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Letter from Levi Allen to General Washington



Salisbury, in Connecticut, January 27, 1776.

MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY: I have rode some hundred miles in consequence of my brother Ethan Allen (commonly called Colonel Allen) being taken prisoner near Montreal, 25th September last, waited on your Excellency at Head-Quarters, in Cambridge, in December last; since that waited on General Schuyler, on the same business. He read me a paragraph of your Excellency' s letter, directing him to inquire what was become of Colonel Allen, and desired me, if possible, to get some evidence of the treatment he met with after being taken prisoner. Accordingly have spared neither trouble nor cost to accomplish the same. One affidavit only have been able to obtain, which here enclose.

There is a number of the Ministerial troops in this and the neighbouring Colonies, prisoners, but few of them have seen my brother since a prisoner; only those taken on board the Gaspee, brig, and, it is next to impossible to get any of them to say Allen or any other prisoner was used ill, for fear of retaliation, besides they have been charged by Prescott, and all the officers, not to mention Allen' s being put in irons on pain of death.

The soldier that made the affidavit here enclosed, was very loath, and I should not have obtained it, but he had previously dropped words to the same import of the affidavit. I then brought him before proper authority, and told him he must declare on oath whether Colonel Allen was put in irons or not; then he declared on oath what the affidavit says, at the same time begged none present would mention his name.

Have some thoughts of going to England, incognito, after my brother, but am not positively certain he is sent there, though believe he is. Beg your Excellency will favour me with a line, and acquaint me if any intelligence concerning him, and, if your Excellency pleases, your opinion of the expediency of going after him, and whether your Excellency would think proper to advance any money for that purpose, as my brother was a man blessed with more fortitude than fortune. Your Excellency may think, at first thought, I can do nothing by going to England; I feel as if could do a great deal, by raising a mob in London, bribing the jailer, or by getting into some servile employment with the jailer, and over-faithfulness, make myself master of the key, or at least be able to lay my hand on it some night.

I beg your Excellency will countenance my going; can muster more than one hundred pounds, my own property; shall regard spending that no more than one copper.

Your Excellency must know Allen was not only a brother, but a real friend, that sticketh closer than a brother. Have two brothers in the Continental Army, one a Captain, the other a Lieutenant—the latter with the army before Quebeck. Whether he is there now or with General Montgomery, in Heaven, cannot tell. We look up to your Excellency as our political father, and head of a great people.

Your Excellency' s most obedient, ever faithful, and very humble servant,


To His Excellency General Washington.

N˙ B. If your Excellency chooses I should wait on you personally, I only wait your commands. Cannot live without going to England, if my brother is sent there. Beg your Excellency will not discover this letter, lest the adverse party know my design.