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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This post is to introduce a Kindle version of Volume 3 of a series entitled "AMERICA Great Crises In Our History Told by Its Makers" which was published as a print version by the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1925. This third volume covers the American Revolution. This Kindle version is published in partnership with the VFW who receive 50% of sales revenue.

REVIEWERS WANTED! If you would like to review any of the books in this series, PM me with your Amazon email address and I will gift copies to you.

The title refers to the latest extract from the book which may be found at the bottom of this thread.

This is the publisher description of Volume 3.

There are few more exciting or inspiring events in history than the American
Revolution. In this fascinating volume, you'll read about the events leading up
to the Revolution in General Washington's own journals. You'll discover Benjamin
Franklin's plan for the Union, accounts of great battles by Washington and other
generals, Washington's correspondence with Lafayette, contemporary accounts of
the Boston Tea Party, Benedict Arnold's treachery and more. What could surpass
Thomas Jefferson's own story of writing the Declaration of Independence, or the
intimate personal letters of John Adams telling how he maneuvred Jefferson into
writing it? Or Daniel Boone's own account of his migration to Kentucky, Paul
Revere's own story of his midnight ride, General Cornwallis's account of the
Battle of Yorktown? There are accounts here from American, British and French
sources, for you to weigh up and reach your own conclusions, based on the best
original sources, about these epoch-making events.

I will post excerpts from the book in the coming weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I will be posting excerpts from Volume 3 weekly on this thread. This is the first entry in the volume and it is short enough that I am posting the whole article.

Braddock's Defeat

Told by his Aide, George Washington.

IN THIS letter to his mother, Mary, written at Fort Cumberland on July 18, 1755, after the battle in which the English-Colonial forces under General Braddock were defeated and routed by the French and Indians, George Washington describes the historic action in which Braddock was mortally wounded. Everything was abandoned to the enemy wagons, guns, cattle, horses, baggage and 25,000 in specie, while scores of helpless wounded were left victims of the tomahawk and scalping-knife.

Washington, then twenty-three years old, had accompanied Braddock into what is now western Pennsylvania as a volunteer aide-de-camp, and was the only staff officer who escaped uninjured. He read the funeral service over Braddock's grave in the wilderness, while wagons were rolled over the fresh mound lest the General's body be found and desecrated. It still rests there; and until recently no monument, only a clump of trees, marked the grave of this luckless British commander.


HONORED MADAM: As I doubt not but you have heard of our defeat, and, perhaps, had it represented in a worse light, if possible, than it deserves, I have taken this earliest opportunity to give you some account of the engagement as it happened, within ten miles of the French fort, on Wednesday the 9th instant.

We marched to that place, without any considerable loss, having only now and then a straggler picked up by the French and scouting Indians. When we came there, we were attacked by a party of French and Indians, whose number, I am persuaded, did not exceed three hundred men; while ours consisted of about one thousand three hundred well-armed troops, chiefly regular soldiers, who were struck with such a panic that they behaved with more cowardice than it is possible to conceive. The officers behaved gallantly, in order to encourage their men, for which they suffered greatly, there being near sixty killed and wounded; a large proportion of the number we had.

The Virginia troops showed a good deal of bravery, and were nearly all killed; for I believe, out of three companies that were there, scarcely thirty men are left alive. Captain Peyrouny, and all his officers down to a corporal, were killed. Captain Polson had nearly as hard a fate, for only one of his was left. In short, the dastardly behavior of those they call regulars exposed all others, that were inclined to do their duty, to almost certain death ; and, at last, in despite of all the efforts of the officers to the contrary, they ran, as sheep pursued by dogs, and it was impossible to rally them.

The General was wounded, of which he died three days after. Sir Peter Halket was killed in the field, where died many other brave officers. I luckily escaped without a wound, though I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me. Captains Orme and Morris, two of the aids-de-camp, were wounded early in the engagement, which rendered the duty harder upon me, as I was the only person then left to distribute the General's orders, which I was scarcely able to do, as I was not half recovered from a violent illness, that had confined me to my bed and a wagon for above ten days. I am still in a weak and feeble condition, which induces me to halt here two or three days in the hope of recovering a little strength, to enable me to proceed homewards; from whence, I fear, I shall not be able to stir till toward September ; so that I shall not have the pleasure of seeing you till then, unless it be in Fairfax. . . . I am, honored Madam, your most dutiful son.

This article can be found online at:

http://america.library4history.org/VFW-Pre-Revolution-1783/AMERICA-REVOLUTION/DEPORTATION-OF-ACADIANS.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The Deportation Of The Acadians

By Colonel John Winslow.

ACADIA was originally a French colony which was acquired by the English under the Treaty of Utrecht, and renamed Nova Scotia. In order to destroy the French influence, which continued to predominate, the English Government in 1755 commissioned Colonel Winslow, a Massachusetts officer, to manage the deportation of some 6000 Acadians (probably about half of the total population of French descent) and scatter them among the English colonies to the south.

That Winslow, from whose journal, in the Nova Scotia Historical Society, this article is taken, found the task exceedingly disagreeable, indeed painful, is evidenced by his written statement that "The affair is more grievous to me than any service I was ever employed in." The question of the necessity of the removal and dispersion of the Acadians has been much disputed; the historian Parkman thinks it was inevitable. This dramatic event forms the theme of Longfellow's "Evangeline."


LAST evening [August 30, 1755] Captain Murray arrived and brought with him the afore resights commissions and instructions and letters and with whom I consulted methods for removing the whole inhabitants of the villages of Grand Pre, Mines, Rivers Cannard, Habbertong, and Gaspereau, and agreed that it would be most convenient to cite all the male inhabitants of said villages to assemble at the church in this place on the 5th of September next to hear the King's orders, and that at the same time Captain Murray to collect the inhabitants of Piziquid, and villages adjacent to Fort Edward for the same purpose, and wrote Colonel Lawrence this day our determination, and after Captain Murray's departure convened the Captains, viz : Adams, Hobbs and Osgood together and after taking an oath of secrecy from them, laid before them my instructions and papers and also of the proposed agreement made between Captain Murray and myself, of which they unanimously approved.

1755, August 3l . Sunday. In the afternoon took a tour with Doctor Whitworth and Mr. Gay and 50 men two third parts round Grand Pre. Find abundance of wheat &c on the ground. Returned in the evening.

September 2nd. Set out early in the morning in a whale boat for Fort Edward having with me Doctor Whitworth and adjutant Kennedy to consult with Captain Murray in this critical conjuncture. Confirmed our proposed plan and determined three of the clock in the afternoon to be the time. Made out a citation to the inhabitants to convene them, viz : those in my district at the church in Grand Pre, those of Captain Murray at Fort Edward at Piziquid. Got it put into French by Mr. Beauchamp, a merchant.

September 3rd. This morning Captain Adams and party returned from their march to the River Cannard &c and reported it was a fine country and full of inhabitants, a beautiful church and abundance of the goods of the world. Provisions of all kinds in great plenty.

This day had a consultation with the Captains, the result of which was that I should give out my citation to the inhabitants tomorrow morning.

The complete article can be found online at http://america.library4history.org/VFW-Pre-Revolution-1783/AMERICA-REVOLUTION/DEPORTATION-OF-ACADIANS.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 3 of America "Great Crises in our History"

Wolfe Defeats Montcalm At Quebec

By Captain John Knox.

THE victory of the Anglo-American forces under General James Wolfe and the capture of Quebec from the French under Montcalm, in 1759, was one of the most important events in modern history. John Fiske asserts that "it marks the greatest turning point yet discovered in modern history." This importance came from the fact that the battle decided for North America that its civilization should be English rather than French.

Captain Knox, from whose "journal" this account is taken, was an English naval officer who accompanied the expedition against the French in Canada and was an eye-witness of the events recorded.

The night before the battle General Wolfe read aloud to some of his officers Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," and announced in conclusion: "Gentlemen, I would rather have written those lines than to capture Quebec tomorrow.


GREAT preparations are making throughout the fleet and army to surprise the enemy, and compel them to decide the fate of Quebec by a battle. All the long-boats below the town are to be filled with seamen, marines, and such detachments as can be spared from Points Levi and Orleans, in order to make a feint off Beauport and the Point de Lest, and endeavor to engross the attention of the Sieur de Montcalm, while the army are to force a descent on this side of the town. The Officer of our regiment who commanded the escort yesterday on the reconnoitring party, being asked in the General's hearing, after the health of one of the gentlemen who was reported to be ill, replied "he was in a very low indifferent state," which the other lamented, saying, "He has but a puny, delicate constitution." This struck his Excellency, it being his own case, who interrupted, "Don't tell me of constitution; that officer has good spirits, and good spirits will carry a man through everything."

