professed the purpose of retaliation, as he sent the
British officers who were his prisoners into the interior; but he privately countermanded the order, and allowed them liberty on parole.
The lenity was ill requited.
One of them, Stanhope
by name, was base enough to forfeit his honor.
The arrival of reenforcements and recruits could not inspirit Gage
to venture outside of his lines.
His pent up troops, impaired by skirmishes, desertions, and most of all by sickness, were disheartened by their manifestly ‘disadvantageous situation.’
His own timorousness, presaging ‘a long and bloody war,’ figured to itself the maritime powers of Europe
taking possession of some of the provinces, and a southern governor falling a prey to negroes.
He even confessed to Dartmouth, that he had fears for his own safety; that nothing could justify his risking an attack; that even to quit Boston
safely would require the greatest secrecy.
was all the while more closely investing the town.
In the night following the twenty sixth of August, with a fatigue party of a thousand, a guard of twenty four hundred, he took possession of Ploughed Hill
On the next day, Gage
began a cannonade, which, for the need of powder, could not be returned.
On Monday the twenty eighth, the British
were seen drawn up on Bunker Hill
, and Washington
, notwithstanding his want of ammunition, offered battle by marching five thousand men to Ploughed Hill
and Charlestown road. Silence was observed on both sides, till three in the afternoon; when it appeared that the British
would not accept the challenge.
But three days later, Gage