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THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 




SIR WILLIAM PITIPS 



AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY 

EDITED BY 

JARED SPARKS 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS 

By 
FRANCIS BOWEN 

JOSEPH WARREN 

By 
ALEXANDER H. EVERETT 

Vol. 10 




HARPER & BROTHERS 

PUBLISHERS 
NEW YORK AND LONDON J902 



Addod Copy 



GIFT 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

LIFE OF SIR WILLIAM PHIPS 3 



CHAPTER I 

His Birth and Early Occupation. Goes to 
Boston as a Ship-Carpenter. His Marriage. 
Visits England and obtains the Command 
of the Algier-Rose. Unsuccessful Cruise. 
Sent out again by the Duke of Albemarle. 
Returns with a Spanish Treasure. Re 
ceives the Honor of Knighthood 3 

CHAPTER II 

State of Affairs in New England. Phips 
returns thither as High Sheriff. Goes to 
England again. Deposition of Andros at 
Boston. Phips returns. French and In 
dian War. Successful Expedition against 
Acadia. Particulars respecting the Plunder 
taken at Port Royal 24 

CHAPTER III 

Naval Expedition under Phips against Quebec. 
Its Failure. Disasters to a Part of tltf 

Fleet on its Return 48 

iii 






CONTENTS 
CHAPTER IV 

PAGE 

Difficulties created by the Failure of the Canada 
Expedition. Issue of Paper Money. Phips 
goes to England. Negotiations respecting 
the Renewal of the Charter. New Charter 
granted, and Phips appointed Governor. 
His Return, and Reception at Boston. Sa 
lem Witchcraft 66 

CHAPTER V 

Legislative Acts. Indian War. Attack upon 
Wells. Building of Fort William Henry. 
- Elections in May, 1693. Unpopularity 
of Phips. Peace concluded with the Indians 
at Pemaquid. Phips quarrels with Short 
and Brenton. Recalled to England. His 
Death and Character 82 



LIFE OF JOSEPH WARREN 103 

CHAPTER I 
His Family and Education 103 

CHAPTER II 

His Professional Studies and Practice. En 
trance into Political Life 109 

CHAPTER III 

Events of the $th of March, 1770. Warren s 

Anniversary Addresses Ii6 

iv 



CONTENTS 
CHAPTER IV 

PAGE 

Political Organization of Massachusetts. War 
ren is elected President of the Provincial 
Congress, and Chairman of the Committee 
of Public Safety. Events of the l$th of 
April, 1775 124 

CHAPTER V 

Formation and Character of the New England 
Army. Warren is elected Major-General. 
Gridley. Prescott. Putnam 134 

CHAPTER VI 

Strength and Disposition of the British Troops. 
The Americans occupy the Heights of 
Charlestons 144 

CHAPTER VII 

Commencement of the Action of the ijth of 
June. The British open their Batteries 
upon the American Works. The Americans 
send for Reinforcements, and are joined by 
the New Hampshire Troops, under Colonels 
Stark and Reed 154 

CHAPTER VIII 

Progress of the Action. A Detachment of 
British Troops lands at Charlestown. View 
of the two Peninsulas and the neighboring 
Country. General Warren comes upon the 
Field , 162 



CONTENTS 
CHAPTER IX 

PAGE 

General Howe attempts to storm the American 
Works. He is repulsed with great Loss. 
/// Conduct of the American Artillery. 
Gridley. Gerrish. Callender 170 

CHAPTER X 

Conflagration of Charlestown. General Howe 
attempts a second Time to storm the Amer 
ican Works. He is again repulsed with 
great Loss. Anecdote of General Putnam 
and Major Small, of the British Army . . 177 

CHAPTER XI 

Third Attack upon the American Works, which 
proves successful. The Americans leave the 
Redoubt. Death of Warren 182 

CHAPTER XII 

Resolutions of the Continental Congress in Hon 
or of Warren. His Wife and Family. 

Concluding Reflections 189 

vi 



LIFE 

OF 

SIR WILLIAM PHIPS 

BY 

FRANCIS BOWEN 



S I R W I L ! r A M $ fi l PS 



CHAPTER I. 

His Birth and Early Occupation. Goes tc 
Boston as a Ship- Carpenter. His Marriage 

Visits England and obtains the Command 
of the Algicr-Rose. Unsuccessful Cruise. 
Sent out again by the Duke of Albemarle. 

Returns with a Spanish Treasure. Re 
ceives the Honor of Knighthood. 

IT is often difficult for the historian to distin 
guish between rash adventure and well-concerted 
enterprise. Judging rather from success in the 
execution of a plan, than from the inventive genius 
and foresight displayed in its formation, mankmd 
are apt to give to wild but fortunate daring the 
praise, which is due only to judgment, activity, 
and skill, even when unsuccessfully exerted. It 
has been well observed of Columbus, that, had he 
yielded to the entreaties of his crew but a few 
hours sooner than he had determined to do, his 
name, if it had survived at all, would have been 
remembered only as that of a half insane projector* 



4: AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

and the lives; pf, many ethers, who have risen from 
obscurity and indigence to distinction and wealth, 
afford fti& :pvbb( ; ityat ike alJotment of fame has 
been as arbitrary as the distribution of the other 
gifts of fortune. A mere accident has formed the 
turning point in the life of many an adventurer, 
and given him that success, which he had vainly 
sought in many better conceived endeavours. 

The truth of these remarks is clearly shown in 
the life of one of the early governors of New Eng 
land, a man, who, in an age far less favorable 
than the present for the promotion of talent, sought 
his fortune in many schemes boldly planned and 
resolutely executed, and found it, at last, by fish 
ing for ship-wrecked treasure among the rocks and 
shallows of the Spanish Main. But imperfect 
accounts of the early part of his career have been 
preserved ; and these, from the strangeness of the 
incidents recorded, resemble rather the fragments 
of a nursery tale, than the materials of sober histo 
ry. A narrative of his life may assist in doing 
justice to the character of the man, and throw per 
haps some light on the features of the times in 
which he lived. 

WILLIAM PHIPS was bom February 2d, 1651, 
at Woolwich, Maine, a small settlement near the 
mouth of the river Kennebec. His father, James 
Phips, a gunsmith by trade, emigrated from Bris 
tol, England, at an early period in the history of 



SIR WILLIAM PH1PS. 5 

the colonies, and fixed his residence on the very 
borders of the settlements. He had twenty-six 
children, all of one mother, of whom twenty-one 
were sons. Of these, William was one of the 
youngest, and, by the death of his father, he was left 
at an early age to the exclusive management of 
his mother. The lowness of his parents situation, 
and the dangers and hardships incident to their res 
idence in a half-reclaimed wilderness, surrounded 
and frequently harassed by the natives, did not ad 
mit of their bestowing much care upon the educa 
tion of their children. 

While yet very young, without being taught 
even to read, William was employed in tending 
sheep, and he continued in this occupation till he 
was eighteen years of age. But this business was 
too easy and uniform to satisfy a boy of a restless 
and adventurous disposition. The sea was to be 
his element, and a sailor s life of wandering, nov 
elty, and hardship, was the only one which pos 
sessed any attractions for his active temperament. 

Even at this early period, the colonists had en 
gaged to some extent in navigation, to which, in 
deed, they were invited by the peculiarity of their 
situation, at so great a distance from the rest of the 
civilized world, and by the possession of the no 
blest harbors and navigable streams. The forests, 
which covered the banks of the rivers, offered fa 
cilities for ship-building, which were not allowed to 



6 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

remain long unimproved. Unable to procure a 
situation on board a vessel, Phips apprenticed him 
self, as the next best resource, to a ship-carpenter, 
in whose employment, probably diversified by 
an occasional coasting trip, he remained for four 
years. 

At the expiration of this time, his relatives would 
fain have persuaded him to settle among them , 
but, if we may credit his friend and biographer, 
Cotton Mather, some visions of future greatness 
had already visited his mind, and tempted him to 
seek, in a wider field of action, the fulfilment of his 
dreams. He would privately hint to his friends, 
that he was born for greater matters; and, as the 
best means of putting himself in the way of for 
tune, he removed, in 1673, to Boston. At this 
place, he worked at his trade about a year, and 
employed his leisure hours in learning to read and 
write. Here also he had the address or good for 
tune to recommend himself to the notice of a fair 
widow, and, by marrying her soon after, laid the 
foundation of his future success in life. 

His wife was the widow of a merchant by the 
name of Hull, and the daughter of Captain Roger 
Spencer, a person who had once possessed con 
siderable property, but had lost the greater portion 
of it by misplaced confidence. The wife of Phips 
had the advantage of him, both in years and for 
tune ; and the world, which, in such cases, is apt to 



\ 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 7 

suspect the existence of mercenary motives in one 
of the parties, was not, perhaps, in this particular 
instance, much mistaken in its conjecture. 

The marriage, however, seems to have been a 
happy one. The lady was pleased with his per 
son and address ; he did not dislike her fortune, 
and was not disposed to complain of her other 
qualifications ; and if he remained abroad during a 
considerable portion of the rest of his life, we may 
well consider the calls of his profession and a rov 
ing disposition as a sufficient reason for his wan 
derings, without supposing that there was any want 
of peace and comfort at home. 

The addition to his pecuniary means enabled 
him to extend his business ; and he entered into a 
contract with some merchants of Boston to build 
them a vessel on Sheepscot river, at a place a 
little to the eastward of the mouth of the Kenne- 
bec. Having launched the ship, he engaged to 
procure a lading of lumber, and return to Boston. 
But unforeseen circumstances prevented the com 
pletion of this design. 

The Eastern Indians, either from the imprudent 
conduct of the settlers, or the incitements of the 
French, had always looked with a jealous eye 
upon the English settlements in Maine. The 
frequent outbreak of hostilities was followed only 
oy a hollow peace, sure to be broken whenever the 
natives had rer overed their spirits after a defeat 



8 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

or found an opportunity for striking a cruel blow 
upon an unguarded village. Such an event oc 
curred immediately after Phips had launched his 
vessel. The attack of the savages caused the 
immediate flight of the defenceless inhabitants, 
and they took refuge on board the ship, which was 
yet in the stream. Thus compelled to relinquish 
his purpose of obtaining a cargo of lumber, Phips 
immediately sailed away, and conveyed the dis 
tressed people, free of charge, to Boston. 

The interruption of his plans by this incident 
caused considerable derangement in his affairs, and 
it is not unlikely, that for some time he felt the 
sharp pressure of pecuniary difficulties. But his 
sanguine temperament preserved him from despon 
dency ; and it appears, indeed, that his dreams of 
future success w r ere most frequent, when present 
embarrassments were at their height. We are told, 
that he would frequently console his wife with the 
assurance, that he should yet obtain the command 
of a King s ship, and become the owner " of a fair 
brick house in the Green Lane of North Boston." 
How much of the quaintness of these expectations 
5S to be attributed to the man, and how much to 
the biographer, we cannot determine. He had in 
genuity enough to form magnificent schemes, and, 
as his subsequent history proves, credulity suffi 
cient to mistake his own sanguine anticipations for 
mysterious presentiments. 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 9 

The realization of these golden hopes was post 
poned for a length of time, which, on a less san 
guine mind, must have produced all the bitter 
effects of entire disappointment. Hardly any ac 
count is preserved of his history for the next en 
years. They were probably spent mostly at Bos 
ton, in the industrious exercise of his profession as 
a ship-builder, and in short trading voyages, at 
tended only with such success as was sufficient to 
preserve him from want, and diversified by the 
creation of projects, which perished either in the 
formation, or in the earliest stages of execution. 

It was not till about the year 1684, that a pros 
pect of obtaining wealth, if not distinction, was 
opened to him ; and that came from a quarter, 
to which few men but himself would ever have 
dreamed of looking. We cannot tell how much 
judgment he manifested in embarking in such a 
scheme, without regarding the peculiar light in 
which such enterprises appeared to the men of his 
own times. 

The sudden influx of wealth into Spain, during 
the sixteenth centur) , from her colonies in the West 
India Islands and South America, had a strange 
effect in heating the imaginations and exciting the 
cupidity of all the nations of Europe, who, at that 
time, had paid any attention to maritime affairs. 
This effect was increased by the peculiarly bril 
liant and tempting form, in which the wealth was 



10 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

displayed. It consisted not so much in the m 
crease of territory and in the extension of com 
merce, as in the actual importation of large quanti 
ties of bullion and coin. As the first in the field, 
the Spaniards enjoyed the entire command of 
these sources of affluence, and the subjects of 
other European powers could share the gains only 
by secret, contraband expeditions, or by open war 
and piracy. 

The skill and daring of British seamen made 
them foremost in such attempts, and their success 
was sufficient to dazzle, though not enrich, the na 
tion at large. The half piratical expeditions of 
Drake and Raleigh were only the most important 
in a series of such enterprises. Englishmen also 
had a large share in the wealth and guilt of the 
Buccaneers ; and strange stories were current among 
the vulgar, concerning the wild adventures of men, 
who returned to their country after a long absence, 
and made the most ostentatious display of their 
riches. The ordinary means of gaining wealth 
appeared tame and insipid, compared with a daring 
enterprise for acquiring heaps of Spanish gold by 
the plunder of villages, or the capture of 

" argosies with portly sail, 
The sigtiiors and rich burghers of the flood." 

At a comparatively late period, the reputation of 
persons even of high rank was affected by some of 
these proceedings. The connexion of the Earl of 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. H 

Bellamont, and of Lords Rumney and Somers, with 
the voyage of the celebrated Kidd, has never been 
fully explained. For private individuals to make 
a mere commercial enterprise of a project, not 
to commit piracy, but to bring pirates to justice, 
to take shares in such an attempt, and agree upon 
a division of the profits, was, to say the least, a 
rather singular course. Indeed, the whole history 
of this daring pirate s career, of the objects for 
which he was despatched, and of the instructions 
which he received, is enveloped in mystery. 

The success of the Spaniards at the South ex 
cited the most confident expectations among the 
English people of discovering mines of the precious 
metals also in the Northern part of the American 
continent. The mania of hunting for gold and sil 
ver gave rise to the scheme of the Virginia colony ; 
and subsequently, by diverting the attention of the 
colonists from agriculture and the other arts, by 
which alone an infant settlement could be main 
tained, the same cause nearly proved its ruin. 
Even when repeated disappointments had shown 
the futility of such expectations, individuals were 
found credulous enough, on the slightest encour 
agement, to renew the search for mines with the 
same eagerness, with which the attempt had for 
merly been prosecuted by the whole colony. 

At the close of the seventeenth century, though 
the supply of precious metals from the Spanish 



lil AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

colonies had materially diminished, exaggerated 
stories were circulated, especially among seafaring 
men, of the immense wealth which was transport 
ed in galleons from the New to the Old World ; 
and an occasional account of a wreck excited wild 
hopes of recovering the lost treasure, even from 
the bottom of the ocean. 

A report of the wreck of a Spanish vessel, some 
where about the Bahamas, reached the ears of 
Phips, and induced him to make a voyage thith 
er, in a small vessel, which he owned and com 
manded. He succeeded in rinding the wreck, 
though the value of what was recovered from it, 
proved insufficient to defray the expense )f the 
voyage. He was told, however, of another and 
more richly laden vessel, which had been wrecked 
near Port de la Plata, more than half a century 
before. 

Unable from his own slender means to prose 
cute the search, he resolved upon a voyage to Eng 
land, in the hope of inducing the government to 
fit oat an expedition for the recovery of the treas 
ure. He arrived in London in the year 1684, 
where he made such representations to the Admi 
ralty, that, before the expiration of the year, he 
was appointed to the command of the Rose-Algiei, 
a ship of eighteen guns and ninety-five men. 

What circumstances favored his application, 
there are no means of ascertaining He must have 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 13 

had the assistance of influential friends ; otherwise, 
it is hardly probable, that a New England sea 
captain, of little education and no property, and 
who held no office under the crown, could have 
obtained the command of a national vessel, for 
such a Quixotic purpose, as a search after the 
wreck of a vessel which had been lost some fifty 
years before. Nor is it easy to perceive how he 
found patrons in London, or how his friends at 
home could assist him, since New-Englaridmen 
could hardly have been in favor at the court of 
James the Second. We can account for the ex 
traordinary success of Phips, only by supposing 
that his project was approved by the King himself, 
who was fond of naval enterprise, and who was 
pleased with the direct application of a blunt and 
gallant sailor. Subsequent events render it not 
unlikely, that Phips enjoyed the personal favor of 
the monarch. 

The commission which he received, must have 
imposed upon him some other duties than the 
mere search after ship-wrecked treasure ; for it was 
unlimited as to time, and was held by him during 
a two years cruise in the West Indies, at the 
close of which period circumstances obliged him 
to return. 

Unacquainted with the precise spot where the 
wreck was to be found, and unprovided with fit 
implements to prosecute the search, success in the 



1 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

main object of the voyage could hardly have been 
expected. Great embarrassments were also expe 
rienced from the mutinous character of the crew. 
Sailors had been easily collected for a cruise, the 
express object of which was the acquirement of 
Spanish gold. But they were a motley and law 
less set, unused to the restraints of a ship of war, 
and eager for an opportunity to realize the hopes, 
which had induced them to embark. Fatigued 
by severe duty, and weary of groping unsuccess 
fully for riches in the depths of the ocean, they 
at last openly demanded the relinquishment of 
their original purpose, and the use of the ship for 
a piratical expedition against the Spanish vessels 
and smaller settlements. But the courage and 
presence of mind of their commander enabled him 
to avoid the danger. 

On one occasion, breaking out into open mutiny, 
the crew came armed to the quarter-deck, that 
they might compel the adoption of their measures. 
Though unarmed and taken by surprise, Phips 
contrived to secure two or three of the ringleaders, 
and to awe the rest into submission. 

But a more dangerous and better concerted plot 
was soon afterwards formed. The ship had been 
brought to anchor at a small and uninhabited 
island, for the purpose of undergoing some repairs 
To admit of careening the vessel, a great part of 
the stores were removed, and placed under cover 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 15 

in an encampment on the shore. The ship was 
then hove down by the side of a rock stretching 
out from the land, to which a small bridge was 
constructed, that afforded the means of passing to 
and fro. 

Under the pretext of amusing themselves, the 
greater part of the crew retired to the woods at a 
short distance from the encampment, and there 
entered into an agreement to stand by each other 
in an attempt to seize the captain, and make off 
with the vessel. The plan was to return about 
seven o clock that evening, to overpower Phips 
and the seven or eight men who were with him, 
and leave them to perish on the barren key, while 
the mutineers, who were about a hundred in num 
ber, were to make a piratical expedition to the 
South Sea. A mere chance discovered and de 
feated the conspiracy. 

It occurred to the party that, in their contem 
plated voyage, they would need the services of 
the carpenter, who was still on board the vessel. 
Sending for him on some pretence, they acquainted 
him with their plan, and threatened him with in 
stant death, if he did not join in its execution. 
He prevailed upon them, however, to grant him 
half an hour s delay to consider of the matter, and 
to permit him to return to the ship for the purpose 
of procuring his tools. Two or three of the sea 
men attended him to watch his motions. A few 



16 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

minutes after he came on board, he pretended to 
be suddenly taken sick, and ran down, as if fat 
some medicine, to the cabin, where he found the 
captain, and in a few words informed him of the 
danger. Phips immediately told him to return to 
the shore with the others, to appear to enter fully 
into their plan, and leave the rest with him. 

No time was now to be lost, for it wanted but 
two hours of the moment fixed for the execution 
of the conspiracy. Calling round him the few that 
remained in the vessel, and finding them warm in 
their professions of fidelity, he commenced his pre 
parations for defeating the project of the disaffect 
ed. A few of the ship s guns had been removed 
with the stores to the land, and planted in such a 
manner as to defend the tent. He caused the 
charges to be drawn from these, the guns them 
selves to be turned, and all the ammunition to be 
removed to the frigate. The bridge was then 
taken up, and the ship s guns loaded and trained 
so as to command all approaches to the encamp 
ment. The mutineers soon made their appear 
ance from the woods, but were hailed by Phips. 
who threatened to fire upon them if they came 
near the stores. The bridge was then again laid, 
and the few faithful hands set about transporting 
the articles from the land to the vessel. The 
others were obliged to remain at a distance, being 
told that thev were to suffer the fate which they 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 17 

had intended for the captain, and be abandoned to 
perish upon the island. 

The prospect of such an end, and the impossi 
bility of making any resistance, soon brought the 
crew to terms. They threw down their arms, 
protested that they had no cause for disaffection, 
but the refusal of the captain to accede to their 
piratical scheme ; this they were now willing to 
abandon, and begged for permission to return to 
their duty. This request at length was granted, 
though suitable precautions were taken, by depriv 
ing them of their arms and keeping a strict watch 
while they remained in the vessel. 

With such a crew, it was dangerous to spend 
any more time in the prosecution of the original 
oesign, and Phips accordingly weighed anchor and 
sailed to Jamaica. Here he discharged the greater 
part of the men, and shipped a small number of 
such other seamen as he found in port. 

The search had thus far proved unsuccessful, 
from his imperfect knowledge of the circumstances 
under which the vessel was lost. With the view 
of obtaining further information, he sailed for His- 
paniola, where he met with an old Spaniard, who 
pointed out to him the precise reef of rocks, a few 
leagues to the north of Port de la Plata, where the 
ship had been wrecked. Phips immediately pro 
ceeded to the spot, and examined it for some time, 
out still without success. Before he could satisfy 

j- 2 



18 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

himself that the place was sufficiently explored, 
the condition of the Rose-Algier, which was out 
of repair and not more than half manned, obliged 
him to relinquish the attempt for the time, and 
return to England. 

By the Admiralty he was received with greater 
favor, than, considering the ill success of his 
scheme, he could reasonably have expected. The 
energy which he had displayed, in executing the 
secondary objects of the voyage, and in defeating 
the mutinous designs of the crew, relieved him 
from any imputation of unskilfulness as a naval 
officer, though the government would not again 
intrust him with the command of a national ves 
sel. Undismayed by failure, Phips renewed his 
solicitations for further aid, alleging the necessarily 
imperfect examination of the reef, on which there 
was every reason to hope that the wreck might be 
found. But the experiment already made was 
considered as having demonstrated the impractica 
bility of the plan, and the application was unsuc 
cessful. 

Finding there was no hope of obtaining a ship 
of war, he endeavored to interest private individ 
uals in the undertaking, and at last induced the 
Duke of Albemarle, in connexion with a few other 
gentlemen, to fit out a vessel and to give him the 
command. A patent was obtained from the King, 
giving to the associates an exclusive right to all 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 19 

the wrecks that might be discovered for a number 
of years to come. A tender was provided for 
making short excursions in waters where they 
might not venture the ship; and, as the former 
failures were in great part attributed to the want 
of proper means of making submarine researches, 
some time was employed in constructing imple 
ments, which Phips contrived and partly executed 
with his own hands. No account is given of these 
contrivances ; they consisted of nothing more, pro 
bably, than a few rough drags and hooks. 

Having equipped his vessel, he sailed for Port 
de la Plata, where he arrived without accident. 
Here the first object was to build a stout boat, 
capable of carrying eight or ten oars, in making 
which Phips used the adze himself, in company 
with the crew. A number of the men, with some 
Indian divers, were then despatched in the tender, 
while the captain remained with the ship in port. 
Having anchored the tender at a convenient dis 
tance, the men proceeded in the boat to examine 
the rocks, which they were able to do with ease, 
from the calmness of the sea. 

The reef was of a singular form, rising nearly to 
the surface, but the sides fell off so precipitously, 
that any ship striking upon them must, as it seem 
ed, have bounded off and sunk in deep water. 
Hoping to find the wreck lodged on some project 
ing shelf, thev rowed round the reef several times, 



"20 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY 

.and sent down the divers at different places. The 
water was clear, and the men hung over the sides 
of the boat, and strained their eyes in gazing down 
wards to discover, if possible, some fragment of 
the ship. All was in vain, and they prepared to 
return to the tender. But just as they were 
leaving the reef, one of the men, perceiving some 
curious sea-plant growing in a crevice of the rocks, 
sent down one of the Indians to obtain it. When 
the diver returned, he told them that he had dis 
covered a number of ship s guns lying in the same 
spot. Other divers were immediately sent down, 
and one soon brought up a large ingot of silver, 
worth from two to three hundred pounds sterling. 
Overjoyed at their success, they marked the spot 
with a buoy, and then returned with the boat and 
tender to the port. 

Phips could not believe the story of their suc 
cess, till they showed him the ingot, when he ex 
claimed, " Thanks be to God, we are all made." 
The whole crew were immediately set to work, 
and, in the course of a few days, they fished up 
treasure to the amount of three hundred thousand 
pounds. They had lighted, at first, on the part 
of the wreck where the bullion was stored, but 
they afterwards found the coin, which had been 
placed in bags among the ballast. It had remain 
ed there so long, that the bags were found covered 
with a calcareous incrustation of considerable thick 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 21 

ness, which being broken open with irons, the 
pieces of eight showered out in great profusion. 
Besides the gold and silver, precious stones were 
found of considerable value. 

In the course of the search, they were joined by 
one Adderley, a ship-master of Providence, who 
had been of some assistance to Phips in the for 
mer voyage, and who now met him by appoint 
ment in a small vessel. With his few hands, he 
contrived, in a day or two, to load his vessel with 
silver to the amount of several thousand pounds. 
This success fairly upset the reason of the poor 
Providence sea-captain, and, a year or two after 
wards, he died in a state of insanity at Bermuda. 

The failure of provisions obliged the party to 
think of departure, before the examination of the 
wreck was complete ; the last day that the men 
were at work, they raised about twenty heavy 
lumps of silver. With the view of revisiting ths 
spot and completing the work, an oath of secrecy 
was imposed upon Adderley and his men, and a 
promise exacted, that they would content them 
selves w r ith what they had already acquired. But 
through the imprudence of these persons, the secret 
leaked out, the Bermudans visited the wreck, and 
when Phips returned, after the lapse of a year or 
two, it was found that every article of value had 
been removed. 

Besides the want of provisions, other considera 



22 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY 

tions induced the captain to hasten his departure 
The crew, though not so mutinously disposed as 
those who formerly manned the Rose-Algier, were 
by no means trustworthy; and the knowledge of 
such a vast treasure, yet contained in the ship, ana 
which had been acquired by their own exertions, 
was enough to excite the cupidity of the men, and 
to induce them to attempt the seizure of the ves 
sel. Every precaution was taken, by keeping a 
strict watch and promising the men, that, in addi 
tion to the stipulated wages, they should receive a 
portion of the profits, even if Phips should there 
by be obliged to sacrifice his own share. Not 
daring to stop at any nearer port to obtain the 
necessary supplies, he sailed directly for England, 
where he arrived safe with his lading, in the course 
of the year 1687. 

