By Nathan Goold, 1898
Web version 1999 by R. Hagen
The Thurston Print, Portland, Maine, 1898
There is history in all men's lives.
As early as September, 1775, Gen. Washington was much concerned at the prospect of the terms of service of the men, then in the army, expiring in December, with no provision made to fill their places with new regiments; and September 20, he addressed a letter to Congress, calling attention to this matter, and to the condition of the finances of the colonies.
October 18, authority was given to raise twenty-six regiments of about eight hundred men, for one year, and October 28, after the men then in the service had received their pay, an order was issued recommending the soldiers, especially those who were to continue another year, to purchase with their money only shirts, shoes, stockings, and a good pair of leather breeches, as it "was intended the new army should be uniformed." Congress was to purchase cloth, in the best market, hire tailors to make uniform coats and waistcoats, which they were to furnish the soldiers cheaper than clothing of the same quality could be bought elsewhere. November 4, it was voted that the cloth of the army should be dyed brown, and the distinction of the regiments should be made in the color of the facings; and the same day Congress "Resolved that each regiment consist of 728 men, officers included, to be divided into eight companies. Each company to consist of one captain, two lieutenants, one ensign, four sergeants, four corporals, two drums of fifes, and seventy-six privates."
These were the preparations then made toward the organization of the twenty-six infantry regiments of the new Continental army, to go into service January 1, 1776, to take the places of the regiments whose terms of service would expire with December, 1775.
From an act passed January 22, 1776, by the General Court, for regulating the militia of Massachusetts, the lawful equipment of a soldier of that date was as follows: - Officers and soldiers of sufficient ability were obliged to equip themselves, and the others were equipped by the towns. The equipment was ordered to be, "A good firearm with a steel or iron ramrod with a spring to retain the same, a worm, priming wire and brush, a bayonet fitted to the gun, a scabbard and belt therefor, a cutting sword or tomahawk or hatchet, a pouch containing a cartridge-box that will hold fifteen rounds of cartridges at least, a hundred buckshot, a jackknife and tow for wadding, six flints, one pound of powder, forty leaden bullets fitted to gun, a knapsack, blanket and a canteen or wooden bottle sufficient to hold one quart." Probably few soldiers were fully equipped.
In the organization of the new army, Col. Edmund Phinney of the 31st Regiment of Foot, then in the service at Cambridge, was recommended by Gen. Washington to be commissioned colonel of the new 18th Continental regiment, and orders for the enlistment of the men were issued November 12. Col. Phinney retained the same field and staff officers who were serving with him in his old regiment, and the new regiment may properly be called the successor to the old 31st Regiment of Foot.
This reorganization of the army, from thirty-eight regiments to twenty-six, gave Washington and his generals great perplexity. In the new organization it was intended to make it a continental instead of a colonial army, so as to encourage the union spirit and break up the jealousy between New England and the other colonies. It was expected that most of the old army would reenlist, but after one month's trial only five thousand recruits were procured.
At the time this regiment entered the service the British ministry had resolved to hire over seventeen thousand German troops, known to us as the Hessians, to help subdue the colonists. The colonies were not united. The finances were at a low ebb, and the Southern colonists gave only half-hearted support to the rebellion. The army was weaker than it had been at any other time during the siege of Boston. The old regiments were disbanded December 31, within gunshot of twenty or thirty regiments of British soldiers at Boston and Charlestown. The supply of firearms was so small that the guns of the retiring soldiers were taken from them and paid for at an appraisal which, in many cases, caused great dissatisfaction. The army was in a critical condition, and had not powder enough for four rounds. They had but few cannon, and some of them were almost useless.
January 1, 1776, the day the 18th Continental regiment entered the service, was the birthday of the new Continental army, and the Union flag of thirteen stripes and a British union, was raised on Prospect Hill, with a salute of thirteen guns, and with loud huzzas by the soldiers. The British at Boston heard the cheering of the men, and thought the colonists had decided to submit to the king, as his speech had just been received; but that idea was soon dispelled.
Col. Phinney's new regiment was assigned to Gen. Heath's brigade, in the center of the army, at Cambridge, under Gen. Israel Putnam. The following return, made about that time, shows the regiments composing the brigade: --
GEN. WILLIAM HEATH'S BRIGADE, JANUARY 24, 1776.
