The British have now evacuated Boston. General Washington visits the city and is impressed by the strength of the fortification he finds. He writes that “the town, although it has suffered greatly, is not in so bad a state as I expected to find it.”
The evacuation begins another period of the war. While Washington and the Congress are aware that the British have left, they do not know where they are going? New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, South Carolina all are possibilities. Washington receives word from Nicholas Cooke regarding preparations in Rhode Island: “The several Regiments of Militia are ordered to hold themselves in Readiness to march in Case the Enemy should land in this Colony, and the General Assembly is called to meet this Day. As a Part of the Army in Boston, supposing them to be destined to the Southward, might with but little Loss of Time land upon and destroy Rhode Island, and cut off the Troops there, without some effectual Measures are taken to oppose them, I thought these Steps which were all it was in my Power to take, necessary. I also beg Leave to suggest to your Excellency the Propriety of ordering a Part of the Forces designed for New York to march through this Colony. The Rout will not be much further, and they will be at Hand to repel any Attack of the Enemy.”
One thing is clear – the British have suffered what appears on the world stage to be a setback, and they are going to need to achieve a victory in order to save face. But where?