After making a division of the profits, and pay 
ing the promised gratuity to the seamen, there 
remained to Phips only about sixteen thousand 
pounds, though, as a token of satisfaction with his 
conduct, the Duke of Albemarle presented his wife 
with a gold cup of the value of a thousand pounds. 
The King was advised to seize the whole cargo, 
instead of the tenth part, which had been reserved 
by the patent, on the pretence, that the grant had 
been obtained only by the suppression of some 
information possessed by the parties. But King 
James refused to take such an ungenerous course 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 23 

He avowed his entire satisfaction with the conduct 
of the enterprise, and declared, that Phips had 
displayed so much integrity and talent, that he 
should not henceforth want countenance. In con 
sideration of the service done by him in bringing 
such a treasure into the country, and as an earnest 
of future favors, he received the honor of knight 
hood, and was requested to remain in England, 
with the promise of honorable employment in the 
public service. 

But his home was still New England; and 
though he had never received much encourage 
ment there, but, on the contrary, supposed he had 
good reason to complain of some of his country 
men, still, as the colony was now in a distressed 
state, and he was able to afford some aid, he was 
too patriotic to absent himself for ever from his 
native land. For the remainder of his life, his 
history is closely connected with that of the colo 
nies. 



24: AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY 



CHAPTER II. 

State of Affairs in New England. Phtpi 
returns thither as High Sheriff. Goes to 
England again. Deposition of Andros at 
Boston. Phips returns. French and In 
dian War. Successful Expedition against 
Acadia. Particulars respecting the Plunder 
taken at Port Royal. 

IN 1687, the affairs of New England were in a 
most perturbed condition. The taking away of the 
charter of Massachusetts, in the previous year, had 
been followed by the appointment, as governor, of 
Sir Edmund Andros, a man well qualified, by his 
imperious temper and grasping disposition, to exe 
cute the arbitrary designs of the English court. 
The loss of the charter was held to involve the 
forfeiture of the rights and privileges formerly en 
joyed by the colonists, and to have subjected them 
entirely to the discretionary government of the 
crown. 

No house of assembly was in future to be con 
voked, and the governor, with any four of the 
council, was empowered to make laws, and to 
levy such sums upon the people as were sufficient 
to meet the wants of the government, or to satisfy 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 2o 

the cupidity of himself and his adherents. It wah 
no small aggravation of the loss of their privileges, 
that Edward Randolph, the old and constant 
enemy of the colonists, whose repeated complaints 
had supplied a pretext for the forfeiture of the 
charter, had been appointed one of the governor s 
council; and it was understood, that Andros re 
lied chiefly upon his advice in the management of 
affairs 

The former magistrates were removed from 
office, the freedom of the press was abridged by 
the appointment of a licenser, a tax of a penny 
on the pound was levied on all estates, exorbitant 
sums were exacted for fees; and, to crown the 
whole, the people were informed, that the titles 
to their estates were made void by the loss of the 
charter, under which they were granted, and could 
only be renewed by the payment of large fines. 
Some discretion was used, it is true, in the exer 
cise of the power, which this declaration threw into 
the hands of the council, since its direct enforce 
ment could only have ruined the colony. Notices 
were served from time to time upon the owners of 
large estates, requiring them to show cause, why 
the titles to their lands should not be vested in thb 
crown ; and, to avoid a trial before packed and sub 
servient juries, the proprietors were glad to com 
pound with the payment of a fourth or fifth part 
of the value of their property. 



2$ AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

Such things were not endured without murmurs, 
and an attempt at redress. The people were 
generally peaceable, though a few persons were 
arrested and held to trial, on the significant charge 
of using disrespectful and rebellious language 
against his Majesty s government. Representa 
tions from private sources were made in England ; 
but they were urged with little stress, from the 
want of an agent in London. At last Increase 
Mather, then president of Harvard College, was 
induced to undertake a voyage to England, to 
plead the cause of the colony in person. The 
governor and his agents used all their efforts to 
prevent the voyage, and a sham prosecution was 
got up by Randolph, that Mather might be arrest 
ed on the eve of embarking. But some of his 
parishioners carried him on board in the night, and 
in May, 1688, he arrived in England, where he 
found a zealous cooperator in Phips, who was still 
lingering about the court. 

What little countenance Mather received from 
James the Second, is undoubtedly to be ascribed 
to the influence of Sir William, who now enjoyed 
considerable reputation at court, and some personal 
favor with the King. This assistance was not for 
gotten at a later period, when, from a change in 
their respective situations, Mather had an oppor 
tunity of repaying, with interest, the favors which 
he had received. 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 27 

A petition was presented, praying " that the 
rights, which the people had to their freeholds, 
might be confirmed; and that no laws might be 
made, or moneys raised, without an assembly." 
This petition was referred to the Committee on 
Foreign Plantations ; but the King absolutely re 
fused to consider the article respecting the levying 
of taxes by act of assembly, and the committee 
would not propose it. On another occasion, upon 
an intimation that any request from him would be 
favorably received, Phips applied directly for a 
restoration of privileges to the colony; but the 
King replied, " Any thing but that, Sir William." 
Indeed, the successful war, which James had 
waged with the chartered rights of the English 
corporations, left hardly a ground of hope, that he 
would respect the privileges of the colonies, when 
a decree of the Court of Chancery had placed 
them entirely in his power. 

Unable to succeed in his primary object, Sir 
William began to think of some other way, in 
which he might be useful to his country. A lu 
crative office under the Commissioners of the Navy 
was offered to him ; but his domestic and patriotic 
feelings still pointsd homeward, and he determin 
ed, probably with the advice of Mather, to applj 
for the office of sheriff of New England The 
power, which such an appointment would give him, 
over the selection of jurors, would enable him to 



28 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

aid such of his countrymen as were obliged to de 
fend, in a court of law, the titles to their estates. 

By an application to the King, backed by a 
considerable expenditure of money, he succeeded 
in obtaining the office ; and, with his commission 
in his pocket, he sailed in the summer of 1688, 
in company with Sir John Narborough, for New 
England. On his way thither, he visited the 
place where he had discovered the wreck; but, 
from reasons already mentioned, found nothing to 
repay the cost of another search. 

On his arrival at Boston, he soon ascertained, 
that his patent as sheriff would not secure him the 
possession of the office, or enable him to oppose 
effectually the measures of Andros and his party. 
He gratified, however, his wife s ambition and his 
own, by building " the fair brick house in Green 
Lane," which he had promised her five years be 
fore, when his only fortune consisted in a sanguine 
and active temperament and an enterprising dispo 
sition. The name of Green Lane was subsequent 
ly changed, in compliment to him, to Charter 
Street. The house stood at the corner of this 
street and Salem Street. It was afterwards used 
as the " Asylum for Boys," and remained standing 
till within a few years, when it was pulled down 
to make room for modern improvements. 

Sir William s ignorance of the forms of law, 
arising from his imperfect education, prevented his 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 29 

prosecuting successfully a claim to office, which, in 
the hands of another, might have produced impor 
tant results. I find, on some documents of a later 
period, his signature, made with the awkward 
strokes and imperfectly formed letters of a child 
just learning to write. But his roving and adven 
turous life had given him that knowledge of man 
kind, and confidence in his own powers, which so 
frequently supply the loss of early opportunities. 
Without such qualities, he could hardly have 
sought and obtained, within the compass of a few 
years, the captaincy of a man-of-war and the office 
of high sheriff, and finally of governor of New 
England. 

Not only were all his attempts to exercise the 
office of sheriff frustrated by the artifices and de 
lays of the council, but, if we may credit Cotton 
Mather s account, an attempt was made by some 
creatures of the governor to assassinate him before 
his own door. But the story is not a probable 
one. Very likely it arose from some scuffle, in 
which the hasty disposition and sailor-like habits 
of Phips may have involved him. The policy of 
Andros seems to have been pacific enough, at least 
as far as actual outrage to the persons of individu 
als was concerned ; and the advantage to be gained 
by removing a troublesome claimant for office was 
hardly sufficient to counterbalance the risk. His 
failure at home induced Sir William to make an 



30 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

other voyage to England, where he arrived at the 
commencement of the year 1689. 

The revolution had taken place, and he found 
his old patron in exile, and William and Mary on 
the throne. With the view, probably, of retaining 
the same interest in the American colonies, which 
he yet possessed in Ireland, the exiled monarch, 
through one of his adherents in London, offered 
Phips the government of New England. But Sh 
William showed both his good sense and patriotism 
by refusing it. With his knowledge of the dispo 
sition of the colonists, he must have foreseen the 
events, which actually occurred in Boston when 
they heard of the expedition of the Prince of 
Orange, and which would have made void his 
commission, before he could arrive to execute it. 
By remaining in London, and uniting his efforts to 
those of Mather and the other agents for the re 
covery of the charter, he had a fairer prospect of 
doing service to the colony, and ultimately obtain 
ing some employment for himself. 

News soon arrived from Massachusetts, which 
changed the grounds of application, and facilitated 
the exertions of the agents. Notwithstanding the 
efforts of Andros and his party, the colonists re- 
ceivea eaity notice of the change in the English 
government. 

A copy of the Prince of Orange s declaration 
was first obtained by way of Virginia ; and, though 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 31 

the governor imprisoned the man who brought it 
the people were apprized of the facts, and not 
a little agitation ensued. The more considerate 
among them were in favor of postponing any ac 
tive measures, tih 1 they could hear of the settle 
ment of affairs in the mother country. But the 
inhabitants of Boston could not be restrained. 
Rumors were circulated of the intention of the 
governor to suppress, by violent means, any symp 
toms of disturbance, and that the armament of the 
Rose frigate, which was then lying in the harbor, 
would be used for that purpose. Nearly all bus ; - 
ness ceased, the inhabitants collected in groups, 
and the governor, becoming alarmed at the threat 
ening aspect of affairs, sheltered himself and a few 
of the council within the walls of the fort. 

On the 18th of April, the explosion took place. 
The drums beat and the inhabitants collected to 
gether, probably without any concert among them 
selves. Companies of soldiers were organized, 
the officers of the frigate, who happened to be on 
shore, were seized, and a summons was sent to 
Andros, demanding the surrender of the fort. 
Unable to offer any effectual resistance, he sub 
mitted ; and, before nightfall, the frigate was se 
cured a provisional government formed, and the 
inhabLants, having gained their object without 
shedding a drop of blood, quietly dispersed. 
Bradstreet, the former governor under the old 



82 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY 

charter, and the other magistrates, were soon per 
suaded to return to office. 

A report of these proceedings, transmitted 
through the colony agents to the King, was favor 
ably received, and a commission was issued, em 
powering the government to act under the provis 
ions of the old charter, till the principles, on which 
colonial affairs were hi future to be administered, 
could be definitively settled. Thus, instead of 
applying for a redress of present grievances, the 
agents had only to solicit a confirmation of existing 
privileges; and this gave them greater hopes of 
ultimate success. But the necessity of awaiting 
the action of Parliament, and the delays which 
were, intentionally perhaps, caused by King Wil 
liam, proved wearisome to Phips, who also felt 
the loss of that personal influence with the king 
which he formerly enjoyed. The condition of the 
colony, also, was now such, that he had a prospect 
of active employment at home, and he accordingly 
resolved on an immediate return. 

He arrived in the summer of 1689, when an 
Indian war was raging on the frontiers. It had 
broken out the previous year, and had been aggra 
vated by the inefficient prosecution of it by the 
former government. Though entirely unacquaint 
ed with military affairs, the hope of being engaged 
in the management of this war had induced Sir 
William to return, and he soon made an offer of 
his services to Governor Bradstreet 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 33 

In the mean time, he contracted an mtimac) 
with Cotton Mather, whose advice seems to have 
had much influence over him during the remain 
der of his life. By attendance on the spiritual 
instructions of Mather, he was induced to make 
a public profession of his religious faith, and on 
the 23d of March, 1690, he became a membei 
of the North Church in Boston. Previously 
however, he was obliged to receive the rite of 
baptism ; and, on occasion of this ceremony being 
performed, he handed to the clergyman a paper, 
which was afterwards published. A portion of it 
is here inserted, not only on account of the con 
firmation which it gives of the history of his early 
life, but as the only authentic production of his 
own pen, which I have been able to find. Some 
suspicion would rest upon the authenticity even of 
this piece, did not Cotton Mather declare, that the 
original was in Sir William s own handwriting 
and that he had not altered a word in copying it. 

" The first of God s making me sensible of my 
sins was in the year 1674, by hearing your father 
preach concerning The day of trouble near. I 
did then begin to think what I should do to be 
saved, and did bewail my youthful days, which I 
had spent in vain ; I did think that I would begin 
to mind the things of God. Being then some time 
under your father s ministry, much troubled with 
my burden, but thinking on the scripture, ( Conn. 

x. 3 



34 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHt 

unto me, you that are weary and heavy laden, and 
I will give you rest, 9 1 had some thoughts of draw 
ing as near to the communion of the Lord Jesus 
as I could. But the ruins which the Indian wars 
brought on my affairs, and the entanglements 
which my following the sea laid upon me, hinder 
ed my pursuing the welfare of my own soul as I 
ought to have done. 

" At length, God was pleased to smile upon my 
outward concerns. The various providences, both 
merciful and afflictive, which attended me in my 
travels, were sanctified unto me, to make me ac 
knowledge God in all my ways. I have diverse 
times been in danger of my life, and I have been 
brought to see, that I owe my life to Him that has 
given a life so often to me. I have had great 
offers made me in England, but the churches of 
New England were those which my heart was 
most set upon. I knew, that if God had a people 
anywhere, it was here ; and I resolved to rise and 
fall with them. My being born in a part of the 
country, where I had not in my infancy enjoyed 
the first sacrament of the New Testament, has 
Deen something of a stumblingblock unto me. 
That I may make sure of better things, I now 
iffer myself unto the communion of this church 
of the Lord Jesus." 

The circumstances in which Sir William was 
now placed, the possession of family and friends, 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 35 

of considerable reputation, and of a competent for 
tune, would have disposed most other men to quiet 
enjoyment and a life of ease. But he had acquir 
ed his fortune by adventure, and he could not 
enjoy it in domestic privacy. In conversation with 
Mather, he frequently expressed his feelings on 
this point. 

" I have no need," he would say, " to look aftei 
any further advantages for myself in this world ; I 
may sit still at home, if I will, and enjoy my ease 
for the rest of my life ; but I believe that I should 
offend God in doing so ; for I am now in the prime 
of my age and strength, and, I thank God, I can 
endure hardship. He only knows how long I 
have to live ; but I think t is my duty to venture 
my life in doing good, before a useless old age 
comes upon me. Wherefore I will now expose 
myself where I am able, and as far as I am able, 
for the service of my country ; I was born for 
others, as well as for myself." 

There is good sense and good feeling in these 
remarks ; and, if they do not prove that his sole 
object in his future active life was to benefit his 
countrymen, they show, at least, that he was able 
to appreciate honorable motives, and prepared to 
make considerable sacrifices, when duty called 
The exigencies of the war soon opened a fair field 
for honorable exertion. 

The hostilities with the natives, besides the terror 



36 AMER CAN BIOGRAPHY. 

excited by the common barbarities of such a war, 
had new become more alarming from the fact, that 
the French cooperated with the Indians, supplied 
them with arms, and instigated them to more ex 
tensive operations. The successful labors of the 
Roman Catholic priests had given them great 
power over the savages, a power which they did 
not hesitate to turn to political purposes, and which 
frustrated all attempts of the English to divert the 
chiefs from their alliance with the French, and to 
induce them to form a separate peace. 

The winter of 1690 was signalized by the cap 
ture of Schenectady in New York, and Salmon 
Falls in New Hampshire, the destruction of which 
places was accompanied by circumstances even of 
unusual atrocity ; while the capture of Fort Pem- 
maquid, in Maine, rendered the situation of the 
settlements in that quarter extremely dangerous. 

Since the kind of partisan warfare, which had 
heretofore been practised against the savages, 
proved insufficient against the combined efforts of 
the French and Indians, the colonists were induced 
to attempt the capture of the places whence the 
enemy obtained their supplies. Port Royal, the 
capital of the French province of Acadia, was 
conveniently situated for carrying on intercourse 
with the Eastern Indians, and for affording a shel 
ter to the privateers, which annoyed the English 
shipping, and, occasionally, the smaller settlements 
on the coast 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 37 

The province had been in possession of the 
French more than thirty years ; a small fort had 
been erected for the security of Port Royal ; and 
from the advantageous situation of the place for 
carrying on a trade in lumber and fish, the popula 
tion of that and the other settlements had increas 
ed to six or seven thousand. But so little appre 
hension was felt of the ability of the English tc 
conduct against it an enterprise by sea, that a force 
only of sixty men was maintained in the fort. 

In fact, the resources of the English had been 
so much exhausted in the unsuccessful prosecu 
tion of the war by Andros, that it was deemed im 
practicable to make any attempt upon the place at 
the public charge. It was thought, however, that 
the prospect of obtaining considerable plunder, 
and the advantages that would accrue from an 
exclusive privilege of trading from the place after 
it was captured, would induce private individuals to 
undertake the enterprise ; and as early as the 4th 
of January, 1690, the following order was passed 
by the General Court. " For the encouragement 
of such gentlemen and merchants of this colony as 
shall undertake to reduce Penobscot, St. John s, 
and Port Royal, it is ordered, that they shall have 
two sloops of war for three or four months at free 
cost, and all the profits which they can make from 
our French enemies, and the trade of the places 
which they may take, till there be other orders 



AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

given from their Majesties." This was an exten 
sion of the privateering system to the land service, 
which it would be hard to reconcile with the prin 
ciples of nice morality. But the exigencies of the 
case, and the peculiar nature of a French and In 
dian war required, if they did not justify, such a 
course. 

This offer engaged the attention of Sir William 
Phips, and finally induced him to embark in the 
enterprise himself, and to use all his exertions to 
persuade others to follow his example. In this 
he was unsuccessful. Such a commercial specula 
tion was of too novel and daring a character, to 
suit merchants less fond of adventure than himself. 
But the annoyance caused by the enemy, soon 
proved so serious, that it was resolved to make 
the attempt "at the public charge and with all 
speed." A committee was raised, and every 
means used to induce troops to volunteer for the 
service ; but with no great success. 

On the 22d of March, the General Court resolv 
ed that, " if, upon the encouragement given, men do 
not offer themselves voluntarily for the expedition 
against Nova Scotia and L Acadie, the committee 
be empowered to impress men, as many as may be 
necessary, not exceeding five hundred. And, the 
Honorable Sir William Phips having offered him 
self to that service, he is desired to take the chief 
command of all the forces that shall be raised foi 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 39 

that expedition, and of the shipping and seamen 
employed therein." Authority was also given to 
impress merchant vessels for the transportation of 
the troops, and a sufficient number of seamen. 
By these means, a small fleet was prepared at 
Nantasket, of seven or eight vessels, having on 
board about seven hundred men. 

Sir William s instructions were made out, signed 
by Governor Bradstreet, and delivered to him on 
the 18th of April. He was ordered " to take care 
that the worship of God be maintained and duly 
observed on board all the vessels ; to offer the 
enemy fair terms upon summons, which if they 
obey, the said terms are to be duly observed ; if 
not, you are to gain the best advantage you may, 
to assault, kill, and utterly extirpate the common 
enemy, and to burn and demolish their fortifications 
and shipping ; having reduced that place, to pro 
ceed along the coast, for the reducing of the other 
places and plantations in the possession of the 
French into the obedience of the crown of England ; 
to consult and advise with Captain William John 
son, Mr. Joshua Moody, Captain John Alden, and 
the other captains of the several companies, who 
are hereby constituted and appointed to be of 
your council." 

Furnished with these instructions, Phips sailed 
from Nantasket on the 28th of April, and arrived 
at Port Royal on the llth of May. The French 



40 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

governor, M. de Meneval, was taken completely 
by surprise, and the condition of the town, which 
was situated upon the water s edge, exposed to 
the fire of the ships, and fortified only by a single 
palisade, together with the smallness of the garri 
son, precluded the idea of offering any effectual 
resistance. But the place held out till the troops 
landed, and an assault took place, when the gov 
ernor agreed to surrender, on condition, as he 
afterwards asserted, that private property should 
be respected, and that the prisoners should be 
transported to some French port. If such prom 
ises were given, in one important particular they 
were certainly disregarded. 

Sir William took possession in the name of the 
English government, demolished the fort, and ad 
ministered the oath of allegiance to those of the 
French inhabitants, who chose to remain. He then 
appointed a governor of the town with a small 
garrison, and set sail on his return, carrying with 
him all the public property that could be found, 
and a considerable quantity of private effects. On 
his way home, he landed at the various settle 
ments, and took formal possession of the sea- 
coast from Port Royal to Penobscot. The whole 
province of Acadia was thus subdued, and remain 
ed in possession of the English till the peace of 
Ryswick, in 1697, when it was restored to the 
French. 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 41! 

During the absence of Phips, the Indians and 
Canadians had carried on the war with much 
success in Maine. In the early part of May, the 
fort at Casco was surprised, and more than a hun 
dred men taken prisoners. This was the strong 
est post in that quarter, and its loss compelled the 
weaker garrisons along the coast to fall back upon 
Saco, and ultimately upon Wells, leaving the 
whole Eastern country, either in actual possession 
of the enemy, or entirely defenceless. When the 
news of these events arrived at Boston, much 
alarm was excited. A small vessel was hastily 
prepared, and despatched with a letter from Gov 
ernor Bradstreet to Sir William, ordering him to 
make a descent on Casco, annoy the enemy, and 
endeavour to rescue the captives. 

The vessel, which carried this letter, unfortu 
nately missed the fleet from Port Royal, which 
arrived at Boston on the 30th of May, when it 
was too late to make any attempt upon Casco 
On his arrival, Sir William took his seat at the 
Board of Assistants, to which he had been elect 
ed two days before. 

Immediately after the return of the shipping, an 
order was passed, appointing a committee to take 
charge of the property brought from Port Royal, 
to sell the same, and, from the proceeds, to defray 
the expenses of the expedition ; should there be 
any surplus, to divide the same into two equal 



42 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

parts, one moiety to be reserved for the use of 
the colony, and the other to be applied to the 
benefit of the officers and soldiers, who had been 
engaged in the service. 

The invoice, which was taken of the plunder, is 
still preserved among the papers in the office of 
the Secretary of State in Massachusetts, and a 
curious document it is. Many of the articles enu 
merated were undoubtedly public property, and, 
as such, subject to the chances of war. Others 
were evidently taken from private houses, and by 
the modern rules of warfare, whether the town 
surrendered on capitulation or not, ought to have 
remained untouched. 

Among the articles enumerated, were seven hun 
dred and forty pounds in gold and silver ; twen 
ty-one pieces of artillery, mostly four-pounders; 
fifty casks of brandy, twelve of claret wine ; and 
a large quantity of flour. The miscellaneous 
articles were hastily packed in hogsheads ; and 
the exact inventory, which was made of the con 
tents of each cask, is equally amusing from the 
nature of the articles, and from the entire want of 
assortment in the packing. A brief specimen will 
suffice. " Twenty-four girdles ; two caps ; one 
hood ; twenty-four canonical gowns ; four more 
gowns with silver clasps and laced ; beds and bed 
ding ; one white coat ; two pair of shoes ; one red 
waistcoat; fourteen old kettles, pots, and stew- 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 43 

pans. 5 The doughty band seem to have plunder 
ed even the kitchens. 

The total proceeds were probably sufficient to 
pay all the cost of the armament, and to leave a 
considerable surplus. 

Some unsuccessful attempts were made to re 
cover a portion of the property thus unjustly ap 
propriated. After De Meneval had remained a 
prisoner of war in Boston nearly seven months, 
the following paper was transmitted by him to the 
Council. 

" Seeing that Mr. Phips, and Madam his wife, 
have circulated a report, that every thing that was 
taken from me at Port Royal has been restored 
to me, I have thought it necessary to show the 
contrary to the Governor and the Gentlemen of 
his Council, that they may have the goodness to 
have justice done me, as regards my fair rights, 
such as I demand them, according to the present 
memoir ; upon which, I pray them to let me be 
heard before them, by the means of a good and 
faithful interpreter ; offering to prove by his writ- 
.ng, and by good English witnesses, that he made 
a capitulation with me, which it is just should be 
observed; in default of which, I protest for all 
damages and interest against him, who has done, 
or caused to be done, all the wrongs mentioned 
here below, which he is obliged to repair in 
strict justice, and according to the rules of war 
and reason." 



44 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

A list is then given of articles taken from De 
Meneval himself, the most important item of which 
is the following ; " four hundred and four pisto es, 
the balance of five hundred and four, which I con 
fidently put into his hands." Fifty other articles 
are enumerated, mostly of silver plate, furniture, 
and wearing apparel. The paper goes on to say ; 

" Further, he ought to render an account of the 
silver, effects, and merchandise, in the warehouse 
of Mr. Perrot, who, as a citizen, could not be pil 
laged according to the capitulation ; of the effects, 
money, and cattle of the inhabitants, who have 
been pillaged contrary to the promise given ; of 
the money and effects of the soldiers, that have 
been taken from them ; of the sacred vessels and 
ornaments of the church, and every thing that has 
been broken, and the money and effects of the 
priests. 

" All which things I demand should be restored 
in virtue of my capitulation. Also, as is just, that 
their arms and liberty should be given 10 the sol 
diers of my garrison, and their passage to Quebec 
or France, as he promised me." 

The request contained in the above paper seems 
reasonable enough, yet it was but partially granted 
I cannot find from the records of the Council, that 
De Meneval was admitted to the hearing which he 
claimed, or even allowed to adduce evidence of 
what was the most important fact, namely, that 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 45 

the articles of capitulation guarantied the safety 
of private property. The only notice which the 
Council took of the paper, was to order the resto 
ration of his chest and clothes, which still remain 
ed in the custody of Sir William. Some delay 
took place hi the execution even of this resolve, 
as appears by a note from Governor Bradstreet to 
Phips, dated January 7th, 1691 ; in which he was 
reminded, that the order for delivery had been no 
tified to him, yet the Frenchman had only the day 
before complained, that he had not received the 
clothes, of which he was in great want. The 
note contained a positive injunction, that the arti 
cles should be immediately given to their fcmier 
owner. 