A soldier of the Royal Americans deserted this day [September 12, 1759] from the south shore, and one came over to us from the enemy, who informed the General "that he belonged to a detachment composed of two officers and fifty men who had been sent across the river to take a prisoner; that the French generals suspect we are going higher up to lay waste the country and destroy such ships and craft as they have got above ; and that Monsieur Montcalm will not be prevailed on to quit his situation, insisting that the flower of our army are still below the town; that the reduction of Niagara has caused great discontent in the French army, that the wretched Canadians are much dissatisfied, and that Monsieur de Levis is certainly marched, with a detachment of the army, to Montreal, in order to reenforce Bourlemacque and stop General Amherst's progress." This fellow added "that, if we were fairly landed on the north side of the river, an incredible number of the French regulars would actually desert to us."

Before daybreak this morning [September 13] we made a descent upon the north shore, about half a quarter of a mile to the eastward of Sillery; and the light troops were fortunately by the rapidity of the current carried lower down between us and Cape Diamond. We had in this debarkation thirty flat-bottomed boats, containing about sixteen hundred men. This was a great surprise on the enemy, who from the natural strength of the place did not suspect, and consequently were not prepared against so bold an attempt. The chain of sentries which they had posted along the summit of the heights galled us a little, and picked off several men and some officers before our light infantry got up to dislodge them. This grand enterprise was conducted and executed with great good order and discretion.

The complete article can be found online at http://america.library4history.org/VFW-Pre-Revolution-1783/AMERICA-REVOLUTION/WOLFE-DEFEATS-MONTCALM.html
 

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This is an excerpt from Volume 3 of America "Great Crises in our History"

The Boston Massacre

By John Tudor.

THE author of this document was a Boston merchant who was in the midst of the stirring events in the New England metropolis from 1732 to 1793. The soldiers involved in the so-called massacre were indicted for murder, were defended by John Adams, and were acquitted, though two of them were declared guilty of manslaughter and received light punishments.

There is much difference of opinion about the event, some writers regarding it as a lawless affair discreditable to the people and soldiers alike and without any great historical significance; others, including John Adams, look upon it as the "first act in the drama of the Revolution."


ON Monday evening the 5th current, a few minutes after 9 o'clock a most horrid murder was committed in King Street before the Customhouse door by 8 or 9 soldiers under the command of Captain Thomas Preston, drawn off from the main guard on the south side of the Townhouse.

This unhappy affair began by some boys and young fellows throwing snow balls at the sentry placed at the Customhouse door. On which 8 or 9 soldiers came to his assistance. Soon after a number of people collected, when the Captain commanded the soldiers to fire, which they did and 3 men were killed on the spot and several mortally wounded, one of whom died the next morning. The Captain soon drew off his soldiers up to the main guard, or the consequences might have been terrible, for on the guns firing the people were alarmed and set the bells a-ringing as if for fire, which drew multitudes to the place of action. Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson, who was commander-in-chief, was sent for and came to the council chamber, where some of the magistrates attended. The Governor desired the multitude about 10 o'clock to separate and go home peaceably and he would do all in his power that justice should be done, etc. The 29th regiment being then under arms on the south side of the Townhouse, but the people insisted that the soldiers should be ordered to their barracks first before they would separate, which being done the people separated about one o'clock. Captain Preston was taken up by a warrant given to the high Sheriff by justice Dania and Tudor and came under examination about 2 o'clock and we sent him to jail soon after 3, having evidence sufficient to commit him on his ordering the soldiers to fire. So about 4 o'clock the town became quiet. The next forenoon the 8 soldiers that fired on the inhabitants were also sent to jail. Tuesday A.M. the inhabitants met at Faneuil Hall and after some pertinent speeches, chose a committee of 15 gentlemen to wait on the Lieutenant Governor in council to request the immediate removal of the troops. The message was in these words : That it is the unanimous opinion of this meeting, that the inhabitants and soldiery can no longer live together in safety; that nothing can rationally be expected to restore the peace of the town and prevent blood and carnage but the removal of the troops; and that we most fervently pray his honor that his power and influence may be exerted for their instant removal. His honor's reply was, "Gentlemen I am extremely sorry for the unhappy difference and especially of the last evening, and signifying that it was not in his power to remove the troops, &c., &c.

The above reply was not satisfactory to the inhabitants, as but one regiment should be removed to the castle barracks. In the afternoon the town adjourned to Dr. Sewill's meetinghouse, for Faneuil Hall was not large enough to hold the people, there being at least 3,000, some supposed near 4,000, when they chose a committee to wait on the Lieutenant Governor to let him and the council know that nothing less will satisfy the people, than a total and immediate removal of the troops out of the town. His honor laid before the council the vote of the town. The council thereon expressed themselves to be unanimously of opinion that it was absolutely necessary for his Majesty's service, the good order of the town, &c., that the troops should be immediately removed out of the town. His honor communicated this advice of the council to Colonel Dalrymple and desired he would order the troops down to castle William. After the Colonel had seen the vote of the council he gave his word and honor to the town's committee that both the regiments should be removed without delay. The committee returned to the town meeting and Mr. Hancock, chairman of the committee, read their report as above, which was received with a shout and clap of hands, which made the meetinghouse ring. So the meeting was dissolved and a great number of gentlemen appeared to watch the center of the town and the prison, which continued for 11 nights and all was quiet again, as the soldiers were moved off to the castle.

The complete article can be found online at http://america.library4history.org/VFW-Pre-Revolution-1783/AMERICA-REVOLUTION/BOSTON-MASSACRE.html
 

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This is an excerpt from Volume 1 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Boston Tea Party


By Thomas Hutchinson.

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON, from whose history of Massachusetts Bay this account of the Boston Tea Party exploit is taken, has been criticized for not ordering the tea-laden ships back to England, as was done in Philadelphia and New York, but there was a shortage of tea that winter of 1773 in New England and, we are assured, "the merchants would never have submitted to the disappointment and loss." The tea in question was consigned, among others, to two sons of the Governor and to Benjamin Faneuil, whose name is commemorated in Faneuil Hall.

It is noteworthy that Hutchinson's biographer, James K. Hosmer, is also the most popular biographer of Samuel Adams. "It was while writing the life of that sturdy Son of Liberty," says Professor Hosmer, "that the worth and greatness of his opponent became plain to me." Hutchinson's estate was confiscated, and later in life he was forced through poverty to decline an English baronetcy.


THE assembly being prorogued, there was again room to hope for a few months of freedom from civil contention. The complaint against the Governor was gone to England; the salaries of the judges were suspended for the consideration of the next session : these were the two subjects of controversy peculiar to Massachusetts colony. Not more than two or three months had passed before a new subject was brought on, which had its effect in all the colonies, but greater in Massachusetts than in any other.

When the affairs of the East India Company were under the consideration of Parliament, to facilitate the consumption of tea, a vast quantity whereof then lay in the warehouses, it was determined to export a part of it, on account of the company, to the colonies, there to be sold by factors at a much lower price than it could be afforded by particular merchants who purchased it in England. When the intelligence first came to Boston, it caused no alarm. The threepenny duty had been paid the last two years without any stir, and some of the great friends to liberty had been importers of tea. The body of the people were pleased with the prospect of drinking tea at less expense than ever. The only apparent discontent was among the importers of tea, as well those who had been legal importers from England, as others who had illegally imported from Holland; and the complaint was against the East India Company for monopolizing a branch of commerce which had been beneficial to a great number of particular merchants. And the first suggestion of a design in the ministry to enlarge the revenue, and to habituate the colonies to parliamentary taxes, was made from England; and opposition to the measure was recommended, with an intimation that it was expected that the tea would not be suffered to be landed. The committees of correspondence in the several colonies soon availed themselves of so favorable an opportunity for promoting their great purpose. It soon appeared to be their general determination that, at all events, the tea should be sent back to England in the ships which brought it. The first motions were at Philadelphia where, at a meeting of the people, every man who should be concerned in unlading, receiving, or vending the tea was pronounced an enemy to his country.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
This is an excerpt from Volume 1 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Battle Of Lexington

A Contemporary Account.

SIX days after the first armed clash of the Revolutionary War occurred at Lexington, Mass., April 19, 1775, the accompanying report appeared in the Salem Gazette. This engagement, together with the contemporaneous one at Concord, was the turning-point between the period of protest and that of resistance in the colonies.

The objective of the British troops was the destruction of military stores at Concord, and also the seizure of John Hancock and Samuel Adams, residing at Lexington. Shortly after sunrise on the day of the battle, and after Paul Revere had spread the alarm, "The regulars are coming," Adams observed prophetically to Hancock, "What a glorious day!'


