Robert Tomes.

Battles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) online

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dropped down the river to Isle Royale,
capturing on their way a French cruiser,
which was spiritedly attacked by some
soldiers in the whale-boats, and gallantly

Aug. 23

carried. Fort Levi, on the island, was
still in possession of the enemy, and,
though invested by Amherst s
immense force, with all the reg
ularities of a siege, and a severe cannon
ade opened, was so spiritedly defended
by its little garrison, that one of the Brit
ish vessels was obliged to strike her col
ors. Amherst, checked by this unex
pected vigor on the part of the French,
put off the assault until the next day.
In the meantime, the French command
ant, finding that it was impossible to hold
out long against the overwhelming force
of his assailants, surrendered at discre

When the fort was given up, Johnson s
Indians, who had been thirsting to wreak
their vengeance upon the Frenchmen,
would have begun their cruel work, had
not Amherst, with a noble humanity, in
terposed. He immediately gave orders
to Sir William to deter the savages, if pos
sible, from their purpose, promising them
all the stores found in the fort ; but warn
ing them, at the same time, that if they
persisted, he would restrain them by force.
The Indians, in sullen submission, return
ed to their camp, but fiercely resented
the interference ; and Sir William John
son informed the general that they would
probably quit the army. Amherst an
swered : " Although I wish to retain their
friendship, I will not purchase it at the
expense of countenancing barbarity ; and
tell them that, if they commit any acts
of cruelty on their return home from the
army, I will assuredly chastise them."*
The Indians left him, but the humane

* Wai-burton.




Amherst won a triumph worth more than
hundreds of bloody victories.

Levelling the captured works on Isle
Royale, the troops descended the stream,
and entered the turbulent and dangerous
passage of the Cedars. As the heavily-
laden boats got among the broken rocks
and boiling eddies, they were so crowd
ed and tossed together, that some were
swamped, and others dashed to pieces.
Sixty-four, laden with artillery and stores,
were in this manner lost, and eighty men

On landing upon the island
of Montreal, the French retired
within the walls of the city, and Amherst
invested the place. Murray in the mean
time had sailed from Quebec, with all the
disposable force which could be spared,
and joined Amherst on the 7th of Sep
tember, with twenty-four hundred and
fifty of the conquerors of Quebec. Colo-


Sept, 8.

nel Haviland, who had come from Crown
Point, arrived the next day with another
body of troops, and now upon the island
of Montreal were gathered sixteen thou
sand British. The marquis de Vaudreuil,
who had fled to Montreal after Wolfe s
conquest of Quebec, now gave
up all in despair, and signed a
capitulation, by which all Canada was
lost to France for ever.

After long negotiations, protracted by
the expansive demands of the imperious
Pitt, the war between Great Britain and
France ceased with the treaty
of peace at Paris, in 1763. The
French ministry yielded with reluctance ;
and the proud Choiseul, who resigned his
place, asked, despairingly: "But what
can we do ? The English are furiously
imperious ; they are drunk with success
and, unfortunately, we are not in a con
dition to abase their pride."



1775 TO 1783.



Representation and Taxation. Tyranny of Great Britain. Resistance of Massachusetts. The Stamp-Act. The Tea-
Party. Boston Port-Bill. Starvation. General Gage. His Life and Character. Gage s Proceedings. His Seizures.
Fortification of Boston. Indignation and Vigilance of the Patriots. Secret Designs discovered. March on Con
cord. The Struggle. Lexington. The Conflict. The Excitement throughout the Country. The Return of the
British toward Boston. Galled by the Patriots.


" THEY say you have no right to
tax them without their consent.
They say truly. Representation and tax
ation must go together : they are insepa
rable."* This was the American cause :
Representation and taxation must go together
a cause which the colonists, almost
with one voice, had now determined to
seal with their blood. British Tyranny
resolved to force submission. American
Liberty determined to oppose resistance.
The struggle began. Battles were fought,
and continued to be fought, until inde
pendence was won. These it is our pur
pose to record, to which we shall proceed
now without further preface.

