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George Washington eBook

William Roscoe Thayer
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 194 pages of information about George Washington.
hearing that a ship at Bermuda had a cargo of gunpowder, American ships were despatched thither to secure it.  In such straits did the army of the United Colonies go forth to war.  By avoiding battles and other causes for using munitions, they not only kept their original supply, but added to it as fast as their appeals were listened to.  Washington kept his lines around Boston firm.  In the autumn General Gage was replaced, as British Commander-in-Chief, by Sir William Howe, whose brother Richard, Lord Howe, became Admiral of the Fleet.  But the Howes knew no way to break the strangle hold of the Americans.  How Washington contrived to create the impression that he was master of the situation is one of the mysteries of his campaigning, because, although he had succeeded in making soldiers of the raw recruits and in enforcing subordination, they were still a very skittish body.  They enlisted for short terms of service, and even before their term was completed, they began to hanker to go home.  This caused not only inconvenience, but real difficulty.  Still, Washington steadily pushed on, and in March, 1776, by a brilliant manoeuvre at Dorchester Heights, he secured a position from which his cannons could bombard every British ship in Boston Harbor.  On the 17th of March all those ships, together with the garrison of eight thousand, and with two thousand fugitive Loyalists, sailed off to Halifax.  Boston has been free from foreign enemies from that day to this.

CHAPTER V

TRENTON AND VALLEY FORGE

Howe’s retreat from Boston freed Massachusetts and, indeed, all New England from British troops.  It also gave Washington the clue to his own next move.  He was a real soldier and therefore his instinct told him that his next objective must be the enemy’s army.  Accordingly he prepared to move his own troops to New York.  He passed through Providence, Norwich, and New London, reaching New York on April 13th.  Congress was then sitting in Philadelphia and he was requested to visit it.

He spent a fortnight during May in Philadelphia where he had conferences with men of all kinds and seems to have been particularly impressed, not to say shocked, by the lack of harmony which he discovered.  The members of the Congress, although they were ostensibly devoting themselves to the common affairs of the United Colonies, were really intriguing each for the interests of his special colony or section.  Washington thought this an ominous sign, as indeed it was, for since the moment when he joined the Revolution he threw off all local affiliation.  He did his utmost to perform his duty, clinging as long as he could to the hope that there would be no final break with England.  Throughout the winter, however, from almost every part of the country the demands of the Colonists for independence became louder and more urgent and these he heard repeated and discussed during his visit to the Congress.  On May 31st he wrote his brother John Augustine Washington: 

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