Saturday, September 10, 2011

Letters from the Front: Jedediah Huntington to Jabez Huntington, 25 Dec. 1775. Camp at Roxbury, Massachusetts.



 "I expect an Attempt will be made to set fire to part of the Town of Boston rather than it should be made Fuel for our Enemies who are pulling down Houses to burn."



In this installment of the Letters from the Front series, we pick up with Jedediah Huntington's correspondence, almost a month after our previous entry. While his appointment as Colonel of the 17th Connecticut Regiment was still seven days away, Huntington was nevertheless consumed with the business of completing recruitment and attending to other administrative tasks. As his letter shows, the Siege of Boston was not a quiet period for the Continental Army: deserters from the British forces provided a steady source of gossip and rumor even as the heavy cannon from Fort Ticonderoga that would bring the siege to its end were on the way with Col. Henry Knox. Huntington's reference to setting part of Boston on fire to deny its use to the British provides an example of how far some Americans were willing to go to secure independence. The closing passage, referring to medical supplies coming up from New York, highlights the role of Huntington's father, Jabez, who would become a Major General in the Connecticut militia in December 1776. Thanks go to Andrew Dauphinee, loyal David Library Volunteer, for transcribing this document.

WPT III





Sol Feinstone Collection No. 589
Jedediah Huntington to Jabez Huntington, 25 Dec. 1775. Camp at Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Transcribed by Andrew Dauphinee August 2011

“Camp at Roxbury 25 Dec. 1775

Hond Sir

I have taken the Liberty to refer Mr. Mason to you as to his keeping his Horse in my Barn as I suppose I have not more Hay than to keep my own Creatures ― I have also referred him to you for the Piece of the Rent of my House I do not know what will be right ― I should rather Chuse that he would not use my Furniture if he can conveniently supply himself other ways ― I intended to have been at Home before this Time but I have now done setting any Time in my own Mind the General is unwilling I should leave the Camp at present, indeed I cannot well do it without Prejudice to my Regiment ― if Major Humphry who has been sick at Home a long Time should join the Regiment I may perhaps soon after visit Home ― my Regiment fills up beyond my Expectations ― we shall be put to it for good Arms & Blankets ― two Deserters came out from Bunker Hill Yesterday they say the Regulars intend soon to leave Boston with all their Strength except enough to defend their Lines and enter the Country at New York and some down upon our Backs ― that the Officers tell them a Peace in negotiating between our Country & Great Brittain &c &c ― as soon as Col: Knox arrives from the Northward with some Artillery which will be in a few Days I expect an Attempt will be made to set fire to part of the Town of Boston rather than it should be made Fuel for our Enemies who are pulling down Houses to burn ― we cannot learn that they have recd any considerable Supplies of Provision or Fuel and should the Winter be Severe they may be overcome by the Famine if not by the Sword

I saw Doctor Morgan the Director General of the Hospital Yesterday he mentioned to me that he had ordered some Article in his Way from New York to Your Care to be forward him I think it was to come from Colonel McDougall ― he is very anxious about it [Pg 1] and fears there has been some Neglect ― it is a Matter of much Importance to the Army in Case there should be any Action between us & the Enemy, I promise to write you about it ― ― I believe Brother Eben will come Home upon the Horse sent for me I am

Your affectionate Son
Jed Huntington

[pg 2]”

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