Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to the Printer of The London Chronicle, 9 May 1759

To the Printer of the London Chronicle

Printed in The London Chronicle: or, Universal Evening Post, May 10–12, 1759.

Paul Leicester Ford first identified Franklin as the author of this paper in 1889, and Verner W. Crane established the matter definitely in 1950 by pointing out the similarity of thought and treatment in certain passages with others of Franklin’s writings.8 Bigelow printed it in Works, IV, 244–58, but with the incorrect date of May 9, 1769, and without any of Franklin’s footnotes. Smyth reproduced it directly from Bigelow in Writings, V, 206–18, using the same incorrect date.

 To the Printer of the Chronicle.

May 9, 1759.


While the public attention is so much turned towards America, every letter from thence that promises new information, is pretty generally read; it seems therefore the more necessary that care should be taken to disabuse the Public, when those letters contain facts false in themselves, and representations injurious to bodies of people, or even to private persons.

In your paper, No. 310. I find an extract of a letter, said to be from a gentleman in General Abercrombie’s army.9 As there are several strokes in it tending to render the colonies despicable, and even odious to the mother country, which may have ill consequences; and no notice having been taken of the injuries contained in that letter, other letters of the same nature have since been published, permit me to make a few observations on it.

The writer says, “New England was settled by Presbyterians and Independents, who took shelter there from the persecutions of Archbishop Laud;1 they still retain their original character, they generally hate the Church of England,” says he. If it were true, that some resentment still remained for the hardships their fathers suffer’d, it might perhaps be not much wondered at; but the fact is, that the moderation of the present church of England towards Dissenters in Old as well as New England, has quite effaced those impressions; the Dissenters too are become less rigid and scrupulous, and the good will between those different bodies in that country is now both mutual and equal.

He goes on: “They came out with a levelling spirit, and they retain it. They cannot bear to think that one man should be exorbitantly rich and another poor, so that, except in the seaport towns, there are few great estates among them. This equality produces also a rusticity of manners; for in their language, dress, and in all their behaviour, they are more boorish than any thing you ever saw in a certain Northern latitude.” One would imagine from this account, that those who were growing poor, plundered those who were growing rich to preserve this equality, and that property had no protection; whereas in fact, it is no where more secure than in the New England colonies, the law is no where better executed, or justice obtain’d at less expence. The equality he speaks of, arises first from a more equal distribution of lands by the assemblies in the first settlement than has been practised in the other colonies, where favourites of governors have obtained enormous tracts for trifling considerations, to the prejudice both of the crown revenues and the public good;2 and secondly, from the nature of their occupation; husbandmen with small tracts of land, though they may by industry maintain themselves and families in mediocrity, having few means of acquiring great wealth, especially in a young colony that is to be supplied with its cloathing, and many other expensive articles of consumption from the mother country. Their dress the gentleman may be a more critical judge of than I can pretend to be; all I know of it is, that they wear the manufactures of Britain, and follow its fashions perhaps too closely, every remarkable change in the mode making its appearance there within a few months after its invention here; a natural effect of their constant intercourse with England, by ships arriving almost every week from the capital, their respect for the mother country, and admiration of every thing that is British. But as to their language, I must beg this gentleman’s pardon if I differ from him. His ear, accustomed perhaps to the dialect practised in the certain northern latitude he mentions,3 may not be qualified to judge so nicely in what relates to pure English. And I appeal to all Englishmen here, who have been acquainted with the Colonists, whether it is not a common remark, that they speak the language with such an exactness both of expression and accent, that though you may know the natives of several of the counties of England, by peculiarities in their dialect, you cannot by that means distinguish a North American. All the new books and pamphlets worth reading, that are published here, in a few weeks are transmitted and found there, where there is not a man or woman born in the country but what can read: and it must, I should think, be a pleasing reflection to those who write either for the benefit of the present age or of posterity, to find their audience increasing with the increase of our colonies; and their language extending itself beyond the narrow bounds of these islands to a continent, larger than all Europe, and to a future empire as fully peopled, which Britain may probably one day possess in those vast western regions.