The force sent against Port Royal was certain 
ly sufficient to compel the garrison to surrender 
unconditionally. Had it done so, it might be unrea 
sonable to censure, in strong terms, the seizure of 
private property. The French had universally 
adopted the practices of their Indian allies ; ant? 
any severity at Acadia, short of actual massacre, 
would have been no more than fair retaliation foi 
the cruelties suffered the preceding winter, by 
the defenceless people of Schenectady and other 
towns. Unluckily, it appears, that articles of 
capitulation were granted at the taking of Port 
Royal; and, consequently, that taking plunder 
from private persons was a shameful breach of the 
public faith. 



4G AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

Phips had received no military education, and 
seems to have had little idea of military honor. It 
is but fair to add, however, that the responsibility 
of the affair rests no more upon him, than upon 
the Governor and Council of the colony. The 
property was taken in their name, delivered to 
them, and by them retained to defray the cost of 
the expedition, though repeatedly demanded back 
by the French. The poverty of the colony at 
that time accounts for, though it does not justify 
such a proceeding. 

There was little reason for the other complaints, 
respecting the unjust detention of the prisoners. 
The Council were anxious, in this respect, to re 
deem the pledges which had been given. Shortly 
after the return of the fleet, the following order 
was passed: "Whereas, the French soldiers, 
lately brought to this place from Port Royal, did 
surrender on capitulation, liberty is granted them 
to dispose themselves in such families as shall be 
willing to receive them, until there be opportunity 
to transport themselves to some of the French 
king s dominions in Europe." This order is dated 
June 14th, 1690, and we hear nothing more of 
the matter till October 18th, 1691. At this time, 
the Chevalier de Villebon, on occasion of restoring 
some English prisoners, complained that " Sir 
William Phips, against the rights of war, had car 
ried away prisoners, M. de Meneval and fifty-nine 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 47 

soldiers, after having given them his word to send 
them into some port of France;" and required, 
that the said men should be now returned. 

This letter was not answered till the March 
following. It was then adm tted, that such pro 
mise had been given ; " but the men themselves 
voluntarily waved the performance of it, and of 
their own choice and desire were brought hither; 
where they have not been held prisoners, but left 
at their own liberty, to dispose of and transport 
themselves to France, or to the French plantations 
in the West Indies. Many have embraced the 
same, and are gone. The others we will now 
send." 



48 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHr 



CHAPTER III. 

Naval Expedition under Phips against Quebec 
- Its Failure. Disasters to a Part of the 
Fleet on its Return. 

THE complete success of the first considerable 
attempt against the French, encouraged the colo 
nists to prosecute the design, which had been pre 
viously entertained, of an expedition against Lower 
Canada. The annoyance which they continued 
to experience from the Indians and their allies, 
proved that nothing could secure them entirely, 
but the capture of this last strong-hold of the ene 
my. The want of pecuniary means had hitherto 
proved an insurmountable obstacle, but the reduc 
tion of Acadia had shown that a war might b& 
made to support itself. A number of men could 
be easily levied, and the want of arms and ammu 
nition could be supplied by an application to the 
government of the mother country. 

Could some English frigates also be obtained, 
to attack Quebec and Montreal by water, while 
the colonists should undertake an expedition over 
land, success seemed highly probable. Count 
Frontenac, it was true, still commanded at Que- 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 49 

bee ; and, though advanced in years, proofs had 
been received of his enterprising disposition and 
military talent. But the number of French, capa 
ble of bearing arms, was known to be relatively 
small ; and, in the defence of a fortified town, little 
use could be made of their Indian allies. De 
spatch was all-important, both to prevent the 
French taking the alarm from the capture of Port 
Royal, and to protect the frontier settlements. 

The first hint of the design is contained in a 
letter, dated April 1st, 1690, from Deputy-Gover 
nor Danforth to Sir H. Ashurst, the agent of the 
colonies in England, requesting him to obtain an 
immediate supply of powder and muskets. On 
the 28th of May, two days before the return of 
Phips, a bill for " the encouragement of volun 
teers for the expedition against Canada," passed 
the House of Deputies in Massachusetts. It ap 
pointed Sir William Phips commander-in-chief, 
and Major John Walley, his second in command. 
To induce men to enlist, it was ordered, that, in 
addition to the stated pay, " one just half part of 
all plunder, taken from the enemy, should be 
shared among the officers, soldiers, and seamen 
stores of war excepted." 

On the 6th of June, a loan of several thousand 
pounds was authorized; and, to encourage per 
sons to subscribe to this loan, the House voted, 
that, " besides the repayment of their money, after 
x. 4 



50 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

all charges of the expedition were defrayed, and 
the proportion of plunder assigned to officers, 
seamen, and soldiers, the remainder should be 
equally divided between the country and the sub 
scribers." The next day after the passage of this 
order, Sir William Phips, Major Elisha Hutchin- 
son, and seven others, were " appointed a com 
mittee to manage and carry on the expedition 
against Quebec, and to impress ships and stores." 

The resolutions given above are curious, as 
evincing the entire destitution of means, under 
which the inhabitants of Massachusetts, without 
any promise, hardly a reasonable hope, of obtain 
ing assistance from England, resolved upon so 
important an expedition as that against Quebec. 
The colony was already in debt, and the taxes 
were as high as the people could bear. But 
Acadia had been acquired without expense to the 
country, and they trusted that Canada might be 
gained hi the same way. 

The prospect of plunder was an inexhaustible 
bank, and they drew upon it without hesitation or 
reserve. Exaggerated reports were spread of the 
wealth obtained by those who shared in the for 
mer expedition, and the expectation of serving 
under so successful a commander soon filled the 
ranks with volunteers. The government had not 
ships enough, and the merchants were unwilling 
to trust their property on so hazardous a venture ; 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 51 

but they were compelled to do so, by the order 
for impressment By the middle of July, a fleet of 
thirty-two vessels, having on board about twenty- 
two hundred men, was ready for departure. 

Some delay intervened from the want of pilots, 
and the expectation of receiving from England a 
further supply of ammunition and arms The 
English seamen were not acquainted with the navi 
gation of the St. Lawrence, and Capt. Alden, in 
the sloop Mary, had been despatched, on the 26th 
of June, to Port Royal, in the hope of finding 
there some seamen who had traded to Quebec, 
and would be qualified to act as pilots. He was 
unsuccessful, however; and, after waiting nearly 
a month for the expected supplies from England, 
the lateness of the season obliged the fleet to sail, 
relying on chance for their guidance up the river, 
and but scantily furnished with the munitions of 
war. 

An arrangement had been made with the gov 
ernors of New York and Connecticut, by which a 
land expedition from these colonies was to march 
in such season, as to appear before Montreal at 
the same time that the fleet under Phips threat 
ened Quebec. Could this plan have been exe 
cuted, it would have caused a division of the 
enemy s forces, and well nigh have ensured suc 
cess. 

Leisler the acting governor of New York, en- 



52 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

tered zealously into the scheme. A force ol a 
thousand men was raised, and the cooperation of 
fifteen hundred Indians of the Five Nations had 
been promised. But various difficulties interpos 
ed. Disputes arose between the commanders of 
the New York and Connecticut forces, which re 
tarded the setting out of the troops. When they 
at last reached the borders of the Lake, it was 
found that the arrangements for providing boats 
had failed, and there were no means of transporta 
tion. 

The emissaries of the French, also, were busy 
among the Indians, who began to desert in such 
numbers, that it was evident that the whites would 
soon be left alone. Under such circumstances, the 
commanders concluded to abandon the attempt, 
md the troops returned. 

Sir William s fleet left Nantasket on the 9th of 
August. It was divided into three squadrons, the 
largest of which, consisting of thirteen sail, was 
commanded by Capt. Sugars in the Six Friends, 
a ship of forty-four guns and two hundred men. 
It was not a government vessel, but belonged to 
some merchants of Barbadoes. The two other 
divisions, of nine sail each, were commanded by 
Captains Gilbert and Eldridge, in the Swan and 
the America Merchant. A few small prizes were 
taken by the way, and a foolish parade was made 
<jf landing occasionally, and setting up the English 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 53 

flag, on a barren and uninhabited coast. The end 
of the month arrived before they reached the 
mouth of the St. Lawrence. 

Ignorant of the channel, they were compelled 
to proceed with great caution, while adverse winds 
still farther delayed their progress. The small 
pox, which prevailed in Boston at the time of their 
departure, had got into the fleet, and, together 
with fevers, was making considerable ravages 
among the troops. Some unnecessary delay was 
created by the vessels anchoring, that the officers 
might hold a council of war, to fix regulations for 
the conduct of the troops, and to settle the plan 
of attack ; points which ought previously to have 
been determined, or have been left to the discre 
tion of the commander-in-chief. They attempted 
to do this at the Isle of Percy ; but a storm came 
on, the fleet was thrown into great confusion, and 
they were obliged to relinquish their purpose. 

On the 23d of September, they came to anchor 
at Tadousack, where proper orders were drawn 
up and read in every vessel. On the 27th, they 
were within twenty-five leagues of the point of 
destination ; yet, to pass this short distance occu 
pied them till the 5th of October, when they ap 
peared before Quebec. 

From the state of the enemy s preparations, 
these several delays were peculiarly important, 
and probably saved the city. At the end of Sep- 



54 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

tember, Frontenac was still at Montreal, actively 
employed in strengthening that place against the 
expected attack from the New York and Connect 
icut forces. He heard of the failure and return of 
these troops, and of the appearance of the fleet 
under Phips in the river, at the same time. 
Leaving M. de Callieres to bring down as many 
of the inhabitants as possible, he hastily embarked 
what troops he had in boats, and rowed night and 
day to get to Quebec before the English. In 
three days he arrived, and immediately ordered 
the weakest points to be fortified, and batteries to 
be raised, though there were but twelve pieces of 
artillery in the place, and but little ammunition. 

While they were at work on the fortifications, 
regular troops, militia, and confederate savages 
were continually coming in, till the garrison swell 
ed to a number equal, if not superior, to the 
English force. La Hontan, a French writer, who 
was on the spot, asserts, that had Sir William 
effected a landing before the arrival of Frontenac, 
or even two days afterwards, he might have taken 
the city without striking a blow. There were 
the : but two hundred regular troops in the place, 
which was open and exposed in every direction.* 

* Voyages du Baron de la Hontan dans 1 Amerique 
Septentrionale. Amsterdam, 1705. Vol. I. p. 298. 

Hontan was born in Gascony, in 1666, and served 
in Canada, first as a soldier then as an officer. From 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 55 

Instead of making an immediate attack, nothing 
was done on the day of arrival, probably because 
t was Sunday. On the 6th, a major in the army 
was despatched to the shore, with a summons to 
the governor to surrender. 

The messenger was introduced blindfold into 
the presence of the governor, who was surrounded 
oy his officers. When the letter had been read, 
Frontenac was so much irritated at what he term 
ed its insolence, and so confident of his own power 
of resistance, that, as Hontan asserts, he threatened 
the life of the officer who brought the summons. 
He could not have been serious in such a threat ; 
at any rate, the interference of the bishop and 
others prevented its execution. Frontenac then 
flung the letter in the messenger s face, and gave 
his answer, " That Sir William Phips and those 
with him were heretics and traitors, and had taken 
up with that usurper, the Prince of Orange, and 
had made a revolution ; which if it had not been 

Canada he was sent to Newfoundland as king s lieuten 
ant, where he quarrelled with the governor and was 
cashiered. He retired to Portugal, and afterwards lived 
for some time at Amsterdam and at Copenhagen. 

The edition referred to is not the earliest, since a 
translation of the work appeared at London in 1703 
Two other editions of the original were printed in Hoi 
land before the year 1710. An abridgment may be 
found in Harrises "Collection of Voyages and Travels, 
in two volumes, folio. 



56 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

made, New England and the French had all been 
one ; and that no other answer was to be expected 
from him, but what should be from the mouth of 
his cannon." 

When the officer returned, it was found that the 
state of the tide did not permit a landing that day, 
and a council was accordingly held, and arrange 
ments were made to disembark the troops on the 
morrow. The soldiers were to be put ashore on a 
beach, about three miles below Quebec, and would 
be obliged to cross a small river, before they could 
reach the town. After they had landed, the 
troops were to advance as far as possible, and en 
camp for the night. When the night tide served, 
the smaller vessels were to land a supply of pro 
visions, ammunition, and pioneers tools, while the 
boats of the fleet were to ascend the smaller river, 
to ferry the troops across. 

The command of the forces on shore was given 
to Walley, on account of his greater military ex 
perience ; while Sir William, with four of the 
largest ships, was to sail up the river, and com 
mence a cannonade on the lower town. In case 
the party on shore should succeed in passing the 
river St. Charles, two hundred men were to be 
landed from the ships, under cover of the guns, 
and a simultaneous attack be made on the upper 
and lower town. 

On the 7th, though the weather was tempestu 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 57 

ous,ithey attempted to put this plan in execution. 
The smaller vessels got under way, so as to 
come near the shore, and all the boats of the 
squadron were prepared for landing the troops. 
But the wind blew with such violence, that the 
boats were entirely unmanageable, and it became 
evident, that to persevere would spoil their ammu 
nition and endanger the lives of the men. A bark, 
commanded by Captain Savage, with sixty men, 
ran aground, and, as the tide fell, remained im 
movable within a short distance of the land. 

The enemy, perceiving the accident, immedi 
ately lined the shore, and commenced a sharp fire 
of musketry, while a field-piece was conveyed from 
the town, and brought to bear upon the vessel. 
The situation of Savage was now extremely haz 
ardous, for no boats could come to his assistance ; 
and the larger vessels durst not approach, for fear 
also of taking the ground. But he defended him 
self with obstinacy, his men returning the enemy s 
fire under cover, and with greater effect. Sir Wil 
Ham s flag-ship at last got so near, as to throw a 
few shot among the French, who immediately dis 
persed ; and, at the turn of the tide, the bark float 
ed off without material damage. 

The next day, the attempt at landing was re 
newed with better success. The number of effec 
tive men had been so far reduced by sickness, that 
only about thirteen hundred were put on shore, 



58 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

and some of these were unfit for hard service 
Each man took with him but three quarters of a 
pound of powder, about eighteen shot, and two 
biscuits, as they relied on a full supply at night 
The beach shelved so gradually, that the men 
were obliged to wade a considerable distance ; and, 
as the cold was already severe, they landed wet, 
chilled, and dispirited. 

At a short distance from the landing-place was 
a bog overgrown with wood, in which were sta 
tioned, according to the French account, about two 
hundred forest rangers, fifty officers, and a number 
of Indians. Walley s men were suffered to ad 
vance about half way into this thicket, when a 
galling fire was opened upon them in front, and 
on both flanks. This caused a cry of " Indians ! 
Indians ! " and for a few moments the troops were 
in great confusion. But the New-Englandmen 
of that day had been well trained to this species 
of bush-fighting, and, after the moment of surprise 
was past, the men formed with firmness, and 
pushed the French and savages before them in 
every direction. In this skirmish, the English 
acknowledge a loss of five killed and twenty 
wounded, while they killed about thirty of the 
enemy. 

A small village was on the right ; and as the 
enemy were there sheltered in the houses, and the 
troops had already spent nearly all their ammuni- 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 59 

tion, the commander determined to advance no 
farther than to a solitary house and barn, situated 
in the outskirts of the wood, and to encamp for the 
night. It would have been better, under all cir 
cumstances, to occupy the village, and thus to 
obtain shelter from the weather. It was two 
o clock in the afternoon when they landed, and so 
much time had been occupied in skirmishing, that 
night came on when they had advanced only a 
mile from the landing-place. 

The bam had been set on fire in the confusion 
that ensued from driving a few skirmishers out of 
it, and the house could shelter only a few of the 
officers. The men were obliged to bivouac in the 
open air, as no coverings had been brought from 
the ships, and to build large fires, to dry their 
clothing and protect them from the cold. The 
winter had set in unusually early and severe, and, 
during the night, the ice formed of sufficient thick 
ness to bear a man. Besides other discomforts, 
the men had no provisions but the few biscuits, 
which they brought with them, for the inhabi 
tants had driven all their cattle to the woods be 
yond the village. 

About midnight, according to the plan agreed 
upon, the small vessels came up the river ; but, 
instead of the expected supplies, they landed only 
six brass field-pieces, which, in the present situa 
tion of the troops, were a mere incumbrance The 



60 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

place at which they were to cross the St. Charles 
was still at a considerable distance, and the inter 
vening ground was marshy and broken with many 
deep gullies. It was vain to think of drawing the 
artillery by hand, and they had no horses. A 
message was sent for more ammunition and pro 
visions, but they could obtain only half a barrel of 
powder and a hundred weight of bullets. 

The cause of this failure in the arrangements 
was the strange eagerness of the commander-in 
chief to have his share in the engagement. The 
council had resolved, that no attack should be 
made on the lower town, till the land troops had 
crossed the St. Charles, and were ready to assault 
the heights. But the troops were no sooner ashore, 
than Sir William, with the four large ships, sailed 
up to the city, and opened his fire. Hardly any 
damage was done ; for the houses were mostly of 
stone, and the sides too thick for a ball to pene 
trate, while the fire was returned with considerable 
effect from a small battery, which the enemy has 
tily erected. The ships anchored about a musket- 
shot off, and cannonaded till dark, when they had 
speit all their powder, except two rounds apiece, 
and the larger vessels had received considerable 
injury in the hull. They were then compelled to 
drop down the river, the admiral s ship leaving be 
hind its best bower anchor and cable. 

Having fired away much of their powder against 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 61 

ihe rocks, no supply could be sent to the troops 
on shore. On the morning of the 9th, it was 
found, that several of the men were disabled, 
from having their hands and feet frozen, and 
some others had sickened of the small-pox. A 
council of war was held, to hear the information 
communicated by a French deserter, who came 
over in the course of the night. He informed 
them, that all the French forces had been concen 
trated at Quebec, with the exception of fifty men, 
who were left at Montreal ; that there were more 
than three thousand troops in the city, besides a 
force of about seven hundred, who were concealed 
in a swamp close at hand ; and that a battery of 
eight guns had been raised, to prevent the English 
from crossing the river. The account was evi 
dently exaggerated, and subsequent events made 
it appear not improbable, that the man had been 
despatched for the express purpose of deceiving 
them. 

Walley seems to have been frightened, and ren 
dered incapable of forming or executing any plan 
whatever. Instead of pushing directly for the 
river and attempting to force a passage, or of re 
turning immediately to the ships, he merely shifted 
the place of encampment to a spot where the men 
were better sheltered, and there assumed the best 
posture he could for defending himself. Parties 
were sent out to gain intelligence, and procure 



62 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

provisions ; but they brought back little but fearful 
accounts of the strength and preparations of the 
enemy. A small quantity of spirits and a biscuit 
apiece for the men were procured from the ships. 

The enemy did not venture a direct assault, for 
which they had not sufficient strength on that side 
of the river ; but they harassed the troops with con 
tinual skirmishing, in which a number of men were 
lost on both sides. The French account acknowl 
edges, that the English generally fought well, and 
attributes the want of success to their imperfect 
discipline, and the inefficiency, if not the coward 
ice, of their commander. 

On the next day, the men still remaining 
in their encampment, it was resolved, that the 
commander should go on board, to communicate 
their situation to Sir William, and receive his 
orders for the future disposition of the troops. The 
message would have been more properly intrusted 
to a subaltern ; but, through the whole affair, Wai- 
ley seems to have manifested a particular wish to 
withdraw himself from the line of fire. Phips re 
ceived from him a full, if not exaggerated account 
of their present difficulties, and of the obstacles 
that prevented an advance. The banks of the St. 
Charles were steep, and commanded by a heavy 
battery; and if they succeeded in forcing their 
way across, it would be necessary to attack a wallea 
town, garrisoned by more than twice their number. 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 63 

Under such circumstances, the commander-in-chief 
could not hesitate. Walley was ordered to draw 
his men back to the beach, and be in readiness to 
reembark on oie following day. 

While the commanders were still in conference, 
they were alarmed by the sound of sharp firing 
from the shore. Walley hastily returned, and 
found the troops actively engaged by the French 
and Indians, who had assaulted the camp. Major 
Savage, who was left in command, had maintained 
his ground for some time ; but, finding that the men 
acted to disadvantage in the swamps and thickets, 
a retreat took place, and the enemy hung on the 
rear. The pursuit ceased when they reached the 
open ground, and the men remained where they 
were till midnight, when they silently withdrew to 
the beach, where they had landed. 

On the next morning the enemy assembled in 
force in the adjoining thicket, and fired occasion 
ally with artillery, which they had brought from the 
city. It was judged hazardous to embark in open 
day, in the presence of so large a force ; especial 
ly as the men were now so much disheartened, 
that they rushed tumultuously to the water s edge, 
the momen: the boats touched the beach. The 
boats were therefore ordered off till nightfall, and 
strong detachments were sent to drive the enemy 
from the woods in their immediate vicinity. This 
service was successfully performed, and the troops 



64 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY 

remained unmolested during the rest of the day. 
At night, the troops were safely conveyed to the 
ships, though in the hurry of the moment the guns 
were forgotten, and five pieces were left on shore. 

The cowardice and incompetency of Walley are 
sufficiently apparent from his own account. In 
stead of being the last man to leave the shore, he 
was among the first to embark ; and that too, when, 
according to the French account (though he does 
not allude to the fact) , the enemy were keeping up 
a constant fire, which was the cause of the great 
confusion that prevailed. His authority was insuf 
ficient to quell the disorder, and he catches at a 
trivial pretence for rowing off to the ships, leaving 
the men and artillery to their fate. 

On the 12th a council of war was held, and va 
rious plans were discussed for renewing the attack. 
The men were too much exhausted to be put upon 
immediate service ; but it was agreed to wait till 
they had recruited their strength, and then to be 
guided by circumstances. In the mean time, a boat 
was despatched to the shore to propose an ex 
change of prisoners ; and seventeen men, who had 
been captured at Casco, were released in exchange 
for as many Frenchmen, who had fallen into the 
hands of the English. The possibility of another 
attempt was at once precluded by a violent storo, 
which drove many of the vessels from their an 
chorage, scattered the fleet, and obliged them a? 
to make the best of their way out of the river 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS 65 

The causes of the failure of this unlucky expe 
dition are but too apparent. The time lost, in 
waiting for a supply of ammunition from England, 
delayed the arrival of the expedition till the cold 
weather set in ; Phips, from his want of judgment 
and of experience in military affairs, was little 
qualified for the direction of such an enterprise ; 
and the second in command was a coward. Many 
complaints were made of the conduct of Walley, 
but no one interested himself as prosecutor, and the 
investigation was suffered to drop. 

The return of the fleet was even more disas 
trous than the voyage out. The weather was 
tempestuous, and no efforts could keep the fleet 
together. One vessel was never heard of after 
the separation ; another was wrecked, though 
the crew were saved ; and the third, a fire-ship, 
was burnt at sea. Four ships were blown so far 
from the coast, that they did not reach Boston for 
five or six weeks after the arrival of Sir William, 
when they had been given up for lost. 

x. 5 



63 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 



CHAPTER IV. 

Difficulties created by the Failure of the Canada 
Expedition. Issue of Paper Money. Phips 
goes to England. Negotiations respecting 
the Renewal of the Charter. New Charter 
granted, and Phips appointed Governor. 
His Return, and Reception at Boston. Sa 
lem Witchcraft. 

THE unfortunate issue of the expedition against 
Quebec threw the government of the colony into 
great embarrassment. They had relied entirely 
upon the success of the attempt, and upon the 
plunder, which would thereby be obtained, for 
money to pay the soldiers, and defray all other 
charges. The treasury had been drained by the 
cost of fitting out the fleet, and the soldiers were 
clamorous for their pay, when the government 
had not a shilling to give them. 

Bills were passed, imposing extraordinary taxes, 
the returns of which, in two or three years, would 
be sufficient to meet all demands. But this could 
not satisfy the soldiers, whose necessities were 
pressing and immediate. 

To relieve them, recourse was finally had to an 
expedient at that time novel. Bills of credit were 



Ah> 
SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 

issued, which the faith of the colony was pledged 
to redeem. The notes were of various denomina 
tions, from two shillings up to ten pounds sterling ; 
and as no greater amount was issued, than would 
be brought into the treasury in a year or two by 
the taxes, and as express provision was made, that 
these notes should be received, even at five per 
cent advance, in payment of the rates, it was 
hoped, that the papei would circulate, as of equal 
value with gold and silver. 

Such, in fact, would have been the case, had 
the country at the time been under a more settled 
government. But the people fancied the loss of 
the old charter a greater evil than it really was. 
They had not yet recovered it, and the prospect 
of such an event seemed every day more distant. 
The authorities existed only by sufferance ; and, 
as the King could at any time remove the sitting 
magistrates, or refuse to sanction their acts, no 
guaranty issued by them was considered as perfectly 
safe. Every expedient was tried to keep up the 
credit of the notes, but with imperfect success. 
Sir William Phips, enjoying a large private fortune, 
and conscious that a portion of the blame for the 
present embarrassments might be imputed to him. 
exchanged a large amount of gold and silver foi 
the bills at par. Still the credit of the bills fell 
so low, that the holders of the paper could not 
obtain more than fourteen shillings in the pound 



68 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

When the taxes came to be paid, the paper of 
course rose to the value, at which the government 
were pledged to receive it. This benefited the 
persons who held the notes at that time, but was 
a mere aggravation of injury to the poor soldier, 
who had been compelled to pass his notes at the 
depressed value. 

In the coming winter, that of 1690 - 91, much 
injury was to be expected from the incursions of 
the Indians. Fortunately, the tribes at the east 
ward showed themselves disposed for peace. A 
party of them came to Wells with a flag of truce, 
and proposed, that there should be a cessation of 
hostilities for six months. Commissioners from the 
General Court were despatched to meet them ; 
and, on the 29th of September, they agreed upon 
a truce till the 1st of May ensuing. 

This treaty took away from Sir William Phips all 
hopes of employment in the public service. He 
resolved upon another visit to England, with the 
view of laying before the King himself the consid 
erations in favor of another attempt to wrest from 
the French all their North American possessions. 
He accordingly embarked in the depth of winter, 
and after a tedious passage arrived at Bristol, 
whence he hastened to London. 

He there offered the King his services in the 
command of a second expedition ; and in a paper, 
which he presented, strongly urged the importance 



SIR WILLIAM P H I P S . 69 

and feasibility of the scheme. He represented, 
thai the success of the design would give the 
English the exclusive benefit of the fur trade, and 
secure from farther injury the Hudson s Bay Com 
pany, several of whose factories had recently fallen 
into the hands of the enemy. It would also secure 
the Newfoundland fisheries, and materially in 
crease the number of ships and seamen engaged in 
that business. But, if the French were allowed to 
keep possession of the country, the constantly in 
creasing influence of the priests must finally engage 
all the Indians in their interest ; a result, which 
would endanger the safety, not only of New Eng 
land, but of all the American colonies. 

