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Rufus Putnam to General Washington



Roxbury Camp, February 11, 1776.

MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY: You have enclosed a chart of some of the most important posts and rising ground in and near Boston, which is as exact as I am able to make from the little leisure I have had to take surveys of them. By this draft, it appears, that the enemy' s works on the Neck is nearer the Causeway going to Dorchester-Point than Blanker Hill is to the covered way going on to Lechmere' s Point. Therefore, if a covered way was necessary in that case, it will be in this. Should your Excellency think proper to order works thrown up on any part of the Point, how this covered way will be made is a question. To procure upland or marsh turf at this season, is, in my opinion absolutely impossible, and nothing short of timber, instead of turf, will answer the purpose. The method I have thought of, is to side or hew the timber on two sides only, raising a single tier on the side of the Causeway, raising a parapet of stone and earth next the enemy, the timber to be well spliced together, and, if need be, a post with a brace in about fifty feel to support the timber against the stone and earth. I know stone are bad in a parapet, but as they are easily procured from the walls at Dorchester, and I think cannot be driven through the timber by any shot whatever, I would place them at the bottom, and cover the top with earth, which might be procured by opening a pit for that purpose. About two hundred rods is necessary to be made a covered way, which eighty tons of timber to raise one foot, and so in proportion to every foot the parapet is high.

I have been to the swamp I mentioned to your Excellency the other day, find it between twelve and thirteen miles from the lines of Dorchester; there is near one hundred tons already got out, besides a number of mill-logs; the carting from this place will be twelve shillings per ton. One hundred tons more may be had on these lands, if the swamp does not break, and, no doubt, but timber may be had in other places. What your Excellency may think of so costly a work I cannot tell, it is the only method I know of, but wish a better way may be found out. I hope your Excellency will pardon my officiousness in suggesting, that I think this work may be carried on with safety to the people employed, and to the cause in general, as the enemy cannot take possession of Dorchester-Hill at present. Can we, by any means, raise a covered way in this frozen season, it will be of no small consequence in taking possession of this ground in a favourable hour. The people who have been employed by Mr˙ Davis in getting the timber out of the swamp, will get no more unless your Excellency gives orders for it.

I remain, your Excellency' s most obedient, humble servant,


To General Washington.