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The Life of George Washington, Volume I by Washington Irving

Part 7 out of 7

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swampy piece of ground, while his columns suffered from two or three
fieldpieces with which Putnam had fortified the fence. Howe's men kept up a
fire of musketry as they advanced; but, not taking aim, their shot passed
over the heads of the Americans. The latter had received the same orders
with those in the redoubt, not to fire until the enemy should be within
thirty paces. Some few transgressed the command. Putnam rode up and swore
he would cut down the next man that fired contrary to orders. When the
British arrived within the stated distance a sheeted fire opened upon them
from rifles, muskets, and fowling-pieces, all levelled with deadly aim. The
carnage, as in the other instance, was horrible. The British were thrown
into confusion and fell back; some even retreated to the boats.

There was a general pause on the part of the British. The American officers
availed themselves of it to prepare for another attack, which must soon be
made. Prescott mingled among his men in the redoubt, who were all in high
spirits at the severe check they had given "the regulars." He praised them
for their steadfastness in maintaining their post, and their good conduct
in reserving their fire until the word of command, and exhorted them to do
the same in the next attack.

Putnam rode about Bunker's Hill and its skirts, to rally and bring on
reinforcements which had been checked or scattered in crossing Charlestown
Neck by the raking fire from the ships and batteries. Before many could be
brought to the scene of action the British had commenced their second
attack. They again ascended the hill to storm the redoubt; their advance
was covered as before by discharges of artillery. Charlestown, which had
annoyed them on their first attack by a flanking fire, was in flames, by
shells thrown from Copp's Hill, and by marines from the ships. Being built
of wood, the place was soon wrapped in a general conflagration. The thunder
of artillery from batteries and ships, the bursting of bomb-shells; the
sharp discharges of musketry; the shouts and yells of the combatants; the
crash of burning buildings, and the dense volumes of smoke, which obscured
the summer sun, all formed a tremendous spectacle. "Sure I am," said
Burgoyne in one of his letters,--"Sure I am nothing ever has or ever can be
more dreadfully terrible than what was to be seen or heard at this time.
The most incessant discharge of guns that ever was heard by mortal ears."

The American troops, although unused to war, stood undismayed amidst a
scene where it was bursting upon them with all its horrors. Reserving their
fire, as before, until the enemy was close at hand, they again poured forth
repeated volleys with the fatal aim of sharpshooters. The British stood the
first shock, and continued to advance; but the incessant stream of fire
staggered them. Their officers remonstrated, threatened, and even attempted
to goad them on with their swords, but the havoc was too deadly; whole
ranks were mowed down; many of the officers were either slain or wounded,
and among them several of the staff of General Howe. The troops again gave
way and retreated down the hill.

All this passed under the eye of thousands of spectators of both sexes and
all ages, watching from afar every turn of a battle in which the lives of
those most dear to them were at hazard. The British soldiery in Boston
gazed with astonishment and almost incredulity at the resolute and
protracted stand of raw militia whom they had been taught to despise, and
at the havoc made among their own veteran troops. Every convoy of wounded
brought over to the town increased their consternation, and General
Clinton, who had watched the action from Copp's Hill, embarking in a boat,
hurried over as a volunteer, taking with him reinforcements.

A third attack was now determined on, though some of Howe's officers
remonstrated, declaring it would be downright butchery. A different plan
was adopted. Instead of advancing in front of the redoubt, it was to be
taken in flank on the left, where the open space between the breastwork and
the fortified fence presented a weak point. It having been accidentally
discovered that the ammunition of the Americans was nearly expended,
preparations were made to carry the works at the point of the bayonet; and
the soldiery threw off their knapsacks, and some even their coats, to be
more light for action.

General Howe, with the main body, now made a feint of attacking the
fortified fence; but, while a part of his force was thus engaged, the rest
brought some of the field-pieces to enfilade the breastwork on the left of
the redoubt. A raking fire soon drove the Americans out of this exposed
place into the enclosure. Much damage, too, was done in the latter by balls
which entered the sallyport.

