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was sounded, and they were ordered down to the breastwork at
Chester and my brother, were both in the engagement.
They re-enforced our men who had left the breastwork in fine order, though they passed through the cannonading of the ships, bombs, chain-shot, ring-shot, &c.; but then the enemy's superior number of artillery and men (for they were three to one,) forced our men to retreat, after a warm engagement of an hour and a half.
Thank Heaven, but few of our men fell, considering the advantages they had over us,—our men being much fatigued with working at the intrenchmeuts, and I believe not in the best preparation to meet an enemy.
The British Troops, to their eternal disgrace, shame, and barbarity, set Charlestown on fire with torches.
My brother Sam says, “we were obliged to retreat to Prospect Hill, (alias Winter Hill,) where we made a stand, and declared we would all die, before we would retreat any farther; but the British Troops did not think fit to come out from under the protection of their shipping. The loss of Americans is supposed to be, of wounded, missing, and slain, about one hundred and twenty.
“A large genteel, well dressed gentleman, who first mounted our breastwork, was overset by one of our impudent Americans; who took so good aim as to prevent his ever mounting another, as he tumbled him into the intrenchment just as he cried, the day is our own.' We greatly rejoice to hear of the coming of the good, the brave, and great George Washington; and shall receive him with open arms.
The following letter, written to Silas Deane, at the age of twenty, exhibits a precociousness which appears to have been characteristic of the men who achieved our independence.
Samuel B. Webb to Silas Deane. Gorm. tist, door
WETHERSFIELD, Monday Evening, Octo'r 10, 1774.
DEAR SIR:-By my Brother's letter from you, per Jemmy, 1187
this evening, I notice you mention my not writing you, since my
leaving Philadelphia; but I have frequently heard that a man without any business, is the most busy man in the world. This I give as one reason why I have not written you since my return. But the principal reason is truly this,—that my brother, as I suppose, had given you all such intelligence as would be necessary, amusing, or worth paying postage for. But as it seems you desire I should write, I risk the chance of its being acceptable or amusing, and wish I may find anything to say that may meet with the wished-for approbation,—and I take this early opportunity, for fear I may not have leisure again between this and next post.
My continual uneasiness and anxiety on account of my Sisters, who are now in Boston, has determined me to pay them a visit, and if some unforeseen incident does not prevent, I intend setting off the last of this week. I shall take Newport, Providence, &c., in my way; and will, if anything new or interesting occurs, write you from each place; but more particularly, from the present seat of noise and confusion-say Boston; the true situation of it and of the fortifications which are now erecting at the only entrance of that large capital. My brother seems more at ease about our sisters, than you, (by your letter) or I do. May all his conjectures be right. That “they are as safe there as here,” is my most fervent wish; but much I fear. On the first hostility, such as blood shed by the Troops in Boston, this Colony will most undoubtedly, be immediately under arms and march for Boston. The Light Infantry at Middletown, to which I for two years belonged, have now a very fine stand of arms which I purchased for them in New York, on my return home from Philadelphia. They have given me an invitation to make one of their number, should any emergency demand their appearance in the field; which, with my whole heart I shall readily accept, if occasion offers. But Heaven forbid we may ever arrive at such an unhappy Crisis! But all have drawn their arms; and myself among the rest.
On my return, I personally waited on Mr. Davenport at. Stamford, and upon the Selectmen of every Town which I passed through, in that county; and have the pleasure to inform you, that the Spirit of Liberty, which has so long been buried in silence, seems now to rear its head. Fairfield has had a meeting, and entered into good and spirited resolves; and they are now collecting grain for Boston. Greenwich, I am informed, and Stratford, are doing the same;—the latter I am uncertain of. Mobs, which I fancy you judge ruinous to all good government, will be opposed by every true Son of Liberty in this Colony. Other methods may be adopted more effectual to quiet our very few remaining enemies. A reason, and I think a very good one, is given, that all such riots should be stop'd in their first growth, viz., “A day may come, and in all probability soon will, unless a redress of our grievances can be obtained, that we may be as destitute of all Law and Civil Government, as Massachusetts now is.” Then, if mobs are allowed to take hold of persons and private property, dissensions will follow; and we soon should be, instead of a United, a broken Body. These are the principles our warmest friends adopt; and as I before hinted, I think them sound.
