104 AFTER THE BATTLE
upon whom real dependence might be placed. The local volunteers present, though forming several companies, were untrained, half-starved, and generally over age. To complicate matters, the inhabitants who had fled during the bombardment were returning, and between three and four thousand women, children, and invalids, all more or less helpless, were to be provisioned, though, even on half rations, there was barely enough food to last a week.
At this crisis, the merchants, all militia officers, declaring themselves no longer soldiers but citizens, met at the mayor's house, and unanimously decided for capitulation, presenting a petition to that effect to the commandant. In manly terms they represented that they had not been intimidated by a siege of sixty-three days, that continuous duty and weary service had not depressed them, and if their bodily strength suffered from insufficient food, it had been revived by the hope of conquering the enemy. Neither had the loss of their property affected them. Every privation had been cheer-fully endured from a desire to save the town, and since that hope had proved delusive, they deemed it not disgraceful to yield where it was impossible to conquer. In this view de