Front Matter Our Country Long Ago The Barbarous Indians The Mounds Where the Northmen Went The Northmen in America Queer Ideas Prince Henry the Navigator Youth of Columbus Columbus and the Queen "Land! Land!" Columbus and the Savages Home Again Columbus Ill-treated Death of Columbus How America Got its Name The Fountain of Youth "The Father of Waters" The French in Canada French and Spanish Quarrels The Sky City Around the World Nothing but Smoke Smith's Adventures The Jamestown Men Smith Wounded Pocahontas Visits England Hudson and the Indians The Mayflower Plymouth Rock The First Thanksgiving Snake Skin and Bullets The Beginning of Boston Stories of Two Ministers Williams and the Indians The Quakers The King-Killers King Phillip's War The Beginning of New York Penn and the Indians The Catholics in Maryland The Old Dominion Bacon's Rebellion A Journey Inland The Carolina Pirates Charter Oak Salem Witches Down the Mississippi La Salle's Adventures Indians on the Warpath Two Wars with the French Washington's Boyhood Washington's Journey Washington's First Battle Stories of Franklin Braddock's Defeat Wolfe at Quebec England and her Colonies The Stamp Tax The Anger of the Colonies The Boston Tea Party The Minutemen The Battle of Lexington Bunker Hill The Boston Boys The British leave Boston Declaration of Independence A Lady's Way of Helping Christmas Eve The Fight at Bennington Burgoyne's Surrender Winter at Valley Forge The Quaker Woman Putnam's Adventures Indian Cruelty Boone in Kentucky Famous Sea Fights The "Swamp Fox" The Poor Soldiers The Spy A Traitor's Death Two Unselfish Women Surrender of Cornwallis British Flag hauled down Washington's Farewell

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

The British Leave Boston

While Washington was holding the British prisoners in Boston, Congress made one more vain attempt to be on good terms with the king. But the only answer he made to their petition was to call for more soldiers. Finding that the English, who in many cases thought the Americans were right, would not fight for him, he hired seventeen thousand Hessian and other German soldiers to put down the rebellion.

The news that the king was hiring Germans and bribing the Indians on the frontier to make trouble, made the Americans very angry. On the same day, they heard that the British had burned down Falmouth (Portland), in Maine, so they determined to take active measures.

Knowing that the Canadians under Carleton would soon march southward, they sent two armies to the north. One, under Montgomery, passed up Lake Champlain and soon took Montreal. The other army, although it was winter, heroically forced its way through the Maine woods to Quebec, led by Benedict Arnold.

There Montgomery joined Arnold; but their combined forces proved too weak to take the city. Montgomery fell in the very beginning of the fight, and Arnold, who had behaved like a hero, was badly wounded. Before he could recover and make a new attempt to seize Quebec,—where much ammunition was stored,—new British troops came and drove the American forces out of Canada.

Washington, as we have seen, was seemingly idle, only because his troops needed drilling and he had no powder. As he did not wish the enemy to know this, he kept the secret until many people began to murmur because he spent the winter in Cambridge with Mrs. Washington, without striking a blow. He had, however, been far from idle, for, besides drilling his army, he had made many arrangements, and provided that the American prisoners should be kindly treated or exchanged. To do this, he wrote to General Gates, who had fought by his side at Monongahela twenty years before, promising that the British prisoners should receive just the same care as was given to the Americans.

As soon as the cannons came from Ticonderoga, Washington resolved to attack Boston, in spite of the objections of his officers. The principal house owners there had long urged him to do so, notwithstanding the fact that their property would suffer greatly. One night, therefore, he bade his men secretly climb and fortify Dorchester Heights. When the British awoke the next morning, they saw that the American guns covered them. Rather than stand such a deadly fire, General Howe decided to leave the town. His troops, and about nine hundred of his friends, went on board the British vessels in the harbor, and sailed off to Halifax.

On St. Patrick's day, 1776, Washington triumphantly entered Boston, where his troops were received with every demonstration of great joy. Indeed, the Bostonians were so happy that they gave Washington a gold medal, on one side of which he is represented on horseback, pointing to the vanishing British fleet.

But Washington did not linger there long. Suspecting that Howe's next attempt would be to seize New York, and fearing lest he might have gone there straight from Boston, Washington soon hurried away. Just before he left the city, a British ship, laden with powder, sailed into the harbor, as its captain thought the British were still there. Its cargo was quickly seized, and provided the American army with seven times more powder than they had been able to secure by any other means.

About three months later a second British fleet, under Clinton, suddenly appeared off Charleston, where it began bombarding Fort Moultrie. The governor of Charleston having sent word to the general, "Keep cool and do mischief," the fire was promptly returned. Besides, the British were greatly dismayed to see their cannon balls burying themselves harmlessly in the soft palmetto logs and the big sand heaps of which the fort was composed. But the balls from the fort crippled the British vessels so badly that they had to sail away again without taking possession of Charleston.

[Illustration] from Story of the Thirteen Colonies by Helene Guerber


In the midst of this battle, a British cannon ball cut Fort Moultrie's flagstaff in two, and brought down the flag. The enemy cheered loudly at this lucky shot; but a sergeant named Jasper quickly jumped over the parapet, caught up the fallen flag, and set it up again, notwithstanding the hail of bullets falling around him; so that it was now the Americans' turn to raise a cheer of triumph. In reward for his daring action, Jasper was offered the rank of lieutenant; but as he could neither read nor write, he sadly refused it, saying: "I am not fit for the company of officers."