‘The amazing diligence’ of Washington
what history cannot parallel; he had for six months together, without powder, maintained a post within musket-shot of more than twenty hostile British regiments; he had disbanded one army and recruited another; and was still without an adequate number of troops, or a supply of ammunition; and the arms of his soldiers were poor in quality and insufficient in number.
At such a moment he received the special authority of congress to ‘attack the troops in Boston
, even though it should involve the destruction of the town;’ and Hancock
, who individually might be the greatest sufferer, wrote to wish him success: yet the winter was so mild, that there was no ice to pass on; and for a bombardment he was in want of powder; so that he was compelled to disregard the recommendation, and to conceal the cause of his inactivity.
Yet he never admitted the thought of retiring from his post, although the situation of his army gave him many a wakeful hour when all around him were wrapped in sleep; and he often considered how much happier would have been his lot, if, instead of accepting the command, he had taken his musket on his shoulder and entered the ranks.
Sometimes his eye would glance towards his lands on the Ohio
; ‘in the worst event,’ said he, ‘they will serve for an asylum.’
Could he have justified the measure to posterity and his own conscience, he would gladly have retired at once to the back woods, even though it had been to live in a wigwam.
If he had not consulted the public good more than his own tranquillity, he would have put every thing on the cast of a die, and forced a