July 7, 1776

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John Hancock sends the Declaration of Independence to the New York Convention meeting in White Plains with a letter that closes, “The important consequences to the American States from this Declaration of Independence, considered as the ground and foundation of a future government, will naturally suggest the propriety of proclaiming it in such a manner that the people may be universally informed of it.”  He sends the same letter to Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

At a conference at Fort Pitt, a Mingo chief, just returned from a meeting at Niagara, advised the Virginians and Pennsylvanians that the Indians did not wish to fight, but would prevent either the English or the Americans from crossing their lands.

In Crown Point, New York, General Philip Schuyler withdraws his Northern Army and moves toward Ticonderoga.

In New York, George Washington writes to New York’s Governor Trumbull, “The situation of our affairs calls aloud for the most vigorous exertions and nothing else will be sufficient to avert the impending blow.  General Howe has already about 10,000 men.”

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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 31, 1776

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Expresses are sent from Christ Church Parish in South Carolina to warn authorities in Charlestown that a large British fleet has been observed of Dewees Island, about twenty miles north.

Meanwhile, General Schuyler writes to George Washington:  “I learn with particular Satisfaction that Congress has requested your Attendance to advise with them on the Measures necessary to be adopted for the present Campaign—I foresee many salutary Consequences from this Step.  Altho’ I have transmitted you some farther disagreeable Accounts from Canada since the Date of your Favor, yet I hope they will be the last—By a Letter from General Thompson, I find he was ordered to reposses himself of Dechambault, with 1600 Men, and that he was to leave Sorrel (where General Thomas was arrived) on the 20th—He laments however that Colonel Greaton’s Regiment had been innoculated for the small pox. An Hour after I had dispatched my last of the 28th thirteen of our staunch Friends the Oneidas arrived here, with a Speech from the Sachems, informing me that some of the six Nations had gone from Niagara in Order to join our Enemies, and that they were on their way to Canada, to prevent the Defection of the Canadian Tribes—They remained here a few Hours & then proceeded.  This Morning thirty Carpenters left this to repair to Skenesborough, by the way of Ticonderoga in Order to construct Gundaloes, altho’ Nothing is prepared for building them—I hope nevertheless to finish one in a short Time, at least I will do every Thing in my power to compleat it the soonest possible, and for that purpose, I shall leave this to Morrow to put all in Train—Since General Sullivan’s Departure I have finished sixty Batteaus, nor shall I cease until I am advised by your Excellency, that no more Troops are coming this way.  I wish a person that understood the Construction of the best Gundaloes was sent up Express to me, for altho’ they should not be able to get down the Falls of Chamblé, yet they will be of Service on Lake Champlain should our Army be obliged to retreat—The Vessels we have there (except the Royal Savage) are of very little Force.  Inclose your Excellency my Orders to Colonel Dayton his Letters and other papers relative to the Transaction in John’s Town: Mr Yates the Secretary of Indian affairs will transmit you the Speeches of the Indians and the Answers to them.  I am just informed that General Thomas has taken the small pox, is at Chamblé, and rather in a dangerous way.  I have not yet had any Return from Canada either of the Army, the provisions or Stores, nor the least Information from any Officer in Command of the Disaster that befel Colonel Bedel at the Cedars; but I fear it is too true, as it is confirmed by several persons arrived since I wrote this Letter, who left Montreal on Sunday the 26th.  I am informed by persons of good Credit that about one hundred persons, living on what are commonly called the New Hampshire Grants, have had a Design to sieze me as a Tory, and perhaps still have—There never was a Man so infamously scandalized and ill-treated as I am, and I hope Congress will publickly do me that Justice, which I thank your Excellency for having done me in your Letter of the 21st—If that respectable Body is convinced (of which I make no Doubt) of my Zeal and Attachment to the Cause of my injured Country.”