General Thomas Gage, having been ap
pointed captain-general and governor of
Massachusetts, was now at Boston, in
command of the British troops ; while
English men-of-war floated threateningly
in the harbor. He hid been selected by
the government of Great Britain to en-

* Earl Chatham s speech in the house of lords.

force, by threats if possible, by violence
if necessary, the obedience of New Eng
land to the tyrannical edicts of the moth
er-country. The people of Massachusetts
had been the first although the other
colonies showed the same spirit of inde
pendence to resist, by overt act, the
tyrannical exercise of British authority.
They, in common with the rest of the
people of the provinces, had contented
themselves with opposing, by petition
and protest, the stamp-act ; and, on its
repeal, only exhibited their spirit of in
dependence by a burst of joy. The ex
ultation of these lovers of liberty was,
however, soon vexed into the excitement
of passionate resistance by other tyran
nical acts of Great Britain. The colonists
now, almost with one voice, determined
upon retaliation. They would punish the
mother-country by not consuming her
products, and thus weaken her strength
by diminishing her revenue. Great Brit
ain, in spite of her suffering trade and



commerce, and the urgent appeals of her
men of business to change her odious co
lonial policy, madly persisted., and strove
to compel where she had failed to per

An effort was made to force upon the
colonies the consumption of tea. A cargo
arrived at Boston. A "tea-party" was
formed, composed of fifty men "very
dark-complexioned persons, dressed like
Mohawks, of very grotesque appearance."
With an Indian whoop, these Bostonians
and "solid men" they were rushed
to the wharf, boarded the ships, and in
the course of two hours threw into the
river three hundred and forty-two chests
of tea. This was no impulsive act of riot,
but the deliberate proceeding of men of
determined character, appointed to carry
out the calm resolutions of their fellow-

The tea-proceeding, when heard of in
England, was received with applause by
the friends of liberty, and with indigna
tion by the government and its favorites.
Tyranny now suggested an act of oppres
sion as a punishment for those who had
dared to disobey its caprices. It was
readily acceded to, with the object of re
ducing the people of Boston to " starva
tion" a word then first coined, in the
British Parliament, by a tory member,
whose inveteracy of hate could find no
expression in the English language suffi
ciently strong to bear the impress of his
cruel purpose. The punishment of Bos
ton came in the form of the " Boston pori>
bill," the object of which was to deprive
the refractory town of its privileges and
rights as a place of commerce. Gage

and his British soldiers were now on the
spot to carry that bill into execution.

Gage had proved himself a gallant sol
dier in the unfortunate campaign of Brad-
dock ; but he was nothing else than a
soldier, with all the decided sentiments
in favor of absolute authority engendered
by a long military life. lie was, more
over, a thorough aristocrat in feeling, and
a tory by political association. He did
not understand what "the mob" (as he
called the people), as long as they had
enough work, and could eat and drink
abundantly, had to do with political prin
ciples. Their whole public duty, he be
lieved, was obedience. To govern, or
even to say who w r as to govern, w r as not
their vocation. Gage, however, should
have learned something of the character
of the American colonists. He had been
a good deal among them, and had mar
ried a native lady of New York. But,
nevertheless, he did not understand them,
and seemed as unconscious as the khan
of Tartary of the devotion of Americans
to liberty, and of their resolute firmness
to defend it against any oppressor. His
associations in the colonies were too much
with the loyalists, who were always fawn
ing about royal governors, and whisper
ing into their ears what w r ould flattering
ly exaggerate the self-importance of the
dignitary, and contemptuously depreci
ate " the rabble." In New York he had
found among his kindred, and the pre
tentious aristocracy of its tory society, a
more obsequious courtiership than ever
licked royal hands at the court of St.
James. He was now in Puritan New
England ; and while among his own suite.




and surrounded by a few exceptional
Massachusetts tories, he did not seem to
be conscious of the difference in his po
sition. He took no account of the great
body of the Puritan people, who had
learned from their ancestors, under the
orders of Cromwell, and the teachings of
Milton, those principles of liberty which
they carried with them to America, and
taught their children not only to vener
ate, but to guard, at all hazards of life
or fortune, against the oppressor.