But the Gentleman makes more injurious comparisons than these: “That latitude,” he says, “has this advantage over them, that it has produced sharp, acute men, fit for war or learning, whereas the other are remarkably simple or silly, and blunder eternally. We have 6000 of their militia, which the General would willingly exchange for 2000 regulars. They are for ever marring some one or other of our plans when sent to execute them. They can, indeed, some of them at least, range in the woods; but 300 Indians with their yell, throw 3000 of them into a panick, and then they will leave nothing to the enemy to do, for they will shoot one another; and in the woods our regulars are afraid to be on a command with them on that very account.” I doubt, Mr. Chronicle, that this paragraph, when it comes to be read in America, will have no good effect, and rather increase that inconvenient disgust that is too apt to arise between the troops of different corps, or countries, who are obliged to serve together. Will not a New England Officer be apt to retort and say, What foundation have you for this odious distinction in favour of the officers from your certain northern latitude? They may, as you say, be fit for learning, but, surely, the return of your first General, with a well appointed and sufficient force from his expedition against Louisbourg,4 is not the most shining proof of his talents for war. And no one will say his plan was marred by us, for we were not with him. Was his successor, who conducted the blundering attack and inglorious retreat from Ticonderoga, a New England man, or one of that certain latitude?5 Then as to the comparison between Regulars and Provincials, will not the latter remark, That it was 2000 New England Provincials, with but about 150 Regulars, that took the strong fort of Beausejour in the beginning of the war, though in the accounts transmitted to the English Gazette, the honour was claimed by the regulars, and little or no notice taken of the others.6 That it was the Provincials who beat General Dieskau, with his Regulars, Canadians, and “yelling” Indians, and sent him prisoner to England.7 That it was a Provincial-born Officer,* with American battoemen, that beat the French and Indians on Oswego river.8 That it was the same Officer, with Provincials, who made that long and admirable march into the enemies country, took and destroyed Fort Frontenac, with the whole French fleet on the lakes, and struck terror into the heart of Canada. That it was a Provincial Officer, with Provincials only, who made another extraordinary march into the enemy’s country, surprized and destroyed the Indian town of Kittanning, bringing off the scalps of their chiefs.9 That one ranging Captain of a few Provincials, Rogers, has harrassed the enemy more on the frontiers of Canada, and destroyed more of their men, than the whole army of Regulars.1 That it was the Regulars who surrendered themselves, with the Provincials under their command, prisoners of war, almost as soon as they were besieged, with the forts, fleet, and all the provisions and stores that had been provided and amassed at so immense an expence, at Oswego.2 That it was the Regulars who surrendered Fort William Henry, and suffered themselves to be butchered and scalped with arms in their hands.3 That it was the Regulars, under Braddock, who were thrown into a panick by the “yells of 3 or 400 Indians,” in their confusion shot one another, and, with five times the force of the enemy, fled before them, destroying all their own stores, ammunition, and provisions!4 These Regular Gentlemen, will the Provincial rangers add, may possibly be afraid, as they say they are, to be on a command with us in the woods; but when it is considered, that from all past experience the chance of our shooting them is not as one to an hundred, compared with that of their being shot by the enemy, may it not be suspected, that what they give as the very account of their fear and unwillingness to venture out with us, is only the very excuse; and that a concern for their scalps weighs more with them than a regard for their honour.

Such as these, Sir, I imagine may be the reflections extorted by such provocations from the Provincials in general. But the New England Men in particular will have reason to resent the remarks on their reduction of Louisbourg. Your writer proceeds, “Indeed they are all very ready to make their boast of taking Louisbourg, in 1745; but if people were to be acquitted or condemned according to the propriety and wisdom of their plans, and not according to their success, the persons that undertook that siege merited little praise: for I have heard officers, who assisted at it, say, never was any thing more rash; for had one single part of their plan failed, or had the French made the fortieth part of the resistance then that they have made now, every soul of the New Englanders must have fallen in the trenches. The garrison was weak, sickly, destitute of provisions, and disgusted, and therefore became a ready prey; and, when they returned to France were decimated for their gallant defence. Where then is the glory arising from thence?” After denying his facts, “that the garrison was weak, wanted provisions, made not a fortieth part of the resistance, were decimated,” &c. the New England men will ask this regular gentleman, If the place was well fortified, and had (as it really had) a numerous garrison, was it not at least brave to attack it with a handful of raw undisciplined militia? If the garrison was, as you say, “sickly, disgusted, destitute of provisions, and ready to become a prey,” was it not prudent to seize that opportunity, and put the nation in possession of so important a fortress at so small an expence? So that if you will not allow the enterprize to be, as we think it was, both brave and prudent, ought you not at least to grant it was either one or the other? But is there no merit on this score in the people, who, tho’ at first so greatly divided, as to the making or forbearing the attempt, that it was carried in the affirmative, by the small majority of one vote only; yet when it was once resolved on, unanimously prosecuted the design,*and prepared the means with the greatest zeal and diligence; so that the whole equipment was completely ready before the season would permit the execution? Is there no merit of praise in laying and executing their plan so well, that, as you have confessed, not a single part of it failed? If the plan was destitute of “propriety and wisdom,” would it not have required the sharp acute men of the northern latitude to execute it, that by supplying its deficiencies they might give it some chance of success? But if such “remarkably silly, simple, blundering Mar-plans,” as you say we are, could execute this plan, so that not a single part of it failed, does it not at least show that the plan itself must be laid with some “wisdom and propriety?” Is there no merit in the ardour with which all degrees and ranks of people quitted their private affairs, and ranged themselves under the banners of their King, for the honour, safety, and advantage of their country?

