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Letter from the Council of Massachusetts to the President of Congress



[Read July 30, 1776. Referred to the Board of War.]

Watertown, July 19, 1776.

SIR : Your letter of the 25th of June, enclosing a resolution of Congress earnestly recommending it to this State to send immediately two regiments of their Militia to augment the troops destined for the Northern or Canada Department, has been communicated to the General Assembly; and considering the disagreeable complexion of our affairs in that quarter, and the absolute necessity of the measure, they have ordered such a proportion of the Militia of this Government forthwith to be draughted for that purpose as will be sufficient to make up the regiments requested. Since which, General Washington, agreeable to the power vested in him by the Congress on the 4th and 8th of July, has ordered the whole of the five regiments stationed in Massachusetts Bay to the southward; so that our lines and fortifications in and near Boston are left entirely destitute of Continental troops; for the General Court have been so closely engaged in taking effectual measures for furnishing the troops they were desired to send to New York and Canada, that they have not had opportunity to raise the two regiments they were permitted to raise upon the Continental establishment for the defence of this Government, and as the General Court is now prorogued, it cannot at present be done. Under these circumstances, the Council have thought it absolutely necessary for the security and protection of this Slate to order such a proportion of the Militia of this Government to be forthwith draughted out, and to march to the lines and fortifications in and near Boston, to supply the place of the Continental troops ordered from thence to the southward; and for their encouragement, have assured them that they will have the same pay and establishment as is allowed to the troops of the United Colonies. They are to tarry until the first of December next, and to be under the same regulations as the Continental troops, and their service is confined


to the limits of this Government. We request, therefore, that the honourable Congress would give orders to their Commissary-General to furnish these men with their rations, and to the Paymaster-General to furnish them with their pay as it may become due.

Before we conclude, we beg leave to observe, that besides the six thousand five hundred men lately ordered to New York and Canada, agreeable to the requisition of the honourable Congress, nineteen regiments raised within this Government have been all ordered out of it, a great number of men have been taken from our sea coast to serve on board the Continental Navy, and over and above these, we have been obliged to keep a great number of companies in pay for the defence of our sea coast. All these calls have so greatly thinned us of men, that it has become extremely difficult, if not impracticable, to raise any more, or even to carry on our necessary husbandry business. The Courts have been obliged already to give a bounty of seven pounds lawful money, in addition to which many of our towns have been obliged to give thirteen pounds more, in order to raise their several quotas, and the price of labour is at least double to what it used to be. However, we are engaged in a good and righteous cause, and, heavy as our burdens are, we are determined to exert ourselves to the utmost; but cannot refrain from representing our circumstances to the honourable Congress, and praying their consideration of the same, that so they may, as soon as the general safety will permit it, order a number of the Continental regiments to return to the lines and fortifications in and about Boston, for the security and protection of this Government.

In the name and by order of the Council, I am, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

To the Hon˙ John Hancock, Esq˙, President of Congress.
(To be communicated.)