National Geographic : 1976 Jul
had prepaired me to entertain a favorable opinion of him, but I thought the one half was not told me. Dignity with ease and com placency, the Gentleman and Soldier look agreably blended in him. Modesty marks every line and feture of his face." Another friend recalled: "There was so much native dignity in his deportment, that no man could approach him without being impressed with a sensation that he accosted a superior being: yet there was a small mix ture of timidity in his general demeanor, lest he might commit an error, and this modesty was exceeding prepossessing. It gave a mild ness and kindness to his manner...." At Boston, Washington and his generals concluded that the key to victory was Dor chester Heights. Inexplicably, neither side had occupied this decisive position. Washing ton possessed the will to do so, but lacked the guns to hold it. Then, at the beginning of 1776, plump Gen. George Washington: the Man Behind the Myths "What an infamous method of carrying on a war!" a British soldier complained about Rebels who sniped from behind trees and fences, as in this reenactment at Pound Ridge, New York. Washington often em ployed skirmishes, raids, and withdrawals to avoid a general action with the largest British expeditionary force of the 18th cen tury. One of his greatest achievements lay in keeping citizen-soldiers-no matter how ill fed, poorly clothed, and prone to desertion together as an army, and ready to strike when the opportunity arose. Henry Knox-a former bookseller-com pleted a miracle. With a small, dedicated force, he dragged, wheeled, and sledged the 59 pieces of British artillery captured at Ticonderoga across 300 miles of bleak New England mountains. On the night of March 4, Americans wrestled some of the precious guns to the top of Dorchester Heights. As dawn broke, the muzzles stared down upon the exposed British positions. The British commander, Gen. William Howe, realizing that he had been outgeneraled, packed his army aboard a waiting fleet and sailed for Halifax, Nova Scotia. JUBILATION SWEPT the Colonies but all too briefly. With Boston freed, Washington's troops wheeled southward toward New York to face a British invasion fleet. As everything had gone right for Wash ington at Boston, so did it go wrong for him at New York. The British defeated him on Long Island and Manhattan and at White Plains. They went on to take Fort Washing ton with 2,800 defenders and invaluable stores, and then took strategically important Fort Lee on the New Jersey shore. Washington herded the stunned remnants of his army across New Jersey, Redcoats in hot pursuit. A British officer noted that "many of the Rebels who were killed... were without shoes or Stockings, & Several were observed to have only linen drawers... without any proper shirt or Waistcoat." The commander in chief was as dispirited as his troops. He wrote to a cousin: "Our only dependence now is upon the speedy enlist ment of a new army. If this fails, I think the game will be pretty well up...."