Is there no merit in the profound secrecy guarded by a whole people, so that the enemy had not the least intelligence of the design, till they saw the fleet of transports cover the sea before their port? Is there none in the indefatigable labour the troops went thro’ during the siege, performing the duty both of men and horses; the hardships they patiently suffered for want of tents and other necessaries; the readiness with which they learnt to move, direct, and manage cannon, raise batteries, and form approaches;* the bravery with which they sustained sallies; and finally in their consenting to stay and garrison the place after it was taken, absent from their business and families, till troops could be brought from England for that purpose, tho’ they undertook the service on a promise of being discharged as soon as it was over, were unprovided for so long an absence, and actually suffered ten times more loss by mortal sickness, thro’ want of necessaries, than they suffered from the arms of the enemy? The nation, however, had a sense of this undertaking different from the unkind one of this gentleman. At the treaty of peace, the possession of Louisbourg was found of great advantage to our affairs in Europe; and if the brave men that made the acquisition for us were not rewarded, at least they were praised. Envy may continue a while to cavil and detract, but public virtue will in the end obtain esteem; and honest impartiality in this and future ages will not fail doing justice to merit.

Your gentleman writer thus decently goes on. “The most substantial men of most of the provinces are children or grandchildren of those that came here at the King’s expence, that is, thieves, highwaymen, and robbers.” Being probably a military gentleman, this, and therefore a person of nice honour, if any one should tell him in the plainest language, that what he here says is an absolute falsehood, challenges and cutting of throats might immediately ensue. I shall therefore only refer him to his own account in this same letter, of the peopling of New England, which he says, with more truth, was by Puritans who fled thither for shelter from the persecutions of Archbishop Laud. Is there not a wide difference between removing to a distant country to enjoy the exercise of religion according to a man’s conscience, and his being transported thither by law as a punishment for his crimes? This contradiction we therefore leave the gentleman and himself to settle as well as they can between them. One would think from his account, that the provinces were so many colonies from Newgate. The truth is, not only Laud’s persecution, but the other publick troubles in the following reigns, induc’d many thousand families to leave England, and settle in the plantations. During the predominance of the parliament, many royalists removed or were banished to Virginia and Barbadoes, who afterwards spread into the other settlements: The Catholics shelter’d themselves in Maryland. At the restoration, many of the depriv’d nonconformist ministers with their families, friends and hearers, went over. Towards the end of Charles the Second’s reign and during James the Second’s, the dissenters again flocked into America, driven by persecution, and dreading the introduction of popery at home. Then the high price or reward of labour in the colonies, and want of Artisans there, drew over many, as well as the occasion of commerce; and when once people begin to migrate, every one has his little sphere of acquaintance and connections, which he draws after him, by invitation, motives of interest, praising his new settlement, and other encouragements. The “most substantial men” are descendants of those early settlers; new comers not having yet had time to raise estates. The practice of sending convicts thither, is modern; and the same indolence of temper and habits of idleness that make people poor and tempt them to steal in England, continue with them when they are sent to America, and must there have the same effects, where all who live well owe their subsistence to labour and business, and where it is a thousand times more difficult than here to acquire wealth without industry. Hence the instances of transported thieves advancing their fortunes in the colonies are extreamly rare, if there really is a single instance of it, which I very much doubt; but of their being advanc’d there to the gallows the instances are plenty. Might they not as well have been hang’d at home? We call Britain the mother country; but what good mother besides, would introduce thieves and criminals into the company of her children, to corrupt and disgrace them? And how cruel is it, to force, by the high hand of power, a particular country of your subjects, who have not deserv’d such usage, to receive your outcasts, repealing all the laws they make to prevent their admission, and then reproach them with the detested mixture you have made. “The emptying their jails into our settlements (says a writer of that country) is an insult and contempt, the cruellest perhaps that ever one people offered another; and would not be equal’d even by emptying their jakes on our tables.”2

