Providence Rides a Storm


It thus seems reasonable to contend that the plan Washington drew up with his council of officers and hoped to put into effect should never have included an attack on Boston itself, but should simply have been limited to the fortification and subsequent defense of Dorchester Heights. The history books, indeed, indulgent to the conception of Washington’s infallibility, have tended to make out that in placing cannon on Dorchester he had completed his total objective. Praising the move that sent the British scurrying out of Boston, writers have suppressed or played down Washington’s further intention of trying to win the war then and there with a second engagement in which the odds would have been greatly against him.

To survey the situation as a whole, not only what actually happened but also what had been planned, is to recognize the tempest as a piece of marvelous good fortune. It prevented Washington’s fool-hardy optimism from costing him anything; kept the cause from being grievously or perhaps fatally damaged as it might well have been. Did the genius of America ride in that storm, delaying action until her amateur commander in chief had time to become more proficient in the art of war?