Our Assembly met on Thursday of this week. Many plans, &c., &c., are formed for our Militia; the best I have seen is by Mr. Hosmer, with, I suppose, the help of some military genius of that, town; and he strongly wish'd you to meet him there, to push forward the plan. Some few remonstrances I hear, are to be thrown in; but I hope not to be noticed. Permit me, Dear Sir, to ask whether a letter from Col. Dyer, Mr. Sherman and yourself, on this subject, to some of your friends, Members of the Assembly, or the Council, &c., (as there is not a possibility of your being present), would not be of service ? I am not the only one that thinks it would. But as I am a young, and consequently, an inexperienced politician, I shall for the present, drop the subject, and leave it to better judges and more experienced men; tho' young as I am, [twenty,] I shall ever maintain my principles; which I think, are justly fixed.
Letters, which you mention to have sent by a private hand to New York, for the Thursday's Post, are not yet come to hand; I hope not stopp'd by but I think not improbable, as all parties are on the lookout. The safest conveyance seems to be by post. Should anything new come to hand, I shall mention it.
My most respectful compliments await on the gentlemen of the family,—Mr. House, Mrs. Trist, and Miss Levy. To Mr. Furguson I shall write—“ The most Important Man,"—if time before
I am, with most dutiful respects, Dear Sir, Your very affectionate friend and most humble servt., SAM'L B. WEBB.
WEDNESDAY, 12th. By Mr. Belding, who goes on to the
SAM'L B. WEBB.
Silas Deane to Sam'l B. Webb.
2 Folio 38 TUESDAY MORNING, Hartford, April 25, 1775. DEAR SAMMY:– I received your Favors, and the express wait
ing have Time to write but a word. All are as well here as people sar
can be, who are so anxious for the Fate of their Country & Friends;
to be with you, immediately after the rising of the Assembly. _I &c. fear you will march too fast; be calm, patient, Petermined ; and re
member the Dignity of your Character; which is no less than the
il ) Roman
Silas Deane to L’t. S. B. Webb.
PHILADELPHIA, June 29th, 1775. DEAR SAM'L:- I wrote you this Day acknowledging yours of the 7th & 12th instant. Mr. John Adams wrote a Letter to you
by the same, and inclosed one to his Friend, Canil theskington, recommending you to his Notice. These I trust you have received.
Gen’l Gates, a long experienced officer, now joins you, and es does me the Favour of giving you This. I have spoke of you to
this Gentleman, and now urge it upon you, to regard whatever
I am, Dear Sam,
S. DEANE. If you can see, or send to Your Sister, * tell her my heart bleeds gray for her every hour. may obtain if possible, her Dismission from
that Devoted Town & a safe residence in the Country. I am hur- ye le ried beyond measure in Congress, and in keeping up my extensive
Correspondence; but will soon write you at large. By no means form such Connections, either in the Country or Camp, as will tond in any respect, to Draw you from Your
Puty in Camp. 'lo.
Silas Deane to Major Samʼl B. Webb.
PHILADELPHIA, July 16, 1775. DEAR SAM'L:—The Bearer Mr. Chas. Craig, is a Lieut. in a Comp’y of Riflemen, & he being a Stranger in the Army, I recommend to you to Notice, and introduce to the Gentlemen of your Corps; which I am sure you will take the greate* pleasure in / doing, as he comes to share with you the common danger of your S/ glorious exertions in our Common Cause; and indeed the Cause of Mankind in general. I have received no letter in
answer to any of mine, tho’ I have wrote by every opportunity since the departure of Gen'l Washington, as well as previous thereto. This makes me conclude your Letters must have miscarried; for I never can be
* The sister alluded to was Mrs. Simpson, subsequently Mrs. Barrell, whose husband was extensively engaged in commerce, in Boston; and who, after the affair at Lexington, was not permitted to leave the city. He died in Boston wbile occupied by the British ; and his widow subsequently married Joseph Barrell, a distinguished merchant of Boston, of the firm of Barrell & Gray. It was one of their vessels, commanded by Capt. Gray, which discovered the mouth of the Columbia River; and upon that discovery, was based our claim to Oregon and the Northwest; which claim was confirmed by Treaty with Spain, and our title recognized to latitude 49° north.