J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

After John Jupp Came Home to Shirley

Yesterday I introduced the couple of John and Mary Jupp—he a deserter from the British army who had made his way to Shirley, she a woman in her late thirties who apparently had some property but no husband.

They married in late 1774 and had a daughter the following year. But in March 1777 John Jupp enlisted in the Continental Army for three years. Given that separation, could their marriage last?

Legally it did, but Pvt. John Jupp didn’t. He was discharged on 9 May 1780, recorded as having served 33 months and 22 days. (Presumably the army had deducted some time from his three years when he was away from the army recovering from illness.)

Jupp returned to Shirley and died there half a year later on 17 November. The vital records label him as an “Englishman.” James Parker’s diary records plowing and other occasional chores for Mary Jupp in the following years.

In 1785, Mary Jupp remarried to Nathan Smith, whose first wife had died the year before. Smith had seven children, his oldest sons only a few years younger than Mary. Four of those sons had served in the same regiment as John Jupp. Two, Nathan, Jr., and Sylvanus, had become captains.

On 11 Sept 1786, Parker wrote in his diary: “Nathan Smith marched some men to Concord In order to stop the Court Seting.” This was part of the Shays Rebellion. Though Capt. Smith made a fiery speech and was named in an arrest warrant issued that November, he didn’t emigrate from Massachusetts as other members of the movement did. Instead, he died in Shirley in 1834 at the age of ninety-six. A local historian stated that he was “coarse in habit and undisciplined in temper,” and “lost an eye in a rencounter with one of his neighbors.”

After the elder Nathan Smith died, Mary bought a new farm for herself, which she eventually passed down to the daughter of her first marriage and her grandson, Samuel Hartwell. Presumably that land eventually became the Hartwell Farm dairy in Shirley. Mary Smith died in 1826, aged 91.

Friday, April 24, 2015

John Jupp “found his way to Shirley”

Among the men from Shirley who marched during the Lexington Alarm of 19 Apr 1775 was John Jupp, a private in Capt. Henry Haskell’s company, Col. William Prescott’s regiment.

Jupp had more recent military experience than most of his companions. According to Seth Chandler’s History of the Town of Shirley, Massachusetts, he
was an Englishman by birth, and a soldier of the British army that came here to enforce colonial obedience. He was connected with the military department under Governor [Thomas] Gage at Boston, previous to the outbreak of the American Revolution. He deserted from the service of the king and found his way to Shirley…
Jupp and Mary Simonds recorded their intention to marry on 12 Nov 1774 in the Shirley meeting-house (shown above in its present form).

If her death listing from 1826 was accurate, Mary Simonds was born about 1735, making her close to forty years old when she wed. I suspect she had property since Jupp was said to have “owned a small farming estate, situated near the center of the town,” and a recently deserted soldier wouldn’t have been able to buy such land.

On 16 Jan 1775, Jupp sold a silver watch for cash and three dollars on credit to James Parker (1744-1830), who was teaching school in Haskell’s shop. Again, this doesn’t seem like the sort of property a deserting soldier would have on his own, but who knows?

Jupp served with the town militia company for ten days in April 1775. Shirley’s vital records say John and Mary Jupp had a daughter on 26 September. (However, another transcription of those records indicates that the child born that day was named John; I assume that was a misreading.)

In January 1776, John Jupp was 74 miles away in the camp at Cambridge, once again serving in a militia company under Capt. Haskell. Massachusetts had called those men up to ensure the lines around Boston didn’t collapse while Gen. George Washington strove to rebuild his forces.

Then on 9 Mar 1777, John Jupp enlisted as a private in the Continental Army for three years. He was in Capt. Sylvanus Smith’s company, Col. Timothy Bigelow’s regiment—a unit that was at Saratoga and Valley Forge. Though military records state that John Jupp was “sick at Shirley” in January 1779, his wife and daughter saw little of him in those years.

