« AnteriorContinuar »
chards, laid common—horses and cattle feeding on the choicest mowing land, whole fields of corn eaten down to the ground, and large parks of well-regulated forest trees cut down for firewood and other public uses."
Beside the main dispositions above mentioned, about seven hundred men were distributed in the small towns and villages along the coast, to prevent depredations by water; and horses were kept ready saddled at various points of the widely extended lines, to convey to head-quarters intelligence of any special movement of the enemy.
The army was distributed by Washington into three grand divisions. One, forming the right wing, was stationed on the heights of Roxbury. It was commanded by MajorGeneral Ward, who had under him BrigadierGenerals Spencer and Thomas. Another, forming the left wing, under Major-General Lee, having with him Brigadier-Generals Sullivan and Greene, was stationed on Winter and Prospect Hills; while the centre, under MajorGeneral Putnam and Brigadier-General Heath, was stationed at Cambridge. With Putnam was encamped his favorite officer Knowlton, who had been promoted by Congress to the rank of major for his gallantry at Bunker's Hill.
At Washington's recommendation, Joseph dftllltarg Discipline 231
Trumbull, the eldest son of the governor, received, on the 24th of July, the appointment of commissary-general of the continental army. He had already officiated with talent in that capacity in the Connecticut militia. "There is a great overturning in the camp as to order and regularity," writes the military chaplain; "new lords, new laws. The Generals Washington and Lee are upon the lines every day. New orders from his excellency are read to the respective regiments every morning after prayers. The strictest government is taking place, and great distinction is made between officers and soldiers. Every one is made to know his place and keep it, or be tied up and receive thirty or forty lashes according to his crime. Thousands are at work every day from four till eleven o'clock in the morning."
Lee was supposed to have been at the bottom of this rigid discipline—the result of his experience in European campaigning. His notions of military authority were acquired in the armies of the North. Quite a sensation was, on one occasion, produced in camp by his threatening to cane an officer for unsoldierly conduct. His laxity in other matters occasioned almost equal scandal. He scoffed, we are told, "with his usual profaneness," at a resolution of Congress appointing a day of fasting and prayer, to obtain the favor of Heaven upon their cause. "Heaven," he observed, "was ever found favorable to strong battalions."*
Washington differed from him in this respect. By his orders the resolution of Congress was scrupulously enforced. All labor, excepting that absolutely necessary, was suspended on the appointed day ; and officers and soldiers were required to attend divine service, armed and equipped and ready for immediate action.
Nothing excited more gaze and wonder among the rustic visitors to the camp, than the arrival of several rifle companies, fourteen hundred men in all, from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia; such stalwart fellows as Washington had known in his early campaigns. Stark hunters and bush fighters, many of them upwards of six feet high, and of vigorous frame, dressed in fringed frocks, or rifle-shirts, and round hats. Their displays of sharpshooting were soon among the marvels of the camp. We are told that while advancing at quick step, they could hit a mark of seven inches diameter, at the distance of two hundred and fifty yards, f
* Graydon's Memoirs, p. 138.
t Thacher's Military Journal, p. 37.
Defense of tbe Seacoast 233
One of these companies was commanded by Captain Daniel Morgan, a native of New Jersey, whose first experience in war had been to accompany Braddock's army as a wagoner. He had since carried arms on the frontier and obtained a command. He and his riflemen in coming to the camp had marched six hundred miles in three weeks. They will be found of signal efficiency in the sharpest conflicts of the Revolutionary War.
While all his forces were required for the investment of Boston, Washington was importuned by the Legislature of Massachusetts and the governor of Connecticut, to detach troops for the protection of different points of the seacoast, where depredations by armed vessels were apprehended. The case of New London was specified by Governor Trumbull, where Captain Wallace of the Rose frigate, with two other ships of war, had entered the harbor, landed men, spiked the cannon, and gone off threatening future visits.
Washington referred to his instructions, and consulted with his general officers and such members of the Continental Congress as happened to be in the camp, before he replied to these requests; he then respectfully declined compliance.
In his reply to the General Assembly of Massachusetts, he stated frankly and explicitly the policy and system on which the war was to be conducted, and according to which he was to act as commander-in-chief. "It has been debated in Congress and settled," writes he, ''that the militia, or other internal strength of each province, is to be applied for defense against those small and particular depredations, which were to be expected, and to which they were supposed to be competent. This will appear the more proper, when it is considered that every town, and indeed every part of our seacoast, which is exposed to these depredations, would have an equal claim upon this army.
"It is the misfortune of our situation which exposes us to these ravages, and against which, in my judgment, no such temporary relief could possibly secure us. The great advantage the enemy have of transporting troops, by being masters of the sea, will enable them to harass us by diversions of this kind; and should we be tempted to pursue them, upon every alarm, the army must either be so weakened as to expose it to destruction, or a great part of the coast be still left unprotected. Nor, indeed, does it appear to me that such a pursuit would be attended with the least effect. The first notice of such an excursion would be its actual execution, and long before any troops