Letter from Boston to Newport, Rhode-Island
We are constantly agitated by hearing complaints from different persons, of the more than savage barbarity of the Soldiers, encouraged, and often joined and headed by the Officers. They are now become so insolent, that it is hardly safe to walk the streets at noon-day, and there seems to be no check or control; but they are rather countenanced and encouraged by their superiours in their lawless outrage. They appear to me to be a banditti of licensed free-booters, just let loose upon us, for the innocent and laudable purposes of robberies, rapes, and murders; nor can I at present see any prospect of avoiding these calamities, but by a general evacuation of the Town. The late news seems to increase their insolence, which was barely tolerable before. The reason is obvious: the common soldiers and their wives have frequently and loudly complained of the fallacy and injustice of the officers, who promised them fine bouses, rich plunder, and a thousand other gratifications, which they hoped to be in possession of long before this, the expectation of which has, in my opinion prevented the desertion of hundreds; but they grow more and more impatient, so that I fear violence will sooner or later take place, let what will be the determinations in England, unless some method can be adopted to prevent or restrain them, tantamount to leaving the Town, as the people in general do not seem inclined to go out.
On Thursday last a friend of mine was beat stone blind by some soldiers on the Neck, in presence of their commanding officer, who seemed to be highly gratified, and on Saturday I saw three men (two white and one black) who had just before been most barbarously cut and mangled by a gang of those military highwaymen, who have for a long time infested our out-passage to and from the Town. Their method is for a large party, some with swords or cutlasses, others with guns and bayonets fixed, to surround an unarmed man, and order him to deliver, after which they mangle the poor wretch till their malice is sufficiently glutted, then suffer him, if able, to crawl away.