TOMORROW: Can this marriage be saved?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mansplaining about Dr. Joseph Warren

The first book devoted to Dr. Joseph Warren was Stories about General Warren: in Relation to the Fifth of March Massacre, and the Battle of Bunker Hill, a biography for young readers published in 1835. The anonymous author was the doctor’s niece Rebecca Brown (1789-1855), shown here courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts.

Stories about General Warren took the form of a dialogue between a mother and two children named William and Mary, who say things like, “Did not all the boys like him, mamma? I am sure I should have liked him.”

The book was reviewed that year in the Southern Literary Messenger, mainly to give the reviewer a chance to write about Warren. He (and the tone almost requires one to assume the anonymous reviewer was a he) devotes a long column to “the book’s childishness of style” and “many offences far more atrocious in a critic’s eyes—sins against grammar, idiom, and good taste.” That part of the essay ended:
Let the author be entreated to get the aid of some friend who is master (if she is not mistress) of grammar and taste enough, to reform these and the other errors of her little work, and then give us a new edition, calling in all the copies of the first, that are within her reach.
Not the type of notice an author wishes to receive.

The reviewer then launched into his own version of Warren’s life. Many points of that biography are unreliable, as when it gives Warren the rank of a general months before the Massachusetts Provincial Congress did. Here’s his telling of Warren’s activity during the Battle of Lexington and Concord:
Scouts of his had notified him on the 18th of April, that a detachment of troops was to march that night towards Concord: and then, remaining himself upon the watch, he saw Colonel [Francis] Smith and 8 or 900 men embark for Charlestown [sic]. Knowing the stores and ammunition at Concord to be their object [he didn’t really], he instantly sent messengers over the surrounding country, to give the alarm; and himself rode all night [no, Warren left Boston near dawn]—passing so near the enemy, as to be more than once in great danger of capture. . . .

Warren, sleepless and in motion throughout the night, hurried to the scene of action: and, when the enemy were retreating from Concord, he was among the foremost in hanging upon their rear, and assailing their flanks. By pressing them too closely, he once narrowly escaped death. A musket ball took off a lock of hair, which curled close to his head, in the fashion of that time.

When his mother first saw him after the battle, and heard of this escape, she entreated him with tears not again to risk a life so precious. “Where danger is, dear mother,” he answered, “there must your son be. Now is no time for any of America’s children to shrink from any hazard. I will see her free, or die.”
Rebecca Brown had written something similar, but not the same:
When his mother first saw him after this escape, she entreated him, with tears in her eyes, not again to risk a life so dear to her, and so necessary to his country. “Wherever danger is, dear mother,” was his reply, “there must your son be, now is no time for one of America’s children to shrink from the most hazardous duty. I will either see my country free, or shed my last drop of blood to make her so.”
Presumably the reviewer rewrote Brown’s quote to minimize the “sins against grammar, idiom, and good taste.” He did not indicate having any better source of information.

Not that either version of the quote is probably accurate. But at least there’s a chance that Rebecca Brown had heard about that meeting from her grandmother Mary Warren, who lived until 1803.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Legend of Betsey Hagar

In his History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania (1891), Henry C. Bradsby set down this unusual anecdote of the aftermath of the Revolutionary War’s first day:
Betsey Hagar…was born in Boston in 1750, and at nine years of age was left alone in the world to shift for herself. She grew up on a farm, was of a strong muscular frame, and learned to do all rough farm work, as well as being an expert at the loom.

When the Revolution broke out she was at work for a man named Leverett, in his blacksmith shop; he was very ingenious, and he and Betsey were secretly busy fixing the old match-lock guns for the patriots. She would file and grind and scour the work, and fit it as fast as he would turn it out. The two, it should be remembered, were working gratuitously—solely for the cause of freedom.

At the battle of Concord the British fled, and left six nice brass cannon, but all spiked. They were taken to Leverett’s shop, where he and his helper drilled holes opposite the spikes and then they could punch them out and stop up the hole with a screw. She worked hard at these cannon six weeks. She also made cartridges, and when her supply of flannel for this purpose gave out, she took off her underclothes and used them. At night, after the battle, she helped care for and nurse the wounded. Thus she helped during the seven years’ war.

