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Major-General Howe to the Earl of Dartmouth



Boston, December 19, 1775.

MY LORD: I embrace the opportunity of an officer who has my leave to go to Britain in a private ship, suddenly ordered there, to acquaint your Lordship that I have advice of Colonel Eyre Massey being arrived at Halifax with his regiment, and that I have been induced, on this occasion, to countermand my orders for six companies of the Sixty-Fifth Regiment, now lying in Nantasket-Road, to proceed to that place.


There have not arrived any troops since my last by the Tartar frigate, leaving this the 16th instant; but the storeships, (Thames, Laird; Friendship, Miller; Britannia, White; Generous Planter, Calse,) as per margin, have got in with most seasonable supplies, although the live stock met with worse fate than could have been suspected, from the great care that had been taken. As their cargoes are not yet landed, I cannot render a more particular account; but from all the reports received, the merchants employed have been most attentive to their engagements. I am concerned to inform your Lordship that I have the authority of the Rebel commander to believe Brigadier Prescott has fallen into the hands of the enemy; and report says that General Carleton, with the whole Province of Canada, has shared the same fate. Having no communication with Canada at present, I cannot determine upon the degree of credit this intelligence deserves, but am hopeful that the latter is not true. However, Mr˙ Washington, commanding the Rebel army, presuming upon the number and rank of the prisoners in his possession, has threatened retaliation in point of treatment to any prisoners of theirs in our power, and proposes an exchange, which is a circumstance I shall not answer in positive terms, nor shall I enter upon such a measure without the King' s orders. Your Lordship has enclosed a publication, extracted from the minutes of the Continental Congress, in reference to His Majesty' s Proclamation of 23d August last, on the principles of which Mr˙ Washington seems to have founded his threats.

The small quantity of salt provisions in store here has induced me to send an armed transport to Eustatia, for a supply of that article, understanding the markets there are glutted with provisions; by which means I flatter myself, should the victuallers ordered here be disappointed in making their voyages in time, that we shall secure a sufficient resource until some of them do arrive.

I have also, on consultation with the Admiral, ordered two transports to be fitted out with the utmost despatch, to sail under convoy of the Scarborough, man-of-war, and two armed schooners, with directions to have them loaded with rice at Savannah, by the assistance of Sir James Wright; and if, in going or returning, they should fall in with any ships having a quantity of this article on board, the Captain of the Scarborough will have orders to seize and send them here for the use of the garrison, navy, and inhabitants. In these ships I propose sending two hundred marines, under the command of a field-officer; and in the whole of this proceeding, I trust I shall have your Lordship' s sanction, being guided by motives arising from my regard to the interest and necessity of His Majesty' s service. I have communicated to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, in a letter of this date, an exact account of all the steps I have taken relative to the aforementioned purposes.

I have the honour to be, &c˙,

To Lord Dunmore.