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General Washington was watching the main army of the enemy, near New York, and preparing to defend the country from their incursions. He could act judiciously, only on the defensive. The British were in possession of New York and a great part of New Jersey, with an army of veteran troops, more numerous than the American; and their fleet gave them great advantages in all their operations on the seaboard. General Washington had not a force sufficient to justify an attack on the enemy. And one attempt, if unsuccessful, would probably have ruined the cause of America for ever. It was his policy, and the dictate of wisdom and patriotism, to move with caution, and to prepare himself to meet the British army with effect, when it could be done with hope of success, or when the defence of the country fully demanded it.
The last of August, the British commander sailed from New York and landed twenty-five thousand men in Maryland, at Elk River, and not far from the borders of the state of Delaware. Washington, who was in the vicinity of Philadelphia, marched immediately to Wilmington, within a few miles of the enemy; and the militia, in the lower parts of Pennsylvania were called in to join him. The British approached within two miles of Wilmington, and then filed off for a fort on the heights of the Brandywine. General Washington perceived their design, and sent a detachment to take possession before the enemy should reach it. This movement brought on a severe action, the following morning; which continued with some short relaxations, tbrough the day, and in which the greater portion of both armies were engaged. The British had the advantage in numbers; but by the skilful arrangements of Washington, and the bravery of his officers, the Americans maintained their position, and retired at evening in good order without being pursued by the enemy. Nearly one thousand were killed and wounded in the American army; the loss of the British was reported to be much greater. The Marquis Lafayette, who had joined the American arıny a short time before, and was a volunteer in the battle, was se verely wounded. But he was soon after appointed a major general, though only twenty years of age. He had then been in America only a few months. A second battle was fought on the 5th of October, at Germantown, near Philadelphia, between the troops under General Washington and the British commanded by General Howe. The attack was made by the Americans, with effect; but a thick fog came on, which disconcerted the plan previously formed by Washing
The enemy could not be discerned; and different
divisions of the Americans mistook each other for British troops. A number of men were killed ; but neither army could claim a victory. A small portion only of the troops under General Washington at this time, were from Massachusetts. The enemy took possession of Philadelphia for the winter; and the quarters of the American army were fixed in the vicinity, at a place called Valley-Forge. The greater part of the troops who were at the capture of Bourgoyne joined the main army at that place in November, and remained there through the winter. Their sufferings were very great from want of suitable provisions and clothing, particularly the latter.
The general court was in session the greater part of the summer and fall of 1777 ; and after a short recess, met
gain the last of November to consult for the public defence and safety. Congress had voted to call on the states for $5,000,000; and the sum required of Massachusetts was upwards of $800,000; a larger amount than of any other state. The assembly immediately proposed to raise a loan of $250,000, and voted a tax of $800,000 ; but paper was then the currency of the country, and its real value far below the nominal. At this session, agents were chosen to request congress to adjust the claims of the state, as it was believed its expenses had been much greater than its just proportion ; and this would lessen the amount necessary for Massachusetts to raise, at that time.
Orders were issued, at this period, for raising men to take the place of those whose term of service was about to expire, who had been called out for the defence of Rhode Island, and other places on the seacoasts ; and some were enlisted particulary for the defence of Boston and the public stores deposited there; as the regular regiments had been marched to the main army some time before. General Heath, then in the continental service, applied to the state for a loan of $30,000; which was furnished; but the state had to borrow it of individuals. In February, 1778, the legislature chose a committee to confer with General Washington, as to the additional number of men he might probably require for the approaching campaign ; and the committee were instructed to assure him " that the state of Massachusetts had a high and grateful sense of his incessant and unwearied services in behalf of the country, and would cheerfully coöperate with him, to their utmost ability, in endeavors to expel the enemy and to save America from thraldom and slavery.” At the same time, the assembly voted to provide a full suit of clothes for all the soldiers in the continental army from Massachusetts; and to
make a grant to the officers who had been some time in service and who should promise to remain ; to field officers $ 150, and to others, $120. Some officers had then recently retired from the army, to take care of their families, which were in a destitute condition.
