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account of the number that have sailed, informs me there are in all fifty-two. One transport-brig is just arrived. I expected Mr. Ward would return with Colonel Tupper, and have dined with me. From them I hoped to have gained further intelligence, but am disappointed. I hear the Colonel is preparing a formidable fire-raft, which I wish may effectually operate, but fear a single one will avail little.
Your Excellencys tender concern for the restoration of my health (which, thanks to the Father of Mercies, is much mended) lays me under a fresh obligation to subscribe myself, with cordial gratitude and esteem, your Excellencys obliged and faithful humble servant,
To General Washington.
P. S. Five oclock.The Admiral has just now hoisted another signala pendant under his flag. Two more ships are under sail, going out of the harbour.
Seven oclock.Mr. Ward and Colonel Tupper are just arrived. They are of opinion that the ships which sailed to-day have carried off the Tories, and are bound with them to Lewisburgh.
Tuesday morning.Mr. Wards tarrying in town gives me a further opportunity to inform your Excellency that the fleet, consisting of about one hundred sail, (chiefly large ships,) remain as they were last night.
Ten oclock.The same signal is now flying at the Admirals maintop-mast head as was hoisted yesterday morning. Scarce hoisted, before it was lowered again; and in about half an hour, a blue flag is flying, at mizentop-mast head, and a pendant at his mizen peak.
Eleven oclock.The above signals are changed for a red ensign hoisted just under his mizen-yard. A signal is just now hoisted upon the top of the Light-House, for vessels in the offing; and immediately followed by a blue broad pendant from the middle of the Tower. In less than ten minutes, the signal first mentioned, viz: a pendant, is flying from his maintop-mast head.
Twelve oclock.A red ensign is now flying at his mizen-top-mast head, a blue ensign at his starboard mizen shrouds, and a pendant thrown out between, by hand, and immediately taken in again.
Two oclock.The sixty gun-ship, in King Road, is come to sail, and going down to Nantasket. The Admirals red ensign is struck. The blue one remains. A large transport-ship and a brig are just arrived within the light.
If the foregoing intelligence, and the mode of it, should prove so agreeable to your Excellency as to desire the continuance of it while the fleet remains, please to let me know your pleasure any time before to-morrow night, until which time I shall continue to note down every remarkable occurrence. Ut suprâ;,
GENERAL WASHINGTON TO LANDON CARTER.
Cambridge, March 25, 1776.
DEAR SIR: I have been honoured with your favour of the 20th ultimo; and although I might intrench myself behind the parade of great business, with as much propriety as most men, yet I shall neither avail myself of it, nor be debarred the pleasure of making this address in testimony of your kind remembrance, and the favourable sentiments you are pleased to express of me.
To give you a detail of my distresses, on account of powder, arms, and other articles of almost equal importance in the military arrangement, would afford little amusement to you, and no profit to me. I shall therefore pass them over, and inform you that, having received a small supply of powder, (very inadequate to our wants,) I resolved to take possession of Dorchester-Point, lying east of Boston, looking directly into it, and commanding absolutely the enemys lines on the Neck. To effect this, (which I knew would force the enemy to an engagement, or make the town too hot for them,) it was necessary, in the first instance, to possess two heights, (those mentioned in General Burgoynes letter to Lord Stanley in his account of the battle on Bunkers Hill,) which had the entire command of this point. The ground being frozen upwards of two feet deep, and as impenetrable as a rock, nothing could be attempted with earth; we were obliged, therefore, to provide an amazing quantity of chandeliers, fascines, &c., for the work; and on the night of the 4th, after a severe and heavy cannonade and bombardment of the town the three preceding nights, to divert the enemys attention from our real object, we carried them on under cover of darkness, and took full possession of those heights without the loss of a single man.
Upon their discovering it next morning, great preparations were made for attacking us; but not being ready before the afternoon, and the weather getting very tempestuous, much blood was saved, and a very important blow (to one side or the other) prevented. That this remarkable interposition of Providence is for some wise purpose, I have no doubt; but as the principal design of the manuvre was to draw the enemy to an engagement under disadvantages; as a premeditated plan was laid for this purpose, and seemed to be succeeding to my utmost wish; and as no men seemed better disposed to make the appeal than ours did upon that occasion, I can scarce forbear lamenting the disappointment. However, the enemy, thinking (as we have since learned) that we had got too formidably posted before the second morning to be much hurt by them, and apprehending great annoyance from our works, resolved upon a precipitate retreat; and accordingly embarked in as much hurry, and as much confusion as ever troops did, the 17th instant, not having got their transports half fitted, and leaving Kings property in Boston to the amount, as is supposed, of thirty or forty thousand pounds, in provisions, stores, &c., &c. Many pieces of cannon, some mortars, and a number of shot, shells, &c., &c., are also left; their baggage-wagons, artillery-carts, &c., which they have been eighteen months and more preparing, were destroyed, thrown into the docks, and found drifted on every shore. In short, Dunbars destruction of stores, after General Braddocks defeat, was but a faint resemblance of what we found here.
The enemy now lie in Nantasket-Road, (about nine miles below Boston,) where, and in Kings Road, they have been ever since their embarkation. How to account for their stay there, I know not. The inhabitants of Boston think it is to arrange the lading of the transports, which were thrown in in such disorder as to render it unsafe to put to sea until a new regulation should take place. Others think they mean to pass over the equinoctial gales before they put to sea. But it is a doubt with me whether they may not be waiting an opening (now they have got their whole force collected, no posts to guard, and, as I understand, a reinforcement from the West-Indies) to retrieve the honour of their arms, which seems, in the general opinion of people here, to have undergone some disgrace in this precipitate retreat.
They have left all their works standing on Bunkers Hill, &c.; and very formidable they are. Boston has shared a much better fate than could possibly be expected; the damage done to the houses being nothing equal to report. We are now in full possession of the town, and are fortifying the harbour to prevent a return, if they should incline to it.
As New-York is the most important object they can have in view, on account of its command of Hudsons River, leading into Canada, and separating the Northern and Southern Colonies, it appeared necessary for me to take measures to secure it, and, therefore, I detached six regiments instantly to that place; and, as soon as I see the coast clear, shall follow immediately with the rest of the Army, leaving a few regiments for the security of this Government, and for executing such works as are laid out for the defence of Boston and the harbour.
To the Honourable London Carter, Esq., Virginia.
GENERAL WASHINGTON TO JOSEPH REED.
Cambridge, March 25, 1776.
MY DEAR SIR: Since my last, things remain nearly in statu quo. The enemy have the best knack at puzzling people I ever met with in my life. They have blown up, burnt, and demolished the Castle totally, and are now all in Nantasket-Road. They have been there ever since Wednesday. What they are doing, the Lord knows. Various are the conjectures. The Bostonians think their stay absolutely necessary to fit them for sea, as the vessels, neither in themselves nor their lading, were in any degree fit for a voyage, having been loaded in great haste and much disorder.