The troops were now led on to assail the works; those who flinched were, as
before, goaded on by the swords of the officers. The Americans again
reserved their fire until their assailants were close at hand, and then
made a murderous volley, by which several officers were laid low, and
General Howe himself was wounded in the foot. The British soldiery this
time likewise reserved their fire and rushed on with fixed bayonet. Clinton
and Pigot had reached the southern and eastern sides of the redoubt, and it
was now assailed on three sides at once. Prescott ordered those who had no
bayonets to retire to the back part of the redoubt and fire on the enemy as
they showed themselves on the parapet. The first who mounted exclaimed in
triumph, "The day is ours!" He was instantly shot down, and so were several
others who mounted about the same time. The Americans, however, had fired
their last round, their ammunition was exhausted; and now succeeded a
desperate and deadly struggle, hand to hand, with bayonets, stones, and the
stocks of their muskets. At length, as the British continued to pour in,
Prescott gave the order to retreat. His men had to cut their way through
two divisions of the enemy who were getting in rear of the redoubt, and
they received a destructive volley from those who had formed on the
captured works. By that volley fell the patriot Warren, who had
distinguished himself throughout the action. He was among the last to leave
the redoubt, and had scarce done so when he was shot through the head with
a musket-ball, and fell dead on the spot.

While the Americans were thus slowly dislodged from the redoubt, Stark,
Read and Knowlton maintained their ground at the fortified fence; which,
indeed, had been nobly defended throughout the action. Pomeroy
distinguished himself here by his sharpshooting until his musket was
shattered by a ball. The resistance at this hastily constructed work was
kept up after the troops in the redoubt had given way, and until Colonel
Prescott had left the hill; thus defeating General Howe's design of cutting
off the retreat of the main body; which would have produced a scene of
direful confusion and slaughter. Having effected their purpose, the brave
associates at the fence abandoned their weak outpost, retiring slowly, and
disputing the ground inch by inch, with a regularity remarkable in troops
many of whom had never before been in action.

The main retreat was across Bunker's Hill, where Putnam had endeavored to
throw up a breastwork. The veteran, sword in hand, rode to the rear of the
retreating troops, regardless of the balls whistling about him. His only
thought was to rally them at the unfinished works. "Halt! make a stand
here!" cried he, "we can check them yet. In God's name, form and give them
one shot more."

Pomeroy, wielding his shattered musket as a truncheon, seconded him in his
efforts to stay the torrent. It was impossible, however, to bring the
troops to a stand. They continued on down the hill to the Neck and across
it to Cambridge, exposed to a raking fire from the ships and batteries, and
only protected by a single piece of ordnance. The British were too
exhausted to pursue them; they contented themselves with taking possession
of Bunker's Hill, were reinforced from Boston, and threw up additional
works during the night.

We have collected the preceding facts from various sources, examining them
carefully, and endeavoring to arrange them with scrupulous fidelity. We may
appear to have been more minute in the account of the battle than the
number of troops engaged would warrant; but it was one of the most
momentous conflicts in our revolutionary history. It was the first regular
battle between the British and the Americans, and most eventful in its
consequences. The former had gained the ground for which they contended;
but, if a victory, it was more disastrous and humiliating to them than an
ordinary defeat. They had ridiculed and despised their enemy, representing
them as dastardly and inefficient; yet here their best troops, led on by
experienced officers, had repeatedly been repulsed by an inferior force of
that enemy,--mere yeomanry,--from works thrown up in a single night, and
had suffered a loss rarely paralleled in battle with the most veteran
soldiery; for, according to their own returns, their killed and wounded,
out of a detachment of two thousand men, amounted to one thousand and fifty
four, and a large proportion of them officers. The loss of the Americans
did not exceed four hundred and fifty.

To the latter this defeat, if defeat it might be called, had the effect of
a triumph. It gave them confidence in themselves and consequence in the
eyes of their enemies. They had proved to themselves and to others that
they could measure weapons with the disciplined soldiers of Europe, and
inflict the most harm in the conflict.

