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Bowdoin, James (1726-1790) to Jonathan Trumbull

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04947 Author/Creator: Bowdoin, James (1726-1790) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Letter signed Date: 13 December 1776 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 36.5 x 23.5.

Informs Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut, that "We join with you most fervently in your prayer that America may not be lost, or fall a Victim to the rage of a merciless tyranny. On the contrary we trust there is virtue & spirit enough in the United States to produce exertions sufficient with the blessing of Heaven to prevent it." Discusses details regarding enlisting soldiers for the Continental Army, including wages, length of service, the raising of militia, and cooperation between New England states related to raising troops. Mentions Generals George Washington, Lincoln (possibly Benjamin Lincoln), Philip Schuyler, and Rhode Island Governor Nicholas Cooke. Reports that some clothing and shoes were taken from the British army and brought into Massachusetts, but states that this quantity is smaller than it was described in the papers. Refers to a cartel at New London, Connecticut, open for the exchange of prisoners and asks if sailors "taken on board merchantmen will be received in exchange for Sailors taken on board privateers." Acknowledges receipt of previous correspondence from Trumbull containing copies of a letter and resolves of the Committee of Safety for the State of New York. Confirms that troops from Massachusetts will assist Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Bowdoin served as president of the council that governed Massachusetts during the American Revolution. He presided over the state constitutional convention in 1779, and served as Massachusetts Governor 1785-87.

State of Massachusetts Bay.-
Council Chamber Boston Dec:r 13th 1776.

Your important Letter of the 9:th Instant was receiv'd yesterday. We join with you most fervently in your prayer that America may not be lost, nor fall a Victim to the rage of a merciless tyranny. On the contrary we trust there is virtue & spirit enough in the United States to produce exertions sufficient with the blessing of Heaven to prevent it. It has been a capital error to inlist, or detach our Forces for so short a time, but as you well observe, to reflect upon past errors answers no other valuable purpose than to produce a propriety of conduct in future.
We are sorry our Committee did not take New - Haven in their was to Gen:l, Washington, which would have given them an Opportunity of informing you of the terms on which it was intended they should reinlist the troops belonging to this States which might have prevented some of the inconveniences that have happen'd. Our assembly from the advances price of things apprehended it highly improbable our men would again engage in the service unless their Wages were encreased which induced them to add 201. pmo to the Congress Allowance, and afterwards, in consequence of a resolve of Congress disapproving the addition to the Wages they granted a bounty of £20 to each Soldier inlisting for three years or during the War, which [text loss] of encouragement they hoped would not appear so exceptionable to Congress. The inconvenience of different establishments for different Corps of the same Army was foreseen; but the necessity we were under of raising our quota, without which the common cause might suffer, obliged us to risk it. The regulation of the price of thins (the mode you have adopted) was thought of, and might have been the best; but many objections arose, which at that time [2] prevented it. However as we have renewd our application to you, to join with the other States of New England in the appointing a Committee to consider this and other matters, we hope you will approve the measure, and that great good will result from it. By our proposal their Commission is to be so extensive as to include the important business you mention of consulting on the great affairs of our Safety, and counteracting the Enemy in their future operations. But if this is not expressed in terms sufficiently explicit, you can agree to our Proposal with such additions as you think proper, and there is no doubt we shall concur with you. The General Court was on the 11:th Instant adjourned to Tuesday the 24th Instant. Besides providing for the inlistment of our quota of the new Army, they past an Act for raising a fourth part of the Militia at home to March as soon as may be to recruit the Army, and be in Service for three months from their March: before the expiration of which time it was hoped, & expected that our said quota would be inlisted, and at the place of their destination. Since the invasion of Rhode Island, the said fourth part from the Counties of Barnstable, Plymouth and Bristol with all the Militia from the two latter Countries, also the said fourth part of the Counties of Suffolk, Middlesex, & Essex with one Regiment most contiguous from Suffolk, & two of the nearest Regiments from Worcester County, together with One Company from our Train of Artillery; have had orders to March to the assistance of that State, and were intended, either in part or whole, as circumstances should require, for your States, as we informed you in our Letter of the 8th Instant in answer to yours of the 5:th-. The said fourth [text loss] in case they are needed there. Genl. Lincoln the commanding Officer after consulting with Govr Cook is to order to join the Army to the Southward, with the fourth of our other Militia, except Berkshire whose fourth, and except Hampshire, one half [inserted: of] whose fourth are ordered to Ticonderoga by way of Albany in consequence of a Letter received the 11:th Instant from Gen:l Schuyler.
It is true, that there has been a quantity of Cloathing and Shoes taken from the enemy, and brought into this State [3] but not so large as the Public Papers represented it. However, our Com:tee for providing Cloathing & c. have been directed to take it, and to procure as much [struck: been directed to take it, and to procure as much] more of the like Articles as they possible can, and Send them to the Army, and a quantity is already on the Road.
We understand there is a Cartel now at New London for the exchange of Prisoners; and as we have a number of them in this State, we wish to be informed upon what terms the exchange is to be made; that we may know what rank or condition of prisoners it will be proper to Send. Particularly, whether Sailors taken on board merchantmen will be received in exchange for Sailors taken on board privateers. -
At the next meeting of our Assembly, your Letter will be laid before them; and they will consider the other matters contained in it.
Since writing the above, we have receiv'd your Letter of the 11:th Instant inclosing Copies of a Letter, & Resolves of the Committee of Safety for the State of New York. We are fully sensible of the critical Situation of affairs at the Westward, & shall afford all the assistance in our power. The fourth part of our Militia ordered to be raised as aforesaid it is supposed will amount to about 6000 Men. About half of these are order'd to March by the way of Providence to assist the States of Rhode Island, & Connecticut, if necessary; otherwise to proceed [text loss] 900 [text loss] to be [text loss]rection of General Schuyler. The remainder about 2000, are to take the middle road, and the rendezvous is to be at Danbury in Connecticut-We are informed, that some Regiments marched this day, and it is expected that several others will begin their March on Monday next.
Upon every occasion, We Shall heartily co-operate with you in Support of the great cause we are engaged [4] in. - In the name and by the Order of the State of Massachusetts Bay I have the Honour to be with very great Esteem Sir
Yr Hon. most obedt hble Servt.
James Bowdoin
The £20 Bounty above-mentioned is by Notes given by our
Treasurer each for £10. and payable with Interest at six pr. ct

[address leaf]
Hon:ble Jonathan Trumbell Esq:
Governor of the State of Connecticut

13th Decemr 1776
President Bowdoin of the Massachusetts State
in answer to mine
of the 9th inst
red 16th ins:t [illegible] J M Ripley

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