In 1813 she married John Pratt, and they were on a rented farm at the time the “Shay rebellion” broke out, when she said: “John, you go and help kill Shay, and I will look after the crop.” John went, and she made a fine crop. Her son was Thomas Pratt.

In 1816 the family came to Burlington township [Pennsylvania], and settled on the G. A. Johnson farm. Among her other gifts was much knowledge of medicine—the herbs, roots and flowers of the country, and she often ministered to the sick, and was as much respected and “looked up to” as any person in the settlement. She lived to a green old age, dying in Granville in 1843, aged ninety-three years.
Two decades later, Harry Clinton Green and Mary Wolcott Green were looking for stories for The Pioneer Mothers of America. They put Betsy Hagar into their second volume, right before Molly Pitcher. That version added some details:
  • Young Betsy was “bound out” at an early age.
  • The blacksmith was named Samuel Leverett.
  • John Pratt marched during the Lexington Alarm, carrying a gun that Samuel Leverett and Betsy Hagar had repaired.
  • Betsy was caring for the wounded after the Battle of Lexington and Concord when she spotted the six spiked cannon.
  • Betsy and John married “shortly after the close of the war.”
  • In Pennsylvania, Betsy was a vocal opponent of “an English doctor named Lee” offering smallpox vaccinations in 1813. (The county history mentioned Dr. Ira Lee, but not in connection to the Pratts, who it said didn’t settle there until three years later.)
The Greens thus appear to have had additional sources for their telling—but they didn’t say what those sources were, leaving no way to evaluate them. And, as I discussed in the case of Deborah Champion, the Greens tended to smooth out contradictions in their sources instead of acknowledging reasons for doubt.

Elizabeth Pratt’s Find-a-Grave page (source of the image above) offers yet another contradictory detail, saying she died “died July 12, 1843, aged 88 years, 1 month and 4 days,” meaning she was actually born in June 1755. Those words seem to come from a more recent local history.

Alas, I’ve found no documents to confirm any of the story of Betsey Hagar. I’ve looked in Boston records for her birth or her binding out by the Overseers of the Poor. I’ve looked for a blacksmith named Samuel Leverett. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors, volume 12, pages 691-5, lists multiple John Pratts who served in the American military during the Revolutionary War as shown by one contemporaneous document or another. That group includes at least four who marched in April 1775: from Chelsea, Dorchester, and two from Reading. But none was from Concord or a town nearby.

Most important, the part of the story that makes Betsey Hagar most significant, the repair of “six nice brass cannon” left behind by the British, is clearly a myth. The British army didn’t bring any cannon all the way to Concord, nor leave any of its own artillery behind. While in Concord, the troops did damage some cannon that the town had mounted, but those guns were made of iron. Such sources as the Massachusetts Provincial Congress records and the recollections of Dr. James Thacher show that the province had only four brass cannon at the first months of the war, none of them found by the British and spiked.

The story of Betsey Hagar, though repeated many places in the last fifty years, thus seems to be a legend that can be traced only as far back as the Pennsylvania towns where her descendants lived in the mid-1800s.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mary Sanderson and the Man in Her Bed

Mary Munroe was born in 1748 in a “part of Lexington called Scotland” for the number of Scottish immigrants who had settled there. She reportedly kept “a little of the Scottish accent…all her life.”

In October 1772, Mary Munroe married Samuel Sanderson, a cabinetmaker who had moved into town from Waltham four years before. A man who knew her later wrote that Sanderson was “reputed an excellent workman, and a man of strong, native, good sense, but of a rather phlegmatic and desponding temperament, with whom the world never wagged so cheerily as with many.”

The Sandersons had a boy named Amos in July 1774. Samuel’s brother Elijah also lived and worked with him in his house (shown here, courtesy of the Boston Public Library’s Flickr collection).

