This week the Massachusetts Archives reported recovering a letter that Dr. Joseph Warren wrote on 25 May 1775, happily passing on the news that Col. Benedict Arnold had captured some outposts north of Fort Ticonderoga.
Warren was then in Watertown, presiding over the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. He sent this two-page letter along the highway to Cambridge, where the Committee of Safety and Gen. Artemas Ward were sharing headquarters beside Harvard College.
The letter disappeared from the state facility decades ago, and resurfaced in an auction of Americana. Here are the Boston Globe and WBUR stories on the document’s return.
Both stories include this detail (quoted from WBUR):
He sent the good news from Watertown in a letter to the revolutionary Committee of Safety, asking that it be forwarded to the good Gen. Henry Knox.That caught my eye for two reasons:
- I’m eager for any evidence of when Henry and Lucy Knox left Boston. The earliest statement of a date appears in Francis Drake’s 1873 biography, which says they departed “Just one year from the day of his marriage,” which was on 16 June 1774. That meant the couple was out just in time for the Battle of Bunker Hill. Thus, if the Committee of Safety was in a position to pass news to Knox on 25 May, then he must have been out earlier.
- However, Knox did not become a general until 1776. In May 1775, he held no rank in the New England army, and had been only a lieutenant in his prewar militia company.
I think another possibility, given the hurried scrawl, is that the postscript said:
You will be Kind enough toDr. John Thomas was commanding the troops at Roxbury. He had a headquarters and council of war that operated somewhat independent of Ward and the committee in Cambridge, and Warren might have wanted to be sure that both wings of the army would learn the news.
sendcommunicate the Contents of this Letter to General Thomas as I love to give Pleasure to good men.