Col. William Prescott's 7th Continental regiment.
Col. Paul D. Sargeant's116th " "
Col. Edmund Phinney's 18th " "
Col. John Greaton's 24th " "
Col. Loammi Baldwin's 26th " "
1Col. Paul D. Sergeant died at Sullivan, Maine, September 15, 1827.
Weak as tile army was, scantily supplied with arms, powder, and the necessary comforts of life, the country looked to see it expel the British forces from Boston. Gen. Washington wrote, January 14: -
The reflection upon my situation and that of this army produces many an uneasy hour, when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people know the predicament we are in, on a thousand accounts. I shall most religiously believe the finger of Providence is in it, to blind the eyes of our enemies; for surely, if we get well through this month, it must be for want of their knowing the disadvantages we labor under.
The people of the colonies had become accustomed to war, and were then entertaining the idea of their political independence, which was very popular with the army. It had become offensive to pray for the king, and the spirit for a government of the people was abroad in the land.
Gen. Putnam was active at Cambridge, inspiring the soldiers with his zeal, and Col. Moylan, writing from there in regard to the January thaw, said:--
The bay is open; everything thaws except Old Put. He is still as hard as ever, crying out for powder, powder - ye gods, give us powder.
He had his headquarters in the Inman house, which was on what is now Inman Street, Cambridge. Here he was as near the enemy as possible, with his Connecticut troops camped in Inman's field close at hand.
Gen. Washington's headquarters was at the Vassal House, now known as "Longfellow's Home," at Cambridge, and his wife was with him. Dorothy Dudley, in her journal, describes the appearance of Martha Washington as follows:--
She is a fine-looking lady, with regular features, dark chestnut hair and hazel eyes, and a certain gravity in carriage, which becomes her position.
All through the month of February great preparations were made for an attack on Boston, and the army was preparing for a great battle, but the object of those preparations was then unknown to the soldiers. The army had been reenforced by several regiments that were enlisted for two months' service to expire April first.
The rations issued to the soldiers at Cambridge in February were:-- Corned beef and pork four days in a week; salt-fish one day; fresh beef two days; one and one-half pound of beef, or eighteen ounces of pork, every day; one-half pint rice or a pint of Indian meal was given the soldiers for a week; a quart of spruce beer daily or nine gallons of molasses to one hundred men, per week. Every man had one pound of flour every day except one, when hardbread took its place. Each soldier was given six ounces of butter per week. Peas, beans, and other vegetables, such as potatoes, turnips, onions, were dealt out in weekly portions. Six pounds of candles were given one hundred men for a week.
It was in February that Gen. Henry Knox hauled, with forty-two ox teams from Fort Ticonderoga, 14 mortars, 41 cannon, 2,300 lbs. lead, and a barrel of flints to be used in Boston. Ten of these cannon probably came to Falmouth Neck, the next July, to defend that town. During this month there were about fourteen thousand Americans about Boston.
Gen. Washington wrote, February 26:--
We have under many difficulties on account of hard frozen ground completed our work on Lechmere Point. We have got some heavy pieces of ordnance placed there, two platforms fixed for mortars and everything for offensive operations. Strong guards are mounted there and at Cobble Hill.
A return of Col. Phinney's regiment, dated March 2, 1776, gave the whole strength as 413 men, with 285 fit for duty.
Ensign Henry Sewall, of this regiment, kept a journal while in the army, from which many of the facts of their service are taken, and but for which they would have been lost forever. To such men as he history is indebted for much authentic information.
March 2, a heavy firing of cannon and mortars at Cambridge and Roxbury on Boston was the beginning of the attempt to drive the British out of the town, and the next day three companies of Col. Phinney's regiment were marched to Cobble Hill (Somerville), and five to Lechmere Point (East Cambridge), to assist in the bombardment. At the Point two howitzers were burst, but no one was hurt. Towards night the thirteen-inch brass mortar Congress was moved down. March 4, the bombardment commenced about 8 A. M., and the Congress was burst at the third firing in an attempt to hit the Old South steeple in Boston.
