Billeder på siden

ing the enclosure, and seated: myself on the turf which covers her remains. I had not been long there before I imagined that I heard the distant report of a musket; I started up, and was hastening to the battery to ask whether the sentinel had also heard it, when the bugle sounded ; that caravan was passing at the moment, I stopped the unwilling driver, and aware that


house was in a troublesome neighbourhood, I thought Mrs. O'Hara would be more remote from the firing in my lodgings. We shall be shortly engaged: in a private drawer of my writing-desk a sealed paper is deposited ; these stubborn fellows have got possession of a strong eminence, it may be difficult to dislodge them; I will be in the scramble. Should I fall, open the little memorial, and endeavour to carry its wishes into effect. But we are at the door. Come, my

dear Mrs. O'Hara, these unmannerly guns are noisy, but fear nothing, here you are in security.” Leading the way to his apartwents, he welcomed his fair guest, and telling her he would go to learn the extent of the

general alarm, he left her, as we shall take the liberty of doing for a time, in peaceable possession of her friendly quarters.

The town of Boston is beautifully situated; it is seated on a peninsula, divided from Charleston by a river, and commanded on the eastern side by the strong eminence of Bunker's-Hill. On the night above mentioned, the Americans had taken possession of those heights, and labouring with astonishing silence, threw up before the morning dawned a line of works extending half a mile across the summit of the ridge. When discovered, a heavy fire was opened on the working parties, from the guns of the men-of-war and the batteries of the city; but apparently undisturbed by the cannonade, by noon they completed their lines. To dislodge them from this strong position was now as difficult as it was necessary, and a body of troops were ordered on that service. Twenty flank companies, supported by the 5th, 38th, 43d, 47th, and 52d regiments, a battalion of marines, and a light brigade of artillery, were formed at the foot of this formidable eminence. General Howe with the grenadiers advanced

against the lines, while General Pigot with the light infantry was directed to carry a redoubt which flanked the left of the

enemy. The British troops advanced up the hill with fearless intrepidity, but on approaching the entrenchments the republican fire opened with such fatal precision, that the best soldiers in Europe were checked, wavered, and broken. The execution of the rifle was terrible; and the artillery, worked with rapidity and effect, poured upon the gallant assailants a deadly torrent of grape and canister shot. General Howe, whose approved bravery was most conspicuous at the trying moment, rushed into the hottest of the fire. Officers and men fell in heaps around him; “ surrounded by the dying and the dead," he preserved his wonted composure, rallying the remains of the

grenadiers who had led the attack, pointed with his sword to the breast-work, and cheered them to a fresh essay.

O'Hara's company had twice advanced, and their leader armed with the musket and bayonet of a fallen soldier, was seen conspicuously at their head. They had been a second time beaten back, leaving half their number on the

glacis” of the entrenchment. At this critical moment, when the day was all but lost, General Clinton arrived from Boston. The British once more were formed, and again pressed forward to the trenches. O'Hara and the grenadiers a third time headed the storming party with all the desperate valour of his country. He entered the ditch, followed by his men, and British and American engaged hand to hand. General Warren, who commanded the American right, had throughout this arduous conflict displayed the greatest bravery; he rallied his raw soldiery, and rushing to the front, endeavoured sword in hand to expel the intruders. Warren and O'Hara met ; the young American discharged a pistol at the Captain of grenadiers, while O'Hara, springing forward, plunged his bayonet into the breast of his gallant adversary. Dismayed by his fall, the Republicans gave way, and the entire of the right division were soon across the ditch. On the left, the redoubt which had strengthened that part of the works had foiled General Pigot in the repeated

[ocr errors]

attempts which he had made to possess it, but seizing on the diversion made in his favour by the success of the British right, he succeeded by a well-timed and vigorous effort in turning the flank of the American defences. The Royalists instantly occupied the hardly contested heights, and their brave opponents, after an heroic resistance, retreated over the hill with all the steadiness of a veteran army.

The operations of the English forces did not terminate with the defeat of the Republicans. The town of Charleston had annoyed them during the day, by a constant teazing fire, and, in revenge, it was devoted to the flames. Consisting of nearly five hundred wooden houses, and these being fired in many places at the same moment, the conflagration was indeed awful. The lofty spire of the meeting-house, constructed of the pitch-pine tree, shot a brilliant column of fire to an immense height, and exhibited to the numerous lookers-on, who had viewed the engagement from the walls of Boston, a spectacle not inferior in horror even to the field of battle,-a city sheeted in one unbroken mass of flames.

« ForrigeFortsæt »