LAST Wednesday the 19th of April, the troops of His Britannic Majesty commenced hostilities upon the people of this province, attended with circumstances of cruelty, not less brutal than what our venerable ancestors received from the vilest savages of the wilderness. The particulars relative to this interesting event, by which we are involved in all the horrors of a civil war, we have endeavored to collect as well as the present confused state of affairs will admit.

On Tuesday evening a detachment from the army, consisting, it is said, of eight or nine hundred men, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Smith, embarked at the bottom of the Common in Boston, on board a number of boats, and landed at Phipps's farm, a little way up Charles River, from whence they proceeded with silence and expedition on their way to Concord, about eighteen miles from Boston. The people were soon alarmed, and began to assemble in several towns, before daylight, in order to watch the motion of the troops. At Lexington, six miles below Concord, a company of militia, of about one hundred men, mustered near the Meeting House; the troops came in sight of them just before sunrise; and running within a few rods of them, the commanding officer accosted the militia in words to this effect: "Disperse, you rebels damn you, throw down your arms and disperse"; upon which the troops huzzaed, and immediately one or two officers discharged their pistols, which were instantaneously followed by the firing of four or five of the soldiers, and then there seemed to be a general discharge from the whole body : eight of our men were killed, and nine wounded. In a few minutes after this action the enemy renewed their march for Concord.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The Battle Of Concord

By the Reverend William Emerson.

AN interesting feature of this account of the Lexington-Concord battle is that it was written by the grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote the famous hymn sung at the completion of the Concord monument and referring to the "embattl'd farmers" who "fired the shot heard round the world."

At the time of the historic engagement, the Reverend William Emerson had a pastorate at Concord, Massachusetts, which is a short distance from Lexington and some eighteen miles from Boston. He became a chaplain in the Continental Army, and lost his life in the Ethan Allen expedition against Ticonderoga.

This article is printed in Whitney's "Literature of the Nineteenth of April," consisting of contemporaneous accounts of the initial battles of the Revolutionary War.


THIS morning between one and two o'clock we were alarmed by the ringing of the bell and upon examination found that the troops, to the number of 800, had stolen their march from Boston in boats and barges from the bottom of the Common over to a point in Cambridge near to Inman's farm, and were at Lexington Meeting House, half an hour before sunrise, where they had fired upon a body of our men, and (as we afterward heard ) had killed several. This intelligence was brought us at first by Doctor Samuel Prescott, who narrowly escaped the guard that was sent before on horses, purposely to prevent all posts and messengers from giving us timely information. He, by the help of a very fleet horse, crossing several walls and fences, arrived at Concord at the time above mentioned.

When several posts were immediately dispatched, that returning confirmed the account of the Regulars' arrival at Lexington, and that they were on their way to Concord. Upon this a number of our Minute Men belonging to this town and Acton and Lincoln, with several others that were in readiness, marched out to meet them. While the alarm company were preparing to receive them in the town, Captain Minot, who commanded them, thought it proper to take possession of the hill above the Meeting House as the most advantageous situation.

No sooner had we gained it than we were met by the companies that were sent out to meet the troops, who informed us that they were just upon us, and that we must retreat, as their number was more than treble ours. We then retreated from the hill near the Liberty Pole and took a new post back of the town, upon a rising eminence, where we formed into two battalions, and awaited the arrival of the enemy.

Scarcely had we formed, before we saw the British troops, at the distance of a quarter of a mile, glittering in arms, advancing towards us with the greatest celerity. Some were for making a stand, notwithstanding the superiority of their number, but others more prudent thought best to retreat till our strength should be equal to the enemy's by recruits from neighboring towns that were continually coming to our assistance. Accordingly we retreated over the bridge when the troops came into the town, set fire to several carriages for the artillery, destroyed 60 barrels of flour, rifled several houses, took possession of the Town House, destroyed 500 pounds of balls, set a guard of 100 men at the North Bridge and sent up a party to the house of Colonel Barrett, where they were in expectation of finding a quantity of warlike stores; but these were happily secured just before their arrival, by transportation into the woods and other by-places.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This is an excerpt from volume 3 of America, Great Crises in our History.

Daniel Boone Migrates To Kentucky

His Own Account.

BOONE wrote this account, which appears in Hart's "Source Book of American History," many years after his migration. As his schooling was extremely limited, the article was put into literary form by a friend. His life, from the time of his first trip to Kentucky in1769 to his death in Missouri in 1820, was a constant duel with hardships and Indians.

On the site of Boonesboro, Ky., he built a fort and settled his family a year before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Not long afterwards he was captured by the redskins, who took him to Detroit, finally adopted him and allowed him such freedom that he escaped and made his way back to Kentucky on foot, reaching his fort in time to help defend it against a savage attack. Losing his Kentucky lands through defective titles, he settled in Missouri and again became landless through Government litigation.


IT WAS on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America, in quest of the country of Kentucky, in company with John Finley, John Stewart, Joseph Holden, James Monay, and William Cool.

We proceeded successfully, and after a long and tiresome journey through a mountainous wilderness, in a westward direction, on the seventh day of June following, we found ourselves on Red River, where John Finley had formerly gone trading with the Indians; and, from the top of an eminence, saw with pleasure the beautiful level of Kentucky.

We found everywhere abundance of wild beasts of all sorts, through this vast forest. The buffalo were more frequent than I have seen cattle in the settlements, browsing on the leaves of the cane, or cropping the herbage on those extensive plains, fearless, because ignorant of the violence of man. Sometimes we saw hundreds in a drove, and the numbers about the salt springs were amazing.

As we ascended the brow of a small hill, near Kentucky River, a number of Indians rushed out of a thick cane-brake upon us, and made us prisoners. The time of our sorrow was now arrived, and the scene fully opened. They plundered us of what we had, and kept us in confinement seven days, treating us with common savage usage. During this time we showed no uneasiness or desire to escape, which made them less suspicious of us. But in the dead of night, as we lay in a thick cane-brake by a large fire, when sleep had locked up their senses, my situation not disposing me for rest, I touched my companion and gently woke him.

We improved this favorable opportunity, and departed, leaving them to take their rest, and speedily directed our course toward our old camp, but found it plundered, and the company dispersed and gone home.

Soon after this my companion in captivity, John Stewart, was killed by the savages, and the man that came with my brother returned home by himself. We were then in a dangerous, helpless situation, exposed daily to perils and death among savages and wild beasts, not a white man in the country but ourselves.

One day I undertook a tour through the country, and the diversity and beauties of nature I met with in this charming season expelled every gloomy and vexatious thought. I laid me down to sleep, and I awoke not until the sun had chased away the night. I continued this tour, and in a few days explored a considerable part of the country, each day equally pleased as the first.

I returned again to my old camp, which was not disturbed in my absence. I did not confine my lodging to it, but often reposed in thick cane-brakes to avoid the savages, who, I believe, often visited my camp, but fortunately for me, in my absence. In this situation I was constantly exposed to danger and death. How unhappy such a situation for a man! Tormented with fear, which is vain if no danger comes. The prowling wolves diverted my nocturnal hours with perpetual howlings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This is an excerpt from volume 3 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Dramatic Capture Of Ticonderoga

By Ethan Allen.

COMING between the Battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill, the surprise and capture of Fort Ticonderoga, at the head of Lake George, on May 10, 1775, by Colonel Ethan Allen and a band of Green Mountain Boys, was the first complete victory scored by the colonists in the Revolutionary War. This account of it is taken from a "Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen's Captivity,- published in 1779. He was captured near Montreal four months after the Ticonderoga exploit while engaged on a secret mission to Canada.

The ease with which Ticonderoga was taken is partly explained by the fact that it was weakly garrisoned after the cession of Canada to Great Britain. In 1777 Burgoyne invested it and forced its evacuation by the Americans. Later the British were attacked in turn by General Lincoln, who released 100 American prisoners and took 293 of the English, but failed to recover the fort itself.


EVER since I arrived at the state of manhood, and acquainted myself with the general history of mankind, I have felt a sincere passion for liberty. The history of nations doomed to perpetual slavery, in consequence of yielding up to tyrants their natural-born liberties, I read with a sort of philosophical horror; so that the first systematical and bloody attempt, at Lexington, to enslave America, thoroughly electrified my mind, and fully determined me to take part with my country. And, while I was wishing for an opportunity to signalize myself in its behalf, directions were privately sent to me from the then colony (now State) of Connecticut, to raise the Green Mountain Boys, and, if possible, with them to surprise and take the fortress of Ticonderoga.

