January. - AT the precise period when my medical studies and education are completed, under the patronage of Dr. Abner Hersey of Barnstable, and I am contemplating the commencement of a new career in life, I find our country about to be involved in all the horrors of a civil war. A series of arbitrary and oppressive measures, on the part of the mother-country, has long been advancing to that awful crisis, when an appeal to the power of the sword becomes inevitable. The event of this mighty struggle is to decide an affair of infinite magnitude, not merely as it respects the present generation, but as it will affect the welfare and happiness of unborn millions. The great fundamental principle, in the present controversy, is the right which is claimed by the Parliament of Great Britain, to exercise dominion, as the only supreme and uncontrollable legislative power over all the American Colonies. "Can they make laws to bind the colonies in all cases whatever; levy taxes on them without their consent; dispose of the revenues, thus raised, without their control; multiply officers at pleasure, and assign them fees, to be paid without, nay, contrary to and in direct violation of acts of our provincial assemblies, and approved by the crown? Can they enlarge the power of admiralty courts; divert the usual channels of justice; deprive the colonists of trial by a jury of their countrymen; in short break down the barriers which their forefathers have erected against arbitrary power, and enforce their edicts by fleets and armies?" Then indeed are we reduced to a state of abject slavery; and all resistance to acts of Parliament may justly be called by the name of treason and rebellion. "The people of these colonies consider themselves as British subjects, entitled to all the rights and privileges of Freemen. It is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people, and the undoubted right of Englishmen, that no taxes be imposed on them but with their own consent, given personally or by their representatives. From their local circumstances, the colonies cannot be represented in the house of commons of Great Britain; the only representatives of the people of the colonies are the persons chosen therein by themselves; and no taxes ever can be constitutionally imposed on them, but by their respective legislatures." All acts of Parliament therefore, for raising a revenue in America, are considered as depriving us of our property, without our consent, and consequently as a palpable infringement of our ancient rights and privileges. They are unconstitutional and arbitrary laws, subversive of the liberties and privileges secured to us, by our royal charters. It is not consistent with the principles which actuate the American, people, ever tamely to submit to such a degrading system of government; not, however, from a want of loyalty to our king, nor from an undue impatience of subordination or legal restraint; for in a quiet submission and demeanor to constitutional authority, and in zeal and attachment to our king, we dare to vie with any of our fellow-subjects of Great Britain; but it is an innate love of liberty, and our just rights, that impels us to the arduous struggle. In no country, it is asserted, is the love of liberty more deeply rooted, or the knowledge of the rights inherent to freemen more generally diffused, or better understood, than among the British American Colonies. Our religious and political privileges are derived from our virtuous fathers; they were inhaled with our earliest breath; and are, and will I trust ever be, implanted and cherished in the bosom of the present and future generations. These are the prevalent sentiments in New England at this eventful crisis, and all the other provinces, Georgia excepted, are known; to be in unison with us in the resolution, to oppose with all our power every violation of our just rights and privileges. We are not, however, authorized, even in the most glorious of causes, to expect a perfect unanimity among a people. Numerous are the springs of men's actions; and diversity of sentiment and views are characteristic of human nature. Accordingly we find a small minority in our country who are inimical to the common cause, an who are continually opposing every proceeding of the majority. These people are doubtless actuated by various motives; a few, comparatively, influenced by principle; some by a spirit of timidity, or the absurd doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance; others, from the strength of their passions, and weakness of judgment, are biassed and led astray by designing demagogues. There are, however, those who are vile enough to prostrate all honor and principle with the sordid view of office and preferment:
T' espouse that cause by which they eat and drink"
Those disaffected individuals, who still adhere to the royal cause, have received the epithet of Tories; the very name is extremely abhorrent to the people in general, and they are subjected to such rigorous discipline as to prevent them from doing injury to the great cause of our country. The great majority of the people are happily united. in the resolution to oppose, to the uttermost, the wicked attempts of the English cabinet. This class of people have assumed the appellation of Whigs; but by our enemies are stigmatized by the name of Rebels. If, as we affirm, the British government have ceased to rule agreeably to the principles of our constitution, and our royal charter, and have assumed to themselves the high prerogative of despotic sway, then are we absolved from our allegiance and duties as British subjects. A contract abrogated by one party, can no longer be binding on the other. If we are menaced with royal power and authority, we justify ourselves in defending our indefeasible rights against desotism and tyrannical oppression. Cowards alone will bend to unjust power, and slaves and sycophants only will yield both soul and body to the disposal of tyrannical masters. Should our efforts, under God, be crowned with the desired success, we shall obtain the honor of rescuing ourselves and posterity from vassalage; but if compelled to succumb under royal power, then will ours be the rebel's fate, the scaffold and the gibbet will be glutted with their devoted victims. We cannot justly be accused of a rash precipitance of proceeding; for petitions and memorials, couched in the most loyal and humble language, have been at various periods presented to our royal sovereign, and his parliament, praying for a redress of grievances; but they are deaf to all our complaints and supplications, and the coercive arm of Power is suspended over us, threatening implacable vengeance.
Among the odious acts of the British Parliament they passed one which imposed a duty on the article of tea, and several cargoes of this commodity were shipped to America to obtain the duty and a market. On the arrival of the tea ships at Boston great indignation was excited among the people; town meetings were called to devise some legal measures to prohibit the landing of the odious article. It was universally understood that if the tea was once landed and stored, it would by some means come to a market, and the duty to the government be secured. In order to defeat this object a number of persons in disguise entered the ships at the wharves, broke open three hundred and forty-two chests of tea, and discharged their contents into the water at the dock. This was on the 16th December, 1773. When intelligence of this summary proceeding reached England, it was condemned by the government as enormously criminal. They menaced our province with the most exemplary vengeance, and Parliament soon passed the Boston Vindictive Port Bill as a part of their coercive system, so that merely the name of tea is now associated with ministerial grievances, and tea drinking is almost tantamount to an open avowal of toryism. Those who are anxious to avoid the odious epithet of enemies to their country, strictly prohibit the use of tea in their families, and the most squeamish ladies are compelled to have recourse to substitutes, or secretly steal indulgence in their favorite East India beverage.
