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General Howe at Philadelphia

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

April 15.—Throughout the whole past winter, with General Washington within twenty miles of them, the British have remained quite unalarmed and in Philadelphia easy. Not a single attack has been attempted; and what is as extraordinary, not a single fire has happened, or even a common riot to disturb the peace. It is amazing to think that a garrison so confined in its lines, composed of troops of different nations and languages, together with a motley crew of inhabitants, besides the sailors of the navy, and transports, in all amounting to upwards of fifty thousand people, should have lived together in the most perfect harmony and peace. Nothing reflects more honor on the character of General Howe than this very circumstance, as nothing but the highest attention to good discipline, regularity, and order, could have effected what seems so very incredible. The early support he gave to the police he had established for the government of the city, the public countenance he gave to it on all occasions—never suffering its authority in any one instance to be violated or insulted—and the satisfaction given to the inhabitants by the measure itself, have had the highest good effects, and justly endear him to both army and country. Perhaps there never was a general commanding an army more universally beloved by officers and soldiers, than Sir William; nor in whom, as an officer, a more general confidence has prevailed, both for abilities and spirit.1


1 Upcott, v. 133.