Thursday, August 25, 2011
"some hundreds from Cambridge Side were very soon on the Ground to oppose them, although they were obliged to wade up to their Middles; a Skirmish with Small Arms ensued and a brisk Firing of cannon & grape shot..."
In this installment of the Letters from the Front series, we are introduced to Jedediah Huntington, a major Continental Army figure from Connecticut. Huntington began the war as Colonel in the Lexington Alarm and went on to become Colonel of the 8th Connecticut Regiment, in which capacity he served until 10 December 1775. He went on to command several other Continental regiments through the beginning of 1777, when he was promoted to Brigadier General.
The first of Huntington's letters in the Library's collections (we have 14 in all) provides an update on the Siege of Boston. This lengthy event was punctuated by several small unit actions that, though keeping the American forces on their toes and inflicting small loses on both sides, have generally been overlooked. In this example, we see a British raid for cattle, which would have provided fresh rations for the troops, foiled by a swift response from American troops at Cambridge. The capture of a British store ship from Cork, Ireland, (noted at the end of Huntington's Letter) punctuates their need for local food sources. The rifleman that Huntington mentions was probably from a unit of Virginians that had joined the American forces in the late summer, which were the object of a diatribe by William Tudor in an installment. This letter also shows how personal concerns ranked equally with those of military duty: Huntington's commentary on his wife's condition provides a stark reminder of how close this conflict was to the homefront and to where the officers' and soldiers' thoughts often strayed.
Sol Feinstone Collection No. 587
Jedediah Huntington to Jabez Huntington, 11 Nov 1775, Roxbury Camp, MA
Transcribed by W.P. Tatum III, September 2011
“Roxbury Camp Novr 11th: 1775
At one of the Clock the 9th. Instant 16 Boats with about 400 Men from our Enemies went over to Leechmores Point and Part of them landed, supposed with a Design to make Booty of some Cattle which were there__ they took Advantage of the Height of the Tide when the Point becomes an Island, however some hundreds from Cambridge Side were very soon on the Ground to oppose them, although they were obliged to wade up to their Middles; a Skirmish with Small Arms ensued and a brisk Firing of cannon & grape shot from Charlestown Battery__ Bunker Hill__ the Ship in the Bay__ and a Scow mounted with a Swivel__ it lasted but a few minutes, as soon as the Enemy see our People resolute to pass throu’ the Water they made the best of their Way back__ it is not certainly known whether they got any Plunder or not, some say nothing__ others say one Cow is missing__ a Rifleman who was in Liquor is probably made a Prisoner one man of ours mortally wounded__ some other slightly, what Loss or Damage the Enemy sustained is not known__ I came from Dedham this Morning__ left my wife much better than when I wrote You last__ Doctor Sprague happened to visit her whilst I was present__ I think he well understands her Disorder__he some Days ago foretold the Progress & Stages of it, which have in part been already verifyed__ she has long Intervals wherein she appears to be herself__ I have great Encouragements that thro’ the divine Blessing on the means used she will again enjoy her usual Health____ we have Account of one of our Privateers at the Eastward making Prize of a Vessel from Ireland loaded with Provisions____I remain your dutiful &
Honble Jabez Huntington”
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