March. - For the purpose of enforcing submission to the cruel mandates of the royal government, a reinforcement of the British army has arrived at Boston and General Gage is appointed Governor and Commander in Chief. An armed fleet also occupies the harbor; and the whole port is closed against all but British vessels. In short, the horrors of civil war seem stalking, with rapid strides, towards our devoted country. The people have resorted to the expediency of abolishing all the courts of justice under the new regulations; In our shire towns the populace have collected in sufficient numbers to bar the doors of the court houses, and prohibit the entrance of judges and officers; the jurors are so intimidated, or zealous in the good cause, that in general they refuse to take the oath, or to act in any manner under the new modification of government; and the clerks of courts, who have issued warrants by which the jurors are summoned, have in many instances been compelled to acknowledge their contrition, and to publish in the the newspapers, a full recantation. At the regular term of the Court of Common Pleas at Barnstable in September last, I witnessed the following prompt procedure. A body of about twelve hundred men assembled and obstructed the passage to the court-house door. The leader of this assemblage was Dr. Nathaniel Freeman, a bold son of liberty of Sandwich. Colonel James Otis, the chief justice of the court, preceded by the sheriff, approached; and the venerable chief justice demanded admission. Dr. Freeman replied that it was the intention of the people to prevent the court's being opened to exercise those unconstitutional powers with which they are invested by Parliament. The chief justice, in his majesty's name, commanded them to disperse, and permit the court to enter and proceed to business. But his majesty's name had lost its power; it can have no charms with the sons of liberty. The venerable judge then said he had acquitted himself of his duty, and retired. This proceeding had been discussed and concerted prior to the court term; and Colonel Otis himself, a stanch whig, was, it is believed, not only apprized of, but actually acquiesced in, this bold measure. This excellent man is now advanced to about seventy-four years in life; he is considered as possessing sound sense and good judgment; and as being of the purest integrity. He has been,, for many years, the leading law character in the Old Colony, and a member of his majesty's council of the province; but his patriotism and zeal in the cause of our country have rendered him and his family exceedingly odious to Governor Hutchinson and other adherents of the crown. Colonel Otis is the parent of that great champion, and able advocate for liberty and the rights of man, James Otis, jun. Esq. This gentleman is now in a melancholy state of mental derangement; and all New England is deploring the irreparable loss of the talents, eloquence, and patriotic services of this justly celebrated character. Colonel Otis has two other sons, Joseph and Samuel Allen Otis, who are active whigs; and a daughter, married to James Warren, Esq. of Plymouth, who is now President of our provincial Congress. Though no judicial courts are in existence, few crimes are committed; all is peace, order and regularity. The people are their own rulers, and never was there less need of penal laws. Trivial disputes are mutually adjusted or decided by reference; pecuniary demands are suspended, and the simple recommendations of Congress, and of our committees of safety, receive that cheerful acquiescence which is scornfully denied to the coercive edicts emanating from despotic power, For
That slaves, howe'er contented, never know."
We have a provincial Congress in session at Concord, consisting of delegates elected by the people, and also a grand Continental Congress at Philadelphia, composed of characters highly distinguished for political wisdom, rigid patriotism and public virtue.
The public indignation is now greatly excited by the following shameful transaction. The people from the country, whose business called them into Boston, were suspected by the officers of purchasing guns from their soldiers. In order to furnish an opportunity to inflict punishment and to raise occasion for a serious quarrel, Lieutenant Colonel Nesbit of the forty-seventh regiment ordered a soldier to offer a countryman. an old rusty musket. A man from Billerica was caught by this bait, and purchased the gun for three dollars. The unfortunate man was immediately seized by Nesbit, and confined in the guard-house all night. Early next morning they stripped him entirely naked, covered him over with warm tar, and then with feathers, placed him on a cart; and conducted him through the streets as far as liberty-tree, where the. people began to collect in vast numbers; and the military, fearing, for their own safety dismissed the man and retreated to their barracks. The party consisted of about thirty grenadiers with fixed bayonets, twenty drums and fifes playing the Rogues' March, headed by the redoubtable Nesbit with a drawn sword! What an honorable deed for a British field officer and grenadiers! The selectmen of Billerica remonstrated with General Gage respecting this outrage, but obtained no satisfaction.
April 21st.-Intelligence is now received that the British regulars have marched out of Boston, and actually commenced hostilities against our people at Lexington. For the purpose of ascertaining the particular facts, I have been desired to wait on Colonel Otis, at his mansion in this town. It was in the evening, when I found, this dignified patriot in his easy-chair, with several of his neighbors listening with agitated spirits to some account of this first most awful tragedy. The good old gentleman had received a letter containing a statement of some particulars and with manifest trepidationhe said to this effect: " The British troops marched to Lexington and Concord last Wednesday, the 19th instant, for the purpose of destroying some of our military stores; our militia collected and met them at Lexington; the regulars soon commenced firing on them; our people returned the fire; a smart skirmish ensued, and several men were killed on both sides. The British were compelled to retreat, in some confusion, to Boston; and our people pursued and harassed them. The fearful day has arrived! a civil war has actually commenced. in our land. We must be prepared for the worst, and may God preserve and protect our country." This tragical event seems to have electrified all classes of people; the brave are fired with manly resentment, the timid overwhelmed in despair; the patriotic whigs sorrowing over public calamities, while the tories indulge the secret hope, that the friends of liberty are about to receive their chastisement. The sword is now unsheathed, and our friends are slaughtered by our cruel enemies; expresses are hastening from town to town, in all directions through the country, spreading the melancholy tidings and inspiriting and rousing the people To Arms! Arms! The people of New England have taken the alarm, and their hearts are animated even to enthusiasm. There is an enthusiasm in religion, in politics, in military achievements, and in gallantry and love, and why not an enthusiasm in the love of country? No species of enthusiasm surely can be more laudable, or more honorable. Never was a cause more just, more sacred than ours; we are commanded to defend the rich inheritance bequeathed to us by our virtuous ancestors; and it is our bounden duty to transmit it uncontaminated to posterity; we must fight valiantly therefore, for our lives and property, for our holy religion, for our honor, and for our dearest friends. We are not born to be slaves, and are resolved to live and die free; appealing to the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe for the justice of our cause, and relying on his Almighty arm for protection and support. A certain number of active men, in every town, have formed themselves into military companies, under the name of minute-men; they are daily practising the manual exercise, and are held in constant readiness to march against the enemy at a moment's warning. We await with trembling expectation the issue of every hour.