The letter I have been considering, Mr. Chronicle, is follow’d by another, in your paper of Tuesday the 17th past, said to be from an officer who attended Brigadier General Forbes in his march from Philadelphia to Fort Duquesne; but wrote probably by the same gentleman who wrote the former,3 as it seems calculated to raise the character of the officers of the certain northern latitude, at the expence of the reputation of the colonies, and the provincial forces. According to this letter-writer, if the Pensilvanians granted large supplies, and raised a great body of troops for the last campaign, it was not obedience to his Majesty’s commands, signified by his minister Mr. Pitt, zeal for the King’s service, or even a regard for their own safety; but it was owing to the “General’s proper management of the Quakers and other parties in the province.”4 The withdrawing of the Indians from the French interest by negotiating a peace, is all ascribed to the General, and not a word said to the honour of the poor Quakers who first set those negotiations on foot, or of honest Frederic Post that compleated them with so much ability and success.5 Even the little merit of the Assembly’s making a law to regulate carriages, is imputed to the General’s “multitude of letters.”6 Then he tells us, “innumerable scouting parties had been sent out during a long period, both by the General and Colonel Bouquet,7 towards Fort Duquesne, to catch a prisoner, if possible, for intelligence, but never got any.” How happened that? Why, “It was the Provincial troops that were constantly employed in that service,” and they, it seems, never do any thing they are ordered to do. That, however, one would think, might be easily remedied, by sending Regulars with them, who of course must command them, and may see that they do their duty. No; The Regulars are afraid of being shot by the Provincials in a Panick. Then send all Regulars. Aye; That was what the Colonel resolved upon. “Intelligence was now wanted (says the letter-writer). Col. Bouquet, whose attention to business was [only] very considerable [that is, not quite so great as the General’s, for he was not of the northern latitude] was determined to send no more Provincials a scouting.”8 And how did he execute this determination? Why, by sending “Major Grant9 of the Highlanders, with seven hundred men, three hundred of them Highlanders, the rest Americans, Virginians, and Pensilvanians!” No blunder this, in our writer; but a misfortune; and he is nevertheless one of those “acute sharp” men who are “fit for learning!” And how did this Major and seven hundred men succeed in catching the prisoner? Why, their “march to Fort Duquesne was so conducted that the surprize was compleat.” Perhaps you may imagine, gentle reader, that this was a surprize of the enemy. No such matter. They knew every step of his motions, and had, every man of them, left their fires and huts in the fields, and retired into the fort. But the Major and his 700 men, they were surprized; first to find no body there at night; and next to find themselves surrounded and cut to pieces in the morning; two or three hundred being killed, drowned, or taken prisoners, and among the latter the Major himself. Those who escaped were also surprized at their own good fortune; and the whole army was surprized at the Major’s bad management.1 Thus the surprize was indeed compleat; but not the disgrace; for Provincials were there to lay the blame on. The misfortune (we must not call it misconduct) of the Major was owing, it seems, to an unnamed and perhaps unknown Provincial officer, who, it is said, “disobeyed his orders and quitted his post.”2 Whence a formal conclusion is drawn, “That a Planter is not to be taken from the plow and made an officer in a day.” Unhappy Provincials! If success attends where you are joined with the Regulars, they claim all the honour, tho’ not a tenth part of your number. If disgrace, it is all yours, though you happen to be but a small part of the whole, and have not the command; as if Regulars were in their nature invincible, when not mix’d with Provincials, and Provincials of no kind of value without Regulars! Happy is it for you that you were present neither at Preston-Pans nor Falkirk, at the faint attempt against Rochfort, the rout of St. Cas, or the hasty retreat from Martinico.3 Every thing that went wrong, or did not go right, would have been ascribed to you. Our commanders would have been saved the labour of writing long apologies for their conduct. It might have been sufficient to say, Provincials were with us!

But these remarks, which we only suppose may be made by the provok’d provincials, are probably too severe. The generals, even those who have been recall’d, had in several respects great merit, as well as many of the officers of the same nation that remain, which the cool discreet part of the provincials will readily allow. They are not insensible of the worth and bravery of the British troops in general, honour them for the amazing valour they manifested at the landing on Cape Breton, the prudence and military skill they show’d in the siege and reduction of Louisburg,4 and their good conduct on other occasions; and can make due allowance for mistakes naturally arising where even the best men are engag’d in a new kind of war, with a new and strange enemy, and in a country different from any they had before experienc’d. Lord Howe was their darling,5 and others might be nam’d who are growing daily in their esteem and admiration. There are also among the regular officers, men of sentiments, concerning the colonies, more generous and more just than those express’d by these letter-writers; who can see faults even in their own corps, and who can allow the Provincials their share of merit; who feel pleasure as Britons, in observing that the children of Britain retain their native intrepidity to the third and fourth generation in the regions of America; together with that ardent love of liberty and zeal in its defence, which in every age has distinguish’d their progenitors among the rest of mankind. To conclude, in all countries, all nations, and all armies, there is, and will be a mixture of characters, a medley of brave men, fools, wisemen and cowards. National reflections being general, are therefore unjust. But panegyrics, tho’ they should be too general, cannot offend the subjects of them. I shall therefore boldly say, that the English are brave and wise; the Scotch are brave and wise; and the people of the British colonies, proceeding from both nations—I would say the same of them, if it might not be thought vanity in Your humble servant,

