Primary tabs

Letter from Lord Germain to General Howe

v4:573

EXTRACT OF A LETTER FROM LORD GEORGE GERMAIN TO MAJOR GENERAL HOWE, DATED WHITEHALL, JANUARY 5, 1776.

I was preparing to write to you by a ship of war under orders for Boston, when Major General Burgoyne arrived here on the 27th of December, with your despatches, by the Boyne, which have been laid before the King.

The reasons you assign for not removing from Boston, in consequence of Lord Dartmouth' s letters of the 5th of September, fully justifies your resolution on that head; and from the best judgment I am able to form of things as they now appear, I am inclined to think, that even if you could have procured a sufficient quantity of shipping to have effected an evacuation of the place in the manner you suggest, it would have been for many reasons an unadviseable measure.

Your ideas for the plan of operation for the army under your command in the ensuing campaign, are, in general, approved by the King; but I shall write more fully to you upon that subject in a separate letter, confining myself, at present, to the consideration of those parts of your letters which suggest the means of augmenting your force to what is necessary for that plan, and to an explanation of the arrangements we are making for that purpose, and for supplying, as far as is practicable, the several articles of which you have made requisition.

By your calculation, the number of men wanting to

v4:574

complete the several battalions stated in your paper of distribution, so that each battalion shall have five hundred men for the field, amounts to six thousand one hundred men; but as the plan of augmentation, by incorporating one hundred men into each battalion from the foreign troops in British pay, is liable to many objections from the nature and custom of their service — and I cannot yet say, whether it will be practicable to get any assistance from the militia in the manner you propose — you must depend for the augmentation you wish upon the number of levies that will be raised by recruiting, (which I am sorry to say, goes on slowly,) and upon such additional battalions as we shall be able to send you. You are, therefore, to add to the Forty-Second Regiment, which will be one thousand men complete, two other battalions of one thousand each, which will be raised upon a plan proposed by General Frazer, and approved by the King, and which it is hoped will be ready to embark for Boston, with the Forty-Second Regiment, early in the month of April.

You will also be furnished with an addtional battalion from the armament going out upon an expedition to the Southern Colonies, which now consists, as you will see by the enclosed copy of my letter of instructions to Major General Clinton, of seven regiments; and, therefore, admitting that it should become necessary to leave two regiments to the Southward, (and I trust it will not be necessary to leave more,) there will be one battalion collected from that service more than you have included in your calculation.

The addition of General Frazer' s corps, and of one battalion from the Southern expedition, and supposing the recruits to amount to two thousand men, will make an augmentation to your force of about four thousand four hundred men; and I speak with some degree of confidence, when I say, that I trust we shall be able to send you a separate corps of foreign troops, not less than ten thousand men, for although our negotiation with Russia has failed, we are now in treaty with other States for different corps, amounting in the whole to upwards of seventeen thousand men, and I think those treaties are brought so near to an issue, that they cannot fail.

The additional quantity of tonnage of shipping, which you state to be wanting for the entire evacuation of Boston, is very large; but it will in great measure, if not altogether, be supplied by the store-ships already gone out, and by a much greater number that are now preparing to be sent, all which will be at your disposal after they arrive, and have landed their cargoes; but should these not be enough, means will be found to supply the deficiency.

Your demand for wagons and horses, involves a greater difficulty; for, I am sorry to say, I think it is impossible to be complied with in the extent in which it is stated; and, therefore, I could wish to be satisfied in my own mind, that it is not necessary, and that, supposing the worst to happen, the nature of the operations will be such, that a great part of the service for which wagons and horses are demanded, may be performed by water-carriage.

With this hope, I have pressed forward the supply of flat-bottomed boats, of which thirty-two are already sent out, and also ten yawls, and as many cutters; and forty more boats are now in hand, and will be ready to go out by the first ships. Some horses, however, for the use of the artillery, and for the carriage of tents, must be procured, and I shall consult General Harvey and General Burgoyne, as to the numbers that will be wanted for that purpose.

Upon inquiring at the office of Ordnance, I find that the demand made in August last, for intrenching tools, and of those articles that were wanting in the Engineer' s Department, had been supplied; directions, however, will be given for a second supply of the same sort, and for double the quantity of those articles of that supply which were on board the Nancy brig.

With regard to the supply of provisions, forage, and other stores, stated in the returns you have transmitted to me, the care of that business belongs to the Treasury Department, and I have no doubt that the utmost activity will be used in every step that is necessary to be taken.

It is impossible to turn one' s thoughts to Canada, without regretting the unfortunate situation of the King' s affairs

v4:575

in that country, and lamenting the obstacles which prevented the execution of the measure you had, with so proper a zeal, proposed for the safety of it, and which, I will venture to say, could not have failed; but, when I say this, I am not to presume that Admiral Graves had not good reasons for refusing to adopt it; at the same time, hoping, that, whatever his reasons were, they will be fully inquired into in the proper Department.

My business is to consider the means by which Quebeck, if possible, may be relieved; or, if lost, how we may recover it; but, as it can be of no use to explain to you all the steps I have taken for that purpose, I will only say, that, independent of the efforts we shall make very early to relieve the town, I hope, that, by the first or second week in March, we shall be able to send General Carleton at least ten thousand men.

The King approves the arrangement you propose, in respect to an Adjutant-General and a Quartermaster-General, and also your attention to Major Rogers, of whose firmness and fidelity we have received further testimony from Governour Tryon, and there is no doubt you will find the means of making him useful.

Lieutenant Bourmaster' s behaviour does him great credit, and I will not fail to recommend him to Lord Sandwich; in the meantime, I have communicated to the Lords of the Admiralty, what you say of that gentleman, in an official letter, and also what you represent of the necessity of sending out seamen to complete the transports to their proper numbers, and your ideas of the propriety of augmenting the number of seamen, on board the King' s ships, to a war establishment.

I am to suppose that Admiral Graves had good reasons for the step he took to destroy the town of Falmouth, and that he did not proceed to that extremity without an absolute refusal on the part of the inhabitants to comply with those requisitions, stated in the orders he received from the Lords of the Admiralty, which, however, does not appear from any account I have seen of that transaction.

In your letter of the 26th November, No˙ 2, you desire more particular directions in regard to the effects and merchandise in the town of Boston, on which head, it is the King' s pleasure, that, if practicable, the whole should be removed and put into store, either at Halifax, or some other place of safety, so that the British merchant may have a chance, at least, to recover some of the property for which he can never be paid. At the same time, I am to repeat to you, what was said of Mr˙ Pownall' s letter, that you must use your own discretion, according as circumstances shall point out at the time of your removal; for, however desirable it may be, that these goods and merchandise should be secured, it is an object that must not be attended to, if it should be found to be accompanied with such difficulty as to create any embarrassment or hazard in your removal; for, supposing such a case, the destruction of these goods and merchandise will be fully justified.

With regard to the battalion and detachment of artillery, serving in North-America, it is to be understood, that you do not fill up any vacancies, but in the rank of second lieutenants, in which rank you may grant commissions, and also, in all other corps below the rank of a field-officer, which commissions will be confirmed by His Majesty.

Share