Authenticated accounts are now received of the battle at Lexington. On Tuesday evening, 18th instant, General Gage despatched, with as much secrecy as possible, a detachment consisting of eight or nine hundred regulars, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, for the purpose of destroying some military stores which our people had deposited at Concord, about eighteen miles from Boston. Having arrived at Lexington, six miles short of Concord, they were met by a company of militia, of about one hundred men, who, having taken the alarm, began to assemble from different towns before daylight. They were assembled near the church, about sunrise; when the British advanced in quick march to within a few rods, Major Pitcairn called out, "Disperse, you Rebels! throw down your arms and disperse." Their small number would not admit of opposition, and while they were dispersing, the regulars huzzaed, and immediately one or two pistols were fired by the officers, and four or five muskets by the soldiers; then a pretty general discharge from the whole party followed, by which eight of our people were killed and seven wounded. The British now renewed their march to Concord, where they destroyed a few articles of stores and sixty barrels of flour. Here they were met by about one hundred and fifty militia-men, on whom they fired, and killed two and wounded others. Our militia and minute-men were now collecting in considerable numbers, and being justly enraged they made a bold and furious attack on the enemy, and drove them in quick march to Lexington. General Gage having received intelligence of the critical situation of his troops, immediately ordered out Lord Percy, with a large reinforcement, with two field pieces. He marched over the neck through Roxbury, his music playing by way of contempt and derision the tune of " Yankee doodle." This timely reinforcement joined the party under command of Colonel Smith at Lexington, which formed a force of about eighteen hundred men. They soon deemed it prudent to commence their march to Boston, the provincial militia and minute-men, continually increasing in numbers, pursued and flanked them with the hope of cutting off their retreat. A constant skirmishing ensued; the provincials concealed themselves behind stone walls, and with a sure aim thinned their enemies' ranks, and occasioned among them great confusion. On their side, they could only keep up a scattering fire, without effect, frequently firing over the stone walls, when there was not a man to be seen behind them. The great object of the British was to effect a safe retreat to Boston; but, to avenge themselves, they burnt and plundered houses, destroyed property, and actually murdered several innocent unarmed persons. The situation of the king's forces was, during the day, extremely hazardous; and it is considered wonderful that any of them escaped. Worn down and almost exhausted with fatigue, and their ammunition nearly expended, they had become nearly defenceless when they reached Charlestown, in the evening after a loss of two hundred and seventy-three men, killed, wounded and prisoners. The loss on the side of the Provincials is eighty-eight in the whole. The British officers have received a specimen of Yankee courage, which they have hitherto affected to hold in the most sovereign contempt; they have ascertained, by fatal experience, that the people of New England will bid defiance to their veteran regulars, and fight courageously in defence of their rights. It is truly said to be matter of astonishment and chagrin, that after all their glorying, their veteran troops have been compelled to flee before a comparatively small number of undisciplined Yankees. The origin of this term, so frequently employed by way of reproach to the New England people, is said to be as follows: A farmer, by name Jonathan Hastings, of Cambridge, about the year 1713, used it as a cant, favorite word, to express excellency when applied to any thing; as a Yankee good horse, Yankee cider, &c., meaning an excellent horse and excellent cider. The students at college, having frequent intercourse with Mr. Hastings, and hearing him employ the term on all occasions, adopted it themselves, and gave him the name of Yankee Jonathan; this soon became a cant word among the collegians to express a weak, simple, awkward person, and from college it was carried and circulated through the country, till, from its currency in New England, it was at length taken up and unjustly applied to the New Englanders in common, as a term of reproach. It was in consequence "of this that a particular song, called " Yankee doodle," was composed in derision of those scornfully called Yankees (There appears some incongruity in the above definition of the word Yankee. The following is supposed by some to be the origin from which it is derived: " Yankee is the Indian corruption of English. Yenglees, Yangles, Yankles, and finally Yankee.")
May. - Since the catastrophe at Lexington, our Provincial Congress have addressed the several towns of the colony in a circular letter, in the following impressive language: "We conjure you by all that is dear, by all that is sacred, that you give all assistance possible in forming the army. Our all is at stake. Death and devastation are the certain consequences of delay. Every moment is infinitely precious. An hour lost may deluge your country in blood, and entail perpetual slavery on the few of your posterity who may survive the carnage. We beg and entreat, as you will answer it to your country, to your consciences, and, above all, as you will answer it to God himself that you will hasten and encourage, by all possible means, the enlistment of men to form the army, and send them forward to head-quarters at Cambridge, with that expedition which the vast importance and instant urgency of the affair demands."
It is scarcely possible to describe the zeal and military ardor which pervades New England since the battle at Lexington. It is supposed that nearly forty thousand men have been in arms with the design of investing the town of Boston, and avenging themselves on the enemy for their late slaughter of our brethren. The universal voice is "starve them out." Drive them from the town, and let his majesty's ships be their only place of refuge. Our Provincial Congress have resolved that an army of thirty thousand men be immediately raised and established. A considerable number have already enlisted, and being formed into regiments, have taken their station at Cambridge and Roxbury. The country militia, in great numbers, have arrived from various parts of New England; and the town of Boston is now invested on all sides, and thus is the whole royal army reduced to the humble condition of a besieged garrison. The situation of the inhabitants is deplorable; a considerable proportion of the most affluent have removed into the country; but others, from various circumstances, are compelled to remain and suffer all the calamities of a besieged town and precarious subsistence. Instances indeed are not wanting of members of families being torn from each other, women and children flying from their husbands and parents, under the most afflictive and destitute circumstances.