A New Englandman.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Paul L. Ford, Franklin Bibliography. A List of Books Written by, or Relating to Benjamin Franklin (Brooklyn, 1889), p. 283; Verner W. Crane, ed., Benjamin Franklin’s Letters to the Press 1758–1775 (Chapel Hill, [1950]), p. 9.

9“Extract of a Letter from a Gentleman in General Abercrombie’s army, dated Camp at Lake George, August 24,” London Chron., Dec. 21–23, 1758. After describing the situation of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, the unidentified author discussed at length the chief characteristics of New England and New York as he observed them. Writing to Col. Peter Schuyler, June 19, 1759 (below p. 408), WF stated his belief that the author was no army officer but Dr. Adam Thomson, a Scottish physician then living in New York; see above, IV, 80 n.

1William Laud (1573–1645), dean of Gloucester, 1616–21; bishop of St. David’s, 1621–26; bishop of Bath and Wells, 1626–28; bishop of London, 1628–33; archbishop of Canterbury, 1633–45; chancellor of Oxford University, 1629–41. DNB.

2Such abuses were particularly flagrant in New York.


4The Earl of Loudoun, a Scot, had abandoned his campaign against Louisbourg in the summer of 1757, after assembling an army of sixteen regiments of British regulars at Halifax. Pargellis, Lord Loudoun, pp. 236–43; Gipson, British Empire, VII, 102–16.

5James Abercromby, another Scot and Loudoun’s successor as commander-in-chief, led an expedition against Ticonderoga in the early summer of 1758. It consisted of some 12,000 men, about half of whom were newly recruited and untrained provincials. Abercromby’s direct frontal attack on the fort, July 8, was premature, ill planned, and carried forward without waiting for the emplacement of his artillery. His most effective subordinate, Lord Howe, had been killed in a preliminary skirmish; many, but far from all, of the raw provincials behaved badly; the regulars suffered heavy casualties; and the greatly outnumbered French defenders gained a complete victory. Abercromby retreated to Lake George and abandoned the idea of a second attempt on Ticonderoga that year. Gipson, British Empire, VII, 212–35.

6In June 1755 a force of 2000 New England volunteers and 250 British regulars from the Nova Scotia garrison, commanded by Lieut. Col. Robert Monckton, a British officer, captured Fort Beauséjour and the smaller Fort Gaspereau on the opposite side of the Chignecto Isthmus. Ibid., VI, 226–33. BF had complained to Sir Everard Fawkener, July 27, 1756, about the failure of the British officers and newspapers to give the New Englanders any credit for their part in the victory. See above, VI, 473.

7After an initial setback, Gen. William Johnson, with a mixed force of Indians and provincials, mostly from New England, defeated the French at the Battle of Lake George, Sept. 8, 1755, and captured the wounded French commander-in-chief in North America, Baron de Dieskau. Gipson, British Empire, VI, 163–75; above, VI, 218 n.

8In spite of BF’s emphatic statement, it is uncertain whether John Bradstreet (c. 1711–1774) was born in Nova Scotia or immigrated at an early age. He may have been the Jean-Baptiste Bradstreet who was born in 1714, the son of an officer in the 40th Regiment (stationed in Acadia after the British conquest) and Agathe de la Tour of a prominent Acadian family. He became an ensign in the 40th Regiment in 1745, served with distinction at Louisbourg, and became a captain in Pepperrell’s regiment, 1746, though recommended for the lieutenant colonelcy. In charge of supplying the garrison at Oswego, 1755–56, he organized 2000 bateaumen, constructed boats, and moved large quantities of provisions there, despite the enemy’s efforts to disrupt his communications. Pitt advanced him to the rank of lieutenant colonel and appointed him deputy quartermaster general in 1757. He commanded a force of about 3000 men, all but some 150 of whom were provincials, which attacked and captured Fort Frontenac (now Kingston, Ontario), Aug. 27, 1758. DAB; Pargellis, Military Affairs, p. 187 n; Gipson, British Empire, VII, 238–46.

9For Col. John Armstrong’s attack on Kittanning in September 1756, see above, VII, 262, and William A. Hunter, “Victory at Kittanning,” Pa. Hist., xxiii (1956), 376–407.

