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Colonel Hurd


August 7,1776.

SIR : In my last I hinted to you that we had our eyes on those persons who were propagating the notion of the expediency of sending into Canada for protection from the Indians, and should keep a strict watch upon their conduct. Colonel Asa Porter we knew was the principal promoter of it, and Colonel Taplin, of Newbury, who have both openly declared their opinion. Some few of us here and at Newbury were secretly informed that there was a plan propagating,


by those very persons, to send into Canada, and that soon. We thought best to let it run on till their scheme was nearly ripe; but Sunday morning an accident took place that alarmed us, and obliged us to stir in the matter a little sooner than intended-an Indian young hunter, that knew the road, and was tried upon the matter, happening to blab it out. We expected the others would take the alarm, when some of the gentlemen on the Newbury side sent over to us of this town that they thought it absolutely necessary the Committee here should immediately secure Colonel Porter, while they were apprehending others on their side; which was soon done, together with one person in his house and another at Bath, who had been employed under him. They were all put under guard. And on Monday morning the Committees of these two towns met to consult on the business, and formed themselves into a Court of Inquiry, at which I assisted, in consequence of your orders in your last to take up such persons; and after two days' close attention to this business of examination of the several persons taken up, it appeared to them, by the evidence and circumstances attending, that Colonel Porter, Colonel Taplin, with two others, David Weeks, of Bath, and Jacob Fowler, of Newbury, had been practising things very inimical to their country-judged them accordingly, and doomed them to be sent to Exeter, to the care of the Committee of Safety there; for we must look upon them as dangerous persons in this quarter of the country, and more so at this critical time.

With this shall be transmitted copies of the two principal evidences, and when I come down to Exeter, which I intend next week, will bring the minutes of the whole trial, and inform the Committee more particularly.

August 8. We had before written to Captain Woodward to be here with a parly of his men at the time we intended taking them up, and he readily attended accordingly; and being desirous of seeing the Committee on the business of this company, we have entrusted him with the care of Colonel Porter, to see him safe down to Exeter, and to wait on you. The other persons now under guard we thought best to let remain a few days longer.

Colonel Porter was very averse to the orders for his going to Exeter, and would fain have had a final decision here, pretending there is not nor ought to be, any higher power than our town Committees; for he has all along denied the jurisdiction of our General Court, and must be conscious to himself that he has used us ill by frequent denial of our authority, and misrepresentation. The people here in general are much exasperated against him, so that we have been obliged to keep him under strict guard since the trial, at his own house, not suffering him to go out on his parole. It being now a very busy time with us in the midst of harvesting, and Colonel Porter pretending he wanted time to collect some evidences in his own favour, the committee (chosen for the purpose of sending him off) agreed to allow him five days.

We refer to Captain Woodward for further particulars on this matter; also of what news we have by another scout just come in from Missisquo Bay, where he was informed by Mr˙ Metcalf, that resides there, that the Ministerial Army was now fifteen thousand strong-British and German troops; that the Canadians, all except those who took commissions under Congress, are forgiven, and join them in multitudes; and that they can have, besides, what Indians they want. The Caynawaga, Canausadaga, and St˙ Francis tribes have determined to take up on their side; but that no Indians will come into this part of the country without Regulars at the same time; that the farmers need not be concerned; they will not be molested unless they are found in arms; and any person unarmed may travel into Canada. But this we look upon as a scheme only to lull us asleep, that we may fall an easy prey to them whenever they may think proper to push through this way. They have also propagated in Canada reports that our army at New-York is all cut up-fifteen thousand killed, and the rest dispersed; and that the regular army can easily march through the whole country. They keep but few troops at St˙ John' s, being chiefly at Montreal, and are fortifying at Isle de Noix. No account now of a French fleet in the river St˙ Lawrence. I rather think they are reinforced, but do not give much credit to Metcalf' s story, as he has all along favoured that side, though he professes to be friendly to us.

10th. We have now another party come in from Ticonderoga


with Mr˙ Atkinson, of Boscawen, (who was sent over as a guard to the four last Frenchmen,) by whom we have a letter from General Gates, a copy of which I shall enclose. The General is so much encouraged by the Frenchmen' s account of things in Canada, he thinks of making a push there again, and would have Colonel Bayley go on with the road.

I am sorry to mention that the General makes great complaint of our men deserting the service. It is said there is not less than three thousand men lately gone off from the army, that are scattering through the country, whom the Committees of the several towns ought to take up and send back. It is a most shameful, wicked thing that men should take such large bounties, and then desert their country' s cause.

Should Colonel Bayley receive orders, as now expected, to set his men to work again on the road, the Committee will immediately set about raising the fifty men, as directed by the honourable Committee of Safety, which appears to us absolutely necessary.

Pray excuse my lengthy epistle and small paper; my stock of it being almost exhausted, obliges me to write in 12mo˙, sermon-wise. Mr˙ Secretary I fear will lose his patience before he gets through; but I' ll read as much for him another time, or for either of the Committee that will take the task off his honour' s hands.

Being very respectfully, sir, your most obedient, humble servant, J˙ HURD.