June 19, 1776

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In Canada, Benedict Arnold notifies General John Sullivan of his garrison’s successful movement out of Montreal, along with some spirits and molasses seized in that town.

In Boston Harbor an armed Connecticut vessel along with several schooners seize two British ships and take 200 sailors prisoner.

Captain Charles Pond wrote the following letter to General George Washington:  I have the Pleasure of Informing His Excellency of our taking two Prises one A Ship of 250 Tons Burthen the Sloop 35 Tons Bound to Sandy hook the Ship from Glasgow with one Compy of the 42d Regt Who was taken by one of Admiral Hopkins’s fleet who took the Soldiers on Board & Sent the Ship for Rhode Island Soon after was Taken by the Cerberus Frigate & Sent her under Convoy of the Above Sd Sloop for Sandy hook. Remaining on Board the Ship 5 Commission’d officers with 2 Ladies & 4 Privates, Prisoners Total 20.  Stores on Board the Ship Crawford 13 tierces of Beef 11 Do of Pork, 3000 Wt of Bread 4 Puncheons of Rum, 100 barrels of Coal, 10 firkins of Butter 1 Cask of Cheese.  On Board the Sloop 15 Cask of Molasses 2 Chests of Dry Goods 1 Tierce & 1 Barrel of Cags of Powder 1 Case of flints, Some Salt Petre.  The Ship is part of the way In the Inlet but at Present is Aground Pray Send Direction About the Prisoners as I am Short handed.”

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June 16, 1776

george-washington-writing-at-his-desk-by-candlelightIn Quebec, Canada, Benedict rnold’s men fought a rear guard action against the British and continued their retreat.

General Washington writes to General Schuyler regarding numerous matters:  “The Account of Mr Deane is variant from Col. Kirkland’s, but Yet they both seem to agree in the most material Point, Vizt That some Parts of our Frontiers are to feel the Effects of the Savage Resentment which the Friends of Government have been industrously trying to call forth against Us. You have done well in Your Message to the six Nations; the sooner a Conference can be held the better, & I think the most Vigorous Exertions necessary to secure a Post as You mention where Fort Stanwix formerly stood, & below that, as intimated in my last—If You can Effect these, I am hopefull all their Attempts in that Quarter will be unavailing.

I have ordered a Ton of Powder, half a Ton of Lead, five Thousand Flints, some Cannon, Intrenching Tools & a Dozen Whip Saws & files to be immediately sent You, which You will receive in two or three Days, with a List of them & Every other Article sent from hence at this Time.  I have inclosed You Copy of an Invoice of Goods now in the Hands of Mr Robert Henry in Albany, which he offered the Quarter Master Genl this Week on moderate Terms, as the Quarter Master informs Me—It certainly will be proper that You purchase them or such of them, as will suit the Army in Canada, & It will be less troublesome & expensive than sending Articles from hence, supposing they can be procured. I wish You to get Every Thing You want & that Can be had Either in Albany or Its Vicinity rather than to send here for them, I am really so immersed in Buisiness & have such a Variety of Things to attend to, That I scarcely know which way to turn Myself, Perhaps if You make a strict Inquiry, You may Obtain not only more Goods, but Other Necessaries.  The Indians are here, just returned from Philadelphia—I will communicate to them Your Wishes for their Return & Give Direction that Every Mark of Respect be shewn them by those who go with them.  I have requested the Paymaster, to procure, if possible, as Much hard Money as will discharge Mr Blake’s Claim.  How he will succeed I cannot tell; If he can get It, It shall be forwarded as soon as a proper Conveyance can be had. In Regard to a Person to superintend the Building of Gondolas & other Carpenters to carry on the Work I refer You to my Letter of the 9th & shall only add, that they cannot be now had, Every one Qualified for the Buisiness being Employed here.  The Intelligence contained in General Sullivan’s Letter is extremely pleasing & I sincerely wish his most sanguine Hopes may be more than answered. If the Affection of the Canadians can be Engaged & he seems to have no Doubt of It, It will be of much Importance & probably the Means of our retreiving our Misfortunes in that Quarter.  I find from General Arnold’s Letter to General Sullivan, Col. Bedel, Majr Butterfield & Captn Young are gone to the Sorel for Trial.9 If their Conduct was as bad & Infamous as represented, It will surely meet with an Exemplary Punishment. Men who will not discharge the Duty they owe their Country from Principle, must be influenced to It by Other Motives, or at least prevented from betraying our most Valuable Rights by a Cowardly & disgraceful Behaviour.

