely an attack on private property, and, if the injured required a remedy, they must seek it by law.

At the same time, the committee of safety of New York was in the daily commission of equal outrages on its own fellow-citizens. By its orders, doors were broken open to seize arms for the use of the troops, and these orders were extended to the whole colony. These affairs showed that the Americans were beginning the revolution on very free principles indeed, under which no person or private property was safe against the plea of necessity. The agents of the committee often went about backed by a battalion of soldiers; but even then they found people sturdy enough to resist and defend their domestic rights. The Long Islanders hid away their arms, and declared that they would blow out the brains of any one attempting to take them. On the contrary, in some parts of the island, they turned the tables on the revolutionists, and took away their arms. The general congress was speedily compelled to repeal the order for the seizure of arms, which was likely to create a fatal division amongst the colonists. In New York there continued many persons well-affected to the mother country, who would most gladly have seen her authority restored.

The state of feeling in the colony of New York and elsewhere was so alarming, that the congress passed a resolution far more destructive of personal right and liberty than that for the seizure of arms. This was a seizure of persons. The members of the revolutionary congresses and committees of safety were desired " to arrest and secure every person in the respective colonies whose going at large might, in their opinion, endanger the safety of the colony, or the liberties of America." Tryon, governor of New York, retired on board the Halifax packet for his personal safety, but he still continued to carry on communications with the loyal party on shore. In many of the colonies, where there was scarcely a single English soldier, the well- affected were obliged to keep their sentiments to themselves. In North and South Carolina, the governors, Martin and lord William Campbell, were obliged to fly. Lord Dun- more, the governor of Virginia, in the very focus of the revolutionary fire, on the first news of the fight at Lexington, had sent the powder of the province on board a king's ship in the river, and then sending his family on board too, fortified his palace, and still continued to hold out. Sir James Wright, governor of Georgia, wrote to Boston for troops, but could get none, yet he kept up the zeal of the anti-revolutionary party, and prevented the province sending delegates to the congress till July.

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Pictures for Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 9

Boston Boys
Boston Boys >>>>
John Adams
John Adams >>>>
North American forest scene
North American forest scene >>>>
The colonists under Liberty Tree
The colonists under Liberty Tree >>>>
The residence of George Washington
The residence of George Washington >>>>
The skirmish at Lexington
The skirmish at Lexington >>>>
View of Charlestown
View of Charlestown >>>>
George Washington and his mother
George Washington and his mother >>>>
Flag of the Colonists
Flag of the Colonists >>>>
Plan of the battle of Bunkers Hill
Plan of the battle of Bunkers Hill >>>>
A Canadian Indian
A Canadian Indian >>>>
View on the river St. Lawrence
View on the river St. Lawrence >>>>
Near Quebec
Near Quebec >>>>
A Canadian forest scene
A Canadian forest scene >>>>
The cauldron rapids, near Ottawa
The cauldron rapids, near Ottawa >>>>
Waterfall of Montmorency
Waterfall of Montmorency >>>>
First house erected at Quebec
First house erected at Quebec >>>>

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