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'commander, and soon perfected their discipline. The following is the account given by a man of veracity, who was both an eyewitness and an enemy:* “ It was at Alexandria where George Washington first stepped forth as the public patron and leader of sedition and revolt, having subscribed fifty pounds to these purposes, when others subscribed only five, and having accepted the command of the first company of armed associators against the British government, which he had clothed in his old uniform of the Virginia regiment last war, viz. blue and buff, a dress he has continued to wear until this time, and being likewise the first encourager of sedition from the British army, by publicly abetting and advising it, and promoting a large subscription to Johnson, a deserter from the fourteenth regiment, for the purpose of teaching the inhabitants tactics and military exercises." Washington had also been elected a delegate from Virginia to the General Congress, and exerted all his influence to encourage a decisive opposition to Parliamentary taxation. • Theawful moment now approached which was to involve Great Britain and her colonies
* Vide Smyth’s Tour in the United States of Amer-ica, vol. ii. p. 204-5.
in all the horrors of a civil war. In February, 1775, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts met at Cambridge. Several military institutions for the protection of the pro vince were enacted. Among the most remarkable of which was the minute-men. A number of the most active and expert of the New England militia were selected, who were obliged to hold themselves in readiness to obey the first summons of their officers; and indeed their subsequent vigilance and intrepidity fully entitled them to the abovementioned appellation.
A regular correspondence was now settled between Congress and the provincial meetings, by which the motions of all the colonies were directed.
General Gage having been informed that a large quantity of military stores were collected at Concord, about twenty miles from Boston, he sent a detachment to that place to destroy them. The troops had orders to seize Messrs. Hancock and Adams, the two leading men of the Provincial Congress, which was then sitting at Concord. On the 19th of April, 1775, the detachment marched from Boston early in the morning. They proceeded with the utmost silence, and secured every person they met, to prevent the country from being alarmed ; but notwithstanding these precautions, they soon found, by the continual firing of guns and ringing of bells, that they were discovered by the minute-men. About five o'clock they arrived at Lexington, fifteen miles distant from Boston. The militia were exercising on a green near the town. Major Pitcairn, who was at the head of the British detachment, called out, « Disperse, you rebels; throw down your arms and disperse.” They still continued in a body, on which he commanded the regulars to fire, and they discharged a volley, by which several of the Americans were killed and wounded. The troops then proceeded to Concord, where they destroyed the stores; and engaged in a skirmish with the provincials, in which a number were killed on both sides. In the retreat of the British troops from Concord to Lexington, a space of six miles, they were pursued with the utmost fury by the Americans, who fired at them from behind stone walls, high enough pressed the ardour of the Americans, otherwise the regulars would have been entirely cut to pieces, or made prisoners. They effected their retreat to Boston, with the loss of two hundred and fifty killed and wounded; the loss of the provincials was about forty.
to cover them from the fire of men, who · were marching with the greatest expedition.
At Lexington, the British were joined by a detachment under Lord Percy, with two field pieces. As the cannon were managed with the greatest skill and activity, they re:
This victory animated the courage of the Americans to the highest degree, insomuch that in a few days they assembled an army of twenty thousand men. This formidable body of troops were joined by a corps from Connecticut, under General Putnam, a veteran officer. The Americans now completely blockaded the town of Boston, which, however, was so strongly fortified by Gen. Gage, that they did not venture to attack it.
Meanwhile Congress met at Philadelphia, on the 10th of May, 1775, and a few days afterwards, when their venerable President, Peyton Randolph, resigned, John Hancock was unanimously elected his successor. This gentleman had eminently signalized himself in his country's cause, and had expended the principal part of his fortune in its support.He had been Colonel of the company of cadets in Boston, and when deprived of his commission by General Gage, the corps in disgust disbanded themselves. The provin
cial Assembly of Massachusetts had appointed him President; and afterwards, when he was proscribed by a proclamation issued at Boston in the month of June, the General Congress, in order to shew the world that they were not to be intimidated by menaces, immediately conferred on him the highest honor which it was in their power to bestow, by appointing him President.
Towards the close of May, reinforcements of British troops arrived at Boston, under the command of Generals Howe, Burgoyne, and Clinton, officers of reputation. The town of Boston stands on a peninsula, divided from Charlestown by a river between three quarters of a mile and a mile wide. Eastward of Charlestown there is an eminence called Bunker's Hill, which commands the whole town of Boston. A party of provincials took possession of this hill in the night of the 16th of Sune, and worked with such diligence and silence, that before the dawn they had nearly completed a redoubt and strong entrenchment, which extended half a mile. · When they were discovered by the British troops, they were plied with an incessant cannonade * from the ships and floating batteries, besides the cannon that could reach the place from Boston. The provincials, however, contin