Primary tabs

May 30, Memorial of General Joseph Frye





To the honourable the Council and House of Representatives of said Colony in General Court assembled, MAY 30, 1776:

The Memorial of JOSEPH FRYE humbly showeth:

That your memorialist being settled in a new plantation at a place called Pigwacket, in the County of York, much exposed to an enemy from Canada, where the news of the Lexington battle arriving soon after it happened, it filled your memorialist and the other inhabitants of said plantation with great concern, apprehending that, as hostilities were, commenced, a war in a little time would become general. And as they were far advanced in the County of York, they expected that the Governour of Canada would send the Indians, and others he could influence, against them and other exposed plantations; and as they had no ammunition to defend themselves, they expected either to be destroyed or driven from their habitations except they could get some. Therefore they met and requested your memorialist to try and procure some for them; in consequence of which your memorialist came off from said plantation on the 25th of May, 1775, for that purpose, but your memorialist could hear of none in Falmouth, Portsmouth, Newbury, nor in any other trading towns in the eastern country, in the County of Essex, nor any where else; but hearing, after he came to Andover, a large quantity of powder was expected would soon arrive in Watertown, he tarried at Andover some days waiting for the news of its arrival, hoping that if the quantity he had heard of did arrive, he should be favoured with some of it for the purpose above mentioned; and while he was at Andover, viz: on Saturday, the 17th of June, 1775, news arrived there of the burning of Charlestown and the battle of Bunker-Hill. Your memorialist being much concerned at that event, being then fully convinced that the Ministerial plan was to prosecute the unjust war they had begun with their utmost vigour, he the next day after went to Medford, where he tarried the night following, and the 19th went to Cambridge, where he found the honourable General Ward, Commander-in-Chief of the forces that were in the field; also many other gentlemen, some of whom were officers who had been with your memorialist in the wars with the French and Indians, and other men that were privates, who had been under his particular command in those wars, all of whom


appeared very desirous of his company in the army, and not only those, but several of the honourable gentlemen belonging to the Congress then sitting at Watertown desired the same. Your memorialist, finding his service so generally desired, consented to serve his country accordingly, the distresses of his exposed plantation notwithstanding; whereupon the honourable the Congress of this Colony were pleased to honour him with a Major-General' s commission, bearing date the 21st of June, 1775. With that commission he entered into the service in Cambridge, under the command of General Ward. After which, about the last of that month or beginning of July, General Ward received a packet from Philadelphia, containing his commission from the honourable the Continental Congress, and a list of General Officers appointed by that Congress to command in the army, which list he showed to your said memorialist. Upon looking over said list he thought he might then return to his family, which he mentioned to General Ward; in consequence of which he went up to Watertown, and on his return to Cambridge he informed your memorialist that he had shown said list to one or more of the Congress of this Colony, and that a letter would without delay be sent to the Continental Congress with respect to your memorialist and sundry other General Officers appointed by this Colony Congress, and that those of the last-mentioned Congress he had spoke with desired your memorialist would continue in the army till an answer to that letter should be returned from the Continental Congress, upon which your memorialist consented to tarry. Not long after this, the Congress of this Colony was dissolved, and in the beginning of July, then next, a General Court for this Colony assembled at Watertown, from whom your memorialist received a letter conceived in the following terms, viz:

"In the House of Representatives, Watertown,

July 22, 1775.

"SIR: This House, approving of your services in the station you were appointed to in the army by the Congress of this Colony, embrace this opportunity to express their sense of them, and at the same time to desire your continuance with, the army, if you shall judge you can do it without impropriety, till the final determination of the Continental Congress shall be known with regard to the appointment of General Officers. We assure you that the justice of this House will be engaged to make you an adequate compensation for your services. We have such intelligence as affords us confidence to suppose that a few days will determine whether any such provisions shall be made for you as is


consistent with your honour to accept, and shall give you encouragement to remain in the service.

"By order of the House:


"General Frye."

When your memorialist had received the letter of which the foregoing is a true copy, he not only judged he could continue in the army without impropriety, but looked upon himself bound in duty to his country to do it till the final determination of the Continental Congress should be known with regard to the appointment of General Officers, and accordingly went to Roxbury with General Ward, and while there, viz: about the time it was expected a commission would arrive from Philadelphia for your memorialist, this Colony' s members of the Continental Congress came to General Ward' s quarters, when they informed your said memorialist that in the letter sent to them in regard to him and others, his Christian name was not mentioned, and that as they knew your memorialist had moved into the County of York, they could not satisfy themselves it was he, therefore deferred the affair till they could have the name ascertained; and then two of those gentlemen desired your said memorialist to give them an account of his military services in the French wars, in order to lay it before the members of the Continental Congress, who were strangers to him; agreeable to which your said memorialist gave them the account they desired; and about the last of August those gentlemen set out on their journey to Philadelphia, leaving their desire of his continuance in the army, not doubling but he would be commissioned to command a Brigade that was then vacant. Your memorialist continued at Roxbury accordingly till the 12th day of October following, when being informed that General Washington had received a letter from the Continental Congress, wherein, among other things, he was informed that the appointment of another Brigadier-General was deferred for the then present, your memorialist left Roxbury, came to Cambridge, where it took him two days, viz: the 13th and 14th of said month, to get ready to return home, and on the 15th left Cambridge and went to Andover, which being his native place he tarried there till the beginning of November, then next, where he received a commission and instructions from the honourable the Council of this Colony, empowering him to take the command of the men posted in the County of Cumberland for the defence of the sea-coast, &c˙, and commanding them to obey him as their superiour officer.

