Page images

trine of the liberty of the French philosophers of the 17th century, an impossible creation likely to result as results the experiment of commingling fire with powder.

And so to Cambridge the various colonies directed the men enlisted in their cause until the number assembled there amounted to over 14,000 of all arms. Among them were the New Hampshire troops, who had effected the capture of Fort William Henry, and on the road to them was coming a great deal of the ammunition, being drawn over the country roads in ox-carts. All these troops began to try and besiege the city of Boston, where lay encamped a portion of the British, while in the harbor was anchored some British men-of-war.

June 17th, the Continental Forces that had been ordered the day before to entrench themselves on Bunker's Hill, by mistake took up position on Breed's Hill and erected a strong redoubt. By the dawning light of the 17th, the British saw the position of the Americans and opened a fire from their battleships. At noon they landed 3,000 men in heavy marching order under the command of Gen. Howe and advanced towards Breed's Hill, where the Americans lay entrenched. A few of the Americans who dwelt in Boston were loyal to the Crown. Among them was a Mr. Willard who was serving under Lord Howe. He had a personal acquaintance with Col. Prescott, who was commanding the colonial position. Gen. Howe handed Willard the field-glass and asked him if he thought Prescott would fight. After a long gaze at the hard outlines of Prescott's face, Willard replied: “Yes sir, he will fight to the gates of hell.” “Then,” said Howe, “we will give him hell, itself," and forthwith he ordered a general advance.

Previous to this, Gen. Howe had believed that the entire body of Americans, although with grievances against the parliament, were too much attached to their motherland to do more than threaten a resistance. This was the general belief of all the high officials and dignitaries of the Crown. This was why the first military operations of the British were conducted so slowly-in order to give the Americans time "to repent and return to their allegiance.”

As the order came for the troops to advance, the guns from the warships began to thunder on the American redoubts and pour red-hot shot into Charlestown, so that under cover of the smoke of the conflagration the troops might go up the hill somewhat hidden. As the British deployed into column of attack, partly concealed by the smoke of Charlestown, Howe ordered up his cannon to fire on the retrenchments. For some strange cause no cannon shot responded to the command. The reason for it was this: Mr. Lovell, the ordinance officer, was so much in love with the daughter of the schoolmaster of the regiment that he was confused about everything that day, and on this occasion, sent to the front 241b. shot for 121b. guns. The result was that the cannon were useless. A verse of the time commemorates this exploit in the following manner :

“Our conductor, he got broke
For his misconduct sure, sir.
The shot he sent for 121b. guns

Were made for 24, sir.” Sir William Howe, in a letter written subsequent to the attack on Breed's Hill, refers to this incident as the principle cause for the first British repulse. For the Americans were enabled by the lack of British artillery fire in front, to remain undisturbed behind their entrenchments and discharge their volleys at close range into the approaching ranks of the British. A second attack was repulsed in the same manner. But the third time the officers urged on the troops; the ships' batteries and field artillery renewed their protecting fire. It has been claimed that at this epoch the powder of the Americans gave out and they retired a space on their reserves. But it was their ability to hold the place that was lacking and they fled as the British climbed the hill. The Connecticut troops left their muskets sticking through the fence-rails behind which they were drawn up and ran without firing a shot, while their commander, Gen. Israel Putnam, swore like a mad-man as he ran after them and tried to rally them.

There was in the rear a strong reserve of New Hampshire men and the ox-carts, laden with powder and

other munitions had arrived the very day of the British attack. Not onlv were the reserves supplied with powder enough for the battle, but they had enough remaining to fill the horns of Washington's entire army. The American forces retired to Prospect Hill and the British occupied Bunker's Hill. The loss of the British were 1,200 killed and wounded. The Americans acknowledged 500 killed and wounded and 5 cannon captured by the enemy.

But the Metropolitan troops did not pursue their success and the Colonial troops coming in all the time from distant colonies drew nearer and laid Boston under siege. Boston was cordoned by the republican army, and the cordon had been drawn closer since the battle of Bunker Hill. The British garrison, supported by a few loyalists, held the town, which had become a place of refuge for other loyalists who had resided in the vicinity, who had been true to the crown, even in the midst of armed opposition, preferring to abandon all rather than yield. Before April 20th, 1775, Gen. Gage, the British commander, wrote the Provincial Congress, asking that these loyalists in the surrounding towns be permitted to enter Boston with their effects. April 30th, the Provincial Congress granted such permission, and stationed officers at the Neck of Boston and Charlestown to secure their unmolested entrance. At this time one of the protests against the republicans by some loyalists said: “You make the air resound with the cry of liberty, but subject those who differ with you to the most outrageous tyranny.”