It was during the night of March 4, which was bright moonlight, that Gen. John Thomas, with two thousand men and three hundred carts, fortified Dorchester. heights. Here Gen. Peleg Wadsworth; as an aid to Gen. Artemus Ward, rendered valuable assistance to the army.
Col. Phinney's regiment was stationed, during the bombardment, at Lechmere Point and Cobble Hill, and the object of the attack on Boston was to divert the attention of the British from the operations going on at Dorchester Heights. From Lechmere Point during that night were fired thirty-two twenty-four-pound shot, fourteen eighteen-pound shot, and two ten-inch shells; from Cobble Hill eighteen eighteen-pound shot. The next morning the soldiers discovered the fortifications that had been built during the night, and then knew the reason for the bombardment of the night before.
The earth was frozen eighteen inches, and Gen. Heath said of the works at Dorchester, "Perhaps there never was so much work done in so short time." Gen. Howe said, "The rebels have done more in the night than my men could have done in a month."
It was during the forenoon of March 5, that the worst was expected. Washington thought that when the British commander discovered the works at Dorchester he would order an assault on them at once. The American soldiers expected it, and although tired, and suffering from the want of their night's rest, they were in high spirits, being ready and anxious to try Bunker Hill over again. March 5, the anniversary of the Boston massacre, was selected for this event, and as those brave men lay in the trenches, resting before the assault, Gen. Washington rode along the lines, and was received with great enthusiasm. As he passed by he encouraged the men, and said, "Remember this is the fifth of March, a day never to be forgotten. Avenge the death of your brothers."
The British commenced a tremendous cannonade from Boston and the fleet, which the Americans hardly noticed in their preparations. The assault, which was expected to be a desperate one, did not occur, for the furious gale of wind, which continued with a heavy rain through the next day, prevented the enemy from making the attack on our lines. Thacher says, "Cannon shot are continually rolling and rebounding on the hill, and it is astonishing to observe how little our soldiers are terrified by them." "Gracious God! if it be determined in thy Providence that thousands of our fellow creatures shall this day be slain, let thy wrath be appeased, and in mercy grant that victory be on the side of our suffering, bleeding country." After waiting for the assault, Thacher wrote in his journal, "Thus has kind Providence seen fit to frustrate a design which must have been attended with immense slaughter and bloodshed."
On the morning of March 6, Col. Phinney's regiment was marched to Cambridge Common with the brigade, and there four thousand chosen troops were ready for the assault on Boston. They were organized into two divisions, one under Gen. John Sullivan and the other under Gen. Nathaniel Greene, and both under Gen. Putnam. On signals being given, they were to embark in boats near the mouth of the Charles River, and under cover of three floating batteries to attack Boston. The first division was to land at the powder house and gain possession of Beacon Hill and Mount Horam, afterwards called Mount Vernon, which was near where Louisburg Square now is. The second division was to land at Barton's Point, or a little south of it, and after securing that post was to join the first division, force the gates and works at Roxbury Neck, and let in the American troops. Col. Phinney's men were marched back to their quarters in the afternoon, and probably dismissed, as the danger of an assault that day was over.
Joseph Reed wrote Gen. Washington:--
I suppose Old Put was to command the detachment intended for Boston on the fifth instant, as I do not know of any officers but himself who could have been depended on for so hazardous service.
Gen. Washington's Reply was:--
The four thousand men destined for Boston on the fifth, if the ministerialists had attempted our works at Dorchester Heights, or the lines at Roxbury, were to have been headed by Old Put.
These letters show the hazardous service which Col. Phinney's regiment was expected to perform, and in what estimation they were held by their commanders. The continuation of the storm prevented the attack of the enemy, and many useful lives were saved for a better purpose. The battle would have been a bloody one, as the Americans were in high spirits to try again their mettle with the British regulars. By the seventh of March the situation of Gen. Howe had become critical by the enforced delay.
Capt. John Rice of this regiment wrote, March 9, that if the British "do not depart voluntarily they will be obliged to go soon." That, probably was the spirit of the regiment.
