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of General Washington, consented and pledged his Honor for his being safe returned,—the aid de Camp said the Adjt Genl would meet us tomorrow forenoon.
“ New York, 20th July, 1776.–At 12 o'clock, we met the Flag, took Lieut Colo Paterson of the Regiment into our Barge and escorted him safe to Town to Colo Knox's Quarters, where his Excellency General Washington, attended with his suit and Life Guard, Received and had an interview of about an hour with him; we then escorted him back in safety to his own Barge; on going and coming we passed in Front of the Grand Batterybut did not blindfold him-Sociable and chatty all the way.”
A few of Colonel Webb's letters, written at this period by Washington's orders, remain. Force has published two addressed to General Ward, July 18, 1776, in reference to the improper acts of the agent in the disposal of cargoes of the prizes taken; another to Governor Trumbull with regard to the ill-conduct of the Connecticut Life Guards, who refused to do duty except on horseback, pleading exemption by statute of the Colony. The General had no use for such particular patriots, and dischaged them. On the 27th July, 1776, he again addresses General Ward at Boston, to forward the ammunition taken in the British transports without delay to New York.
The diary of Colonel Webb closes with the entry of the 20th July, recording the arrival of Lord Howe's fleet " with the Foreigners,” meaning the Hessian troops. Colonel Webb was with his commander during the summer of 1776, and was no doubt present at the battles of Long Island and Harlem though no record remains of his special service in these actions. Two letters, signed by him remain, written from headquarters, then at the Roger Morris house, on the heights of Harlem, dated October 1 and October 6, informing Heath, who commanded the division on the continent above, of the movements of the enemy on Long Island Sound and the Harlem River, whom he justly suspected of an attempt to turn his rear. He was present at White Plains, where, while carrying orders in an exposed position across the field, he had his horse shot under him and was himself wounded in the leg. Continuing with his chief during the passage of the Hudson and the dark days of the close of 1776, he again rendered
efficient service in the line of his duty in the affair at Trenton on Christmas eve. Johnston, in his History of the Campaign of 1776, mentions him as having conveyed the order to Sullivan's troops, whose muskets had been wet in the heavy storm at the crossing of the Delaware, “ that if the men could not discharge their pieces they must use the bayonet, for the Town must be taken.”
At the close of the year 1776, the American army under its short term of enlistment, had almost faded away. Washington wrote on the 20th December: “ Ten days more will put an end to its existence."
On the 16th September Congress passed a resolution to enlist eighty-eight battalions to serve during the war, and the number of eight was set down as the quota for Connecticut. The organization of these eight battalions was completed by Governor Trumbull and the Council of Safety or Committee of War of Connecticut at their session of the 28th November, and the generals of the State in the service were desired to arrange the officers. But Washington was by no means satisfied with the provision of eightyeight battalions, and strongly urged the Congress not to lose a moment in raising “a greater number, not less than a hundred and ten;" and on the 22d they passed a resolution, vesting him with full, ample and complete powers to raise sixteen battalions of infantry in addition to those already voted, and to appoint their officers. Colonel Webb immediately availed of this occasion to break from the dependence, which, even so honorable position as aid to the Commander-in Chief gave him, and sought distinction in more active service, and on the 11th January was appointed colonel of one of ten regiments organized under this act. These sixteen additional regiments were established on a different footing from the eighty-eight battalions. In these the appointment of the officers was left to the States, but under the authority given to the commander-in-chief the appointment of officers under the rank of field officers was delegated to the colonels in concert with the field officers of their commands, the right of ratification or rejection being reserved to himself. The regiments were raised for three years or the war.
The Connecticut government decided on the 26th February that the proportion of men to be raised by Connecticut was one thousand, and directed the bounty money be distributed as follows, viz.: to those under Colonel Samuel B. Webb, to the number of 500; to those under Lieut.-Colonel R. J. Meigs, 250; to those under Lient.Colonel Thomas Dyer, 250. In addition to the twenty dollars bounty fixed by the Congress, Colonel Webb was lavish with his means and credit to hasten the enlistment of his command. A roll of the enlisted men, 392 in number, styles the regiment, “ that known by the name of one of the 16 additional Regiments," afterwards the Ninth and the Third Connecticut Regiments. Some of the original printed enlistment forms have the name of the “Regiment of Guards commanded by Colonel Samuel B. Webb” but the word guards is carefully crossed out from the paper. The records of Connecticut so far made public are sadly deficient in information concerning the troops, but it may be found from the minutes of the Council in April and June, that they were still not entirely equipped and were petitioning for clothing. A surgeon's mate was appointed for the regiment July 4, 1777. About this time the regiment joined the army on the Hudson. Among the Webb documents is an order from Gen). Parsons, directing Col. Webb to parade in the street [Peekskill] and march to Crompond with three days' ammunition ; and the draft of a regimental order by Col. Webb, dated Fairfield, Conn., 21st August, evidently on the eve of an expected movement. This expedition against the British posts on the Long Island coast of the Sound does not seem to have been carried out, but Webb’s regiment probably remained in Connecticut, as in October General Parsons again wrote to Webb complaining of his own ivactivity, his brigade not yet being completed, but announcing his early departure. His destination he reveals in the expressive phrase "oysters and black-fish will soon be my lot,' an allusion to the diet of the dwellers by the Sound. He presses Webb to find means to join his brigade, from which letter it seems that Webb's regiment was not as yet permanently attached. That his ranks were not yet full is learned from a letter of Washington among the Webb papers. Webb was no doubt busy increasing the number of his men.