Among the British officer's slain was Major Pitcairn, who, at Lexington,
had shed the first blood in the Revolutionary war.

In the death of Warren the Americans had to lament the loss of a
distinguished patriot and a most estimable man. It was deplored as a public
calamity. His friend Elbridge Gerry had endeavored to dissuade him from
risking his life in this perilous conflict, "Dulce et decorum est pro
patria mori," replied Warren, as if he had foreseen his fate--a fate to be
envied by those ambitious of an honorable fame. He was one of the first who
fell in the glorious cause of his country, and his name has become
consecrated in its history.

There has been much discussion of the relative merits of the American
officers engaged in this affair--a difficult question where no one appears
to have had the general command. Prescott conducted the troops in the night
enterprise; he superintended the building of the redoubt, and defended it
throughout the battle; his name, therefore, will ever shine most
conspicuous, and deservedly so, on this bright page of our Revolutionary

Putnam also was a leading spirit throughout the affair; one of the first to
prompt and of the last to maintain it. He appears to have been active and
efficient at every point; sometimes fortifying; sometimes hurrying up
reinforcements; inspiriting the men by his presence while they were able to
maintain their ground, and fighting gallantly at the outpost to cover their
retreat. The brave old man, riding about in the heat of the action, on this
sultry day, "with a hanger belted across his brawny shoulders, over a
waistcoat without sleeves," has been sneered at by a contemporary, as "much
fitter to head a band of sickle men or ditchers than musketeers." But this
very description illustrates his character, and identifies him with the
times and the service. A yeoman warrior fresh from the plough, in the garb
of rural labor; a patriot brave and generous, but rough and ready, who
thought not of himself in time of danger, but was ready to serve in any
way, and to sacrifice official rank and self-glorification to the good of
the cause. He was eminently a soldier for the occasion. His name has long
been a favorite one with young and old; one of the talismanic names of the
Revolution, the very mention of which is like the sound of a trumpet. Such
names are the precious jewels of our history, to be garnered up among the
treasures of the nation, and kept immaculate from the tarnishing breath of
the cynic and the doubter.

NOTE.--In treating of the battle of Bunker's Hill, and of other occurrences
about Boston at this period of the Revolution, we have had repeated
occasion to consult the History of the Siege of Boston, by Richard
Frothingham, Jr.; a work abounding with facts as to persons and events, and
full of interest for the American reader.



In a preceding chapter we left Washington preparing to depart from
Philadelphia for the army before Boston. He set out on horseback on the
21st of June, having for military companions of his journey Major-generals
Lee and Schuyler, and being accompanied for a distance by several private
friends. As an escort he had a "gentleman troop" of Philadelphia, commanded
by Captain Markoe; the whole formed a brilliant cavalcade.

General Schuyler was a man eminently calculated to sympathize with
Washington in all his patriotic views and feelings, and became one of his
most faithful coadjutors. Sprung from one of the earliest and most
respectable Dutch families which colonized New York, all his interests and
affections were identified with the country. He had received a good
education; applied himself at an early age to the exact sciences, and
became versed in finance, military engineering, and political economy. He
was one of those native born soldiers who had acquired experience in that
American school of arms, the old French war. When but twenty-two years of
age he commanded a company of New York levies under Sir William Johnson, of
Mohawk renown, which gave him an early opportunity of becoming acquainted
with the Indian tribes, their country and their policy. In 1758 he was in
Abercrombie's expedition against Ticonderoga, accompanying Lord Viscount
Howe as chief of the commissariat department; a post well qualified to give
him experience in the business part of war. When that gallant young
nobleman fell on the banks of Lake George, Schuyler conveyed his corpse
back to Albany and attended to his honorable obsequies. Since the close of
the French war he had served his country in various civil stations, and
been one of the most zealous and eloquent vindicators of colonial rights.
He was one of the "glorious minority" of the New York General Assembly;
George Clinton, Colonel Woodhull, Colonel Philip Livingston and others;
who, when that body was timid and wavering, battled nobly against British
influence and oppression. His last stand had been recently as a delegate to
Congress, where he had served with Washington on the committee to prepare
rules and regulations for the army, and where the latter had witnessed his
judgment, activity, practical science, and sincere devotion to the cause.

