George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 16 April 1777

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] 16th April 1777


I am favourd with your Excellencys Letter of the 23d ulto—also with those of 29th & 31st of same Month which came safe to Hand—Yesterday received your Proclamation relative to Deserters—& have sent it to the Printers1—In mine of 21st March I informed you of the Order given for marchg 2,000 Militia to Peekskill agreable to your Request & that Brig: Genll Wadsworth would take the Command—Want of Health prevented Genll Wadsworth from engaging in that Service—Brigr Genll Erastus Wolcott supplies his Place—& is before this att the Place of his Destination—as I hope are also the full Compliment of his Command.2

Before the Receipt of your Favr of 23d of Mar: I had assigned to each Town in this State their several Quotas of the Continental Troops raising in the same—& issued a Proclamation which accompanied the Assignment most earnestly recommending the imediate filling up their respective Numbers—this not fulfilling my Wishes—another Proclamation & Order is gone forth from the Governor & Council of Safety (Copy of which you have herewith) requiring the several Militia Companies forthwith to furnish their respective Deficiencies by Draft—unless their Quotas are filled up by Voluntary Inlistments—the Drafted Men to be held in Service untill the first of Jany next—unless sooner discharged by the Inlistment of others in their Room into the Continental Army—the Drafts to join the Continental Companies under Continental Officers—& march to Service as soon as they have passed Inoculation for the Small Pox3—This Measure I have great Reason to hope will prove effectual—& I trust shall have the Pleasure soon to aford your Excellency the full Compliment of Men from this State for this Campaign—The strange Delay of raising & compleatg the standg Continental Army has been very unhappy—I wish this Substitute may prove agreable—wish to have your Excellency’s Sentiments upon it—If this States Proportion of the permanent Army should not be compleated by the Expiration of the Term for which the Drafts are taken—the like Measure (if agreable) will probably be repeated, untill that desirable Object can be attained.

Particular Note is made of that Part of your Letter of 23d Mar: respecting Govr Franklin & Mr Shaylor4—sundry Letters written by the former to his Friends in N. York—have been intercepted & handed me—also one Protection of his given to a certain Mr Ketchum of Norwalk—a carefull Watch is & will be kept upon their Conduct for further Discoveries—the intercepted Letters are written to Govr Skeene Mr Hugh Wallace—Colo. Fanning & Rev’d Mr Jona. Odell & Revd Mr Bowden—that to Mr Odell is most worthy of Notice.5

A Fleet of the Enemy, 40 Sail or more, passed N. London Westward the 13th instant—they are from Newport—whether with Troops is uncertain—tis given out they have none. I am, with great Esteem & Regard Sir Your most Obedient Humble Servant

Jonth; Trumbull

LS, DLC:GW; LB, Ct: Trumbull Papers. The letter-book copy is dated 14 April.

2Trumbull and the council of safety made this change in command on 25 Mar. (see 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 , 429). Erastus Wolcott, Sr. (1721–1793), of East Windsor, Conn., the brother of Oliver Wolcott, Sr., served as colonel of a regiment of militia levies that defended New London during the summer and fall of 1776. He was appointed a brigadier general of militia in December 1776 and served until January 1781. A member of the state house of representatives from 1758 to 1785, Wolcott was speaker in 1776. In 1774 and 1787 he was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress, but he declined to serve both times.

3Two copies of the broadside containing the resolve and proclamation of 12 April on this subject are in DLC:GW (see also ibid., 433–35). The earlier proclamation apparently was dated 18 Mar. (see ibid., 424).

4In GW’s letter the second name is given as “one Shackles of Middletown.” He may be Nathaniel Shaler of that place (see Nathaniel Shaler to Samuel Blachley Webb, 4 Nov. 1775, Ford, Webb Correspondence and Journals description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford, ed. Correspondence and Journals of Samuel Blachley Webb. 3 vols. New York, 1893–94. description ends , 1:115–16).

5Trumbull wrote a brief letter to GW on 18 April enclosing “a Copy of a Letter designed for Govr Frank[l]in now at Middletown in this State, & which has fallen into my Hands, I suppose nothing very material can be collected from it, I thot however it might not be amiss to offer it to your Perusal, it is supposed the writer is Mr Hugh Wallace” (DLC:GW). The enclosed copy of the letter, which is dated 20 Mar. 1777 at New York and is signed “Yoric,” acknowledges the receipt of “a Copy of your Letter dated Jan: 19th which by your Postscript of the 24th I find was intercepted on its way to Norwalk.” It also discusses the interception of Franklin’s letters to John Bowden through the treachery of their bearer Robert Betts and efforts to procure Franklin’s exchange (DLC:GW).

Jonathan Ketchum, a tavern keeper and deputy postmaster at Norwalk, Conn., remained in the town until it was raided by William Tryon in July 1779, when Ketchum sought refuge in New York City. At the end of the war he settled in the province of New Brunswick. Ketchum had three sons who also were Loyalists: James Ketchum of Fairfield, Conn., John Ketchum of Hartford, and Samuel Ketchum of Norwalk. John Bowden (1751–1817), who graduated from King’s College in 1772 and was ordained an Anglican minister two years later, became an assistant minister of New York City’s Trinity Church in February 1775. When the civilian population evacuated the city during the summer of 1776, Bowden took his family to Norwich, Conn., and later in the year he moved to Jamaica, N.Y., on Long Island. Obliged in March 1777 to decline an offer to become rector of Trinity Church because of an illness that affected his speech, Bowden remained at Jamaica until the end of the war. In 1784 he became rector of St. Paul’s parish at Norwalk. He subsequently played a prominent role in the establishment of the Protestant Episcopal church in the United States. Bowden was a professor of moral philosophy at Columbia College from 1801 to 1817.

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