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of at least twelve thousand men. In a situation so critical I determined upon an immediate attack with all the force I could transport. The ardour of the troops encouraged me in this hazardous enterprise. Regiments were expeditiously embarked on board transports to fall down the harbour, and flat-boats were to receive other transports; making in the whole twenty-four hundred men, to rendezvous at Castle-William, from whence the descent was to be made in the night of the 5th; but the wind unfortunately coming contrary, and blowing very hard, the ships were not able to get to their destination; and this circumstance also making it impossible to employ the boats, the attempt became impracticable.
The weather continuing boisterous the next day and night, gave the enemy time to improve their works, to bring up their cannon, and to put themselves into such a state of defence, that I could promise myself little success by attacking them under all the disadvantages I had to encounter; wherefore I judged it most advisable to prepare for the evacuation of the town, upon the assurance of one months provision from Admiral Shuldham, who, in this emergency, as he has on every other occasion, offered all the assistance he could afford.
A thousand difficulties arose on account of the disproportion of transports for the conveyance of the troops, the well-affected inhabitants, their most valuable property, and the quantity of military stores to be carried away. However, as the enemy gave no interruption but during the nights, and that inconsiderable, I found the whole in readiness to depart on the 14th, if the wind had favoured; and, assisted by the abilities and assiduity of Captains Reynar and Montagu, of his Majestys Ships Chatham and Fowey, who superintended the embarkation, and by the alacrity of the officers under them, this operation was effected on the 17th, and the rear guard embarked at nine oclock in the morning, without the least loss, irregularity, or accident. Such military stores as could not be taken on board were destroyed, and the utmost expedition is now using to get ready for sea in the best state our circumstances will allow; the Admiral having all the ships-of-war he can spare from the convoy for the security and protection of such vessels as maybe bound for Boston.
Every provision my situation would afford has been made for the accommodation of the inhabitants, and the preservation of their effects. All the woollen goods also that I could find room for, belonging to those who chose to stay behind, (the want of which is more distressing to the enemy than any other article whatever.) has been shipped; inventories of them taken in the best manner possible, and put under the charge of proper persons, in order to be hereafter stored. The demolition of the Castle has been effectually executed, and an armed ship is sent by the Admiral, express, to advise the different Governours on the Continent of this removal.
Halifax, though stripped of provisions during the winter, and affording few conveniences to so numerous a body, is the only place where the Army can remain until supplies arrive from Europe. My first attention will be paid to the defence of the town and his Majestys dock-yard, and to enable Governour Legge to overcome the spirit of disaffection which has lately appeared in the northern parts of Nova-Scotia; after which, I conclude that three battalions, with Gorehams and Macleans corps, will be a sufficient force for its protection.
I shall also detach three regiments to Quebeck as soon as the navigation of the river St. Lawrence becomes practicable, if I do not, in the mean time, hear anything to the contrary from Europe. The remainder of the Army, which, after these detachments are made, may consist of about five thousand men, including sick, will be held in readiness to proceed to New-York, when enabled by a supply of provisions, and an addition of transports sufficient for that undertaking; and although the force, according to the present estimation, intended to go on this service, is too small to expect more from it than the possession of the town, which, in itself, is a most important post, I shall attempt it at all hazard as soon as possible, apprehending it will be more advisable to pursue this measure without delay, than, by waiting for reinforcements from Europe, whereof I have no certainty, to give the Rebels time to form an Army in the Province of New-York, and to check the encouragement they will receive from the apparent inactivity of the Kings Army retired to Halifax, as well as to prevent the contrary effect it may have upon the few friends to Government remaining there.
I am justly sensible how much more conducive it would be to his Majestys service, if the Army was in a situation to proceed immediately to New-York; but the present condition of the troopscrowded in transports, without regard to conveniences, the inevitable dissortment of stores, and all the encumbrances with which I am cloggedeffectually disable me from the exertion of this force in any offensive operations, although I should receive a supply of provisions before my departure from hence; which considerations, I hope, will lead his Majesty to approve of my determination.
Unless these supplies are sent under convoy, or of force to defend themselves, they will become very precarious, as the Rebels have greatly increased their naval strength; and I fear that many of those now on their voyage will fall into the enemys hands, notwithstanding all the efforts which his Majestys ships, (unequal in point of number to the service they are upon,) can make. In this persuasion, I humbly submit to your Lordship, whether it would not be an advisable measure to order all convoys directly to Halifax; from whence they may proceed with more certainty to the future destination of the Army.
I beg leave to remark, that the last commands I had the honour to receive from your Lordship are dated the 22d of October, which will serve to show the difficulties ships bound to this port have met with on the coast; many whereof, I learn by the master of a vessel just arrived here, have been forced to the West-Indies, and no less than thirty-seven sail of different kinds were at Antigua the last of this month, when he left that Island.
I shall not fail to write as fully as possible to your Lordship from Halifax.
P. S. The transports which brought over the Twenty-Seventh Regiment are arrived from Halifax, in consequence of orders sent to Brigadier Massey some time ago, and will afford great relief to the Army in its present crowded state.
State of Provisions remaining in Store at BOSTON, on the 12th, 19th, 26th of FEBRUARY, and 4th MARCH, 1776, per Returns of those dates, received from the Commissary-General of Stores, showing how Io7ig the same will victual eleven thousand Men.
February 12, 1776.Beef and pork, thirty-five days; wheat-flour, seventy-two days; bread, twelve days; butter and cheese, thirteen days; oil, thirty-two days; split peas, peas, and oatmeal, two days; barley, suet, rice, and raisins, reserved for the use of the General Hospital.
February 19th.Beef and pork, twenty-nine days; wheat-flour, sixty-five days; bread, twelve days; butter and cheese, twelve days; oil, thirty-two days; split peas, peas, and oatmeal, nine days; barley, suet, rice, and raisins, reserved for the use of the General Hospital.
February 26th.Beef and pork, twenty-two days; wheat-flour, sixty-eight days; bread, twelve days; butter and cheese, almost six days; oil, thirty-two days; split peas, peas, and oatmeal, almost six days; barley, suet, rice, and raisins, reserved for the use of the General Hospital.
March 4th.Beef and pork, almost seventeen days; wheat and flour, almost sixty-three days; bread, sixteen days; butter and cheese, almost twelve days; oil, thirty-two days; split peas, peas, and oatmeal, ten days; rice, twenty-seven days; suet, barley, and raisins, reserved for the use of the General Hospital.
By the King.A PROCLAMATION,
For encouraging Seamen to enter themselves on board His Majestys Ships-of-War.
Whereas it is our Royal intention to give all due encouragement to all such Seamen who shall voluntarily enter themselves in our service: We have thought fit, by and with the advice of our Privy Council, to publish this our Royal Proclamation. And we do hereby promise and declare, that all such able Seamen, not above the age of fifty, nor under the age of eighteen years, fit for our service, who