In the evening of the ninth, the Americans attempted to fortify Nook's Hill, Dorchester, which resulted in bringing on a terrible battle of artillery. More than eight hundred shot and shell were fired by the armies during the night, and five Americans were killed.
March 10, the British commenced their preparations for the evacuation of Boston, which was finally accomplished on the morning of the seventeenth.
Ensign Sewell states in his journal, March 17: -
11 A. M., a party of our army who had had the smallpox landed and patroled Boston without the least shadow of opposition.
In the latter part of the afternoon about five hundred troops under Col. Ebenezer Learned, with Gen. Artemus Ward, entered Boston from Roxbury. Ensign Richards carried the standard. The next day Gen. Washington entered the town.
March 18, Dorothy Dudley wrote in her journal:--
How glad to their ears were the sounds of the soldiers' tread keeping time to the tune of Yankee Doodle, and the shouts of the American regiments, as cheer after cheer was borne upon the air. With drums beating and colors flying they traversed the town, end to end.
The main body of the army entered Boston, March 20, and with them was Col. Edmund Phinney's regiment which was stationed near Fort Hill, and employed in building a battery in which were mounted nine twenty-four-pounder King's guns pointed toward the harbor.
The occupation of Boston gave great joy to the colonists. It was regarded as reflecting the highest honor on Washington and his army, and was considered a glorious triumph. Washington and his soldiers were thanked by Congress, and to commemorate the event a gold medal was struck, which is now deposited in the Boston Public Library. Washington's other medals, which are all bronze, are in the possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
It has been stated that during all the months Gen. Washington was in command at Cambridge less than twenty men were killed within our lines.
Of his army, at the siege of Boston, Washington .wrote as follows:--
They were indeed, at first, an army of undisciplined husbandmen ; but it is, under God, to their bravery and attention to duty that I am indebted for that success which has procured me the only reward I wish to receive, the affection and esteem of my countrymen.
After the battle of Bunker Hill, Gen. Joseph Warren's body was buried on the field, but April 4 it was taken up, and a public funeral was held on the eighth, when at the head of the procession marched a company of Col. Phinney's regiment, noted for its fine appearance, which was probably the reason the company was selected. Gen. Warren's body was buried then in the Granary burying-ground. In 1825, it was removed to St. Paul's Church, and finally to Forest Hills Cemetery.
March 18, Gen. Heath was ordered to march five regiments and a portion of artillery to New York, via New London, Connecticut. Gen. Putnam was ordered to New York, March 29, and took command there, April 5. Gen. Washington left Boston April 4 for New York. Col. Phinney's regiment was under the command of Gen. Greene until March 31, when Gen. Artemus Ward took command.
In Col. Edmund Phinney's regiment stationed in Boston, after the departure of the English, the men were supplied with coats and double-breasted jackets of undyed cloth, just as it came from the looms, turned up with buff facings. They had also blue breeches, felt hats with narrow brims and white bindings.
Col. Hutchinson's order book says:-- March 20, upon an alarm, Col. Phinney's and Col. Hutchinson's regiments are to man Fort Hill. Men, that day, from this regiment, were ordered to work on the Fort Hill battery, and Col. Phinney was the officer of the day. King Street, now State, was the grand parade ground.
March 23, every soldier was ordered to fasten his accouterments to his gun every night that they might be prepared at a moment's warning for an alarm. The thirty-first, Col. Phinney was the adjutant of the day. April 2, this regiment furnished the guards. Gen. Peleg Wadsworth was then an aid-de-camp to Gen. Ward.
April 6, Lieut.-Col. March was appointed the muster master of the division. The twentieth, Maj. Brown was field officer. The twenty-second, Peleg Wadsworth was appointed brigade major. The twenty-sixth Maj. Brown was president of a court-martial, and the following order was issued by the general:--
The Adjutant will bring no men on the parade for guards without being first accoutered, washed, shaved, and dressed as well as his clothes will admit.
Lieut.-Col. March was the field officer the twenty-eighth. The following appears on the order book under same date:--
The General directs the officer commanding the fatigue to see the rum drawn for the men be properly mixed with water and served to them at such times as will do them the most good.
The next day Col. Phinney was the field officer, and May 2, Maj. Brown served in the same capacity.