This enterprise I cheerfully undertook ; and, after first guarding all the several passes that led thither, to cut off all intelligence between the garrison and the country, made a forced march from Bennington, and arrived at the lake opposite to Ticonderoga, on the evening of the ninth day of May, 1775, with two hundred and thirty valiant Green Mountain Boys; and it was with the utmost difficulty that I procured boats to cross the lake. However, I landed eighty-three men near the garrison, and sent the boats back for the rear guard, commanded by Colonel Seth Warner; but the day began to dawn, and I found myself under necessity to attack the fort before the rear could cross the lake; and, as it was viewed hazardous, I harangued the officers and soldiers in the manner following :

"Friends and fellow-soldiers, You have, for a number of years past been a scourge and terror to arbitrary power. Your valor has been famed abroad, and acknowledged, as appears by the advice and orders to me, from the General Assembly of Connecticut, to surprise and take the garrison now before us. I now propose to advance before you, and, in person, conduct you through the wicket-gate; for we must this morning either quit our pretensions to valor, or possess ourselves of this fortress in a few minutes; and, inasmuch as it is a desperate attempt, which none but the bravest of men dare undertake, I do not urge it on any contrary to his will. You that will undertake voluntarily, poise your firelocks."

The men being, at this time, drawn up in three ranks, each poised his firelock. I ordered them to face to the right, and, at the head of the center-file, marched them immediately to the wicket-gate aforesaid, where I found a sentry posted, who instantly snapped his fusee at me ; I ran immediately toward him, and he retreated through the covered way into the parade within the garrison, gave a halloo, and ran under a bomb-proof. My party, who followed me into the fort, I formed on the parade in such -a manner as to face the two barracks which faced each other.

The garrison being asleep, except the sentries, we gave three huzzas which greatly surprised them. One of the sentries made a pass at one of my officers with a charged bayonet, and slightly wounded him. My first thought was to kill him with my sword; but, in an instant, I altered the design and fury of the blow to a slight cut on the side of the head, upon which he dropped his gun, and asked quarter, which I readily granted him, and demanded of him the place where the commanding officer kept. He showed me a pair of stairs in the front of a barrack, on the west part of the garrison, which led up to a second story in said barrack, to which I immediately repaired, and ordered the commander, Captain De la Place, to come forth instantly, or I would sacrifice the whole garrison ; at which the Captain came immediately to the door, with his breeches in his hand. When I ordered him to deliver me the fort instantly, he asked me by what authority I demanded it. I answered him, "In the name of the great Jehovah, and the Continental Congress.
 

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This is an excerpt from volume 3 of America, Great Crises in our History.

Farewell To Mrs. Washington

GEORGE WASHINGTON met Martha Dandridge, the widow of Daniel Parker Custis, in the Spring of 1758. At their second meeting he made a proposal of marriage which she accepted and on January 6th of the following year they were married.

It is said that after General Washington's death, Martha Washington shut herself up in her room at Mount Vernon and spent her time sitting before the window which looked out on his tomb. Shortly before her death Martha Washington destroyed all of the personal letters from her husband that she had in her possession. The letter given here, dated Philadelphia, June 18, 1775, is one of the few that has come down to us.


"MY DEAREST: I am now set down to write to you on a subject, which fills me with inexpressible concern, and this concern is greatly aggravated and increased, when I reflect upon the uneasiness I know it will give you. It has been determined in Congress, that the whole army raised for the defense of the American cause shall be put under my care, and that it is necessary for me to proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me the command of it.

"You may believe me, my dear Patsy, when I assure you, in the most solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this appointment, I have used every endeavor in my power to avoid it, not only from my unwillingness to part with you and the family, but from a consciousness of its being a trust too great for my capacity, and that I should enjoy more real happiness in one month with you at home, than I have the most distant prospect of finding abroad, if my stay were to be seven times seven years. But as it has been a kind of destiny, that has thrown me upon this service, I shall hope that my undertaking it is designed to answer some good purpose. You might, and I suppose did perceive, from the tenor of my letters, that I was apprehensive I could not avoid this appointment, as I did not pretend to intimate when I should return. That was the case. It was utterly out of my power to refuse this appointment, without exposing my character to such censures, as would have reflected dishonor upon myself, and given pain to my friends. This, I am sure, could not, and ought not, to be pleasing to you, and must have lessened me considerably in my own esteem. I shall rely, therefore, confidently on that Providence, which has heretofore preserved and been bountiful to me, not doubting but that I shall return safe to you in the fall. I shall feel no pain from the toil or the danger of the campaign; my unhappiness will flow from the uneasiness I know you will feel from being left alone. I therefore beg, that you will summon your whole fortitude, and pass your time as agreeably as possible. Nothing will give me so much sincere satisfaction as to hear this, and to hear it from your own pen. My earnest and ardent desire is, that you would pursue any plan that is most likely to produce content, and a tolerable degree of tranquillity; as it must add greatly to my uneasy feelings to hear, that you are dissatisfied or complaining at what I really could not avoid.

As life is always uncertain, and common prudence dictates to every man the necessity of settling his temporal concerns, while it is in his power, and while the mind is calm and undisturbed, I have, since I came to this place (for I had not time to do it before I left home) got Colonel Pendleton to draft a will for me, by the directions I gave him, which will I now enclose. The provision made for you in case of my death will, I hope, be agreeable.

I shall add nothing more, as I have several letters to write, but to desire that you will remember me to your friends, and to assure you that I am, with the most unfeigned regard, my dear Patsy, your affectionate, &c."
 

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This is an excerpt from volume 3 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Evacuation Of New York

By General George Clinton.

GENERAL, later to be for eighteen years Governor, Clinton, here describes a brisk skirmish between the American and British forces on Manhattan Island in 1776, a short time before the town was abandoned to the enemy. It was a dark hour for the struggling colonies, and it is significant that such a slight success as this one reanimated the American troops, recently disheartened by their defeat on Long Island, preceding the defeat at White Plains and the massacre at Fort Washington.

A year later General Clinton was elected first Governor of New York, and from 1805 until his death in 1812 he was Vice-President of the United States. He opposed the ratification of the Federal Constitution as granting too great powers to national officials, and while presiding officer of the Senate he defeated by his deciding vote the re-chartering of the United States Bank.


ABOUT the middle of last week it was determined, for many reasons, to evacuate the City of New York; and accordingly, orders were given for removing the ordnance, military and other stores from thence, which, by Sunday morning was nearly effected. On Saturday, four of the enemy's large ships passed by the city up the North River, and anchored near Grenage, and about as many up the East River, which anchored in Turtle Bay; and from the movements of the enemy on Long Island, and the small Islands in the East River, we had great reason to apprehend they intended to make a landing, and attack our lines somewhere near the city. Our army for some days had been moving upwards this way, and encamping On the heights, southwest of Colonel Morris's, where we intended to form lines, and make our grand stand. On Sunday morning the enemy landed a very considerable body of troops, principally consisting of their Light Infantry and Grenadiers, near Turtle Bay, under cover of a very heavy cannonade from their shipping. Our lines were but thinly manned, as they were then intended only to secure a retreat to the rear of our army, and unfortunately by such troops as were so little disposed to stand in the way of grapeshot that the main body of them almost instantly retreated, nay, fled, without a possibility of rallying them, though General Washington himself, (who rode to the spot on hearing the cannonade) with some other general officers, exerted themselves to effect it.

The enemy, on landing, immediately formed a line across the island. Most of our people were luckily north of it, and joined the army. The few that were in the city crossed the river, chiefly to Paulus-Hook, so that our loss in men, artillery, or stores, is very inconsiderable ; I don't believe it exceeds one hundred men, and I fancy most of them, from their conduct, stayed out of choice. Before evening, the enemy landed the main body of their army, took possession of the city, and marched up the island, and encamped on the heights extending from McGowan's and the Black-Horse to the North River.

On Monday morning, about ten o'clock, a party of the enemy, consisting of Highlanders, Hessians, the Light Infantry, Grenadiers, and English troops, (number uncertain,) attacked our advanced party, commanded by Colonel Knowlton, at Martje Davit's Fly. They were opposed with spirit, and soon made to retreat to a clear field, southwest of that about two hundred paces, where they lodged themselves behind a fence covered with bushes. Our people attacked them in front, and caused them to retreat a second time, leaving five dead on the spot. We pursued them to a buckwheat field on the top of a high hill, distant about four hundred paces, where they received a considerable reinforcement, with several field-pieces, and there made a stand. A very brisk action ensued at this place, which continued about two hours. Our people at length worsted them a third time, caused them to fall back into an orchard, from thence across a hollow, and up another hill not far distant from their own lines. A large column of the enemy's army being at this time discovered to be in motion, and the ground we then occupied being rather disadvantageous, a retreat likewise, without bringing on a general action, (which we did not think prudent to risk,) rather insecure, our party was therefore ordered in, and the enemy was well contented to hold the last ground we drove them to.

