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fying the harbor, that I have recon- couragement as will effectually anciled myself to that state of igno- swer the purpose? I was of opinrance, in which I still remain, of all ion last fall that twelve dollars should the particulars, discovered in Boston. be given for all that should be
Am very desirous of knowing, if brought to the commissary, in conI could, what quantities of saltpetre sequence of the resolve then issued came in, and what progress is made by the court; but since that was not in the manufacture of it, and of the opinion of the members in gencannon and muskets, and especially eral, and we are now greatly in the powder mills. Have you per- want of this article, would it not be sons who understand the art of ma. a good plan to exempt from the du, king powder ?
ties of war all manufacturers of fire
arms ? to give a premium to them The above letter is without sig. for each apprentice which they shall nature, but endorsed on the back, take, and journeyman that they shall in Gen. Palmer's handwriting, as employ, and thirteen or fourteen John Adams.
dollars for all that shall be delivered
agreeably to the former resolve, in To the Hon. Joseph PALMER, at Boston, twelve months ? Surely when the Massachusetts Bay.
success of our measures so much Philadelphia, May 31, 1776. depends on obtaining this article, Dear Sir--The conviction which we shall not hesitate to give such the late measures of the administra. encouragement as will obtain it, with tion has brought to your minds, of as good success as we have heretodoubting persons, has such an effect, fore the article of saltpetre. that I think the colonies can not long The lead you have before attenremain an independent, depending ded to, and I hope you will pursue people, but that they will declare the plan of carrying on the works themselves, as their interest and at Northampton. If a manufacturer safety have long required, entirely is wanted, I apprehend the colony separated from the prostituted gove of Virginia will spare us one. They ernment of Great Britain. Upon sent to Europe for several, and are this subject I have written to our now successfully carrying on the friend, Col. Orne, and beg leave to works in that colony. Pray, my refer you thereto. The principal dear sir, pursue these objects as of object of our attention at this im- the greatest importance. portant time, I think, should be Flints, I think, must be imported, manufacturing arms, lead and cloth- and clothing may be manufactured ing, and obtaining flints, for, I sup- if the inhabitants are timely appripose, since the measures adopted by sed thereof. Would it not be well North Carolina and Virgima, that to recommend to them at large, to there can not remain a doubt with exert themselves for obtaining by our assembly of the propriety of their manufacturers, a sufficiency of declaring for independency, and woolen and linen for the ensuing therefore that our thoughts will be year, and also for the assembly to mostly directed to the means for cause a sufficient number of blankets supporting it. Powder and cannon and coats, &c., to be made for the are so successfully manufactured, soldiers, agreeably to the method that if the spirit continues with suf- pursued the last year. The men ficient encouragement for the man- must be well fed, clothed, armed, ufacturer, I think we may be sure and paid, or you can never oblige of full supplies. With respect to them to do their duty. Our friends, arms then, is it not necessary that Major Hawley, the speaker, Gen. each assembly should give such en- Orne, and Mr. Sullivan, I think will
assist and promote these measures, if you think it convenient to suggest the same. I hope that one or more cannon forges will be encouraged in our colony, and with respect to clothing, think that after this year, our trade will plentifully supply us. I remain, sir, with sincere regard for yourself and friends, your most obedient and very humble servant, ELBRIDGE GERRY.
P. S. If manufacturers can be obtained without sending to Virginia, it will save much time and expense, as the works are far beyond the Alleghany Mountains.
Fragment of a letter to Gen. PALMER, jrom Samuel Adams. I heartily congratulate you upon the removal of the barbarians from the capital. We owe our grateful acknowledgments to Him, who is, as he is frequently styled in Holy Writ, “the Lord of hosts.” We have not yet been informed with certainty, what course the enemy have steered. I hope we shall be upon our guard against future attempts. Will not care be immediately taken to fortify the harbor, and thereby prevent the entrance of ships of war hereafter But I am called off and must conclude abruptly. Adieu, my friend, and be assured that I am affectionately yours, S. ADAMs. April, 1776. ..Another fragment, from the same.
Some advantages arose, to our colony, by the Congress adopting the army raised in New England the last spring; but among other circumstances attending it, this was one, namely, that it being now a continental army, the gentlemen of all the colonies had a right to, and put in for a share in behalf of their friends in filling up the various offices. By this means it was thought that military knowledge and experience, as well as the military spirit,
would spread through the colonies; and besides that, they would all consider themselves the more interested in the success of our army, and in providing for its support. But then there was less room for persons belonging to the colonies, which had first raised the army, who were well worthy of notice. Many of our friends were discontented, who did not advert to this as the true cause why they were not promoted.
In 1776, we find Gen. Palmer and his son stationed at Hull; and in 1777, they are in Rhode Island.
