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warrant. He took the opinion of his General Officers a second time respecting the meditated attack; they again unanimously gave their opinion in opposition to the measure, and this opinion was immediately com. municated to Congress. Congress appeared still to favour the attempt, and, that an apprehension of dan ger to the town of Boston, might not have an undue influence upon the operations of the army, resolved, "That if General WASHINGTON and his DEC. 1775. Council of war should be of opinion, that

a successful attack might be made on the troops in Boston, he should make it in any manner he might think expedient, notwithstanding the town, and property therein, might thereby be destroyed."

General Howe had, in October, succeeded General Gage in the command of the British army, and through the winter confined himself to measures of defence.

The inability of the American General to accomplish the great object of the campaign, repeatedly pointed out by Congress, was a source of extreme mortification; but he indulged the hope of success in some military operations during the winter, that would correspond with the high expectations of his country, and procure him honour in his exalted station of Com mander in Chief of the American armies. In his re

1776.

ply to the President of Congress, on the re JAN. 6, ception of the resolution, authorizing an at tack on the fortified posts in Boston, he ob served, "The resolution relative to the troops in Bos ton, I beg the favour of you, Sir, to assure Congress shall be attempted to be put in execution the first moment I see a probability of success, and in such a way as a Council of officers shall think most likely to produce it; but if this should not happen as soon as you may expect, or my wishes prompt to, I request that Congress will be pleased to revert to my situation, and do me the justice to believe that circumstances, and not want of inclination, are the cause of delay."

Early in January, he accordingly summoned a Council of war, at which Mr. John Adams, then a Member of Congress, and Mr. James Warren, President of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, were present; in which it was resolved, "That a vigorous attempt ought to be made on the ministerial troops in Boston, before they can be reinforced in the Spring, if the means can be provided, and a favourable opportunity shall offer." It was also advised, "That thirteen regiments of militia should be asked for, from Massachusetts and the neighbouring Colonies, in order to put them in a condition to make the attempt. The militia to assemble the first of February, and to continue, if necessary, until the first of March." The reinforcements thus obtained, amounted to between four and five thousand men; but thus far the winter proved unusually mild, and the waters about Boston were not frozen. The General, in his official communication to the National Legislature, says, "Congress in my last, would discover my motives for strengthening these lines with the militia but whether, as the weather turns out exceeding mild, insomuch as to promise nothing favourable from ice, and there is no appearance of powder, I shall be able to attempt any thing decisive, time only can determine. No person on earth wishes more earnestly to destroy the nest in Boston than I do; no person would be willing to go greater lengths than I shall to accomplish it, if it shall be thought adviseable; but if we have neither powder to bombard with, nor ice to pass on, we shall be in no better situation than we have been in all the year: we shall be worse, because their works are stronger."

While anxiously waiting to embrace any favourable opportunity that might present to annoy the enemy. General WASHINGTON seriously meditated upon the importance of establishing a permanent army. His experience enabled him to anticipate the evils that must ensue at the expiration of the period for which

the present troops were engaged, and he bent the whole force of his mind to induce Congress seasonably to adopt measures to prevent them. In a letter to the President of Congress, dated February 9, he entered thus fully into the subject.

"The disadvantages attending the limited enlistment of troops, are too apparent to those who are eye witnesses of them, to render any animadversions necessay; but to gentlemen at a distance, whose attention is engrossed by a thousand important objects, the case may be otherwise.

"That this cause precipitated the fate of the brave, and much to be lamented General Montgomery, and brought on the defeat which followed thereupon, I have not the most distant doubt: for, had he not been apprehensive of the troops leaving him at so important a crisis, but continued the blockade of Quebeck, a capitulation, (from the best accounts I have been able to collect) must inevitably have foliowed. And, that we were not at one time obliged to dispute these lines, under disadvantageous circumstances, (proceeding from the same cause, to wit, the troops disbanding themselves before the militia could be got in) is to me a matter of wonder and astonishment; and proves that General Howe was either unacquainted with our situation, or restrained by his instructions from putting any thing to a hazard till his reinforcements should arrive.

"The instance of General Montgomery, (I mention it because it is a striking one; for a number of others might be adduced) proves, that instead of having men to take advantage of circumstances, you are in a manner compelled, right or wrong, to make circumstances yield to a secondary consideration. Since the first of December, I have been devising every means in my power to secure these encampments; and though 1 am sensible that we never have, since that period, been able to act upon the offensive, and at times not in a

condition to defend, yet the cost of marching home one set of men, bringing in another, the havock and waste occasioned by the first, the repairs necessary for the second, with a thousand incidental charges and incon veniences which have arisen, and which it is scarce possible to recollect or describe, amount to near as much as the keeping up a respectable body of troops the whole time, ready for any emergency, would have done. To this may be added, that you never can have a well disciplined army.

"To bring men well acquainted with the duties of soldier, requires time. To bring them under proper discipline and subordination, not only requires time, but is a work of great difficulty; and in this army, where there is so little distinction between the officers and soldiers, requires an uncommon degree of attention. To expect then, the same service from 1aw and undisciplined recruits, as from veteran soldiers, is to expect what never did, and perhaps never will happen. Men who are familiarized to danger, meet it without shrinking; whereas, those who have never seen service, often apprehend danger where no danger is. Three things prompt men to a regular discharge of their duty in time of action-natural bravery, hope of reward, and fear of punishment. The two first are common to the untutored and the disciplined soldier ; but the latter most obviously distinguishes the one from the other. A coward, when taught to believe, that if he break his ranks and abandon his colours, he will be punished with death by his own party, will take his chance against the enemy; but a man who thinks little of the one, and is fearful of the other, acts from present feelings, regardless of consequences.

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'Again, men of a day's standing will not look forward; and, from experience we find, that as the time approaches for their discharge, they grow careless of their arms, ammunition, camp utensils, &c. Nay, even the barracks themselves, lay us under additional

expense in providing for every fresh set, when we find it next to impossible to procure such articles as are absolutely necessary in the first instance. To this may be added, the seasoning which new recruits must have to a camp, and the loss consequent thereupon. But this is not all: men, engaged for a short, limited time only, have the officers too much in their power: for to obtain a degree of popularity, in order to induce a second enlistment, a kind of familiarity takes place, which brings on a relaxation of discipline, unlicensed furloughs, and other indulgences, incompatible with order and good government; by which means, the latter part of the time for which the soldier was engaged, is spent in undoing, what you were aiming to inculcate in the first.

"To go into an enumeration of all the evils we have experienced in this late great change of the ar my, and the expenses incidental to it-to say nothing of the hazard we have run, and must run, between the discharging of one army and the enlistment of another, unless an enormous expense of militia be incurredwould greatly exceed the bounds of a letter. What I have already taken the liberty of saying, will serve to convey a general idea of the matter; and therefore I shall, with all due deference, take the liberty to give it as my opinion, that if the Congress have any reason to velieve that there will be occasion for troops another year, and consequently of another enlistment, they would save money, and have infinitely better troops, if they were, even at a bounty of twenty, thirty, or more dollars, to engage the men already enlisted, till January next; and such others as may be wanted to complete the establishment, for, and during the wai I will not undertake to say, that the men can be -had upon these terms; but I am satisfied that it will never do to let the matter alone, as it was last year, till the Cime of service was near expiring. The hazard is too great in the first place; in the next, the trouble and VOL. I.

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