1The exploits of Robert Rogers (1731–1795) and his rangers have become almost legendary, and hardly need to be summarized here. Some of his most famous operations had not yet taken place when BF wrote. Rogers was born in Methuen, Mass., and grew up in New Hampshire. John R. Cuneo, Robert Rogers of the Rangers (N.Y., 1959).

2Oswego surrendered to Montcalm, Aug. 14, 1756. Pargellis, Lord Loudoun, pp. 147–60; Gipson, British Empire, VI, 195–203.

3Largely because Gen. Daniel Webb had failed to provide adequate reinforcements, Lieut. Col. George Monro, with about 740 regulars and 1200 provincials, was forced to surrender Fort William Henry to Montcalm and his besieging army of 7000 French and Indians, Aug. 9, 1757. Montcalm guaranteed to protect the prisoners against his Indian allies, but he provided an inadequate guard, the Indians attacked and killed at least 200, including sick and wounded, women and children, before Montcalm himself appeared to stop the massacre. Pargellis, Lord Loudoun, pp. 243–51; Gipson, British Empire, VII, 78–88.

4On Braddock’s defeat, July 9, 1755, see above, VI, 109.

5Memoirs of the Principal Transactions of the Last War between the English and French in North America. From the Commencement of it in 1744, to the Conclusion of the Treaty at Aix la Chapelle. Containing in Particular An Account of the Importance of Nova Scotia or Acadie and the Island of Cape Breton to both Nations (London, 1757). The authorship has sometimes been attributed to William Shirley. The italics and small capitals in the quotation are BF’s.

6“Farms” in the original Memoirs.

7Peter Schuyler (c. 1710–1762), well-to-do member of the family long prominent in N.Y. and N.J. affairs, organized and commanded a regiment, the “Jersey Blues,” in 1746 for the abortive expedition against Canada, and another at the beginning of the next war. He and half of his men, who were part of the garrison at Oswego, were captured when that post fell to the French in August 1756. Taken to Canada, he was released on parole in order to effect an exchange, but being unable to do this within the time specified, he returned to Canada, where he remained until exchanged with some of his soldiers after the British took Fort Frontenac in August 1758. He then organized a new regiment and was with the British army under General Amherst which captured Montreal, Sept. 8, 1760. Charles H. Winfield, History of the County of Hudson, New Jersey (N.Y., 1874), pp. 536–41; George W. Schuyler, Colonial New York Philip Schuyler and His Family (N.Y., 1885), II, 207–12.

8While stationed in Albany in May 1747, Schuyler’s troops started to mutiny because their pay was withheld by the military authorities. The colonel quelled the disturbance by offering to pay the men from his own resources, an action which brought upon him a sharp rebuke from Gov. George Clinton of N.Y. on the extraordinary grounds that “the retaining the greatest part of the arrears due … is the most effectual method at present to prevent desertions.” Later, when some money became available and Schuyler paid his men in full, Clinton complained to the Duke of Newcastle that this was “the principal reason why the greatest number of the other forces and chiefly those levied in this Province remain discontented and mutinous, and refuse to receive less than their whole pay.” I N.J. Arch., VI, 441–2, 451–2.

9BF omitted from the quoted passage: “by the Help of Sledges.”

1pp. 52–3. This pamphlet devotes pp. 31–71 (about two-fifths of the whole) to an account of the planning and carrying out of the Louisbourg expedition of 1745 and the problem of garrisoning the fortress after its capture.

2The quotation is slightly modified from a sentence in a longer passage, also placed within quotation marks, printed in Pa. Gaz., April 11, 1751, at the end of a catalogue of felonies committed by indentured servants and others in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. In the issue of the following May 9, BF had followed up that attack on the British policy of transporting felons to the colonies with his well-known satire in which he proposed gathering up in America, shipping to Britain, and releasing there quantities of rattlesnakes as “the highest Returns of Gratitude and Duty” the colonies could make to the mother country for the “tender parental Concern” she showed them in sending over her felons. See above, IV, 130–3.

3“A Letter from an Officer who attended Brigadier General Forbes, in his March from Philadelphia to Fort Duquesne, (now Pittsburgh) Feb. 25, 1759,” London Chron., April 14–17, 1759. This is a detailed account of the Forbes expedition. WF told Col. Peter Schuyler, June 19, 1759, that he thought the author was “Parson Smith of Philadelphia”; see below, p. 408. The two letters to which BF was replying in this paper occupy together approximately the same amount of space in the Chronicle as his defense of the provincials.

