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General Gage to the Earl of Dartmouth

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GENERAL GAGE TO THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH.

Boston, October 1, 1775.

MY LORD: I was honoured with your Lordship' s separate letter of the 2d of August, on the 26th ultimo, in which you are pleased to inform me of the measures that are taken by His Majesty' s command to re-enforce his Army in North-America, and to state certain questions concerning the operations the most advisable to be carried on. After taking these into consideration, it remains to give your Lordship my opinion thereupon, viz:

1st. Whether we should push the war with our whole force the next campaign on the side of New-England.

I am of opinion that no offensive operations can be carried on to advantage from Boston. On a supposition of a certainly of driving the Rebels from their intrenchments, no advantage would be gained but reputation; victory could not be improved, through the want of every necessary to march into the country. The loss of men would probably be great, and the Rebels be as numerous in a few days as before their defeat; besides, the country is remarkably strong, and adapted to their way of fighting.

2d. Whether, viewing the whole state of America, it would not be more advisable to make Hudson' s River the seat of war, and for that purpose immediately take possession of the City of New-York with a part of our force, leaving at Boston what is necessary to secure that post, and keep up a diversion on that side.

It has always appeared to me most advisable to make Hudson' s River the seat of war; its situation between the eastern and western Colonies is advantageous, besides being commodious in transporting the necessaries of an Army. We are made to believe, also, that many friends in that Province would appear in arms, and the Troops receive many supplies they are in want of. A communication with Canada might be better secured from thence than any other part; and during the winter, when Troops cannot keep the field, attempts might be made upon the Southern Provinces, by embarking in the transports. I am, however, of opinion, that the force now in Boston cannot be divided, and is too weak to hold Boston and New-York at the same time.

3d, Whether, if it should be judged unsafe or unadvisable to take post at New-York, it may not be expedient to endeavour, with a part of the force under your command, embarked on board the transports, to make an impression on other places, which, if it answered no other purpose, would enable you to collect a large supply of live stock and provisions, which is no trifling object in your present circumstances.

It would undoubtedly be of great use to make impressions on several places, were there Troops sufficient to land in force, so as to be enabled to stand their ground. Small enterprises of the kind we have found beneficial in collecting live stock, and may be continued whenever transports are not otherwise employed.

And, lastly, whether, if neither of the two last propositions can be effected, and if even Boston should not be tenable in the winter without hazard, (as many here think,) it might not be advisable that your whole Army should be posted in proper divisions at Halifax and Quebeck, until the events of the winter shall point out the best place of operation in the spring.

I am of opinion that Boston will be tenable in the winter, without hazard.

Having answered your Lordship' s questions, I will take the liberty to add, that it appears to me most necessary, for the prosecution of the war, to be in possession of some Province where you can be secured, and from whence you can draw supplies of provision and forage, and that New-York seems to be the most proper to answer those purposes. There the foundation of the war should be laid, by having Troops in force, large magazines of military stores of all kinds, and the whole well fortified and secured.

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The possession of Boston occasions a considerable diversion of the enemy' s force, and is so far of use; but is, at the same lime, so open to attacks on many sides, that it requires a large body to defend it.

Castle William defends the channel, a circumstance of no use to us, but would be greatly prejudicial, should the Rebels find means to get that fortress in their hands; on which accounts, I have caused ihe sea-battery to be destroyed, and have ordered the fort to be mined, in order to be blown if the Troops should be ordered from Boston.

Could our Troops be numerous enough to multiply our attacks, my opinion is much in favour of seizing Rhode-Island. I conceive it to be easy defended, with the aid of a frigate or two, and a few small vessels of war; and is so situated as to have an easy communication with New-York, and from thence the whole coast of Connecticut, the north side of Long-Island, and the western parts of Massachusetts-Bay, may be attacked.

By letters lately from Halifax, Governour Legge informs me that upwards of four hundred persons have associated themselves there, in defence of Government. The Fowey, ship of war, is ordered there, and takes Lieutenant-Colonel Goreham, with some recruits of his own and Mr˙ McLean' s corps, and two Companies of the Fourteenth, under convoy; so that I hope, with the Associators, a body will be formed of about six hundred men at Halifax, exclusive of the Somerset and Fowey, ships of war. I wrote there long since, about intrenching the heights above the dock yard and the Citadel-Hill, but have no account what has been done in it.

I have the honour to be, &c˙,

THOMAS GAGE.

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