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which we parted Company. On the morning of the 10th, at dawn of day, we found ourselves within two miles of a British Ship. Every effort was made to clear her; but we were obliged to run the Vessel on shore near Satalkut; the surf running high, fillid and sunk our Boat directly after we hoisted it out. The Ship came to, very near us, and began a heavy fire. In this unhappy situation; no mode left, nor any
chance to defend ourselves, we were obliged to submit Prisoners to Captain Harwood of the Falcon Sloop of War. From this we were carried to Newport; where, thro' the influence of some old friends, I obtained a Parole, of which the enclosed is a copy. I had with me one Captain, my Adjutant, two Subalterns and 20 privates of my Regiment, together with about 40 of the Militia.
I should without loss of time, have waited in Person on your Excellency; but am unable to ride. * The particulars relative to the expedition, General Parsons told me, he would report to you. I have now sent Mr. Gibbs (a volunteer of my Regiment) by which I hope to know, whether Lt. Col. Campbell can be given in exchange for me. I confess from the letters which passed between your Excellency and General Howe, I have little reasons to flatter myself of its taking place; but knowing at the time they were written, Col. Campbell was one of the officers highest in Rank of any in our possession, and since that, Major-General Prescott being Captured, I could not but flatter myself the objections were at an end. Should it be otherwise, I must beg your Excellency to get me from my present unhappy situation as early as possible. The State of my Regiment, my accounts with the Public (which thro' necessity, have been neglected) demand my earliest attention; besides which, my ardent wish is again to be in the Field in my Country's Cause. Anxiously waiting your answer, I am
Your Excellency's Most Obedt. &
Very Humbl Servt
SAM'L B. WEBB. To this appeal from his youthful friend, and late A. D. C., Gen. Washington very promptly sent the following reply; so characteristic of his firmness and justice, and yet so kind to the boy who had, very naturally, presumed upon their personal relations, to obtain an early release from captivity.
* From his wound at the battle of Whiteplains; the ball which killed his horse, having passed through his leg.
Gen. Washington to Col. Webb.
VALLEY FORGE, Jan’y 8th, 1778. Sir:—I was this Evening, favored with your Letter of the 29th Ulto. I had heard before, of your unfortunate expedition & captivity; and not without concern.
It would give me pleasure to render you any service in my power; but it is impossible for me to comply with you request, without violating the principles of Justice and incurring a charge of partiality.
You are sensible, that we have several officers now in captivity with the Enemy, of your Rank and of Lieut. Col. Campbell's Rank, who have been in this unhappy situation much longer than you: some taken when General Thompson was defeated at the Three Rivers early in 1775—others at Long Island, in August following -others at Fort Washington; and a further number at the Battle of German Town. These gentlemen, would surely, exclaim loudly against my conduct, and with reason, were any distinction to be made by my concurrence or authority, to their prejudice. So far as Exchanges have depended on me, or as they may rest with me, they have been, and ever will be conducted on one principle; to wit, to release those first, who were first captured, as far as circumstances of Rank would apply. There is no other rule by which equal and impartial justice can be done.
I know there have been some Exchanges contrary to this rule; but they were not made with my privity, consent or approbation. In a word, you may rest assured, whenever circumstances put it in my power to effect your Exchange & that of all the officers and privates, under the Restrictions I have mentioned, there shall not be a moment's delay on my part; but on other terms or in a different order, you will find on reflection, I can never do it. Suppose yourself, for instance, an officer taken at any of the above periods, you would consider it an injury—a wrong-an act of high injustice done you, if one captured the 10th of December last, of your Rank was exchanged before you.
Perhaps on your return, you may have interest enough with your acquaintances, to obtain your release on parole; but you cannot do this on the principle of having an officer sent in on the like indulgence; the objections to an Enlargement on parole out of due course, in such case, being the same as to an Exchange.
I am, Dear Sir,
How characteristic was this of the man. He was not above reasoning with his boy-friend; but he taught him to know at once, that his case, in consequence of their past relations, must be held up to the army as an example of his justice, uninfluenced by any personal considerations.
As Commissioner for a general exchange of prisoners, my father spent most of the period for which he was a prisoner, at Wethersfield and Philadelphia and at the headquarters of our army; and when finally, his turn for exchange arrived, his old commander and friend, took an early opportunity to show, that his stern justice to his former favorite, was not dictated by any want of friendship or confidence. Accordingly, when La Fayette resigned the command of the Light Infantry of the army, Washington's pet corps, he, Washington, appointed my father to be La Fayette's successor.