In April 1775, Samuel Sanderson was a corporal in the Lexington militia, standing on the common as the British column arrived. Local historian Michael J. Canavan recorded this story about how Mary Sanderson experienced the outbreak of war:
When he heard that the British were coming he piloted his wife over to her father’s carrying his babe, and accompanied by a little girl who was at their house. Over at Scotland they found the mother getting breakfast and the brothers at first did not believe the report.

After the British retreated Mary returned home and found a good many things had been stolen. Her cow (which was a good part of her marriage portion) had been killed; and a wounded British soldier was stowed away in her bed. She cried out “I wont hae him there. Why didn’t you knock him on the head?”

But the town authorities insisted he be taken care of. . . . The soldier begged for Tea but she refused. “what for should I gae him tae for? He shall hae none.”

The wounded man refused to eat or drink unless the food was tasted by some of the family.
Smart man.

Despite crippling arthritis, Mary Sanderson lived to be a centenarian. On 23 Sept 1852 the women of Lexington organized a “levee” in her honor at the town hall, with refreshments and music. It raised $300. She died less than a month later at the age of 104.

Monday, April 20, 2015

“Shot a Canon Ball throug the metin hous”

On 19 Apr 1775, two companies of militiamen marched from Andover. Anticipating that the British column was headed to Concord, where the Massachusetts Provincial Congress had collected supplies, they marched toward that town, but kept adjusting their course as they received more news.

Here’s the account of Sgt. Thomas Boynton from Capt. Benjamin Ames’s company:

This morning, being Wednesday, about the sun’s rising the town was alarmed with the news that the Regulars was on their march to Concord. Upon which the town mustered and about 10 o’clock marched onward for Concord. In Tewksbury news came that the Regulars had fired on our men in Lexington, and had killed 8. In Bilricke news came that the enemy were killing and slaying our men in Concord. Bedford we had the news that the enemy had killed 2 of our men and had retreated back; we shifted our course and persued after them as fast as possible, but all in vain; the enemy had the start 3 or 4 miles. It is said that their number was about 1500 men. They were persued as far as Charlestown that night; the next day they passed Charles River. The loss they sustained as we hear were 500; our men about 40. To return, after we came into Concord road we saw houses burning and others plundered and dead bodies of the enemy lying by the way, others taken prisoners. About eight at night our regiment came to a halt in notime. The next morning we came into Cambridge and there abode.
The Andover men never made contact with the enemy that day, but they did become part of the army besieging Boston.

Another man on that march was James Stevens, a carpenter born in 1749 who was in Capt. Thomas Poor’s company. His diary was published in the Essex Institute Historical Collections in 1912, offering a vivid picture of the aftermath of battle:
April ye 19 1775 this morning a bout seven aclok we had alarum that the Reegerlers was gon to Conkord we getherd to the meting hous & then started for Concord we went throu Tukesbary & in to Bilrica we stopt to Polords [Solomon Pollard’s tavern, burned in 1977] & eat some bisket & Ches on the comon. we started & wen into Bedford & we herd that the regerlers was gon back to Boston

we went through Bedford, we went in to Lecentown. we went to the metinghous & there we come to the distraction of the Reegerlers thay cild eight of our men & shot a Canon Ball throug the metin hous. we went a long through Lecintown & we saw severel regerlers ded on the rod & som of our men & three or fore housen was Burnt & som hoses & hogs was cild thay plaindered in every hous thay could git in to thay stove in windows & broke in tops of desks we met the men a coming back very fast we went through Notemy & got into Cambridg we stopt about eight acloke for thay say that the regerlers was got to Chalstown on to Bunkers hil & intrenstion we stopt about two miles back from the college

Thursday ye 20 this morning we had alarum about day we imbodied as son as posable & marcht into the comon we herd that the regrelers was gon to Boston we staid on the Comon a spel & then retreted back to the hils & exspected them out on us we herd severl small canons & one or two swevels from a tender we staid while ten or a leven aClok & then come down & got some refreshment & men come in very fast
Stevens’s idiosyncratic spelling probably gives a good sense of what he sounded like. It’s also clear that even then people had trouble spelling “Billerica.”