Inclosed You have an Extract of a Letter I received by last Nights Post from General Ward, from which we may reasonably Conjecture that the rest of the Transports which sailed with the One taken, will not be long before they arrive10—It seems Evident they expected to find General Howe at Boston & I am hopefull some Others under this Idea will fall into our Hands. There are also Accounts in Town of two or three Valuable Prizes more being taken to the Eastward, one with several light Cannon, Another a West India Man homeward bound with a Quantity of Dollars & sugars—But I fear, tho’ the Accounts seem particular, that they want Confirmation, as General Ward mentions Nothing of them.”

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May 10, 1776

Congress recommends to the colonial assemblies and conventions, “Where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs have ben hitherto established, to adapt such government as shall best conduct to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and Americas in general.”

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In Rhode Island, John Paul Jones is appointed to command USS Providence.

The Commissioners from Canada (Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Chase, Charles Carroll) inform Congress of a defeat in Montreal  (original spellings retained):  “By Col: Campbell, who arrived here early this morning from Quebeck, we are informed that two men of war, two Frigates and one Tender arrived there early on monday the 6th. instant about eleven o’clock the enemy sallied out, to the number, as is supposed, of one thousand men. Our forces were so dispersed at different posts, that not more than two hundred could be collected together at Head Quarters; this small force could not resist the enemy: all our cannon, five hundred muskets, and about two hundred sick unable to come off have fallen into their hands. The retreat, or rather flight was made with the utmost precipitation and confusion; however Col: Campbell informs us, that he imagines we have lost very few men except the sick abovementioned. Genl. Thomas was last Thursday evening at De Chambeau; at a Council of war it was determined by eleven to three to retreat to the mouth of the Sorel: this day Genl. Arnold goes down here; and if he can get information of the enemy’s real strength and it should be found inconsiderable, perhaps a council of war on reconsideration, may think proper to march the army back to Dechambeau, which is now strengthened by Col: Gratton’s, Burrels, and Sinclair’s regiments. Besides the above losses, one batteau loaded with powder, supposed to contain thirty barrels, and an armed vessel, which the Crew were obliged to abandon, were intercepted by one of the enemy’s frigates. We are afraid it will not be in our power to render our Country any farther services in this Colony: if our army should maintain possession of any considerable part of this country, it will be absolutely necessary to keep some power to controul the military.”

General Lee writes to General Washington from Williamsburg, Virginia:  “My command (as you may easily conceive) is extremely perplexing from the consideration of the vast extent of vulnerable parts of this Country intersected by such a variety of navigable waters, and the expedition with which the Enemy (furnish’d with canvass Wings) can fly from one spot to another—had We arms for the Minute Men and half a dozen good field Engineers—We might laugh at their efforts—but in this article (like the rest of the Continent) We are miserably deficient—Engineers We have but two—and They threaten to resign as it is impossible that They shou’d subsist on a more wretched pittance than Common Carpenters or Brickl[ay]ers can earn—I have written to the Congress intreating ’em to augment the pay—a word from you, woud, I make no doubt, effect it—I wish, My Dr General, You woud send me Capt. Smith on condition the Congress make it worth his while, otherwise I have not the conscience to propose it—I am well pleas’d with your Officers in general, and the Men are good, some Irish Rascals excepted—I have form’d two Companies of Grenadiers to each Regt arm’d with spears of thirteen feet long—their Rifles (for they are all Rifle Men) slung over their Shoulders—their appearance is formidable and the Men are conciliated to the weapon—I am likewise furnishing myself with four ounc’d Rifled Amusets which will carry an infernal distance—the two ounc’d hit a half sheet of Paper at five hundred yards distance—so much for military—a noble spirit possesses the Convention—They are almost unanimous for independence but differ in their sentiments about the mode—two days will decide it—I have the pleasure to inform you that I am extremely well in the opinion of the senatorial part as well as of the People at large—God send me the grace to preserve it—but their Neighbours of Maryland (I mean their council of safety) make a most damnable clamour (as I am inform’d) on the subject of a letter I wrote to the Chairman of the Committee of Baltimore to seize the person and papers of Mr Eden upon the discovery which was communicated to me of his treacherous correspondence with the Secretary of State—it was a measure not only justifiable in the eyes of Gods and Men, but absolutely necessary—the Committee of safety here are indeed as deep in the scrape as myself—the Congress must, and will, I dare say support and vindicate the measure Capt. Greer and his party are upon their March as you order’d, I was a damn’d Blockhead for bringing ’em so far—as their accounts will be intricate—but I hope not so intricate as not to be unriddled—I send you an account of the Money I advanc’d to the different Officers—to Capts. Smith Lunt and Greer—I have taken the liberty to appoint a Serjt Denmark, of the Rifle Battalion to do duty as Ensign—He is a Man of worth and I beg you will confirm his commission—another Serjt of the same Battalion I have promoted to the rank of second Lt in the Artillery of this Province—He is a German—his name Holmer and very deserving—if little Eustace cannot be provided for with you—I cou’d wish if there is a cheap method of doing it, You wou’d send him to me—as I have it in my power to place him and quite doat upon him9—my love to Mrs Washington Gates and her bad half—to Moyland—but Palfrey is a Scoundrel for not writing adieu, My Dr General…”