Silas Deane, who was Chairman of the Committee of Safety for the Colony of Connecticut, appointed my father his private secretary; and it was in that capacity, that he accompanied his step-father to Philadelphia, at the opening of the Congress of 1774–5, where he first made the acquaintance of Washington. But the aspect of public affairs, grew more lowering; the probability of a rupture, daily increased; and my father, early in 1775, resigned his secretaryship and the charms of Philadelphia society, and returned to Wethersfield, to be nearer, what promised to become the scene of strife.
When the news of the battle of Lexington reached Wethersfield, my father at once volunteered as a private in Capt. Chester's Light Infantry Company, and marched for Boston. Four days thereafter, while on the march, he was elected the First Lieutenant; and Capt. Chester being absent, he took command of the company. Shortly after its arrival at Cambridge, Capt. Chester joined his company, and commanded it at the battle of Bunker Hill, on the 17th June, 1775. It was their good fortune to occupy the angle in the “Stone Fence,” where the hardest fighting occurred; and both Capt. Chester and Lieut. Webb, were thanked in general orders, for their gallantry. Gen. Putnam shortly after, appointed my father his Aid-de-Camp; and on the 21st April, 1776, at New York, Gen. Washington appointed him his Aid-deCamp, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Burr succeeded him as Aid-de-Camp to Gen. Putnam.
A letter from my father to Silas Deane, giving an account of the battle of Bunker Hill, was deposited by the parties having charge of Mr. Deane's papers, in the Hartford Historical Society; and strange to say, it is said to be the only account of the battle of Bunker Hill, written by one who participated in it, known to be in existence. A much fuller account of the battle, was written hy my father to his brother, Joseph Webb; but cannot be found.
BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL.
Major Sam'l B. Webb to Silas Deane.
CAMP AT CAMBRIDGE, July 11, 1775. DEAR SIR:-Your several late letters I have received, and the book. For your kind remembrance of me to the Commanding Officers, I beg leave to return you my most hearty Thanks. Gen. Putnam is a man highly esteemed by us. Ile has done me the Honor to appoint me his first Aid-de-Camp; since which, I have had the offer of being a Brigade Major from General Gates. They are both Honorable and agreeable Posts. I shall for the present, however, remain with Gen. Putnam. This post will cause me to be continually with the best Company in camp; by which I hope to improve.
Our Commander-in-Chief, together with the other Gentlemen from the Southward, are highly esteemed by every Class. They will be a means of disciplining the army which was much Wanted. Your friend Mr. Millen, is a Gentleman; my station will call me to be much with him. He is very obliging to me; and I doubt not, will do me any service in his power. I should have wrote
you a very particular account of the late Battle, fought on the Valley over Bunker's Hill, but supposed Col. Salstontall or my Brother, had forwarded you the letter I wrote them, which contained an exact detail of facts. I hope you have received them before this. Mr. Alexander, the Express, leaves town in half an hour; which will prevent my being as particular as I could wish.
Our army is now encamped on Prospect Hill; and we have nearly completed our Grand Breast work, reaching from the Hill to Mystic River. On our right, we have completed several redoubts and Breastworks, not far distant from each other; so that our lines are now extended from Mystic River to Charles River. The enemy are on Bunker's Hill, and are not idle. They are fortifying it in the strongest manner possible; and their situation is amazingly strong; ten times their numbers could not rout them. Directly in the front, lies the narrow neck of Charlestown; on their right, four floating Batteries in Mystic River; on their left, next Boston, two ships and several tenders, floating Batteries, &c., pointing directly across the neck; by which it would be almost impossible to pass. We hourly expect them to sally out and attempt to carry our Lines. I am sorry to say we have not men enough; but’tis too true. Gen. Washington has desired the Provincial Congress to send on the Militia to the number of 4,000 or 5,000, till we can raise more men. This matter, we at present, keep a secret, for fear our enemies should take advantage of it, and make their attacks in a number of different places; and by that means, force our intrenchments. But should they attempt it, 'tis tho't by our Commander, that it will be the most Bloody Engagement our American World ever knew. Our men are Resolute and Determined; on an alarm, (of which we have had several within a week), our men seem cheerfully to fly to their alarm Posts.
We have several thousand Pikes with 12 feet handles, which are placed along our Lines; and most certainly, will be very useful if they attempt to scale the walls. I cannot but think 500 of them at Bunker Hill, at the time of the Battle, would have been a means of saving our works. If we had had them, we must have gained a complete victory; for after landing the troops, the boats were all ordered to Boston; so that there was no retreat left for them. “Fight and Conquer, or Die," was what their officers were plainly heard to say very often. Maj. Bunce, who served two years in