(The picture of the Lexington meetinghouse above comes courtesy of the First Shot! smartphone tour, created by Rick and Marilyn Rea Beyer and the Lexington Historical Society.)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Reuben Brown, the Link Between Lexington and Concord

Reuben Brown was born in Sudbury in 1748. In 1770, soon after coming of age, he moved to Concord and established himself as a saddler. Three years later, on 12 May 1773, he married a girl from his old town, Mary (Polly) How. Their daughter Hepzibath arrived four months later on 15 September, and their second daughter Sally on 9 Mar 1775.

Also in early 1775, according to Concord historian Lemuel Shattuck, Brown made “cartouch-boxes, holsters, belts, and other articles of saddlery” for local militiamen. The town’s Liberty Pole stood in a field behind his shop.

But those weren’t Brown’s most significant contributions to the Battle of Lexington and Concord. He had a unique perspective on the action, as described in his highly wrought obituary in the 3 Oct 1832 The New England Farmer (reprinted from the Boston Courier):
Died at Concord, Mass. on the 25th ult. [i.e., of last month] Mr Reuben Brown, a rare specimen of that hardy, industrious, intelligent and fearless yeomanry which, fifty years ago, was the glory of the Commonwealth and the bulwark of the Union.

Mr Brown, who was a native of Sudbury and a grandson of the first minister of that ancient settlement, removed to Concord about the year 1771, and was of course just in season to witness the earliest scenes of the great Drama of the Age. He did witness them literally, indeed, for on the eventful morning of the 19th of April, long before day-break, he was on his way, alone, at the request of some of the Concord authorities, to reconnoitre the advance of the British to Lexington.

He reached the “Common” just as they were seen marching up the Boston road. He advised the American officers, who were wholly unprepared to meet an enemy, to withdraw; but they declined, chiefly from the firm belief, which their men shared with them, that the British would never think of firing upon them at all events.

Mr Brown waited to see the issue of the meeting—the blood of the first martyrs of American liberty—and he then returned rapidly to Concord and reported progress.

His work had now but commenced. His shop was closed—a large saddler’s establishment in which he had already fitted out several companies of cavalry and infantry—and then his house—standing on the main road in the village—and his wife with her infant children instructed to manage for herself in the woods north of the town, with many other females and infirm people of the place—

Mr. Brown then mounted his horse again, it being now about day-break, and commenced the task of alarming the neighboring country. And his efforts will need no comment when we say that he rode that day about 120 miles in the performance of this noble duty. The result of the exertions in which no single man probably bore so active a part as himself, is well known to all readers of a history which “the world has by heart.” On many other occasions he was equally efficient, though he did not happen to be at any time engaged in fighting the enemy in the field. Two of his brothers were at Bunker Hill.

Universally respected by his fellow citizens for his sound judgment, his energy, his industry, his public spirit, his cordial benevolence, and, above all, for that staunch old fashioned honesty which knew no shadow of turning—his gray hairs were crowned with the praise of a Patriot, and his death with the peace of a Christian. He came to his grave at the venerable age of 84.
Brown was thus the communication link between Lexington and Concord at the start of the fight. His report that the British troops were willing to shoot warned his own neighbors to be cautious about confronting those soldiers, putting off the confrontation in Concord for a few hours until more militia units arrived.

Reportedly, before leaving town the regulars took a chaise from Brown’s shop, perhaps to transport a wounded man. That man might well have been Lt. Edward Thoroton Gould—at least, men in Cambridge later took control of both Gould and Brown’s chaise. Reuben Brown also had a connection to another prisoner, Lt. Richard Potter of the Marines: the provincials held him for a while in Brown’s house.

