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great duties of conducting a war of vast extent, CHAP. VI. they could not estimate rightly the value of the 1776. means employed, nor calculate the effects which certain causes would produce. Large additional emissions of paper bills were resolved on, and requisitions had been made on the several colonies, for quotas of men sufficient to constitute a respectable army. But they relied too confi. dently on being able to call out, on any emergency, a force adequate to the occasion. They relied too much on the efficiency of such a force; and they depended too long on the spirit of patriotism which was believed to animate the mass of the people.
Under these impressions, the regular army for the middle colonies, which was weakened by ordering regiments originally destined to serve in it, to the aid of the troops in Canada, was not recruited in time,' by additional requi. sitions, nor were those measures taken which would fill the battalions actually ordered to be raised. It was not until the 26th of June, that the representations of the commander in chief could obtain a resolution, directing soldiers to be inlisted for three years, and offering a bounty of ten dollars to each recruit. In consequence of their adhering to a system of mistaken economy, soldiers were voted in greater numbers than could be raised, and many of the regiments remained incomplete.
That zeal for the service which was mani. fested in the first moments of the war, had long
CHAP. VI. since begun to abate; and though the determi. 1776. nation to resist became more general, that
enthusiasm, which prompts individuals voluntarily to expose themselves to more than an equal share of the dangers and hardships to be encountered for the attainment of a common good, was visibly declining. The progress of these sentiments seems to have been unexpected ; and the causes producing such effects, had not been sufficiently attended to.
General Washington, who had always conceived that the grand efforts of the royal army would be directed towards the Hudson, having left a small detachment under the command of major-general Ward, to complete certain works designed for the security of Boston, hastened
himself, immediately after the evacuation of April. _ that place, with the main body of his army, to
New York. He arrived there on the 14th of Transactions April, and continued, with unremitting exer
tions, the preparations which had been before directed for the reception of the enemy.
It was cause of some surprise to him, to find that an uninterrupted intercourse had been kept up between the inhabitants, and the British ships lying in the harbour. Thus, not only the wants of the latter were abundantly supplied, but an evil of infinitely greater importance was incurred. Governor Tryon retained all the facilities he could wish, of communicating with the disaffected, who abounded in
both the town and country; and of concerting CHAP. VI. with them, plans of future operations. One 1776. of the first measures taken by the general, was entirely to break off this dangerous and corrupting intercourse; in effecting which, he obtained the co-operation of the committee of safety for the colony.
The difficulty which had been experienced in expelling the British from Boston, had strengthened the general's impressions concerning the necessity of preventing, if possible, their establishing themselves in New York ; and had contributed to the determination of contesting with them, very seriously, the possession of that important place. This determination, however, it was difficult and dan. . gerous to execute. The defence of New York against an enemy commanding the sea, if practicable at all, would require an army capable of meeting them in the open field, and of acting offensively, both on Long island and on York island. All the means, however, he could command were employed in strengthening his position, and in endeavouring to prevent the ships of war from ascending the Hudson, or penetrating the East river between Long island and York island. For this purpose, hulks were sunk to obstruct the passage of ships, and the most advantageous positions on both sides of the North river, and of the narrow passage VOL. II.
CHAP.V1. between the islands, were taken, and fortified. 1776. The time which elapsed, between the evacu.
ation of Boston by general Howe, and the investing of New York, was most assiduously employed on these interesting objects, and in completing such works as would enable him to repel a direct attack upon the town.
Attention was also paid to the forts in the highlands. The importance of these passes had been discerned at a very early period of the war; and, as their possession was deemed almost indispensable to the success of the contest, exertions were made to render them defensible.
But the commander in chief observed, with infinite pain, the incompetency of his army to the great purposes for which it had been raised. His effective force was much below the estimate which had been made; nor was it in the want of numbers only, that his weakness consisted.
The circumstances attending the commence. ment of the contest having been absolutely incompatible with an adequate provision of those military stores which are most essential in war, the troops actually in the field were by no means sufficiently furnished with arms, ammunition, tents, or clothes. The total want of magazines, connected with those false economical calculations which inexperience so frequently makes, having produced the regu. lation, requiring soldiers to supply themselves with arms, there was not only an alarming
deficiency * in this respect, but the guns CHAP. VI. actually in camp, for few of them deserved the 1776. appellation of muskets, were too inferior in quality to inspire those who used them with that confidence, which arises from a consciousness of being equal to the enemy.
The army in New York being thus manifestly incompetent to the defence of the middle colo. nies, was to be strengthened by requisitions of militia. In pursuance of this determination, a resolution was passed to re-enforce it with thirteen thousand eight hundred militia; of whom, two thousand were to be drawn from Massachussetts, five thousand five hundred from Connecticut, three thousand from New York, and three thousand three hundred from New Jersey. Whilst the grand army was em. ployed in the defence of New York, the facility with which the enemy might land in great force
* Even the regiments of New England, where, more than in any other colony, arms were in the hands of the body of the people, were very badly supplied with them; but those of the middle provinces, especially those of New York, were destitute of them to an alarming degree. In colonel Ritzemer's regiment, a return of which was transmitted by the commander in chief to congress, there were only ninety-seven muskets, and seven bayonets. This was undoubtedly put as the extreme case, but a very great deficiency was common to all the battalions. The rifle regiments alone were in possession of fire arms which would enable them to render all the service expected from them.