George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Ethan Allen, 2 November 1776

From Lieutenant Colonel Ethan Allen

November 2 1776 New York Harbour


Having Procur’d the favour of Writing a few Lines to your Excellency, I Cherfully Exbrace the oppertunity and Entertain fond Hopes Shortly to pay my compliments to your Excellency Personally; The Kings Officers Incourage me that it will not be long before I am Exchanged, and I doubt Not but that your Excellency will Promote it, the more so, as I have suffered a long and sevear Imprisonment;1 Tho, in the passage from Halifax to Newyork Harbour, where I have been a few days, I was Courteously Treated by Capt. Smith & his Officers of the Lark Frigate in which I Sailed,2 and am now on Board a Transport Cal’d the Glasgow, where I am well Used, and have in great measure recover’d my Health, provided a little Cash could be Sent me it would Oblige your Excellency’s Most Obedient Humble Servt

Ethan Allen

P.S. There are Twenty four Prisoners with me, some of them were Taken at Bunkers Hill but the most of them with me Near Montreal, here are Included the Master of the Brigg Washington & his Mait,3 Also Mr James Lovell from Boston, who is this day to be Set at Liberty in Exchange for Governor Skeen; the Prisoners are all well but Earnestly desire their Liberty.


N.B. Capt. Fransis Procter of a Train of Artillery is Included in the Above Number of Prisoners.4



1Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., had written GW a brief letter on 24 Oct., at the direction of the Connecticut general assembly, requesting his “friendly Interposition to procure a speedy Exchange” of Allen and others who had been captured with him at Montreal in September 1775 (DLC:GW). Although Allen was paroled on Manhattan Island a few weeks later, he was not exchanged and allowed to return to the American lines until 6 May 1778.

2The British frigate Lark, commanded by Capt. Richard Smith, arrived at New York from Halifax on 25 Oct. (see Mackenzie, Diary description begins Diary of Frederick Mackenzie Giving a Daily Narrative of His Military Service as an Officer of the Regiment of Royal Welch Fusiliers during the Years 1775–1781 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1930. description ends , 1:87).

3Consider Howland (1752–1834) of Plymouth, Mass., was the sailing master of Capt. Sion Martindale’s armed brig Washington, which had been captured by the British off Cape Ann on 4 Dec. 1775, and Jacob Taylor also of Plymouth was master’s mate to Howland. Howland and Tayler had been unsuccessful in their attempt the previous June to escape from Halifax with Martindale and several other American prisoners. Howland was released on parole in late December, and he was exchanged in September 1777 (see Howland’s memorial to the Massachusetts Council, 9 Jan. 1777, in 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 , 7:904; Joshua Loring to Howland, 1 Feb. 1777, ibid., 1081; and Order of the Massachusetts Council, 17 Sept. 1777, ibid., 9:933–34). Later that month Howland became first lieutenant of the Massachusetts privateer America, and in June 1780 he was commissioned captain of another Massachusetts privateer, the Phoenix.

4For an account of Capt. Francis Proctor’s capture the previous March and efforts to obtain his release, see GW to Artemas Ward, 16 June 1776, and note 4.

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