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[26] proper food. The fifth regiment suffered most; the
Chap. XLI.} 1775. June 17.
eighteenth and the fifty ninth, which had long been very weak, were utterly ruined; and, to the end of the war, the courage of the insurgents in this battle of the people, and their skill as marksmen, never wore out of mind. The loss of officers was observed to be disproportionately great; and the gloom in the quarters of the British was deepened by the reflection, that they had fought not against an enemy, but against their fellow-subjects and kindred; not for the promotion of civil or religious freedom, but for the supremacy of one part of the empire over another. Those who, like Abercrombie, died of their wounds, wanted consolation in their last hour, for they had no hope that posterity would mark their graves or cherish their memory.

On the day of the battle, the continental congress elected its four major generals. Of these, the first, from deference to Massachusetts, was Artemas Ward. Notwithstanding his ill health, he answered: ‘I always have been, and am still ready to devote my life in attempting to deliver my native country.’

The American people with ingenuous confidence assumed that Charles Lee,—the son of an English officer, trained up from boyhood for the army,—was, as he represented himself, well versed in the science of war, familiar with active service in America, Portugal, Poland, and Turkey, and altogether a soldier of consummate ability, who had joined their cause from the purest impulses of a generous nature. In England he was better understood. ‘From what I know of him,’ wrote Sir Joseph Yorke, then British minister at the Hague, ‘he is the worst present which could be made to any army.’

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