The Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, had received reports of the situation outside Boston when it began to meet in May 1775. In response to the confusion over command in the camps there, and in response to the May 10 capture of Fort Ticonderoga, the need for unified military organization became clear. Congress officially adopted the forces outside Boston as the Continental Army on May 26, and named George Washington its commander-in-chief on June 15. Washington left Philadelphia for Boston on June 21, but did not learn of the action at
Bunker Hill until he reached New York City.
Following the Battle of Bunker Hill, the siege was effectively stalemated, as neither side had either a clearly dominant position, or the will and materiel to significantly alter its position. When Washington took command of the army in July, he determined that its size had reduced from 20,000 to about 13,000 men fit for duty. He also established that the battle had severely depleted the army’s powder stock, which was eventually alleviated by powder shipments from Philadelphia. The British were also busy bringing in reinforcements; by the time of Washington’s arrival the British had more than 10,000 men in the city.
Throughout the summer and fall of 1775, both sides dug in, with occasional skirmishes, but neither side chose to take any significant action. Congress, seeking to take some initiative and to capitalize on the capture of Ticonderoga, authorized an invasion of Canada, after several letters to the inhabitants of Canada were rejected by the French-speaking and British colonists there. In September, Benedict Arnold led 1,100 troops on an expedition through the wilderness of Maine, which was drawn from the army assembled outside Boston. Washington faced a personnel crisis
toward the end of 1775, as most of the troops in the army had enlist- ments that expired at the end of 1775. He introduced a number of recruitment incentives and was able to keep the army sufficiently large to maintain the siege, although it was by then smaller than the besieged forces.
1. Chidsey, Donald Barr (1966).
The Siege of Boston: An on-the- scene Account of the Beginning of the American Revolution. New York: Crown. OCLC 890813.
2. French, Allen (1911).
The Siege of Boston. McMillan. OCLC 3927532.
3. Johnson, Allen (1912). Readings in American Constitutional History, 1776-1876. Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. 40–42. OCLC 502220.
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