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May 7, 1776

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In Wilmington, Delaware, thirteen Pennsylvania galley attacked the British warships HMS Roebuck and HMC Liverpool.  Both sides suffered minimal damage.  The American fleet forced the British to withdraw.

Benedict Arnold wrote to George Washington to discuss the difficulties he was facing in Canada:  “Your favour of the 3d April I received a few days since & should have Answered by the last Post but was obliged to go to Chambly to give Directions about some Gondeloes building there. I heartily Congratulate you, on the success of your Arms against Boston & am sorry it is not in my power to give you a more pleasing Accot of our Affairs in this Country, which wear no very favourable aspect at present. Genl Thomas arrived here about [      ] days since & has joined the Army before Quebec. General Wooster is disgusted & expected here daily. Our Army Consists of few more than Two thousand Effective Men, & twelve hundred sick & unfit for duty chiefly with the small Pox which is universal in the Country. We have very little Provs. No Cash, & less Credit & until the arrival of the heavy Cannon & two Mortars from Cambridge Our Artillery has been triffling; the Mortars I expect will reach Camp tomorrow & shells can be supplied from three Rivers. I hope they will have the desired Effect. the want of Cash has greatly retarded Our Opperations in this Country. We are fortifying two very Important Posts which Command the River at Richilieu, fifteen Leagues above Quebec and at Jacques Cartier which commands a pass between two Mountains eleven Leagues above Quebec: If succours should arrive before we can possess ourselves of Quebec I hope we shall be able to Maintain these two Posts until a reinforcement Arrives to our Assistance, which we are told are on their way here. these are the only Posts that secure the River, until you approach near Montreal and of so much consequence, that Nothing but superiour numbers will oblige us to abandon them.  I have mounted three 24 Pounders on a Gundaloe & Armed several Battoes, which go down the River tomorrow. these with a schooner mounting Ten Guns & a Gundaloe Mounting One twelve Pounder are all the Force we have in the River. four other Gondaloes are building at Chambly calculated to Mount three heavy pieces of Cannon. but will not be compleated these two weeks. tomorrow I set off for the Army with no very Agreable prospects before me. should the enemy receive any considerable reinforcement soon, I make no Doubt, we shall have our hands full. at any rate we will do all that can be expected from Raw Troops, badly cloathed and fed, & worse paid, & without Dicipline. & trust the event to Providence. We have received advice that the 8th Regt of about 400 Men with a number of Savages are coming down from the Upper Countries. I have Posted 500 Men at the Cedars a Narrow pass 15 Leagues above this place. they have two pieces Cannon & well entrenched by which the Enemy must pass.”

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April 12, 1776

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In North Carolina, the Provincial Congress empowers its delegates to the Continental Congress to concur with delegates from other colonies in declaring independence.  They are the first colony to do so.

In Montreal, General Benedict Arnold leaves Quebec to take command.