As the instructions above mentioned were directed to General Frye, had no doubt on his mind but he would be esteemed as such, and as he was sure he had done nothing for which he deserved degradation, he concluded that the commission meant no more than to subject the troops in the County of Cumberland to his command, and that he should be treated in some measure agreeable to the dignity of the commission he had been honoured with from the Colony Congress. In this service he continued till the beginning of February, 1776, when he received a letter from General Washington, whereby your said memorialist was informed that the Continental Congress had appointed him a Brigadier-General in the Continental army, and by the same letter he was ordered to the camp in Cambridge with all possible speed. In obedience thereto your said memorialist left Falmouth, in said County of Cumberland, and came to Cambridge, where he arrived the evening of the 15th of said month, and the next morning waited upon General Washington, who presented him a Brigadier-General' s commission, dated the 10th day of the preceding month. Your memorialist having informed your Honours how he understood the above-recited letter, begs leave to insert in this place a Resolve of the late Great and General Court, passed in the House the 25th of January, 1776, which is as followeth, viz:

"Resolved, That there be allowed and paid out of the publick Treasury of the Colony to the General Officers appointed by the Congress of this Colony for their services in the Massachusetts Army, from the time they entered into said service until they were put into the pay of the Continent or were otherwise discharged, at the several rates following, viz: To the Hon. General Ward, who served this Colony as Cornmander-in-Chief, £21 per month; to General Thomas, who served this Colony as Lieutenant-General, £18 per month; and to Generals Whitcomb, Heath, Frye,


and Pomeroy, who served this Colony as Major-Generals, £16 per month each, accounting twenty-eight days to a month; and they are respectively desired to make up their accounts accordingly, and lodge them with the Secretary of this Colony for examination and allowance of the Committee on the Muster Rolls of the Army."

As your memorialist was brought into the army in the manner already mentioned, and desired to continue therein, as appears by the Court' s letter of the 22d of July, 1775; and as the time of his being brought into the Continental army was deferred by reason his Christian name was omitted in the letter sent to the Continental Congress, and being sent by the late General Court to take the command of the sea-coast men in the County of Cumberland, by a commission dated the 13th of November, 1775; in which service he continued till the beginning of February, 1776, when he was called into the Continental army, as before related, and by comparing the letter from the General Court to your memorialist, dated the 22d of July, 1775, with the said Court' s resolve of the 25th of January, 1776, and observing his pay was but £16 per month, which is not half the sum allowed to a Brigadier-General in the Continental army, and much less still than half the pay per month of a Major-General in that army, your memorialist had no doubt in his mind but the honourable the then General Court of this Colony designed his pay of £16 per month should be continued till he was taken into the pay of the Continent. But so it was, the following Resolve passed in the General Court, April 24, 1776, viz:

"Resolved, That there be paid out of the publick Treasury of this Colony to the Hon˙ Joseph Frye, Esq˙, the sum of £41 7, in full discharge for his service as Major-General in the Colony Army one month and twelve days, and also for his service as superiour officer on the sea-coast establishment at Falmouth, two months and one day."

This is much short of the time of his service, as before shown. If it should be objected that between the 15th of October, 1775, which was the time your memorialist left the army, as before mentioned, and the 13th of November, then next, which is the day of the date of his commission to command the troops at Falmouth, on the sea-coast establishment, there is twenty-eight days he was not in actual service, he begs leave to reply that he allows it; but as he was one hundred and forty miles from his family, and one hundred and twenty miles from Falmouth, he apprehended that in the first case he should be allowed (as was ever usual) some time to go home in, and in the latter case, as no rations were allowed for his subsistence, and it being very expensive travelling at that season of the year, by reason there was such a scarcity of hay, no horses, as he was told, could be kept in Falmouth, he was obliged to hire two horses in Andover, and a man to bring them back from Falmouth, which was attended with no trifling expense. He flattered himself that all things considered through the whole affair, he should be allowed some part of the twenty-eight days, if not the whole, in either of those cases.

Your memorialist having given your Honour' s a true relation of facts with regard to his service, he begs leave to say that he really thinks, that as they were not stated in due order and laid before the late honourable Assembly, it was the occasion of some mistake with regard to the time of his service, otherwise he is persuaded a larger sum would have been allowed him. Wherefore, upon the whole, your memorialist prays your Honours would please to take the premises under consideration, when he makes no doubt but your Honours will make him an adequate compensation for his services, agreeable to the before-recited letter from the late honourable Assembly to him.

And, as in duty bound, prays.


In the House of Representatives, September, 1776.

Resolved, That there be allowed and paid out of the Treasury of this State to General Joseph Frye, over and above what has been already allowed him, the sum of £44 in full for his services during his continuance in the Army at Cambridge and Roxbury, and the further sum of £3 16s˙, over and above what he has received of the Commissary for his subsistence during his continuance in the sea-coast service of this State, in the County of Cumberland, the same to be in full for his services till his appointment to a command in he Continental Army.