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Knox, William (1756-1795) to Henry Knox

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.00392 Author/Creator: Knox, William (1756-1795) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 24 July 1776 Pagination: 3 p.: address ; 33.7 x 20.7 cm.

Discusses a British ship that was captured near an American fort at Nantasket, Massachusetts. The vessel had come from Ireland to support General William Howe's army and had mistakenly thought the British were still in Boston. Tells a detailed story about how the Committee of Correspondence and Safety ordered every man between sixteen and sixty to gather with full military accoutrements and drafted thirty-two of them to join the invasion of Canada. Many men ran away but the draft was eventually made by offering larger bounties. The debacle caused some to call for the removal of John Brown, the chairman of the Committee. Also discusses the activities of his company, commanded by Henry Jackson, at the event. Notes that there is no other news, business has been slow, and that the town has been made "exceedingly dull with the smallpox."

"…Last Saturday afternoon a Notification made its appearance sign'd in behalf of the United Committees of Inspection, Correspondence & Safety, John Brown Chairman the purport of which was that every person in Town from Sixteen to Sixty should appear on the Common, with what arms & accoutrements they had by 'em at 10 OClock on Monday Morng. £10 penalty to be inflicted in Case of Failure; In consequence of which all Ranks of people Whigs & Tories, appeard on Monday. Our Compy. not being incorporated could not [2] in the Eye of the Law be look'd upon as any other than Militia men; (altho we expected in consideration of our having been at considerable expence we should be excus'd) however we appear'd with our armsy in a separate body, having previously determin'd that if a draft should be made from us we would make the hire of 2 men a Comp as we have about 50 in the Compy. we should have had to send two men or pay twenty pounds as we heard that every 25th man was to do in the same proposition[.] After the men had all got fix'd in their respective wards they form'd a square; Mr Brown Came to our Compy. which was at a distance & desir'd the Collo. (Jackson) to march us down & plant us as sentrys round the square to prevent the people going away; such a Manoevre could not but have produc'd a disagreeable effect the Gentlemen could not stomach to be kept in at the point of the Bayonet but however they kept pretty still till after Mr Wm Cooper hard red the resolve of the Genl. Court, which was "To draft every 25th man (which was musterd, which would amount to 32) to go to Canada, in case there should not a sufficient number of Volunteers appears," that every man who inlisted voluntarily would have £7 bounty, that every 25th man if drafted would have to pay £10 or go himself, the Drums beat round the square but could get but 7 men to inlist consequently they were going to draft the other 25 but the people grew so warm to think they were [3] prisoners that which was but smoke before burst into a Flame; the people rush't through the sentrys & while the sentrys were stopping the career of the Foremast who sallied; others followd on so fast that it was impossible for sentrys so thinly planted as we were to stop 'em; no farther Business was done at that time; in the afternoon we met again, the Quota of men were chosen but not without the different wards giving large sums exclusive of the Bounty[.] none has been requir'd out of our Company yet we are in hopes of getting Clear, the people particularly the Old dons were much inrag'd against our Company at first, but fining the Committee at least the Chairman to be the Cause of the Blame resolv'd on him, this supposed in consequence of it he will lose his election at least some people are trying to have him ousted out of office immediately, they Call him Tyrant, Nero, &cc - I say so much for our civil distensions - as to News we have none, the Town is exceedingly dull with the small pox no Business to be done, some days lately I have not taken a Dollr. …I wish (as I [illegible] say you have not time) you would Commission some person to buy & send me Chesterfields Lettrs. As I want to read them exceedingly & I can sell them afterwards for any price."

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