John Adams writes to Joseph Palmer, in Boston.  “We begin to make some little Figure here in the Naval Way. Captn. Barry was fitted out here a few days ago in a sixteen Gun Brig, and put to sea by the Roebuck Man of War which lies in Delaware River, and after he got without the Capes fell in with a Tender belonging to the Liverpool Man of War, and took her after an Engagement of two Glasses.1 She had 8 Cariage Guns and a Number of Swivells. One Thing remarkable is that four of her Guns are marked Liverpool, which shows that Guns are not very plenty with them otherwise the Liverpool would not have Spared any Part of hers.  I long to hear what Fortifications are preparing for Boston Harbour. I cant but Think that Row Gallies would be of excellent Use. They might dodge about behind the Islands in that Harbour and into shoal Water, in such a Manner, that the Weight of their Metal, and the Certainty of their Shots, and the Place, between Wind and Water, at which They would be levell’d, would render them terrible to large ships. Fire, carried upon Rafts and in Small Vessels, I should think would be very troublesome to those Gentry. I cannot bear the Thought of their ever getting into Boston again, or into that Harbour. I would willingly contribute my share that indeed would be but little towards any Expence, nay I would willingly go and work myself upon the Fortifications if that was necessary.  Where will the Cloud burst next? Are they gone to Hallifax? Will they divide their Force? Can they do that with safety? Will they attempt Quebec? or will they come to N. York? or will they come to Philadelphia or go farther south, to Virginia, or one of the Carolinas? which I sometimes Suspect is more probable than any other Supposition, will they linger out the Summer in Hallifax, like Lord Loudoun and themselves, fighting Mock Battles and acting Grubstreet Plays. I should dread this, more than their whole Force applied to my Part of the Continent. I really think this would be the best Game they can play with such a Hand as they have for upon my word I am almost enough elated to boast that We have high, low and Jack in our Hands, and We must be bad Gamesters indeed if We loose the Game.  You and the rest of my Friends are so busy I presume in purifying Boston of small Pox and another Infection which is much more malignant I mean Toryism and I hope in fortifying the Harbour, that I have reconciled myself, to that State of Ignorance, in which I still remain of all the Particulars, discovered in Boston.  Am very desirous of knowing if I could, what Quantities of Salt Petre come in, and what Progress is made in the Manufacture of it, and of Cannon and Musquetts and especially the Powder Mills. Have you Persons who understand the Art of making Powder?”

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February 27, 1776

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In North Carolina, Patriots defeat loyalists at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge.

The Royal Governor, Josiah Martin, had been attempting to create a large Loyalist force, made up of local loyalists as well as Scots settlers, and had permission to raise a regiment that would be known as the Royal Highland Emigrants.  Patriots, on the other hand, had been organizing Continental Army militia units ever since word of the Battles of Lexington and Concord had come to them.   When he became aware of a planned British Army expedition in the area, Governor Martin ordered the Loyalist militia to form in anticipation of their arrival.  Rebels mobilized to prevent this, and blockaded several routes until the Loyalists found themselves forced to confront them at Moore’s Creek Bridge, which is about eighteen miles north of Wilmington.  The Loyalists were poorly armed, but charged across the bridge wielding their swords.  They were met by a barrage of musket fire.  One Loyalist leader was killed and another captured, and the rest of the force ran.  In the following days Loyalists were arrested, and the threat of a large Loyalist regiment was dissipated.

