April 26, 1776


Cotton Tufts writes to John Adams about matters in Boston, and informs him of how the British attempted to ensnare General Washington but failed:  “The General’s Sagacity and Prudence was shewn in a very striking Light, in one Affair; which was reported here from good Authority and which I suppose to be true. For some Days before Bunker Hill was deserted, scarce any Soldiers were seen in the Fort. No Smokes from their Barracks and only here and there a Centinel. This led our Soldiers to imagine the Enemy had deserted it. Applications were dayly made and Petitions presented to the General that a Party might go and take Possession of it. To these He would by no Means consent. On the Day and Day before they left Boston 900 Men were seen to march out of it. This Fort is an almost impregnable one—a Security against 10,000 Veterans.”

Thomas Jefferson’s boyhood friend, John Page, writes to him of events in Virginia.  “I have snatched a few Moments to scribble you a few loose Thoughts on our present critical Situation. I think our Countrymen have exhibited an uncommon Degree of Virtue, not only in submiting to all the hard Restrictions and exposing themselves to all the Dangers which are the Consequence of the Disputes they are involved in with Great Britain, but in behaving so peaceably and honestly as they have when they were free from the Restraint of Laws. But how long this may be the Case who can tell? When to their Want of Salt there shall be added a Want of Clothes and Blankets and when to this there may be added the Terrors of a desolating War raging unchecked for Want of Arms and Ammunition, who can say what the People might not do in such a Situation, and tempted with the Prospect of Peace Security and a Trade equal to their wishes? Might they not be induced to give up the Authors of their Misfortunes, their Leaders, who had lead them into such a Scrape, and be willing to sacrifice them to a Reconciliation? I think therefore it behoves the Congress and Conventions to prevent this as much as possible. Every Method that can be devised for the manufacturing of Salt, Salt-petre, Sulphur, Gun-powder, Arms Wollens and Linens should be immediately adopted; and because these Articles can not in several Colonies be made quick enough for their demand, some sure Means of importing them should be instantly fallen upon, and as no Means can be so certain and can so fully answer our Purpose, as forming a commercial Alliance with France, no Time should be lost in doing so. And to prevent Disorders in each Colony a Constitution should be formed as nearly resembling the old one as Circumstances, and the Merit of that Constitution will admit of. And it is undoubtedly high Time that a Plan of a Confederation should be drawn and indeed compleatly executed. These Things should be done without loseing a Moment.  Would you believe it, that we have not yet erected one Powder Mill at the public Expence, and that the only one which has received any Encouragement from the Public has made but about 700 ℔ and that I have not been able to procure the least Assistance from the Committee for Bucktrout’s hand-Mill, except their selling him about 400 ℔ of Salt-petre of the Shops half dirt and common Salt for which they demand 3/ per ℔, although his Mill is an elegant Machine and 2 Men can work it with ease, beating with 6 Pestles weighing 60 ℔s. each in Mortars containing 20 ℔s. of Paste, and he has actually beat 120 ℔. of Powder in them and grained 40 ℔. which has been used in proving Cannon &c. and which was found to be strong and good under every disadvantage of want of Sieves and being made with bad Sulphur and Nitre.”

Meanwhile George Washington writes to Jonathan Trumball, telling him that, by sending troops to Canada, he has put his army in a vulnerable position.  “When you did me the honor of a visit at Norwich in my way to this place, I communicated to you the recommendation I had received from Congress for sending four Battalions from hence to reinforce our Troops in Canada. I now beg leave to inform you that, in compliance therewith, on Saturday and Sunday last, I detached four Regiments thence under the command of Brigadier General Thompson, and by an Express received last night am ordered by Congress, in addition to those already gone, to send immediately six more—Our Regiments being incomplete and much wanting in numbers, I need not add, that the Army here felt a sensible diminution from this first detachment, and when the second is gone will be weak indeed, considering the importance of this place and the many extensive Posts which must be guarded for its defence, add to this almost the whole of our valuable Ordnance, Stores and Magazines will be deposited here. For these reasons it appears expedient that some mode should be adopted without loss of time, by this your and the Jersey Governments for throwing in immediate succours upon the appearance of the Enemy or any case of emergency. I have wrote to the Congress of New Jersey upon the Subject, praying that such regulations should be formed respecting their Militia (as they are the only resource we have) that assistance may be had on the earliest notice of an approach by the Enemy, for preventing those fatal and alarming consequences which might result from the common and slow method generally used for obtaining their aid; and would take the liberty of mentioning, that, if something of this sort should be done by you and your Honorable Council respecting your Militia or such part of them as are most contiguous to this place, the most salutary ends might be derived therefrom—The benefits flowing from a timely succour being too obvious for repetition, I shall propose, with all possible deference, for your consideration, whether it will not be advisable to have some select Corps of Men appointed under proper Officers in the Western parts of your Government to repair hither, on notice from the General here, of the appearance of an Enemy— If it should be thought necessary upon an emergency, in the first instance to resort to you before any succour could be ordered in, it is to be feared that the relief would be too late to answer any good purposes.”

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