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town would have been entirely evacuated. Although I have been deceived, and was rather premature in the opinion I had then formed, I have little reason to doubt but the event will take place in a very short time, as other accounts which have come to hand since, the sailing of a great number of transports from the harbour to Nantasket-Road, and many circumstances corresponding therewith, seem to confirm and render it unquestionable. Whether the town will be destroyed, is a matter of much uncertainty; but it would seem, from the destruction they are making of sundry pieces of furniture, of many of their wagons, carts, &c., which they cannot take with them, as it is said, that it will not; for if they intended it, the whole might be involved in one general ruin. Holding it of the last importance in the present contest that we should secure New-York, and prevent the enemy from possessing it, and conjecturing they have views of that sort, and their embarkation to be for that purpose, I judged it necessary, under the situation of things here, to call a Council of General Officers, to consult of such measures as might be expedient to be taken at this interesting conjuncture of affairs: a copy of the proceedings I have the honour to enclose you.
Agreeable to the opinion of the council, I shall detach the Rifle Regiment to-morrow, under the command of Brigadier-General Sullivan, with orders to repair to New-York with all possible expedition, and which will be succeeded the day after by the other five in one Brigade; they being all that it was thought advisable to send from hence till the enemy shall have quitted the town. Immediately upon their departure, I shall send forward Major-General Putnam, and follow myself with the remainder of the Army, as soon as I have it in my power, leaving here such a number of men as circumstances may seem to require. As the badness of the roads at this season will greatly retard the march of our men, I have, by advice of the General Officers, written to Governour Trumbull by this express to use his utmost exertions for throwing a reinforcement of two thousand men into New-York, from the western parts of Connecticut; and to the commanding officer there, to apply to the Provincial Convention or Committee of Safety of New-Jersey, for a thousand more, for the same purpose, to oppose the enemy, and prevent their getting possession, in case they arrive before the troops from hence can get there, of which there is a probability, unless they are impeded by contrary winds. This measure, though it may be attended with considerable expense, I flatter myself will meet with the approbation of Congress.
Past experience, and the lines in Boston and on Boston Neck, point out the propriety, and suggest the necessity, of keeping our enemies from gaining possession, and making a lodgment. Should their destination be further southward, or for Halifax, (as reported in Boston, ) for the purpose of going into Canada, the march of our troops to New-York will place them nearer the scene of action, and more convenient for affording succors.
We have not taken post on Nuke-Hill and fortified it, as mentioned that we should in my last. On hearing that the enemy were about to retreat and leave the town, it was thought imprudent and unadivisable to force them with too much precipitation, that we might gain a little time, and prepare for a march. To-morrow evening we shall take possession, unless they are gone.
As New-York is of such importance, prudence and policy require that every precaution that can be devised should bo adopted to frustrate the designs which the enemy have of possessing it. To this end, I have ordered vessels to be provided, and held ready at Norwich, for the embarkation and transportation of our troops thither. This I have done with a view not only of greatly expediting their arrival, (as it will save several days marching,) but, also, that they may be fresh, and fit for intrenching and throwing up works of defence, as soon as they get there, if they do not meet the enemy to contend with; for neither of which would they be in a proper condition, after a long and fatiguing march in bad roads. If Wallace, with his ships, should be apprized of the measure, and attempt to prevent it by stopping up the harbour of New-London, they can but pursue their march by land.
You will please to observe that it is the opinion of the General Officers, if the enemy abandon the town, that it will be unnecessary to employ or keep any part of this Army for its defence, and that I have, mentioned, on that events happening, I shall immediately repair to New-York, with the remainder of the Army not now detached, leaving only such a number of men here as circumstances may seem to require. What I partly allude to is, that (as it will take a considerable time for the removal of such a body of men, and the divisions must precede each other in such order as to allow intermediate time sufficient for them to be covered and provided for, and many things done previous to the march of the whole, for securing and forwarding such necessaries as cannot be immediately carried, and others which it may be proper to keep here,) directions might be received from Congress respecting the same, and as many men ordered to remain for that and other purposes as they may judge proper. I could wish to have their commands upon the subject, and in time, as I may be under some degree of embarrassment as to their views.
Congress having been pleased to appoint Colonel Thompson a Brigadier-General, there is a vacancy for a Colonel in the regiment he commanded, to which I would beg leave to recommend the Lieutenant-Colonel, Hand . I shall also take the liberty of recommending Captain Hugh Stevenson, of the Virginia Riflemen, to succeed Colonel Hand, to be appointed in his place as Lieutenant-Colonel, (there being no Major to the regiment since the promotion of Major Ma-gaw to be Lieutenant-Colonel of one of the Pennsylvania Battalions, and who is gone from hene.) He is, in my opinion, the fittest person in this Army for it, as well as the oldest Captain in the service, having distinguished himself at the head of a Rifle Company all the last war, and highly merited the approbation of his superior officers.
Colonel Mifflin informed me to day of his having received tent clothes from Mr. Barrell, of Philadelphia, to the amount of seven thousand five hundred pounds, Pennsylvania currency, and applied for a warrant for payment of it; but as our fund is low, and many necessary demands against it, which must be satisfied, and our calls for money are, and will be exceedingly great, I could not grant it, thinking it might be convenient for payment to be made in Philadelphia, by your order, on the Treasury there.
I have the honour to be, with much respect, sir, your most humble servant,
To the President of Congress.
At a Council of General Officers, held at General Wards Quarters, Roxbury, March 13, 1776, Present:
His Excellency General Washington; Major-Generals Ward and Putnam; Brigadier-Generals Thomas, Sullivan, Heath, Greene, Spencer, and Gates.
His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief informed the Council that, from the appearance of the Ministerial Fleet and Army, the intelligence he had received from sundry persons who had escaped from Boston, and from frequent observations, he had reason to believe that the troops were about to evacuate the town; and that, in all probability, they were destined for New-York, and would attempt to possess themselves of that city; by which means they would command the navigation of Hudsons River, open a communi-cation with Canada, and cut off all intercourse between the Southern and Northern Colonies.
His Excellency then demanded, the opinion of Council, whether, under the present circumstances, ( i. e. before the town was wholly evacuated,) it would be advisable to march any part of the Continental Army now before Boston, to New-York.
The Council were of opinion that it will be proper that five Regiments, with the Rifle Battalion, should be detached immediately to New-York . The Rifle Battalion to march to-morrow, and the others to follow as speedily as possible. That his Excellency be advised to write to the Governour of Connecticut, to desire he would immediately send two thousand of the Militia of his Government to New-York; and that one thousand be requested from the Convention or Committee of. Safety of New-Jersey, in order to reinforce the troop already stationed there, until the detachment from this Army shall arrive.
His Excellency likewise demanded the opinion of Council whether, if the Ministerial Troops should totally abandon the town of Boston, it would be necessary to continue any part of the Continental Army for its defence