George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 5 September 1775

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] 5th September 1775.

Sir

Your Excellency’s favour of the 2nd instant was delivered to me last night; This afternoon received Genl Schuyler’s of the 31st August—He has ordered the Lead to Albany with directions to forward it by the most direct route to your Camp.1

We are infested by Ministerial Ships and Transports—I gave your Commissary General a Narrative yesterday—beg leave to refer you to him, from the haste of this Express—Our Coasts are kept in continual Alarm, Three Ships of War with thirteen other Vessels of divers sorts were seen off Fisher’s Island and in the Sound yesterday, they have gained no provisions from the Main—have heard nothing from Montaug or any part of Long-Island—New London is in great fears, and Stonington expect another Attack2—I have Ordered The new raised Levies to Guard and defend those two places, and the Coasts as far as Connecticut River—there are likewise four Companies of them beyond the river for Defence in those parts—This appears absolutely necessary for their Security at present—Hope this use of them ’till these dangers are over, will neither injure or hinder any of your Operations.3

Whether these are the same Ships your Excellency noticed us off remains uncertain—Yesterday Ordered the best intelligence to be gained to render that matter more certain.4

Lords day morning, constrained by the Weather, came into the Harbour at New London, a Schooner taken by the Rose, Capt. Wallace at Stonington four hands on board, One a White Man sent to Windham Goal, the Other Three Negroes, two belonging to Govr Cook, & one to Newport—Ordered to be returned to their Masters—And The Schooner to her Owner5—General Schuyler’s Army is moved forward, a few days will determine the Event.6

I have Ordered our Commissaries in the Several Counties to send to your Camp all the Hunting Shirts they can procure.7 I am, with great Esteem and Regard Sir Your very Obedient and most Humble Servant

Jonth. Trumbull

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, Ct: Trumbull Papers; copy, CtHi: Trumbull Papers. The copy at the Connecticut Historical Society is endorsed “Sent per Bennet.”

1For Schuyler’s orders regarding the lead at Crown Point, see Schuyler to GW, 31 Aug. 1775.

2British warships attacked Stonington on 30 August. Hearing that the Rhode Island general assembly had ordered all livestock to be taken off Block Island, Capt. James Wallace of the British warship Rose set out on 29 Aug. with his ship and three armed tenders to stop the removal. Near Block Island that evening the tenders began chasing an American sloop and schooner and on the morning of 30 Aug. pursued them into Stonington Harbor. “The Tenders,” Wallace later reported, “returned and acquainted me, the Town fired upon them. We stood in, the Tenders going ahead. One of the Tenders attempting to board a Vessel, a firing begun from the Town, the Tenders returned it, about this time we came to an Anchor off the South end of the Town—the Tender and the Town continuing the fire, About 10 Minutes after we were at an Anchor we received three or four Musket Shot from the Windmill, . . . upon which I ordered one of our Guns to be fired into the Town, and waited some time expecting that would put a stop to it—They took no Notice but continued firing from all parts of the Town—Then we began and fired about 120 Shot. . . . At the beginning of this Action there was about 300 Rebels in the Town, at the latter end more than 3,000 Skulking behind Hills and Rocks and fences. All the Country about came in” (Wallace to Samuel Graves, 9 Sept. 1775, in 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 , 2:58–59). The inhabitants of Stonington claimed that the British attack was unprovoked. The Boston-Gazette, and Country Journal, 4 Sept. 1775, reported that when the American vessels entered the harbor on the morning of 30 Aug., a local pilot tried to help them and was told by one of the British tenders to desist. “He returned for Answer, he might do as he pleased: Immediately the Tender ran alongside of the Wharves, and fired a whole Broadside on the Town and People, which was returned by a Volley of Small Arms from the People.” For a report of the sighting of the Rose and other vessels off Fisher’s Island on 1 and 2 Sept., see Connecticut Journal (New Haven), 13 Sept. 1775.

3The new levies were those belonging to the regiments commanded by colonels Charles Webb and Jedediah Huntington. See Trumbull to GW, 17 July 1775, n.1. On 4 Sept. Governor Trumbull and his council ordered two companies and a part of another one “to be stationed at or near Stonington harbor; and the other companies to remain at New London, under Maj. [Jonathan] Lattimer; and the soldiers at both places were directed to make such intrenchments and works of defence as should be directed by the civil authority and field officers in those towns” (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 , 332). For GW’s overruling of these orders, see GW to Trumbull, 8 Sept. 1775.

4Trumbull is referring to the British fleet that GW mentioned in his letter to Trumbull of 23 Aug. 1775. The fleet went to the Bay of Fundy.

5Captain Wallace wrote Samuel Graves on 9 Sept. that he had seized five American vessels in Stonington Harbor: “a Schooner from Surinam loaded with Molasses and Sugar, a Schooner that was Employed carrying the Rebels over to Block Island to take the Stock, . . . a Schooner with Hay and two Sloops” (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 , 2:58–59). The recaptured schooner was driven into New London Harbor on 3 Sept. by a gale. The third black in the prize crew apparently belonged to John Collins of Newport (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 , 332–33).

6For a discussion of the beginning of Schuyler’s invasion of Canada, see Schuyler to GW, 31 Aug. 1775, n.2.

7For GW’s request for hunting shirts for the Continental army, see GW to Trumbull, 4 Aug. 1775.

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