Here is an old photograph of that house from the collection of the Boston Public Library. Brown’s account books from a couple of decades later are at the Concord library.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Jeremiah Lee’s Very Bad Night

Jeremiah Lee was a non-battlefield casualty of the fight on 18-19 Apr 1775. On the one hand, that’s appropriate because he was central to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress’s effort to build up an artillery force, which prompted the British army march tp Concord. On the other hand, Lee’s death was probably unnecessary.

Lee was a Marblehead merchant, militia commander, and member of the congress’s Committee on Supplies. He was the conduit for its payments to the Salem painter David Mason as he collected and mounted cannons.

On 18 April, Lee attended a joint meeting of the Committee on Supplies and the Committee of Safety at a tavern in Menotomy, the western village of Cambridge that’s now Arlington. When the meeting broke up, he and two other men from Marblehead, Elbridge Gerry and Azor Orne, decided to stay the night. Richard Devens of Charlestown later wrote:
After we had finished the business of the day, we adjourned to meet at Woburn on the morrow,—left to lodge at Newell’s [the tavern], Gerry, Orne, and Lee. Mr. [Abraham] Watson and myself came off in my chaise at sunset.

On the road we met a great number of B[ritish]. O[fficers]. and their servants on horseback, who had dined that day at Cambridge. We rode some way after we met them, and then turned back and rode through them, went and informed our friends at Newell’s. We stopped there till they [the officers] came up and rode by. We then left our friends, and I came home, after leaving Mr. Watson at his house.
Likewise, Gen. William Heath wrote of himself in the third person: “on his return home, soon after he left the committee, and about sun-setting, he met eight or nine British officers on horseback, with their swords and pistols, riding up the road towards Lexington.”

The province was abuzz with rumors that the London government had ordered Gen. Thomas Gage to arrest leaders of the rebellion—and those rumors were pretty much true. The committee men were naturally nervous. Gerry sent a warning west to John Hancock and Samuel Adams, then staying at Lexington. Nonetheless, Devens and Watson had passed through the British officers twice with no trouble.

Later that evening, a long column of British troops passed by the tavern on the way to Concord. Lee, Gerry, and Orne got out of bed to watch. Suddenly they perceived some soldiers from that column coming toward the front door. Half-dressed, the three men dashed out the back and threw themselves down in a field, hoping the stalks of the previous year’s crop would hide them. Heath wrote that he heard they suffered “some injury from obstacles in the way, in their undressed state.”

The three men remained on the ground for about an hour before they decided it was safe to return to the building. Lee, who had just turned fifty-four, took sick from the cold and stress. He died on 10 May, his family and friends blaming the events of that night.

Here’s the sad irony: those British troops weren’t seeking to arrest anyone on the Committee on Supplies. Gen. Thomas Gage’s orders for that march say nothing about arresting Provincial Congress members or searching buildings before the column reached Concord. None of the several British officers who left detailed accounts of the night wrote about such a search on the way west. Heath wrote that he’d heard the troops “halted” outside the tavern, which they might have done just to get water from a well, but he didn’t say they went inside.

In his 1828 biography of Gerry, James T. Austin wrote that British troops had searched Newell’s tavern on the night of 18 April. Of course, saying that made Gerry’s decision to hide outside in the fields seem more smart than scared. And although Austin claimed, “even the beds in which they had lain were examined,” he had to acknowledge that nothing, not even “a valuable watch of Mr. Gerry’s, which was under his pillow,” had been disturbed. No eyewitness accounts from 1775 said troops had gone into the tavern, and the Massachusetts Patriots hadn’t shied from complaining about British actions that day.

I therefore suspect that Lee, Gerry, and Orne could have stayed inside their bedroom the whole night without being disturbed. And Lee might have lived for many more years.

