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Letter from Daniel Chamier, Jun., to Daniel Chamier


Intercepted Letter transmitted to Congress by General Washington, with his Letter dated December 18, 1775.


St˙ Augustine, October 3, 1775.

MY DEAR SIR: I had written you a long letter by Mr˙ Cameron, who was to make the best of his way to Boston, from Virginia, to which place another detachment of the regiment here is now destined, and ready to sail. I shall not recall that letter, notwithstanding the receipt of yours has rendered a great part of it unnecessary, as the rest of it still stands good.

I made my retreat from Charlestown in good time, for which my friends have since complimented me on my sagacity, having, it seems, been in more danger than they had imagined, although it was at their repeated informations that I determined at last to retire. Such an unjust persecution as that of mine is hardly to be paralleled, as they had not the shadow of a charge to bring against me. My worthy friend, Captain Innes, (Lord William' s Secretary,) who arrived a few months before his Lordship, and with whom I had formed the strongest intimacy, being acquainted with the Chairman of the Committee, Mr˙ Henry Laurens, made my case known to him, and I had the satisfaction to receive a message from him, assuring me that he himself was fully satisfied of my innocence, and that he would take care that I should have full liberty to remain in Charlestown, or go to what part of America or Europe I thought proper; and, understanding that my first design was to go to England, he wrote a letter to the Captain on board whose ship I was, removing all difficulties that lay in my way. Upon this information I immediately altered my route, and wrote as polite a letter as I could dictate to Mr˙ Laurens, for I was much touched with such generous behaviour from a stranger, (for he was but just returned here from England,) when many of the gentlemen of the town (as they call themselves) with whom I had been acquainted, were for cutting my throat. I am glad Harcomb has escaped; he has the true spirit of loyalty of an old English soldier.

I shall not attempt to express the feeling I have for the generous supply which you have sent me; it is fully sufficient for the present, and I hope for some time to come, as my friends in Charlestown are not likely to call upon me until it be perfectly convenient. I am much distressed for them. They are all now disarmed, and confined to the limits of the town, for having refused to sign a treasonable association.

But my noble friend Innes, although long out of the army, refused to deliver his arms, and told the Committee, "that he had the honour of bearing five commissions under his present Majesty, and his late Royal grandfather, and were he to deliver up his sword to any one not legally entitled to demand it, he should think he deserved to have it broke over his head;" for which soldier-like behaviour he was ordered to quit the town in four-and-twenty hours, and accordingly he retired on board the man-of-war. Lord William, not many days after, dissolved the Assembly, and retreated to the same place. Mr˙ Irving, who was formerly Inspector of imports and exports at Boston, and is now Receiver-General of the quit-rents at Charlestown, and to whose friendship I have been so much indebted, embarked some time after I left Charlestown for Providence Island, for recovery from a bilious complaint, and he will remain there for some time if he is wise. Please to inform Mr˙


Hulton of this, as he has a great regard for the gentleman of whom I speak. I beg you also to present my compliments to him and his lady.

October 3.

As the transport with the troops luckily cannot sail today, I have set rny friends to work to make you a keg of shrub, which I will risk by Mr˙ Cameron, although I have some fear whether he can accomplish it; if he does you will be much obliged to him, as I suppose he will find it difficult enough to carry himself there, but the loss will not be great, and its safety I hope will prove very beneficial to you.

My worthy friend, Mr˙ Penman, is one of the two eminent merchants in this place. I became acquainted with him in Charlestown some time ago, and I have been under great obligation to him since my arrival here, indeed for every accommodation, as there are no lodging houses here. I laid a copy of your scheme before him, and I now enclose you a very encouraging answer from him, which I hope and expect will induce you to put it immediately into execution, as the fruit will soon be in its full state of maturity. Address your vessel immediately to Mr˙ (James) Penman, and resume your former style and character, and I warrant he will do you justice. I know him to be a man of honour, and he is also well known to Mr˙ Hulton. Write upon the subject immediately, if you cannot send your vessel at once, that the fruit may be gathered and prepared at the proper season.

I will now, if I have time, answer every other paragraph of your letter.

I have already been very kindly treated by the Governour and the rest of the gentlemen here. The recommendations you have procured me will insure me in future all the respect and favour I could wish for. I beg you to express to General Grant and Major Donkin the high sense I have of their kindness. The fruit here is not yet ripe, nor is it probable, from what I have said above, that any quantity could make its way good from Virginia. I heartily wish your shrub itself may meet with that good fortune.

I depend greatly on your intercession with your brother. There can be no vacancy in Carolina but from the death or removal of Mr˙ Morris, the Comptroller. He is old, and willing to retire, but he is also hearty; and a resignation, your brother says, is not to be effected in my favour. Besides, I am astonished that your brother should still talk of an office in Charlestown, when the proprietors of them do not think them at present worth a farthing; and when I know such true and alarming accounts of the state of that Province have been so long ago transmitted to the Ministry.