The expedition to Rhode Island was not fortunate. From the journals and letters of Gen. Palmer, which are very full at this time, we
gather that the coöperations he depended upon, failed him; that he
was blamed and even accused by Major Gen. Spencer, in order that the latter might screen himself from blame, and that a court of enquiry followed. We learn also, that he was acquitted, but the impression remained that he had not been sufficiently energetic.” To those who read all the letters and memoranda made at the time, and know how to value his word, it is plain that he was not at all obnoxious even to this reproach. His ardor and energy were all that was to be desired, and the plan failed only through the shortcomings of others. We shall select a few letters, to make this obvious. They are interesting, also, as showing the spirit and feeling of the times.
Boston, Aug. 8th, 1777. To Gen. Spencer— " " I hope you will excuse my again mentioning an expedition to Rhode Island; it appears probable that as the enemy's forces are now divided into three parts, at very considerable dis
* See Bradford's History of Massachusetts, Wol. II.
tances from each other, exertions may be made by us, upon each of those parts. We need not doubt of Gen. Washington's exertions against Gen. Howe. Who commences in the northern department I do not know, but hope it is not St. Clair, for the people will not serve under him. We can not hope for success unless the soldier has great confidence in his general. This heavenly blessing is bestowed upon our southern department, and I hope it will be given to our northern also. In your department we are at greater expense to guard the coast than would be sufficient by the blessing of Heaven, to extirpate our enemies from Rhode Island. When the harvest is gathered, if the strength and situation of the enemy can be ascertained, and shall be found penetrable, let there be a sufficient quantity of provisions, boats, &c., provided, the whole plan well digested, and as sudden and secret a call upon the militia, as the nature of the case will admit, and I doubt not but you will have a sufficient number who will cheerfully turn out. Suppose success; will it not be best to fortify that end of the island next to Bristol 2 I only suggest it; perhaps the geographical idea in my mind is not correct, but if we can have a tenable work there, and can keep open the communication with the main, the enemy may find it difficult to hold any part of the island, in any tolerable degree of quiet. The benefits arising from the success of such an enterprise, are very obvious and therefore need not now be mentioned. I am, dear sir, with great esteem, your friend and humble servant, J. PALMER.
Tiverton, Oct. 2d, 1777. My dear General—Your favors of the 30th ult. and Saturday came safe to hand. I have attended to the contents and shall do the best in my power, but the business and the mode and form of it are new to me.
I heartily thank you for your adjutant; it was kind in you and he is very obliging; but still I want you. This day I have been to Fogland Point, at which place and at Ferry Point, I think eight or ten pieces, twelve or rather eighteen pounders, might be of service to keep open the communication with Rhode Island, when we enter on the business. I should be glad to know that Bristol Ferry could be equally well guarded, but I have had no opportunity to view that place. I believe that the laying of platforms will be attended with considerable delay, and therefore wish that we may be supplied with suitable cannon on field carriages. Much depends upon real expedition. The enemy have now many hands on fatigue opposite Fogland's Ferry; the sooner we get ready, the better will be the spirits of our people, and the less prepared will the enemy be. I believe there are about two thousand of the Massachusetts troops arrived. A commissary is much wanted, with power for purchasing beef on the foot. I have not time to add, having some care about the enemy, that they need not surprise us. I am, dear General, with great affection, your friend, J. PALMER. The Hon. Gen. Spencer.
Head quarters, near *} Ferry, October 3d, 1777. GENERAL oftDERs. As it is certain that the enemy are busily employed in throwing up works on the Island, and as advice is received that they are meditating an attack upon us, it demands our close attention to prevent any surprise. If the general cause of the freedom and happiness of mankind, (in the idea of which every thing personally dear is involved,) is a cause favored by Heaven, then we may humbly hope for that favor, but it must not be expected unless our conduct is spirited and orderly. The commanders of brigades, regiments and companies, will therefore cause a very careful review of arms and accoutrements, so as to be ready to march at any hour. They will impress on the minds of all inferior officers and privates, the absolute necessity of subordination, and the most ready and implicit obedience to the orders of their superiors, and that there is less danger in facing the enemy than in running away. They will see that all behave with decency and good order in their respective quarters; that they do not injure any in their private property by the hand of plunder, waste or destruction. The chief surgeons of the several regiments will immediately repair to Providence to consult with Dr. Arnold upon matters respecting their profession. The commanders of regiments will set guards upon the heights and roads, which are exposed to the view of the enemy, to prevent the unnecessary exposure of such numbers, as may lead the enemy to suspect our designs. * * * * As the call to action will be sudden, the General expects that all will be ready at the shortest notice, and he doubts not they will act as spiritedly and as bravely as our brethren in the action near Bennington, and every way worthy of the great cause of liberty. Jos. PALMER.