We lost, on this occasion, Colonel Knowlton, a brave officer, and sixteen privates, killed. Major Leitch, from Virginia, and about eight or ten subaltern officers and privates wounded. The loss of the enemy is uncertain. They carried their dead and wounded off, in and soon after the action; but we have good evidence of their having upwards of sixty killed, and violent presumption of one hundred. The action, in the whole, lasted about four hours.

I consider our success in this small affair, at this time, almost equal to a victory. It has animated our troops, gave them new spirits, and erased every bad impression the retreat from Long Island, &c., had left on their minds. They find they are able, with inferior numbers, to drive their enemy, and think of nothing now but conquest.

Since the above affair, nothing material has happened. The enemy keep close to their lines. Our advance parties continue at their former station. We are daily throwing up works to prevent the enemy's advancing. Great attention is paid to Fort Washington, the posts opposite to it on the Jersey shore, and the obstructions in the river, which, I have reason to believe, are already effectual, so as to prevent their shipping passing; however, it is intended still to add to them, as it is of the utmost consequence to keep the enemy below us.
 

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This is an excerpt from volume 3 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Boston Tea Party

By Thomas Hutchinson.

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON, from whose history of Massachusetts Bay this account of the Boston Tea Party exploit is taken, has been criticized for not ordering the tea-laden ships back to England, as was done in Philadelphia and New York, but there was a shortage of tea that winter of 1773 in New England and, we are assured, "the merchants would never have submitted to the disappointment and loss." The tea in question was consigned, among others, to two sons of the Governor and to Benjamin Faneuil, whose name is commemorated in Faneuil Hall.

It is noteworthy that Hutchinson's biographer, James K. Hosmer, is also the most popular biographer of Samuel Adams. "It was while writing the life of that sturdy Son of Liberty," says Professor Hosmer, "that the worth and greatness of his opponent became plain to me." Hutchinson's estate was confiscated, and later in life he was forced through poverty to decline an English baronetcy.


THE assembly being prorogued, there was again room to hope for a few months of freedom from civil contention. The complaint against the Governor was gone to England; the salaries of the judges were suspended for the consideration of the next session : these were the two subjects of controversy peculiar to Massachusetts colony. Not more than two or three months had passed before a new subject was brought on, which had its effect in all the colonies, but greater in Massachusetts than in any other.

When the affairs of the East India Company were under the consideration of Parliament, to facilitate the consumption of tea, a vast quantity whereof then lay in the warehouses, it was determined to export a part of it, on account of the company, to the colonies, there to be sold by factors at a much lower price than it could be afforded by particular merchants who purchased it in England. When the intelligence first came to Boston, it caused no alarm. The threepenny duty had been paid the last two years without any stir, and some of the great friends to liberty had been importers of tea. The body of the people were pleased with the prospect of drinking tea at less expense than ever. The only apparent discontent was among the importers of tea, as well those who had been legal importers from England, as others who had illegally imported from Holland; and the complaint was against the East India Company for monopolizing a branch of commerce which had been beneficial to a great number of particular merchants. And the first suggestion of a design in the ministry to enlarge the revenue, and to habituate the colonies to parliamentary taxes, was made from England; and opposition to the measure was recommended, with an intimation that it was expected that the tea would not be suffered to be landed. The committees of correspondence in the several colonies soon availed themselves of so favorable an opportunity for promoting their great purpose. It soon appeared to be their general determination that, at all events, the tea should be sent back to England in the ships which brought it. The first motions were at Philadelphia where, at a meeting of the people, every man who should be concerned in unlading, receiving, or vending the tea was pronounced an enemy to his country.

The example was soon followed at Boston. The people were summoned, by notifications posted in different quarters, to meet at the tree of liberty, to hear the resignation of the consignees of the tea, which was then daily expected. The consignees also, by a letter left at one of their houses, were required to attend at the same time at their peril. The people met, but, the consignees not appearing, a committee was appointed to acquaint them at one of their warehouses where they had met that, as they had neglected to attend, the people thought themselves warranted to consider them as their enemies.

Three vessels were expected every hour with the teas. The consignees were afraid of exposing themselves and their bondsmen to damages, which might arise from a refusal or neglect to execute their trust; on the other hand, they were anxiously concerned for their personal safety, and made their application to the Governor. He foresaw that this would prove a more difficult affair than any which had preceded it since he had been in the chair. The controversies with the council and house had a tendency to deprive him of the esteem and favor of the people ; but he had not been apprehensive of injury to his person. He was now to encounter with bodies of the people collected together, and a great proportion of them the lowest part of the people, from whom, when there is no power to restrain them, acts of violence are to be expected. He knew that the council would give him no aid. . . . He considered that, if the ships came into the harbor above the castle, they could not pass by it again without a permit under his hand, and that his granting such permit would be more than he should be able to justify. He therefore advised to their anchoring without the castle, and their waiting for orders ; and this advice was approved of by the consignees, and by the owner of the ship first expected, if not by the owners of the other ships ; and orders were given to the pilots accordingly.

On Sunday one of the ships with the tea arrived, and anchored below the castle. Notification in a form proper to inflame the people was posted up, calling upon them to assemble; and while the Governor and council were sitting on the Monday in the council chamber, and known to be consulting upon means for preserving the peace of the town, several thousands, inhabitants of Boston and other towns, were assembled in a public meeting-house at a small distance, in direct opposition and defiance.
 

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This is an excerpt from volume 3 of America, Great Crises in our History.

Letters Of Lafayette And Washington

TO AN American nothing relating to Lafayette is of more interest than his friendship with Washington. More than a hundred of the letters that passed between the two men are given in Lafayette's Memoirs, and they constitute by far the most interesting and important portion of the correspondence there preserved. The first letters, including the two here printed, belong to the trying time of Conway's Cabal, and show the complete confidence which Washington and Lafayette reposed in each other, despite their wide difference in age.

The story of their enduring friendship, as warm on one side as on the other, written in these letters, is a part of the great history which Washington and Lafayette helped to make in America and in France. The Lafayette letter was dated from his camp December 30, 1777. Washington's reply was dated from his headquarters the following day.


MY DEAR GENERAL: I went yesterday morning to headquarters, with an intention of speaking to your Excellency, but you were too busy, and I shall state in this letter what I wished to say. I need not tell you how sorry I am at what has lately happened; it is a necessary result of my tender and respectful friendship for you, which is as true and candid as the other sentiments of my heart, and much stronger than so new an acquaintance might seem to admit. But another reason for my concern is my ardent and perhaps enthusiastic wish for the happiness and liberty of this country. I see plainly that America can defend herself, if proper measures are taken; but I begin to fear that she may be lost by herself and her own sons.

"When I was in Europe, I thought that here almost every man was a lover of liberty, and would rather die free than live a slave. You can conceive my astonishment when I saw that Toryism was as apparently professed as Whigism itself. There are open dissensions in Congress; parties who hate one another as much as the common enemy; men who, without knowing anything about war, undertake to judge you, and to make ridiculous comparisons. They are infatuated with Gates, without thinking of the difference of circumstances, and believe that attacking is the only thing necessary to conquer. These ideas are entertained by some jealous men, and perhaps secret friends of the British government, who want to push you, in a moment of ill humor, to some rash enterprise upon the lines, or against a much stronger army.

"I should not take the liberty of mentioning these particulars to you, if I had not received a letter from a young, good-natured gentleman at Yorktown, whom Conway has ruined by his cunning and bad advice, but who entertains the greatest respect for you. I have been surprised to see the poor establishment of the Board of War, the difference made between northern and southern departments, and the orders from Congress about military operations. But the promotion of Conway is beyond all my expectations. I should be glad to have new major-generals, because, as I know that you take some interest in my happiness and reputation, it will perhaps afford an occasion for your Excellency to give me more agreeable commands in some instances. On the other hand, General Conway says he is entirely a man to be disposed of by me, he calls himself my soldier, and the reason of such behavior towards me is, that he wishes to be well spoken of at the French Court; and his protector, the Marquis de Castries, is an intimate acquaintance of mine.