The experience of half a century was required, 
before the English government could perceive the 
force of these arguments ; and the enterprise was 
then undertaken and carried through, at an ex 
pense of blood and treasure a hundred-fold greater 
than what would have been necessary, had they 
yielded at the time to the representations of the 
colonists. But King William was too busy with 
the war in Holland, to think of an enterprise 
against so remote a province as Canada. 

By renewing his intimacy with Increase Mather, 
who was still in London forwarding the application 
to restore the Massachusetts charter, Phips was 
again induced to lend his assistance, in the hope 
once more of establishing the rights of his country- 



70 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

men on a permanent basis. The utmost anxiety 
was felt at home upon this subject, for the recol 
lection of what had been suffered under the former 
governor was still fresh in the minds of all ; and 
the fact, that Andros was not censured after ne 
was sent to England, seemed to prove, that the 
King and ministers regarded his administration as 
severe, but not illegal. 

The proceedings of the agents were embarrassed 
by the existence of two parties at home on this 
subject, and by a corresponding difference of opin 
ion among themselves. Attached to the old form, 
under which the affairs of the colony had been so 
long administered, many of the people would hear 
of nothing but the restoration of the ancient char 
ter ; and, if this could not be obtained, they would 
accept no new form, which would abridge, though 
not destroy, their former privileges. They prefer 
red to rely on the moderation of the court. Since 
the Revolution, the government had been conduct 
ed on the old principles ; and, though this was con 
fessedly a temporary arrangement, and dependent 
on the pleasure of the King, they hoped it would 
be allowed to continue. The old charter or none, 
all or nothing, was the motto of the party. Among 
the agents in London, Cooke, Oakes, and Wiswall 
were firmly attached to these sentiments. 

A more moderate and rather more numerous 
party, though they preferred the old form, were 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 71 

yet willing to compromise, and to accept a new 
charter, which would secure the enjoyment of theif 
most important rights. The former instrument 
was defective, and contained no grant of certain 
powers, which were essential to the very existence 
of the colony. It did not authorize the grantees 
to inflict capital punishment, to constitute a house 
of representatives, to impose taxes, or to incorpo 
rate towns or colleges. These powers had indeed 
been assumed, yet without any authority in the 
terms of the charter. It would be folly, then, to 
appeal to the Court of Chancery. Though the for 
mer sentence of that court might be reversed, on 
the ground of some defect in legal forms, a new 
writ might at any time be issued, and the charter 
be again adjudged void in a legal manner. It was 
better, then, to purchase, by the relinquishment of 
a few privileges formerly assumed, the confirma 
tion and establishment of the most important im 
munities. Such was the opinion of Sir Henry 
Ashurst and Mr. Mather, the other colony agents, 
and Sir William Phips, whose name had consider 
able weight, assented to their views. 

The hope of recovering the old charter now ap 
peared to be entirely fallacious. Even the draft 
of a new instrument, which conferred all the for 
mer privileges, except the election of their own 
governor, was at once rejected by the Privy Coun 
cil. Mr. Mather and Sir William accordingly 



72 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

united their efforts to procure a new charter, though 
they met with nothing but opposition from the 
other agents. Mather was introduced to the King 
oy the Duke of Devonshire, on the 28th of April, 
1691. Among other reasons for restoring the 
privileges formerly enjoyed, and for appointing a 
New England man as governor, he then urged the 
great exertions made by the colonists to enlarge 
the English dominions. The expedition to Can 
ada was particularly referred to, as " a great and 
noble undertaking." 

Two days after this conversation, the King sig 
nified to the agents, "that he believed it would 
be for the advantage of the people in that colony 
to be under a governor appointed by himself. 
Nevertheless, he would have the agents of New 
England nominate a person, that should be agree 
able to the inclinations of the people there ; and, 
notwithstanding this, he would have charter privi 
leges restored and confirmed unto them." The 
King departed for Holland the day after giving this 
promise ; and the attorney -general was ordered to 
draw up the heads of a charter on the principles 
which he had heard approved by his Majesty. 

This draft was finished and presented some time 
in June, and received the approbation of the Coun 
cil, though Mather protested strenuously against it, 
and declared he would rather die, than consent to 
that, or any thing else, by which the liberties ot 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 73 

his country would be infringed. But the Council 
treated his objections very cavalierly, telling him, 
that the agents were not the plenipotentiaries of a 
foreign state, and must submit, or take the conse 
quences. The Queen, however, was induced to 
interfere, and to write to the King requesting that 
the minutes might be altered, or that the matter 
might be deferred till his return. But his Majesty 
signified his pleasure, that the charter should con 
form to the principles drawn up in writing by the 
attorney-general ; and all that the unwearied solici 
tations of Mather could effect, was that a few im 
portant articles should afterwards be inserted. 

The question respecting the acceptance of the 
instrument, in this form, was debated with heat 
among the agents and in the colony. The opposi 
tion to it became the great cause of the unpopular 
ity of the new governor, and formed a considerable 
impediment to the success of his administration. 

Early in September, 1691, Mr. Mather was de 
sired to give in his recommendation of a candidate 
for the office of governor. His own mind had 
long been made up, though many had applied to 
him. The fact that Sir William Phips was a na 
tive of New England, that he possessed a high 
rank and considerable estate, that he had already 
served the crown in several important capacities, 
and had obtained the favor of the King without 
forfeiting his popularity at home, pointed him 



74 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

out as far the most eligible person for the office. 
His name was accordingly presented to the Coun 
cil by Sir Henry Ashurst and Mr. Mather ; and 
the latter, when he obtained an audience of his 
Majesty a few days afterwards, addressed him as 
follows. 

" Sir, I do, in the behalf of New England, most 
humbly thank your Majesty, in that you have 
been pleased by a charter, to restore English lib 
erties unto them, to confirm them in their prop 
erties, and to grant them some peculiar privileges. 
I doubt not, but that your subjects there will de 
mean themselves with that dutiful affection and 
loyalty to your Majesty, as that you will see cause 
to enlarge your favors towards them. And I do 
most humbly thank your Majesty, in that you have 
been pleased to give leave unto those that are 
concerned for New England to nominate their 
governor. 

" Sir William Phips has been accordingly nomi 
nated by us at the Council Board. He hath done 
a good service for the crown, by enlarging your 
dominions, and reducing Nova Scotia to your obe 
dience. I know that he will faithfully serve your 
Majesty to t:^e utmost of his capacity ; and if your 
Majesty shall think fit to confirm him in that 
place, it will be a farther obligation on your sub 
jects there." 

A commission was accordingly prepared under 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 75 

the great seal, by which Sir William Phips was 
appointed Captain-general and Governor-in-chief 
of the Province of Massachusetts-bay in New Eng 
land. By the new charter, there were included 
under this title the whole of the Old Colony, also 
the Colony of new Plymouth, the Province of 
Maine, of Nova Scotia, and all the country be 
tween the two last-mentioned places, as far north 
as the River St. Lawrence. His commission also 
appointed him Captain-general of the Colonies of 
Connecticut and Rhode Island. Sir William was 
admitted with Mr. Mather to kiss the King s hand 
on his appointment on the 3d of January, 1692. 
Early in the spring, he sailed for New England in 
the Nonsuch frigate, and arrived at Boston in May. 

The General Court, then in session, immedi 
ately, though with some opposition, passed a vote, 
appointing a day of solemn thanksgiving to Al 
mighty God, " for granting a safe arrival to his 
Excellency our Governor, and the Rev. Mr. In 
crease Mather, who have industriously endeavored 
the service of this people, and have brought over 
with them a settlement of government, in which 
their Majesties have graciously given us distinguish 
ing marks of their royal favor and goodness." 

On the Monday following his arrival, the new 
governor was conducted from his own house to 
the town-house by a large escort of military, and a 
number of the principal gentlemen of Boston and 



76 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHT. 

the vicinity. The ceremony was opened with 
prayer by Mr. Allen, a minister of Boston. The 
charter was first read, then the governor s com 
mission, after which the venerable Governor Brad 
street resigned the chair. The commission of the 
lieutenant-governor, Mr. Stoughton, was read, and 
Sir William was then conducted with the same 
parade to a public dinner, and afterwards to his 
own house. 

The affairs of the province were in a disorder 
ed state, and immediate action was required to 
defend it against the public enemy, and to settle 
some domestic troubles. The Indians, who had 
failed to perform their promise the year before, to 
come in at the conclusion of the truce and make a 
general treaty of peace, were now ravaging the 
frontiers, and the French privateers, which swarmed 
upon the sea-coast, gave great annoyance to the 
shipping. 

With respect to internal affairs, it was necessary 
for the General Court to act immediately upon the 
statutes ; for the colony laws under the old charter 
nad been annulled by the publication of the new. 
In the various proceedings on these subjects, the 
opposition party among the people, and in the 
Assembly, found little reason to complain of the 
conduct of their new governor. Either from em 
barrassment arising from the novelty of his situ 
ation, or from a wish to conciliate the favor of the 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 77 

people in the outset, Sir William gave up the 
exercise of certain powers that belonged to him by 
the charter. Thus, at the first meeting of the 
council, for the appointment of civil officers, he 
permitted them to be nominated by the members 
present, he himself only voting on the question of 
their approval. But this practice would have ma 
terially lessened the influence of the office, and it 
was soon abandoned. 

The representatives were treated in a manner 
no less conciliatory. Cotton Mather affirms, that 
he was accustomed to hold the following language 
towards them ; and though, from such a reporter, 
the words themselves cannot be received as very 
authentic, they are sufficiently indicative of the 
general tenor of his administration. " Gentlemen, 
you may make yourselves as easy as you please 
for ever. Consider what may have any tendency 
to your welfare, and you may be sure that whatev 
er bills you offer me, consistent with the honor 
and interest of the crown, I will pass them readily. 
I do but seek opportunities to serve you ; had it 
not been for the sake of this, I had never accepted 
the government of this province ; and whenever 
you have settled such a body of good laws, that 
no person coming after me may make you uneasy, 
I shall not desire one day longer to continue in the 
government." 

The commencement of Sir William s admini* 



78 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

tration was distinguished by a series of events, 
which left the darkest spot that rests upon the early 
history of New England. I refer to the prosecu 
tions, which took place at Salem and other towns, 
for the supposed crime of witchcraft. After all 
the allowance, that can be made for the peculiar 
character of the times and the men, and for the 
blighting effect upon all natural feeling of a stern 
and unenlightened sense of religious duty, there will 
yet be cause to wonder at the infatuation, which 
could lead pious, learned, and well-meaning men 
so widely astray. 

The history of this remarkable delusion falls 
not within the design of the present work. To 
trace Sir William s personal agency in the affair, 
and to ascertain his individual opinion on the sub 
ject of witchcraft, would be interesting, did any 
materials exist for such a purpose. But he was 
neither a journalist nor a letter-writer, and we are 
left to gather his opinions from the casual notice 
taken by contemporary writers of his public acts. 

I have attributed the strength of the delusion 
and its lamentable consequences to religious feel 
ing ; and the fact, that the pastors of the churches 
had the principal share in creating the excitement, 
and in supplying matter for the prosecutions, 
seems to corroborate this statement. The first 
trial for witchcraft arose from some occurrences 
in the family of a clergyman ; and Parris and 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 79 

Noyes, ministers of Salem, and the Mathers, father 
and son, were most active in every stage of the 
proceedings. The laity also were engaged, but 
their zeal was fanned and directed by exhortation 
and instruction from the pulpit. 

Stoughton, the lieutenant-governor, who pre 
sided in the trials at Salem, was certainly an active 
prosecutor; but there is no evidence that the 
governor furthered the proceedings in any other 
way, than by sufferance. Sir William, however, 
was not a man of sufficient reflection and judg 
ment, to form opinions contrary to the prevailing 
belief; and, as on all subjects he was much under 
the influence of Cotton Mather, it is not unlikely, 
that he agreed with his spiritual adviser on this 
point. 

When Phips arrived with the new charter, 
the prisons were crowded with suspected witches, 
and his first act was one of evil omen to the ac 
cused. The jailers were ordered to put them all 
in irons. The government were driven upon this 
act by the outcries of the accusers, who, thinking 
the arrival of a new governor a fine opportunity 
to show their zeal, immediately complained, that 
they were afflicted by those in prison, though for 
merly, their sufferings had ceased upon the com 
mitment of the guilty. Sir William seems not to 
have been in earnest in the proceeding; for the 
officers were permitted to evade the order, by put- 



80 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

ting on the irons indeed, but taking them off again 
immediately. 

The extravagance of the accusers had at last 
its proper effect, in opening the eyes of the public. 
Emboldened by success, they hesitated not to de 
nounce all, of whatever rank or respectability in 
life, who dared to resist the prevailing opinion, or 
manifest any opposition to the proceedings Thus, 
they intimated, if they did not openly assert, that 
the lady of the governor was a witch. Hutchin- 
son tells a story, on the authority of a manuscript 
letter, which supplies a reason for so strange a 
charge. 

" In Sir William s absence," says the writer of 
the letter, " his lady, I suppose on account of her 
name s being Mary, (William and Mary,) was solicit 
ed for a favor in behalf of a woman committed by 
one of the judges, on accusation of witchcraft, by a 
formal warrant under his hand and seal, and in close 
prison for the trial the next assizes, then not far 
off. The good lady, proprid virtute, granted and 
signed a warrant for the said woman s discharge, 
which was obeyed by the keeper, and the woman 
lives still, for aught I know. Truly I did not be 
lieve this story, till I saw a copy of the mittimus 
and discharge under the keeper s hand, attested a 
true copy, for which discovery the keeper was dis 
charged from his trust, and put out of his employ 
ment, as he himself told me." 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 81 

The whole delusion respecting the practice of 
witchcraft was as short-lived, as it was violent. 
Some time elapsed, before the clergy were able to 
perceive, or frank enough to acknowledge, their 
error. But the people were awakened by a sense 
of common danger ; and, though a few infatuated 
individuals continued to urge prosecutions, the juries 
refused to convict. The last act of Sir William 
Phips, as governor of the country, was to issue a 
general pardon to all those, who had been convict 
ed or accused of the offence. This act had par 
ticular reference to several individuals, who, in 
the heat of the excitement, had been charged with 
the crime and committed to prison, but through 
the connivance of the jailers, or the exertions of 
their friends, had made their escape, and taken 
refuge m a neighboring province 

x. 6 



AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY 



CHAPTER V 

Legislative Acts. Indian War. Attack upon 
Wells. Building of Fort William Henry. 
Elections in May, 1693. Unpopularity 
ofPhips. Peace concluded with the Indians 
at Pemaquid. Phips quarrels with Short 
and Brenton. Recalled to England. His 
Death and Character. 

WHEN the officers under the new charter enter 
ed upon the performance of their duties, the affairs 
of the province were embarrassed, and the confu 
sion was increased by the necessity of postponing 
much pressing business, till the excitement caused 
by the witchcraft affair had a little subsided. I 
have already said, that the old colonial laws were 
vacated by the provisions of the new charter. The 
General Court, which met in June, 1692, merely 
passed an act, that the former laws should continue 
in force till November of the same year, and then 
adjourned till the second Wednesday of October. 

When they again assembled, no attempt was 
made to frame a body of laws, which might at 
once be transmitted to England for approval, and 
form a basis for all subsequent legislation ; but 
acts were successively framed and passed, as the 
emergencies of the moment called for them Ac- 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 



83 



customed to legislate only on the basis of existing 
laws, the members of the Council and the Assem 
bly were only confused by a call to frame, as it 
were, the government de novo, and the govern 
or had not the skill nor the information neces 
sary to direct them . Some of their laws were ap 
proved by the King, others were sent back for 
alteration, while the country suffered from the de 
lay. The proceedings were further embarrassed 
by the existence of a large party opposed to Phips, 
who threw every obstacle they could in the way 
of the administration. 

The old attachment to their liberties, and desire 
for their complete ratification, were conspicuous in 
the first actions of the House. What was called a 
law, (but it was rather a declaration of rights, for 
most of its provisions were copied from Magna 
Charta,) was passed at an early period, and de 
spatched to England. It declared, that " no aid 
tax, tallage, assessment, custom, loan, benevolence, 
or imposition whatever," should be laid, under any 
pretence, but by the act and consent of the Gov 
ernor, Council, and Representatives assembled in 
General Court. This bill met with the fate, 
which might have been expected. It was disal 
lowed by the King, as were also some laws for the 
punishment of crimes, which were drawn up too 
closely in the spirit of the Jewish code. 

Meanwhile the frontiers were suffering under 



84 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

the barbarities of an Indian war. It raged chiefly 
in the eastern part of the province, where the 
savages, recruited in strength the preceding year 
by a six months truce, were now carrying it on 
with fresh vigor. Major Hutchinson, who com 
manded the English forces, was at Portsmouth ; 
he had distributed his small body of troops along 
the frontier line, which had been much contracted 
by the loss of York. 

Captain Converse, with fifteen men, was posted 
at Storer s garrison-house, in Wells. Early in 
June, two sloops came up the small river at that 
place, with fifteen men on board, bringing a supply 
of ammunition. On the 10th, the garrison was 
alarmed by the running of wounded cattle from 
the woods. Thus informed of the approach of 
the enemy, preparations were made to receive 
them, by bringing the sloops as near as possible to 
the garrison, and keeping a strict watch during the 
night. The enemy, who consisted of about four 
hundred French and Indians, commanded by Mon 
sieur Labocree, commenced the assault early in 
the morning. They kept up the attack more 
than forty-eight hours, when they retired with the 
loss of their commander and a number of men ; 
while the garrison had but one killed by a musket- 
shot, and one was taken prisoner in passing from 
the sloops to the fort, and tortured to death. 

This attack upon Wells was the only considera- 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. g5 

Die attempt made by the enemy, in the course of 
the year ; but, by lurking in the vicinity of the 
settlements, cutting off every straggler whom they 
met, and watching for an opportunity to surprise 
a village, they created more general alarm than 
they could have done, had they acted in con 
cert on some open enterprise. Agriculture was 
necessarily abandoned, and the frontier men were 
obliged to confine themselves and their families 
to the stockades and garrison-houses. 

To restore confidence to the settlers, and to 
curb the Indians by the establishment of a strong 
fort in the centre of the territory, which formed 
their field of operation, became an object of para 
mount importance. Orders to this effect had been 
received from England, and late in the summer the 
governor prepared to carry them into execution. 

A site was chosen on a point of land projecting 
into Pemaquid river, and so near the mouth, as to 
command all access by this stream into the interior 
of the country. The river at this place is about 
forty rods wide, and the tides rise from fourteen to 
sixteen feet. Andros had caused a stockade fort 
to be erected on the spot, but the Indians had de 
stroyed it in 1789. 

In August, Governor Phips, attended by Major 
Church and four hundred and fifty men, embarked 
at Boston, and taking Falmouth in his course, 
to obtain some large guns, arrived at Pemaquid 



86 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

The fort was constructed in a quadrangular form, 
and the walls were built of stone. It was named 
Fort William Henry. Leaving Captains Wing and 
Bancroft, with two companies, to finish the works, 
Sir William despatched Major Church with the 
greater part of the troops to Penobscot, in search 
of the enemy, and returned himself to Boston. 
Church succeeded in taking only five of the ene 
my, and in burning the Indian town at Taconet. 

Great discontent was caused by the building of 
Fort William Henry, and by the largeness of the 
sum expended. So far as the murmurs related to 
the construction of any fort, they were unreason- 
ble, for such a measure was necessary for the pro 
tection of the frontiers. But it was said, that little 
judgment was shown in the choice of a site, and in 
the mode of building. The fort defended only 
one harbor, and that was not a very important 
one, and did not afford a convenient centre of oper 
ations ; as it was, it disturbed somewhat the opera 
tions of the French, who sent an expedition against 
it before the close of the year ; but the place was 
found to be stronger than they had expected, and 
they retired without risking an assault. 

The appointment of Phips as captain-general 
of Connecticut and Rhode Island was the cause 
of some trouble. The object in giving him the 
command of the military in places where he held 
no civil authority seems to have been, that the 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 87 

united forces of the New England provinces might 
act with greater unanimity and effect against the 
common enemy. But no law of these two govern 
ments required the submission of the people to an 
officer from Massachusetts, and the commission of 
Phips, in this particular, was rendered void. He 
visited Rhode Island, in the first year of his gov 
ernment, to regulate the militia there ; he divided 
the colony into several regiments, and gave to 
Colonel Stanford, who was commander-in-chief, a 
number of commissions for the officers to be ap 
pointed. But most of these refused to take the 
commissions ; and, as the people would pay no re 
gard to them, the matter was allowed to pass over 
without notice. 

At the elections in May, 1693, the people had 
an opportunity of testifying the opinion, which 
they entertained of Phips and his government. 
Ten of those, who had been counsellors the year 
before, having been nominated to that office by 
Mr. Mather and Sir William, were left out, and 
others were put in, some of whom were on bad 
terms with the governor. He refused his consent 
to the choice of Mr. Cooke, who had been one of 
the colony agents in England, and had opposed 
his own nomination. But Cooke was much es 
teemed by the people ; and it would have been 
more politic in the governor, to suffer his pres 
ence at the council-board, than to ei danger hii 



88 AMERICAN BIOGKAPHX. 

own popularity, by putting a negative on the 
election. 

It was evident, that Sir William s favor with his 
countrymen had declined. The dislike of the 
new charter, and of those who were concerned in 
obtaining it, together with the weight of taxes 
caused by the prosecution of the war, account but 
partially for this result. The governor s hasty 
temper led him into difficulties, which his real 
goodness of heart could not induce the people to 
overlook. 

The project of another attempt upon Canada 
had been entertained during the winter, and re 
peated applications to the English government had 
at last induced the ministers to promise assistance, 
Sir Francis Wheeler, the English admiral in the 
West Indies, arrived in the early part of the sum 
mer, bringing with him a body of troops sufficient, 
when united with the New England forces, to cap 
ture Montreal and Quebec. Phips was to head 
the provincial troops, but to act under the orders of 
Wheeler. Unluckily, the arrangement was made 
in England, and notice of it was not conveyed 
to the province in time for the necessary prepar 
ations. 

The plan was wholly defeated by a disease, 
which broke out in the fleet while in the West 
Indies, and proved so fatal, that by the llth of 
June, when the admiral arrived at Boston, he had 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 89 

buried thirteen hundred out of twenty-one hun 
dred sailors, and eighteen hundred out of twenty- 
four hundred soldiers. The arrival of the fleet 
introduced the disease into the town, where it 
made greater ravages than any contagious disease, 
which had ever visited them before, and alarmed 
many families so much, that they withdrew to the 
country. 

Thus exposed for another season to the rav 
ages of the French and Indians, the provincial 
government made such preparations as they were 
able, in their own defence. Three hundred and 
fifty men were levied, and put under the com 
mand of Converse, who received a major s com 
mission, in consideration of his good conduct the 
year before. Being informed of a party of Indians 
who were lurking in the woods near Wells, he 
surprised and killed the greater part of them, in 
retaliation for a family, whom they had murdered 
a short time before, at Oyster River. He then 
embarked for Pemaquid, and passing up Sheeps- 
cot river, marched through the woods to Taconet, 
which he found deserted by the Indians. Thence 
he repaired to Saco, and laid the foundations of a 
fort, which was afterwards finished by some of his 
officers, and proved of great service in the war. 

These were the only military operations of the 
season. The Indians were by this time discouraged 
at the length of the war, and by the fact that the 



90 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

French were not able to afford them so much as 
sistance as formerly. They also feared an attack 
from the Five Nations, who espoused the cause oi 
the English. A French missionary, who resided 
among them, used all his endeavours to prevent 
an accommodation, but he was unsuccessful. 

The provincials, on their side, were no less 
eager to be rid of the war. The Indian sachems 
came to Pemaquid, the officers of which fort had 
been empowered to make an agreement, and on 
the llth of August a treaty was signed. 

While the peace continued, Sir William toolr 
all proper measures to conciliate the entire good 
will of the Indians, and induce them to break off 
all connexion with the French. In the summer of 
this year, he undertook a voyage to Maine for this 
purpose, and for regulating the trade. He took 
with him Nahauton, an Indian preacher, blend 
ing to leave him among them, that he might teach 
them Protestant Christianity. But the event 
showed, what might have been expected in the 
outset, that the diligence of the French Jesuits 
had been such, as to confirm the savages in some 
rude notion of the Roman Catholic doctrine, and 
to ally them inseparably with the people, who 
professed that faith. The sachems came to Pema 
quid, however, received presents, expressed their 
satisfaction, and made large promises of future 
fidelity ; with how much sincerity was shown by 
the renewal of the war in less than a vear 



SIR WILLIAM PHIP9 91 

The governor visited Pemaquia again in the 
course of a few months, when he had an interview 
with Madockewandos, one of their principal sa 
chems, and obtained from him the grant of a con 
siderable tract of land. 

For the few remaining months of Sir William s 
administration, we hear little of him, except from the 
unfortunate controversies with individuals, in which 
he became involved. His favor with the people 
had so much declined, that, from the mere unpleas 
antness of his situation, he became peevish, irrita 
ble, and jealous of encroachments upon the dignity 
of his office. The first quarrel with a private per 
son, though it arose from a controversy, in which 
Phips took the popular side, had a material effect 
in diminishing the respect, which the people were 
accustomed to pay to their governor. 

The maritime affairs of the province had never 
been clearly regulated by the government of the 
mother country. The several governors were en 
joined, under severe penalties, to see that the 
trade and navigation acts were duly observed ; but 
though the admiralty jurisdiction was expressly re 
served to the King, no admiralty officers had been 
regularly appointed, and no court established. 
Phips maintained, that, by virtue of his commis 
sion as vice-admiral, he had a right to sit as judge ; 
and he ordered several prizes, which had been 
taken by a privateer among the Leeward Islands, 
to be brought before him for condemnation. 



92 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

It had been usual for the governor to appoint a 
naval officer, and ship-masters entered and cleared 
their vessels with him. Sir William appointed a 
Mr. Jackson to this office. But in the course of 
the year 1693, Mr. Brenton, a young gentleman 
of good family, was commissioned by the King, as 
collector of the port of Boston, though no custom 
house had as yet been established. The people 
resented this appointment, and complained that it 
only burdened them with unnecessary and unrea 
sonable fees. They questioned Brenton s author 
ity, and still continued to enter and clear their 
vessels with the naval officer, in which course 
they were supported by the governor. 

