Obrázky stránek


and reached the drawbridge across the river. Here the passage was disputed; but the dispute did not proceed to bloodshed, owing to the judicious interference of Barnard, one of the Congregational ministers of Salem. This attempt on the part of Gage, served to rouse the activity of the people to a high pitch; it was plain also that encounters of this kind must ere long result very differently.



The second Virginia Convention met at Richmond on the 20th of March. Washington was present as a delegate, and the proceedings of Congress were discussed and approved. Patrick Henry introduced resolutions setting forth the importance of embodying, arming, and disciplining the militia of the colony. Many of the members were startled at the proposition to prepare for a contest of arms, and the resolutions were opposed earnestly by some of the best men in Virginia, who still clung to the hope of reconciliation with the mother country. Henry, however, with impetuous eloquence, bore down all opposition, asserting boldly, "There is no longer any room for hope, we must fight!—I repeat it, sir; we must fight! An appeal to arms and the God of hosts, is all that is left us !" Henry's proposition was carried. Washington, also, was one of those who had lost all faith in the success of petitions. The Convention strongly urged the encouraging of domestic industry and arts and manufactures. At this date,* Washington wrote to his brother, that

it was his full intention to devote his life and fortune to the cause of his country, if it was required.

Little satisfied with the ill result of the previous attempt to seize upon the colonial stores, Gage determined upon a fresh movement, which, he hoped, would would produce the desired effect. Aware that the Americans had collected together a quantity of military stores at Concord, about sixteen miles from Boston, he resolved to send a strong body of troops to seize upon and destroy the magazine. Great efforts were made to keep his intentions secret; but the Americans were ever on the alert, and news of the expedition was in stantly circulated in every direction. At eleven o'clock at night, April 18th, Gage detached eight hundred grenadiers and light infantry, the flower of the army, under the command of Lieutenant-colonel Smith and 1775. Major Pitcairn, to march secretly and expeditiously to Concord. They sailed up Charles River, landed at Phipp's farm, and advanced towards Concord. Of this movement some of the friends of the American cause got notice, just before the embarkation of the troops; and they instantly dispatched messengers by different routes, with the information. The troops soon perceived, by the ringing of bells and firing of musketry, that, notwithstanding the secrecy with which they had quitted Boston, they had been discovered, and that the alarm was fast spreading throughout the country. Between four and five o'clock, on the morning

* See Wirt's Patrick Henry, p. 132-142; Sparks's of the 19th of April, the detachment Washington, p. 124-5.

reached Lexington, thirteen miles from

[merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

Boston. Here about seventy of the minute-men were assembled, and were standing near the road; but their number being so small, they had no intention of making any resistance to the military. Major Pitcairn, who had been sent forward with the light infantry, rode towards them, calling out, Disperse, you rebels! throw down your arms and disperse !" The order was not instantly obeyed: Major Pitcairn advanced a little farther, fired his pistol, and flourished his sword, while his men began to fire, with a shout. Several Americans fell; the rest dispersed, but the firing on them was continued; and, on observing this, some of the retreating colonists returned the fire. Eight Americans remained dead on the field.


At the close of this rencounter, the rest of the British detachment, under Lieutenant-colonel Smith, came up; and the party, without farther delay, proceeded to Concord. On arriving at that place, they found a body of militia drawn up, who retreated across the bridge before the British light infantry. The main body of the royal troops entered the town, destroyed two pieces of cannon with their carriages, and a number of carriage-wheels; threw five hundred pounds of balls into the river and wells, and broke in pieces about sixty flour-barrels. These were all the stores they found.

[ocr errors]

While the main body of the troops was engaged in these operations, the light infantry kept possession of the bridge, the Americans having retired to wait for reinforcements. Reinforcements arrived; and Major Buttrick, of

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

[BK. II.

Concord, who commanded the Americans, ordered his men to advance; but, ignorant of what had happened at Lexington, enjoined them not to fire, unless the troops fired first. The matter did not long remain in suspense. The Americans advanced; the troops fired on them; the Americans returned the fire; a smart skirmish ensued, and a number of men fell on each side.

The troops, having accomplished the object of their expedition, began to retire. But blood had been shed, and the aggressors were not to be allowed to escape with impunity. The country was alarmed; armed men crowded in from every quarter; and the retreating troops were assailed with an unceasing but irregular discharge of musketry. General Gage had early information that the country was rising in arms; and about eight in the morning, he dispatched nine hundred men, with two pieces of cannon, under the command of Lord Percy, to support his first party. According to Gordon, this detachment left Boston with their music playing Yankee Doodle, in derision of "the rebels," as they termed the colonists.

Lord Percy met Colonel Smith's retreating party, at Lexington, much exhausted; and, being provided with artillery, he was able to keep the Americans in check. The whole party rested on their arms till they took some refreshment, of which they stood much in need. But there was no time for delay; as the militia and minute-men were hastening in from all quarters to the scene of action. When the troops resumed their march, the attack was renewed; and Lord Percy continued the

[graphic][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]


retreat under an incessant and galling fire of small-arms. By means of his field-pieces and musketry, however, he was able to keep the assailants at a respectful distance. The colonists were under no authority; but ran across the fields from one place to another, taking their station at the points from which they could fire on the troops with most safety and effect. Numbers of them, becoming weary of the pursuit, retired from the contest; but their place was supplied by new comers; so that, although not more than four or five hundred of the provincials were actually engaged at any one time, yet the conflict was continued without intermission, till the troops, in a state of great exhaustion, reached Bunker's Hill, a little after sunset, with only two or three rounds of cartridges each,


[ocr errors][merged small]

WE, his majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the late representatives of the good people of this country, having been deprived, by the sudden interposition of the executive part of this government, from giving our countrymen the advice we wished to convey to them, in a legislative capacity, find ourselves under the hard necessity of adopting this, the only method we have left, of pointing out to our countrymen such measures as, in our opinion, are best fitted to secure our dear rights and liberty from destruction,

VOL. I.-45


although they had thirty-six in the morning. The loss of the British in this unfortunate expedition, was, sixtyfive killed, one hundred and eighty wounded, and twenty-eight made prisoners. Of the Americans engaged in the battle, fifty were killed, and thirtyfour wounded.


Truly may it be said, in the words of Washington, in a letter in which he speaks of the necessity the British troops were under, to give way before the aroused people of Massachusetts, "If the retreat had not been as precipitate as it was,—and God knows it could not well have been more so,-the ministerial troops must have surrendered, or been totally cut off.”

[ocr errors]

* See "History of the United States," in Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopædia, vol. i., p. 124.

by the heavy hand of power now lifted against North America. With much grief we find, that our dutiful applications to Great Britain for the security of our just, ancient, and constitutional rights, have been not only disregarded, but that a determined system is formed and pressed, for reducing the inhabitants of British America to slavery, by subjecting them to the payment of taxes, imposed without the consent of the people or their representatives; and that, in pursuit of this system, we find an act of the British Parliament, lately passed, for stopping the harbor and commerce of the town of Boston, in our sister colony of Massachusetts Bay, until the people

« PředchozíPokračovat »