"But since the letter of Lord Stirling, I have inquired into his character, and found that he is an ambitious and dangerous man. He has done all in his power to draw off my confidence and affection from you. His desire was to engage me to leave this country. I now see all the general officers of the army against Congress. Such disputes, if known to the enemy, may be attended with the worst consequences. I am very sorry whenever I perceive troubles raised among defenders of the same cause; but my concern is much greater, when I find officers coming from France, officers of some character in my country, to whom a fault of that kind may be imputed. The reason for my fondness for Conway was his being a very brave and very good officer. However, that talent for maneuvering, which seems so extraordinary to Congress, is not so very difficult a matter for any man of common sense, who applies himself to it. I must render to General Duportail and some other French officers, who have spoken to me, the justice to say, that I found them as I could wish upon this occasion, although it has made a great noise among many in the army. I wish your Excellency could let them know how necessary you are to them, and engage them at the same time to keep peace and reinstate love among themselves, till the moment when these little disputes shall not be attended with such inconveniences. It would be too great a pity, that slavery, dishonor, ruin, and the unhappiness of a whole nation, should issue from trifling differences betwixt a few men.

"You will perhaps find this letter very unimportant; but I was desirous of explaining to you some of my ideas, because it will contribute to my satisfaction to be convinced, that you, my dear General, who have been so indulgent as to permit me to look on you as a friend, should know my sentiments. I have the warmest love for my country, and for all good Frenchmen. Their success fills my heart with joy; but, Sir, besides that Conway is an Irishman, I want countrymen, who in every point do honor to their country. That gentleman had engaged me, by entertaining my imagination with ideas of glory and shining projects, and I must confess this was a too certain way of deceiving me. I wish to join to the .few theories about war, which I possess, and to the few dispositions which nature has given me, the experience of thirty campaigns, in the hope that I should be able to be more useful in my present sphere. My desire of deserving your approbation is strong ; and, whenever you shall employ me, you can be certain of my trying every exertion in my power to succeed. I am now bound to your fate, and I shall follow it and sustain it, as well by my sword as by all the means in my power. You will pardon my importunity. Youth and friendship perhaps make me too warm, but I feel the greatest concern at recent events. With the most tender and profound respect, I have the honor to be, &c."

MY DEAR MARQUIS: Your favor of yesterday conveyed to me fresh proof of that friend- ship and attachment, which I have happily experienced since the first of our acquaintance, and for which I entertain sentiments of the purest affection. It will ever constitute part of my happiness to know that I stand well in your opinion; because I am satisfied that you can have no views to answer by throwing out false colors, and that you possess a mind too exalted to condescend to low arts and intrigues to acquire a reputation. Happy, thrice happy, would it have been for this army, and the cause we are em- barked in, if the same generous spirit had pervaded all the actors in it. But one gentleman, whose name you have mentioned, had, I am confident, far different views. His ambition and great desire of being puffed off, as one of the first officers of the age, could only be equalled by the means which he used to obtain them; but, finding that I was determined not to go beyond the line of my duty to indulge him in the first, nor to exceed the strictest rules of propriety to gratify him in the second, he became my inveterate enemy; and he has, I am persuaded, practised every art to do me an injury, even at the expense of reprobating a measure, which did not succeed, that he himself advised to. How far he may have accomplished his ends, I know not; and, except for considerations of a public nature, I care not; for it is well known, that neither ambitious nor lucrative motives led me to accept my present appointments; in the discharge of which, I have endeavored to observe one steady and uniform system of conduct, which I shall invariably pursue, while I have the honor to command, regardless of the tongue of slander or the powers of detraction. The fatal tendency of disunion is so obvious, that I have in earnest terms exhorted such officers as have expressed their dissatisfaction at General Conway's promotion, to be cool and dispassionate in their decision upon the matter; and I have hopes that they will not suffer any hasty determination to injure the service. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that officers' feelings upon these occasions are not to be restrained, although you may control their actions.

"The other observations contained in your letter have too much truth in them ; and it is much to be lamented that things are not now as they formerly were; but we must not, in so great a contest, expect to meet with nothing but sunshine. I have no doubt that everything happens for the best, that we shall triumph over all our misfortunes, and in the end be happy; when, my dear Marquis, if you will give me your company in Virginia, we will laugh at our past difficulties and the folly of others; and I will endeavor, by every civility in my power, to show you how much and how sincerely I am your affectionate and obedient servant."
 

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This is an excerpt from volume 3 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Battle Of Concord

By the Reverend William Emerson.

AN interesting feature of this account of the Lexington-Concord battle is that it was written by the grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote the famous hymn sung at the completion of the Concord monument and referring to the "embattl'd farmers" who "fired the shot heard round the world."

At the time of the historic engagement, the Reverend William Emerson had a pastorate at Concord, Massachusetts, which is a short distance from Lexington and some eighteen miles from Boston. He became a chaplain in the Continental Army, and lost his life in the Ethan Allen expedition against Ticonderoga.

This article is printed in Whitney's "Literature of the Nineteenth of April," consisting of contemporaneous accounts of the initial battles of the Revolutionary War.


THIS morning between one and two o'clock we were alarmed by the ringing of the bell and upon examination found that the troops, to the number of 800, had stolen their march from Boston in boats and barges from the bottom of the Common over to a point in Cambridge near to Inman's farm, and were at Lexington Meeting House, half an hour before sunrise, where they had fired upon a body of our men, and (as we afterward heard ) had killed several. This intelligence was brought us at first by Doctor Samuel Prescott, who narrowly escaped the guard that was sent before on horses, purposely to prevent all posts and messengers from giving us timely information. He, by the help of a very fleet horse, crossing several walls and fences, arrived at Concord at the time above mentioned.

When several posts were immediately dispatched, that returning confirmed the account of the Regulars' arrival at Lexington, and that they were on their way to Concord. Upon this a number of our Minute Men belonging to this town and Acton and Lincoln, with several others that were in readiness, marched out to meet them. While the alarm company were preparing to receive them in the town, Captain Minot, who commanded them, thought it proper to take possession of the hill above the Meeting House as the most advantageous situation.

No sooner had we gained it than we were met by the companies that were sent out to meet the troops, who informed us that they were just upon us, and that we must retreat, as their number was more than treble ours. We then retreated from the hill near the Liberty Pole and took a new post back of the town, upon a rising eminence, where we formed into two battalions, and awaited the arrival of the enemy.

Scarcely had we formed, before we saw the British troops, at the distance of a quarter of a mile, glittering in arms, advancing towards us with the greatest celerity. Some were for making a stand, notwithstanding the superiority of their number, but others more prudent thought best to retreat till our strength should be equal to the enemy's by recruits from neighboring towns that were continually coming to our assistance. Accordingly we retreated over the bridge when the troops came into the town, set fire to several carriages for the artillery, destroyed 60 barrels of flour, rifled several houses, took possession of the Town House, destroyed 500 pounds of balls, set a guard of 100 men at the North Bridge and sent up a party to the house of Colonel Barrett, where they were in expectation of finding a quantity of warlike stores; but these were happily secured just before their arrival, by transportation into the woods and other by-places.

In the meantime, the guard set by the enemy to secure the pass at the North Bridge, were alarmed by the approach of our people, who had retreated as mentioned before, and were now advancing, with special orders not to fire upon the troops, unless fired upon. These orders were so punctually observed that we received the fire of the enemy in three several and separate discharges of their pieces, before it was returned by our commanding officer; the firing then soon became general for several minutes, in which skirmish two were killed on each side, and several of the enemy wounded. It may be observed by the way that we were the more cautious to prevent beginning a rupture with the King's troops, as we were then uncertain what had happened at Lexington, and knew [not] that they had begun the quarrel there by first firing upon our people and killing 8 men upon the spot.

The three companies of troops soon quitted their post at the bridge, and retreated in greatest discord and confusion to the main body, who were soon upon the march to meet them. For half an hour the enemy by their marches and counter-marches discovered great fickleness and inconstancy of mind, sometimes advancing, sometimes returning to their former posts, till at length they quitted the town, and retreated by the way they came. In the meantime a party of our men ( 150) took the back way through the great fields into the east quarter and had placed themselves to advantage, laying in ambush, behind walls, fences and buildings, ready to fire upon the enemy on their retreat.
 

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This is an excerpt from volume 3 of America, Great Crises in our History.

Andre, Facing Execution, Writes To Washington

THE Andre episode is one of the most painful in Revolutionary history. Major John Andre, a British officer of high character and standing, representing the British General, Sir Henry Clinton, met General Benedict Arnold, in secret, to arrange the betrayal of West Point, with its stores and magazines, including nearly the whole stock of powder of the American army. After the meeting near West Point Andre was on his way down the Hudson to New York When captured at Tarrytown. Incriminating documents found on his person brought about his trial, conviction and military execution as a spy, on October 2, 1780.

The first of these letters 'was written by Major Andre to General Washington on September 24th, the day after his capture. As an appendix to the letter is a paper drawn up by Andre recounting the facts of the case. The concluding letter was written by Andre to Washington on the eve of his execution.