We are now experiencing a singular kind of
interregnum in our province; more than a year has elapsed with
out any legal government, or any regular administration of law
and justice.-No crimes, however, of an atrocious nature have,
we believe, been perpetrated; all classes of people appear to
be submissive, under the influence of the principles of moral
rectitude and common justice; and the resolutions and recommendations
of Congress have all the weight and efficacy of laws. Our domestic
tranquillity is in some measure interrupted by a restless spirit
among the tories; but the great body of the community are actuated
by the glorious cause of our country's freedom. The maxim adopted
by our enemies is, "Divide and conquer." We enjoin
the command, "Unite and be invincible." It is considered
infinitely important to encourage and promote a more perfect
union among the colonies, and harmony and unanimity among the
people. "Liberty or death," " Unite or die,"
are the mottoes which blazon the chronicles of the day, and embellish
the military standards of almost every militia company. The man
who does not acquiesce in the theme of liberty is marked by the
vigilant eye of suspicion, or stigmatized as an enemy to his
country. Liberty-poles are erected in almost every town and village;
and when a disaffected tory renders himself odious, by any active
conduct, with the view of counteracting the public measures,
he is seized by a company of armed men, and conducted to the
liberty-pole, under which he is compelled to sign a recantation,
and give bonds for his future good conduct. In some instances,
of particular stubbornness and obstinacy, individuals have been
imprisoned or their names have been published in the newspapers
as enemies to their country. It has indeed unfortunately happened,
that a few individuals, in consequence of their own indiscretion,
have been the subjects of a more rigorous procedure. Having fallen
into the hands of those whose zeal has transported them beyond
the bounds of moderation, they have received from the rabble
a coat of tar and feathers, and in this predicament have been
exposed to the scoffs and ridicule of the populace. Such examples
have the effect of striking terror into the hearts of all the
disaffected, and of restraining the whole party from acting against
the general sense of the people. The tories make bitter complaints
against the discipline which they receive from the hands of the
whigs; their language is, "You make the air resound with
the cry of liberty, but subject those who differ from you to
the humble condition of slaves, not Permitting us to act, or
even think, according to the dictates of conscience." The
reply is, "It is one of the first principles of a free government,
that the majority shall bear rule; our majority is immensely
large; we have undertaken the hazardous task of defending the
liberties of our country against the mighty power of Great Britian;
and hold ourselves responsible for our conduct. If you possess
not patriotism and courage enough to unite your efforts with
ours, it is our duty to put it out of your power to injure the
common cause. If we are successful, your party and posterity
will participate in the important advantages to be derived from
our efforts. If our party should be crushed, then will yours
in turn become triumphant." A small number of our tories
have abandoned their homes, their families and property, and
resorted to the standard of their royal master in Boston; consoling
themselves in the confident expectation of an ample reward, and
a triumphant restoration. The clergymen of New England are, almost
without exception, advocates of whig principles; there are a
few instances only of the separation of a minister from his people,
in consequence of a disagreement in political sentiment. The
tories censure, in a very illiberal manner, the preacher who
speaks boldly for the liberties of the people, while they lavish
their praises on him who dams to teach the absurd doctrine that
magistrates have a divine right to do wrong, and are to be implicitly
obeyed. It is recommended by our Provincial Congress, that on
other occasions than the Sabbath, ministers of parishes adapt
their discourses to the times, and explain the nature of civil
and religious liberty, and the duties of magistrates and rulers.
Accordingly, we have from our pulpits the most fervent and pious
effusions to the throne of Divine Grace in behalf of our bleeding,
afflicted country. A zealous divine, who has been compelled to
abandon the people of his charge in Boston, on one occasion used,
in the pulpit at P***, the following emphatical language: "Oh
Lord, if our enemies will fight us, let them have fighting
enough. If more soldiers are on their way hither, sink them, 0 Lord, to the bottom of the sea." Every heart seemed ready to respond, "Amen, yea, let them have fighting enough."
June 14th.- General Gage has issued a proclamation declaring the province of Massachusetts Bay to be in a state of rebellion, offering a pardon to all who will resort to his standard, and denouncing the penalty of martial law on all those who refuse to submit to his authority, or who shall be found aiding or corresponding with such as he has designated as unpardonable rebels and traitors. He has been pleased to proscribe by name, Mr. John Hancock and Mr. Samuel Adams, as objects of his exemplary vengeance. Yet, singular as it may appear, this same authorized governor, and general-in-chief of the royal army, is now cooped up in the town of Boston, panting for a country airing, of which he is debarred by his denounced rebels.
We are again shocked by intelligence that a terrible battle has been fought between the British regulars and the American soldiers, on Bunker, or rather Breed's hill, in Charlestown, near Boston, on the 17th instant. The report states that the whole town of Charlestown is burnt to ashes by the enemy, and that Dr. Joseph Warren, lately appointed major-general in our army, is killed; and that several hundreds of our soldiers are killed and wounded. The battle, it is said was extremely severe and destructive; but the provincial troops displayed the greatest courage and bravery, in the face of the regulars, and have obtained immortal honor. The British were several times defeated before they took possession of our works, and have suffered a loss of more than a thousand of their best troops; among whom are a large proportion of their most valuable officers. They are now taught that Americans can bid defiance to royal regulars, when called to defend their freedom. The situation of our country is truly deplorable, a civil war at our doors; our neighbors, our fathers and brothers, called from their families to encounter an inexorable enemy, consisting indeed of brethren and kindred; our domestic peace and welfare cruelly interrupted, and the aspect of our public affairs gloomy in the extreme. All New England has become a theatre of military array; and every member of the community manifests the deepest concern for the great calamities with which the country is afflicted, by the tyrannical measures of a corrupt administration. In the favor of Heaven and the wisdom of our Congress we repose all our hope and confidence. Participating, I trust, in the glorious spirit of the, times, and contemplating improvement in my professional pursuits, motives of patriotism and private interest prompt me to hazard my fortune in this noble conflict with my brethren in the provincial army. From the critical and embarrassed situation of our country, numerous and almost insurmountable difficulties are opposed to my view; and I am too young to possess a maturity of judgment, but yet unable to resist the impulse of enthusiasm which characterizes the times. My friends afford me no encouragement, alleging that, as this is a civil war if I should fall into the hands of the British, the gallows will be my fate. The terrors of the gallows are not to be conquered, but I must indulge the hope that I may escape it. Hundreds of my superiors may take their turn before mine shall come. The tories assail me with the following powerful arguments: "Young, man, are you sensible you are about to violate your duty to the best of kings, and run headlong into destruction? Be assured that this rebellion will be of short duration. The royal army is all-powerful, and will, in a few months, march through the country and bring all to subjection; for they are experienced in war and expert in discipline. Their fleet is able to destroy every