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General Howe to the Earl of Dartmouth



Boston, November 27, 1775.

My LORD: I have the honour to inform your Lordship, that the Whitby, transport, from Cork, with four Companies of the Seventeenth Regiment of Foot; two transports, having on board four Companies of the third Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, and two ships with ordnance stores, are safely arrived. The Brig Nancy, with ordnance stores, was spoke to by one of the King' s cruisers the 15th instant, and is the only ordnance store-ship missing, that sailed under convoy of the Phenix, man-of-war;


but none of the transports from Cork, with the Seventeenth, Twenty-Seventh, Twenty-Eighth, Forty-Sixth, and Fifty-Fifth Regiments, have yet made their appearance, except the Whitby, above mentioned, which occasions some apprehensions that they have been driven far to the southward by the violence of the late northerly winds. It is much to be wished that they were arrived, not only for the use they may be of, but on account of the advanced season of the year, and the dangers vessels must run by coming on this coast, in the present situation of things, without convoy or force, and having no friendly port but this to receive them, while the Rebels' cruisers are watchful to take the advantage of their weakness or necessities, wherein they have already been too successful, and will probably do much more mischief, unless the King' s ships can contrive to cut them off.

A remarkable instance of daring spirit was shown on the 25th instant, within a short distance of the light-house, and within view of His Majesty' s ships, by a schooner that had actually taken one, and would have taken two transports loaded, with forage, had it not been for the vigilance of Lieutenant Bourmaster, of the Navy, and agent of transports, on this service, who cut his cables, rescued the vessel taken, and drove off the Rebel, in an armed transport, stationed for the protection of the light-house. In justice to this gentleman' s merit, I beg leave to report to your Lordship, that he has, during General Gage' s command, and since that time, invariably acted with the greatest alacrity and attention to the service in his own line, and upon other occasions.

In consequence of your Lordship' s letter to the Master-General of the Ordnance, due attention shall be paid to the return of the officers belonging to the third Battalion Royal Artillery.

When I had last the honour of writing to your Lordship, I flattered rnyself that the Army would have been in quarters at this time; but, to my great disappointment, the works necessary for the winter defence of Charlestown heights have been so much retarded by an unusual wet season, and want of artificers, that they are not yet perfect for the detachment intended to remain there; that corps, therefore, is still in the field. A part of the troops on this side have quitted the camp, and the whole Army, I think I can assure your Lordship, will be under cover in a few days.

I have been under the necessity of taking off the men employed upon the fortification within Boston-Neck, which was begun before General Gage' s departure, in order to employ them in throwing up redoubts for a better defence on the side of the Common.

The sickness of the Army has rather increased of late, from the severity of the season; but hope, since there is nothing epidemical among us, that we shall quickly recover in quarters, provided we do not wait too long for the flocks, bedding, blankets, &c˙, expected from England. In the mean time, the utmost attention will be had to the preservation of health.

Your Lordship having been pleased to take notice of the loss this Army has suffered by desertion during the campaign, I have the satisfaction to acquaint you, that only thirty-three men have deserted since the 19th of April.

By information, the Rebel Troops are in great want of clothing, and much dissatisfied on other accounts; their agreements to serve will expire for the most part by the last of December, and there is reason to believe that many of them will decline entering into new engagements; in the mean time, they have got into barracks, having a range of them at every post, the most extensive of which are at Cambridge.

The light-house at the mouth of this harbour, so necessary for the safety of vessels bound to this port, is now, I hope, effectually secured, and a detachment of troops will be kept there for its future defence; the lantern is repaired, and was lighted the 23d instant.

I beg leave to remark, the great want of seamen experienced this summer, for the navigating of transports, for manning armed vessels and boats on particular services, and on many other occasions, which induces me to urge the necessity of sending out seamen to complete the transports to their proper number, a return whereof is enclosed. It is also to be wished, that the King' s ships had their war


establishments, as they would then be able to spare men for extra services, and not have the same reason for pressing out of the vessels from Europe and other parts, coming with supplies for the Navy and Army — a practice which may greatly affect us in future, unless your Lordship will be pleased to direct that protections be given to vessels sailing from Britain, and exemptions to others who may bring such supplies.

Before the departure of General Gage, an expedition was concerted by the General and Admiral, for the destruction of Cape Ann and Falmouth, two sea-port towns on the coast to the eastward, that were distinguished for their opposition to Government. The Canceau, and an armed transport, having a small detachment of troops on board, were to execute it. From circumstances, it was found inexpedient to make any attack upon Cape Ann, whereupon they proceeded to Falmouth, which place, after giving timely warning to the inhabitants, for the removal of themselves and their effects, was destroyed on the 18th of October, burning about five hundred houses, fourteen sea vessels, taking and destroying several others, without any loss on our part.

On the return of this detachment, the 5th instant, I received confirmation, that the party from the Rebel Army, under the command of a Colonel Arnold, of which I presume your Lordship would have advice from General Gage, had gone up the Kennebeck River, intending to enter Canada by the River Chaudiere; that they had got to Fort Halifax, about sixty miles from the mouth of the Kennebeck, from whence they had sent back about two hundred sick; nothing further has been since heard of them.

General Gage would of course acquaint your Lordship, that a vessel arrived express from Quebeck, on the 10th of October, with letters to him from General Carleton and Lieutenant-Governour Cramahé, copies of which are herewith enclosed. In consequence, I determined to send, and had ordered a Battalion of Marines to embark immediately on board transports, and proceed to Quebeck, under the convoy of the Cerberus, frigate, as had been settled by Admiral Graves declaring the attempt unadvisable and impracticable for transports; upon which I wrote to him, that I should drop the idea of sending the troops in transports, upon his representations, as your Lordship may observe by a copy of my letter enclosed, (No˙ 2.) intending at that time to procure smaller vessels, better adapted to work their way up the River St˙ Lawrence; but not being able to have them fitted for sea in reasonable time to undertake the voyage with the least prospect of succeeding, I judged it most prudent to decline sending the re-enforcement, and despatched the express vessel back to Quebeck, on the evening of the 13th of October.

A variety of contradictory reports have since come, by the way of New-York, relative to the transactions on the part of Canada, and mostly favourable to His Majesty' s arms, until the 20th instant, when a few days past a Rebel paper was brought in here, giving an account of the surrender and capitulation of Chambly and St˙ John' s, by which the garrison are to remain prisoners in Connecticut, or elsewhere, as the Continental Congress shall direct; Major Stopford, of the Seventh Regiment, commanded at the first, and Major Preston, of the Twenty-Sixth, at the latter place. A vessel from Quebeck, bound to Europe, which was spoke with lately at sea, having given the same information, I fear there is too much truth in the intelligence.

I am, &c˙,

W˙ Howe.