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May 24, 1776

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After conferring with General Washington, Horatio Gates, and Thomas Mifflin, Congress votes to inform the commanding officer in Canada to “contest every foot of the ground” and especially prevent the enemy from ascending the St. Lawrence River.

Regarding Canada, General Washington wrote to General Schuyler:  “Inclose your Excellency an Estimate of the Men necessary to be employed in transporting and guarding the provisions between Albany and Canada, but if Flour can be procured there, nearly one half of the Number of Men mentioned for the Batteau Service may be dispensed with, when a considerable Stock is laid in, but even then I shall not have Numbers sufficient with Van Schaick’s and Wynkoop’s to clear Wood Creek cut the Roads, repair Tyconderoga, and do the Variety of Work necessary in this Quarter, I must therefore beg for a Reinforcement.1

Two Mohawk Indians came on the 21st to the Landing at the North End of Lake George and after enquiring what News, and where the commanding officer at Tyconderoga kept they said they were going to see him, but they soon took another Rout to the Westward—We suppose these to be some of the Indians who went with Sir John Johnson, we have small scouting parties out, but if we should discover them we are unable to send after them, as we have so few Men here.

Mr McNeil, who left St John’s on Friday last informs me that the 8th Regiment, and a Number of Indians were coming down the St Lawrence, and that a Reinforcement was ordered to Colonel Bedel, who is at the Cedars, and that Warner’s Green Mountain Boys were also to go up there.  As Tyconderoga is to be repaired an Engineir will be wanted, and none is to be procured here.  Having not received a Line from Mr Price to advise me of what Flour can be procured in Canada, I have thought it expedient, least the Army should suffer, to order up a Quantity: about three hundred Barrels are gone on since the 13th Instant & 1191 of pork, 115 of which reached St John’s on the 17th in the Morning and I believe about a like Quantity arrived there on each of the four succeeding Days, so that all my Fears of the army’s Starving are vanished.  I have this afternoon experienced a very severe Fit of the ague—I was in Hopes it had taken its Farewell for this Season—I shall vigorously attack it with the Bark, and hope to eradicate it by that Means.  If such a Number of British and foreign Troops are destined for Canada as is said, more of our’s will be wanted there, & very soon too.”

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May 23, 1776

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In Boston, representatives to the General Assembly are instructed to advise the Massachusetts delegation in Congress that the colony will support a Declaration of Independence “with their lives and the remnant of their fortunes.”

From Albany, General Schuyler writes to George Washington. “I found It impossible to leave Town to Day as I had intended, It is lucky That I did not, for I just now received an Express from Fort George advising me that amongst the Nails I had ordered from Canada there were very few of those wanted for the Bottoms of the Boats; This Account has plunged me into almost Inextricable Difficulty, as I can procure only four hundred Weight in this Town, I have set Every Blacksmith at Work to make what they can, I shall still fall greatly short, and beg the Favor of You to order up fifteen Cask of 24d. Nails as Many of 10d. and a like Quantity of 8d.; A New York Carpenter must be employed in Chusing them, as they go by different Names in different Colonies, I could wish that they were sent up in a Pettiauger fitted with as Many Oars as possible, and under the Care of an Officer and a Party of Good Oarsmen.  The Troops are so slow in getting from here, Altho’ General Sullivan does all in his Power to move them, That I shall be under the Necessity of sending on Provisions from Fort George, before they arrive there, which will necessarily detain some of them until a Number of Boats are built, equal to those which Carry the Provisions.  By a Letter from Colo: Hazen I find they are extreamly short of Pork in Canada and the Amazing Quantity of Baggage the Troops carry with them will put It out of my Power to forward any more from hence until they are past.  Read’s which moved Yesterday took Eight Batteaus, Starks, which has been Embarking their Baggage all Day with the Activity of Snails, will carry Something more, Nor can I prevail on them to leave any Part of It behind.  I shall leave this in the Morning and hope to reach Lake George to Morrow Night, where I am much wanted and from where I shall again do Myself the Honor to write You.”

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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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