George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Ezekiel Cheever, 17 July 1779

From Ezekiel Cheever

Springfield [Mass.] July the 17th 1779

Hond Sir

His Excelly Govr Trumbull having been pleased to apply to me as Commissary of ordnance Stores by Letter the 10th Inst. advising the dangerous State of Connecticut & thair absolute need of Some Field pieces with thair apparators, and that he had well founded reasons to Believe that it was the determined Resolution of the Enemy to penetrate into the Country & extend thair Ravages as far as Hartford before thay returned to N. York, and that He judged it most prudent to pay the Earliest attention to the Necessary means of defeating them Therefore has done me the honr as Commissary ordnance Stores to Request my attention & that I will immediately furnish Such Field pieces with Suitable Cartriges & Shott, as Colo. Comfort Sage, Jabez Hamlin & Titus Hosmer Esqres or either of them shall require with some proper officers & men Skilled in the managment of them and that He had wrote to the Chief Commanding Officer of the Militia in Hamshire County to be in readiness to March to the assistance of Connecticut in Case it shall be Necessary and that he had Requested Five hundred men to be sent forthwith to Hartford on thair Way to the Westward Towns1 I immediately advised with the Officers of this department when We judged it most prudent & necessary to give His Excelly our best aid Tuesday the 13th Inst. in the Morn’g Capt. B. Frothingham sett off pursuant to Gov: Trumbulls request with three field pieces compleate & Seventeen Artillymen from the laboratory none other being acquainted with the Service. the 14th on fresh applycation representing the distressed & Hazardous State of Connecticut & the improbability of Checking the enemies procedings without some field pieces We tho’t necessary to comply with Colo. Comfort Sages demand accordingly Capt. Bryant Sett of[f] about 10 oClock that morn’g Wednesday with Twelve men & three 4 pounders compleate for Middleton to join colo. Sage Capt. Frothingham & Capt. Bryant with the Men under thair command Marched off with alacrity & belive in case opportunity offers will do themselves & Country honor.2

This manœuvre Sir gives me much anxiety and hope the Critical juncture of affairs will apologize for my well meant endeavours to aid the Illustrious Cause I have the honr to be engaged in under your Excellency & shall be happy if my Conduct meets with your & my Superiours approbation.

I tho’t my duty to give your Excell’y this Information & pray your orders for my future Conduct.3 With ardent desires for your Success and Felicity I have the honor to be Your Excellencys, Dutiful & Most Humble Servan⟨t⟩

Ezekl Cheever D. C⟨ommisary⟩

ALS, DLC:GW.

1Cheever’s summary of the 10 July letter to him from Connecticut governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., is much fuller than the notice of its being sent in Conn. Public Records, description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894—. description ends 2:358. For the British raids on Connecticut in early July, see GW to Trumbull, 7 July, source note. The Connecticut Council of Safety received a letter or letters from Col. Comfort Sage, Col. Jabez Hamlin, and Titus Hosmer on 10 July “informing that they have good intelligence that the enemy design to penetrate even to Hartford &c. &c.” (Conn. Public Records, description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894—. description ends 2:358).

Comfort Sage (1731–1799) served in the Connecticut militia during the French and Indian War. Elevated to lieutenant colonel in early 1776, he then became colonel of the 3d Battalion of Connecticut state troops that June and subsequently commanded the 23d Regiment of Connecticut militia. Sage represented Middletown in the Connecticut general assembly almost continually from 1777 to 1786.

Jabez Hamlin (1709–1791) graduated from Yale in 1728, practiced law, and served as both a commissary with the rank of major and as a lieutenant colonel of militia during the French and Indian War. Hamlin, who had held local judicial posts and frequently sat in the Connecticut general assembly, became a militia colonel in October 1771.

Titus Hosmer (1737–1780) graduated from Yale in 1757, practiced law, and was a member of the Connecticut general assembly from 1773 to 1778, serving for a time as its speaker. Hosmer was elected to the state council in May 1778 and remained until his death.

2Sitting on 14 July, the Connecticut Council of Safety had directed “Capt. Benja. Frothingham of the continental artillery, from the park at Springfield, to remain at Hartford with his company of seventeen matrosses and 3 field-pieces till farther order” (Conn. Public Records, description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894—. description ends 2:362; see also Trumbull to GW, 2 Aug. [CtHi: Jonathan Trumbull, Sr. Papers] and GW to Trumbull, 10 Aug. [DLC: GW]).

Benjamin Frothingham (1734–1809) served as a lieutenant in Col. Richard Gridley’s regiment of Massachusetts artillery from June to December 1775 and in Col. Henry Knox’s regiment of Continental artillery in 1776. He became a captain in the 3d Continental Artillery Regiment in January 1777 and was wounded at the Battle of Germantown on 4 Oct. 1777. Frothingham subsequently commanded a company stationed at the artillery laboratory at Springfield, Mass., and remained in the 3d Artillery Regiment until he left the army in June 1783.

3No reply from GW has been found, but see Cheever’s letter to Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates of 16 July at Gates to GW, 18 July, n.1.

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