It was claimed for Gage that he was a
man naturally frank, and of a gay, social
disposition. This he may have been,
among those he considered his " equals,"
but to his "inferiors" he was haughty
and arrogant. He was, in fact, in every
thing except capacity, a perfect instru
ment to compel " a full and absolute sub
mission" to the tyrannical acts of his mas
ters. With his British troops to back
him, he did not hesitate at fulfilling the
most cruel purpose of despotism.

Gage, in common with most British
officers and many British statesmen, held
the colonial opposition in great contempt.
The American leaders were, in his opin
ion, without capacity, their followers with
out courage. While he thus increased
the hostility against him, he diminished
his power of resistance. Gage never just
ly appreciated the sentiments or rightly
measured the strength of his enemies. :i:
While the Americans declared "No dan
ger shall affright, no difficulties shall in
timidate us ; and if, in support of our

* " General Gage, in his private letters, encouraged the
ministers to be firm, and that if they would be so, they would
prevail." WALPOLE.

rights, we are called to encounter even
death, we are yet undaunted, sensible
that he can never die too soon who lays
down his life in support of the laws and
liberties of his country" Gage called
the authors of these heroic resolves " a
despicable rabble," and undertook to keep
them quiet with five regiments, saying,
" The Americans will be lions only as long
as the English are lambs !" So, too, a
Colonel Grant, who until then was only
known in America by his folly which
had nearly ruined the expedition under
Forbes against Fort Du Quesne now,
with the attempted wisdom of a counsel
lor, declared that the Americans were
cowards. "With five regiments," said
this braggadocio to the assembled Parlia
ment of England, " I could march through
all America." Truth, however, was burst
ing from the eloquent lips of Lord Chat
ham almost at the same moment and
within the same walls : " My lords," said
the great orator, "there are three mil
lions of whigs. Three millions of whigs.
my lords, with arms in their hands, are
a very formidable body." But English
Tyranny closed its ears and eyes to truth,
and rushed recklessly on to destruction.
The king said loudly, and with a scornful
laugh, that " he had as lief fight the Bos-
tonians as the French." " Corruption,"
wrote Walpole in England, " smiled, and
was not afraid of swords at such a dis

On the first day of the operation of the
" Boston pori^bill," the people contented
themselves with signifying their

o / o

affliction at this invasion of their
rights by tolling their church-bells, by





fasting and prayer, and by hanging their
houses and public buildings with crape.
It was not until those further acts of the
British Parliament which virtually de
stroyed the charter of Massachusetts
deprived the people of the right of pub
lic meetings, thus cutting away the scaf
folding of English freedom, and interfered
with the trial by jury, that an armed re
sistance was determined upon. A meet
ing was held at Faneuil hall, composed
of delegates from various parts of
Massachusetts. It was by them
resolved that " a provincial Congress is
necessary to counteract the systems of
despotism, and that, as a necessary means
to secure the rights of the people, the
military art ought to be attentively prac
tised." A provincial Congress was ac
cordingly held ; the militia mustered, and,
arming themselves, prepared for resistr

Gage, not satisfied with dissolving meet
ings at Boston with his soldiers, seized
the artillery and ammunition which be
longed to the city, and thus greatly ex
cited the indignation of the townspeople.
The seizure of the powder was magnified,
by the excited imaginations of the Mas
sachusetts men, into a cannonade of Bos
ton ; and the neighboring colonists began
to ring their alarm-bells, light up the bea
con-fires, and hurry in armed crowds to the
scene of the supposed danger. Gage him
self became anxious, and wrote to the gov
ernment at home that " the flames of se
dition had spread universally throughout
the country, beyond conception ;" that
" civil government was near its end ;" and
that " the time for conciliation, rnodera-


tion, reasoning, was over." Nothing now,
he believed, could be done but by force,
and this he resolved upon using. " The
torrent should be stemmed, not yielded
to."* The Massachusetts people were, in
their turn, making preparations for the
struggle, by disciplining their militia, and
collecting together their arms and am

Gage, strengthened by addition
al troops, had fortified Boston neck,
and turned the city into a camp, where
his four thousand men stacked their guns
in Faneuil hall, and converted the church
es into mess-rooms. He now decided up
on a movement, by which he hoped to
overwhelm the Massachusetts men, and
put an end to their means of mischief.
His plan was, to take the colonists by
surprise, and destroy their magazine of
arms and ammunition at Concord, some
eighteen miles from Boston. Gage em
ployed every possible means to keep his
purpose secret. He sent out his officers
in disguise to make sketches, and to bring
back reports of the position of Concord,
its strength, and the various approaches
to the place. He also determined, in or
der to further conceal his design, to make
the attack under the cover of the night.

