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Proceedings of a Council of War


Proceedings of a Council of War held at ST˙ JOHN' S,

OCTOBER 13,1775.

I proposed establishing a battery of all our spare heavy cannon on the rising ground exactly opposite the stone house in the north redoubt, (in the west face of which there is but one embrasure open,) at the distance of about four hundred yards, securing this battery with a work capable of being well defended by two hundred men. From this battery our approaches might be continued to the ditch, and, by the time we arrive there, the fraise round the berm would be destroyed, the rampart in a ruinous state, and the large house (which is said to be their principal barrack) would be destroyed, as every shot that missed the rampart roust take the house. Two four-pounders, on the east side, would answer the end of seeing the west rampart in reverse,


and thereby slackening the opposition of the enemy. By this mode of proceeding, if our ammunition held out, there would be, in my opinion, some prospect of success, notwithstanding the superiour artillery of the garrison, which could not be mounted in its proper place time enough to prevent the erection of our battery. The Field-Officers were, to a man, of opinion that my reasons were insufficient, being afraid the designed ground was, at this season, too wet for approaches, and strongly of opinion our heavy cannon, on the east side, would more effectually distress the enemy by annoying their buildings; the fort having a gentle slope to the river, and which was urged as the strongest motives by destroying their schooner. In vain I represented, if every building was destroyed, the garrison could not surrender without a probability of an assault, which could never arise from any attack on the opposite side of the river. That the vessel could not be destroyed, because she would change her place in such a manner as to elude our batteries; that we had little powder or time to throw away on experiments; that I had a moral certainty they would find themselves mistaken and, finally, that they must take it upon themselves, for I would not oppose the general sense of the Army, and should enforce the measure by every effort in my power.

I cannot help observing to how little purpose I am here. Were I not afraid the example would be too generally followed, and that the publick service might suffer, I would not stay an hour at the head of troops whose operations I cannot direct. I must say I have no hopes of success from the garrison' s wanting provisions.