seaport town and beat down all our cities. There remains no rational alternative but a reconciliation and renewed obedience to our lawful government; or we shall soon experience their just vengeance. What is your army but an undisciplined rabble? Can they stand against an army of regulars? Where are your cannon, your fire-arms, your bayonets, and all your implements of war? Above all, where is your treasure, and where can you look for a barrel of gunpowder? The whole country can scarcely afford a sufficiency for a battle of an hour." Not a small portion of their reasoning I feel to be just and true. I am not certain, however, but much of it may prove erroneous. The result of the late battle at Charlestown should convince the most incredulous tory that our soldiers will face the regular troops, and we are blessed with the smiles of Heaven on our exertions. It would be presumption in me to determine as to possibilities and prospects; but the voice of liberty cannot be stifled, While the welfare and happiness of more than three millions of people now in America, and of unborn millions, are involved in the issue. Our rulers are the most competent judges, and under their banners I shall venture, I hope not rashly, to enlist, and trust my destiny in the hands of a kind and overruling Providence. My contemplated enterprise, it is true, requires the experience and resolution of riper years than twenty-one, and qualifications, which I do not possess, to ingratiate myself with strangers and those in authority. Having consulted Joseph Otis, Esq. of Barnstable, on this occasion, he immediately applauded my enterprise, and politely furnished me with a letter to his brother-in-law, James Warren, Esq. of Plymouth, who is President of our Provincial Congress at Watertown. Imagination could not fail to paint my prospects in bright colors, and I proceeded, July the 3d, with alacrity to the seat of Congress. I was not disappointed in my interview with, Mr. Warren; my letter procured for me a favorable and polite reception. He honored me with his friendship and kind assistance, and introduced me to his lady, whose father's family and my own have for many years been on terms of friendly intercourse. The office which I solicit is one in the medical department, in the provincial hospital at Cambridge. A medical board, consisting of Drs. Holton and Taylor, are appointed to examine the candidates; and they added my name to the list for examination, on the 10th instant. This state of suspense continuing several days, excites in my, mind much anxiety and solicitude, apprehending that my stock of medical knowledge, when scanned by a learned committee, may be deemed inadequate, and all my hopes be blasted. While on my journey, a visit of a few days to my friends at Plymouth gave me an opportunity to pay my respects to the rock which received the first footsteps of our venerated forefathers. The inhabitants of this ancient town, from a reverence for the memory of the virtuous band of brothers from whom we derive our origin, have lately, with commendable zeal and much labor, split off the upper portion of the rock, and removed it to a public square near the church and court-house. This rock, with its associations, would seem almost capable of imparting that love of country, and that moral virtue, which our times so much require. We seem holding converse with the celestial spirits, and receiving monition from those who are at rest in their graves. Have these ancient sages bequeathed their mantle to posterity? Can we set our feet on their rock without swearing, by the spirit of our fathers, to defend it and our country? If we reflect on their matchless enterprise, their fortitude, and their sufferings, we must be inspired with the spirit of patriotism, and the most invincible heroism. Unappalled by the dangers of unknown seas, and the perils and the hardships of a savage wilderness, they left their native country, and undertook a settlement which promises, through ages, to remain the rich abode of knowledge, religion, virtue and freedom. Let us, then, cherish a becoming sense of the exalted privileges inherited from our ancestors, and resolve to defend them against all attempts of a corrupt administration.
July - I improve the interim of my suspense to record an authentic narrative of the battle on Breed's hill, on the 17th of June. Intelligence had been received that it was the intention of General Gage to post a part of his troops, within a few days, on a promontory just at the entrance of the peninsula at Charlestown, called Bunker's hill. It was deemed important that our troops should possess themselves of this eminence, before the enemy could occupy it. Accordingly orders were given to Colonel Prescott, a veteran of the last war, with one thousand men, to march silently in the evening of 16th of June, and throw up some intrenchments on the height of Bunker's hill. By some mistake they took possession of Breed's hill, which, being about one-fourth of a mile nearer Boston, was less capable of being defended. From some cause, the detachment was always delayed in their labor, till twelve o'clock; but such was their alacrity, that before day-light they had formed a small redoubt and some imperfect line of defence. About four o'clock in the morning the British were astonished to behold the works which had been thrown up in a single night, within a short distance of their vessels, without giving the least alarm. They immediately commenced a tremendous cannonade from their shipping, their floating batteries, and from all their fortifications, which could have a bearing on the American works. Bombs and shot were incessantly rolling among the provincials during the forenoon, till the royal grenadiers and light infantry could be prepared to make their formidable attack; yet one man only was killed; and the Americans courageously persevered in strengthening, their works. They received in the course of the forenoon a small reinforcement which augmented their number to about fifteen hundred, and this was not much exceeded during the day of battle. It was by an unaccountable error that those people, who had been laboring all the night, were not relieved by others, nor even furnished with provisions before the battle. Generals Putnam, Warren and Pomeroy animated and encouraged the troops with their presence. At about one o'clock, 17th of June, the royal forces were observed to cross the river from Boston, and land on the shore, at Charlestown; at the head of these veterans were Major General Howe and Brigadier-General Pigot; their force consisted of about three thousand men, well provided with field-artillery. They formed in two lines, their officers haranguing them probably in such language as this: "Those cowardly rebels must and shall be put to flight. See the dastardly Yankees with rusty guns and scarcely a bayonet among them. March on, my lads, march on! show them that you are Britons; show them these dazzling arms and bayonets bright and sharp, and you shall soon see them take to their heels and run." Hear the voice of Putnam, of Prescott and Warren: "See, my brave soldiers, that phalanx approaching; these lines must and shall be defended; these are the cruel enemies to your freedom; they have come to enslave you; remember their barbarous murders of our friends at Lexington; fight manfully, and they shall be vanquished; reserve your fire till their near approach; then with a sure aim cut them down, and the victory shall be ours." The regulars deliberately advance to the attack, the grenadiers in front. The Americans reserve their fire till the enemy are within eight or ten rods, that they may do effectual execution; when, by a general discharge of musketry and field-artillery, several officers and men are seen to fall, "their ranks are thinned; see the ground covered with the slain; see those wounded officers borne off the field." The conflict becomes close, and such are the fatal effects of the incessant and furious discharge of our musketry, that the regulars retreat in disorder, and many of them flee even to their boats. The officers, greatly agitated, pursue their men, and threaten them with their swords; with great difficulty they are rallied, and commanded to advance again to the attack. The provincials are prepared, and when sufficiently near, a deadly fire from their ranks puts the enemy a second time to flight, leaving such numbers of dead and wounded that several of their officers exclaim, "It is downright butchery to lead the men on