The patriots were vigilant, and became
conscious of Gage s movements. They
accordingly strengthened their guard at
Concord,and removed some of their stores
secretly to other places. Gage continued

* Gage was, however, seemingly not without some sense
of discretion, for Walpole records : " It was said, on Gen
eral Gage receiving orders to sei/e and send over hither the
chief patriots, he had for answer that, should he attempt to
do any such thing, that would be the last letter the . vould
ever receive from him, for he should be knocked on the




his preparations, but each act of his was
watched closely by the alert patriots; and,
seeing the boats one night launched and

moored under the sterns of the
April 15,

British men-ot-war, took care to

send intelligence of the fact to Concord.
A few days after, some English officers
were sent out on the roads leading from
Boston, to prevent any messengers going
out to carry information of the proposed

The night finally arrived. When elev
en o clock struck, some nine hun
dred of the choicest of the Brit
ish troops, under the command of Lieu
tenant-Colonel Smith, embarked in small
boats at the foot of Boston common, and,
landing near Lechmere point,began their
silent march to Concord.

The patriots, however, were on the
alert. Warren, the Boston physician
whose whole soul was in the cause, and
who was one of the most active members
of the committee of safety had already
sent messengers to his friends at Concord;
and when the British embarked, he or
dered the lantern, which was agreed up
on as the signal, to be hoisted from the
steeple of the North church in Boston.
Gage, much to his surprise, discovered
that his secret was known. Having com
municated his design in the evening to
Lord Percy, that officer retired, and was
on his way to his quarters, when, crossing
the common, he fell in with a group of
citizens in earnest conversation, in the
course of which one was heard to say,
"The British troops have marched, but
will miss their aim!" "What aim?"
asked his lordship. " Why. the cannon

at Concord," was the answer. Percy re
turned at once to Gage, and told what
he had heard, when orders were immedi
ately issued that no person should be al
lowed to leave the town. It was, how
ever, too late : the vigilant Warren had
already despatched a couple of messen
gers, and given orders for the hoisting of
the warning lantern.

The whole country was aroused. The
town of Lexington, through which the
road to Concord passed, was especially
on the alert ; and its minute-men, to the
number of about a hundred and thirty,
turned out in the middle of the night,
and were assembled together on the com
mon until two o clock in the morning,
with their guns " loaded with powder and
ball." At this time a messenger returned,
with the word that no troops had yet
shown themselves on the road. Accord
ingly, as the morning was chilly, the men
were dismissed to a neighboring tavern,
with orders to make their appearance
on the first sound of the drum. The
tAvo messengers, who had been sent on to
give Concord the alarm, were met by a
party of British officers, when a scuffle
ensued, and one of the patriots was taken
prisoner ; while the other succeeded in
escaping by leaping a stone-wall, and,
running off, made his way to the place
where Hancock and Samuel Adams had
temporarily concealed themselves.

These two, Hancock and Adams, both
men of distinction in Boston, had early
made themselves conspicuous as earnest
friends of the popular cause ; and, as theii
safety was regarded as of the utmost im
portance, they were induced to hide them



selves from observation, lest they should
be taken prisoners by the British. Dor
othea Quincy, Hancock s betrothed, in
sisted upon accompanying them, and she
was now with the two patriots ; and the
three were sitting down to an " elegant
dinner" at the house of a friend, when
suddenly a man broke in upon them with
a shriek, and the alarm was given that
the regulars were upon them. Hancock
and Adams were then led along a cart-
way to another and more humble house,
where they were glad to make up for
their lost spread of good things, by a dish
of " salt pork and potatoes."