I note well what you say concerning the scurvy. You will find by my first letter, which was written and sealed before the receipt of yours, that my own opinion corresponds with yours; but my great temperance and regularity had long concealed that from my own knowledge which my poor father' s unhappy course of life rendered but too apparent to every one. I flatter myself that I already feel some benefit from my change of diet, and shall persist in this new regimen, but am afraid I shall soon be without a principal article in it, which is Madeira wine. If you could spare me ever so small a quantity, it would be as acceptable as the shrub to you, and full as necessary for me, as I drink no other liquor, the mixture of it with water being as strong an acid as will agree with me, and a few glasse' s prove an excellent and palatable restorative and strengthener.

I am sorry for my friend Christie' s ill usage; but he must be content to take neighbour' s fare, and should not be sorry at having the opportunity of manifesting his loyalty.

I have written you in my first letter concerning Mr˙ Savage. I cannot send you a power of attorney, having given that authority at my first leaving Boston to Mr˙ Nathaniel Coffin, the Deputy Cashier and Receiver-General, who has generously transacted my money matters hitherto free from any charge. I see not how I can help myself at present. If you can, with the assistance of Mr˙ Hallowell, bring him to reason, you will save me a great deal of money. But I apprehend you cannot do much without the influence of the Board. I beg you to consult


Mr˙ Hallowell, and present my best compliments to him.

You desire me to have patience, that Anthony shall not neglect me. I should make a most ungrateful return for your generosity, and his endeavours to serve me, if I were not perfectly easy. While my leaves of absence are continued, and this garrison not too much weakened, I can remain content for any length of time. But we look upon the great draft of men made from this fort as a very unfortunate measure, that may be attended with very dangerous consequences to the service here; and I am confident if the General or the Ministry knew the true state of these Southern Colonies, that such a measure would never have taken place. The only other difficulty I find here is in point of board and lodging.

I had lately fixed myself very agreeably at a good house, a small distance from town, across St˙ Sebastian' s Creek, in a healthy situation, with a worthy old gentleman, Mr˙ Cuming, the Comptroller of the Port, but he, poor man, lately caught the fever, which carried him off in a few days. I still stay at the house, to take care of his properly, but it cannot be convenient for me to stay there long. Were you acquainted with the geography of the Southern Colonies, you would know that it was impossible for me to go to Pensacola. The only passage by water is via Jamaica, in the packet which calls there on her return from that island, not in going to it, from Charlestown; and a passage by land is utterly impracticable for any one but an Indian or a Cracker; which last term General Grant can explain to you. I apprehend also that I could sooner negotiate a change with Sir Charles Burdett, the Collector of this Port, to whom this climate is as unfavourable as that of Boston is to me; provided he be willing to descend from a collector of a small port to the surveyor of a large one. I understood, from Mr˙ Cuming, that the incomes are pretty near equal. He has been in Boston, and the neighbourhood thereof, these three years, and I know is very desirous of remaining there longer than the Board may perhaps think proper. I could wish you to talk to him on the subject, if he be still with you. Mr˙ Hallowell, who knows him well, will inform you about him.

Captain Barbut I saw in Charlestown, and, as I soon found he was acquainted with our family, we became very intimate. He is a fine old soldier, and very candidly, and in the most friendly manner, made me himself the offer you mention; nay indeed, even to resign in my favour, for a very reasonable satisfaction; but I apprehend it would be very imprudent in me to give up my own certainty for his uncertainty; besides, you will please to observe, that your brother has all along proposed the West-Indies to me, and I am myself of opinion that not only the equable climate of the islands would be best for me, but that also the chances of vacancy or promotion are there much greater. Please to observe also that the climate of Pensacola is not reckoned comparable to this in any respect.

I think I have now answered your letter; but whether I have or not, I have no more time left. Your cask of shrub is completed; five gallons of rum and seven of juice; which is yet hardly ripe enough, but I hope will do. Adieu, and believe me to be, yours, most affectionately,


October 4.

Postscript. — I am come to town again early this morning, to put the finishing hand to this letter, and to see your shrub well taken care of. Remember again that you are not to take this as a specimen of the best we can do, as the fruit is hardly ripe enough. I beg you to see that Mr˙ Savage sends me the clothes and books I wrote to him for a twelve month ago. I am surprised he did not embrace so fine an opportunity as the man-of-war. Several of my things are lost and destroyed in the house where I left them.

I once more beg the favour of you to send me a few dozens of Madeira wine, if to be had in Boston, at any reasonable price. It is the only article we are much in want of; I mean for the table. If that is not to be had, some good Fayal, or other white wine, might do. Lisbon, I suppose, is too sweet to be so proper as other wines.

Send an answer to Mr˙ Penman instantly. He would set to work for you, and procure a large quantity of fruit, if he were sure of your vessel.


It is astonishing to me how you manage with your packets and men-of-war. We have now English intelligence above a month later than in your paper of the 15th September, viz: 10th July, by the July packet; and I suppose the August mail is at Charlestown by this time. You desire the things you wanted to be sent by the return of the man-of-war, and the Captain declares he is stationed here until April next. How did you make this mistake?

I will not fail to compliment the gentlemen you mention, when the opportunity offers. Should my friend, Captain Innes, come to Boston, I beg you to treat him as you would myself; I never met with a man in my life with whom I formed so close an intimacy in so short a time. The officers of the Sixty-Third Regiment can tell you who he is. He was last in their regiment.

Adieu again, yours, most affectionately, again,