afresh against the lines." At this critical moment Major-General Clinton, who till now bad been a spectator with General Burgoyne on Copp's hill in Boston, passed over and entered the field, just in time to unite his efforts with those of the other officers for the purpose of forcing the regulars to renew the attack. The Americans still remain firm and courageous at their posts; but unfortunately it was now discovered that their powder was nearly expended, and another supply could not be procured. The enemy now change the position of their cannon, and place them in a situation to rake the inside of our breastwork in its whole course, which at length obliges the provincials to retire within their little redoubt. The firing from the British ships, and other armed vessels and batteries, is now pushed to the utmost extremity; the regulars are impelled forward by their officers, and our redoubt is attacked on three sides at the same time. Our brave men continue their resistance, and actually confront the enemy with the butt-end of their muskets after they had entered the fort. A party of our men under command of Captain Knowlton had taken up a post and rail fence, and placing it against another, filled the vacancy with newly mowed hay, which served as a slight defence. The British light infantry attempted to force this little party from their stand, and by this means to cut off the retreat of our troops. In this they displayed the greatest bravery, but their opposers poured forth their reserved and formidable fire in such a manner as to produce astonishing execution, and to arrest their progress, till the whole of the Americans could effect a retreat. The narrow neck of land over which alone the provincials could retire, was so securely guarded by a man of war and two floating batteries, as to render it extremely hazardous to pass over; but notwithstanding their incessant firing, our loss there was quite inconsiderable. The provincials were obliged to leave five pieces of field-artillery in the hands of the enemy, finding it impossible to remove them. But a loss infinitely to be lamented, and which occasions universal grief and sorrow, is that of Major-General Joseph Warren. This distinguished patriot and hero was, but a few days before, appointed by Congress to the rank of major-general in our army. Such was his zeal and ardor, that he rushed into the battle foremost in danger with his musket, and encouraged the soldiers by his example, till near the close of the battle, when he received a fatal shot, and immediately expired. The loss at this crisis of a man possessing so much public virtue and military ardor is almost irreparable. But the valor with which be is signalized reflects glory on his memory. It yet remains to mention that on this ever-memorable day, just at the commencement of the battle, General Howe ordered the handsome town of Charlestown to be set on fire, that the smoke might conceal their manoeuvres. The town consisted of upwards of three hundred dwelling-houses, some of them elegant, and about two hundred buildings of other descriptions, which contained property and goods to a large amount, belonging to the distressed inhabitants of Boston. Fire was. communicated to a number of houses, which, being wafted by the wind, soon reached the sacred temple, when the flames issued from its lofty spire; while from the conflagration and the embattled field, smoke mingled with smoke in majestic columns, and ascended to the clouds. This, with the roaring of cannon, sheets of fire from the musketry, and the awful slaughter, formed a spectacle which for sublimity and grandeur has never perhaps been exceeded. This most dreadful scene, with all its concomitant horrors, was within view of a vast concourse of agonized spectators, posted on the tops of houses and steeples in Boston, and on numerous surrounding hills, hundreds of whom were trembling for the fate of a parent, a husband or a brother. Well might a devout person exclaim, " Good Heavens! what a scene do behold! what carnage of the human race! what sacrifice of precious life. My God! stay thy band, restrain a further effusion of human blood, spare the innocent, let punishment fall on the heads of the guilty. Is there not some hidden curse in reserve for our country's foes!" At the head of the British army General Howe advanced with undaunted bravery, continually pressing into the most exposed situation. It is truly wonderful that he escaped with only a wound in his foot. The valiant Major Pitcairn, who was so conspicuously active at Lexington, was among the first who mounted our breastworks, and at the moment when he was heard to exclaim, "the day is ours," the fatal ball pierced his body and he fell. His son, a captain, received him in his arms, with all the ardor of filial love and tender sympathy and bore him to the boat, where he expired.
On the American side, Generals Putnam, Warren, Pomeroy, and Colonel Prescott were emphatically the heroes of the day, and their unexampled efforts were crowned with glory. The incomparable Colonel Prescott marched at the head of the detachment, and though several general officers were present, he retained the command during the action. He displayed a native daring bravery altogether unrivalled, and infused the conquering spirit of a soldier into the hearts of all who were under his command, and crowned himself with immortal honor. Colonel John Stark commanded a regiment from New Hampshire, and signalized himself by his active bravery. His very valiant Major McClary was killed by a cannon-ball while recrossing Charlestown neck, which is lamented as a public loss. On this never-to-be-forgotten occasion a fair opportunity was presented for the trial of the courage and prowess of the people of New England, when contending for their Constitutional freedom. They marched to the field as an undisciplined, inexperienced body of yeomanry, rather than as professed warriors; a large majority of them carrying ordinary fire-arms, unprovided with bayonets, and habited in the style of country laborers. It was their lot to contend with an army of disciplined veterans professedly experienced in the art of warfare, uniformly clothed and armed, and commanded by generals whose names, even in Europe, are little less than a host.
The comparative force of the two armies was about two to one against the provincials, besides the royal artillery, ships, and other armed vessels. What in fact is the result of this most unequal combat? Certain it is, that on the first and the second onset, the veterans were fairly repulsed, and whatever advantage was ultimately obtained, was at the expense of some of their most valuable officers and the flower of the British grenadiers and light infantry. These two corps at the moment of their first onset, lost three-fourths of their number; of one company five, and of another, fourteen only escaped. The remarkable disparity of loss is a clear demonstration of the superior advantage on our side. It is an ascertained fact, that of the enemy nineteen commissioned officers were killed And seventy wounded; and their total loss, according to General Gage was one thousand and fifty-four. Of the provincials, the killed and dead of their wounds, are one hundred and thirty-nine. Other wounded, two hundred and seventy-eight. Prisoners by the enemy, thirty-six. Total, four hundred and fifty-three. The provincials have much reason to triumph on the successful issue of this first general conflict with veteran troops; it must tend greatly to increase their confidence in their own powers, and give them a serious impression that we are favored with the smiles of Heaven. Had our troops been furnished with a sufficient quantity of ammunition, the enemy must have suffered a total defeat. After our troops retreated, the regulars took possession of their dear-bought Bunker's hill, and immediately fortified themselves there. It is said that some of the veteran British officers, who have been in some hard-fought battles in Europe, observed that they had never witnessed any one equal in severity to that on Breed's hill. It is presumed they will no longer apply the term poltroons to American soldiers. A considerable number of tories, whose zeal for the royal cause led them into battle, were killed or wounded. Our army has taken post at Cambridge and Roxbury, in such a manner as to invest the town of Boston. Our general officers are Generals Ward, Pomeroy, Thomas and Heath, of Massachusetts colony, and General Putnam from Connecticut.