Among the loyalists who availed themselves of this permission was Lady Frankland, widow of Sir Charles H. Frankland. Her story is one of the romances of American history. Her maiden name was Agnes Surriage, and at the age of 15 she was living with her parents at Marblehead. According to the chronicles of the time, they were “poor but decent folk.”

It was at this time that Sir Charles Frankland was collector of customs at Boston, an office more sought for than that of Governor, on account of the perquisites attached thereto, although the salary was only $500 per annuII1.

Sir Charles was born at Bengal, where his father was Governor of the East Indian Company's possessions, His mother was the youngest and favorite daughter of the great Cromwell.

At the age of 25 Frankland was appointed collector of Boston. His winning and generous manner made him a favorite very soon in the “vice-regal” society of the town. He was a liberal patron of King's Chapel and of Harvard College.

But now comes to his meeting with Agnes. On a beautiful day in May, in 1742, Agnes was in the little front garden of her home in Marblehead, when Sir Charles drove by in his coach. Her dress was very short, for at that time she had outgrown it, and there was no more cloth in the house to piece it down. She had taken off her shoes and stockings, and her dress coming only to her knees showed the rarest and richest contour. Frankland, who had an artist's eye and soul, was not insensible to her beauty. In fact, he was struck dumb and tingled with admiration, as he paused at the garden gate, and began to converse with Agnes, who looked at him with the eyes of unabashed yet respectful familiarity. After Frankland had caressed her flowing hair and patted her lovely rounded arms, he gave her a half-crown with which to buy a pair of shoes. Then he departed, promising himself to see her again.

And the picture of dear Agnes did not leave his mind. Every day she came chasing through his thoughts, the sunbeams playing with her hair and the breezes blowing her dress away from her gracefully modelled limbs. He dreamed of her. So again, shortly thereafter, he found himself on the road to Marblehead, before the sweet, short-skirted Agnes. “Why did you not buy some shoes?” he said to Agnes, as he looked with warming pleasure at the yet bare and rosy limbs. “I did,” replied Agnes, “but I keep them to wear Sundays.” Then she gave him such a shy but witching glance that he could restrain himself no longer. He clasped her in his arms and kissed her. Then he entered the house and demanded permission of her parents to take her to Boston with him, he promising to educate her. The permission was obtained very easily; the poor folk saw the advantage it would be to Agnes to be under the protection of so great a man, and Agnes travelled back in the Frankland coach, with armorial on panel, and coachman and outrider.

Now Frankland was so much in love with Agnes that he could not let her remain at school. He built an elegant house at Hopkinton, 25 miles from Boston, and there, in the midst of a magnificent estate, and attended by 20 servants, he kept her as his very own. There were many loyalists in Hopkinton, and they had a jolly time, with love among the roses. In 1858 this house was occupied by Mr. Hildreth.

In 1754, Frankland visited England and took Agnes with him. The next year they were in Lisbon, at the time of the terrible earthquake. The day of this happening, Frankland and Agnes were riding through one of the streets of that city. A house fell on them, and they were buried beneath the ruins for the greater part, of the day before they were rescued. At that time, Frankland resolved that if he ever got out he would correct all his misdeeds. The next day after his rescue he led Agnes to church, and they became man and wife. In 1756, they were welcomed again to Boston, where he bought, as a town house, the beautiful Clarke mansion, on Garden Court Street, next to Governor Hutchinson's. On the anniversary of the Lisbon earthquake, he would retire to a room of his Hopkinton house and put on the same clothes which he had worn on that day, and keep fast the whole day.

After another visit to Lisbon as consul-general, and again to Boston in 1763, he went to England, where he died in the city of Bath in 1768. The bereaved Agnes returned to Boston and retired to her Hopkinton house, where she was living when Boston was besieged by the republicans in 1775. All her gratitude and affection were locked up by the armed bands of the Continental Congress in Boston. And she was loyal.

In answer to her request that she might move to Boston, the committee of safety wrote her May 15th : “On application of Lady Frankland—voted, that she

« PreviousContinue »