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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 gwords will reach them, they shall fall with us. It is no 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.
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.
Will Colonel Grant believe now, that New England men dare look Regulars in the face ? Eighteen hundred of their best men retreating with loss, before one-third of their number, seems almost incredible; and I think must be called an omen for good. In every struggle Heaven has, as yet, given us strength equal to the days; its hand is not shortened, nor its arm weakened.
We are now called upon to show the world “that whom we call fathers did beget us," and that we desire to enjoy the blessings they purchased for us with their lives and fortunes. We fix on our Standards and Drums, the Colony Arms, with the motto, “qui transtulit sustinet,” round it in letters of gold; which we construe thus: “God, who transplanted us hither, will support us.”
From recollections of the Connecticut Historical Society.
A letter from Capt. John Chester, written from the Camp at Cambridge, July 22d, gives a general account of the battle, and a more particular one of “his own concern in it, with that of his company.” This letter was first printed (from the original in the editor's possession) by Mr. Frothingham, in the Appendix to his “History of the Siege of Boston," pp. 389–391.
In the Courant of July 31st, 1775, “ A friend to Truth” calls attention to the distinguished services of “Major John Chester of Wethersfield, now Captain of a Company in General Spencer's Regiment, and Lieut. Samuel B. Webb, who marched up to the lines with their men, and re-enforced the troops; [and who] by their undaunted behavior, and timely and vigorous assistance, it is universally agreed, are justly entitled to the grateful acknowledgments of their Country.”
From [recollections of the Connecticut Historical Society.
An “Extract of a letter from Wethersfield, to a gentleman in Philadelphia, dated June 22, 1775," giving some account of the battle, “ gathered by letters from the camp,” is printed in Am. Archives, 4th s. ii. 1060. The writer was, probably, Joseph Webb, brother of Samuel B. He says : “ Captain Chester writes me, that before it was possible for him to get there, the battle had
begun in earnest,” &c. “Chester and my brother were both in the engagement;” “My brother says “we were obliged to retreat to Prospect Hill,'" &c.
AMERICAN ARCHIVES, 4TH SERIES, VOL. 2, PAGE 1062. be andines Extract of a letter from Lieut. Sam’l B. Webb, to his brother, a kis tuis S. Mr. Joseph Webb of Weathersfield. 3. w ?
CAMBRIDGE, June 22, 1775. Last Friday night a detachment from our Army began an intrenchment on an eminence below Bunker Hill, about a mile to the northward of the centre of the Town of Charlestown,
The enemy appeared to be much alarmed on Saturday morning, when they discovered our operations; and immediately began a heavy cannonading from a battery on Copp's Hill, Boston, and from the ships in the harbour.
Our people, with little loss, continued to carry on the works till one o'clock, P. M., on Saturday; when they discovered a large body of the enemy crossing Charles River from Boston.
They landed on a point of land about a mile eastward of our intrenchment, and immediately disposed their Army for an attack; previous to which they set fire to the Town of Charlestown..
It is supposed the enemy intended to attack us under cover of the smoke from the burning houses, the wind favouring them in such a design; while on the other side, their Army was extended northward towards Mistick River, with an apparent design of surrounding our men within the works, and of cutting off any assistance intended for their relief.
They were, however, in some measure, counteracted in this design, and drew their Army into close order.
As the enemy approached, our men were not only exposed to the attack of a very numerous musketry, but to the heavy fire of the battery on Copp's Hill, four or five men-of-war, several armed boats or floating batteries in Mistick River, and a number of fieldpieces. Notwithstanding this, our Troops within the intrenchment, and at a breastwork without, sustained the enemy's attacks with real bravery and resolution, killed and wounded great numbers, and repulsed them several times; and after bearing for about two
hours as severe and heavy a fire as perhaps ever was known, and
Our loss, from the best information we can obtain, does not
The Town of Charlestown, supposed to contain about three hundred dwelling-houses, a great number of which were large and elegant, besides one hundred and fifty or two hundred other buildings, is almost all laid in ashes.
The enemy yet remain in possession of Charlestown, and have erected works for their defence on Bunker Hill.
It is said they have brought over some of their Light-horse from Boston. Our troops continue in high spirits. They are fortifying a very high hill about a mile and a half from this Town, and within cannon-shot of the enemy on Bunker Hill.
From Joseph Webb to Silas Deane.
For fear you may not have the particulars, I will endeavour in
Last Friday afternoon orders were issued for about eighteen hundred of the Provincial Troops, and two hundred of the Connecticut, to parade themselves at six o'clock, with one day's provision, equipped with packs, blankets, &c.
Their orders were given at nine o'clock, and they marched with their teams, trenching tools, &c., on Bunker's Hill, to heave up an intrenchment, which you are sensible is near the water, ships, &c. They worked most surprisingly that night, and were discovered at sunrise by a sailor from the mast-head.
The British Army commenced a heavy fire from Copp's Hill, near Cutter's Church, in Boston, and from all the ships which could be brought to play; which continued till near night. About one o'clock, A. M., the Americans at Cambridge, heard that the Regulars were landing from their floating batteries. The alarm