Friday, April 17, 2015

John Goddard Carts Supplies to Concord

On 24 Febr 1775, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress’s Committee of Safety and Committee on Supplies voted to procure these items and store them in Concord:
1000 candles; 100 hhds. [hogsheads] salt; a suitable supply of wooden spoons; 20 casks of raisins; 20 bushels of oatmeal; 1500 yards Russia linen; also 2 barrels Lisbon oil; 6 casks of Malaga wine, and 9 casks of Lisbon wine, to be lodged at Stow.
The committees had already started to amass other supplies, including some with no other purpose but to wage war. The congress needed someone to move all that stuff around, so on that same day the committees
Voted, unanimously, that Mr. John Goddard, of Brookline, be waggon master for the army, and that Capt. [Benjamin] White inform him of his choice by the province.
Goddard (1730-1816) had been one of Brookline’s three representatives to the first Massachusetts Provincial Congress, convening in October 1774, but for the February session the town had sent only White.

In 1898 the Brookline Historical Society printed John Goddard’s expense book, listing these entries for the beginning of the year 1775:
The Committee for Supplies to John Goddard of Brookline Dr. for his Expense of Time —

March 4th 1775 to one day going to Boston & engaging Team £0.. 5 .. 4
[etc. etc.]

March 8th 1775.
The Committee for Supplies to Sundry Persons under ye Direction of John Goddard Dr. —
To carting fifty five Barrels of Beef from Boston to Concord @5/ Pr Barrel £3..15..0

18th
to carting two Hogsheads of Flints & other articles from Boston to Brookline 0..6..6

20th to carting 74 C:3/4 of Rice from Boston to Concord @1/2d pr C 4..19..8

22. to carting 15 C:1/4 of weights 1..0..2
to carting sheet Lead and three Barrels of Linen 0..8..0

24. To carting 2 casks of Leaden Balls 0..2..8

April 10th 1775. to carting two Ox Cart & two horse cart loads of canteens to Concord £3..6..8
to ye assistance of 3 Men in removing canteens 0..3..0

14th to carting 1 ox cart & 1 horse cart load of Canteens to Concord 1..13..4
In Nathaniel Goddard: A Boston Merchant, 1767-1853 (1906), Henry G. Pickering wrote that on the trips to Concord, “One of these teams was driven by John Goddard himself, and another by his son Joseph, then a lad of fourteen.”

Thursday, April 16, 2015

“A humorous story told about town of one of the deserters”

On 20 Aug 1774, the young lawyer John Trumbull sent the following to his legal mentor John Adams, then on his way to the First Continental Congress:
There is a humorous story told about town of one of the deserters, though I cannot say it is absolutely to be depended upon as a fact: a soldier, whose name is Patrick, deserted sometime ago and settled in a country town at some distance, and there undertook to instruct a company of about fifty men in military exercises.

A sergeant and eight men were sent to apprehend deserters, got intelligence of him, and agreed with a countryman, for a couple of guineas, to conduct them to him. Patrick, it seems, was at that time exercising his company; however, being called by the sergeant and his men, he immediately came up to them. The sergeant demanded what he did there, told him he was his prisoner, and ordered him to return and join his regiment.

Sir, said Patrick, I beg your pardon, but I don’t think it possible for me to obey you at present. The sergeant repeated his orders in a very peremptory style. Patrick still assured him of the great improbability of his being able to comply with the command; but told him, as it was not absolutely certain, he would see what could be done about it.

You must know, said he, that we determine every thing here by a vote—and turning to his company, which had by this time come up,—gentlemen, says he, if it be your mind that I should leave the town and return to my regiment, please to manifest it. Not a single hand appeared in favor of the motion. He then desired that those who were contrary-minded should manifest it, which passed nem. con. [i.e., no dissenting votes]

The sergeant and his men, finding themselves in so small a minority, and seeing it in vain to oppose the general voice of the meeting, were about to return again in peace, when one or two of his men were desirous to have it put to vote whether they should not stay also. Patrick, as moderator, immediately put the question, which it was not difficult to carry in such an assembly, and the sergeant, knowing it vain to resist, returned with six men to his regiment.
It seems significant that not even Trumbull suggested this tale was factual. But it reflects how he and other New Englanders liked to see themselves in 1774: committed to traditional voting and group solidarity, capable of using force but preferring to use calm reason and numbers.