Washington, George, 1732-1799. The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 4
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To LANDON CARTER Cambridge, March 25, 1776.

    Dear Sir: I have been honoured with your favour of the 20th. Ultimo, and although I might intrench myself behind the parade of great business, with as much propriety as most Men, yet I shall neither avail myself of it, nor be debarred the pleasure


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of making this address in testimony of your kind remembrance, and the favourable sentiments you are pleased to express of me.

    To give you a detail of my distresses, on acct. of Powder, Arms, and other Articles of almost equal importance in the Military arrangement, would afford little amusement to you; no profit to me. I shall therefore pass them over, and inform you, that having received a small supply of Powder (very inadequate to our wants) I resolved to take possession of Dorchester point, laying East of Boston, looking directly into it, and commanding absolutely the Enemy's Lines on the Neck. To effect this (which I knew would force the Enemy to an engagement or make the Town too hot for them) it was necessary, in the first instance, to possess two heights (those mentioned in General Burgoyne's Letter to Lord Stanley in his account of the Battle on Bunker's Hill) which had the entire command of this point the Ground being froze upwards of two feet deep and as impenetrable as a Rock, nothing could be attempted with Earth. We were obliged therefore to provide an amazing quantity of Chandeliers, Fascines &c. for the Work, and on the Night of the 4th., after a severe, and heavy Cannonade and bombardment of the Town, the three preceding Nights, to divert the Enemy's attention from our real object, we carried them on under cover of darkness and took full possession of those heights without the loss of a single Man. Upon their discovering of it next Morning, great preparations were made for attacking us; but not being ready before the afternoon, and the Weather getting very tempestuous much Blood was saved, and a very important blow (to one side or the other) prevented. That this remarkable interposition of Providence is for some wise purpose, I have no doubt; but as the principal design of the manoeuvre was to draw the Enemy to an engagement


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under disadvantages; as a premeditated Plan was laid for this purpose, and seemed to be succeeding to my utmost wish, and as no Men seemed better disposed to make the appeal than ours did upon that occasion, I can scarce forbear lamenting the disappointment. However, the Enemy, thinking (as we have since learnt) that we had got too formidably posted before the second Morning to be much hurt by them, and apprehending great annoyance from our Works, resolved upon a precipitate Retreat, and accordingly embarked in as much hurry, and as much confusion as ever Troops did, the 17th. Instant, not having got their Transports half fitted, and leaving King's property in Boston, to the Amount, as is supposed, of Thirty, or £40,000 in Provisions, Stores, &c. &c. Many pieces of Cannon, some Mortars, and a number of Shot, Shells, &c. &c. are also left; Their Baggage Waggons, Artillery Carts, &c. which they have been eighteen Months and more preparing, were destroyed; thrown into the Docks, and found drifted on every Shore. In short, Dunbar's destruction of Stores after General Braddock's Defeat, was but a faint resemblance of what we found here.

    The Enemy now lie in Nantasket Road (about 5 Miles below Boston) where and in King's Road, they have been ever since their embarkation. How to account for their stay there, I know not; The Inhabitants of Boston think it is to arrange the lading of the Transports which were thrown in, in such disorder as to render it unsafe to put to Sea 'till a new regulation should take place; others think they mean to pass over the Equinoctial Gales before they put to Sea. But it is a doubt with me whether they may not be waiting an opening (now they have got their whole force collected; no posts to Guard, and as I understand a reinforcement from the West Indies) to retrieve the honour of their Army which seems, in the general Opinion of People here, to have undergone some disgrace in this precipitate Retreat.


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    They have left all their Works standing on Bunker's Hill &c. and very formidable they are. Boston has shared a much better fate than could possibly be expected; the damage done to the Houses being nothing equal to report. We are now in full possession of the Town and are fortifying the Harbour to prevent a Return, if they should incline to it.

    As New York is the most important object they can have in view, on account of its command of Hudson's River leading into Canada, and separating the Northern and Southern Colonies, it appeared necessary for me to take measures to secure it, and, therefore, I detached Six Regiments instantly to that place; and, as soon as I see the Coast clear, shall follow immediately with the rest of the Army, leaving a few Regiments for the security of this Government and for executing such Works as are laid out for the defence of Boston and the Harbour. I am, &c.