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All were fully alive to the pecuniary advantage of capturing a merchantman or cutting off a convoy. Hence their service was of the most efficient; the British merchant marine suffered seriously, as did the military transports bearing troops, arms, ammunition, and supplies to the British army in America. The double advantage of depriving the royal army of needed munitions and of obtaining the same to relieve the desperate straits of the Americans was keenly felt by Congress, and the privateersmen reaped abundant reward for their services. Their captures, too, constantly strengthened their own fleet and enabled the colonies to lay the foundation of a navy.
Congress also took steps to provide for the better arming and equip. ment of its army, and for meeting the problem of re-enlistment-one scarcely less serious or difficult. To thoroughly appreciate the mistakes of army organization that began with the war and were never entirely rectified, it is necessary to appreciate that, until nearly the middle of the year 1776, the idea of independence as the ultimate object of the war had not gained ground among the better class of Americans. When arms were first taken up it was with no other object than to resist the asserted right to tax the colonies. The leaders of the people from the first regarded an accommodation of the difficulty as the highest and best thing to be hoped for, provided such an accommodation were obtained with no sacrifice of honor or principle.
Even when the batteries at Boston were thundering at each other: when the dead of king and colonies were buried; when wounded groaned in the hospitals and prisoners languished in jails, the Continental Congress appointed a day of fasting and prayer, one of the objects of which was to implore the Almighty "to bless our rightful sovereign, King George III., and inspire him with wisdom.” The spirit which induced this dedication gives a clue to the cause of the fundamental error of enlisting men, not for the period during which their services should be required, or for a long and definite term, but for one year. From the outset of his service at Cambridge until late in the war, Washington was compelled each year to raise and reduce to discipline a new army, thus crippling himself and damaging the cause of the colonies beyond computation.
Matters in and before Boston remained in a state of unbroker. quiet until late in August, when, a somewhat better organization having been effected, and the supply of ammunition being increased, Washington determined that he would, if possible, provoke a sortie. To this end he detached a force of fourteen hundred men, and during the night seized and fortified a height on Charlestown neck, within musket shot of the enemy's lines. At daybreak the astonished British, discovering the American battery, opened a heavy cannonading from Bunker's hill, but kept behind their defenses, and did little damage. The Americans had not sufficient ammunition to
warrant them in engaging in an artillery duel, and worked busily in strengthening their works, only answering the fire of the enemy with an occasional shot from a nine pounder. A ball from one of these sunk a British floating battery, but the expedient was fruitless in provoking an engagement.
esty of France would have been sooner enlisted, and the war of Indepen.
CHAPTER XI. FIRST CANADIAN CAMPAIGN-EVACUATION OF BOSTON. HE scope of this work will not permit of closely following the move
ments of the war, save as they directly involved and affected the fortunes of the commander in chief. Active operations had at this time been commenced in the North, and, with varying fortune, these were continued until, at one time, Canada seemed in the grasp of the colonies. Fort Ticonderoga had been surprised and captured by Allen; Crown Point, and, in fact, Lake Champlain, were in the hands of the colonists. The rivalry of Arnold and Greene had resulted in an advantage for Arnold and in his remaining in command at Ticonderoga.
To fully appreciate the condition of affairs, it should be remembered that Canada was a recently conquered territory of Great Britain; that the old French population was perforce submissive—not loyal; that the settlement of English and Scotch had only laid the foundation for the British population and spirit of a century later. The old forts and garrisons had been kept up, and the mission of reconciliation and peace was then preached by England, as later in India and Zululand, with cannon and muskets to emphasize its arguments. In other words, England's tenure of Canada was but little more than an armed occupation. Under these circum. stances, the desirability of attaching native Canadians to the cause of the revolting colonies was obvious, and at once attracted the attention of Washington and others. Nor was it so difficult an operation. The results of the expeditions undertaken clearly prove that, with little more adequate means, even with the slender force employed, had circumstances been more favorable, Canada would have passed from British control; the guns and defences of the chain of forts from Detroit to Quebec, would have been turned against the king; the sympathy and assistance of His Most Christian Maj
dence must have been more speedily terminated.