Meanwhile General Benedict Arnold, from Quebec, writes to George Washington regarding army operations.  Dear General – I wrote you the 14th Ulto of Our Situation and prospects, since which nothing of Consequence has Occured, here, The Enemy to the number of abt five hundred have twice Sallied out at Pallace Gate, with Design of seizeing our Field peices, (near the Nunnery) but On Our Troops, Advanceing to Attack them, they made a precipitate retreat, under Cover of their guns—Desertions from the Garrison are frequent by which we learn they are much distres’d for Fuell & must soon Burn their Houses, & Ships—Two Officers taken At St Johns were lately sent with a flagg to the Walls, with a View of geting their familys at liberty, but Were refused admittance, which I am told by several Deserters incensed the Inhabitants very much, and Caused a great uneasiness in the Garrison, who I beleive begin to grow heartily tired of Salt Provissions and Confinement. We have received a reinforcemt, of Four hundred Men, many are daily comeing in I hope in the Course of this month we shall have four Or Five thousand Men—I am fearfull we shall Not be supplied with Shott, Shells Mortars &c. I am therefore prepareing Ladders, for an Assault If necessary—the extensiveness of the works I think will render their Defence impracticable.  I have this minute the Pleasure of your favour of the 27th Ulto, I am greatly Obliged to you for your good wishes, and the Concern, you express for me. Sensable of the Vast Importance of this Country, you may be assured my utmost exertions will not be wanting to effect your wishes, in adding It, to the United Colonies, I am fully of your Opinion, that the Ballance will turn in whose favour it belongs The repeated Successes of Our Raw, undisiplined Troops Over the Flower of the British Army, the many, unexpected and remarkable Occurrences in Our favour Are plain proofs of the Overruleing hand of Providence And Justly Demands Our warmest gratitude to Heaven which I make no Doubt will Crown Our Virtuous efforts with success. No Doubt Administration will exert themselves in sending a large Force this way in the Spring, but if we are fortunate enough to Reduce the City before they arive, I make no Doubt of keeping it, as we shall have the Intrest of the Country in general to which the raiseing Two Regiments of Canadians (which Congress have Ordered) will Not a little Conduce.  I am sorry to inform you Notwithstanding every precaution that could be used the Small Pox has, Crept in among the Troops, we have near One hundred Men in the Hospital, in General it is favourable, very few have died, I have Moved the Inhabitants of the Vicinity of Quebec Into the Country, and hope to prevent it’s spreading Any further.  The Severity of the Climate the Troops, very Illy Clad, & worse paid, the Trouble of Reconceleing matters among the Inhabitants, and Lately, an uneasiness among some of the New York, & other officers, who think themselves neglected In the new Arangement, while, those who deserted the Cause and went home last fall have ben promoted In short the Choice of Difuculties I have had to Encounter has, rendered it so very perplexing that I have often ben at a loss how to Conduct Matters.  As General Schuylers Ill state of health will not permit his Comeing this Way, I was in hopes Genl Lee, or some Experienced Officer, would have ben sent to take the Command here, the Service requires a Person of greater Abilities, and experience, than I can pretend too Genl Wooster writes me his Intention of Comeing Down here, I am afraid he will Not be able to Leave Montreal.  I have the pleasure to inform you my wound is Intirely healed, and I am able to hobble about my Room, tho my leg is a little Contracted & weak. I hope soon to be fit for Action We are waiting, impatiently, expecting to hear of Some Capital Blow, being struck with you

Washington too has hopes that General Philip Schuyler’s health might soon improve enough so that he can provide assistance to Arnold.  “Dear Sir – Last Night I received your Favor of the 14th Instant by Mr Bennet, inclosing a general Return of the Artillery & Military Stores in our possession in Canada.  It gives me great pleasure to hear that you are improving in your Health, before long I sincerely hope you will be so recovered as to be able to go to the Army in Canada, where I am convinced you are much wanted, and wou’d be of the highest Service at this important Crisis; I doubt not of there being a good Deal of Confusion and Disorder in that Quarter: which I flatter myself wou’d in a great Measure subside and be composed by your presence. It is natural enough that Mr Walker’s Resentment should be up for the Wrongs he has suffered; It is incident to Humanity, but yet the passions of Individuals ought never to prevail so far as to injure the State.  I am sorry to find that the Quantity of Artillery and Military Stores is so small and inconsiderable as appears by the Return, I had hoped that you were better provided with the former, and also with much more Ammunition than what you have, particularly powder and that the Distresses no where else were equal to mine for Want of this capital Necessary—Wou’d Fortune but give you possession of Quebec, then wou’d our Wants be mostly supplied—May she smile propitious and your virtuous Struggles be crowned with Success—The Reduction of this Fortress would be attended with Consequences of the most happy and salutary Nature to our great Cause, and as General Arnold with a Handful of Men has been able to maintain the Blockade, I look forward with a pleasing Confidence to the Day when you being properly reinforced will oblige it to surrender.”

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February 22, 1776

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Many members of Congress question New York’s failure to mobilize troops.   The body resolves to request the province to explain what efforts had been made to raise the four battalions for their own defense.  New York has the reputation of having many loyalists.

George Washington writes to General Charles Lee – “Dear Sir – I fully expected by the Two last Posts to have received your favours, with an account of the measures you have been & are pursuing for the defence of New York, & of such Occurrences as you might have thought worthy of Notice; As I did not, nor got several other Letters which I expected, I cannot but suppose, they have been Intercepted at some of the Offices, or by some Accident prevented coming to my hands—I need not mention my Impatience to hear from you, and beg that you will write me by every Opportunity.”  This will become a running theme between the two, as General Lee often chooses to run his command as if it were independent, and to inform Washington of his actions when and if this becomes convenient, or simply can no longer be put off.

Meanwhile, Washington is informed that John English, who was a member of Captain Waterman’s company in Colonel Benedict Arnold’s regiment, had been found guilty in a Court Martial for abandoning his company in order to join another, that of  Colonel Varnum, evidently in order to receive double pay.  It is ordered that he receive ten lashes, which General Washington approves.

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