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Letter from Colonel Hurd to General Sullivan



Haverhill, (Cohos,) July 13, 1776.

SIR: The bearer of this (Captain Samuel Paine) having made a voluntary offer of his services to go on a scout towards Canada, for the good of the common cause, I embrace the opportunity of paying my respects to you from this part of the country, and to acquaint you something of our present critical situation.

I was at Exeter about ten days ago, attending the publick business, where we were alarmed with repeated accounts of the ill success of our forces in Canada; that the Army under your command, having dismantled the fortress St˙ John, had retreated to Isle-aux-Noix, and from thence were going over the lake with all expedition to Crown Point, which of course left the northwest parts of the New Hampshire Colony open to the incursions of the enemy, and defenceless. This news, with the exaggerated accounts of the numerous Ministerial Army lately arrived at Quebeck, struck such a consternation and panick into our people settled along upon Connecticut


River, that they immediately began to pluck up stakes and remove with their effects and live stock from the Upper and Lower Cohos to the interior country. Those who determined to remain here set about building fortifications of some sort for the defence of their women and children, and a considerable number of families live now in garrison, having quitted their plantations and risked the loss of the near harvest, though the finest appearance of crops, to their great damage. My own family (the better part) I met halfway on the road as I was returning here, where I left them, and came on to encourage the people in this quarter what I could.

Our Assembly have, in consequence of very pressing letters from the Continental Congress, resolved upon raising two battalions, of seven hundred and fifty men each, to march into Canada for your reinforcement; and have, for greater expedition, determined to draught the men proportionally from the several regiments of Militia, giving, at the same time, a bounty of £7 18s˙, besides a month' s advance wages, for encouragement. They have also determined upon raising two hundred men, particularly for the defence of this part of the Colony, to be kept on ranging duty between Connecticut River and Lake Champlain, and towards the head of Connecticut River, in which quarter we are most exposed while your Army is stationed at Crown Point. This, sir, you must be so sensible of, that I need but hint it. You are also acquainted of the new road which was opening under care of Colonel Bayley, from Cohos, on a northwest course, to Missisque Bay, and thence to St˙ John' s, by particular direction from General Washington; on which road there were upwards of fifty persons employed, and had got nearly thirty miles through when this news reached here; upon which Colonel Bayley desisted, and called off his workmen. I take the liberty to enclose you a sketch of this road, from a plan first draughted by Mr˙ Metcalf, which, if you have not seen, I thought might be of some service; and, if otherwise, your politeness, I trust, will excuse the trouble. You will please to give Captain Paine such advice and directions respecting his scout as you may think best. We shall be anxiously expecting his return, that we may know better what we have to depend upon; and if the multiplicity of your affairs will admit of a few minutes' time, I shall think myself much honoured by a line from you.

Wishing the hand of a kind Providence may cover you in every danger, preserve your valuable life and health, I am, with great esteem and respect, sir, your most obedient humble servant, JOHN HURD.

To the Hon˙ Major-General Sullivan.

P˙ S˙ I have had the pleasure to see a copy of your letter from Crown Point, of 3d instant, to Colonel Hoisington, and to observe, though your Army was much weakened with sickness, you were not apprehensive of any immediate danger from the enemy, they having no vessels of force on the lake, nor boats in readiness for transporting. Our greatest danger, we fear, at present, is from small skulking parties of Canadians or Indians, should they take up the hatchet against us. Yet we have this good circumstance in our favour: the St˙ François tribe and Caughnawaga have still some of their children at Dartmouth College, under Doctor Wheelock' s tuition, which one would think they would certainly remove before they begin hostilities.

July 14˙ — Since writing the above, I have seen a letter from Captain Ira Allen, on Onion River, by one of our scouts, in which he writes that Colonel Waite, by your orders, was stationed there with two hundred men, and that he expected there would be a line of block forts from that river to Connecticut River. This may answer a good purpose, but will not be sufficient. The northern parts of our Colony will still be exposed, our settlements extending seventy miles on this river above the Lower Cohos; and it appears to us here that nothing but the enemy' s ignorance of the country and our weak situation, or their want of men, prevents them from forcing their way into these parts; the consequence of which, (should such a plan take place as recommended by the notorious Mr˙ Brush) you can easily conjecture.