« IndietroContinua »
Portugal with Gen. Lee, told my Brother Joe at the Lines, that it was the hottest engagement he ever knew. Even, says he, the Battle of Meriden did not equal it. For my part, I confess, when I was descending into the valley from Bunker's Hill, side by side of Capt. Chester at the head of our Company, I had no more tho'ts of ever rising the Hill again, than I had of ascending to Heaven as Elijah did-soul and body together. But after we got engaged —to see the dead and wounded around me,I had no other feeling but that of Revenge. Four men were shot dead within five feet of me; but, thank Heaven, I escaped with only the graze of a musket ball on my head.
I think it my duty to tell you of the bravery of one of our Company. Edward Brown stood side by side with Gersham Smith in the Entrenchments. Smith fell; Brown saw his danger, and discharged his own and Smith's gun. When they came so close as to push Bayonets over our small Breastworks, Brown sprang, seized a Regular's gun—took it from him, and killed him on the spot; bro't off the gun in triumph, and has it now by him. In this engagement, our Company lost four brave men, and had four wounded. The dead are Wilson Rowlandson, wounded, taken prisoner and since died in Boston gaol; Gersham Smith, Laurence Sullivan and Roger Fox, killed on the spot. The four wounded, are almost well. I had forgot to mention, that Col. Parker, wounded in the thigh, was taken prisoner and carried to Boston, where he lay in a common gaol and died. Gen. Lee, in particular, is much put out; intends writing into Boston very soon in a severe way, and inform them what he thinks of their barbarity; and further acquaint them, that if they continue their savage cruelty, every King's officer in our possession will be closely confined. Indeed we all wish and expect, that they may be secured; especially Elliott of New York, who is a man of great Importance. My brother Joe, who has been with us a week, set off for home last evening. He had a cruel interview within the Regular Guards on Charleston Neck, with Mr. Simpson and my unhappy sister; but the officers forbid them any conversation about leaving town. My heart aches for them, but 'tis in vain; none can be permitted to come from under the clutches of that Tyrant Gage, and his Infernal Crew.
Mr. Turnbull, our commissary, is much beloved by all Ranks of People, — tis hoped he may be appointed Commissary-General
of the American army. No one here, is so well calculated for that important office. His extensive connections, enable him to procure every necessary with the greatest imaginary dispatch. I fancy he is recommended by our General; which, with your and his other friends influence, I doubt not, will procure him the fatiguing Berth. I have received many friendly services from him. I wish to add many particulars, but the Express waits.
Capt. Chester is in a fair way to be appointed a Brigade Major. We have burnt the Regular Guard Houses in Roxbury. Little skirmishes happen almost every day. The King's troops, come off second best.
Major Mifflin being very observing with his glass, has been complimented with half a dozen four and six pounders from the Ships and Batteries in Boston; but he is a small mark, and came off clear.
I beg you to write me particularly, whenever you have leisure. Be assured I am, Dear Sir, with esteem,
SAM'L B. WEBB.
Major Sam'l B. Webb to Silas Deane.
CAMBRIDGE, July 11, 1775. DEAR SIR:—Since the close of my other letter, I find the Express is likely to be detained half an hour. I had entirely forgotten to mention to you the conduct of General Spencer; which I doubt not, you'll hear from scveral quarters. After intelligence of Putnam’s being appointed Major-General, (which, by the by, gave universal satisfaction), Spencer appeared much chagrined and disappointed. He began to speak very freely; and finally, persuaded the officers, to remonstrate to the Assembly of Connecticut; and he set off immediately for home, without leave or license from Gen. Washington, which displeased him much.
I cannot imagine our Assembly will be guilty of so great an imprudence as to take any notice of the matter. I am sorry to say, your friend Col. Parsons was forward in this matter. I have since been to Roxbury, and find the officers, many of them, heartily sick of what they have done, in particular, Maj. Meiggs,—who says he was forced to sign what the others did—to keep peace; and says he had rather serve under Putnam than Spencer. You'll find Generals Washington and Lee, are vastly more fond, and think higher of Putnam, than any man in the army; and he truly is the Hero of the day. They have given him the command of Prospect Hill.
I find the intention of Spencer, was to get our Assembly to remonstrate to the Continental Congress, and beg a re-appointment; but little did he think that this could not be done without cashiering Putnam, as he is in possession of his commission. Better is it for us to lose four Spencers than half a Putnam. I think it my duty to write thus freely to you, though perhaps, it would not be prudent to have it seen in print.