In the meantime, the British troops,
under LieutenantrColonel Smith, were
fast approaching. The route they had
taken led them through a morass, into
which the men plunged waist-deep until
they reached the high-road to Charles-
town. Their midnight march was cau
tious and stealthy ; not a drum was al
lowed to beat, nor a fife to sound. Some
members of the provincial Congress, stop
ping at a roadside inn, where they had
been holding a "rebel" conclave, aware
of the approach of the troops, were up,
and silently watching the soldiers as they
carne on. The front ranks passed by
steadily, but with measured tread. The
centre, however, no sooner reached a
point opposite to the tavern, than there
was a halt ; and, directly, an officer and
a file of men were seen advancing to the
house. But the " rebels" were too quick
for them; and, while the soldiers were
ransacking the tavern, those of whom
they were in search were in a field hard
by, securely hid from their pursuers.

The British commander soon discov
ered that all the precautions which had
been taken to keep the expedition a se
cret had failed. Although it was night,
the whole country was aroused. Every
church was ringing its bells, beacon-fires
were blazing, and signal-guns firing. The
British officers who had been on the road,
on a tour of observation, now joined the
troops, and reported that at least five
hundred of the " rebels" were in arms, in
readiness for the attack. Smith sent Ma
jor Pitcairn forward with six companies
of light-infantry, to secure the bridges at
Concord ; and an orderly back to Gage,
at Boston, for a reinforcement. Pitcairn
pressed on hurriedly, only stopping on
the road to capture any straggler he
could pick up. One man, however, was
too much on the alert to be caught ; for.
getting a glimpse of the British coming
up the road, he turned his horse, and,
laying on his whip, galloped into Lexing
ton, with the news that the "red-coats"
were at hand.

Captain Parker ordered his drums to
beat, and alarm-guns to be fired immedi
ately; and soon the minute-men began
to turn out and to muster on the ground
about the meetinghouse. These men
formed a part of that resolute band
"the constitutional army" which had
been authorized to make a forcible and
regular resistance to any hostility by the
British soldiery ; and there they were
ready to do their country s bidding. Be
fore they had fairly mustered and formed,
the British were in sight, at a short dis
tance from the ground.

Pitcairn, seeing the assemblage, and




hearing the drums of the patriots, halted
his troops and ordered them to load. He
then brought them on in double quick
time. Some sixty or seventy only of the
minute-men had mustered and found time
to present an orderly rank in front, when
the regulars rushed forward, shouting.,
with their commander at their head, wa
ving his sword, and crying out : " Ye vil
lains ! ye rebels! disperse! Lay down
your arms! Why don t you lay down
your arms ?" Two or three shots were
now fired, but without effect. Then en
sued a general volley, by which some of
the minute-men were killed and wound
ed. Their fellow-patriots now no longer
withheld their fire, which they had hith
erto done in obedience to the command
of Parker, their captain. Their shots,
however, were straggling, and did little
damage, only wounding two of the pri
vates and the horse of the British major.
The regulars fired with much greater ef
fect, killing eight, wounding ten, and put
ting the rest to flight. One daring fellow,
who had always said "he never would
run from the British," though wounded,
stood his ground, and, while loading his
piece, was thrust through and through by
a bayonet, and died on the spot where
he had so firmly planted himself. An
other was pursued to the road facing the
common, and was struck down by a shot
within view of his own house. The blood
was gushing from his breast, but he start
ed up, and stretching out his hands tow
ard his wife, who was at the window,
staggered a moment, and fell again.
Striving once more to stand, he could
only succeed in raising himself upon his

hands and knees, and thus crawled tow
ard the door of his dwelling. His wife
was there to meet him, but only to see
him dying at her feet.

The British now formed on the com
mon, and, exulting in their " victory," fired
a feu-de-joie, gave three loud huzzas, and
marched on toward Concord. There were
two thoughtful observers of this Lexing
ton affair, in a house near by, who could
have told the British that this was no
time for exultation. They knew, with
the foresight of wisdom, that no defeat,
ever suffered by English troops, was so
disastrous as this " victory." Samuel Ad
ams and John Hancock saAV, in the blood
which flowed at Lexington, that which
was to cement the colonies into an indis
soluble union, and thus secure a founda
tion upon which to establish the great
hope of their patriotic hearts the inde
pendence of America. " Oh, what a glo
rious morning is this !" exclaimed Adams,

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 18 of 126)