WHAT I have as yet said concerning myself was in the justifiable attempt to be extricated ; I am too little accustomed to duplicity to have succeeded.

I beg your Excellency will be persuaded that no alteration in the temper of my mind, or apprehension for my safety, induces me to take the step of addressing you, but that it is to rescue myself from an imputation of having assumed a mean character for treacherous purposes or self-interest; a conduct incompatible with the principles that actuate me, as well as with my condition in life.

It is to vindicate my fame that I speak, and not to solicit security.

The person in your possession is Major John Andre, adjutant-general to the British army.

The influence of one commander in the army of his adversary is an advantage taken in war. A correspondence for this purpose I held; as confidential (in the present instance) with his Excellency Sir Henry Clinton.

To favor it, I agreed to meet upon ground not within the posts of either army, a person who was to give me intelligence; I came up in the Vulture man-of-war for this effect, and was fetched by a boat from the ship to the beach. Being there, I was told that the approach of day would prevent my return, and that I must be concealed until the next night. I was in my regimentals and had fairly risked my person.

Against my stipulation, my intention, and without my knowledge beforehand, I was conducted within one of your posts. Your Excellency may conceive my sensation on this occasion, and will imagine how much more must I have been affected by a refusal to reconduct me back the next night as I had been brought. Thus become a prisoner, I had to concert my escape. I quitted my uniform, and was passed another way in the night, without the American posts, to neutral ground, and informed I was beyond all armed parties and left to press for New York. I was taken at Tarrytown by some volunteers.

Thus, as I have had the honor to relate, was I betrayed (being adjutant-general of the British army) into the vile condition of an enemy in disguise within your posts.

Having avowed myself a British officer, I have nothing to reveal but what relates to myself, which is true on the honor of an officer and a gentleman.

The request I have to make to your Excellency, and I am conscious I address myself well, is, that in any rigor policy may dictate, a decency of conduct towards me may mark, that though unfortunate I am branded with nothing dishonorable, as no motive could be mine but the service of my King, and as I was involuntarily an impostor.

Another request is, that I may be permitted to write an open letter to Sir Henry Clinton, and another to a friend for clothes and linen.

I take the liberty to mention the condition of some gentlemen at Charleston, who, being either on parole or under protection, were engaged in a conspiracy against us. Though their situation is not similar, they are objects who may be set in exchange for me, or are persons whom the treatment I receive might affect.

It is no less, Sir, in a confidence of the generosity of your mind, than on account of your superior station, that I have chosen to importune you with this letter. I have the honor to be, with great respect, Sir, your Excellency's most obedient humble servant.

ON the 20th of September, I left New York to get on board the Vulture, in order (as I thought) to meet General Arnold there in the night. No boat, however, came off, and I waited on board until the night of the 21st. During the day, a flag of truce was sent from the Vulture to complain of the violation of a military rule in the instance of a boat having been decoyed on shore by a flag, and fired upon. The letter was addressed to General Arnold, signed by Captain Sutherland, but written in my hand and countersigned "J. Anderson, secretary." Its intent was to indicate my presence on board the Vulture. In the night of the 21 st a boat with Mr. Smith and two hands came on board, in order to fetch Mr. Anderson on shore, and, if too late to bring me back, to lodge me until the next night in a place of safety. I went into the boat, landed, and spoke with Arnold. I got on horseback with him to proceed to Smith's house, and in the way passed a guard I did not expect to see, having Sir Henry Clinton's directions not to go within an enemy's post, or to quit my own dress.

In the morning A. quitted me, having himself made me put the papers I bore between my stockings and feet. Whilst he did it, he expressed a wish in case of any accident befalling me, that they should be destroyed, which I said, of course would be the case, as when I went into the boat I should have them tied about with a string and a stone. Before we parted, some mention had been made of my crossing the river, and going by another route; but, I objected much against it, and thought it was settled that in the way I came I was also to return.

Mr. Smith to my great mortification persisted in his determination of carrying me by the other route; and, at the decline of the sun, I set out on horseback, passed King's Ferry, and came to Crompond, where a party of militia stopped us and advised we should remain. In the morning I came with Smith as far as within two miles and a half of Pine's Bridge, where he said he must part with me, as the Cow-boys infested the road thenceforward. I was now near thirty miles from Kingsbridge, and left to the chance of passing that space undiscovered. I got to the neighborhood of Tarrytown, which was far beyond the points described as dangerous, when I was taken by three volunteers, who, not satisfied with my pass, rifled me, and, finding papers, made me a prisoner.

I have omitted mentioning, that, when I found myself within an enemy's posts, I changed my dress.

BUOYED above the terror of death, by the consciousness of a life devoted to honorable pursuits, and stained with no action that can give me remorse, I trust that the request I make to your Excellency at this serious period, and which is to soften my last moments, will not be rejected.

Sympathy towards a soldier will surely induce your Excellency and a military tribunal to adapt the mode of my death to the feelings of a man of honor.

Let me hope, Sir, that if aught in my character impresses you with esteem towards me, if aught in my misfortunes marks me as the victim of policy and not of resentment, I shall experience the operation of these feelings in your breast, by being informed that I am not to die on a gibbet.

I have the honor to be your Excellency's most obedient and most humble servant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
This is an excerpt from volume 3 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Battle Of Bunker Hill

By a Leader of the Provincial Forces.

THIS letter, dated June 26, 1775 ten days after the battle was written by a colonial participant to a friend in England and was printed a month or so later in the London Morning Post and Daily Advertiser. It was recently found in the files of that paper, and is included in a volume of "Letters on the American Revolution," edited by Margaret Wheeler Willard (Houghton-Mifflin.)

The importance of the Battle of Bunker (or rather, Breed's) Hill in revolutionizing public and private opinion in the colonies is evidenced by other letters. One written from New York before the news of Bunker Hill had arrived states, "It is a gross calumny to say that we are aiming at independency." In the reaction to that battle, however, the feeling against independence began to break down and in the following year crystallized into a national desire for freedom. A Quaker writes from Philadelphia, in 1776, that "the time is not far off when the colonies will set up an independent standard."


STRICT orders having been given that no letter shall be received on board the men-of-war from any of those who have the courage to appear in arms against the unconstitutional and oppressive measures of administration, and the late inflated proclamation having pronounced such severe penalties against those who shall correspond with men thus acting in defence of all those great and essential privileges which our forefathers ever held so dear, it becomes difficult for me to convey, or perhaps for you to receive any information from this side of the water, except from men retained in the pay of the administration, who have every inducement which profit and prejudice can inspire to misrepresent the truth. After the windy proclamation of the 12th, our troops became enraged because they were not led on to action. This learned proclamation was burned by the hands of the common hangman at Cambridge, Roxburgh, [Roxbury] and Deutesterwick [Dorchester]. Many went off in disgust that nothing was done ; the different parishes sent them back ; they stated the case of their desertion. Finding the zeal of the troops so great, and that notwithstanding the threatening of the proclamation, we were not likely to feel the effects of those who bear the sword so soon as was expected, it was resolved to force General Gage to an action. With this in view it was determined to seize possession of the height on the peninsula of Charlestown, which General Gage had occupied before the 19th of April, and erect some batteries on Banhin-hill [Bunker-hill], to batter down the town and General Gage's camp on the Common and his entrenchment on Boston Neck (which is only about three fourths of a mile across). Four thousand men commanded by General Putnam, and led on by Dr. Warren, having prepared every thing for the operation as well as could be contrived or collected were stationed under a half unfinished breastwork and some palisadoes fixed in a hurry. When the enemy were landed, to the number of 2500, as we are since informed, being the light infantry and the grenadiers of the army with a complete train of artillery, howitzers and field pieces, drawn by 200 sailors, and commanded by the most gallant and experienced officers Of the last war, they marched to engage 3000 provincials, arrayed in red worsted caps and blue great coats, with guns of different sizes, few of which had bayonets, ill-served artillery, but of invincible courage ! The fire from the ships and artillery of the enemy was horrid and amazing ; the first onset of the soldiers was bold and fierce, but they were received with equal courage; at length the 38th Regiment gave way, and the rest recoiled. The King's troops were commanded by General Howe, brother to that gallant Lord Howe to whose memory the province of Massachusett's Bay erected a statue. He marched with undaunted spirit at the head of his men ; most of his followers were killed round his own person. The King's troops about this time got into much confusion and retreated, but were rallied by the reproaches of General Howe, and the activity of General Clinton who then joined the battle. The King's troops again made their push against Charlestown, which was then set on fire by them. Our right flank being then uncovered, two floating batteries coming in by the mill dam to take us in the rear, more troops coming from Boston, and our ammunition being almost expended, General Putnam ordered the troops on the left to retreat. The confusion was great for twenty minutes, but in less than half an hour we fell into complete order ; the regulars were so mauled they durst not pursue us 200 yards, but almost the last shot they fired killed good Dr. Warren, who had dressed himself like Lord Falkland, in his wedding suit, and distinguished himself by unparalleled acts of bravery during the whole action, but particularly in covering the retreat. He was a man of great courage, universal learning and much humanity. It may well be said he is the greatest loss we have sustained. General Putnam, at the age of 60, was as active as the youngest officer in the field. We have lost 104 killed, and 306 wounded; a Lieutenant Colonel and 30 men are prisoners, and we anxiously wait their fate. We lost before the action began 18 men by the fire of the ships and the battery from Boston, burying them before the assault. The number of the King's troops killed and wounded are three times our loss. A sailor belonging to one of the transports, who was busy with many of his companions in rifling the dead, and who has since deserted, assured me the ground was covered with officers. The cannonading was dreadful. The King's troops began firing at a great distance, being scarce of ammunition deferred our fire. It was impossible to send troops from Roxburgh, because we expected an attack there, or at Dorchester neck. I am well informed many of the old English officers are since dead.