Capt, Watkins was the officer of the day May 12, Capt. Tyler the fourteenth, Capt. Hill the twenty-first, Capt. Watkins again the twenty-second, Capt. Fernald the twenty-ninth and Capt. Wilde the thirtieth. The officers were allowed " one dollar and one-third" for each man they recruited and mustered.
The seventeenth, a large ship from Ireland, which had been captured loaded with munitions of war, was brought into Boston harbor, and men from this regiment were placed on guard over her.
Col. Phinney wrote home May 26:--
I am well and in high spirits and hope to continue so until every Tory is banished from this land of liberty and our rights and privileges are restored.
June 4, one hundred and seventy soldiers from this regiment, with others, went to the islands to drive away the British shipping, which they succeeded in doing without the loss of any of their men. The same day Col. Phinney was appointed president of a court martial, and the seventh, Capt. Hart Williams was exempted from regimental duty, while assistant engineer he superintended the works, under construction by this regiment, in order to forward them with all possible despatch. The ninth, the order book says :--
As Col. Phinney's regiment is employed upon works out of town, they cannot get their milk in the morning before they march off to fatigue, therefore the commissary will supply them with provisions in the same manner he did last winter so long as they shall be employed out of town.
The same day it says:--
The guards will shave and powder and be on parade at 8.
The eleventh, Capt. Fernald was officer of the day, Capt. Hill the twelfth, Capt. Tyler the fourteenth, and Capt. York the sixteenth. The twenty-first, Col. Phinney was ordered to relieve the magazine guard at Jamaica Plain with a sergeant, corporal, and ten privates. The twenty-seventh, Capt. Hill was the officer of the day, Capt. Williams the twenty- eighth, Capt. Watkins the twenty-ninth, Capt. Wilde the thirtieth, July 1, Capt. Sawyer, and the sixth Col. Phinney.
Those who wished were allowed to be inoculated for the smallpox, and July 6, Col. Phinney's quartermaster was ordered to inform the commissary the next morning early what part of the regiment will draw rice, etc., instead of meat, and the surgeons and mates were ordered to exert themselves to take the best of care of the men under the operation of the smallpox. The officers were ordered to turn out their men before sunrise for exercise, "as their health depends greatly on their taking the morning air and moderate exercise." Captains Rice and Stuart, and several others, died of the smallpox while the regiment was at Boston.
Gen. Ward, appreciating the value of the inspiring music of the fife and drum to the soldiers, ordered, April 9, that a drum-major and a fife-major be appointed for each regiment to instruct the fifers and drummers in their duty and said further: "This is by no means to be neglected, as martial music is always pleasing to the soldiers and gives luster and dignity to every corps." The twenty-ninth, he commended them for their improvement and hoped that it would continue. The next day all the drummers and fifers were ordered to meet at the "bottom" of Boston Common to practise, twice a week, and it was recommended that the musicians of each regiment "emulate each other in striving to excel in this pleasant part of military discipline."
April 21, the order book says:--
Complaints having been made to the general that many of the soldiers frequent grog shops and tippling houses whereby they waste their time and money and destroy their health and reputation, the general therefore forbids all such practises and commands all officers to exert themselves to prevent such evil among men.
The general under date of May 5, called attention to the evil of profane swearing in the army and said, - "Unless we pay sacred regard to the duty of sobriety and virtue we cannot expect the blessing of heaven, nor the approbation of the wise and good among men."
While in Boston, the officers exercised particular care of the soldiers in regard to the cleanliness of their persons and linen, probably on account of the smallpox. They were also ordered not to take undue liberties with the property of others, and forbidden to address any of the inhabitants as Tories.
July 5, Gen. Washington was empowered by Congress to order, "the three fullest regiments stationed at Cambridge to be sent to Canada. An equal number of militia to take their places." These regiments were to reenforce the Northern army then at Lake Champlain. Of the condition of that army at that time, John Adams wrote his wife in July, 1776:--
Our army at Crown Point is an object of wretchedness enough to fill a human mind with horror; disgraced, defeated, discontented, dispirited, diseased, naked, undisciplined, eaten up with vermin, no clothes, beds, blankets, no medicines, victuals, but salt pork and flour.
