George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James Bowdoin, 10 June 1776

To James Bowdoin

New York, June 10th 1776.


Congress having requested my attendance in Philadelphia, I was in that City when your Letter of the 11th Ulto came to this place—this days Post therefore affords me the first oppertunity of acknowledging the receipt of it.1

I am hopeful that you applied to General Ward, and have received all the Assistance that Mr Machin could give in determining upon the practacability of cutting a Canal, between Barnstable & Buzzards Bay ’ere this, as the great demand we have for Engineer’s in this Department, Canada, &ca, has obliged me to order Mr Machin hither to assist in that branch of business.2

I thank you most heartily for your kind congratulations on the departure of the Troops from Boston and am, with very great esteem, Sir, Yr Most Obedt, Hble Servt

Go: Washington.

ALS, Anonymous donor.

1This letter has not been found.

2Robert Hanson Harrison conveyed this order in a letter of this date that he wrote to Artemas Ward (DLC:GW). Thomas Machin (1744–1816), a native of Staffordshire, was trained as an engineer in Great Britain and worked on the duke of Bridgewater’s canal between Manchester and Worsley before coming to America in 1772 to inspect a copper mine in New Jersey. Deciding to remain in America, Machin settled in Boston and became an ardent Patriot. He reputedly participated in the Boston Tea Party in December 1773, and in April 1775 he was wounded while serving as an artillery officer at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Although appointed a lieutenant in Col. Richard Gridley’s Massachusetts regiment of artillery in June 1775 and to the same rank in Col. Henry Knox’s Continental Artillery Regiment the following December, Machin acted primarily as a military engineer during the first five years of the war (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 32:135–36). On 21 July 1776 GW ordered Machin to the Hudson highlands to assist in completing defensive works (see GW to Machin, that date), and he was subsequently employed in placing chains across the river to hinder British ships. Promoted to captain-lieutenant in the 2d Continental Artillery on 1 Jan. 1777, Machin was wounded in the fighting at Fort Montgomery in October of that year. During 1779 he was an engineer on Van Schaick’s and Sullivan’s expeditions against the Indians in western New York, and in August 1780 he became a captain in the Continental artillery. Machin served on the siege lines at Yorktown in 1781. Although he was severely reprimanded for recruiting violations the next year (see General Orders, 30 Sept. 1782), he remained in the army until the end of the war.

The Cape Cod Canal connecting Cape Cod Bay with Buzzards Bay was not built until 1909–14.

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