Progress Of The War
Burning of Falmouth.—Events were also taking place in America which were convincing the public that the war for independence must be fought to the bitter end. In October, 1775, four British war vessels sailed into the harbor of Falmouth, now known as Portland, and set fire to the town. Three-fourths of the dwellings were destroyed and a thousand unoffending people were made homeless.
The Canadian campaign.—The efforts of Congress to enlist the Canadians in the colonial cause did not meet with success and the invasion of Canada was determined upon. Two forces were sent northward. One under Richard Montgomery was to proceed by the Lake Champlain route, seize Montreal, and then march to Quebec. The other under Benedict Arnold was to go up the Kennebec and down the Chaudière, and join the other force. Montgomery captured Montreal and then made a juncture with Arnold. On December 31 an attack was made on Quebec, but Montgomery was killed, Arnold was wounded, and the forces were repulsed. But in spite of terrible sufferings in his army, Arnold kept Quebec in a state of blockade the rest of the winter.
Siege of Boston.—When Washington arrived at Cambridge, he found a disorganized army which was short of food, ammunition, and uniforms, and without hospital service. Fortunately the British did not take advantage of the situation, and gradually the commander brought order out of chaos. By March, 1776, Washington was prepared to make an offensive move. Taking advantage of the fact that the British had not fortified Dorchester Heights, on the night of March 4 colonial troops seized the position which commanded Boston. On the seventeenth the British army, accompanied by about a thousand Loyalists, sailed for Halifax.
Fighting in Virginia and North Carolina.—While Washington was besieging Boston, Lord Dunmore was making reprisals along the Virginia rivers. After the defeat of some of his Loyalist supporters at Great Bridge, the governor caused the burning of Norfolk on January 1, 1776. North Carolina was also torn by civil war. Governor Martin had been driven from the colony, and from the refuge of a war vessel commissioned Donald McDonald to collect an army of Loyalists in the central and western counties. He also appealed to Sir Henry Clinton for aid. With a force of sixteen hundred men McDonald marched toward the coast, but on February 27, 1776, he was met by patriot forces at Moore's Creek and his Loyalist army was practically annihilated. When Clinton's fleet appeared off the coast, ten thousand North Carolina militia were ready to meet him. Clinton lingered for a time off Cape Fear and then sailed to Charleston where he hoped to arouse the Loyalists of the coasts and the German settlers of the interior.
Defence of Charleston.—Edward Rutledge with six thousand militia prepared to defend the city. Colonel Moultrie, with his forces back of rude fortifications on Sullivan's Island, made ready to defend the harbor. On June 28 the fleet attacked. Most of the British shot buried themselves in the palmetto logs and banks of sand from behind which Moultrie's men poured a fire which wrought havoc on the crowded decks. An attempt to make a landing proved a failure and Charleston was saved.
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