George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Artemas Ward, 27 February 1776

To Major General Artemas Ward

Cambridge 27th Feb: 1776.


We were falsely Alarmed a while ago with an Acct of the Regulars coming over from the Castle to Dorchester—Mr Baylor whom I immediately sent of is just returnd with a contradiction of it. But as a rascally Riffle man went in last Night & will no doubt give all the Intelligence he can, wd it not be prudent to keep Six or Eight trusty men by way of Lookouts or Patrols to Night on the point next the Castle as well as on Nuke Hill.1 At the same time ordering particular Regimts to be ready to March at a Moments warning to the Heights of Dorchester; For should the Enemy get Possession of those Hills before us they would render it a difficult task to dispossess them—better it is therefore to prevent than remedy an evil. I am Yr Most Obedt

Go: Washington


1“Last night,” Rev. Joseph Perry of the Connecticut militia wrote in his diary entry for 27 Feb., “deserted from our centery to the enimy a good for nothing rifleman who we hope will never come back. . . . About one P.M. when almost ready to dine came an alarm by General Spencers’ Sergeant brought it. The account was that the Regulars had landed on Dorchester point. Coll. [Erastus] Wolcott was ordered forth with to turn out with his Regiment. The Coll. sent the alarm to his Captins in every quarter to parade before his house immediately for an attack. . . . Every face looked serious but determined and the thing was real to us. In a few moments the whole Regiment would have been moving to the expected scene of blood, but were countermanded by order from Genrl Spencer informing it was a false alarm. The men got out of the rain and mud as fast as they could and all was peace again. This alarm was occasiond thus: the centery on Lambs dam observed a number of people walking on the north side of the hill at Dorchester point. A boat lay in of[f] the bay which appeard in the range. They thot a vessel landing the men and so gave the alarm” (Van Ness, “Diary of Joseph Perry,” description begins James S. Van Ness, ed. “The Diary of Rev. Joseph Perry Written During the Siege of Boston, February 16 to March 28, 1776.” Proceedings of the Bostonian Society (1963): 19–56. description ends 28–29; see also “Price’s Diary,” description begins “Diary of Ezekiel Price, 1775–6.” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 7 (1863–64): 185–262. description ends 238). Castle William was on Castle Island which lay a short distance off Dorchester Point at the eastern end of Dorchester Neck. Nook’s or Foster’s Hill was at the western end of Dorchester Neck near south Boston.

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