by carts with intrenching tools, and by the working
party of twelve hundred under the command of Thomas
, an officer whose great merit on this occasion is the more to be remembered from the shortness of his career.
The ground, for eighteen inches deep, was frozen too hard to yield earth for the defences; but the foresight of the chief had amply provided substitutes; a train of more than three hundred carts, easily drawn by oxen over the frozen marshes, brought bundles of screwed hay to form a cover for Dorchester Neck where it was exposed to a raking fire, and an amazing quantity of gabions and fascines and chandeliers for the redoubts.
The drivers, as they goaded on their cattle, suppressed their voices; the westerly wind carried all sound away from the town.
perceived with delight that his movement was unobserved, and that the ceaseless noise of artillery alone attracted attention.
The hours, as they flew by, were the most eventful of his life; after nine months of intolerable waiting, a crisis was at hand, but every thing was prepared to ensure his success; and as he raised the intrenchments of American independence on the heights of Dorchester
, he had a happiness of mind till then unknown to him during the siege.
The night, though cold, was not severely so; the temperature was the fittest that could be for out-door work; the haze that denotes a softening of the air hung round the base of the ridge; above him, the moon, which that morning had become full, was shining in cloudless lustre; at his side, hundreds of men toiled in stillness at the frozen ground with an assiduity that knew nothing of fatigue; the three hundred teams