Opposite to Putnam, is placed Gen. Howe, on Bunker's Hill. Gen. Burgoyne commands on the Neck, at Roxbury. He has wrote a long letter to Gen. Lee, in which he proposes a meeting; whether this will be complied with or not, I cannot say. A certain something runs through the whole of his letter, which shews they are sick at the stomach. He says: “If the right of taxation is all we are contending for, he is empowered to say, Great Britain will give that up." Why did not they say that six months ago ? They must now remember, that we have an undoubted right to ask for the expense we have incurred in raising an army and for the loss of the beautiful town of Charlestown, which is now a heap of rubbish. We doubt not Burgoyne writes thus. so as hereafter to say, that he made us generous offers, with a view to compromise matters. He is as cunning and subtle as the Devil himself; and writes as if he was on the right side of the question, like a man of abilities; but his wickedness is to be seen in every sentence of his letter.
We have had one of our sentries desert over to the enemy; and a Frenchman, who came here in the character of a gentleman, was detected in stealing. The next day he deserted to the enemy; but he's of no consequence, being simple, a foolish fellow.
We heartily wish for the Riflemen to arrive; and instead of 1,000, we wish it was 3,000. We really want them; and we are in hopes you'll make an addition.
I am in the utmost haste. Yours most affect’ly,
SAM’L B. WEBB.
MR. S. DEANE.
Extract of a Letter written by Jos. Webb from Weathersfield, in
Connecticut, to a Gentleman in New York, dated April 23, 1775. American Archives.
“The late frequent marchings and counter-marchings into the country, were calculated to conceal the most cruel and inhuman design; and imagining they had laid suspicion asleep, they pitched upon Tuesday night for their execution. A hint being had, two expresses were sent to alarm the Congress. One of them had the good fortune to arrive; the other (Mr. Revere) is missing, -supposed to be waylaid and slain.
In the night of Tuesday, the Company of Grenadiers and Light-Infantry from every Regiment, were transported to Charleston in long-boats; and at daybreak, began their march for Lexington; where a number of the inhabitants were assembled peaceably, without arms, to consult their safety. The Commander called them rebels, and bade them disperse. On their refusal, he fired, and killed and wounded nine. They then proceeded towards Concord, marking their way with cruelties and barbarity never equalled by the Savages of America. In one house a woman and seven children were slaughtered, (perhaps on their return.) At Concord they seized two pieces of cannon, and destroyed two others, with all the flour, &c. in store, but the people secured their magazine of powder, &c.
By this time, about four hundred (no accounts make them more than five hundred) of our men assembled, and placed themselves so advantageously, without being perceived, that when the enemy were on the return, they received the full fire of our men. A heavy engagement ensued,—the enemy retreating, and our men pressing on them with constant reinforcements.
At Lexington, they retook their two pieces of cannon, seized the enemy's wagons and baggage, and made about twenty prisoners, continuing to press the Regulars close to Charlestown, where they were on the point of giving up; (one account says this Brigade was almost all cut off,) but a reinforcement, under the command of Lord Percy, having been detached that morning from Boston, joined the first detachment in the retreat, and retired with it to Bunker's Hill; where they intrenched, and night parted them. Our number increased, and next morning would have surrounded the hill, had it not been for the situation near the water; where, on one side, they were exposed to the fire from a Man-ofWar. We lost thirty men in the action. The lowest account of the enemy's loss is one hundred and fifty.
Lord Percy, General Haldimand, and many other officers, are said to be among the slain. A gentleman of veracity assured me, that he numbered, within half a mile from the place where the fight began, one hundred and fifty. The Post confirms the same account. We are all in motion here, and equiped from the Town. Yesterday, one hundred young men, cheerfully offered their service; with twenty days' provisions, and sixty-four rounds, per man. They are all well armed, and in high spirits. My brother has gone with them; and others, of the first property. Our neighbouring Towns are all arming and moving. Men of the first character and property, shoulder their arms and march off for the field of action. We shall, by night, have several thousands from this Colony on their march. The eyes of America are on New-York; the Ministry have certainly been promised by some of your leading men, that your Province would desert us; but you' will be able to form a better judgment when you see how this intelligence is relished.
Take care of yourselves; we have more than men enough to block up the enemy at Boston, and if we are like to fall by treachery, by Heaven we will not fall unrevenged on the traitors; and if balls or swords will reach them, they shall fall with us. time now to dally; or be merely neutral; he that is not for us is against us, and ought to feel the first of our resentment. You must now declare, most explicitly, one way or the other, that we may know whether we are to go to Boston, or New-York. If you desert, our men will as cheerfully attack New-York as Boston, for we can but perish; and that we are determined upon, or be free.
I have nothing to add, but am, your friend and countryman, &c.
It is no
P. S. —Colonel Murray's son, one of the Tories, undertook to guide the Regulars in their march to Concord, and on their retreat was taken prisoner ; but attempting to escape from our people, they shot him,-a death too honourable for such a villian!
They have made another of them prisoner, but I do not recollect his name; none of ours were taken.