The ninth, Gen. Washington ordered Gen. Ward to march the four following regiments:--
Col. Asa Whitcomb's 6th Continental Regiment.
Col. Edward Phinney's 18th " "
Col. Samuel Brewer's Militia "
Col. Aaron Willard's " "
In Col. Aaron Willard's regiment was a company from Maine under the command of Capt. John Wentworth of Cape Elizabeth.
July 4, independence was declared, and the Continental Congress said, "We have counted the cost of this contest and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery." The eighteenth, from the balcony of the old State House on King Street, which was soon changed to State Street, was read the Declaration of Independence in the presence of soldiers and citizens. The soldiers fired thirteen volleys of small arms, and the batteries fired salutes. From Fort Hill Battery, where Fort Hill Square now is, Col. Phinney's men did their part in saluting the birth of the new government, which has grown beyond the dreams of the most sanguine of those times.
Col. Edward Phinney's regiment started on its march towards Fort Ticonderoga, Thursday, August 8, and lodged that night at Roxbury. The next day the regiment started at 9 A. M., marching through Watertown, Waltham, into Weston, where the men lodged. The tenth, marched through Lincoln, Concord, Acton, and probably lodged at Littleton. The next day marched to Groton where the men lodged. The twelfth, marched through Lunenburg, where the "regiment was agreeably entertained by music," to Fitchburgh, where it staid that night. The next day marched "over bad roads" to Ashburnham. Michael Tierney was tried here for theft and sentenced to receive thirty-nine lashes, which he received the next day. The fourteenth, marched to Winchendon, where the regiment put up about noon, because of the other regiments ahead. The next day resumed march through the woods to Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. The sixteenth, marched to Swanzey, where most of the regiment put up. The next day went through Keene, Surry, to Walpole. The eighteenth, proceeded to Charleston Number Four, where the regiment staid two days. The twenty-first, marched about 9 A. M., and crossed the ferry over the Connecticut River, but all of the regiment did not get over until about 3 P. M., when it moved into Springfield, Vermont, "N. Y. Government." The next day, marched to Cavendish, through about eight miles of woods, with "bad roads and poor entertainment," then proceeded about eight miles more into the woods, where the night was spent in a bush encampment. The twenty-fourth, marched all day, but saw no house, and encamped in the woods. The next day resumed the march and came to a house about, four o'clock, where it was expected that beef would be killed, but the men were disappointed, then pushed on to the next house and probably camped in the woods, in a rainstorm. The twenty-sixth, they marched four or five miles to a village near Otter Creek, where the regiment put up. It was still raining and the condition of the men was anything but comfortable. This village was Rutland, Vermont, and here Col. Phinney wrote a letter to Gen. Gates, August 28, explaining the cause of the delay. The twenty-seventh it rained, and the regiment did not move, but the twenty-eighth, marched on to Otter Creek, where a court-martial was held, and tried Corp. Buzzell, Moses Gamman and Jonathan Norton for desertion, and for punishment they were given five lashes each, which were ten short of the sentence. The crime of desertion was not then considered so grave an offense as now. Gen. Washington said, " even officers of the regular troops often left the camp without permission, went to their homes or elsewhere with great coolness, drew their pay at their place of abode, and vegetated on in the ordinary existence, without a thought of return to their standard and this without the slightest punishment." The camp discipline was very irksome to most of the men, as their lives had been lived in the freedom of the new settlements. The balance of the twenty-eighth, and part of the next day the regiment was crossing Otter Creek, and then proceeded to Castleton. The teams and baggage got over the Creek the thirtieth, when the regiment marched into the woods to Poultney River and went into camp. This was on the boundary line between Vermont and New York. September 1, the regiment had crossed the river, and arrived at Skenesborough, now Whitehall, New York. The next day the men embarked on batteaux and proceeded to Mount Independence, opposite Fort Ticonderoga. The batteaus used on Lake Champlain in 1776, were thirty-six feet long, eight feet wide, and had a mast where a blanket could be put on for a sail when the wind was favorable.
