George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 15 September 1775

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] 15th September 1775


I have received your Excellency’s Letter of the 8th instant per Express who was detained by sickness, and did not deliver it ’till the 12th in the Evening, and my own bodily indisposition is some hindrance. Your peremptory requisition is fully complied with, all our new levies will be at your Camp, with all convenient Expedition.1

At the time they were by your direction to remain in the Colony on some reason to suspect a remove from Boston to New York, that they might be able to give them more speedy opposition2—I ordered Colo. Webb of our 7th Regiment, his men being raised in the Western part of the Colony, to take his station with three or four Companies at Greenwich the nearest Town of this Colony to New York, his Lt Colo. and Company at New Haven3—The Residue of his and Colo. Huntington’s who were forward in their March, one Company to Norwich, and the rest to New London—last Week I sent Orders to Colo. Webb to march the Companies with him to New Haven, to be on his way so much nearer to your Camp.4

I am surprised that mine of the 5th instant was not received or not judged worthy of Notice, as no mention is made of it.

Stonington had been Attacked, and severely cannonaded and by divine Providence marvellously protected.

New London and Stonington are still menaced by the Ministerial Ships and Troops, that the militia cannot be thought sufficient for their security—That ’tis necessary to cast up some Entrenchments.5

We are oblidged actually to raise more Men for their Security and for the Towns of New Haven and Lyme6—I hoped some of the new Levies might have been left here ’till these dangers were Over, without injury to any of your Operations. I own that must be left to your Judgment—Yet it would have given me pleasure to have been acquainted that you did consider it.

I thank Divine Providence and you for this early warning to great care and watchfulness, that so the Union of the Colonies may be settled on a permanent and happy Basis.

I have before me your more acceptable Letter of the 9th instant—The Necessities of the Colony to supply our two armed Vessels, to furnish the men necessarily raised for Defence of our Sea Ports and Coasts, and to raise the Lead Ore, which appears very promising, prevents our being able to spare more than half a Ton—which is Ordered forward with Expedition—Before the Necessity of raising more Men appeared, We intended to send a Ton.7

You may depend on our utmost Exertions for the defence and security of the Constitutional Rights and Liberty of the Colonies, and of our own in particular—none have shewn greater forwardness and thereby rendered themselves more the Objects of Ministerial Vengeance. I am, with great Esteem and Regard for your personal Character Sir Your most Obedient and very humble Servant

Jonth. Trumbull

P.S. The Glascow and Rose Men of War are not at Newport, and threaten that on the Return of the Swan from Boston, probably with Men for the purpose they will attack New London and Stonington.8

All the Regiments in the Colony, at a great Expence have been extraordinarily disciplined, And one quarter of them on the Sea Coasts are selected, equiped and held in readiness as minute Men for every Emergency.9

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, Ct: Trumbull Papers.

1GW’s letter to Trumbull of 8 Sept. was laid before the Connecticut council on 14 September: “On this there was great consideration. The troops were much wanted in the colony at their stations in New Haven, New London, and Lyme, to throw up and build works of defence against the British ships that were hovering about the eastern coast of the colony. These but a short time before, had cannonaded Stonington, and threats repeatedly made after that attack, rendered it probable that some other places on the coast would soon be attacked by the British, and therefore that the removal of the troops to Boston would greatly endanger the towns on the coasts in the colony; but, fearing, that should they refuse to send said troops, advantage would be taken against the colony, and though they would not be as useful at the camp, as they would be in their employments at their stations, yet it was thought most prudent to comply with the demand; and they were immediately ordered to march to the camp near Boston” (Hinman, Historical Collection description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends , 333–34).

2In his letter to Trumbull of 14 Aug., GW permitted the recruits raised by colonels Charles Webb and Jedediah Huntington to remain in Connecticut as long as there was a threat that the main British army might move from Boston to New York.

3On 1 July 1775 the Connecticut general assembly appointed Street Hall (1721–1809) of Wallingford lieutenant colonel and captain of the second company in Col. Charles Webb’s regiment. A brother of Lyman Hall of Georgia, Street Hall served as a lieutenant colonel under Webb until the end of 1776.

4At a meeting of the council on 8 Sept., “three companies, under Col. Webb, at Greenwich, were ordered to New Haven, to erect intrenchments at five mile point, or elsewhere, as Colonels Webb and Hall should advise; on condition that if the report in circulation, of the troops coming to New York, should appear to Col. Webb to be true, that he should remain at Greenwich until farther orders” (Hinman, Historical Collection description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends , 333).

5For an account of the British attack of 30 Aug. on Stonington and the council’s defensive measures, see Trumbull to GW, 5 Sept. 1775, n.2.

6On 14 Sept. the council directed Maj. Oliver Smith “to enlist 50 men. . . for the defence of Stonington, and for carrying on the works began there, until the 20th of October, 1775. And 70 men were ordered to be raised in the same manner and for the same purposes at New London, under Col. [Gurdon] Saltonstall; and 20 men to be raised at Lyme, to watch and guard at Black Point, Black Hall, &c., where the cattle and stock were the most exposed to be plundered, under Lee Lay, as ensign; also to raise 50 men at New Haven, to be employed there for defence, and to erect works of defence, if thought advisable by the people at New Haven,—to be under such officers as should be nominated by Wm. Williams and Nath’l. Wales” (Hinman, Historical Collection description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends , 334).

7On 14 Sept. the council ordered ½ ton of gunpowder sent to GW. The arming of two vessels was authorized by the colony’s general assembly on 1 July. For a discussion of the lead mine at Middletown, see Trumbull to GW, 21 Aug. 1775, n.3.

8The British sloop of war Swan sailed for Boston with some transport vessels on 16 Oct. and returned to Newport on 26 November. “Altho’ the Swan is not in a fit condition to be much longer on Service without being hove down,” Vice Admiral Samuel Graves wrote to Capt. James Wallace of the Rose on 4 Nov., “yet her Captain being so well acquainted determines me to send her back to you again until I can relieve her with either a good Sloop or Frigate” (Clark, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends , 2:881–82). The British did not again attack Stonington during the war, and New London remained undisturbed until Benedict Arnold raided the town in 1781.

9Trumbull is referring to the colony’s militia regiments (Trumbull to GW, 8 Aug. 1775).

Index Entries