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[296] each of the two hills; an abattis constructed of trees,
Chap. LIX.} 1776. Mar.
felled in the neighboring orchards, protected the foot of the ridge; the top was surmounted by barrels, filled with earth and stones, which, as the hill sides were steep and bare of trees and bushes, were, in case of an attack, to be rolled down against the assailing columns. ‘Perhaps there never was so much work done in so short a space of time.’ Some time after daybreak on the morning of the fifth, the British from Boston beheld with astonishment and dismay the forts which had sprung up in a night. At the discovery the batteries on both sides ceased to play, and a fearful quiet prevailed. Howe, as he saw the new intrenchments loom in imposing strength, reported that ‘they must have been the employment of at least twelve thousand men;’ and some of his officers acknowledged, that the sudden appearance recalled the wonderful stories in eastern romances of enchantment and the invisible agency of fairy hands. The British general found himself surpassed in military skill by officers whom he had pretended to despise. One unexpected combination, concerted with faultless ability, and suddenly executed, had in a few hours made his position untenable. His army at that time was well supplied with provisions from vessels which were constantly coming into port; the Americans, on the contrary, were poorly cared for and poorly paid: the British had abundance of artillery; the Americans had almost no large guns that were serviceable: the British had a profusion of ammunition; the Americans scarce enough to supply their few cannon for six or eight days; and yet the British had no choice but to dislodge the New England farmers or retreat. Left

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