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A Half Century of Conflict - Volume I by Parkman

The provincials wishing them success


It

will be seen that some coolness on the part of the Bostonians was not unnatural. But whatever may have been the popular feeling, the provincial authorities did their full part towards supplying the needs of the new-comers; for Dudley, with his strong Tory leanings, did not share the prevailing jealousy, and the country members of the Assembly were anxious before all things to be delivered from war-parties. The problem was how to raise the men and furnish the supplies in the least possible time. The action of the Assembly, far from betraying any slackness, was worthy of a military dictatorship. All ordinary business was set aside. Bills of credit for L40,000 were issued to meet the needs of the expedition. It was ordered that the prices of provisions and other necessaries of the service should stand fixed at the point where they stood before the approach of the fleet was known. Sheriffs and constables, jointly with the Queen's officers, were ordered to search all the town for provisions and liquors, and if the owners refused to part with them at the prescribed prices, to break open doors and seize them. Stringent and much-needed Acts were passed against harboring deserters. Provincial troops, in greater number than the ministry had demanded, were ordered to be raised at once, and quartered upon the citizens, with or without their consent, at the rate of eightpence a day for each man.[161] Warrants were issued for impressing pilots, and also mechanics and laborers, who, in spite
of Puritan scruples, were required to work on Sundays.

Such measures, if imposed by England, would have roused the most bitter resentment. Even when ordered by their own representatives, they caused a sullen discontent among the colonists, and greatly increased the popular dislike of their military visitors. It was certain that when the expedition sailed and the operation of the new enactments ceased, prices would rise; and hence the compulsion to part with goods at low fixed rates was singularly trying to the commercial temper. It was a busy season, too, with the farmers, and they showed no haste to bring their produce to the camp. Though many of the principal inhabitants bound themselves by mutual agreement to live on their family stores of salt provisions, in order that the troops might be better supplied with fresh, this failed to soothe the irritation of the British officers, aggravated by frequent desertions, which the colonists favored, and by the impossibility of finding pilots familiar with the St. Lawrence. Some when forced into the service made their escape, to the great indignation of Walker, who wrote to the governor: "Her Majesty will resent such actions in a very signal manner; and when it shall be represented that the people live here as if there were no king in Israel, but every one does what seems right in his own eyes, measures will be taken to put things upon a better foot for the future."[162] At length, however, every preparation was made, the supplies were all on board, and after a grand review of the troops on the fields of Noddle's Island, the whole force set sail on the thirtieth of July, the provincials wishing them success, and heartily rejoicing that they were gone.

The fleet consisted of nine ships of war and two bomb-ketches, with about sixty transports, store-ships, hospital-ships, and other vessels, British and provincial. They carried the seven British regiments, numbering, with the artillery train, about fifty-five hundred men, besides six hundred marines and fifteen hundred provincials; counting, with the sailors, nearly twelve thousand in all.[163]


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