On the day appointed, the medical candidates, sixteen in number, were summoned before the board for examination. This business occupied about four hours;. the subjects were anatomy, physiology, surgery and medicine. It was not long after, that I was happily relieved from suspense, by receiving the sanction and acceptance of the board, with some acceptable- instructions relative to the faithful discharge of duty, and the humane treatment of those soldiers who may have the misfortune to require my assistance. Six of our number were privately rejected as being found unqualified. The examination was in a considerable degree close and severe, which occasioned not a little agitation in our ranks. But it was on another occasion, as I am told, that a candidate under examination was agitated into a state of perspiration, and being required to describe the mode of treatment in rheumatism, among other remedies he would promote a sweat, and being asked how he would effect this with his patient, after some hesitation he replied, "I would have him examined by a medical committee." I was so fortunate as to obtain the office of surgeon's mate in the provincial hospital at Cambridge, Dr. John Warren being the senior surgeon. He was the brother and pupil of the gallant General Joseph Warren, who was slain in the memorable battle on Breed's hill. This gentleman has acquired great reputation in his profession, and is distinguished for his humanity and attention to the sick and wounded soldiers, and for his amiable disposition. Having received my appointment by the Provincial Congress, I commenced my duty in the hospital, July 15th. Several private, but commodious, houses in Cambridge are occupied for hospitals, and a considerable number of soldiers who were wounded at Breed's hill, and a greater number of sick of various diseases, require all our attention. Dr. Isaac Foster, late of Charlestown, is also appointed a senior hospital surgeon; and his student, Mr. Josiah Bartlet, officiates as his mate; Dr. Benjamin Church is director-general of the hospital.
I am informed that General George Washington arrived at our provincial camp, in this town, on the 2d July; having been appointed, by the unanimous voice of the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, general and commander-in-chief of all the troops raised, and to be raised, for the defence of the United Colonies, as they are now termed. They are, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. General Washington is a native of Virginia; he was in General Braddock's defeat in 1755, and having had considerable experience in the wars with the French and Indians on the frontiers of that colony, in former years, he is supposed to possess ample qualifications for the command of our army, and the appointment gives universal satisfaction. Such is his disinterested patriotism, that he assured Congress, on his appointment, that he should receive from the public, for his military services, no other compensation than the amount of his necessary expenses. He has been received here with every mark of respect, and addressed by our Provincial Congress in the most affectionate and respectful manner. All ranks appear to repose full confidence in him as commander-in-chief; it is the fervent prayer of the religiously disposed, that he may be instrumental in bringing this unhappy controversy to an honorable and speedy termination. He is accompanied by General Lee and General Gates; two gentlemen who have held commissions in the royal army. The former is now appointed major-general, and the latter adjutant-general, by our Continental Congress. General Washington has established his head-quarters in a convenient house, about half a mile from Harvard College, and in the vicinity, of our hospital. The provincial army is encamped in various parts of this town and Roxbury, and some works have been erected on Prospect hill, and on an eminence near Roxbury church, within cannon-shot of Boston. The amount of our forces I have not ascertained; but we are daily increasing in numbers, both of militia and enlisted soldiers. The operations of the war have interrupted the progress of education at college; the students have returned to their homes, and the college buildings are occupied by our soldiery.
July 20th.-This day is devoted to a Public Fast throughout the United Colonies, by the recommendation of Congress, to implore the Divine benediction on our country; that any further shedding of blood may be averted; and that the calamities with which we are afflicted may be removed. This is the first general or Continental Fast ever observed since the settlement of the colonies. I have been much gratified this day with a view of General Washington. His excellency was on horseback, in company with several military gentlemen. It was not difficult to distinguish him from all others; his personal appearance is truly noble and majestic; being tall and well proportioned. His dress is a blue coat with buff-colored facings, a rich epaulette on each shoulder, buff under dress, and an elegant small sword; a black cockade in his hat.
August.-The firing of cannon is now frequently practised from our works at Prospect hill and Winter hill, advantageous eminences in full view and within cannon shot of the enemy's camp on Bunker's hill; and some shot are returned from the enemy; but without any considerable loss. At Roxbury also our people have fortified several hills, and breastworks are thrown up across the main street, within half a mile of the British lines; from which cannon-shot and some bombshells are every day thrown into Boston. The enemy fire their cannon-shot into Roxbury, and several have passed through the church; but little damage has yet been sustained, and our soldiers become so familiarized to the sight of cannon-shot rolling among them, that they manifest little or no fear of the consequences. The right wing of our army at Roxbury is commanded by Major-General Ward; and the left at Prospect hill by Major-General Lee.
The Continental Congress having voted, "That a sum not exceeding two millions of Spanish milled dollars be emitted by them in bills of credit for the defence of America," gold and silver soon disappeared, and paper bills now circulate instead of specie.
Several companies of riflemen, amounting, it is said, to more than fourteen hundred men, have arrived here from Pennsylvania and Maryland; a distance of from five hundred to seven hundred miles. They are remarkably stout and hardy men; many of them exceeding six feet in height. They are dressed in white frocks, or rifle-shirts, and round hats. These men are remarkable for the accuracy of their aim; striking a mark with great certainty at two hundred yards distance. At a review, a company of them, while on a quick advance, fired their balls into objects of seven inches diameter, at the distance of two hundred and fifty yards. They are now stationed on our lines, and their shot have frequently proved fatal to British officers and soldiers who expose themselves to view, even at more than double the distance of common musket-shot.
