Congress expresses gratitude to General Washington on the liberation of Boston. They are also attentive to the war effort on the Canadian and Southern fronts. Thus the importance of the Report of the Southern Colonies. Henry Lee reassures General Charles Lee that a resolution forbidding military officers from imposing test oaths is a laying down of public policy generally and not a personal critique of his conduct in New York.
Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]
A letter from General Washington of March19th, was presented to Congress, and read, informing that on the 17th, the enemy had evacuated Boston, and our troops took possession of it. Letters were also received from General Schuyler, Lord Stirling, from the committee of safety of New Jersey.
Resolved, That the thanks of this Congress, in their own name, and in the name of the thirteen United Colonies, whom they represent, be presented to his excellency General Washington, and the officers and soldiers under his command, for their wise and spirited conduct in the siege and acquisition of Boston; and that a medal of gold be struck in commemoration of this great event, and presented to his Excellency; and that a committee of three be appointed to prepare a letter of thanks, and a proper device for the medal [designed by Du Simitiere].
The members chosen, John Adams, John Jay, and Stephen Hopkins.
Resolved, That a committee of three– Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Johnson, and Andrew Allen– be appointed to confer with Mr. Dugan, and Colonel Ritzema.
Resolved, That 20,000 dollars be advanced to the delegates of Virginia, for the use of the battalions in Virginia; the said delegates to account for the expenditure thereof.
The committee appointed to take into consideration the state of the colonies in the Southern Department, brought in their report, which was read.
The Report of the Southern Colonies
That it appears highly probable that a very considerable force will be exerted in that department by our enemies early this spring; that the continental forces employed in South Carolina, and Virginia, respectively, cannot prudently be solely relied on, for the defense of those colonies; that notwithstanding South Carolina and Virginia are at a very great separate expense in armed vessels, rendered absolutely necessary by the situation and circumstances of those countries; the militia of South Carolina are obliged to perform a very laborious duty, which, from the smallness of their number, and the consequent quick rotation, is excessively burthensome; and that the colony of Virginia, in addition to the six continental battalions already there, have resolved to raise, and are now embodying, three other battalions: Whereupon, the Congress came to the following resolutions:
Resolved, That the convention or council of safety of South Carolina be permitted to raise and embody two other battalions, and that they be on the pay and at the expense of the continent, as soon as they shall be armed fit for service, and accordingly mustered:
That the three colonial battalions of Virginia be also on the pay and at the expense of the continent, as soon as they shall be armed fit for service, and accordingly mustered:
The committee also reported that the council of safety of Virginia has contracted for the subsistence of the third battalion in that colony. Resolved, That those contracts be confirmed.
Resolved, That a deputy muster master general be appointed for the southern department. Edmund Randolph, was elected and empowered to appoint two deputy muster masters, one for North Carolina, and the other for South Carolina and Georgia.
Congress considered the report of the committee on the ways and means of supplying the troops in Canada with provisions and necessaries.
Resolved, That General Schuyler be directed to take such orders respecting the supplies of provisions necessary for the troops in Canada, as he may deem expedient.
The Congress, being of opinion that the reduction of Quebec, and the general security of the province of Canada, are objects of great concern,
Resolved, That General Washington be directed to detach four battalions into Canada, from the army under his command, as soon as he shall be of opinion that the safety of New York and the eastern service will permit.1
Adjourned to 10 o’Clock to Morrow.
John Hancock to George Washington
I had the Honor of receiving, yesterday, yours of the 19th containing the agreeable Information of the ministerial Troops having abandoned Boston. The partial Victory, we have obtained over them in that Quarter, I hope will turn out a happy Presage of a more general one. Whatever Place may be the Object of their Destination, it must certainly give a sincere Pleasure to every Friend of this Country, to see the most diligent Preparations everywhere making to receive them. What may be their Views, it is indeed impossible to tell with any Degree of Exactness. We have all the Reason however, from the Rage of Disappointment & Revenge, to expect the worst. Nor have I any Doubt, that as far as their Power extends, they will inflict every Species of Calamity upon us. The same Providence, that has baffled their Attempt against the Province of Massachusetts Bay, will, I trust, defeat the deep laid Scheme, they are now meditating against some other Part of our Country….
This Success of our Arms naturally calls upon me to congratulate you, Sir, to whose Wisdom and Conduct, it has been owing. Permit me to add, that if a constant Discharge of the most important Duties, and the Fame attending thereon, can afford genuine Satisfaction, the Pleasures you feel, must be the most rational and exalted….
The Congress being of opinion, that the Reduction of Quebec, and the general Security of the Province of Canada, are Objects of great Concern, I am commanded to direct, that you detach four Battalions into Canada from the Army under your Command, as soon as you shall be of opinion, that the safety of New York, and the Eastern Service, will permit.
Your several Letters are, at this Time, under the Consideration of a Committee. As soon as any Determination is made thereon, I will immediately forward it to you.
Richard Henry Lee to Charles Lee
My Brother who was present in Congress when the Resolve you allude to passed, says that every Gentleman acknowledged the necessity under which you acted, and approved the measure. The precedent alone they feared, when less judgment was used. They endeavored therefore to guard against pointing at you by directing their Resolve to future occasions….
General Washington entered Boston this day’s night, the Enemy having quitted it with some precipitation, and apparent apprehension of being disturbed in their retreat…. Where they will go next, heaven knows, but we must endeavor to be prepared at all points. I this day moved in Congress and succeeded, to send an order for four battalions to be detached for Canada from Gen. Washington’s Army.
Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.