Many things concurred to produce perfect harmony of operation between these
distinguished men. They were nearly of the same age, Schuyler being one
year the youngest. Both were men of agricultural, as well as military
tastes. Both were men of property, living at their ease in little rural
paradises; Washington on the grove-clad heights of Mount Vernon, Schuyler
on the pastoral banks of the upper Hudson, where he had a noble estate at
Saratoga, inherited from an uncle; and the old family mansion, near the
city of Albany, half hid among ancestral trees. Yet both were exiling
themselves from these happy abodes, and putting life and fortune at hazard
in the service of their country.

Schuyler and Lee had early military recollections to draw them together.
Both had served under Abercrombie in the expedition against Ticonderoga.
There was some part of Lee's conduct in that expedition which both he and
Schuyler might deem it expedient at this moment to forget. Lee was at that
time a young captain, naturally presumptuous, and flushed with the
arrogance of military power. On his march along the banks of the Hudson, he
acted as if in a conquered country, impressing horses and oxen, and seizing
upon supplies, without exhibiting any proper warrant. It was enough for
him, "they were necessary for the service of his troops." Should any one
question his right, the reply was a volley of execrations.

Among those who experienced this unsoldierly treatment was Mrs. Schuyler,
the aunt of the general; a lady of aristocratical station, revered
throughout her neighborhood. Her cattle were impressed, herself insulted.
She had her revenge. After the unfortunate affair at Ticonderoga, a number
of the wounded were brought down along the Hudson to the Schuyler mansion.
Lee was among the number. The high-minded mistress of the house never
alluded to his past conduct. He was received like his brother officers with
the kindest sympathy. Sheets and tablecloths were torn up to serve as
bandages. Every thing was done to alleviate their sufferings. Lee's cynic
heart was conquered. "He swore in his vehement manner that he was sure
there would be a place reserved for Mrs. Schuyler in heaven, though no
other woman should be there, and that he should wish for nothing better
than to share her final destiny!" [Footnote: Memoirs of an American Lady
(Mrs. Grant, of Laggan), vol. ii., chap. ix.]

Seventeen years had since elapsed, and Lee and the nephew of Mrs. Schuyler
were again allied in military service, but under a different banner; and
recollections of past times must have given peculiar interest to their
present intercourse. In fact, the journey of Washington with his associate
generals, experienced like him in the wild expeditions of the old French
war, was a revival of early campaigning feelings.

They had scarcely proceeded twenty miles from Philadelphia when they were
met by a courier, spurring with all speed, bearing despatches from the army
to Congress, communicating tidings of the battle of Bunker's Hill.
Washington eagerly inquired particulars; above all, how acted the militia?
When told that they stood their ground bravely; sustained the enemy's
fire--reserved their own until at close quarters, and then delivered it
with deadly effect; it seemed as if a weight of doubt and solicitude were
lifted from his heart. "The liberties of the country are safe!" exclaimed

The news of the battle of Bunker's Hill had startled the whole country; and
this clattering cavalcade, escorting the commander-in-chief to the army,
was the gaze and wonder of every town and village.

The journey may be said to have been a continual council of war between
Washington and the two generals. Even the contrast in character of the two
latter made them regard questions from different points of view. Schuyler,
a warm-hearted patriot, with every thing staked on the cause; Lee, a
soldier of fortune, indifferent to the ties of home and country, drawing
his sword without enthusiasm; more through resentment against a government
which had disappointed him, than zeal for liberty or for colonial rights.