Soon after, the active military career of Colonel Webb was unfortunately cut short by the disastrous result of the expedition formed by General Parsons against the enemies' posts on Long Island, December 16, 1777. The contemporaneous account of this affair in the Connecticut Gazette (December 19, 1777) not appearing to have been reprinted is here given.
“A plan having been formed to bring off or destroy a Magazine of Military Stores which the Enemy had, at Shetochet on Long Island, and to destroy some shipping loaded with Timber at Southold—on Tuesday Night of last week part of two Battalions of Troops embarked from this State, under convoy of the Sloop Schuyler, and the Spy and Mifllin Schooners. Unfortunately the next morning, just before Light, the Faulkland, a British Frigate, in her Passage from New York to Newport came a-cross the Schuyler and two Smaller Vessels, when the latter run a-shore upon the Island, but the former, on attempting to get in with the Land, run upon a Spit of Sund called the Old Man's, and was taken with about sixty Troops on Board, among whom were the following Officers, viz.: Cols. Ely and Webb, Capt. Buckland, Lieut. Riley, Ensn Mumford, Adjutant Hopkins, and Quarter Master Starr of Webb's Battalion, and Ensignis Niles and Abbott and Adjutant West of Ely's Battalion. On Thursday a Party of men under Capt. Hart marched to Southold and were very near making Prisoners of Capt. Ascough and upwards of 20 Men belonging to the ship Swan who were at a House in Southold, but they getting Intelligence of Capt Hart's Approach hasted to their Boats. They were closely pursued, and as they were getting on Board were fired upon, when most of them were killed or wounded, Capt Ayscough it is tho't was killed. Seven Marines and Seamen were made Prisoners. Our Troops, after tarrying several Days on the Island, returned to the Main, without having opportunity to affect any thing considerablethe Shipping having left Southold and we learn the Magazine has been removed.”
Partisan warfare is the most uncertain branch of the profession. The least miscalculation affects the whole plan. The main portion of Colonel Webb's battalion escaped capture; their return from Long Island is noticed in the Connecticut Gazette letter of the 26th December. They were marched from New London to Peekskill, where they remained on duty during the following year as a part of the Highland garrison. They were later consolidated with the other Connecticut troops on the Continental establishment in January, 1781.
Colonel Webb, as is stated in the same number of the Gazette, was carried to Newport, where, after remaining a few days, he was allowed to come out on parole, and went to Wethersfield. This, however, seems to have been premature. The Council minutes note that Lieut Col Lawrence was voted to be exchanged
for Col Samuel Webb; and Lawrence to go to New York on his parole, and if not exchanged, to return by the 6th of February, 1778.”
His orginal parole is preserved. It is quoted as an example. “I, Samuel B. Webb, of Wethersfield, in Connecticut, having leave to go to Long Island on Parole, do hereby pledge my Faith & Word of Honor that I will not do or say any thing contrary to the interest of his Majesty or his Government, and that I will not depart from the House I am placed in by the Commissary for Prisoners nor go beyond the Bounds by him presented. Given under my Hand this Twenty fifth Day of Fevruary, 1778;" and on the margin is endorsed, “A new one given 14th May, 1778."
Colonel Webb was carried to New York, but in common with most of the American officers on parole, was dissatisfied with the treatment extended to them by the British officers, and at his request was permitted to leave the city, the parole limits not extending beyond Flushing; but this change does not appear to have been a change for the better, for at Flatbush the prisoners were consigned to the custody of Colonel William Axtell and his nephew, Captain Frederick De Peyster, both strong tories. Their command, according to the Reverend Dr. Thomas M. Strong, whose History of Flatbush is the best local authority, “was takon from the lowest ranks, and were mostly persons of bad moral character. The company was called the Nassau Blues, but from their low and generally miserable appearance, were nick-named by the inhabitants the ‘Nasty Blues.'”
The exchange of prisoners was a subject of constant trouble and dissatisfaction, there being for a long period no settled basis of exchange.
Soon after his capture, 29th December, 1777, Colonel Webb addressed a letter to General Washington, informing him of his misfortune and entreating his personal interference to procure a special exchange. He named Lieutenat Colonel Campbell as a fit subject for exchange. Naturally this application failed, the general properly observing that there were “several officers now in captivity with the Enemy of your Rank, taken at Three Rivers in 1775, at Long Island, Fort Washington and Germantown.” “So far as Exchanges have depended on me, or as they may rest with me," said the general in his reply of January 8, 1778, “ they have been, and ever will be,