In the spring of 1 694, a vessel laden with fustic 
from the Bahama Islands arrived at Boston. No 
bond had been given for the cargo, and the collec 
tor consequently seized both ship and goods. The 
fustic had been purchased by Colonel Foster, a 
merchant of Boston and a member of the Council, 
who, loth to part with his bargain, complained to 
the governor. He immediately interposed, and 
sent an order to the collector to release the goods. 
When Brenton refused to obey, Sir William went 
to the wharf where he was, and after some alter 
cation, actually chastised him with his own hands 
The vessel and goods were then taken from him, 
and delivered to the owners. 

Another private quarrel of the governor occur- 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS 93 

red in the same year, and under similar circum 
stances. Some disagreemen had arisen between 
him and Short, the captain of the Nonsuch frigate, 
in which he had made his last voyage from England, 
and which was now lying in the harbor of Boston. 
Short complained, that the proceeds of a prize, 
which had been taken on the voyage, had been 
unfairly distributed, and that he and his men had 
oeen defrauded of their proper share. Phips was 
exasperated by such a charge, and the power 
vested in him by his commission enabled him to 
manifest his dislike. The captains of the men-of- 
war on the colony station were then required to 
follow the instructions of the governors, who had 
power even to suspend them from office, in case 
of great misdemeanors. 

Information had been received, that a French 
man-of-war was expected at St. John s, and the 
governor ordered the Nonsuch frigate thither, to 
intercept it. An attempt seems to have been 
made to deprive Short of the command, at least for 
this voyage, and to leave the vessel in charge, 
either of the officer next in rank, or of a captain 
appointed by Sir William. But Short successfully 
resisted this attempt, and, incensed by such treat 
ment, probably used no great despatch in the ser 
vice for which he was sent. At any rate the 
French vessel had sailed before he arrived, and 
he returned without effecting any thing. Phips 



94: AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

warmly accused him of negligence and cowardice, 
and one day meeting him in the street, " warm 
words passed, and the governor at length made 
use of his cane, and broke Short s head." He 
then caused him to be arrested, sent to the castle, 
and thence on board a merchant vessel, giving the 
master a warrant to carry him as a prisoner to 
England. 

By some accident, the vessel was compelled tc 
put into Portsmouth, and Sir William, now con 
vinced that he had acted too hastily, proceeded 
thither, and ordered the master of the vessel to 
return the warrant, which he tore in pieces. Short 
was set at liberty, and Sir Francis Wheeler, who 
arrived at Boston soon afterwards, sent for him 
and carried him to England, where he obtained 
the command of another ship. 

These two quarrels were as impolitic, as they 
were undignified. They injured the respectability 
of the office, and impaired the popularity of the 
man. Both in the Council and the Lower House, 
the opponents of the governor, who were far more 
active than his friends, had now definite reasons 
fo dissatisfaction, and they were not backward 
in using them, to prejudice the minds of the 
people, and to give weight to the representations 
against Phips, which they sent to their English 
correspondents. On the other hand, his friends 
in the House of Representatives proposed an 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 95 

address to the King, praying that the governor 
might not be removed ; but, though they mustered 
all their strength, out of fifty members present, 
twenty-four voted against the proposition. 

About this time, it so happened, that the friends 
of Phips, in their anxiety to strengthen the hands 
of the government, really secured an important 
privilege to the people. The qualifications for 
membership of the House had never been clearly 
determined, and some of the smaller towns, from 
the want of proper candidates among themselves, 
had adopted the practice of choosing gentlemen 
from Boston to represent them in the General 
Court. The governor was less popular in the 
town than the country, and most of these non 
resident members belonged to the opposition. A 
bill was therefore introduced, and pressed through 
ooth Houses, that in future none but residents 
should be eligible as representatives. This meas 
ure excited some murmuring at the time, for it 
excluded a few of the most respectable and in 
fluential members ; but it was soon considered as 
establishing an important safeguard for the rights 
of the people. 

It was now generally understood, that Sir Wil 
liam s administration was drawing to a close. Be 
sides his open enemies, he had many lukewarm 
friends, who did much to injure his interests. 
Stoughton, the lieutenant-governor, was very cold 



96 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

towards him, and Mr. Dudley, a former governor 
of the province, who desired to recover the office, 
was pressing his suit in London. Short and Bren- 
ton had both preferred their complaints to the 
King, and the Lords of the Treasury together 
with the Board of Trade requested that the gov 
ernor might be immediately displaced. The King 
refused to condemn him unheard, but ordered him 
to leave the province, and come to England to de 
fend himself. Sir William accordingly left Boston, 
on the 17th of November, 1694. 

On his arrival, he was arrested by Dudley and 
Brenton in actions of twenty thousand pounds 
damages. What were the grounds of such a pro 
ceeding on the part of Dudley, it is impossible to 
tell. He had not been in the province recently, 
and it is difficult to see how Phips could have in 
jured him in London. The action was probably 
brought as a mere stroke of policy to increase the 
difficulties under which Phips labored, and embar 
rass the application for his return. Sir Henry 
Ashurst became his bail, and remained his friend 
to the last. It was urged in his defence, that Par 
liament had established no custom-house in Bos 
ton, but had recognised the existence of a naval 
office. No defence was necessary in the case 
of Captain Short; for, owing either to his ab 
sence from the country, or his forgetdilness of the 
provocation he had received, he had exhibited no 
articles of complaint. 



SIR WILLIAM PHIPS. 97 

Cotton Mather asserts, that Sir William s an 
swer to the charges brought against him was 
triumphant, and that he received assurances of 
being restored to his government. But this is 
hardly probable. Though no proceedings strictly 
illegal may have been proved against him, the King 
would hardly desire to restore to an important 
station a man, who had so far forgotten the dignity 
of his office, as to cane a commissioned officer. 

Unable to remain idle under any circumstan 
ces, Phips now engaged in the prosecution of 
two several designs. The one was a scheme for 
supplying the English navy with timber and na 
val stores from the Eastern parts of New Eng 
land. The conception was plausible, and no 
person was better fitted than himself to carry it 
>nto execution. 

The other project was of a more doubtful char 
acter, being nothing else than to return to his old 
business of fishing for shipwrecked treasure. He 
had heard, that the ship, which had on board the 
Spanish governor Bobadilla, with a large amount 
of gold and silver, had been cast away somewhere 
in the West Indies. The Duke of Albemarle s 
patent for all such wrecks had now expired ; but 
he proposed to have it renewed in his own person, 
and to try if fortune would be as favorable, as on 
the former expedition. 

But the execution of these designs was suddenly 



98 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY 

cut short. About the middle of February, 1695, 
he found himself indisposed with a cold, which 
confined him to his chamber. It resulted in a ma 
lignant fever, which caused his death on the 18th 
of the month, in the forty -fifth year of his age. He 
was honorably interred in the church of St. Mary, 
Woolnoth. Sir William left no children. Spen 
cer Phips, whose name occurs frequently in the 
subsequent history of the colonies, was his nephew, 
whom he had adopted into his family. His widow 
married Peter Sargent, who was elected to the 
Board of Counsellors in Massachusetts, in 1702. 

Hutchinson sums up the character of Sir William 
Phips in a few words. " He was an honest man ; 
but by a series of fortunate incidents, rather than 
by any uncommon talents, he rose from the lowest 
condition in life to be the first man in his country." 

Perhaps a candid review of the principal events 
in his career would prove this judgment to be too 
severe. Fortune befriended him only when he 
had earned her favors by ceaseless industry and the 
most indomitable perseverance. He succeeded in 
enterprises so hopeless at first sight, that men of 
sober judgment would never have engaged in them, 
and after failures and discouragements, which 
would have caused persons of ordinary prudence 
to give up the attempt in despair. He was better 
fitted to execute the orders of others, than to issue 
orders himself; and the reputation, which he lost 



SIR WILLIAM PH1PS. 99 

as a rash and unskilful commander, he might have 
gained as an active and daring subaltern. Ha 
was unfit to lead an army, or to govern a province, 
and the chance, which placed him in such situa 
tions, was an unlucky one ; but a better education 
might have qualified him for either station, as his 
natural endowments were perhaps sufficient for 
both. 

He enjoyed a large fortune, acquired solely by 
his own exertions ; but he was neither purse-proud, 
parsimonious, nor extravagant. Far from conceal 
ing the lowness of his origin, he made it a matter 
of honest pride, that he had risen from the business 
of a ship-carpenter to the honors of knighthood, 
and the government of a province. Soon after he 
was appointed to the chief magistracy, he gave a 
handsome entertainment to all the ship-carpenters 
of Boston ; and, when perplexed with the public 
business, he would often declare, that it would be 
easier for him to go back to his broad-axe again. 
He was naturally of a hasty temper, and was fre 
quently betrayed into improper sallies of passion, 
but never harbored resentment long. Though not 
rigidly pious, he reverenced the offices of religion, 
anc respected its ministers. He was credulous, 
but no more so than most oi his better educated 
contemporaries. The mistakes, which he commit 
ted as a public officer, were palliated by perfect 



100 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

iprightness of intention, and by an irreproacha 
As character in private life ; for even his warmest 
opponents never denied him the title of a kind 
, a sincere patriot, and on honest man 



LIFE 

OF 

JOSEPH WARREN 

BY 

ALEXANDER H. EVERETT 



JOSEPH WARREN. 



CHAPTER I. 

His Family and Education. 

THE name of JOSEPH WARREN is one of the 
most conspicuous in the annals of the Revolution* 
His memory is cherished with even warmer re 
gard than that of some others, who, from the 
greater length of their career, and the wider 
sphere in which they acted, may be supposed 
to have rendered more important services to the 
country. This distinction in his favor is owing 
in part to the chivalrous beauty of his character, 
which naturally excites a sympathetic glow in 
every feeling mind ; and in part to that un 
timely but glorious fate, which consecrated him 
as the first distinguished martyr in the cause of 
independence and liberty. 

It is much to be regretted, that the materials 
for the biography of one, in whom we feel so 
deep an interest, are not more abundant j but 



104 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

the circumstances of his active life were not such 
as to create a large mass of written and pub 
lished documents for the information of future 
ages. The short period of time during which 
he was prominent in public affairs, and the con 
fined circle that limited his efforts, afforded no 
scope for the voluminous correspondence, which 
forms the basis of the biography of most dis 
tinguished men. It is chiefly, therefore, as th^ 
young martyr of Bunker s Hill, that he lives, ana 
will for ever live, in the memory of his country 
men. What ambition could desire a more glo 
rious destiny ? In consequence of this deficiency 
of materials, the present brief notice will be 
necessarily confined, in a great measure, to a 
rapid sketch of the events that filled up, or 
immediately preceded, that memorable day. A 
few particulars of his early life, which have 
been preserved by the affectionate care of his 
family, may serve as an introduction. 

JOSEPH WARREN was born at Roxbury, in 
Massachusetts, in the year 1741. The house 
in which his father resided is still standing, near 
the centre of the principal village, in a street 
which has received his name. The father was 
chiefly employed in the cultivation of land, and 
particularly in raising fruit. He was the person 
who introduced into the neighborhood of Boston 
the species of apple denominated from him the 



JOSEPH WARREN. 105 

Warren Russet. One day in autumn, as he 
was walking in his orchard, after the apples 
had been mostly gathered, he saw one remain 
ing upon the top of a tree, which tempted him 
by its uncommon beauty. He climbed the tree 
to pluck it ; but, just as he was putting his 
hand upon the apple, the branch upon which 
he stood broke under him, and precipitated him 
to the ground a lifeless corpse. His youngest 
son, the late Dr. John Warren, of Boston, 
then four years old, who had been despatched 
by his mother to the orchard, to call his father 
to dinner, met the body borne by two laborers. 
By this fatal accident, the mother of Warren 
was left a widow, with the charge of four boys, 
of whom the eldest, Joseph, was then about six 
teen years of age. The fidelity, with which she 
executed this arduous trust, is sufficiently at 
tested by the eminent virtues and talents of her 
children. She lived to a very advanced age,, 
at the house in Roxbury, surrounded by the 
younger members of the family, and reaping, in 
their affectionate attention, the best reward for 
the exemplary care with which she had her 
self discharged the maternal duties. 

Joseph Warren was instructed in the rudiments 
of learning at the public school in Roxbury, 
one of the best endowed and most flourishing 
in Massachusetts, and entered Harvard College 



106 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

at fourteen years of age. He was remarked at 
school and at college, as a young man of su 
perior talents, gentle manners, and a frank, in 
dependent, and fearless character. A trifling 
incident, which occurred during his residence at 
Cambridge, and of which an account has been 
handed down by tradition, illustrates very agree 
ably the last of these qualities, and may, per 
haps, be worth repeating. 

A number of Warren s classmates were en 
gaged in one of those youthful frolics, which 
occur periodically at all colleges, but of which 
they knew that Warren did not approve. The 
leaders, apprehending, that, if he were present 
at their meetings, his eloquence and influence 
would draw off their followers and defeat the 
plan, determined to prevent him from attending. 
They accordingly fastened the door of the room 
in which they met, and which was in the upper 
story of one of the college buildings. Finding 
that he could not get in at the door, and per 
ceiving that there was an open window in the 
room, Warren determined to effect his entrance 
by that way, from the roof. He accordingly 
ascended the stairs to the top of the building, 
and getting out upon the roof, let himself down 
te the eaves, and thence, by the aid of a spout, 
to a level with the open window, through which 
he leaped into the midst of the conspirators 



JOSEPH WARREN. 107 

The spout, which was of wood, was old, and 
so much decayed, that it fell to the ground as 
soon as Warren relaxed his hold upon it. His 
companions, hearing the crash, rushed to the win 
dow, and, when they perceived the cause, loudly 
congratulated him upon his escape. He coolly 
remarked, that the spout had retained its po 
sition just long enough to serve his purpose, and, 
without further notice of the accident, proceeded 
to harangue his audience upon the matter in 
hand. We are not informed of the result ; but 
it can hardly be doubted, that prudent counsels, 
advanced with so much fearlessness and address, 
were adopted. 

This little anecdote was related fifty years 
after the occurrence of the incident described, 
that is, about the year 1807, by a person who 
was present at the time, and who pointed out 
the window, which was the scene of a part of 
the action. There is, therefore, little doubt of 
the correctness of the statement. It exhibits, on 
a small scale, the same combination of qualities, 
which afterwards led Warren, at the most event 
ful period of his life, first, to dissuade his more 
aged and experienced colleagues in council, from 
engaging in the attempt to occupy the heights 
of Charlestown ; and, when his efforts proved 
ineffectual, to throw himself forward, into the 
midst of danger, and perish in end-savoring to 



108 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

give effect to the plan, which he had vainly 
opposed. He seems, in fact, to have possessed 
by nature, and to have exercised through life, 
that precious union of valor and discretion, which 
is so rarely to be met with ; and which, when 
it does exist, constitutes the perfection of prac 
tical wisdom. 



JOSEPH WARREN. 109 



CHAPTER II. 

His Professional Studies and Practice. En 
trance into Political Life. 

WARREN left college at the close of the usual 
period of residence, and applied himself imme 
diately to the study of medicine. At the age 
of twenty-tiiree, he established himself at Bos 
ton, and commenced the practice of his pro 
fession, which he pursued with distinguished 
success. 

He is represented as having been particularly 
fortunate in his treatment of the smallpox, which 
prevailed about this time in Boston, and was 
then a much more formidable disease than it is 
now. In fact, the zeal with which he entered 
upon the study and practice of his profession, 
his fine talents and finished education, together 
with his agreeable person and manners, and nat 
urally frank and amiable character, opened be 
fore him an easy path to wealth and eminence. 
In quiet times, he would have risen rapidly to 
the highest rank as a physician, passed his life 
in the active and literary pursuits belonging to 
that profession, and bequeathed to posterity a 
name distinguished only by the peaceful triumphs 



110 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

of science and letters. During the brief period 
of his professional career, he had acquired so 
much distinction, that, at the opening of the war, 
he was designated as Surgeon-General of the 
army ; and it was after having declined this 
place, that he was elected Major-General. 

But the circumstances, in which the country 
was then placed, almost necessarily directed the 
attention of Warren from professional pursuits, 
and concentrated it upon political affairs. The 
same superiority of talent, and ardor of temper 
ament, which would have given him an easy 
success in any profession, rendered him more 
than ordinarily susceptible of the influences, which 
then operated upon the community ; and threw 
him forward into the front rank of the asserters 
of liberal principles. The fact, however, that 
men like Warren, of the finest talents, and in 
every respect the fairest promise, were among 
the first to join in the opposition to the meas 
ures of the government, shows sufficiently how 
completely the whole mind of the colonies had 
given itself up to the cause, and how utterly im 
possible it was for the ministry to sustain their 
pretensions by any power that could be brought 
to bear upon the people of America. 

The establishment of Warren in Boston, as a 
physician, coincided with the close of the Seven 
Years War, which was terminated by the de 



JOSEPH WARREN. Ill 

finitvve treaty of Paris, of 1763. By thai 
treaty, France, then in the last stages of thai 
long disease of misgovernment, which finally pro 
duced, by reaction, the convulsions that marked 
the termination of the century, threw from her, 
as if in wantonness, the whole splendid domain, 
which she had previously possessed on this con 
tinent ; and which, had it been retained, and well 
administered, must have ultimately rendered her 
mistress of the whole. The two Canadas and 
Florida were ceded to England. Louisiana, the 
boundaries of which were then unsettled, but 
which, as claimed by France, included the whole 
vast valley on both sides of the Mississippi, from 
the foot of the Alleganies on the east, to that 
of the Rocky Mountains on the west, was trans 
ferred to Spain. This arrangement, so fatal to 
the greatness of France, was generally considered, 
at the time, as securing to the British crown the 
dominion of the whole of North America. Pos 
sessing, already, an unbroken line of coast, from 
Hudson s Bay round to the mouth of the Mis 
sissippi, with nothing to oppose her inland pro 
gress, but a torpid Spanish colonial government, 
there was every reason to expect, that, as pop 
ulation and civilization advanced in the colonies, 
the British government would gradually, by con 
quest and purchase, push the unsettled boundary 
of Louisiana farther and farther to the westward, 



112 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

until they had driven the Spaniards from the 
continent. The same career, in short, was an 
ticipated for America, as an appendage to Britain, 
which she has already pursued, and is still pur 
suing, as a union of independent States. 

This was one of those cases, in which the 
course of events belies the most probable con 
jectures. The cession of the Canadas to Great 
Britain, instead of increasing her power upon the 
continent, was one of the most active immediate 
causes of the dismemberment of the empire. 
While the French, in close alliance with the 
natives, over whom they have always exercised 
a much stronger influence than any other Euro 
pean nation, hung upon the rear of the colonies, 
and, whenever Great Britain and France were 
at war, carried fire and sword through their 
peaceful villages, their whole military and politi 
cal activity was exhausted in efforts to ward off 
this imminent danger. The cooperation of the 
mother country in effecting this object, naturally 
generated good feeling between the parties ; and, 
as long as this relation continued to exist, it did 
much to prevent any considerable difference upon 
any subject. Never had this cooperation be 
tween the parent country and the colonies been 
so cordial; and never had the colonies distin 
guished themselves so much by their zeal and 
success in supporting the pretensions of the 



JOSEPH WARREN. 113 

crown, against a foreign enemy, as in the bril 
liant campaigns of the Seven Years , or, as it 
has often been called, in this country, the Old 
French War, the great school in which our 
fathers disciplined and exercised themselves for 
the desperate struggles of the Revolution. 

The cession of the Canadas to Great Britian, 
delivered the colonies from this dangerous neigh 
borhood, and left them no employment for the 
intense political activity to which they had always 
been accustomed, but the adjustment of their 
relations with the parent country. By a sort 
of fatality, the ministry seized the moment to 
enter upon a new system of policy, involving 
pretensions and principles, which had never been 
put forth before, and to which the colonies 
could hardly be expected to give a quiet as 
sent. Till now, they had paid no taxes, ex 
cept such as were imposed by their own legis 
latures, for the purpose of defraying their own 
colonial and municipal expenses. They were 
now called upon to contribute to the general 
expenses of the empire, by taxes imposed, with 
out their participation, by the general govern 
ment. The effect was electric; and the mag- 
n tude of the results is hardly less astonishing, 
than the rapidity with which they were brought 
about. 

Between the conclusion of the definitive treaty 



114 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

of peace, which terminated the French war, 
and the battles of Lexington and Bunker s Hill, 
which opened that of the Revolution, there in 
tervened a period of only eleven years. Many 
of the officers, who had distinguished themselves 
in the preceding wars, were still surviving, in 
the full vigor of their faculties, to give their 
countrymen the benefit of their experience and 
skill in this new struggle. The same unerring 
eye, which, at the first capture of Louisburg, on 
the 17th of June, 1745, directed the shell, which 
fell upon the citadel, and occasioned the sur 
render of the place, was employed, on the thir 
teenth anniversary of that day, in laying out a 
position for the first regular engagement between 
the colonial and British armies. So rapid, in 
some cases, are the movements that regulate 
the fortunes of nations, and change the aspect 
of the world. 

This period of eleven years, which intervened 
between the close of the French war, and the 
opening of that of Independence, was filled up 
by a succession of interesting events, many of 
which occurred in the neighborhood of Boston. 
The Stamp Act ; the tumults which followed 
it ; its repeal ; the Tea Act ; the troubles which 
attended its enforcement, and which terminated 
in the celebrated Boston Tea Party; the mili 
tary occupation of Boston by the British army j 



JOSEPH WARREN. 115 

the hostile encounters, that occurred so frequent 
ly between the troops and the citizens, including 
the fatal events of the 5th of March, 1770; 
those occurrences, with various others, of less 
importance but similar character, were the pre 
ludes to the far-famed tragedies of the 19th of 
April, and the 17th of June, 1775. A detailed 
review of these events, would, of course, be ir 
relevant to the present occasion. They belong 
to the history of the country. It may be proper, 
however, to advert to the part taken by General 
Warren, on one or two of these occasions, be 
fore proceeding to a somewhat fuller account of 
the brief period, during which he may be said 
to have been the leading spirit of the colony, 
and which will be for ever distinguished in our 
annals by the memorable battles of Lexington 
and Bunker s Hill. 



116 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY, 



CHAPTER III. 

Events of the 5th of March, 1770. Warren s 
Anniversary Addresses. 

THE great authority and influence, which Dr. 
Warren exercised over his fellow citizens a few 
years afterwards, evidently show, that he must 
have taken an active and zealous part in polit 
ical affairs, from the commencement of his resi 
dence at Boston, which coincided, as has been 
remarked, with the close of the French war. For 
some time, however, his activity must, of course, 
have been confined to a secondary sphere. The 
foreground of the stage was already occupied by 
the great men, who will figure in history as the 
fathers of the Revolution, John Hancock, John 
and Samuel Adams, James Otis, Josiah Quincy. 

While these eminent characters were on the 
spot, and in full activity, the patriots of a younger 
class labored, of course, under their direction. 
This was the position of Warren for the first 
seven or eight years of his residence at Boston. 
At the close of that time, accidental circum 
stances removed, or deprived of their capacity 
for usefulness, at once, nearly all the persons who 
had acted as leaders in Massachusetts. Otis lost 



JOSEPH WARREN. 117 

his health, and retired into the country. Quiacy 
left the colony to visit Europe, and returned the 
next year, only to breathe his last sigh upon 
the shores of his beloved country. Hancock 
and the two Adamses, with Robert Treat Paine 
and Elbridge Gerry, represented the colony in 
the Continental Congress. In their absence, the 
direction of affairs passed, of course, into the 
hands of the prominent patriots of the next suc 
ceeding generation ; and it was then, that the 
commanding genius of Warren carried him, at 
once, to the helm, and rendered him, for the 
brief period of his subsequent life, both in civil 
and military affairs, the most prominent man in 
New England. 

It was one of the distinguishing traits hi the 
character of Warren, that he qombined in a re 
markable degree the qualities requisite for excel 
lence in civil pursuits, with a strong taste and 
aptitude for war. In this particular, he stood 
alone among the leading patriots of Massachu 
setts; and the circumstance, had his life been 
prolonged, would have contributed very much to 
establish and extend his political influence. He 
also possessed, in high perfection, the gift of 
eloquence ; and, in exercising it, he is repre 
sented as having exhibited the discretion, which, 
in all respects, tempered so honorably the ardor 
of his character. His voice was often raised in 



118 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

public, for the purpose of dissuading the people 
from tumultuous movements, and exhorting them 
to seek redress for their wrongs, as much as 
possible, according to the forms of law, and with 
out detriment to the rights of individuals, or a 
breach of the public peace. 

The first occasion, however, on which the 
name of Dr. Warren appears in connexion with 
any public proceedings, was one when his elo 
quence was exerted for a purpose more congen 
ial to the feelings of an ardent patriot. I allude 
to the addresses which he delivered on the 5th 
of March, 1772 and 1775, in commemoration of 
the sanguinary scene which was exhibited in 
Boston, on the same day of the year 1770. 

The riots, which followed the attempt to en 
force the new revenue laws at Boston, however 
natural under the circumstances, produced, as 
must have been expected, the military occupa 
tion of the place by British troops. In the 
course of the year 1768, two regiments, which 
had previously been stationed at Halifax, and 
two from Ireland, making, with part of a regi 
ment of artillery, a corps of about four thousand 
men, arrived at Boston. They were placed 
under the command of General Gage, an officer 
who had honorably distinguished himself in the 
preceding French war. The General, whose 
head-quarters were at New York, 3ame to Bos- 



JOSEPH WARREN. 119 

ton, to superintend the arrangements fcff quar 
tering the troops, which were noi effected without 
great difficulty, and much opposition from the in 
habitants. It was, in fact, found impossible to 
induce them to furnish barracks, agreeably to the 
act of Parliament, providing for the occupation ; 
and the General was compelled to hire houses 
for the accommodation of three of the regiments. 
The fourth, with the artillery, was quartered in 
tents upon the Common. 

The military occupation of Boston, although, 
on the view of things which was taken by the 
ministry, a matter of indispensable necessity, led, 
of course, to frequent quarrels between the troops 
and the citizens. In these, the latter were, prob 
ably, from the nature of the case, pretty often 
in the wrong. This was certainly the fact on 
the famous occasion of the 5th of March, 1770. 

On the evening of that day, a mob of citi 
zens, armed with clubs, without any previous 
provocation, insulted, and finally assaulted, the 
soldiers, who were on guard at the Custom 
House, in King Street, now State Street. The 
goard exhibited great forbearance, and it was not 
on ill une of their number had been actually 
knocked down at his post by one of the mob, 
thai they fired ; whether with or without orders 
was afterward? disputed. The first discharge 
killed tm>;e persons on the spot, anH mortally 



120 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

wounded two others. Here the affray termin 
ated ; and, so clearly were the citizens in the 
Frong, that Captain Preston, who, as command- 
,ng officer of the guard, had been brought to 
trial, was acquitted by a verdict of the jury 5 
naving been defended by the two great leaders 
of the patriotic party, John Adams and Josiah 
Quincy. 

