Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Letters from the Front: Storming Boston

"...some are of Opinion it is best to attack the Town by Surprise &  if that  does not succeed to storm, I have not many Doubts but it may be carried either Way..."

In this next installment of our large collection of letters from Jedediah Huntington, we see ample evidence of how the lengthy siege of Boston weighed upon the nerves of the Congressional forces. Now many months into the stalemate, George Washington and his officers were faced with the choice of continuing to man their siege works, with the increasing possibility of desertion in the face of boredom, or to make a bold move against the British Army encamped in the town. In the end, Washington chose not to make a sortie, since another answer was on the way: heavy artillery that had been liberated from Fort Ticonderoga and which were on their way under the care of Henry Knox. The arrival of these cannon and their emplacement on heights commanding the town would signal the end of the British occupation. This event, however, was still several weeks off and Huntington's letter provides little indication that the Army was aware of Washington's end-game. At the same time, however, Huntington's faith in Washington remained unshaken. See the full transcript of the letter below.


Sol Feinstone Collection No. 591
Jedediah Huntington to Jabez Huntington, 13 Feb. 1776. Camp at Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Transcribed by Andrew Dauphinee August 2011

                                                                                                Roxbury Camp 13 Feby 1776

Hond Sir

            You will probably hear many and various Accounts of the Intentions and Motions of the Army ― it seems to be agreed on all Hands that Something ought to be done and that the present is a critical Season__ several Modes of Attack are agitating in the Minds of Officers and Soldeirs.  _Yesterday a Number of the Generals & principal Officers went down upon Dorchester and  spent several Hours in viewing the Ground &c__ some are of Opinion it is best to attack the Town by Surprise &  if that  does not succeed to storm, I have not many Doubts but it may be carried either Way__ & thought I may think better of this or that Mode in preference to some other yet I am easy in my Mind from an exalted [pg 1] Idea of the Generalship of our Commander in chief & some of the other Officers who are in the Cabinet _ I hope the same Consideration will prevent undue Anxiety in those whose Friends may be called to Action__ Major Chester is at Cambridge expect he will join us this Day ― promise ourselves the Pleasure of seeing Bror Joshua soon__ my Love & Duty to All as is due__ I remain

                                                                                                Your affectionate Son,
                                                                                                Jed Huntington

Honble. Jabez Huntington        [pg 2]”

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