One of the most frequent subjects of conversation was the province of New
York. Its power and position rendered it the great link of the confederacy;
what measures were necessary for its defence, and most calculated to secure
its adherence to the cause? A lingering attachment to the crown, kept up by
the influence of British merchants, and military and civil functionaries in
royal pay, had rendered it slow in coming into the colonial compact; and it
was only on the contemptuous dismissal of their statement of grievances,
unheard, that its people had thrown off their allegiance, as much in sorrow
as in anger.

No person was better fitted to give an account of the interior of New York
than General Schuyler; and the hawk-eyed Lee during a recent sojourn had
made its capital somewhat of a study; but there was much yet for both of
them to learn.

The population of New York was more varied in its elements than that of
almost any other of the provinces, and had to be cautiously studied. The
New Yorkers were of a mixed origin, and stamped with the peculiarities of
their respective ancestors. The descendants of the old Dutch and Huguenot
families, the earliest settlers, were still among the soundest and best of
the population. They inherited the love of liberty, civil and religious, of
their forefathers, and were those who stood foremost in the present
struggle for popular rights. Such were the Jays, the Bensons, the Beekmans,
the Hoffmans, the Van Hornes, the Roosevelts, the Duyckinks, the Pintards,
the Yateses, and others whose names figure in the patriotic documents of
the day. Some of them, doubtless, cherished a remembrance of the time when
their forefathers were lords of the land, and felt an innate propensity to
join in resistance to the government by which their supremacy had been
overturned. A great proportion of the more modern families, dating from the
downfall of the Dutch government in 1664, were English and Scotch, and
among these were many loyal adherents to the crown. Then there was a
mixture of the whole, produced by the intermarriages of upwards of a
century, which partook of every shade of character and sentiment. The
operations of foreign commerce, and the regular communications with the
mother country through packets and ships of war, kept these elements in
constant action, and contributed to produce that mercurial temperament,
that fondness for excitement, and proneness to pleasure, which
distinguished them from their neighbors on either side--the austere
Puritans of New England, and the quiet "Friends" of Pennsylvania.

There was a power, too, of a formidable kind within the interior of the
province, which was an object of much solicitude. This was the "Johnson
Family." We have repeatedly had occasion to speak of Sir William Johnson,
his majesty's general agent for Indian affairs, of his great wealth, and
his almost sovereign sway over the Six Nations. He had originally received
that appointment through the influence of the Schuyler family. Both
Generals Schuyler and Lee, when young men, had campaigned with him; and it
was among the Mohawk warriors, who rallied under his standard, that Lee had
beheld his vaunted models of good-breeding.

In the recent difficulties between the crown and colonies, Sir William had
naturally been in favor of the government which had enriched and honored
him, but he had viewed with deep concern the acts of Parliament which were
goading the colonists to armed resistance. In the height of his solicitude,
he received despatches ordering him, in case of hostilities, to enlist the
Indians in the cause of government. To the agitation of feelings produced
by these orders many have attributed a stroke of apoplexy, of which he
died, on the 11th of July, 1774, about a year before the time of which we
are treating.

His son and heir, Sir John Johnson, and his sons-in-law, Colonel Guy
Johnson and Colonel Claus, felt none of the reluctance of Sir William to
use harsh measures in support of royalty. They lived in a degree of rude
feudal style in stone mansions capable of defence, situated on the Mohawk
River and in its vicinity; they had many Scottish Highlanders for tenants;
and among their adherents were violent men, such as the Butlers of Tryon
County, and Brant, the Mohawk sachem, since famous in Indian warfare. They
had recently gone about with armed retainers, overawing and breaking up
patriotic assemblages, and it was known they could at any time bring a
force of warriors in the field.

Recent accounts stated that Sir John was fortifying the old family hall at
Johnstown with swivels, and had a hundred and fifty Roman Catholic
Highlanders quartered in and about it, all armed and ready to obey his

Colonel Guy Johnson, however, was the most active and zealous of the
family. Pretending to apprehend a design on the part of the New England
people to surprise and carry him off, he fortified his stone mansion on the
Mohawk, called Guy's Park, and assembled there a part of his militia
regiment, and other of his adherents, to the number of five hundred. He
held a great Indian council there, likewise, in which the chiefs of the Six
Nations recalled the friendship and good deeds of the late Sir William
Johnson, and avowed their determination to stand by and defend every branch
of his family.

