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[297] very much to himself, Howe knew not what to pro-
Chap. LIX.} 1776. Mar.
pose; neither Burgoyne nor Clinton was with him to share his responsibility. ‘If they retain possession of the heights,’ said Admiral Shuldham, ‘I cannot keep a ship in the harbor.’ A council of war was called, and it was determined to assault the Americans. Washington had provided for the contingency; and had the British made a vigorous sally against the party at Dorchester, the Americans had floating batteries and boats ready to carry four thousand men into Boston. All day long the neighboring hills which commanded a view of the scene, were crowded with spectators, who watched the bustle, hurry, and alarm in the town. Twenty four hundred men were detailed and put under the command of Lord Percy to make the attack; but the men were pale and dejected; they shared the general consternation and remembered Bunker Hill; and Percy showed no heart for an enterprise, which Howe himself confessed to be hazardous. When they were seen to enter the boats, the Americans on the heights, who now expected an immediate attack, kindled with joy in their confidence of repelling them victoriously. Washington said: ‘Remember, it is the fifth of March, a day never to be forgotten; avenge the death of your brethren;’ and the words, as they flew from mouth to mouth, inflamed still more the courage of his soldiers. But they were doomed to disappointment; the British sallying party and Percy, who did not intend to attempt scaling the heights till after nightfall, were borne in the transports to the castle; in the afternoon a violent storm of wind came up from the south, and about midnight blew with such

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