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Chapter 32:

Effects of the day of Lexington and Concord continued: Ticonderoga taken.

May, 1775.

the people of South Carolina, who had hoped relief
Chap. XXXII.} 1775. May.
through the discontinuance of importations from Britain, did not falter on learning the decision of parliament. On the instant, Charles Pinckney, using power intrusted to him by the provincial congress, appointed a committee of five to place the colony in a state of defence; on the twenty-first of April, the very night after their organization, men of Charleston, without disguise, under their direction, seized all the powder in the public magazines, and removed eight hundred stand of arms and other military stores from the royal arsenal. The tidings from Lexington induced the general committee to hasten the meeting of the provincial congress; whose members, on the second of June, Henry Laurens being their president, associated themselves for defence against every foe; ‘ready to sacrifice their lives and fortunes to secure her freedom and safety.’ They resolved to raise two regiments of infantry, and a regiment of rangers. To this end, one hundred and forty thousand pounds sterling were issued in bills of credit, which for a year and a half the enthusiasm of the people did not suffer to fall in [337] value. ‘We are ready to give freely half or
Chap. XXXII.} 1775. May.
whole of our estates for the security of our liberties,’ was the universal language.

The militia officers threw up their commissions from the royal governor, and submitted to the orders of congress. A council of safety was charged with executive powers. In the midst of these proceedings, Lord William Campbell, their new governor, arrived, and the provincial congress waited on him with an address: ‘No lust of independence has had the least influence upon our counsels; no subjects more sincerely desire to testify their loyalty and affection. We deplore the measures, which, if persisted in, must rend the British empire. Trusting the event to Providence, we prefer death to slavery.’

‘The people of Charleston are as mad as they are here in Boston,’ was the testimony of Gage.

The skirmish at Lexington became known in Savannah on the tenth of May, and added Georgia to the union. At that time she had about seventeen thousand white inhabitants and fifteen thousand Africans. Her militia was not less than three thousand. Her frontier, which extended from Augusta to St. Mary's, was threatened by the Creeks with four thousand warriors; the Chickasaws, with four hundred and fifty; the Cherokees, with three thousand; the Choctaws, with twenty-five hundred. But danger could not make her people hesitate. On the night of the eleventh, Noble Wimberley Jones, Joseph Habersham, Edward Telfair, and others, broke open the king's magazine in the eastern part of the city, and took from it over five hundred pounds of powder. [338]

In writing to the committee for Boston, they ac-

Chap. XXXII.} 1775 May.
knowledged the noble stand taken by Massachusetts; and to the Boston wanderers, they sent sixty-three barrelsof rice and one hundred and twenty-two pounds in specie. On the king's birthday the patriots erected a liberty pole; as if to express the wish still to combine allegiance to the king with their devotion to American liberty.

‘A general rebellion throughout America is coming on suddenly and swiftly,’ reported their governor. ‘Matters will go to the utmost extremity.’

Meantime, great deeds had been achieved by the mountaineers of the north. To hold the city of New York, its harbor, and the river Hudson, and by means of the fortresses on the lakes to keep open a free communication with Canada, was the scheme by which it was hoped to insulate and reduce New England. On Saturday, the twenty-ninth of April, Samuel Adams and Hancock, as they passed through Hartford, had secretly met the governor and council of Connecticut, to promote the surprise of Ticonderoga, which had been planned by the Green Mountain Boys. Ethan Allen was encouraged by an express messenger to hold them in readiness; and the necessary funds were furnished from the treasury of Connecticut. Sixteen men of that colony leaving Salisbury, were joined in Massachusetts by John Brown, who had first proposed the enterprise in a letter from Montreal, by Colonel James Easton, and by not so many as fifty volunteers from Berkshire. At Bennington they found Ethan Allen, who was certainly ‘the proper man to head his own people.’ Repairing to the north, he sent the alarm through the [339] hills of Vermont; and on Sunday, the seventh of

Chap. XXXII.} 1775. May.
May, about one hundred Green Mountain Boys and near fifty soldiers from Massachusetts, under the mand of Easton, rallied at Castleton. Just the arrived Benedict Arnold, with only one attendant. He brought a commission from the Massachusetts committee of safety, which was disregarded, and the men unanimously elected Ethan Allen their chief.

On the eighth of May, the party began the march; late on the ninth, they arrived at Orwell. With the utmost difficulty, a few boats were got together, and eighty-three men crossing the lake with Allen, landed near the garrison. The boats were sent back for Seth Warner and the rear guard; but if they were to be waited for, there could be no surprise. The men were, therefore, at once drawn up in three ranks, and as the first beams of morning broke upon the mountain peaks, Allen addressed them: ‘Friends and fellow-soldiers: We must this morning quit our pretensions to valor, or possess ourselves of this fortress; and inasmuch as it is a desperate attempt, I do not urge it on, contrary to will.. You that will undertake voluntarily, poise your firelock.’

At the word every firelock was poised. ‘Face to the right,’ cried Allen; and placing himself at the head of the centre file, Arnold keeping emulously at his side, he marched to the gate. It was shut, but the wicket was open. The sentry snapped a fuzee at him. The Americans rushed into the fort, darted upon the guards, and raising the Indian war whoop, such as had not been heard there since the days of Montcalm, formed on the parade in hollow [340] square, to face each of the barracks. One of the

Chap. XXXII.} 1775. May 10.
sentries, after wounding an officer, and being slightly wounded himself, cried out for quarter and showed the way to the apartment of the commanding officer. ‘Come forth instantly, or I will sacrifice the whole garrison,’ cried Ethan Allen, as he reached the door. At this, Delaplace, the commander, came out undressed, with his breeches in his hand. ‘Deliver to me the fort instantly,’ said Allen. ‘By what authority?’ asked Delaplace. ‘In the name of the great Jehovah, and the continental congress!’ answered Allen. Delaplace began to speak again, but was peremptorily interrupted, and at sight of Allen's drawn sword near his head, he gave up the garrison, ordering his men to be paraded without arms.

Thus was Ticonderoga taken in the gray of the morning of the tenth of May. What cost the British nation eight millions sterling, a succession of campaigns and many lives, was won in ten minutes by a few undisciplined men, without the loss of life or limb.

The Americans gained with the fortress nearly fifty prisoners, more than a hundred pieces of cannon, one thirteen inch mortar, and a number of swivels, stores, and small arms. To a detachment under Seth Warner, Crown Point, with its garrison of twelve men, surrendered upon the first summons. Another party succeeded in making a prisoner of Skeene, a dangerous British agent; and in getting possession of the harbor of Skeenesborough.

Messengers carried to the continental congress news of the great acquisition which inaugurated the day of its assembling. ‘A war has begun,’ wrote [341] Joseph Warren from the Massachusetts congress;

Chap. Xxxiii} 1775. May.
‘but I hope after a full conviction, both of our ability and resolution to maintain our rights, Britain will act with necessary wisdom; this I most heartily wish, as I feel a warm affection still for the parent state.’

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