George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 2 August 1779

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] Augt 2d 1779

Dear Sir

Upon the late Incursion of the Enemy into this State & the Alarm occasioned thereby, on the earnest Request of the principal Inhabitants of Hartford & Middletown I requested Cap. Frothingham of the Train at Springfield to march in to this State with his Company of about Thirty, & six Field Peices.1 He accordingly came, & placed three of the Peices in each of sd Towns, where They remaind till last Week, & on his request to return to the Business of the Labaratory, with the Advice of the Council of Safety I thot it best He shod leave the Peices all at Middletown with one Serjeant & two matrosses for Guards, & return with the rest to Springfield, & orderd Majr Brown of the Militia there, to furnish such additional Guards as shod be necessary.2

On such an appearance & situation of Affairs, I cannot doubt of Your Excellencys Approbation of Cap. Frothinghams Conduct, who appears to [be] a faithful Officer. while there is so much probability of their being wanted in this State, I beg your Excellencys Consent to my retaining them, & That You wod be pleased also to send a proper number of officers & men to manage Them as occasion shall require.3

from every appearance, there is no reason to think that our enraged Enemy are satisfied with the Plunder & Destruction They have already made on this State but that it is yet an object of their determined Pursuit, & especially the Town & Port of New London, which from a variety of Intelligence & Circumstances I have reason to apprehend They will attack in a very few Days, & shod They be able to carry it, that they will endeavor to make a Post, from which it wod be very difficult to disloge Them.4 Your Excellency is not unacquainted with the Situation of the Place the Goodness of the Harbour, of its essential Importance, to all the Navigation of this State, & its great Utility for that of the united States, as the only safe Harbour between Boston & Delaware, the Loss of that Place wod affect the Interest of this State in the most tender & material manner & be of great Detriment to the Cause of the united States in many ways as well as afford the Enemy many & great advantages. We have made & are making all the Preparations we are able for its Defence, consistant with our necessary Attention to the whole Extent of our Sea Coasts, which are threatned alarmed & liable to be Invaded from one End to the other, in very short Intervals of Time so that We have thot it necessary to order four thousand Men exclusive of Officers to be detatched from our Militia, for Defence of our State, beside the Compliment We are filling up for the Continental army, by all Which We are greatly distresd, & the Agriculture of the State so important, for our own & the Supply of the Army, in danger of suffering material Injury.5

I have no doubt but your Excellency will be ever ready to afford Us every Assistance due to so constituant a part of the grand Whole & in the present Situation, I take Liberty by Advice of my Council, to request Your Excellency if it can consist with the general Service, that You wod be pleased to order B.G. Glover’s Brigade, to return to New London as soon as possible, & We cant wish them to be more alert & active than They were in lately marching thro this State & cod wish Gen. Glover in Person might come forward without the least Delay, as I concive our officers & Militia posted There wod derive great Advantage & the Peace, Security, from his Skill & Experience but refer it to Yr Excellency to afford Us such other, or further Aid, as may be adequate to the Necessity’s of the Case & for the best Good of the common Cause.6

I have only to add my Request that Lt Colo. Mead Comandr of a Regimt raising & to be stationd at Horseneck,7 may be favord with the Loan of a suitable Field Peice, if You have any You cod spare for our Use, & for which We will be accountable8 & That I am with every Sentiment of Respect & Esteem, Your Excellencys most obedt & most humble Servt


P.S. Capt. Perrit of Meads Regt has skill in the Managemt of Artillery, & many of his Company have served as Matrosses.9

ADf, CtHi: Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., Papers. Although the ADf is dated 2 Aug., the Connecticut Council of Safety probably sent this letter to GW on 3 August. The council reviewed the contents of this letter at their meeting on that date (see 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 2:379).

1Capt. Benjamin Frothingham marched from Springfield, Mass., for Connecticut on 13 July with three field cannon and seventeen artillerymen. Capt. John Bryant marched to join him with three additional field cannon and twelve men on 14 July (see Ezekiel Cheever to GW, 17 July, and Cheever to Horatio Gates, 16 July, quoted in Gates to GW, 18 July, n.1).

2For the resolution taken at the meeting of the governor and the council of safety on 31 July 1779, their orders to Maj. Nathaniel Brown, and the council’s orders for Frothingham to remain at Hartford until further notice, see 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, 377–78.

Maj. Nathaniel Brown (c.1735–1806), of Middletown and Chatham, Conn., served as a captain in the Connecticut militia in 1775 and 1776. Promoted to major in October 1776, he served from March to June 1777 as major of one of the regiments of the brigade drafted out of the Connecticut militia for six weeks of duty with the Continental army to augment the Hudson River defenses in the vicinity of Peekskill, N.Y. (see GW to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 6 March 1777, and n.1 to that document). In October 1781, Brown became a lieutenant colonel in the militia.

3For GW’s approval of Frothingham’s conduct and his largely negative reply regarding the cannon and artillerymen, see GW to Trumbull, 10 August.

4For the British raids on coastal Connecticut in early July, see GW to Trumbull, 7 July, source note.

5For the council’s decision to deploy 4,000 militia to defend New London and the state’s coast, see 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 2:379.

6GW refused to send John Glover’s brigade because the current military situation on the Hudson rendered its detachment “impracticable” (see GW to Trumbull, 10 Aug.). For the earlier movements of Glover’s brigade and GW’s earlier authorization for the council to retain Glover’s brigade in Connecticut during the British coastal raids, see Trumbull to GW, 7 and 10 July; GW to John Glover, 8 and 9–10 July; GW to Trumbull, 9 July; and 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 2:357–60. Shortly after this authorization, GW ordered Glover to march his brigade to join William Heath’s division in New York for operations on the Hudson; however, when these operations concluded, GW halted Glover and posted his brigade at Ridgefield, Conn. (see GW to William Heath, 16 [first and second letters], 17, and 19 July).

7Matthew Mead (1736–1816), of Norwalk, Conn., served as a captain in the 5th Connecticut Regiment from May to December 1775 and was wounded in the attack on St. Johns, Canada, in September 1775. In June 1776 he became major of Silliman’s Connecticut state regiment that served with the Continental army for the remainder of 1776. Mead returned to the Continental army as lieutenant colonel of the newly organized 5th Connecticut Regiment in January 1777, where he served until he left the army in May 1778. In May 1779 he became lieutenant colonel commandant of a regiment of Connecticut state troops raised for the defense of the western part of the state, and he continued to serve in the Connecticut state troops and militia until 1781. Mead was elected to the Connecticut General Assembly in May 1780.

8GW refused to send any artillery because it would be “eminently exposed” at Horseneck, Conn., and liable to capture, but he later queried Brig. Gen. Henry Knox about sending one light iron cannon (see GW to Trumbull, 10 Aug., and n.5 to that document).

9Peter Perritt (Perrit), of Milford, Conn., commanded a company of rangers near Boston after the Lexington alarm and served as a captain of the 7th Connecticut Regiment from July to December 1775. In January 1776 he became a captain in the newly organized 19th Continental Infantry. Captured at Fort Washington in November 1776 while detached on command with his artillery company, Perritt was exchanged in September 1778. In June 1779 he became a captain in Mead’s Connecticut state regiment.

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