The Northern army, at Lake Champlain, was under the command of Gen. Philip Schuyler, with Gen. Horatio Gates second in command, they having superseded the gallant Gen. John Sullivan, July 5, on the arrival of the army at Crown Point in their sad retreat up the river Sorel from the St. Lawrence River.
The regiment had no tents, and the men were put into a long storehouse until they could build themselves barracks to live in. They were engaged in this work and preparing a parade-ground until September 9, when two hundred of the men were ordered to Fort George, at the south end of Lake George, where they arrived on the morning of the tenth. The next day part of the regiment were engaged in transporting flour in batteaux over the lake to Port Ticonderoga, and continued in this service until the twenty-seventh, when Col. Phinney's men were ordered to return to Mount Independence where they arrived in the evening of the twenty-eighth. They were assigned to the Second brigade.
On the summit of Mount Independence the Americans erected a star fort; the sides and foot of the mountain were strengthened with works to the water's edge, and the entrenchments were well lined with heavy cannon. Among the weapons used in the forts by our soldiers were poles twelve feet long, with sharp iron points, to be employed against assailants when they mounted the breastworks.
After the British withdrew, about November first the floating bridge, four hundred yards long, between Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga, was completed. To protect this bridge a boom was laid across the lake so the enemy's vessels could not approach it.
Charles H. Jones, Esquire, in his history of the Northern campaign of 1776, says:--
The story of the suffering, the zeal, the patience, the patriotism, the perseverance and valor of the men who won the victory at Ticonderoga, should be held in grateful remembrance by their countrymen to the latest generation. Like the story of Valley Forge, it is not told in startling deeds of blood. Though but a few had perished by the sword, yet five thousand who had gone out at the call of their country never returned. More than one out, or every three became victims of pestilence, want and exposure, and many of those who passed through the campaign came out of it with broken constitutions to fill premature graves.
Timothy Remick's order book, kept at Fort Ticonderoga, says under date of October 11:--
The long stillness and seeming suspense of the enemy strongly indicate that they are meditating some stroke of importance. It therefore behooves every officer and soldier of this army to be exceedingly vigilant and alert, particularly when on duty.
October 13, the army was alarmed by firing on the lake between the two fleets, and about four o'clock the army manned the forts ready for action. The next morning they were called to quarters before daylight. On the eleventh there had been a naval battle on Lake Champlain between Sir Guy Carleton and Generals Arnold and Waterbury, which continued four hours, and the American fleet was obliged to withdraw. On the thirteenth, our fleet was attacked by the British, who destroyed or captured eleven of our vessels, but five escaped, and this last attack was the one that caused the alarm at Mount Independence that day. Gen. Arnold and his men fought bravely, but were overpowered. Our army lost about one hundred men, and the retreat of the fleet was conducted with great skill.
Sergeant Remick's order book, under date of October 14, at Ticonderoga, has the following entry:--
As every regiment is well acquainted with their alarm-posts, the General expects the troops will be alert in marching to support the works they are severally appointed to defend. He has the utmost dependence in the bravery and fidelity of the whole army, and believes when they are rallied to action they will show themselves worthy of the cause they are engaged to defend. He returns his thanks to Gen. Arnold, the officers and seamen and marines of the fleet for the gallant defense they made against the great superiority of the enemy's force. Such magnanimous behaviour will establish the fame of American arms throughout the Globe.
The nineteenth, the order book says:--
The General has no doubt but a vigorous defense will be made with that animated zeal becoming soldiers who are also citizens of America.
The weather during the fall of 1776 was stormy, and the soldiers suffered much from exposure. In the order book it states that the men shall in wet weather have served them one-half gill of rum, and if very wet they shall have a gill. There was such a deficiency of entrenching tools that the men were divided into squads so that they could take their turns, and thus have them in use all of the time.
After the destruction of so much of our fleet, October 13, there was a reasonable fear of the British fleet, flushed with victory, reenforced, perhaps, by their army. A strict watch was kept for the enemy, and October 28 they appeared before Fort Ticonderoga, and a general alarm was sounded for the army to man the forts. Thirteen thousand Americans were under arms. The fleet withdrew without making an attack, and the Northern campaign of 1776 was at an end. The British troops withdrew to Canada about November 4, where they remained all winter. In the spring of 1777, they emerged, reenforced by the German troops, to embark in the campaign which ended the next October in the surrender of the army of Gen. Burgoyne, which was probably the most important event during the Revolutionary war.