4The Pa. Assembly, voted to raise 2700 men for the campaign, March 23, 1758, fifteen days after Governor Denny sent them Pitt’s letter of Dec. 30, 1757; after the usual controversy over taxation of proprietary estates, the House yielded the point and on the afternoon of April 18 agreed to prepare a bill granting £100,000. General Forbes arrived in Philadelphia that evening. Denny put aside his objections to the commissioners named in the bill on April 22 and the measure became law the same day. Since Forbes’s arrival in the city and his first conference with Denny seem not to have taken place until a few hours after the Assembly had made its important concession, it is not clear how he could have exercised any “proper management of the Quakers and other parties in the province” in securing the appropriation, except by persuading Denny to yield on the matter of the commissioners. Votes, 1757–58, pp. 50–1, 56–7, 77–80; Alfred P. James, ed., Writings of General John Forbes (Menasha, Wis.), p. 65.

5See above, pp. 199, 230, 298.

6Before the campaign began Forbes appears to have written only one letter to Denny (on March 23) on the need for an act regarding wagons and carriages for the army. The Assembly passed such a bill, April 1, and after consulting with Forbes’s quartermaster general, Sir John St. Clair, Denny signed it, April 8. The wagons and teams provided under this act proved inadequate after the march had begun; Forbes appealed to Denny for an additional act, September 9, and also wrote to several provincial leaders; the Assembly received the request on the 13th; and Denny signed the resulting bill, September 20. James, ed., Forbes Writings, pp. 63, 206–8, 213; Votes, 1757–58, pp. 60, 62, 63, 98–9, 100, 101; Pa. Col. Recs., VIII, 60–1, 69, 71, 77, 167–70, 171.

7Lieut. Col. Henry Bouquet (see above, VII, 63 n) was second in command of the Forbes expedition.

8The brackets in this sentence were inserted by BF to indicate his interpolations in the quotation.

9James Grant (1720–1806) entered the British Army in 1741 and in 1757 was made major of the newly raised First Highland Battalion or Montgomery Highlanders (later the 77th Regiment). This unit was the nucleus around which Forbes’s expedition was organized. Grant was governor of the province of East Florida, 1764–71, and served in the army in America again during the Revolution. He commanded the expedition which captured St. Lucia in the West Indies in 1778. DNB.

1On September 11 Bouquet, who commanded the advance units, sent Grant with nearly 800 men, about half of them regulars, ahead to feel out the strength of the enemy, take prisoners, and then retreat. By the 14th Grant was close enough to Fort Duquesne to send Major Andrew Lewis of Virginia with 300 regulars and 100 Virginians to attack the Indian encampment near the fort, but Lewis returned without accomplishing his mission because, as he said, his men could not find their way through the woods in the darkness. Later that day the French and Indians sallied from the fort and enveloped Grant’s outnumbered troops. Partly because Lewis and Grant missed each other when they tried to join forces, the French gained a complete victory. The British lost 300 killed or missing (mostly regulars) and 44 others wounded; Grant and Lewis were both taken prisoner. Forbes later blamed both Bouquet and Grant for their rashness in this operation. James, ed., Forbes Writings, pp. 215–16, 217, 218; [Thomas Balch, ed.], Letters and Papers Relating Chiefly to the Provincial History of Pennsylvania (Phila., 1855), p. 139; Gipson, British Empire, VII, 268–70.

2Apparently a reference to Major Lewis of the Va. regiment; see the preceding note.

3Prestonpans (Sept. 21, 1745) and Falkirk Moor (Jan. 17, 1746) were Jacobite victories in the Rebellion of 1745. On the abortive expedition against Rochefort in the summer of 1757, see above, VII, 375 n. After an unsuccessful raid against St. Malo, Lieut. Gen. Thomas Bligh’s troops were attacked by the French, Sept. 11, 1758, while attempting to reembark at the nearby port of St. Cas and suffered heavy losses, running into the hundreds as the British admitted, or the thousands as the French asserted. A combined military and naval expedition under Maj. Gen. Thomas Peregrine Hopson and Commodore John Moore undertook the capture of Martinique in January 1759, but finding stronger resistance and greater topographical difficulties than anticipated, abandoned the undertaking after minor assault operations and sailed for Guadeloupe, which was successfully reduced and surrendered May 2, 1759, although Hopson died during the campaign. News of the achievement at Guadeloupe, of course, had not yet reached London when BF wrote this sentence. On the St. Cas and Martinique operations, see Gipson, British Empire, VII, 135–7; VIII, 86–94.