When the committee returned from a consultation with General Washington, the legislature called on the towns which had not furnished their full quota of men, to raise them immediately; and directed the attorney for the state to prosecute them after a few weeks, if they should still be delinquent. As it was found very difficult to enlist men for three years, the general court voted to raise 2000 for nine months, to fill up the regiments, which were deficient, and the enlistment for the longer term to proceed also with all possible despatch. The towns were required to give these men a bounty, and the state furnished arms and other military equipments. An additional number of men, being 1500, were soon after ordered to be raised, partly for Rhode Island, and partly to defend the northwestern frontier, where some British and Indians were still making inroads.
Such exertions and expenses by the people, could not be expected without an appeal to their patriotism and their love of freedom, which had been proved to be equal to every exigency. “Act like yourselves," was the language addressed to them; “ arouse, at the call of Washington and your country, and you will soon be crowned with glory, independence and peace. We must part with present ease and property, for a time; and let us rejoice at the sacrifice. Let us anticipate the joy which will fill our minds when we shall receive the reward of our labors; when we shall see our land flourish in peace; when grateful millions shall hail us, as the protectors of our country's freedom, and an approving conscience shall light up eternal sunshine in our breasts."
In December, 1777, the continental congress proposed a plan of Confederation and perpetual Union” between the states, which would give more authority to that body. Hitherto, its acts had been only advisory ; and it was provided by the proposed plan, that they should be binding on the several states. Massachusetts early assented to the system; but some of the states declined for two or three
which was attended with much weakness and evil to the interests of the country.
Early in the year 1778, John Adams, of Massachusetts was appointed, by congress, ambassador to France, and embarked at Boston in a continental frigate. Mr. Adams was some time at Paris, and afterwards in Holland, as minister to
the United Provinces. He was an able negotiator, faithful to his high trust, and his services proved very useful to the country. The delegates appointed to congress, for this year, were Samuel Adams, Francis Dana, Elbridge Gerry, James Lovell, and Samuel Holten. Mr. Adams had been one of the delegates from the first congress, which was in September 1774. The judges of the superior court at this time, were William Cushing, N. P. Sargeant, Jedediah Foster, James Sullivan, and David Sewall. When the general court adjourned in March, they authorized the council to provide for the defence of the state, in any exigency which might occur; and to order out 3000 men, if they should be requested by General Washington.
CHAPTER X XI.
British Army leaves Philadelphia-Battle of Monmouth-Massachusetts
Regiments-General Lee arrested-Rhode Island invaded—Militia ordered there–French Fleet-American Army retreat-Lafayette-Additional expenses and taxes in Massachusetts-New Bedford attacked and burnt by the British-Colonel Alden killed at Cherry Valley-General Gates commands in Boston sometime in 1778-9_British Government offer to negotiate-Engage the savages-Finances-Congress call for money-Attempts to prevent monopoly and speculation—Gen. Washington calls for
-Want of provisions in Massachusetts-Officers of Army poorly paid-Convention-Further requisitions of Congress-Penobscot expedition-Further attempts to regulate the price of provision-Men and money called for—Bounties of land promised to officers and soldiersPublic Fasts.
The British army left Philadelphia in June, 1778, and proceeded through New Jersey for New York. General Washington, with the American troops, pursued and gave them battle at Monmouth. He ordered an attack on their rear,
and endeavored to bring on a general engagement; for his men and officers were in high spirits, and his numbers were respectable. General Lee, to whom an important command was assigned, failed to accomplish the object designated by the commander-in-chief, either through treachery or want of necessary promptness; and the fortune of the day was far less favorable to the Americans than it promised to have been, when the attack began. The number of the enemy, however, killed, wounded, and taken, was about 2000; and the Americans had 350 killed and wounded, or who died by the excessive heat and the imprudent use of cold water.
A large portion of the troops, engaged in this affair, were from Massachusetts. General Knox commanded the artillery on that occasion, and received the special thanks of the commander-inchief. General Lee was put under arrest for unmilitary conduct and disobedience of orders. *
* The battle of Monmouth was on the 28th day of June; and was long remembered as an uncommonly hot day. Massachusetts had fourteen regiments in the engagement. General Lee was tried by a military court,