October 4th, 1777.
Colonel Cotton is to furnish two piquets this night, to go on the island ; namely, two captains, four subalterns, four sergeants, two drummers, two fifers, and an hundred men.
N. B. Did not go, not being ready with ammunition.
- Tiverton, Oct. 4, 1777.
My dear General—Agreeably to my proposals for regulations for the boats, and in compliance with your request, just now made, I now lay before you the following scheme, namely, that every boat, whether
large or small, shall be numbered from one upwards, and shall be registered in books kept for that sole purpose, which registers shall specify the number of the boat, and the number of soldiers she will carry, (besides oars-men,) and also the names of the boatmen; and the several captains shall make and keep the registers, and make returns of the same to the adjutant general, on or before the eighth instant. But before these returns are made, the several boats shall be numbered with white paint in large figures, so as to be easily distinguished in the night, if not very dark. The oars of each boat to have the same number in large figures, like the boat, and the boatmen for each boat, to have tickets of very strong paper, containing their respective names in large fair writing. After this is done the boats may be formed into squads, each squad containing any number of boats you may think proper, from such a number to such a number, inclusive of both extremes; then the registers will show the number of soldiers which these boats carry in their squads, and then let there be one conductor to each squad. Your orders will direct whence, where, and to what place each squad shall proceed. Your honor will doubtless improve this plan and make it more perfect. If four companies of light infantry are formed by volunteers, out of the Massachusetts troops, to serve in parties or in their regiments, as may be ordered, this will make new officers, which will create an expense, or else the companies out of which officers for this purpose are taken, will become weak in officers. In this view of the matter, I must beg your immediate advice, before I dare to act therein, as expense arises in one case, and weakness in the other. If any considerable advantage is to be reasonably expected from such volunteers, which I incline to hope, then the expense will not be worth consideration.
Oct. 5th. Herewith you have a this critical moment, it would be copy of the commission given to better for compulsion to flow from Mr. Spooner. Every command will government, than from the military be cheerfully obeyed, by, dear Gen. power, if time permits. Here I beg eral, your most humble servant, to mention, what may be construed
J. PALMER. greatly to my disadvantage; but be. Hon. Gen. Spencer.
ing conscious that I do not wish for
promotion, and having arrived at a
Oct. 5th, 1777. time of life which forbids such wishCol. Cotton's regiment piquets es, and being determined to act in this night to go on the island, (not the present or any lower post, be it being able to go last night,) two what it may, which the government captains, four subalterns, four ser.
may order in this expedition, justice geants, two drums, two fifes and
requires, that the Court should know one hundred men.
that Gen. Spencer expresses his sur. N. B. Did not go, not having pi
prise, that our state has not appointlots or guides.
ed a major-general for this service;
and says that such an officer is much To Hon. J. Powell, President of the wanted, and that our state ought to Council in Boston.
have done it, and that it is their Tiverton, Oct. 5th, 1777. right, and that the service will suf. Dear Sir-I hope that all things fer without it. As I do not wish for will be ready in less than a week; the appointment, I shall not object but many things yet remain to be to serving under any one who may done. The Connecticut troops have be appointed. I am fully convinc. not yet arrived, but are daily ex. ed that the honor and interest of our pected. Gen. Spencer reached here state requires that such an officer be on the evening of the third instant, appointed, provided he could arrive and is indefatigable in forwarding on or before the evening of the the business. In general, the spirits eighth instant. of the people promise well; but a A light-horseman is ordered with considerable number of the troops this, so that you may coöperate with ordered from our state, refuse to us in making delinquents attend turn out. Forty-one of such in one their duty here. We shall be glad company, (all the town of Dart to have them come before the attack, mouth,) have just now returned. but if not till after, it will have its Of this I have acquainted the Gene. effect in future. ral, and I suspect that compulsory By return of the express, we measures will immediately be taken; should be glad of the news. We if not, many who are now here will know nothing definite here. return home. I think that the Court, Just now a gentleman from Prov. as well as the General, ought to idence informs us that Gen. Howe compel them. Such dastardly con has retreated from before Philadel. duct may occasion the ruin of the phia, but nothing is certain. Nei . expedition. Mr. Durfee has been ther can we obtain any thing certain very friendly, and is hearty and from the northern army. useful in the cause.
I hope Heaven will favor the pres. Mr. Spooner has been here and ent enterprise, and that a few days proposed the procuring of a con hence we shall be the messengers siderable number of oars-men, not of good news from this quarter. included in the draft, and the Gener. Who will live to see it if it succeeds, al has empowered him to act therein. is uncertain; but I fatter myself
Our number will probably be we shall act worthy of our cause. from eight to ten thousand men, un- If we do, our names will be blessed, less desertion should be great. At whether we survive the struggle or