George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons, 6 March 1777

From Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons

Lyme [Conn.] 6th March 1777


Since my last of the 23d Ulo I recd your Excellency’s Letters of the 8th 10th & 18th of Feby; before I recd those Letters I had establishd Hospitals in several Parts of this State for innoculating the Recruits; most of those who had not the Small Pox before are now in the Hospitals: some will come out in about ten Days.1

I shall pay a particular Attention to your Excellency’s Orders to send on the Levies to the Army as they are armd & clothd, I hope to be able to furnish four or five Hundred in about Three Weeks; I find it exceeding difficult to arm the Soldiers: I have sent to the eastern States for our Proportion of the Prize Arms, if any are remaining there, with what Success I have not yet heard.

Innoculating the Troops renders it impossible for me to make a Descent on Long Island with continental Soldiers, I have heard Nothing from Colonel Levingston, but have sent an Express to Fish Kill to know what Number of Troops he will imploy in that Service, & have applied to the Governor & Council of Safety to furnish some more.2 they incourage me to Supply about Three Hundred some time next Week; this Number with Col. Levingston’s I hope will be Sufficient to effect the End your Excellency proposes, unless the Enemy’s Force there should be considerably increasd before that Time.

I have not receivd the Account of Arms from Mr Cheever which he was orderd to transmit; when it comes to hand I shall endeavor to bring the Colonels to account for those recd in their Regiments.

I have not yet been able to procure Returns of the Numbers of Men inlisted with any considerable Exactness, but expect soon to Make Returns with some Degree of Certainty—I have sent to Rhode Island to inform myself of the Number of Levies in that State, but have no Return3—The Several Regiments in this State by the best Information I have been Able to procure will not greatly vary from the following Numbers

C. Webbs’s 80
Huntington’s 250
Wyllys’s 250
Bradly’s 220
Douglass’s 200
Chandler’s 80
Durkee’s 140
Swift’s 80
S. Webb’s 80
four of the Regiments by a Variety of Accidents have but lately began to recruit; Col. Saml Webb has had the Bounty of this State extended to his Regt but lately, I think he will soon fill that Regiment.4

I am of Opinion I have not estimated the Number too largely in any Regiment but hope soon to have certain Returns.

Nothing on my Part shall be wanting to promote recruiting & forwarding the Troops or any other Service which shall be assignd me. I am with the greatest Respect your Excellency’s most Obedt hbl. Sert

Saml H. Parsons


1The Connecticut council of safety ordered Parsons to provide “suitable hospitals” for the purpose of inoculating the newly raised troops against smallpox on 21 Feb. 1777 (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 , 416).

2Gov. Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., and the Connecticut council of safety held a “long consultation” with Parsons on 5 Mar. about “how to effect an attempt upon Long Island, to destroy forage,” and decided to “draw off Col. [John] Ely from Providence, to march to New London with four companies of his men, to wait further orders” (ibid., 419).

3Parsons’s letter to Gov. Nicholas Cooke of 4 Mar. 1777 requesting help in securing regimental returns from the Rhode Island colonels is located in R-Ar.

4Webb was allotted one-half of the bounty money that the Connecticut council of safety allocated on 26 Feb. 1777 for the raising of 1,000 men to form one of the Sixteen Additional Continental Regiments, and lieutenant colonels Return Jonathan Meigs and Thomas Dyer split the remainder (ibid., 418). John Chandler (1736–1796) served as the lieutenant colonel of Gold Selleck Silliman’s regiment of Connecticut militia levies from June to December 1776 and as colonel of the 8th Connecticut Regiment from January 1777 to March 1778, when he resigned from the service. Heman Swift (1733–1814), who was colonel of a Connecticut state regiment from July to December 1776, was appointed colonel of the 7th Connecticut Regiment in January 1777. Swift was brevetted brigadier general in September 1783 and retired from the army the following December.

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