When General Gage had the inhabitants of Boston pent up in the town, not less than five hundred marksmen at different times went out in dung carts covered with dirt to join the army, and carried off 10 or 12,000 cartridges of ammunition by the same means, without being discovered. On the l9th two beautiful young men, between 25 and 30 years of age, devoted themselves to death. They marched within General Gage's sentinels on the neck; a sergeant and six men were sent to receive them, thinking they came to lay down their arms ; when they approached they told the troops "the King's ministers had treated them as slaves, the King's officers had reported them as cowards, that they came to show the falsity of both reports and the weakness of the proclamation, by sealing with their blood their firm belief in the justice of their cause, upon which they were ready immediately to appear before the presence of God." Here they fired and killed two of the enemy; they were immediately fired at again, and one was instantly killed and the other desperately wounded, but he told the King's troops he did not desire to live, and demanded they should kill him also, which was soon complied with. I do declare as a man of veracity, under all the hardships our people have undergone, I have not heard one complain of his personal suffering. They bewail each others' misfortunes; they complain bitterly of the cruelties of the English administration; they lament the separation of the Empire which is likely to take place, but of their own particular sufferings no man murmurs or complains. Not a soldier dies of his wounds who does not believe he goes directly to heaven, notwithstanding all the anathemas of the general proclamation. If this business continues till November you will have an account of ships and troops. If we could have imagined the Parliament of England could have been so infatuated as appears by their proceedings of last session of Parliament, we should certainly have destroyed the small few then in this province.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
This is an excerpt from volume 3 of America, Great Crises in our History.

The Battles Of Trenton And Princeton

By General George Washington.

IT WAS to fight the battle of Trenton, in New Jersey, December 26, 1776, that Washington at the head of 2,400 men made his famous crossing of the ice-jammed Delaware River. He surprised the Hessians under Colonel Rahl and took more than 1,000 prisoners, paving the way for the equally important victory over the British at Princeton on January third following.

Frederick the Great esteemed this Trenton-Princeton campaign "the most brilliant military performance of the century; and Cornwallis himself, at a banquet given him and his staff by Washington after the surrender at Yorktown, declared that when history's verdict was made up "the brightest garlands for your Excellency will be gathered, not from the shores of the Chesapeake, but from the banks of the Delaware."

These are the military reports sent by Washington to John Hancock as President of Congress shortly after the respective battles were fought.


I HAVE the pleasure of congratulating you upon the success of an enterprise, which I had formed against a detachment of the enemy lying at Trenton, and which was executed yesterday morning. The evening of the twenty-fifth I ordered the troops intended for this service to parade back to McKonkey's Ferry, that they might begin to pass as soon as it grew dark, imagining we should be able to throw them all over, with the necessary artillery, by twelve o'clock, and that we might easily arrive at Trenton by five in the morning, the distance being about nine miles. But the quantity of ice, made that night, impeded the passage of the boats so much, that it was three o'clock before the artillery could all be got over; and near four before the troops took up their line of march. This made me despair of surprising the town, as I well knew we could not reach it before the day was fairly broke. But as I was certain there was no making a retreat without being discovered and harassed on repassing the river, I determined to push on at all events. I formed my detachment into two divisions, one to march by the lower or river road, the other by the upper or Pennington road. As the divisions had nearly the same distance to march, I ordered each of them, immediately upon forcing the out-guards, to push directly into the town, that they might charge the enemy before they had time to form.

The upper division arrived at the enemy's advanced posts exactly at eight o'clock; and in three minutes after, I found, from the fire on the lower road, that the divisions had also got up. The out-guards made but small opposition, though, for their numbers, they behaved very well, keeping up a constant retreating fire from behind houses. We presently saw their main body formed; but, from their motions, they seemed undetermined how to act. Being hard pressed by our troops, who had already got possession of their artillery, they attempted to file off by a road on their right, leading to Princeton. But, perceiving their intention, I threw a body of troops in their way, which immediately checked them. Finding from our disposition, that they were surrounded, and that they must inevitably be cut to pieces if they made any further resistance, they agreed to lay down their arms. The number that submitted in this manner was twenty-three officers and eight hundred and eighty-six men. Colonel Rahl, the commanding officer, and seven others were found wounded in the town. I do not exactly know how many were killed; but I fancy twenty or thirty, as they never made any regular stand. Our loss is very trifling indeed, only two officers and one or two privates wounded.

In justice to the officers and men, I must add, that their behavior upon this occasion reflects the highest honor upon them. The difficulty of passing the river in a very severe night, and their march through a violent storm of snow and hail, did not in the least abate their ardor; but, when they came to the charge, each seemed to vie with the other in pressing forward; and were I to give a preference to any particular corps, I should do great injustice to the others.

ON TO PRINCETON

I HAVE the honor to inform you, that, since the date of my last from Trenton, I have removed with the army under my command to this place. The difficulty of crossing the Delaware, on account of the ice, made our passage over it tedious, and gave the enemy an opportunity of drawing in their several cantonments, and assembling their whole force at Princeton. Their large pickets advanced towards Trenton, their great preparations, and some intelligence I had received, added to their knowledge, that the 1st of January brought on a dissolution of the best part of our army, gave me the strongest reasons to conclude, that an attack upon us was meditating.

Our situations was most critical, and our force small. . . . On the 2d [ of January, 1777], according to my expectation, the enemy began to advance upon us; and, after some skirmishing, the head of their column reached Trenton about four o'clock, whilst their rear was as far back as Maidenhead. They attempted to pass Sanpink Creek, which runs through Trenton, at different places; but, finding the forts guarded, they halted, and kindled their fires. We were drawn up on the other side of the creek. In this situation we remained till dark, cannonading the enemy, and receiving the fire of their field-pieces, which did us but little damage.

Having by this time discovered that the enemy were greatly superior in number, and that their design was to surround us, I ordered all our baggage to be removed silently to Burlington soon after dark; and at twelve o'clock after renewing our fires, and leaving guards at the bridge in Trenton, and other passes on the same stream above, marched by a roundabout road to Princeton, where I knew they could not have much force left, and might have stores. One thing I was certain of, that it would avoid the appearance of a retreat (which was of consequence, or to run the hazard of the whole army being cut off), whilst we might by a fortunate stroke withdraw General Howe from Trenton, and give some reputation to our arms. Happily we succeeded. We found Princeton about sunrise, with only three regiments and three troops of light-horse in it, two of which were on their march to Trenton. These three regiments, especially the two first, made a gallant resistance, and, in killed, wounded, and prisoners, must have lost five hundred men; upwards of one hundred of them were left dead on the field; and, with what I have with me and what were taken in the pursuit and carried across the Delaware, there are near three hundred prisoners, fourteen of whom are officers, all British.

. . . We took two brass field-pieces; but, for want of horses, could not bring them away. We also took some blankets, shoes, and a few other trifling articles, burned the hay, and destroyed such other things, as the shortness of the time would admit of.

The militia are taking spirits, and, I am told, are coming in fast from this State [New Jersey] ; but I fear those from Philadelphia will scarcely submit to the hardships of a winter campaign much longer, especially as they very unluckily sent their blankets with their baggage to Burlington. I must do them the justice however to add, that they have undergone more fatigue and hardship, than I expected militia, especially citizens, would have done at this inclement season. I am just moving to Morristown, where I shall endeavor to put them under the best cover I can. Hitherto we have been without any; and many of our poor soldiers quite barefoot, and ill clad in other respects.
 

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History, written by the people who were there.  I love it!
 
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