When Plans Go Awry…

Sometimes, your plans are coming together unexpectedly well, and victory appears to be within reach, so close!! and then, the bottom falls out. Now what? And also, why is this happening? (For me, the answer to the second question is far more important than the answer to the first one!)

Let me illustrate such a situation which occurred in the city of Boston, in the spring of 1776.

As mentioned in an earlier post (click Here to read ) ,after being elected commander-in-chief of the colonial troops in early July 1775, George Washington departed Philadelphia and headed north, arriving outside a besieged Boston. The city had been occupied by enemy forces, in varying numbers, for almost seven years, (in response to the Americans’ retaliation for the seizure of John Hancock’s ship Liberty, as well as their resistance to British taxation and customs policies.) At one point, according to Douglas Edward Leach, in his essay The British Army in America, before 1775, the beginning of that year saw a ratio of one British soldier to every five Bostonians. Though the opposing armies were not engaged in active combat at the time of his arrival, Washington had good reason to seek to evacuate the enemy soldiers.

His men were restless. Enlistments were ending in December, and many men were not re-enlisting. Money and supplies were not in abundance, and Washington felt that it would be wise to take action while he still had some resources at his disposal.

A most favorable turn of events took place in late November. A British supply ship, with all its weaponry, was captured. Arms, mortars, cannon and much-needed ammunition suddenly came into Washington’s possession. He saw this timely bounty as coming from the God in Whom he believed, assistance from Above. These unexpected resources proved even more
valuable when those soldiers whose ‘tour of duty’ ended returned home, taking their guns with them!

Another near-miraculous provision of weapons arrived in the form of the guns retrieved from the captured Fort Ticonderoga. This was no small feat, as the guns reputedly weighed over 120,000 pounds, and had to be transported hundreds of miles over lakes, mountains and roads barely fit to be called that. All this in bitter winter weather. One can see how Washington would view this amazing feat as being even more evidence that Providence was with him in his intentions to rout the British.

Boston was heavily fortified. So instead of launching an offensive against the city, American troops planned to draw the enemy out of the city by taking possession of a nearby hill overlooking Boston Harbor, engaging the British in battle on the hill. Then, with Boston being in large part vacated, a segment of the American army would then move in and take back the town.

The fact that Washington’s men were able to even get the necessary concealments, fortifications, guns and cannons up the steep, frozen slope of Dorchester Heights was yet another near-miracle event. Under cover of darkness, some four thousand patriot soldiers trudged up the hill as well, and though a British brigadier general was notified of suspicious American activity, he ignored the report.

All was at the ready. It was the morning of March 5, 1776.

British Major General William Howe assembled his troops for battle.

That night, and throughout the next day, a violent storm battered the city, and Washington was unable to attack.

(Please return for the summation of ‘“When Plans Go Awry…”)

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