A distinguished writer, speaking of the Northern campaign, said it was "an enterprise bold in conception, daring and hardy in execution, full of ingenious expedients and hazardous exploits; and which, had not unforeseen circumstances counteracted its well- devised plans, might have added all Canada to the American confederacy."
November 20, Col. Phinney's regiment marched about 9 A. M. from Mount Independence, and arrived about noon at Lake George, where it encamped in the woods for want of boats to transport the men over the lake. Here the regiment remained until November 22, when three of the companies embarked and arrived at Fort George, at the head of the lake, about nine o'clock of the twenty-third. The other five companies of the regiment arrived the twenty-fourth, and Col. Phinney took command of Fort George, superseding Col. John Stark, as he probably was the senior officer. The duty of the regiment here was transporting flour over the lake to the other forts.
December 8, the regiment was mustered when the rolls of companies were made. The twelfth,"a she-male," was drummed out of camp. On Christmas day there was no snow on the ground, and the lake was not frozen over, but the next day the snow was a foot deep.
The regiment was discharged the last of December at Fort George, and many started for home the next day by the way of Fort Edward and Albany. Some of the men came from Albany through the following towns: Phillipstown, Pittsfield, Glasgow, Westfield, Springfield, Wilbraham, Palmer, Brookfield, Spencer, Leicester, Worcester, Northborough, Marlborough, Sudbury, Weston, Watertown and Cambridge, to Boston. Some came by a more direct route through Hadley.
After the colonies had declared their independence the war was no more a rebellion, but a struggle to establish a government, which must be continued to the end. Congress realizing this, made provisions in October for raising an army for three years or the war, as the prospect was that the new government would not be established in a few months but that it must be a long and bitter contest.
Congress passed, October 6, the following resolution:
RESOLVED, That further encouragement for gentlemen of abilities to engage as commissioned officers in the battalions to be furnished by the different states for service during the war, their monthly pay to be increased as follows:-- A Colonel, $75.00; Lieut.- Col., $60.00; Major, $50.00; Capt., $40.00; Lieut., $27.00; Quarter Master, $27.50; Adjt., $40.00.
The pay of the non-commissioned officers and privates for the regiment was to be as follows:-- sergeant-major and quartermaster sergeant, $9.00; drum major and sergeant, $8.00; corporal and drummers, $7.33; and privates, $6.67. The commissioned officers were to be allowed one soldier each for a waiter.
The soldiers of the Northern army were urged to reenlist, and every argument was used to induce them to continue in the service until the close of the war. They were offered in October a bounty of twenty dollars and a complete suit of clothing, to consist of two linen hunting-shirts, two pairs stockings, two pairs shoes, one pair breeches, one waistcoat, two pairs of overalls, two shirts, and one leather cap or hat amounting in the whole to twenty dollars, or that sum to be paid to the soldier. The order book at Ticonderoga says: --
This noble bounty of $40.00 and 100 acres of land at the end of the war is such an ample and generous gratuity from the United States that the General is convinced no American will hesitate to enroll himself to defend his country's posterity from every attempt of tyranny to enslave them.
November 2, a committee of Congress arrived in camp to engage the officers and make the arrangements for the enlistments of the men. Col. Phinney retired from the service, as his affairs at home required his attention, but he was an active patriot until the close of the war. Nearly one hundred of the regiment reenlisted for three years mostly in the regiment of Col. Brewer.
The condition of the affairs of the colonies in December was gloomy and discouraging. The time of the regiments was expiring, and new recruits did not arrive in sufficient numbers to take their places. "Gen. Washington," Thacher says, "was suffering the most agonizing distress for the fate of his army and his country." The only bright ray for the colonists was that Christmas night, Washington, during a severe snow- and rain-storm, crossed the Delaware, fought and won the battle of Trenton, which revived the drooping spirits of the patriots.
Muster Rolls of the individual companies.
4328 Visitors since 1 Nov 2005. Thanks for stopping by!
Last updated: April 21 2010 07:21:55.