Letter to John Augustine Washington

Letter to John Augustine Washington

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On the 2nd Inst. I arrived at this place, after passing through a great deal of delightful Country, covered with grass, (although the Season has been dry) in a very different manner to what our Lands in Virginia are.

I found a mixed multitude of People here, under very little discipline, order, or Government. I found the enemy in possession of a place called Bunker’s Hill, on Charles Town Neck, strongly Intrenched, and Fortifying themselves; I found part of our Army on two Hills, (called Winter and Prospect Hills) about a Mile and a quarter from the enemy on Bunker’s Hill, in a very insecure state; I found another part of the Army at this Village; and a third part at Roxbury, guarding the Entrance in and out of Boston.

My whole time, since I came here, has been Imployed in throwing up Lines of
Defence at these three several places; to secure, in the first Instance, our own Troops
from any attempts of the Enemy; and, in the next, to cut off all Communication
between their troops and the Country; For to do this, and to prevent them from
penetrating into the Country with Fire and Sword, and to harass them if they do, is all
that is expected of me; and if effected, must totally overthrow the designs of
Administration, as the whole Force of Great Britain in the Town and Harbour of
Boston can answer no other end than to sink her under the disgrace and weight of
the expense. Their Force, including Marines, Tories, &c., are computed, from the
best accounts I can get, at about 12,000 Men; ours, including Sick absent, &c., at
about 16,000; but then we have a Cemi Circle of Eight or Nine Miles, to guard to
every part of which we are obliged to be equally attentive; whilst they, situated as it
were in the Center of the Cemicircle, can bend their whole Force (having the entire
command of the Water), against any one part of it with equal facility; This renders
our Situation not very agreeable, though necessary; however, by incessant labour
(Sundays not excepted), we are in a much better posture of defence than when I first
came… .

The Enemy are sickly, and scarce of Fresh provisions. Beef, which is chiefly got
by slaughtering their Milch Cows in Boston, sells from one shilling to 18d. Sterling
per lb.; and that it may not get cheaper, or more plenty, I have drove all the Stock,
within a considerable distance of this place, back into the Country, out of the Way of
the Men of war’s Boats; In short, I have, and shall continue to do, every thing in my
power to distress them. The Transports are all arrived and their whole Reinforcement
is Landed, so that I can see no reason why they should not, if they ever attempt it,
come boldly out and put the matter to Issue at once; if they think themselves not
strong enough to do this, they surely will carry their Arms (having Ships of War and
Transports ready) to some other part of the Continent, or relinquish the dispute; the
last of which the Ministry, unless compelled, will never agree to do. Our Works, and
those of the Enemy are so near and quite open between that we see every thing that
each other is doing. I recollect nothing more worth mentioning. I shall therefore
conclude with my best wishes, and love to my Sister and Family, and Compliments to
any enquiring Friends, your most affectionate brother.

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