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view of the state of the country, and of the condition of the army.
As a means to repel the encroachments of the British Parliament, the American merchants had generally entered into resolutions, not to import ar. ticles of merchandise from Great Britain ; and at the commencement of the war, the country was, in a great degree, destitute of ammunition, and of
every material necessary to clothe an army, and furnish the men with tents.
There were no considerable magazines of provisions, and few tools suitable for the work of fortification. The men who composed the army were raised by different States, on short inlistments, and on different establishments ; and they carried into the camp, the feelings and habits formed by their respective pursuits in private life. They were animated by the love of liberty, and possessed the resolution and bravery of hardy yeomanry ; but they could not easily be brought to submit to the rigid rules of military subordination and discipline. The authority of Congress and of different Colonies, was blended in all the arrangements of the army. These causes occasioned numerous and complicated embarrassments to the Commander in Chief.
The appointment of General WASHINGTON was universally approved. On his journey to head quarters, he met with the most affectionate attention, and received the fullest assurances of assistance and support. He was escorted by companies of respectable volunteers; and, at Springfield, an hundred miles from Boston, a Committee of the Congress of Massachusetts met, and attended him to Cambridge.
On his arrival, that body presented him a 1775. respectful address, in which they expressed their entire satisfaction with his appointment, and pledged the most effectual cooperation with his measures, in their power. His answer was well calculated to increase the attachments to his person, and the confidence in his talents, which the publick already entertained.
“Gentlemen, your kind congratulations on my appointment and arrival, demand my warmest acknowledgments, and will ever be retained in grateful remembrance. In exchanging the enjoy. ment of domestick life, for the duties of my presént honourable, but arduous situation, I only emulate the virtue and publick spirit of the whole Province of Massachusetts, which, with a firmness and patriotism without an example, has sacrificed all the comforts of social and political life, in sup
of the rights of mankind, and the welfare of our common country. My highest ambition is to be the happy instrument of vindicating these rights, and to see this devoted Province again restored to peace, liberty and safety.'
The British army, at this time, commanded by General Gage, was strongly posted in three divisions; on Bunker's Hill, a mile from the ferry of Charles's River, on Cop's Hill, in Boston, and on Roxbury neck. These fortified posts secured the isthmus of Boston, and that of Charlestown, the only avenues by land into those towns. . Floating batteries and armed ships, stationed in the waters which surround Boston, supported the positions
of the British, and kept open the communication between them.
The American army was posted at Roxbury, Cambridge, and on Winter and Prospect Hills, in front of Bunker's Hill. These positions formed a crescent of twelve miles in extent. After reconnoi. tring the situation of the enemy, and examining the state of his own army, the General attempted a better organization of the troops. He formed them into three divisions ; the division at Roxbury formed the right wing of the army, and was commanded by Gen. Ward ; the division on Prospect and Winter Hills, composed the left wing, and was commanded by Gen. Lee; and the troops at Cambridge formed the centre, and were commanded by Gen. WASH. INGTON in person. The forces were deemed incompetent to defend this extended camp, but the situation of the country did not favour a more compact arrangement ; nor could the neighbouring country be otherwise defended from the depredations of the enemy.
These positions were secured by lines and forts; and a few companies of men were posted in the towns, around Boston Bay, most exposed to annoy. ance by British armed vessels.
General WASHINGTON found himself embarrassed by the total want of system in every department of the army. In the execution of the duties of his commission, it became necessary to open a correspondence, not only with the Continental Con. gress, and with most of the Governments of the Colonies, but also with the Committees of all those
towns which furnished supplies for the army. In a letter to Congress on this subject, he observes,
“ I should be extremely deficient of gratitude, as well as justice, if I did not take the first opportunity to acknowledge the readiness and attention which the Congress, and the different Committees have shewn, to make every thing as convenient and agreeable as possible ; but there is a vital and inherent principle of delay, incompatible with military service, in transacting business through such various and different channels. I esteem it my duty, therefore, to represent the inconvenience that must unavoidably ensue from a dependence on a number of persons for supplies, and submit it to the consideration of Congress, whether the publick service will not be the best promoted by appointing a Commissary General for the purpose."
An inquiry into the state of the magazine of powder, was among the first cares of Gen. WASHINGTON, and three hundred and three barrels in store was the return made to him. Soon after he discovered, that this return embraced the whole quantity brought into camp, without deducting what had been expended; and that there remained on hand, only sufficient to furnish the army with nine cartridges a man. While the greatest caution was used to keep this alarming fact a secret, the utmost exertions were employed to obtain a supply of this article of absolute necessity in war. Application was made to all the Colonics, and measures were adopt. ed, to import powder into the country. The imme. diate danger was soon removed by an arrival of a small quantity, sent from Elizabethtown, in New Jersey. Under the perplexities which arose from the defect of arms, the want of clothing and magazines, fron: the want of engineers, and from the confused state of the staff department, the mind of Gen. WASHINGTON was, in some measure, cheered by a view of the men who composed his troops. “ It requires,” says he, in a letter to the President of Congress, “no military skill to judge of the difficulty of introducing proper discipline and subordination into an army, while we have the enemy in view, and are daily in expectation of an attack ; but it is of so much importance, that every effort will be made that time and circumstances will admit. In the mean time, I have a sincere pleasure in observing that there are materials for a good army; a great number of able bodied men, active, zealous in the cause, and of unquestionable. courage.” The details of the departments of the Pay. master, Quartermaster and Commissary, fell upon Gen. WASHINGTON, and he urged Congress to fill them. Being himself authorised to make the ap. pointments, he called to his assistance the general staff, which is necessary for the regular support and expeditious movements of an army ; and assiduously prosecuted plans to organize and disciplin