But, whatever might be the merits of the case 
on this occasion, as between the parties imme 
diately engaged, it was impossible, on a general 
view of the subject, not to regard the occurrence 
as one of the unfortunate results of the new line 
of policy adopted by the British government. 
If the bloody retribution, which unreflecting cit 
izens had brought upon themselves, by excesses 
growing out of the exasperation produced by the 
ministerial measures, were in itself technically, 
and even substantially, as between the immedi 
ate parties, just, this was only an additional 
reason for regretting and reprobating a policy, 
which almost inevitably drew the people into 
that worst of all misfortunes, the commission of 
voluntary wrong ; which first led them : nto temp 
tation, and then punished them for yielding to 
it. Considering the occurrence under this aspect, 
the leading patriots determined to set apart the 
day for an annual celebration ; and it was ac 
cordingly so observed for several years, until the 



JOSEPH WARREN 121 

anniversary of the Declaration of Independence 
was finally substituted for it, as furnishing, on 
the whole, a more suitable occasion for com 
memorating the great results of the controversy 
between the mother country and the United 
Colonies This arrangement has been continued 
ever since, and will probably never be aban 
doned, while the union of the States is permit 
ted to endure. 

On the second of the anniversary celebrations 
of the 5th of March, in the year 1772, Samuel 
Adams was invited to deliver the address. He de 
clined the task, which was then committed to Dr. 
Warren, who acquitted himself with great ability. 
On a similar occasion, three years afterwards, he 
again delivered an address, which has attracted 
more attention than the former one, from the 
thrilling interest of the circumstances in which 
the orator was placed, and the more excited 
state of the whole community. 

The mutual exasperation between the troops 
and the citizens had then reached a very high 
point ; and it had come to be considered as a 
service of a somewhat critical character, to de 
liver the anniversary oration. Warren volun 
teered to perform the duty. When the day 
arrived, the aisles of the church, the pulpit 
stairs, the pulpit itself, were occupied by the 
officers and soldiers of the garrison, who were 



122 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

doubtless stationed there to overawe the orator 
and, perhaps, prevent him, by force, from pro 
ceeding. Warren, to avoid interruption and con 
fusion, entered from the rear, by the pulpit 
window; and, unmoved by the hostile military 
array that surrounded him, and pressed upon 
his person, delivered the bold and stirring ad 
dress, which we have in print. It combines, 
witn a somewhat exuberant display of imagina 
tion, a firm exposition of the rights of the col 
onies, and the sternest denunciation of the pre 
vious excesses of the troops, in whose presence 
he stood. Such was the influence of his cour 
age and eloquence, that he was listened to with 
out a murmur. 

I am informed, however, by the Rev. Dr. Ho 
mer, of Newton, Massachusetts, who was present 
on this occasion in the Old South Church, where 
the address was delivered, that there was, at 
least, one silent but not wholly insignificant de 
monstration of feeling, from the military part of 
the audience. While the oration was in progress, 
an officer, who was seated on the pulpit stairs, 
held up one of his hands, in view of the orator 
with several pistol bullets on the open palm 
Warren observed the action, and, without dis 
continuing his discourse, dropped a white hand 
kerchief upon the officer s hand. How happy 
had it been for the country, if this gentle and 



JOSEPH WARREN. 123 

graceful admonition could have arrested the march 
of violence, and averted the fatal presage afford 
ed by this sinister occurrence of the future fate 
of the patriotic speaker ; a presage too soon and 
too exactly realized, on the following 1 7th oJ 
Tune ! 



124 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHI. 



CHAPTER IV, 

Political Organization of Massachusetts. - War 
ren is elected President of the Provincial 
Congress, and Chairman of the Committee 
of Public Safety. Events of the 19th of 
April, 1775. 

THE first public appearance of Dr. Warren, 
in connexion with the political affairs of the day } 
was, as I have remarked, on the occasion of the 
delivery of the anniversary address of 1772. 
In that year, the Committee of Correspondence 
was formed at Boston ; an institution which ex 
ercised, in a private way, a very strong influence 
in promoting the progress of the Revolution.* 
Of this Committee, Dr. Warren was an original 
member. The earliest active proceedings, of a 

* This Committee was designed for corresponding 1 with 
tne several towns in Massachusetts. The plan was first 
suggested by James Warren, of Plymouth. The Com 
mittees of Correspondence for the Colonies were organ- 
ized the year following, and were first proposed by the 
Virginia House of Burgesses, in March, 1773. The 
same system of Committees of Correspondence had 
likewise been adopted to some extent in the time of the 
Stamp Act. See Sparks s edition of FRANKLIN S WRIT< 
INGS, Vol. VII. p. 264. 



JOSEPH WARREN. 125 

public character, in which he took a part, were 
those which grew out of Governor Gage s de 
termination to fortify the southern entrance of 
Boston, by lines drawn across the isthmus or 
Neck, which unites it with Roxbury. 

On this occasion, a convention was held, of 
delegates from all the towns in the county of 
Suffolk, which then comprehended the present 
county of Norfolk, for the purpose of endeav 
oring to prevent this measure from being carried 
into effect. Dr. Warren was a delegate to this 
convention, and was made chairman of the com 
mittee, which was appointed to prepare an ad 
dress to the Governor upon the subject. The 
Governor replied, in a brief and unsatisfactory 
manner. The committee rejoined in another ad 
dress, of greater length, which was transmitted 
to the Governor, but received no answer. These 
papers were written by Dr. Warren, and they 
give a very favorable idea of his literary taste 
and talent, as well as of his courage and patri 
otism. The correspondence was communicated 
by Dr. Warren, as chairman of the committee, 
to the Continental Congress ; and that body, in 
their reply, notice, in terms of high aprroba* 
tion, the part taken in it by the committee. 

Dr. Warren had never served as a repre 
sentative in the General Court of Massachusetts, 
under the colonial government. The representa- 



126 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

tion of Boston was, at that time, very limited 
in number, and naturally fell in 4 *) the hands of 
the more experienced among the patriotic leaders. 
These, however, as has been already stated, were 
removed, by a concurrence of accidental circum 
stances, from this quarter of the country, at about 
the time when the government was reorganized, 
under the direction of the popular party, in the 
autumn of 1774. The legislative power was 
intrusted, under this arrangement, to a body of 
delegates, denominated the Massachusetts Con 
gress ; and the executive power was exercised 
by a committee of thirteen from that body, called 
the Committee of Public Safety. 

The high sense, which was now entertained 
by his fellow citizens, of the value of the ser 
vices of Warren to the cause of liberty, was 
strikingly evinced on this occasion ; first, by his 
election as a delegate from Boston to the Con 
gress : arid secondly, by his designation as Pres 
ident of that body, and Chairman of the Com 
mittee of Public Safety. By virtue of these 
places, he united in his person the chief re 
sponsibility for the conduct of the whole civil 
and military affairs of the new commonwealth, 
and became a sort of popular dictator. The 
Congress was organized at Salem, but shortly 
after removed to Concord, and, a few days be 
fore the battle of Lexington, adjourned to meet 



JOSEPH WARREN. 127 

again at Watertown, on the 10th of May, 1775. 

The Committee of Safety held its meetings, at 
this time, in a public house at West Cambridge, 
and seems to have been in session every day. 

It was soon apparent, that the station now 
occupied by Warren in the councils of Massa 
chusetts would be no sinecure. The second 
anniversary address which he delivered on the 
6th of March, 1775, was the bold and spirit- 
stirring overture to the events of the following 
19th of April and 17th of June. 

The events of the 19th of April, including 
the battles of Lexington and Concord, were of 
such a character, that no individual could well 
occupy a very conspicuous position in the field. 
There was no commander-in-chief, and, properly 
speaking, no regular engagement or battle. The 
object of the British was to destroy the military 
stores at Concord ; that of the Americans, to 
prevent this, if possible, and to show, at all 
events, that, in this quarter of the country at 
least, every inch of ground would be desperately 
contested. For the vigor and determination, 
which marked the conduct of the people on this 
important day, it is not too much to say, that 
the country is mainly indebted to the vigilance, 
activity, and energy of Warren. 

It had been the intention of the British com 
mander, to surprise the Americans ; and so severe 



128 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

were the precautions taken for this purpose, that 
the officers employed in the expedition were 
only informed of it on the preceding day. In 
formation of a meditated attack had been, how 
ever, for some time in possession of the Amer 
icans ; the first intimation having been given, as 
is said, by a patriotic lady of Boston, the wife 
of a royalist officer. A most vigilant observation 
was, in consequence, maintained upon the move 
ments of the British ; and, in this operation, 
great advantage was derived from the services 
of an association, composed chiefly of Boston 
mechanics, which had been formed in the autumn 
of the preceding year. The late Colonel Paul 
Revere was an active member of this society, 
and was employed by Dr. Warren, on this oc 
casion, as his principal confidential messenger. 

Some preparatory movements took place among 
the British troops, on the 15th of April, which 
attracted the attention of Warren. It was known, 
that the principal objects of the contemplated 
expedition were to seize the stores at Concord. 
Presuming that the movement would now be made 
without delay, the Committee of Safety took meas 
ures for securing the stores, by distributing a part 
of them among the neighboring towns. John 
Hancock and Samuel Adams were then at the 
house of the Reverend Mr. Clark, in Lexington, 
and Colonel Revere was despatched as a special 



JOSEPH WARREN 129 

messenger to inform them of the probable designs 
of General Gage. On his return to Boston, he 
made an agreement with friends in Charlestown, 
that, if the expedition proceeded by water, two 
lights should be displayed on the steeple of the 
North Church ; if it moved over the Neck, 
through Roxbury, only one. 

The British commander finally fixed upon the 
1 9th for the intended attempt ; and, on the 
evening of the 18th, he sent for the officers 
whom he had designated for this service, and 
communicated to them, for the first time, the 
nature of the expedition upon which they were 
to be employed. So strict had been the secrecy 
observed by the Governor, in regard to this 
matter. The same discretion had not been 
maintained in other quarters ; for Lord Percy, 
who was to command the reserve, on his way 
home to his lodgings, heard the expedition talked 
of, by a group of citizens, at the corner of one 
of the streets. He hastened back to the Gov 
ernor s head-quarters, and informed him, that 
he had been betrayed. An order was instantly 
issued, to prevent any American from leaving 
town ; but it came a few minutes too late to 
produce effect. Dr. Warren, who had returned 
in the evening from the meeting of the Com 
mittee of Public Safety, at West Cambridge, 
was already informed of the movement of the 

x. 9 



130 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

British army, and had taken the necessary mea* 
ures for spreading the intelligence through the 
country. 

At about nine o clock, on the evening of the 
18th, the British troops intended for the expe 
dition were embarked, under the command of 
Colonel Small, in boats at the bottom of the 
Common. Dr. Warren inspected the embarka 
tion in person ; and, having returned home im 
mediately after, sent for Colonel Revere, who 
reached his house about ten o clock. He had 
already despatched Mr. Dawes over land as a 
special messenger to Lexington, and he now 
requested Colonel Revere to proceed through 
Charlestown on the same errand. 

The Colonel made arrangements, in the first 
place, for displaying the two lights on the stee 
ple of the North Church, agreeably to the un 
derstanding with his friends in Charlestown, and 
then repaired to a wharf, at the north part of 
the town, where he kept his boat. He was 
rowed over by two friends, a little to the eastward 
of the British ship-of-war Somerset, which lay at 
anchor in this part of the channel, and was 
landed on the Charlestown side. He pursued 
his way through Charlestown and West Cam 
bridge, not without several perilous encounters 
with British officers, who were patrolling the 
neighborhood, and finally arrived safely at Lex- 



JOSEPH WARREN. 131 

ington, where he met the other messenger, Mr 
Dawes, whom he had, however, anticipated 
After reposing a short time, they proceeded 
together to Concord, alarming the whole coun 
try as they went, by literally knocking at the 
door of almost every house upon the road. 
They had, of course, been in part anticipated 
by the signals on the North Church steeple, 
which had spread intelligence of the intended 
movement, with the speed of light, through all 
the neighboring towns. 

By the effect of these well judged and well 
executed measures, Hancock and Adams were 
enabled to provide in season for their personal 
security, and the whole population of the towns, 
through which the British troops were to pass, 
were roused and on foot before they made their 
appearance. On reaching Lexington Green, they 
found a corps of militia under arms and pre 
pared to meet them. At Concord, they found 
another ; and when, after effecting, as far as they 
could, the objects of their expedition, they turned 
their steps homeward, they were enveloped, as 
it were, in a cloud of the armed yeomanry, 
which thickened around them at every step, and 
did such fearful execution in their ranks, that 
nothing but their timely meeting with the rein 
forcements under Lord Percy, at West Cam- 



132 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

oridge, could have saved them from entire dis 
organization and actual surrender. 

Colonel Revere, many years afterwards, drew 
up a very curious and interesting account of his 
adventures on this expedition, in the form of a 
letter to the corresponding secretary of the Mas 
sachusetts Historical Society, which is printed in 
the Collections of that body, and is now familiar 
to the public. 

It would be irrelevant to the present purpose 
to enter into the detail of the events of the 19th 
of April, in which Dr. Warren took no further 
part, until the British troops reached West Cam 
bridge, on their return from Concord. Warren 
jvas at this place, in attendance on the Com- 
nittee of Safety. On the approach of the Brit 
ish, he armed himself and went out, in company 
with General Heath, to meet them. On this 
occasion, he displayed his usual fearlessness, by 
exposing his person very freely to the fire of 
the enemy ; and a bullet passed so near his head, 
as to carry away one of the long, close, hori 
zontal curls, which, agreeably to the fashion of 
the day, he wore above the ears. 

In other times this accident might, perhaps, 
havo been regarded as a sinister omen. When 
the priests of the ancient religions sacrificed a 
victim to their divinities, they commonly began 
oy cutting off a lock of his hair and throwing 



JOSEPH WARREN 133 

il into the fire. By this ceremonj he was 
supposed to be devoted to the god. A mind 
under the influence of such a prejudice might 
have seen, in the loss of General Warren s hair, 
a presage of the doom that awaited him. But 
Warren himself, even in a superstitious age, would 
never have yielded to any such notions. His 
frank, fearless, and generous character would have 
rather led him to sympathize with the gallant 
Trojan hero, in the Iliad, who, when he was 
advised to wait, before he entered upon a bat 
tle, till the omens, deduced from the flight of 
birds, should become favorable, replied, "What 
care I for the flight of birds, whether they take 
their course to the right or the left? I ask no 
better omen than to draw my sword in the 
cause of my country." 

u Without a sign his sword the brave man drawg; 
And asks no omen but his country s cause/ 



134: AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 



CHAPTER V. 

Formation and Character of the New England 
Army. Warren is elected Major-GeneraL 
Gridley. Prcscott. Putnam. 

THE events of the 19th of April announced 
to all the world, abroad and at home, that the 
long anticipated crisis had arrived ; and that the 
questions at issue, between the parent country 
and the colonies, must be settled by an appeal 
to arms. 

The public mind throughout the colonies was 
prepared for the result. At their first meeting, 
after the battle of Lexington, the Massachusetts 
Congress resolved, that an army of thirty thou 
sand men was wanted for the defence of New 
England ; that, of this number, Massachusetts 
would raise thirteen thousand six hundred ; and 
that the other New England States should be 
requested to furnish their respective proportions. 
It was resolved, at the same time, to raise a 
regiment of artillery, the train to consist of nine 
fieldpieces ; and Richard Gridley, a brother of 
the celebrated lawyer of that name, himself al 
ready distinguished by his services in both the 
preceding French wars, was appointed its colonel 



JOSEPH WARREN. 135 

The troops began to assemble about the middle 
of May ; and, before the middle of June, fifteen 
thousand men had reached the neighborhood of 
Boston. Of these, Massachusetts furnished ten 
thousand, and Connecticut three. The rest were 
supplied by the other New England Colonies 
The troops were distributed into companies ot 
fifty, of which ten composed a regiment. 

On the 21st of May, General Ward was com 
missioned as commander-in-chief of the Massa 
chusetts forces, and his orders were ooeyed by 
all the other troops within the limits of the col 
ony. His head-quarters were at Cambridge, 
where he had with him about eight thousand of 
the Massachusetts troops, and one thousand of 
those from Connecticut. The latter, with Sar 
gent s regiment from New Hampshire, and Pat 
terson s from Berkshire county, were under the 
immediate command of General Putnam, who 
was stationed in advance of the main body, at 
Inman s Farm, where a redoubt and breastwork 
had been thrown up, near the Charlestown road. 
General Ward had with him at Cambridge five 
companies of artillery. 

The right wing of the army, consisting of two 
thousand troops from Massachusetts, two thou 
sand from Connecticut, and one thousand from 
Rhode Island, was stationed at Roxbury, under 
the command of Brigadier-General Thomas, who 



136 



AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY 



had also with him three or four companies of 
artillery. A thousand of the New Hampshire 
troops, under Colonels Stark and Reed, stationed 
at Medford, and another detachment of the same 
troops, with three companies from Gerrish s reg 
iment, stationed at Chelsea, composed the left 
wing. 

On the 14th of June, Dr. Warren was elected 
by Congress a major-general. He had already 
received his commission, when he went upon 
the field as a volunteer, three days after, at the 
battle of Bunker s Hill. 

Such were the strength and composition of 
the little army, which the events of the 19th 
of April and the resolutions of the Congress haa 
summoned, from all parts of New England, to 
the neighborhood of Boston. In regard to the 
character of the troops, it is sufficient to say, 
that they were the flower and pride of our hardy 
yeomanry. They were not, like the rank and 
file of the regular armies of Europe, the refuse 
of society, enlisted in the worst haunts of crowd 
ed cities, under the influence of a large bounty, 
or perhaps an inspiration of a still inferior kind, 
They were, as they are correctly described, ic 
the British "circumstantial account" of the bat 
tle of Lexington, the "country people." 

Though generally unaccustomed to regular ser 
vice, and not well skilled in the technical learn 



JOSEPH WARREN. 



137 



ing of the art of war, they were all, officers and 
men, expert in the use of arms, and in the habit 
of employing them in continual conflicts with the 
Indians. Many of the officers had already dis 
tinguished themselves in the French wars of 1745 
and 1756, when the old Provincial standard was 
displayed, with so much glory, in the Canadas. 
It is remarkable, indeed, on examining the com 
position of the New England army of 1775, how 
many names we find of men, either previously 
or subsequently illustrious in the history of the 
country. The fact is one, among many other 
proofs, how completely the spirit of the times 
had taken possession of the whole mind of the 
colonies, and drawn within the sphere of its in 
fluence the most eminent professional, political, 
and military characters, as well as the mass of 
the people. 

Of the officers, who commanded in this army, 
Warren has been rendered, by subsequent events, 
by far the most conspicuous. Prescott and Put 
nam, both veterans of the former wars, occupied 
with him, at the time, the highest place in the 
confidence of the country. But, in addition to 
these, there were many others whose names are 
not much less extensively known throughout the 
world than theirs. General Greene, by common 
acknowledgment second only to Washington in 
military service during the revolutionary war, was 



138 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHT. 

the colonel of one of the Rhode Island regiments. 
General Pomroy, of Northampton, was at head 
quarters as a volunteer. He had served, with 
the rank of captain, under Sir William Johnson, 
in the war of 1756; and he was distinguished in 
the celebrated battle with the French and In 
dians under Baron Dieskau. Stark, afterwards 
the hero of Bennington, was the colonel of one 
of the New Hampshire regiments, in which the 
late General Dearborn was a captain. The late 
Governor Brooks, of Massachusetts, had the rank 
of major ; the late Governor Eustis was a sur 
geon of artillery ; Knox, afterwards a general in 
the continental army, appeared as a volunteer. 

Gridley, the veteran colonel of artillery, then 
sixty-four years of age, was an officer of high 
distinction. In the war of 1745, when Massa 
chusetts alone raised an army of three thousand 
two hundred men for the expedition against 
Cape Breton, he commanded the artillery, and, 
as was remarked before, pointed, with scientific 
accuracy, the mortar, which, on the third fire, 
threw into the citadel of Louisburg the shell, 
which determined its surrender. He was re 
warded by a captaincy in Shirley s regiment. 
In the war of 1756, he again entered the ser 
vice, as chief engineer and colonel of infantry. 
Two years afterwards, he assisted at the second 
taking of Louisburg, with so much distinction, 



JOSEPH WARREN. 139 

thfev General Amherst tendered him the valuable 
furniture of the French commander s head-quar 
ters, as a present ; which he, with chivalrous 
delicacy, declined to receive. At the siege of 
Quebec, he commanded the provincial artillery 
under General Wolfe, and was fighting by his side 
when he fell. At the close of the war, the King 
rewarded his gallantry by a grant of the Mag 
dalen Islands, with an extensive cod and seal 
fishery, and half pay as a British officer. At the 
opening of the Revolution, his agent at London 
inquired of him, by order of the British govern 
ment, what part he intended to take. "I shall 
fight," he replied, " for justice and my country." 
His pay as a British officer, was of course, 
stopped. The arrears, which were offered him, 
he, with characteristic spirit, refused to receive. 
To this list of distinguished persons, whose 
presence graced the New England army, may 
be added the name of one now more exten 
sively known, perhaps, than any of the others, 
though in a different line ; and who, subsequently 
to this period, entered the British service. I mean 
that of Benjamin Thompson, afterwards Count 
Rumford. He held no commission in the New 
England army, but w r as present at head-quarters, 
and, on the day of the battle of Bunker s Hill, 
accompanied Major Brooks as a volunteer, with 
the last reinforcements that were sent from 



140 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

Cambridge. He had solicited in vain the place 
of major in the artillery, which was due to his 
eminent merit, but which the parental partiality 
of Gridley had reserved for his own son. For 
this act of venial frailty the veteran was se 
verely punished, by the misconduct of his son 
in his first action on the 17th of June, and by 
the loss to the country of the great talents of 
his competitor ; a loss, however, which we need 
not regret, considering with how much brilliancy 
and success those talents were afterwards em 
ployed, on a still more extensive scale, in the 
cause of humanity and the world. 

While these and other kindred spirits, of 
perhaps not inferior merit, though somewhat less 
distinguished fame, filled the ranks of the New 
England army, the two persons who, with War 
ren, occupied the most conspicuous place in 
the public eye, were undoubtedly Prescott and 
Putnam. 

Prescott, the colonel of one of the Middlesex 
regiments, was the officer, who, on the 16th 
of June, received the orders of the commander- 
in-chief to occupy and fortify the heights of 
Charlestown, and who commanded in the re 
doubt on the day of the battle. He was a 
native of Pepperell, in the county of Middlesex, 
where his family, one of the most distinguished 
and respected in the State, still reside during a 



JOSEPH WARREN. 141 

part of the year. Prescott inherited an ample 
fortune from his father ; but he seems to have 
possessed a natural aptitude for military pur 
suits; and, at the opening of the war of 1756, 
he, with so many others of the noble spirits 
of New England, joined the expedition against 
Nova Scotia, under General Winslow, with a 
provincial commission. 

He served with such distinction, that, after the 
close of the war, he was urged to accept a com 
mission in the British line ; but he declined the 
honor, and preferred returning to the paternal es 
tate. Here he resided, occupied in the peaceful 
pursuits of agriculture, and in dispensing a frank 
and liberal hospitality to his neighbors, many 
of whom were his old companions in arms, 
until the opening of the Revolution called him, 
already a veteran, to the council and the field. 
He was tall and commanding in his person, of 
a grave aspect, and the simplest manners ; hold 
ing in utter contempt the parade and pageantry, 
which constitute with many the essence of war. 
During the progress of the battle of Bunker s 
Hill, he was frequently seen on the top of the 
parapet, attired in a calico frock, with his bald 
head uncovered to the sun, observing the enemy, 
or encouraging his men to action. Governor 
Gage, who, at one of these moments, was recon 
noitring the American works through a tele 



142 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

scope, remarked the singular appearance of Pres- 
cott, and inquired of Willard, one of the council, 
who he was. " My brother-in-law, Colonel Pres- 
cott, was the reply. "Will he fight?" re 
turned the Governor. * c Ay," said Willard, "to 
the last drop of his blood." 

Putnam, another veteran of the French wars, 
was not less bold in action, and equally regard 
less of unnecessary show and ceremony. He 
was a native of Salem, in Massachusetts, but 
emigrated early in life to Pomfret, in Con 
necticut, where he employed himself, like Pres- 
cott 3 in agriculture, though on a smaller scale, 
until he was called, like him, into the military 
service, by the opening of the war of 1756. 
He commanded a company of provincial ran 
gers, and, in this capacity, rendered the most 
essential services; passing through a series of 
adventures, the details of which, though resting 
on unquestionable evidence, seem like a wild and 
extravagant fable. After the close of the Seven 
Years War, Putnam returned to the plough, and 
was in the act of guiding it, when he heard the 
news of the battle of Lexington. Like Cincinna- 
tus of old, he left it in the furrow, and repaired at 
once to Cambridge, though now more than sixty 
years of age. After consulting with the leading 
characters at the camp, he returned to Connec 
ticut, to organize a regiment, with which he ap- 



JOSEPH WARREN. 143 

peared shortly after at head-quarters, as brigadier- 
general. 

Putnam was athletic and active in person ; en 
ergetic even to coarseness, but keen and pointed 
in conversation ; and his face, though deeply 
furrowed by the savage tomahawk, as well as by 
the finger of time, was always radiant with a 
broad good-humor, which rendered him the idol 
of the army. He was particularly earnest, in the 
council of war, in recommending the measure of 
fortifying Bunker s Hill ; a part of his regiment 
was detached for the service, and he was pres 
ent and active himself on the field, through the 
night before the battle, and during the action. 
Whether, as some suppose, he was charged by 
the Council of War with a general superintend 
ence of the whole affair ; or whether, like War 
ren, he appeared upon the field as a volunteer, 
is not now known with certainty; for the of 
ficial record of the orders of the day is lost , 
and the want of it is not supplied, for this pur 
pose, by any other evidence. It is certain, how 
ever, from all the accounts, that his agency in 
the action was great and effectual. 



144 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 



CHAPTER VI. 

Strength and Disposition of the British Troops 
The Americans occupy the Heights of 
Charlestown. 