As yet it was uncertain whether Colonel Guy really intended to take an open
part in the appeal to arms. Should he do so, he would carry with him a
great force of the native tribes, and might almost domineer over the

Tryon, the governor of New York, was at present absent in England, having
been called home by the ministry to give an account of the affairs of the
province, and to receive instructions for its management. He was a tory in
heart, and had been a zealous opponent of all colonial movements, and his
talents and address gave him great influence over an important part of the
community. Should he return with hostile instructions, and should he and
the Johnsons co-operate, the one controlling the bay and harbor of New York
and the waters of the Hudson by means of ships and land forces; the others
overrunning the valley of the Mohawk and the regions beyond Albany with
savage hordes, this great central province might be wrested from the
confederacy, and all intercourse broken off between the eastern and
southern colonies.

All these circumstances and considerations, many of which came under
discussion in the course of this military journey, rendered the command of
New York a post of especial trust and importance, and determined Washington
to confide it to General Schuyler. He was peculiarly fitted for it by his
military talents, his intimate knowledge of the province and its concerns,
especially what related to the upper parts of it, and his experience in
Indian affairs.

At Newark, in the Jerseys, Washington was met on the 25th by a committee of
the provincial Congress, sent to conduct him to the city. The Congress was
in a perplexity. It had in a manner usurped and exercised the powers of
Governor Tryon during his absence, while at the same time it professed
allegiance to the crown which had appointed him. He was now in the harbor,
just arrived from England, and hourly expected to land. Washington, too,
was approaching. How were these double claims to ceremonious respect
happening at the same time to be managed?

In this dilemma a regiment of militia was turned out, and the colonel
instructed to pay military honors to whichever of the distinguished
functionaries should first arrive. Washington was earlier than the governor
by several hours, and received those honors. Peter Van Burgh Livingston,
president of the New York Congress, next delivered a congratulatory
address, the latter part of which evinces the cautious reserve with which,
in these revolutionary times, military power was intrusted to an

"Confiding in you, sir, and in the worthy generals immediately under your
command, we have the most flattering hopes of success in the glorious
struggle for American liberty, and the fullest assurances that _whenever
this important contest shall be decided by that fondest wish of each
American soul, an accommodation with our mother country, you will
cheerfully resign the important deposit committed into your hands, and
reassume the character of our worthiest citizen_."

The following was Washington's reply, in behalf of himself and his
generals, to this part of the address.

"As to the fatal, but necessary operations of war, when we assumed the
soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen; and we shall most sincerely
rejoice with you in that happy hour, when the establishment of American
liberty on the most firm and solid foundations, shall enable us to return
to our private stations, in the bosom of a free, peaceful, and happy

The landing of Governor Tryon took place about eight o'clock in the
evening. The military honors were repeated; he was received with great
respect by the mayor and common council, and transports of loyalty by those
devoted to the crown. It was unknown what instructions he had received from
the ministry, but it was rumored that a large force would soon arrive from
England, subject to his directions. At this very moment a ship of war, the
Asia, lay anchored opposite the city; its grim batteries bearing upon it,
greatly to the disquiet of the faint-hearted among its inhabitants.

In this situation of affairs Washington was happy to leave such an
efficient person as General Schuyler in command of the place. According to
his instructions, the latter was to make returns once a month, and oftener,
should circumstances require it, to Washington, as commander-in-chief, and
to the Continental Congress, of the forces under him, and the state of his
supplies; and to send the earliest advices of all events of importance. He
was to keep a wary eye on Colonel Guy Johnson, and to counteract any
prejudicial influence he might exercise over the Indians. With respect to
Governor Tryon, Washington hinted at a bold and decided line of conduct.
"If forcible measures are judged necessary respecting the person of the
governor, I should have no difficulty in ordering them, if the Continental
Congress were not sitting; but as that is the case, _and the seizing of a
governor quite a new thing_, I must refer you to that body for

Had Congress thought proper to direct such a measure, Schuyler certainly
would have been the man to execute it.

