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TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. III (1775-1776) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. III (1775-1776).
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TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.
Camp atCambridge, about 5 miles from Boston, 27 July, 1775.
On the 2nd instant I arrived at this place, after passing through a great deal of delightful country, covered with grass, (although the season has been dry) in a very different manner to what our lands in Virginia are.
I found a mixed multitude of people here, under very little discipline, order, or government; I found the enemy in possession of a place called Bunker’s Hill, on Charles Town Neck, strongly intrenched, and fortifying themselves. I found part of our army on two hills, (called Winter and Prospect Hills) about a mile and a quarter from the enemy on Bunker’s Hill, in a very insecure state; I found another part of the army at this village; and a third part at Roxbury, guarding the entrance in and out of Boston. My whole time, since I came here, has been employed in throwing up lines of defence at these three several places, to secure, in the first instance, our own troops from any attempts of the enemy; and, in the next place, to cut off all communication between their troops and the country. To do this, and to prevent them from penetrating into the country with fire and sword, and to harass them if they do, is all that is expected of me; and if effected, must totally overthrow the designs of administration, as the whole force of Great Britain in the town and harbor of Boston can answer no other end, than to sink her under the disgrace and weight of the expense. Their force, including marines, Tories, &c., are computed, from the best accounts I can get, at about twelve thousand men1 ; ours, including sick absent, &c., at about sixteen thousand; but then we have a semicircle of eight or nine miles, to guard to every part of which we are obliged to be equally attentive; whilst they, situated as it were in the center of the semicircle, can bend their whole force (having the entire command of the water), against any one part of it with equal facility. This renders our situation not very agreeable, though necessary. However, by incessant labor (Sundays not excepted), we are in a much better posture of defence now, than when I first came. The enclosed, though rough, will give you some small idea of the situation of Boston and Bay on this side, as also of the post they have taken on Charles Town Neck, Bunker’s Hill, and our posts.
By very authentic intelligence lately received out of Boston (from a person who saw the returns), the number of regulars (including I presume the marines) the morning of the action on Bunker’s Hill amounted to 7533 men. Their killed and wounded on that occasion amounted to 1043, whereof 92 were officers. Our loss was 138 killed, 38 missing, and 276 wounded.
The enemy are sickly, and scarce of fresh provisions. Beef, which is chiefly got by slaughtering their milch cows in Boston, sells from one shilling to eighteen pence sterling per pound2 ; and that it may not get cheaper, or more plenty, I have drove all the stock, within a considerable distance of this place, back into the country, out of the way of the men-of-war’s boats. In short, I have [done,] and shall continue to do, every thing in my power to distress them. The transports are all arrived, and their whole reinforcement is landed, so that I can see no reason why they should not, if they ever attempt it, come boldly out, and put the matter to issue at once. If they think themselves not strong enough to do this, they surely will carry their arms (having ships of war and transports ready) to some other part of the continent, or relinquish the dispute; the last of which the ministry, unless compelled, will never agree to do.1 Our works, and those of the enemy are so near and quite open between that we see every thing that each other is doing. I recollect nothing more worth mentioning. I shall therefore conclude, with my best wishes and love to my sister and family, and compliments to any inquiring friend, your most affectionate brother.1
[1 ]Gage in July found from a census of the city population, 6,573 civilians, and an army of 13,500.
[2 ]A goldsmith, Rolston, came out from Boston and reported “that the distress of the troops increases fast, their beef is spent, their malt and cider all gone; all the fresh provisions they can procure, they are obliged to give to the sick and wounded . . . that last week a poor milch cow was killed in town and sold for a shilling sterling a pound.”—Pennsylvania Journal, 2 August, 1775.
[1 ]When Parliament assembled in November, 1774, the opposition was largely in the minority and what strength it had was much weakened by divisions. It was known that New England was in a state of rebellion, while the violent conduct of local committees in other colonies was creating a prejudice against moderate councils. As early as November 18th the King wrote to Lord North that “blows must decide whether they are to be subjects to this country or independent.” “We must either master them,” he wrote the next day, “or totally leave them to themselves and treat them as aliens.” In his address to Parliament he declared his resolution to withstand every attempt to weaken or impair the supreme authority of the legislature over all his dominions, the maintenance of which he considered essential to the dignity, safety, and welfare of the Empire.—Adolphus, History of England, ii., 158. These sentiments were adopted by the Parliament, and the Ministry could always count upon handsome majorities for their measures. On May 26th the Parliament was prorogued, the King making a temperate speech in which he expressed the most perfect satisfaction with the conduct of that body at such an important crisis.
[1 ]“But on Tuesday three men of war and six transports sailed out of Boston harbour and stood a course about E. S. E. One Grover, who came out of Boston the same evening informed the officer at one of the outposts that the transports had on board 600 men, and were bound to Block Island, Fisher Island, and Long Island, to plunder them and bring off what cattle they may find. This fellow returned again into Boston under such suspicious circumstances that it has led me to doubt the truth of his intelligence. A deserter who came in afterwards informs me that it was given out in the camp they were either gone for Indians or fresh provisions, and that each transport had but twenty men on board. Upon this intelligence I immediately wrote to Governor Cooke of Rhode Island and to General Wooster, that they might take proper precautions for removing the cattle off those islands, and to prevent any surprise. As we are confirmed by every account in the great scarcity of fresh provisions in the enemies camp, and particularly by this deserter, who says they have had none since the battle of Lexington, it is very probable this voyage may be only intended for a supply. But as it may possibly be otherwise, I thought it best to transmit the intelligence to the honorable Congress, that they may either forward it to the southward, or take any other step which they may judge proper. Since writing the above three more deserters have come out, which makes four in twenty-four hours. Their accounts correspond with those of the first who came out.”—Washington to the President of Congress, Cambridge, 27 July, 1775.