Volume 3 covers the final months of the siege of Boston. It
opens with General Washington proclaiming the commencement of the
remodeled Continental army on New Year's Day 1776 and closes at the
end of March as he prepares to depart for New York in the wake of
the British evacuation of Boston.
Washington's correspondence and orders for this period reveal an
uncompromising attitude toward reconciliation with Britain and a
single-minded determination to engage the enemy forces in Boston
before the end of the winter. Washington's bold proposal to attack
Boston across the frozen back bay in the middle of February was
rejected as too risky by a council of war, but the council did
approve occupying the strategic Dorchester Heights overlooking the
city and harbor. During the last weeks of February and the first
days of March, Washington devoted himself to mobilizing artillery
and gunpowder for a massive cannonade of Boston and assembling
materials for portable fortifications to be erected on the frozen
soil of Dorchester Heights. The successful execution of this
operation on the night of 4 March failedto provoke General William
Howe into assaulting the American lines and thereby open the way to
counterattack on the city as Washington hoped it would. It did,
however, compel the British to withdraw from Boston in haste a few
days later, giving Washington and his army a spirit of confidence
with which to embark on the New York campaign. The volume also
includes a number of documents relating to Washington's private
affairs in Virginia, the most important of which are eight letters
from his Mount Vernon manager Lund Washington.
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