At New York, Washington had learned all the details of the battle of
Bunker's Hill; they quickened his impatience to arrive at the camp. He
departed, therefore, on the 26th, accompanied by General Lee, and escorted
as far as Kingsbridge, the termination of New York Island, by Markoe's
Philadelphia light horse, and several companies of militia.

In the mean time the provincial Congress of Massachusetts, then in session
at Watertown, had made arrangements for the expected arrival of Washington.
According to a resolve of that body, the president's house in Cambridge,
excepting one room reserved by the president for his own use, was to be
taken, cleared, prepared, and furnished for the reception of the
Commander-in-Chief and General Lee. The Congress had likewise sent on a
deputation which met Washington at Springfield, on the frontiers of the
province, and provided escorts and accommodations for him along the road.
Thus honorably attended from town to town, and escorted by volunteer
companies and cavalcades of gentlemen, he arrived at Watertown on the 2d of
July, where he was greeted by Congress with a congratulatory address, in
which, however, was frankly stated the undisciplined state of the army he
was summoned to command. An address of cordial welcome was likewise made to
General Lee.

The ceremony over, Washington was again in the saddle; and, escorted by a
troop of light horse and a cavalcade of citizens, proceeded to the
head-quarters provided for him at Cambridge, three miles distant. As he
entered the confines of the camp the shouts of the multitude and the
thundering of artillery gave note to the enemy beleaguered in Boston of his

His military reputation had preceded him and excited great expectations.
They were not disappointed. His personal appearance, notwithstanding the
dust of travel, was calculated to captivate the public eye. As he rode
through the camp, amidst a throng of officers, he was the admiration of the
soldiery and of a curious throng collected from the surrounding country.
Happy was the countryman who could get a full view of him to carry home an
account of it to his neighbors. "I have been much gratified this day with a
view of General Washington," writes a contemporary chronicler, "His
excellency was on horseback, in company with several military gentlemen. It
was not difficult to distinguish him from all others. He is tall and
well-proportioned, and his personal appearance truly noble and majestic."
[Footnote: Thacher.--Military Journal.]

The fair sex were still more enthusiastic in their admiration, if we may
judge from the following passage of a letter written by the intelligent and
accomplished wife of John Adams to her husband: "Dignity, ease, and
complacency, the gentleman and the soldier, look agreeably blended in him.
Modesty marks every line and feature of his face. Those lines of Dryden
instantly occurred to me:

'Mark his majestic fabric! He's a temple
Sacred by birth, and built by hands divine;
His soul's the deity that lodges there;
Nor is the pile unworthy of the God.'"

With Washington, modest at all times, there was no false excitement on the
present occasion; nothing to call forth emotions of self-glorification. The
honors and congratulations with which he was received, the acclamations of
the public, the cheerings of the army, only told him how much was expected
from him; and when he looked round upon the raw and rustic levies he was to
command, "a mixed multitude of people, under very little discipline, order,
or government," scattered in rough encampments about hill and dale,
beleaguering a city garrisoned by veteran troops, with ships of war
anchored about its harbor, and strong outposts guarding it, he felt the
awful responsibility of his situation, and the complicated and stupendous
task before him. He spoke of it, however, not despondingly nor boastfully
and with defiance; but with that solemn and sedate resolution, and that
hopeful reliance on Supreme Goodness, which belonged to his magnanimous
nature. The cause of his country, he observed, had called him to an active
and dangerous duty, but _he trusted that Divine Providence, which wisely
orders the affairs of men, would enable him to discharge it with fidelity
and success_. [Footnote: Letter to Governor Trumbull.--Sparks, iii.,


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