4At the contested landing operation with which Gen. Jeffery Amherst opened his attack upon Louisbourg, June 8, 1758, the troops of the “Red Division” under James Wolfe acquitted themselves with particular bravery and success. In spite of a stubborn defense against the British siege which followed, the French commander, the Chevalier de Drucour, was forced to surrender the stronghold, July 26, 1758. Gipson, British Empire, VII, 192–207.

5George Augustus, 3d Viscount Howe (c. 1724–1758), brigadier general and second in command of Abercromby’s expedition against Ticonderoga, endeared himself to the troops, provincials and regulars alike, by his ability to adapt to the conditions of wilderness fighting in America and his willingness, rare in a British officer of his rank and station in life, to sacrifice personal luxuries to the exigencies of a campaign. He was killed at the start of a skirmish, July 6, 1758, which opened Abercromby’s unsuccessful expedition. His younger brothers Richard and William became respectively naval and military commanders of British forces in the American Revolution. DAB. The monument in Westminster Abbey, voted by the Mass. General Court, Feb. 1, 1759, was “opened,” July 10, 1762. It is described, with the text of the inscription, in Gent. Mag., XXXII (1762), 340.

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

º *Colonel Bradstreet.

º †Colonel Armstrong of Pensilvania.

º *“As the Massachuset’s assembly at first entered into the expedition upon the coolest deliberation, so did they on the other hand exert themselves with uncommon vigour in the persecution of it. As soon as the point was carried for undertaking it, EVERY MEMBER which had opposed it gave up his own private judgment to the public voice, and vied with those who had voted for the expedition, in encouraging the enlistment of the troops, and forwarding the preparations for the attempt.” Memoirs of the last War, p. 41.5

º †“The bounty, pay, and other encouragements, allowed by the Massachuset’s government to both officers and men, especially the former, was but small; but the spirit which reigned thro’ the province supplied the want of that; the complement of troops was soon inlisted; not only the officers, who served in this enterprize, were gentlemen of considerable property, but most of the non-commission’d officers, and many of the private men, had valuable freeholds,6 and entered into the service upon the same principles that the old Roman citizens in the first Consular armies used to do.” Memoirs of the last War, p. 41.

To which I may add, that instances of the same noble spirit are not uncommon in all the other colonies; where men have entered into the service not for the sake of the pay, for their own affairs in their absence suffer more by far than its value; not in hopes of preferment in the army, for the Provincials are shut out from such expectations, their own forces being always disbanded on a peace, and the vacancies among the Regulars filled with Europeans; but merely from public spirit and a sense of duty. Among many others, give me leave to name Col. Peter Schuyler of New Jersey;7 who, though a gentleman of a considerable independent fortune, has, both in the last and present war, quitted that domestic ease and quiet which such affluence afforded, to take upon him the command of his country’s forces, and by his example animated the soldiery to undergo the greatest fatigues and hardships: And who when a prisoner in Canada for fifteen months, did, during the whole time, generously make use of his own credit to relieve such British subjects as unhappily fell into the hands of the enemy. Not to mention his advancing his own private fortune towards paying the forces, raised during last war in America by order of the crown; when, by the continued delays in sending the money from England for that purpose, it was generally doubted whether it would ever be sent, and the common soldiers were therefore, from necessity, on the point of quitting his Majesty’s service in a body.8 An event which must at that time have been attended with very fatal consequences; and would not have been prevented, had not he risqued so considerable a part of his substance.

º *“The New England troops, within the compass of 23 days from the time of their first landing, erected five fascine batteries against the town, mounted with cannon of 42 lb. 22 lb. and 18 lb. shot, mortars of 13, 11, and 9 inches diameter, with some cohorns; all which were transported by hand, with incredible labour and difficulty, most of them above two miles; all the ground over which they were drawn, except small patches or hills of rocks, was a deep morass, in which, whilst the cannon were upon wheels, they several times sunk so deep, as not only to bury the carriages, but their whole bodies. Horses and oxen could not be employed in this service, but all must be drawn by men, up to the knees in mud; the nights, in which the work was done, were cold and foggy, their tents bad, there being no proper materials for tents to be had in New England at the outset of the expedition. But notwithstanding these difficulties, and many of the men’s being taken down with fluxes, so that at one time there were 1500 incapable of duty, they went on without being discouraged or murmuring, and9 transported the cannon over those ways, which the French had always thought impassable for such heavy weights; and besides this, they had all their provisions and heavy ammunition, which they daily made use of, to bring from the camp over the same way upon their backs.” Memoirs of the last war in America, page 52.1

º †The assembly of the Massachusets-Bay have voted a sum of money for erecting a monument in Westminster-Abbey, to the memory of that Nobleman, as a testimony of their veneration for his virtues. A proof that their sense of merit is not narrow’d to a country.

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