George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Ensign Benjamin Gould, 21 June 1776

From Ensign Benjamin Gould

Boston, 21 June 1776. “Whereas I received orders from your Excellency to march the Guard under my Command at Genl Lees Qua[rte]rs to Guard the Magazeine at Winter Hill. accordingly I Did. . . . the Powder was moved into Boston, then General Ward Gave orders for me to march into Boston and be his Guard. accordingly I marched into Boston and remain his Guard; and as he Expects soon to Leave the Service: I humbly ask the favour of your Excellency to permit me and Guard to stay as Guard for the Succeeding General.”


Although Benjamin Gould (1751–1841) signs this letter as “C[aptain] of Genl Wards Guard,” he was ranked at this time as an ensign in Col. Moses Little’s 12th Continental Regiment. A native of Topsfield, Mass., Gould fought in the Battle of Lexington in April 1775 as a corporal and was wounded in action. He joined Little’s Massachusetts regiment the following month as a sergeant and became an ensign in the 12th Continental Regiment on 1 Jan. 1776. Sometime after Gen. Charles Lee arrived at Cambridge in July 1775, Gould assumed command of Lee’s personal guard, which acted as an independent company although its members were carried on the rosters of various regiments for pay purposes. When Lee went to New York in January 1776, he promised to send for the guard if he returned to the Boston area, but his subsequent assignment to the southern department prevented him from doing so. Gould’s company of guards, which contained about thirty men, remained intact at least until August when it escorted two mortars to New York (see Artemas Ward to GW, 19 Aug. 1776, DLC:GW). Gould left the Continental army at the end of 1776 and became a first lieutenant in the 3d Essex County, Mass., Militia Regiment. He served with that regiment until 1780, obtaining a promotion to captain and participating in the battles at Bennington, Stillwater, and Saratoga.

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