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Governour Trumbull to Massachusetts Council



Lebanon, December 9, 1776.

SIR: Is America to be lost? Is she to fall a victim to the rage of a lawless tyrant? Is New-England, that once happy land of civil and religious liberty, dearly purchased by the blood of our worthy ancestors, and for a long time continued under the smiles of Divine Providence, by their prudence, valour, and virtue, to be subjected to the worst of slavery? God Almighty forbid. What means that languor, inertion, and dispiritedness, that seems to overwhelm the New-England States? Our Army to the westward naked and barefoot, fleeing before the enemy, the last we hear as far as Trenton; a fleet of the enemy, of upwards of one hundred sail, pushing up Narraganset Bay, and no doubt a large land force on board, to get footing in that quarter. We have the strongest intimations, from General Lee and others, besides the same demonstrations in our own breasts, that unless the New-England Colonies renew their exertions by redoubled vigour, all is lost. A most melancholy prospect indeed! We may reflect on our past errours to no other valuable purpose but to steer our course with greater propriety for the future. We now see our errours in inlisting our forces or detaching them for so short a time, to have so many thousands drawing off from our Army in the very crisis of the season, since which, the enemy have continually drove and dispersed our thus mutilated Army. We were unhappy in your not consulting us, nor so much as directing your Committee, sent with your proposals for raising a new Army, to call upon us, though our Assembly was then sitting at New-Haven, whereby our counsels are divided, our modes and encouragement for raising a new army not only diverse from the General Congress, but from one another, whereby the whole plan of raising our army, if not confounded, yet we fear almost fatally delayed.

We have accounts in the publick papers that large quantities of clothing and shoes have been taken from the enemy and brought into your State and Rhode-Island. Have, or must not, our destitute Army be immediately supplied with them?

It is now but a very few days before the time of the inlistment of our present Army is expired. We are in this State raising four battalions, with all speed, to supply the deficiencies in the inlistments in the new Army, until the 15th of March next. For the encouragement for the new, it readily occurred to us that difficulties would arise in putting the same army on different pay; we have therefore, besides the Continental encouragements, undertaken to supply those who shall be raised from this State with all necessaries, besides their rations, at the first cost here, free from the charge of transportation; and that the price may not be extravagant, we have stated the price of the most necessary articles, viz: wheat not to exceed six shillings per bushel; rye three shillings six pence; Indian corn not to exceed three shillings; West-India rum of merchantable proof not to exceed six shillings per gallon per hogshead; New-England rum three shillings six pence; molasses three shillings; Muscovado sugar of the best quality not to exceed three pounds per


hundred per hogshead; pork from three pence one farthing to three pence three farthings; best grass-fed beef not to exceed twenty-four shillings per hundred; butter ten pence; cheese six pence; other articles in proportion. This is done not only to convince the soldiers that while they are fighting for the country, they and their families may not at the same time be ruined by the extravagant demands of the people, and further, to check that fatal excess that seemed to prevail among almost all ranks in this time of general calamity and distress, and that overbearing oppression, so hateful to God Almighty, as well as ruinous and destructive to all civil communities. How far your leading State will see the prudence of those measures and cooperate with us therein, we must leave to your wisdom and good discretion. This we are convinced, that it is high time for us to awake out of our sleep and security, and for publick bodies to endeavour, by precept and every exertion, to bring about a general reformation in the people, to suppress every licentious oppressive spirit, and while God' s judgments are abroad in the land, threatening indeed, the inhabitants thereof may learn righteousness.

When we had an intimation from you a few weeks past for Commissioners from the New-England States to meet at Providence, to confer on the affair of our currency, it was then thought, for prudential reasons given you in answer then, to decline; but I beg leave to suggest whether, in the present aspect of affairs, our main army drove to the southward, the communication being greatly interrupted and in danger of being totally obstructed between the Southern and New-England Colonies, whether it will not be best, as soon as the enemy are retired into winter quarters, for the New-England States to meet by their Commissioners to consult on the great affairs of our safety, and of counteracting the enemy in their future operations. We have a hint of this in a late letter from General Lee. We hope we shall soon hear from you on this subject. May God Almighty give us a spirit of wisdom, fortitude, and resolution, in this evil day; and as the day is so may our strength be; but every means and exertion must be used. Will it not be well to call for town meetings in every town, endeavour to inspirit the people, know their sentiments in the present days, whether they will yield up their lives and properties and sacred liberties to the imperious demands of Britons, and submit to that base, ignominious yoke of slavery, from which, perhaps, it will never be in their power to emerge; or will they, looking to the God of armies for help, and his blessing on their utmost exertions, stand forth in the cause of their country, and engage in the glorious struggle? If the latter should happily be their choice, it would give an encouraging presage that God Almighty will yet save his people from utter ruin and destruction, and not suffer our merciless enemy any longer to triumph over us.

I am, with great esteem and regard, sir, your most obedient, humble servant.


Honourable James Bowdoin, Esq˙, President of the Council in Massachusetts State.