October.-An event of considerable importance has occurred, which occasions much surprise and speculation. Dr. Benjamin Church has long sustained high reputation as a patriot and son of liberty. He has, for some time, been a member of our House of Representatives; and has been appointed surgeon-general and director of our hospitals. This gentleman has just been detected in a traitorous correspondence with the enemy in Boston. A letter in cipher, written by him, was intrusted to the care of a female, with whom he was well acquainted, to be conveyed to Boston. On examination, the woman absolutely refused to reveal the name of the writer, till she was terrified by the threats of severe punishment; when she named Dr. Church, he was greatly agitated and confounded, manifested marks of guilt, and made no attempt to vindicate himself But after the letter was deciphered, and he had taken time to reflect, he used all his powers of persuasion to make it appear that the letter contained no information that would injure the American cause; and made a solemn appeal to Heaven that it was written for the purpose of procuring some important intelligence from the enemy. He was tried, convicted, and expelled from the House of Representatives; and Congress afterwards resolved, "that he be closely confined in some secure jail in Connecticut, without the use of pen, ink, or paper; and that no person be allowed to converse with him, except in the presence and hearing of a magistrate, or the sheriff of the county." (Dr. Church was finally permitted to depart from the country. He and his family embarked for the West Indies; the vessel foundered at sea, and all were lost.)
I have just returned from a ramble to Roxbury, with a view of examining the camp and works in that quarter. Not meeting with any person with whom I am acquainted, I returned after a slight view of the lines and the church in that town, which is pierced through in many places by cannon-shot from the enemy.
10th.-General Gage has sailed for England; and the command of the army has devolved on General William Howe. He has issued a proclamation, prohibiting all persons attempting to quit the town, without a written license,on penalty of military execution, if taken, and if they escape they are to be proceeded against as traitors, and their effects to be forfeited, and also declaring, that if any, who are licensed to depart, attempt carrying away more than five pounds in specie, they shall forfeit the whole sum discovered, besides suffering fine and imprisonment. Su ch is the wretched condition of the Bostonians since their native town has been converted into a royal garrison. It is recollected that in April last, it was agreed between General Gage and a committee of the town, that on the inhabitants in general surrendering up their firearms to the care of the selectmen, all such inhabitants as were desirous of removing out of town, should have this liberty, with their families and effects. The town voted to comply with this proposal, and General Gage on his part confirmed the same. It was also stipulated, that those persons in the country who should incline to remove into Boston should be permitted to change their residence without molestation. The fire-arms were, accordingly surrendered, and some of the inhabitants were allowed to depart; but it was not long before General Gage found various pretences to violate his stipulation, and prohibited any further removals; in consequence of which, many families were compelled to a cruel separation; husbands and wives, parents and children, were separated, and the aged and infirm left without protection.
The term for which the continental soldiers enlisted will expire in a few weeks, and it is understood that the recruits for a future army will be enlisted to serve to the 1st of December next, unless sooner discharged, as hopes are yet entertained that a settlement of our difficulties with Great Britain may be effected. Reports are in circulation that an attack on the town of Boston is contemplated; or, that the plan has been agitated and is relinquished, till our people can pass over on the ice. The public appear to be impatient to have our inveterate enemies expelled from our territories.
November.-Our hospitals are considerably crowded with sick soldiers from camp; the prevailing diseases are autumnal fevers and dysenteric complaints, which have proved fatal in a considerable number of instances. It is highly gratifying to observe, that these brave men, while in the service of their country, receive in sickness all the kind attention from physicians and nurses, which their circumstances require; they have the prayers and consolations of pious clergymen, and are destitute of nothing but the presence of their dearest friends to alleviate their sufferings.
I am, sorry to have occasion to notice in my journal the following occurrence. The body of a soIdier has been taken from the grave, for the purpose, probably of dissection, and the empty coffin left exposed. This affair occasions considerable excitement among our people; both resentment and grief are manifested; as it seems to impress the idea that a soldier's body is held in no estimation after death. Such a practice, if countenanced, might be attended with serious consequences as it respects our soldiers. Much inquiry has been made, but without success, for the discovery of the persons concerned; and the practice in future is strictly prohibited by the commander-in-chief
The joyful intelligence is now announced in
the public papers, that Captain Manly, of Marblehead, commander
of one of our privateers, has captured an English ship, bound
to Boston, loaded with ordnance stores, of immense value at the
present time. Among the ordnance is a large brass mortar on a
new construction, and a number of pieces of fine brass cannon.
There are small arms, ammunition, utensils, &c. &c. in
great abundance. An invoice, it is said, could scarcely be formed
of articles better suited to our wants and circumstance. Several
other store vessels have been taken by our privateers, with cargoes
of provision and various kinds of stores, to a very considerable
amount, which greatly augments the distresses of the troops and
people in Boston, and affords us a very opportune, and essential
supply. It is now represented that the distresses of the inhabitants
and troops in Boston exceed the possibility of description. They
are almost in a state of starvation, for the want of food and
fuel. The inhabitants, totally destitute of vegetables, flour
and fresh provisions, have actually been obliged to feed on horse
flesh; and the troops confined to salt provisions; by means of
which they have become very sickly.They have taken down a number
of houses, removed the pews from the church, and are digging
up the timber at
the wharves for fuel.
December 2d. - I visited the park of artillery, and was much gratified to find a collection of ordnance far exceeding my expectations, and such as is supposed by some to be adequate to our present exigence. I had a view of the large. brass mortar taken by Captain Manly; it is now called the Congress, and will soon be prepared to speak in strong terms to its former masters.
4th. - A considerable number of Connecticut troops have left our service and returned home; no persuasion could induce them to continue in service after their time of enlistment had expired. Enlisting officers are distributed in various parts of New England; but it is reported that voluntary enlistments go on slowly. The people seem to be unwilling to engage in the public service, and require higher wages. The spirit of patriotism appears in some degree to have subsided, and the militia are to be employed.
11th. - A party of militia, said to be about two thousand, have arrived in camp; and information is received that three thousand more are on their march. A few enlisted soldiers have arrived; but so destitute are they of firearms, that it has been found necessary to take the arms by force from the soldiers who retire, paying for them, in order to supply the recruits.
18th. - The Americans have advanced and broken ground at Lechmere's Point, within half a mile of Boston; which occasioned a severe cannonade from the enemy; but they persevered in their work, and suffered but an inconsiderable loss. It is stated, from the minutes of some person, that from Breed's hill battle to the 25th instant, the British have thrown upwards of two thousand shot and shells. By the whole firing, on Cambridge side, they killed only seven, and on Roxbury side five, Just a dozen in the whole. At this rate, how many shot and bombs will it require to subdue the whole of his majesty's rebellious subjects?