George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Loammi Baldwin, 29 July 1775

From Lieutenant Colonel Loammi Baldwin

Chelsea [Mass.] July 29th 1775 2 oClock P.M.

May it please your Excellency

About twelve oClock this day we wase all allarm’d by the approach of a Boat to Winnisimmit Ferry1 & by a Signal Soon found them to be friends who Landed with their Houshold good: there ware Several of my Intimate acequa⟨in⟩tance[.] I have taken the names of all the Passeng⟨ers⟩ and Stopd the Letters which I now Send for y⟨our⟩ Inspection & Beg your Excellency would Send them Back to me again as soon as possable as the Bairers are Some of them in waighting and others are to call again tomorrow for theirs—Please to Keep the Inclosd Letters in there Respective covers.

I would Beg your Excelency would Send me Some Assistence as the Boats are to Continue passing (That is if we can believe General Gage) and Somthing may Escape for want of Proper assistenc that may turn to our disadvantag.2

Our officers are Very Sick here I have much upon my hands & mind, Scenc I Rec’d Mr Reed[’s] Letter last Night.3 Hope & Earnestly Expect Some assistence and your Excellencies Orders as Soon as the necessity of the mater Requires. I[n] great hast I am Sir your Excellences most Obediant Humbe Servnt

Loammi Baldwin Leut. Colo.

P.S: Should be much Obligd to your Excellency if you would Send down a few Sheets of Paper & wafers as I Cannot Procure any about here and am out—Pray Sir Excuse the Imperfections in this leter.

ALS, DLC:GW. Baldwin apparently enclosed with this letter “A Return of the Observations of the Day July the 29th,” a detailed report on ship traffic in Boston Harbor written by Joseph Leach, similar in content to Richard Dodge’s letter to GW of 22 July 1775. The report is in DLC:GW.

1The Winnisimmet ferry landing was near the mouth of the Mystic River, about two miles southwest of Chelsea.

2Gen. Thomas Gage agreed in late April 1775 to allow inhabitants of Boston to leave the city, provided that they took no arms or ammunition with them, but under pressure from Loyalists who wished to keep some Patriots in Boston to insure that the city would not be destroyed by the American army, Gage introduced new restrictions and delays that soon stopped all emigration from Boston. Gage unexpectedly reversed his policy on 28 July and had notices posted in the city, inviting “all persons, who inclined to go out, to leave their names at a place appointed” (“Diary of Ezekiel Price, 1775–6,” in Mass. Hist. Soc., Proceedings description begins Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Boston, 1859—. description ends , 1st ser., 7 [1863–64], 200). The subsequent flow of refugees from Boston caused considerable administrative problems for American authorities during the next several weeks. See GW to James Warren, 29 July, GW to James Otis, 5 Aug., and GW to Hancock, 4–5 Aug. 1775, n.26.

3Joseph Reed wrote to Baldwin on 28 July 1775: “In full Confidence of your Prudence & Secrecy as a Soldier a Man of Honour & a Friend to your Country the General has directed me to communicate to you a Scheme he is about to put into Execution to obtain constant & authentick Intelligence from Boston. The Plan is this. The inclosed Letter will be delivered by you to one Dewksbury who lives about five Miles from you towards Shirley Point. He will deliver it to a Waterman on whom he can depend who will convey it to John Carnes a Grocer in the South Part of Boston. The Answers and such Intelligence as he can procure will be forwarded to you thro. the same Channel: Which you are to transmit to His Excelly by Express immediately. As the Success of the Project & the Life of the Man in Boston may depend upon your Conduct, let it not escape you to the nearest Friend upon Earth, & for fear of Accident destroy this Letter as soon as you are sufficiently Master of its Contents. When you see Dewksbury give him the above Caution of Secrecy in the strongest Terms: And so to pass from him to the other. Your good Conduct & Discretion in this Matter will not fail to [be] duly noticed” (MHi: Miscellaneous Bound Collection). Baldwin sent GW on 16 Aug. a letter that apparently came from John Carnes. See Baldwin to GW, 15 and 16 Aug. 1775. Dewksbury was probably one of the several Tewksburys who lived east of Chelsea.

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