SUCH were the composition of the New Eng 
land army, and the character of some of the 
prominent officers. The British army, which 
they were to encounter, was quartered within 
the limits of Boston. It consisted, at the time 
of the battle of Lexington, of about four thou 
sand men ; but, before the end of May, large 
reinforcements arrived, which raised the number 
to about ten thousand. On the 14th of May, 
General Gage, who had recently superseded 
Hutchinson in the government of the colony, 
arrived from New York. He had served with 
honor in Europe and America, had married an 
American lady, and, in other times, would have 
possessed a great personal popularity. The 
troops were the flower of the British army, and 
the officers were generally men of distinguished 
merit. Among the principal, were Generals 
Howe, Clinton, Burgoyne, Pigot, Grant, and 
Robertson. Earl Percy and Lord Rawdon, after 
wards Earl of Moira and Marquis of Hastings, 



JOSEPH WARREN. 145 

had each of them a command. Earl Percy and 
his hardy Northumbrians took a pride in braving 
the seventy of the climate in an encampment 
on the Common ; and, to secure themselves from 
the cold, made use of double tents, having the 
space between them stuffed with hay. The 
light-infantry were encamped on the heights of 
West Boston, then called Beacon Hill. There 
was a squadron of cavalry, for whose use the 
Old South Church had been appropriated as a 
place of exercise. A strong battery for cannon 
and mortars had been thrown up on Cops 
Hill, opposite to Charlestown ; and this point 
was the post of observation of the British com 
mander and his staff, during the action of the 
17th of June. A strongly fortified line had been 
drawn across the Neck, at the southern entrance 
of the town from Roxbury. There was also a 
battery at the northern extremity of the town, 
and others on the Common, on Fort Hill, and 
on the shore opposite to Cambridge. 

The British troops were in the highest state 
of equipment and discipline, and were amply fur 
nished with every description of necessary stores 
and ammunition. In these respects, their con 
dition formed a complete contrast to that of the 
Americans. To aid them in their operations, 
they had several ships of war stationed in the 
waters around the peninsula. The Glasgow lay 
x. 10 



146 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

in Charles River, not far from the present po 
sition of Craigie s Bridge, and enfiladed with her 
battery the isthmus that connects Charlestown 
with the continent. The Somerset, the Lively, 
and the Falcon, were stationed in the channel 
between Boston and Charlestown, and, during the 
action of the 17th of June, pointed their guns 
directly at the American works. 

It may be remarked, that the principal British 
and American officers were personally known to 
each other. They had served together in the 
French wars, and, in some instances, had con 
tracted a close and intimate friendship. Not 
long after the battle of Lexington, there was an 
interview at Charlestown, between some of the 
officers on both sides, to regulate an exchange 
of prisoners ; and Governor Brooks, who was 
present, was accustomed to relate, that General 
Putnam and Major Small, of the British army, 
no sooner met, than they ran into each other s 
arms. 

In this state of the hostile preparations of the 
two parties, and with the strong feeling of mutual 
exasperation, which, notwithstanding occasional 
instances of a different character, prevailed genei- 
ally between the masses of both. \t was apparent, 
that a trial of strength on a more extensive scale, 
and of a much more serious and decisive kind, 
than any that had yet occurred, must soon take 



JOSEPH WARREN. 14 

place. In this, as in other cases of a similar 
description, accidental causes would naturally reg 
ulate, in some degree, the time, place, and othei 
circumstances, under which the trial should be 
made. The concentration of the New England 
troops around the peninsula of Boston would, 
of course, suggest to the British commander, if 
he intended to retain that position, the impor 
tance of occupying the neighboring heights of 
Dorchester and Charlestown. He had accord 
ingly determined upon this measure, and was 
making his arrangements for taking possession of 
Dorchester Heights, now South Boston, on the 
13th of June. 

Information of these intentions and arrange 
ments had been conveyed to the American army, 
and had become the subject of frequent and se 
rious discussion in the Council of War and the 
Committee of Safety. It was proposed, on one 
side, to anticipate this movement of the British, 
by a corresponding one of our own, and to oc 
cupy the heights of Charlestown at once. Th<? 
troops were full of zeal, and eager for action 
It was thought wise to take advantage of this 
disposition, while it still existed in all its fresh 
ness, unimpaired by the weariness that would 
soon be created by absence from home, and the 
privations and hardships of military life. It v>as 
also necessary, that the attempt, if made at al 1 , 



148 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY 

should be made immediately ; for, if the Britisn 
were permitted to intrench themselves in these 
positions, it would be impossible to dislodge them, 
and all hope of recovering Boston must be 
given up. 

It was urged, on the other hand, that the 
attempt to occupy the heights of Charlestown 
would, of course, be resisted by the British; 
and, if sustained, would bring on a general en 
gagement, for which the army was entirely un 
prepared, from a want of ammunition. There 
were, at that time, only eleven barrels of pow 
der in the camp, and only sixty-seven within 
the State of Massachusetts. It is remarkable, 
that the more decisive, not to say rash, course, 
was recommended, on this occasion, by the vet 
erans of the council, Prescott and Putnam ; while 
the part of prudence was sustained by the young 
and ardent Warren. The result evinced the 
correctness of his views. The attempt failed, 
as had been anticipated, precisely for want of 
powder. Strict prudence might, perhaps, have 
counselled the delay, or rather abandonment, of 
the enterprise ; for, if not attempted at once, it 
could not, as was intimated above, be attempted 
at all. 

But it may be said, on the other hand, that 
strict prudence would hardly have lent her sanc 
tion to any of the proceedings of the Revolution, 



JOSEPH WARREN. 

from first to last. It was throughout, in all its 
parts, an effort of noble and generous feeling, 
made in defiance of cool calculation ; and the 
result furnishes one among the numerous in 
stances to be found in the history of the world, 
in which such attempts have been crowned with 
success. Almost all the great political and 
moral revolutions have been the triumph of 
trutli and justice over an overwhelming superi 
ority of mere material force. 

The feeling, that predominated in the Coun 
cil of War and the Committee of Safety, was 
the same that prevailed in the army and through 
out the country. It called for immediate action. 
Colonels Gridley and Henshaw, accompanied by 
Mr. Devens, had already, by direction of Gen- 
oral Ward, surveyed the country, and pointed 
out Prospect, Bunker s, and Breed s Hills, as 
the points proper to be occupied. On the 15th 
of June, it was accordingly voted in the Com 
mittee of Safety, which, as has been remarked, 
constituted the real executive power, to recom 
mend to the Council of War to occupy and 
fortify Bunker s Hill at once, and Dorchester 
Heights as soon as might be practicable. 

The Council of War proceeded in conformity 
with this suggestion; and, on the following day, 
the 16th of June, General Ward, under their 
direction, issued orders to Colonel Prescott, to 



150 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

proceed to Charlestown, and to occupy and for 
tify Bunker s Hill. He was directed to take 
with him, upon this expedition, his own regi 
ment, and those of Colonels Bridge and Frye; 
a hundred and twelve men from that of Gen 
eral Putnam, and Captain Gridley s company of 
artillery, with two fieldpieces. Colonel Frye 
being absent on other duty, his regiment was 
commanded at the time by Lieutenant Colonel 
Brickett ; but the Colonel, as I shall have oc 
casion to mention, joined it in the course of 
the action. 

The whole corps amounted to about a thou 
sand men. They were ordered to take with 
them provisions for one day ; and reinforcements, 
with additional provisions, were to be sent, if 
they should be found necessary. The detach 
ment was mustered, early in the evening of the 
16th, on Cambridge Common, near the Col 
leges, on which the main body of the army had 
been quartered. Religious service was performed 
by President Langdon ; after which the troops 
took up the line of march. Colonel Prescott 
led the way, attired in his calico frock, precedeo 
by two sergeants with dark lanterns, and accom 
panied by Colonel Gridley and Judge Winthrop, 
of Cambridge. Brooks, then a major in Bridge s 
regiment, joined him at the Neck. 

For the information of those, who are unac- 



JOSEPH WARREN. 151 

quamted with the geography of the neighboihood 
of Boston, it may be proper to say, that Charles- 
town is a peninsula, about a mile long, and half 
a mile wide at the broadest part, where it is 
separated from Boston by a narrow channel ; 
that it diminishes gradually in breadth from this 
part, until it terminates in a neck a hundred and 
thirty yards over, which connects it with the con 
tinent ; and that it rises from the channel, and 
from the banks of the rivers Mystic and Charles, 
into a height of land composed of two eminences, 
denominated Bunker s and Breed s Hills. At 
the time of the battle, the latter name was less 
known, and that of Bunker s Hill was popularly 
applied to the whole height of land. 

When the troops had reached the ground, and 
were preparing to execute their orders, the ques 
tion arose, which of the two hills was intended 
as Bunker s Hill, and was, of course, the one 
to be fortified. The northern eminence was more 
generally spoken of under that name ; while the 
southern, commonly called Breed s Hill, was 
evidently the one best fitted for the purpose. 
A good deal of time was consumed in discuss 
ing this question ; but it was at length deter 
mined to construct the principal work on Breed s 
Hill, and to erect an additional and subsidiary 
one on Bunker s Hill. Colonel Gridley accord- 
jigly proceeded to lay out the principal work. 



152 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

Ke placed a redoubt eight rods square on the sum 
mit of the hill, with the strongest side secured by 
projecting angles, looking towards Charlestown 
and with an open entrance from the north, on 
the other side. From the northeastern corner 
of the redoubt he ran a breastwork, on a line 
with its side, to a marsh, which lay between the 
hill and the bank of the river. There was an 
opening, or sally-port, secured by a blind, be 
tween the redoubt and the breastwork. So much 
time had been lost in discussing the question 
where the works should be placed, that it was 
midnight before a spade entered the ground, and 
there remained less than four hours before day 
light, when the operations would, of course, be 
seen by the British. The men, however, went 
to work with alacrity. 

In the mean time a strong guard, under Cap 
tain Manners, was stationed on the Charlestown 
shore, to observe the enemy. The day had 
been fair, and it was a clear, starlight night 
Colonel Prescott, accompanied by Major Brooks, 
went down twice to the shore, to reconnoitre, 
and distinctly heard the British sentries relieving 
guard, and uttering, as they walked their rounds, 
the customary, but, in this instance, deceptive 
cry, Jill s well. 

It may be remarked here, that Major Brooks, 
who was so conspicuous and useful through the 



JOSEPH WARREN 153 

day, was not at Cambridge when the detach 
ment was ordered to march. He had appeared 
as a major in Bridge s regiment of militia, at 
the battle of Lexington, and received, soon after, 
a similar rank in the line. On the day pre 
ceding the battle, he was at home, at Medford, 
on account of illness in his family ; but, hearing 
that his regiment was ordered on duty, he vol 
untarily repaired to his post, and, as has been 
remarked, joined his companions on their way 
at Charlestown Neck. 



154 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY, 



CHAPTER VII. 

Commencement of the Action of the 17 th of 
June. The British open their Batteries 
upon the American Works. The Americans 
send for Reinforcements , and are joined by 
the New Hampshire Troops, under Colonels 
StarJc and Reed. 

THE American troops continued their work 
unmolested until daylight, when they were dis 
covered by the British. A heavy fire was im 
mediately opened upon them, from the battery 
on Cops Hill, and from the ships in the river. 
It continued for some time without effect; until, 
at length, Asa Pollard, of Billerica, a private 
soldier, who had ventured without the works, 
was struck by a ball, and killed on the spot. 
Such were the circumstances under which the 
first blood was shed. 

Not long after the British had opened their 
fire, some of the American officers, perceiving 
that the men were fatigued with the labors of 
the night, proposed to Colonel Prescott, that 
they should be relieved by another detachment. 
The Colonel immediately assembled a council of 
war, in which the same proposition was renewed 



JOSEPH W HREN. 155 

Prescott, however, strenuously opposed it. The 
enemy, he thought, wou d not venture to attack ; 
if they did, they would be repulsed ; the men 
whc had raised the works were best able to 
defend them ; they had the merit of the labor, 
and ought to have the honor of the victory. 
The proposition to send for relief was rejected. 
At about nine o clock, movements were ob 
served among the British troops in Boston, in 
dicating the intention to attack ; the men were 
now exhausted by fatigue and want of refresh 
ment ; the proposition to send for relief was 
renewed. Prescott again assembled a council, 
Gut still discountenanced the proposed plan, 
which was again rejected. It was thought ex 
pedient, however, to send immediately for re- 
enforcements and provisions ; and Major Brooks 
was ordered to proceed to Cambridge, and ap 
ply to General Ward for this purpose. For 
greater expedition, he was directed to take one 
of the horses belonging to Captain Gridley s 
company of artillery. To this proposal the cap 
tain demurred. Our fathers, as we shall pres 
ently see in another instance, seem, on this 
eventful day, to have been more anxious for 
the safety of their horses, than they were for 
their own. Captain Gridley s scruples prevailed, 
and Major Brooks was ordered to proceed, as 
rapidly as he could, on foot. He arrived at 



156 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY 

Cambridge at about ten o clock, and delivered 
his message to General Ward. 

The General hesitated about the propriety 
of sending reinforcements to Charlestown. He 
feared that the enemy might seize the occasion 
to make an attempt upon the public stores at 
Cambridge and Watertown ; and thought it hard 
ly prudent to leave them unprotected. The 
Committee of Safety, who were then in session 
at head-quarters, were consulted upon the sub 
ject ; and in this body there was also a dif 
ference of opinion. Mr. Devens, of Charles- 
town, who was a member of the Committee, 
influenced perhaps in some degree by local 
feeling, urged very strongly the necessity of 
sending a large reinforcement; and his opinion 
so far prevailed, that General Ward despatched 
orders to Colonels Stark and Reed, who were 
stationed, as has been remarked, at Medford, 
with the New Hampshire troops, to join Colonel 
Prescott. 

Without intending to impute the slightest 
blame to General Ward, or to the Committee 
of Safety, whose conduct, through the whole 
affair, is above all praise, it may be conjectured 
that, if they had perceived at the moment more 
distinctly the importance of sending reinforce 
ments, and especially ammunition, the fortune 
of the day might perhaps have been different 



JOSEPH WARREN. 157 

Had the Americans been supplied with powder 
enough to meet the enemy on the third attack, 
as they did on the two first, it is hardly prob 
able that the British would have returned a fourth 
time to the charge. 

Stark and Reed received their orders at about 
eleven o clock, and, having supplied their mer 
with powder and ball, an affair which, from 
the total want of preparation, occupied two 
hours, they took up the line of march at 
about one. "When they reached Charlestown 
Neck, they found the entrance occupied by one 
or two regiments, who had been stationed there 
the day before, but had not yet received orders 
to march. Maclary, the major of Stark s reg 
iment, rode forward, by his order, and requested 
the colonels of these regiments, if they did not 
intend to proceed, to open to the right and left, 
and let the New Hampshire troops pass through, 
which they did. 

The troops were marching to slow time, and 
the Neck, as has been said, was enfiladed by 
the fire of the Glasgow. "My company being 
in front," says General, then Captain, Dearborn 
in his account of the battle, " and T, of course, 
marching by the side of Stark, I suggested to 
him the propriety of quickening our pace, that 
we might relieve the men the sooner from the 
enemy s fire. Dearborn, he replied, one fresh 



158 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

man, in action, is worth a dozen fatigued ones. " 
The march proceeded in slow time. 

Stark, like Prescott, Putnam, and Gridley, 
was a veteran of the French wars. He had 
served as a captain of rangers, with the highest 
distinction ; had fought with Wolfe, at Quebec ; 
had been received, after the war, into the Brit 
ish service ; and, like Gridley, had sacrificed rank 
and pay in the cause. Major Maclary was > 
likewise, an officer of great repute. 

The New Hampshire troops arrived upon the 
field at about two o clock. In the mean time, 
the American lines had been extended on the 
left, where advantage had been taken of a fence, 
composed of stone, surmounted by wooden rails, 
which ran about two hundred yards in the rear 
of the breastwork, from the hill to the bank of 
Mystic River. A little in front of this fence, 
the troops formed another, of a similar kind, out 
of the other fences in the neighborhood ; and, by 
filling up the space between the two with the 
hay which was lying upon the field, constructed 
an imperfect substitute for a regular breastwork. 
Between the south end of the rail fence and the 
north end of the breastwork, there was an open 
ing of about two hundred yards, which was en 
tirely unprotected by any work whatever. Thi* 
was the weak point in the American defences, 
and the one through which the British finallv 



JOSEPH WARREN. 159 

poured in the raking fire from their artillery, 
which compelled the Americans to leave the re 
doubt. 

General Putnam had posted his company of 
Connecticut troops, under Captain Knowlton, at 
the rail fence ; and, when the New Hampshire 
troops came upon the field, he was employed, 
with a part of the original detachment, in throw 
ing up a second, subsidiary work upon the north 
ern eminence, properly called Bunker s Hill; in 
distinction from Breed s, which he seems to have 
regarded as a very important part of the opera 
tions of the day. He retained a portion of the 
New Hampshire troops to aid him at this point, 
and advised the rest to post themselves, with the 
Connecticut troops, at the rail fence. Stark ac 
cordingly took that course. Having encouraged 
his men by a short address, and ordered them 
to give three cheers, he put them at last into 
quick time, and marched up rapidly to the lines. 

These were the principal reinforcements, that 
came upon the field in season to be of any use 
At about one o clock, when it had become ap 
parent that the British intended to attack the 
works, General Ward ordered all the troops at 
Cambridge, with the exception of five regiments, 
to reinforce those which were engaged ; but it 
was now so late in the day, that this order pro 
duced but little effect. Most of the troops did 



160 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

wot reach the ground; and those that did, came 
too late to be of much service. 

The disposition of the American troops at the 
opening of the action was, therefore, as follows. 
Colonel Prescott, with Colonel Bridge, Lieu 
tenant-Colonel Brickett, and the greater part of 
the original detachment of a thousand men, were 
in the redoubt and at the breastwork Captain 
Gridley, witn his company of artillery and two 
fieldpieces, and Captain Callender, with another 
of the same force, were at the opening between 
the redoubt and the breastwork. Colonels Stark 
and Reed, with the New Hampshire troops, and 
Captain Knowlton, with the Connecticut com 
pany, were at the rail fence on the left. Cap 
tain Manners, with the troops that had been 
stationed on the Charlestown shore in the morn 
ing, were at another rail fence, which had been 
formed on the right, between the redoubt and 
the road. General Putnam, who was on horse 
back, superintended the work on Bunker s Hill, 
whence he rode, as occasion required, to the 
rail fence, and once or twice in the course of 
the morning to head-quarters at Cambridge. 

Pomroy, who, as has been said, held no 
jommission in the line, when he heard the ar 
tillery, felt it as a summons to action, and could 
not resist the inclination to repair to the field. 
He accordingly requested General Ward to lend 



JOSEPH WARREN. 161 

him a horse, and, taking his musket, set off at 
full speed for Charlestown. On reaching the 
Neck, ana finding it enfiladed by a hot and 
heavy fire of round, bar, and chain shot, from 
the Glasgow, he began to be alarmed ; not. as 
may well be supposed, for his own safety, but 
for that of General Ward s horse. Horses, as 
has been already remarked, were at this time 
almost as rare and precious as the nobler animals 
that rode them. Too honest to expose his bor 
rowed horse to "the pelting of this pitiless storm," 
and too bold to dream for a moment of shrink 
ing from it himself, the conqueror of Baron Dies- 
kau dismounted, delivered the horse to a sentry, 
shouldered his musket, and marched on foot across 
the Neck. On reaching the hill, he took his 
station at the rail fence. His person was known 
to the soldiers, and the name of Pomroy rang 
with shouts along the line. 
x. n 



162 AMERICAN BI( iRAPHT 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Progress of the Action. A Detachment oj 
British Troops lands at Charlestown. View 
of the two Peninsulas and the neighboring 
Country. General Warren comes upon the 
Field. 

WHILE the Americans were employed in for 
tifying the heights of Charlestown, and in pre 
paring to defend them against the enemy, the 
British, on their part, were not less busily en 
gaged in preparations for attack. At daybreak, 
when the movements of the Americans were 
first discovered, a fire was opened upon them 
from all the batteries, which was continued, but 
without doing much execution, through the day. 

At an early hour in the morning, Governor 
Gage summoned a council of war, at the build 
ing now called the City Hall. They were all, 
of course, agreed as to the propriety of dislodg 
ing the Americans, but there was some differ 
ence of opinion upon the mode of making the 
attack. Generals Clinton and Grant were for 
landing at Charlestown Neck, and taking the 
works in the rear; but this plan was considered 
by the Governor as too hazardous. It would 



JOSEPH WAKRZN. 



163 



place tbe British between two armies, one su 
perior in force, and the other strongly intrenched, 
by winch they might be attacked at once in 
front and rear, without the possibility of a re 
treat. The plan preferred by the council was 
to attack the works in front. 

Accordingly, at about noon, twenty-eight barges 
left the end of Long Wharf, filled with the prin 
cipal part of the first detachment of the British 
troops, which consisted of four battalions of in 
fantry, ten companies of light infantry, and ten 
of grenadiers. They had six pieces of artillery, 
one of which was placed in each of the six 
leading boats. The barges formed in single file, 
and in two parallel lines. The day was with 
out a cloud, and the regular movement of this 
splendid naval procession, with the glow of the 
brazen artillery and the scarlet dresses and bur 
nished arms of the troops, exhibited to the un 
accustomed eyes of the Americans a brilliant 
and imposing spectacle. The barges proceeded 
in good order, and landed their freight at the 
southeastern point of the peninsula, commonly 
called Morton s Point. 

Immediately after they had landed, it was 
discovered, that most of the cannon balls, which 
had been brought over, were too large for the 
pieces, and that it was necessary to send them 
back, and obtain a fresh supply. "This wretched 



164 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

blunder of oversized balls," says a British writer 
of the day, " arose from the dotage of an officer 
of high rank, who spends all his time with the 
schoolmaster s daughters." It seems, that Gen 
eral Cleveland, "who," as the same author says, 
"though no Samson, must have his Delilah," 
was enamored of the beautiful daughter of Mas- 

O 

ter Lovell, and, in order to win favor with the 
damsel, had given her young brother an appoint 
ment in the ordnance department, for which he 
was not qualified. The accident, to whatever 
cause it may have been owing, created delay, 
and somewhat diminished the British fire during 
the first two attacks. 

While the British commander was preparing 
and sending off his second detachment, the first 
remained unmolested at Morton s Point, and 
quietly dined, most of the men for the last time, 
from the contents of their knapsacks. At about 
two o clock, the second detachment left Winni- 
simmett Ferry in the barges, and joined the first 
at Morton s Point ; soon after which the rein 
forcements, consisting of a few companies of 
grenadiers and light infantry, the forty-seventh 
battalion of infantry, and a battalion of marines 
landed at Madlin s shipyard, now the Navy 
Yard, near the east end of Breed s Hill. The 
detachment consisted altogether of about four 
thousand men, and was commanded by General 



JOSEPH WARREN 165 

Howe. He had under him General Pigot, and 
Colonels Nesbit, Abercrombie, and Clark. 

Such were the respective forces and positions 
of the two armies at the moment immediately 
preceding the battle. The spectacle, which was 
exhibited at this time by the two peninsulas and 
the surrounding waters and country, must have 
been of a highly varied and brilliant character. 
General Burgoyne, in a letter written two or 
three days after the battle, has given a spirited 
sketch of this splendid panorama, as seen by the 
British officers from the heights at the northern 
extremity of Boston. Immediately below them 
flowed the river Charles, not, as now, inter 
rupted by numerous bridges, but pursuing a 
smooth, unbroken way to the ocean. Between 
them and the Charlestown shore, lay at anchor 
the ships of war the Somerset, the Lively, and 
the Falcon; and farther on the left, within the 
bay, the Glasgow. Their black and threatening 
hulks poured forth at every new discharge fresh 
volumes of smoke, which hung like fleecy cloucs 
upon the air. 

From time to time, as the veil of smoke was 
cleared away by the wind, the spectator could 
see, upon the opposite side of the river, rising 
from the shore by a gentle ascent, the sister 
hills of Charlestown, clothed in the green luxu 
riance of the first flush of vegetation, excepting 



16G AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

where their summits were broken by the lort 
and hasty works of the Americans. Behind these 
scanty defences could be seen our gallant fathers, 
swarming to the rescue of freedom and their 
country. Their homely apparel had but little to 
attract the eye, but now and then, when some 
favorite officer made his appearance, a shout of 
gratulation passed along their ranks, which showed 
the zeal that inspired them for the cause. Be 
low the hill, the flourishing village of Charles- 
town extended its white dwellings, interspersed 
with trees and gardens, along the shore ; and 
farther to the right, the British troops spread 
forth their long and brilliant lines. 

While both the armies, and the assembled 
multitude, were hushed in breathless expectation, 
awaiting eagerly the signal for the action, a 
horseman was seen advancing from Charlestown 
Neck at full speed towards the American works. 
As he crossed Bunker s Hill, General Putnam, 
who was there, and also on horseback, rode for 
ward to meet him, and recognised General War 
ren. " General Warren !" exclaimed the veteran, 
"is it you? I rejoice and regret to see you. 
\our life is too precious to be exposed in this 
battle ; but, since you are here, I take your 
orders." "General Putnam, I have none to 
give. You have made your arrangements. I 
come to aid you as a volunteer. Tell me where 



JOSEPH WARREN. 167 

I can be useful." "Go, then," said Putnam, 
"to the redoubt; you will there be covered." 
"I came not to be covered," replied Warren; 
" tell me where I shall be most in danger ; tell 
me where the action will be hottest." "The 
redoubt," said Putnam, " will be the enemy s 
object. If that can be defended, the day is 
ours." General Warren pursued his way to 
the redoubt. As he came in view of the 
troops, they recognised his person, though he 
wore no uniform, and welcomed him with loud 
acclamations. When he reached the redoubt, 
Colonel Prescott offered to take his orders. 
"No, Colonel Prescott," he replied, "give me 
yours ; give me a musket. I have come to take 
a lesson of a veteran soldier in the art of 
war." 

These particulars, including the dialogue, are 
given substantially as reported afterwards by Gen 
eral Putnam and Colonel Prescott, and may be 
depended on as authentic. Warren, as has been 
already intimated, was originally opposed to the 
plan of fortifying the heights of Charlestown ; 
but, when the majority of the Council of War 
had decided in favor of it, he told them, that 
he should personally take a part in carrying it 
into effect. He was strongly urged not to do 
so, but his resolution was immovable. 

