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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 by my father to his brother, Joseph Webb; but cannot be found.
BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL.
Friottingham's Baitu full
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 me 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. He 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. Mifflen, 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 Breastwork, 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 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
Capt. Chester is in a fair way to be appointed a Brigade
Major Mifflin being very observing with his glass, has been
I beg you to write me particularly, whenever you have leisure.
Sam’L B. WEBB.
CAMBRIDGE, July 11, 1775. ,2874
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 didto 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.