On the day preceding the battle, he officiated 



168 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

as President of the Congress, which was in ses 
sion at Watertown; and had passed the night 
in transacting business. At daylight he rode to 
head-quarters at Cambridge, where he arrived, 
suffering severely with headache, and retired soon 
after to take some repose. When information 
was received, that the British were moving, 
General Ward sent to give him notice. He rose 
immediately, declared that his headache was gone, 
and attended the meeting of the Committee of 
Safety, of which he was chairman. At this 
meeting, Elbridge Gerry, who entertained the 
same opinion with Warren upon the prudence 
of the attempt, earnestly requested him not to 
expose his person. "I am aware of the dan 
ger," replied the young hero, "but I should 
die with shame, if I were to remain at home 
in safety, while my friends and fellow citizens 
are shedding their blood and hazarding their 
lives in the cause." "Your ardent temper," 
replied Gerry, "will carry you forward into the 
midst of peril, and you will probably fall." "I 
know that I may fall," returned Warren ; " but 
where is the man who does not think it glori 
ous and delightful to die for his country? 

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " 

Such, as reported by the friends who heard 
it, was the language of Warren, in the Com- 



JOSEPH WARREN 160 

mittee of Safety, on the morning of the 17tn 
of June. After the adjournment of the Com 
mittee, he mounted his horse, and rode to 
Charlestown, where he arrived with the rein 
forcements a short time only oefore the com 
mencement of the battle. 



170 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 



CHAPTER IX. 

General Howe attempts to storm the American 
Works. He is repulsed with great Loss 
Ill Conduct of the American Artillery. 
Gridley. Gerrish. Callender. 

THE plan of attack determined on in the 
British council of war, as has been already re 
marked, was to land in front of the works, and 
attempt to carry them by storm. 

At about three o clock in the afternoon, the 
force intended for the service being all in po 
sition, and every necessary preparation made, 
the signal was given for action, by a general 
discharge of artillery along the whole British 
line. The troops advanced in two divisions. 
General Howe, in person, led the right, towards 
the rail fence; General Pigot, with the left, 
aimed directly at the redoubt. 

It would seem, that the order for a fresh sup 
ply of balls, had not yet been answered ; as the 
fire of the British artillery is represented as 
having been suspended soon after it commenced; 
because those on hand were too large. It was, 
however, renewed immediately with grape shot. 
The little battery, which was stationed at the 



JOSEPH WARREN. 171 

opening between the redoubt and breastwork, in 
the American lines, replied with effect. In the 
mean time, the American drums beat to arms. 
General Putnam, who was still at work on Bun 
ker s Hill, quitted his intrenchment, and led his 
men into action. " Powder is scarce," said the 
veteran, addressing them in his usual pointed 
and laconic style ; " powder is scarce, and must 
not be wasted. Reserve your fire till you see 
the whites of their eyes. Then take aim at the 
officers." 

The substance of these remarks was repeated 
as an order along the line ; but when the Brit 
ish had come within gunshot of the works, a 
few sharp-shooters disobeyed the injunction, and 
Sred. "Fire again before the word is given at 
your peril," exclaimed Prescott ; "the next man 
that disobeys orders shall be instantly shot." 
Lieutenant-Colonel Robinson, who, with Colonel 
Buttrick, had led the troops so gallantly at Con 
cord, on the 19th of April, ran round the top of 
the parapet, and threw up the muskets. At 
length the British were at only eight rods dis 
tance. "Now, men! now is your time!" said 
Prescott. "Mate ready! take aim! fire!" 

So effectually was the order obeyed, that, when 
the smoke cleared away, the whole hill side was 
covered, as it were, with the fallen. The British 
returned the fire ; they attempted to rally and 



172 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHT 

advance, but without success. After a moment s 
irresolution, they turned their backs, and hurried 
from the hill. 

Such was the issue of the first attempt to 
storm the works. It was, in all respects, auspi 
cious for the future fortunes of the day ; and it 
may be safely said, that the timely arrival at 
this moment, of the reinforcements of artllery 
and supplies of ammunition, which had been 
ordered from Cambridge, would have insured 
the most brilliant success. It was now, that the 
practical mischief, resulting from Colonel Grid- 
ley s ill-judged exhibition of parental partiality, in 
giving the place of major in the artillery to his 
own son, in preference to Count Rumford, was 
severely felt. 

Major Gridley, as his subsequent conduct 
proved, was entirely incompetent to the duty 
assigned him. Could the thorough science, with 
the vigorous and energetic character of Rumford, 
have been employed in doing justice to the or 
ders of the veteran conqueror of Louisburg, 
there would, in all probability, have been no 
want of ammunition ; powder enough would, in 
one way or another, have found its way into the 
works, and the day might still have been ours. 
But it was the fortune of America, on this oc 
casion, to pay the penalty of Colonel Gridley s 
fatherly weakness, as Great Britain did, though 



JOSEPH WARREN 173 

to a less disastrous extent, that of General Cleve 
land s superannuated gallantry. 

The American artillery was badly served 
through the whole action. Early in the day, 
Captain Callender, who, as has been said, was 
stationed with his company and two fieldpieces 
at the opening between the redoubt and breast 
work, drew off his pieces from the post assigned 
him, to Bunker s Hill, in order, as he said, that 
he might prepare his ammunition in safety. 
General Putnam attempted in vain to induce 
him to return, and was finally obliged to employ 
Captain Ford, who was crossing the hill with 
his company of infantry, and knew nothing of 
the artillery service, to drag the pieces back. 
By him, and by Captain Perkins of Boston, 
who was also stationed at the opening between 
the redoubt and the breastwork, they were served 
through the day. 

Major Gridley had been ordered to proceed 
with his battalion from Cambridge to the lines ; 
but had advanced only a few yards beyond the 
Neck, when he made a halt, determined, as he 
said, to wait and cover the retreat, which he 
deemed inevitable. At that moment, Colonel 
Frye, a veteran of the old French wars, whose 
regiment was in the redoubt, but who, being on 
other duty, as was remarked before, had not 
yet joined it, was riding toward the hill, and 



174 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

perceived Major Gridley with his artillery in the 
position which I have described. Frye galloped 
up to him, and demanded what it meant. "We 
are waiting, * said Gridley, "to cover the re 
treat." "Retreat?" replied the veteran; "who 
talks of retreating ? This day, thirty years ago, 
I was present at the first taking of Louisburg, 
when your father, with his own hand, lodged a 
shell in the citadel. His son was not born to 
talk of retreating. Forward to the lines ! " 

Gridley proceeded a short distance with his 
artillery ; but, overcome with terror, and unequal 
to the horrors of the scene, he ordered his men to 
recross the Neck, and take a position on Cob 
ble Hill, where they were to fire with their 
three-pounders upon the Glasgoiv. The order 
was so absurd, that Captain Trevett refused to 
obey it, and proceeded with his two pieces. He 
lost one of them by a cannon-shot on Bunker s 
Hill ; the other he brought to the lines. This 
little fragment of Major Gridley s battalion was 
the only reinforcement of artillery that came into 
action. 

Colonel Gerrish, with his regiment of infantry, 
reached the top of Bunker s Hill, on his way 
to the lines; but there his courage failed. He 
had served with distinction as a captain in the 
provincial army of 1756, but had now become 
unwieldy from excessive corpulence. On reach 



JOSEPH WARREN* 175 

ing the top of Bunker s Hill, he declared that 
he could not go a step farther, and threw him 
self prostrate upon the ground. Putnam, who 
was on the hill, attempted in vain to induce him 
to proceed. His men, discouraged, probably, by 
the conduct of their commander, were equally 
indisposed for action. "They could not proceed 
without their officers." Putnam offered to lead 
them himself. "The cannon were abandoned, 
and there was no chance without artillery." In 
short, the service of the regiment was entirely 
lost. 

Gerrish, by some unaccountable accident, was 
not only not tried for his conduct on this oc 
casion, but was even employed after the battle 
upon another service, in which his behavior 
was not much better. He was then brought to 
a court-martial for his delinquency in both the 
actions, convicted of conduct unworthy of an 
officer, and cashiered. 

Major Gridley was tried for neglect of duty, 
and dismissed from the service. 

Captain Callender was also brought to a court- 
martial, convicted of cowardice, and dismissed 
from the service ; but he determined to clear 
away the stain upon his character in the most 
honorable manner. He continued with the army 
as a volunteer, and exposed himself desperately 
in every action. Finally, at the battle of Long 



176 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

Island, after the captain and lieutenant of the 
artillery company in which he served as a pri 
vate had been shot, he assumed the command, 
and, refusing to retreat, fought his pieces till 
the enemy were just upon him, when a British 
officer, admiring his intrepidity, interfered, and 
saved his life. He continued in the service till 
the end of the war, and sustained the character 
of a brave and energetic officer.* 

See Washington s Writings, Vol. III. p. 490. 



JOSEPH WARREN. 177 



CHAPTER X. 

Conflagration of Charlestown. General Howe 
attempts a second Time to storm the Jfan&r- 
lean Works. He is again repulsed with 
great Loss. Anecdote of General Putnam 
and Major Small, of the British Army. 

AFTER the repulse of the British troops in 
their first attack upon the works, an ominous 
pause, like the lull that sometimes interrupts 
the wildest tempest, prevailed upon the scene 
of action, only broken by the occasional dis 
charges of artillery from the ships and batteries. 
It was not, however, of long duration. Gen 
eral Howe determined, at once, upon a second 
attack ; and, having rallied and reorganized his 
men, gave the order to advance. With un 
shaken intrepidity they proceeded through the 
long grass, under the heat of a blazing summer 
sun, loaded with knapsacks of more than a hun 
dred pounds each, towards the lines The ar 
tillery pushed forward, to within three hundred 
yards of the rail fence, and opened their bat 
tery to prepare the way for the infantry. In 
the mean time, a deep silence brooded over the 
American lines. The men were ordered to re- 
x. 12 



178 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

serve their fire till the enemy should be within 
six rods distance. 

While the troops were thus advancing, a new 
spectacle burst suddenly upon the eyes of the 
assembled multitude, and added another feature, 
more startling, if possible, than the rest, to the 
terrible sublimity of the scene. Clouds of 
smoke were seen to overspread the air, from 
which sheets of fire flashed forth in all direc 
tions, and it soon became apparent that Charles- 
town was in flames. The British general had 
been annoyed, at his first attack upon the works, 
by the fire of a detachment stationed in the 
town, and had given orders that it should be 
burned. For this purpose, combustibles were 
hurled into it from Boston, which commenced 
the conflagration ; and a detachment of marines, 
from the Somerset, were directed to land, and 
aid in giving it effect. The flames spread with 
great rapidity through the town, devouring, with 
unrelenting fury, house on house, and street on 
street. At length the large church took fire. 

As the flames ascended from the body of the 
building along the lofty spire, it exhibited a cu 
rious and splendid spectacle. When they reached 
the steeple, the beams that suspended the bell 
were pretty soon burned off, and the bell itself 
fell to the ground, ringing continuously with a 
strange and startling alarm, which was heard 



JOSEPH WARREN. 179 

distinctly through the noise of crackling flames 
and crashing edifices. 

Unmoved by scenes like these, which, in or 
dinary times, would drive the dullest souls to 
desperation, the armies coolly prosecuted their 
work The British troops ascended the hill by 
slow and regular approaches, firing in platoons 
with aK the precision of a holiday review, and 
though without aim, not entirely without effect. 
Colonels Brewer and Nixon were carried off 
wounded. Colonel Buckminster was crippled for 
life, by a ball through the shoulder. Major 
Moore was shot through the thigh. While his 
men were carrying him from the field, he re 
ceived another wound in the body, which after 
wards proved mortal. He called for water, but 
none could now be obtained short of the Neck, 
and two of his men set forth to get it for him. 

In the mean time, the Americans, agreeably 
to their orders, reserved their fire till the British 
were at six rods distance. The word was then 
given, and the discharge took place with still 
more fatal effect than in the former attack. 
Hundreds of the men, including a large propor 
tion of the best officers, were prostrated by it. 
General Howe remained almost alone. Nearly 
every officer of his staff was killed or wounded 
by his side, and among them his aids, Colonels 
Gordon, Balfour, and Addison ; the last belong- 



180 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

ing to the family of the author of the "Spectator." 
So tremendous was the havoc, that it was found 
impossible to pursue the attack; and, for the 
second time on this eventful day, the order was 
given for the British army to retreat from the 
hill. 

At this period in the progress of the battle, 
a little incident occurred, in which General Put 
nam, and Major Small of the British army, were 
the parties concerned, and which throws over 
the various horrors of the scene a momentary 
gleam of kindness and chivalry. It has already 
been remarked, that these two officers were 
personally known to each other, and had, in 
fact, while serving together in the former wars, 
against the French, contracted a close friendship. 
After the fire from the American works had 
taken effect, Major Small, like his commander, 
remained almost alone upon the field. His com 
panions in arms had been all swept away, and, 
standing thus apart, he became immediately, from 
the brilliancy of his dress, a conspicuous mark 
for the Americans within the redoubt. They 
had already pointed their unerring rifles at his 
heart, and the delay of another minute would, 
probably, have stopped its pulses for ever. At 
this moment, General Putnam recognised his 
friend, and perceiving the imminent danger in 
which he was placed, sprang upon the parapet, and 



JOSEPH WARREN. 181 

threw himself before the levelled rifles. Spare 
that officer, my gallant comrades," said the 
noble-minded veteran ; " we are friends ; we are 
brothers ; do you not remember how we rushed 
into each other s arms at the meeting for the 
exchange of prisoners ?" This appeal, urged in 
the well known voice of a favorite old chief, was 
successful, and Small retired unmolested from 
the field. 

The anecdote, though it wears a rather poet 
ical aspect, is understood to rest upon the well 
attested authority of both the parties, and may 
probably be relied on as substantially true. Its 
authenticity is, in fact, placed beyond a reasonable 
doubt by the connexion of the incident related 
with another of a similar kind, which occurred 
in the farther progress of the action and will b 
mentioned in the next chapter. 



182 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 



CHAPTER XL 

Third Attack upon the American Works, which 
proves successful. The Americans leave the 
Redoubt. Death of Warren. 

THE British general, undaunted by the new 
and fatal evidence, afforded by this second re 
pulse, of the determination of the Americans to 
defend themselves to the last extremity, gave 
orders, at once, for a third attack. He was 
now, however, so far enlightened by the lessons 
he had received, as to adopt a more judicious 
plan than before. He concentrated his whole 
force upon the redoubt and breastwork, instead 
of directing a portion of it against the rail fence. 
He also directed his men to throw aside their 
knapsacks, reserve their fire, and trust wholly to 
the bayonet. 

He had discovered the vulnerable point in the 
American defences, and pushed forward his ar 
tillery to the opening between the redoubt and 
breastwork, where it turned our works, and en 
filaded the whole line. General Howe, as before, 
commanded on the right, and General Pigot on 
the left. General Clinton, who had seen from 
Cops Hill the defeat of his countrymen, though 



JOSEPH WARREN. 183 

not himself on duty, volunteered his services, 
and hastened to the rescue. His well known 
gallantry and talents inspired new confidence. 
He took his station with General Pigot, on the 
left. 

In the mean time, the Americans were re 
duced to the last extremity. Their ammunition 
was exhausted ; they had no bayonets ; no rein 
forcements appeared. Colonel Gardiner, who had 
been stationed with his regiment at Charlestown 
Neck, but had received no orders to march, 
through the day, volunteered his services, and 
reached Bunker s Hill with three hundred men. 
Just as he was descending to the lines, he re 
ceived a wound from a musket ball, which after 
wards proved mortal. 

As his men were carrying him from the field, 
his son, a youth of nineteen, second lieutenant 
in Trevett s artillery company, which had just 
come up, met and recognised his father. Dis 
tracted at seeing him in this condition, he of 
fered to aid in conducting him from the field. 
"Think not of me," replied the father, with a 
spirit worthy of a Bayard, "think not of me. 
I am well. Go forward to your duty ! " The 
son obeyed his orders, and the father retired 
from the field to die. He was a member of 
the General Court, from Cambridge, and one 
of the principal men of the colony. His regi 



184 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

ment was broken by the loss of their leader, 
and only one company came into action. This 
was the Charlestown company, commanded by 
Captain Harris. It was the last to leave the 
field. 

Their line enfiladed, without ammunition, with 
out bayonets, the Americans awaited with des 
perate resolution the onset of the British ; pre 
pared to repel them, as they best might, with 
the few remaining charges of powder and ball, 
with the stocks of their muskets, and with stones. 
Having reached the works, the foremost of the 
British attempted to scale them. Richardson, 
a private in the Royal Irish regiment, was the 
first to mount the parapet. He was shot down 
at once. Major Pitcairn followed him. As he 
stepped upon the parapet, he was heard to utter 
the exulting cry, " The day is ours ! " But, 
while the words were still upon his lips, he 
was shot through the body by a black soldier, 
named Salem. His son received him in his 
arms as he fell, and carried him from the hill. 
He led the detachment, which first encountered 
our troops upon Lexington Green, on the 19th of 
April, had a horse shot under him on that day, 
and was left upon the field for dead. 

General Pigot, who had mounted the south 
east corner of the redoubt, by the aid of a tree, 
which had been left standing there, was the first 



JOSEPH WARREN. 185 

person to enter the works. He was followed by 
his men. The Americans, however, still held 
out. Gridley received, at this time, a ball through 
the leg, and was carried from the field. Col 
onel Bridge, who had come with the first de 
tachment the night before, remained till the 
last, and was twice severely wounded with a 
broadsword. Lieutenant Prescott, a nephew of 
the Colonel, was wounded in the arm, which 
hung broken and lifeless by his side. His uncle 
advised him to content himself with encouraging 
the men ; but he continued to load his musket, 
and was passing through the sallyport, to point 
it at the enemy, when a cannon ball cut him 
to pieces. Major Moore remained at the last 
extremity. His men, who had gone to the Neck 
for water, returned and offered to assist him, but 
he told them to provide for themselves, and 
leave him to his fate. Perceiving, at length, 
that further resistance would be only a wanton 
and useless sacrifice of valuable life, Colonel 
Prescott ordered a retreat. The Americans left 
the redoubt, and retired with little molestation 
from the hill. 

General Warren had come upon the field, as 
he said, to learn the art of war from a veteran 
soldier. He had offered to take Colonel Pres- 
cott s orders; but his desperate courage would 
hardly permit him to obey the last. It was not 



186 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

without extreme reluctance, and at the very 
latest moment, that he quitted the redoubt; and 
he was slowly retreating from it, being still at 
a few rods distance only, when the British had 
obtained full possession. His person was, of 
course, in imminent danger. At this critical 
moment, Major Small, whose life, as has been 
mentioned in the preceding chapter, had been 
saved in a similar emergency by the interfer 
ence of General Putnam, attempted to requite 
the service by rendering one of a like character 
to Warren. He called out to him by name 
from the redoubt, and begged him to surrender, 
at the same time ordering the men around him 
to suspend their fire. Warren turned his head, 
as if he recognised the voice, but the effort was 
too late. While his face was directed toward 
the works, a ball struck him on the forehead, 
and inflicted a wound which was instantly fatal. 
These particulars of the death of Warren are 
understood to rest on the authority of Major 
Small himself, and are believed to be authentic. 
His body was identified the following day, by 
General Isaac Winslow, of Boston, then a youth, 
and by various other visiters of the field, who 
had been familiar with his person. The bullet, 
which terminated his life, was taken from the 
body by Mr. Savage, an officer in the Custom 
House, and was carried by him to England 



JOSEPH WARREN. 187 

Several years afterwards, it was given by him 
at London, to the Reverend Mr. Montague, of 
Detlham, Massachusetts, and is now in possession 
of his family. The remains of Warren were 
buried on the spot where he fell. The next 
year, they were removed to a tomb in the Tre- 
mont Cemetery, and were finally deposited in 
the family vault, under St. Paul s Church, in 
Boston. 

General Howe, though slightly wounded in 
the foot, passed the night on the field of battle. 
The next morning, as he lay wrapped in his 
cloak upon a mound of hay, word was brought 
to him, that the body of Warren was found 
among the dead. Howe refused, at first, to credit 
the intelligence. It was impossible, that the 
President of Congress could have exposed his 
life in such a battle. When assured of the 
fact, he declared that his death was a full off 
set for the loss of five hundred men. 

The battle, which commenced at three o clock, 
lasted about two hours. The number of Amer 
icans engaged is estimated at about three thou 
sand five hundred. The loss was a hundred and 
fifteen killed and missing, three hundred and five 
wounded, and thirty taken prisoners. Prescott s 
regiment suffered more than any other; in that 
alone, there were forty-two killed, and twenty- 
eight wounded. The other regiments, which com 



188 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

posed the original detachment, and the New 
Hampshire troops, also suffered severely. Col 
onel Gardiner, Lieutenant-Colonel Parker, of 
Chelmsford, Major Moore, and Major Maclary, 
were the only officers, above the rank of cap 
tain, who fell in the battle. 

The number of British troops engaged was 
estimated, as has been said, at about four thou 
sand. Their loss was rated by the Massachu 
setts Congress, in their official account of the 
action, at fifteen hundred. Governor Gage, in 
his official account, acknowledges a loss of one 
thousand and fifty-four; two hundred and twenty- 
six killed, eight hundred and twenty-eight wound 
ed, including nineteen officers killed, and twenty- 
eight wounded. Charlestown was entirely de 
stroyed by the flames. After the battle, the 
British took possession of Bunker s Hill, from 
which they kept up a fire of artillery through 
the night. The Americans occupied Prospect 
and Winter Hills. It was apprehended, that the 
British would pursue their advantage, by making 
an attempt on the stores at Cambridge ; but 
their loss was probably too severe. They in- 
tienched themselves on Bunker s Hill, and the 
Americans resumed their former position.* 

* For many facts in the preceding narrative, we have 
been indebted to Colonel Swett s valuable and interesting 
"History of the Battle of Bunker s H#Z," where the readei 
may find all the details of the action fully explained. 



JOSEPH WARREN. 189 



CHAPTER XII. 

Resolutions of the Continental Congress m Hon 
or of Warren. His Wife and Family. - 
Concluding Reflections. 

IN the official account of the battle of Bun 
ker s Hill, by the Massachusetts Congress, the 
character of Warren is noticed in the most hon 
orable terms. " Among the dead," says the ac 
count, " was Major-General Joseph Warren, a 
man, whose memory will be endeared to his coun 
trymen and to the worthy in every part and age 
of the world, so long as virtue and valor shal 1 
be esteemed among mankind." 

General Warren married, soon after his estab 
lishment in Boston, Elizabeth Hooton, the daugh 
ter of a respectable physician of that place. 
She died about six years afterwards, leaving four 
children, two sons and two daughters. After 
the death of Mrs. Warren, the children were 
committed to the care of their paternal grand 
mother, with whom they remained until the 
marriage of Dr. John Warren, the youngest 
brother of the General. They were then taken 
home by him, and were considered afterwards 



190 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHT. 

as a part of his family.* Within a year after 
the death of Warren, it was resolved, by the 
Continental Congress, that his eldest son should 
be educated at the public expense ; and two or 
three years later, it was further resolved, that 
public provision should be made for the educa 
tion of the other children, until the youngest 
should be of age. The sons both died soon 
after they reached maturity. The daughters 
were distinguished for their amiable qualities and 
personal beauty. One of them married the late 
General Arnold Welles, of Boston, and died 
without issue. The other married Richard New- 
combe of Greenfield, Massachusetts. Their chil 
dren are the only surviving descendants of the 
hero of Bunker s Hill. 

In addition to the public provision made by the 
Congress for the children of Warren, it was also 
resolved by that body, that a monument should 
be erected, at the national expense, to his mem 
ory. This resolution, like the similar one in 
honor of Washington, remains, as yet, without 
effect. The duty imposed by it will, doubtless, 
be discharged by the piety and patriotism of 

*The three younger children were for some time 
under the care of Miss Mercy Scollay, of Boston, to 
whose solicitude and kindness they were much in 
debted. See SPARKS S Life and Treason of Benedict 
Arnold, p. 126. 



JOSEPH WARREW. 191 

some succeeding generation; but the noblest and 
most appropriate monument of both these great 
men, is, after all, to be found in the constantly 
increasing prosperity and power of their country. 

Such are the only particulars of interest, that 
are now known, of the brief and brilliant career 
of Joseph Warren. Had it been his fortune to 
live out the usual term of human existence, he 
would probably have passed with distinction 
through a high career of usefulness and glory. 
His great powers, no longer limited to the sphere 
of a single province, would have directed the 
councils or led the armies of a vast conte derate 
empire. We should have seen him, like his 
contemporaries and fellow patriots, Washington, 
Adams, and Jefferson, sustaining the highest 
magistracies at home, or securing the rights and 
interests of the country, in her most important 
embassies, abroad ; and, at length, in declining 
age, illuminating, like them, the whole social 
sphere, with the mild splendor of a long and 
peaceful retirement. This destiny was reserved 
for them, for other?. 

To Warren, distinguished as he was among 
the bravest, wisest, and best of the patriotic band, 
was assigned, in the inscrutable decrees of Prov 
idence, the crown of early martyrdom. It be 
comes not human frailty to murmur at the will 
of Heaven ; and however painful may be the 



192 AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. 

first emotions excited in the mind by the sud 
den and premature eclipse of so much talent 
and virtue, it may perhaps well be doubted, 
whether, by any course of active service, in a 
civil or military department, General Warren 
could have rendered more essential benefit to the 
country, or to the cause of liberty throughout 
the world, than by the single act of heroic self- 
devotion, which closed his existence. The blood 
of martyrs has been, in all ages, the nourishing 
rain of religion and liberty. 

There are many among the patriots and he 
roes of the revolutionary war, whose names are 
connected with a greater number of important 
transactions ; whose biography, correspondence, 
and writings fill more pages ; and whose names 
will occupy a larger space in general history ; 
but there is hardly one whose example will ex 
ercise a more inspiring and elevating influence 
upon his countrymen and the world, than that 
of the brave, blooming, generous, self-devoted 
martyr of Bunker s Hill. The contemplation of 
such a character is the noblest spectacle which 
the moral world affords. It is declared oy a 
poet to be a spectacle worthy of the gods. It 
awakens, with tenfold force, the purifying emo 
tions of admiration and tenderness, which are 
represented as the legitimate objects of tragedy. 

A death like that of Warren is, in fact, the 



JOSEPH WARREN. 193 

most affecting and impressive catastrophe, that 
can ever occur, in the splendid tragedy, \vhich 
is constantly going on around us, far more im 
posing and interesting, for those who can enjoy 
it, than any of the mimic wonders of the dra 
ma, the real action of life. The ennobling 
and softening influence of such events is not 
confined to contemporaries and countrymen. The 
friends of liberty, from all countries, and through 
out all time, as they kneel upon the spot that 
was moistened by the blood of Warren, will 
find their better feelings strengthened by the in 
fluence of the place, and will gather from it ? 
virtue in some degree allied to his own. 
x. is 



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