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Letter from General Howe to the Earl of Dartmouth



Boston, December 3, 1775.

MY LORD: By a letter received last night from Lieutenant-Governour Cramahe, which your Lordship has enclosed, there is too much reason to fear that, by a general defection of the Canadians, the whole Province of Quebeck will fall into the hands of the Rebels; and by a private letter from thence, of later date, by one day, I learn Montreal has surrendered; that General Carleton was on his way down the river in an armed vessel, and that there was little reason to believe the capital would be able to withstand the expected attack.

The Lieutenant-Governour of Quebeck, under those circumstances, has been induced to detain five transports sent from hence for forage, by which we not only lose the hay and corn expected, as per return in my separate letter of 2d instant, but are deprived of one thousand four hundred and sixteen tons of shipping, to be added to the quantity specified in the return of tonnage in my despatch of 26th November as wanting for the removal of this garrison, &c˙, at one embarkation. I hope that the transports to replace these, and to make up the deficiency in the return, may be ordered out early in the spring, and in consideration of the loss we have already sustained by the enemy, that they should come under convoy.

I learn the Nancy brigantine, an ordnance transport, having on board four thousand stand of arms complete, one hundred thousand flints, a thirteen-inch mortar, with other stores in proportion, was taken in the bay last week by the Rebels' privateers, and affords an instance for this necessity. The circumstance is rather unfortunate to us, as they are now furnished with all the requisites for setting the town on fire, having got a large quantity of round carcasses and other stores, with which they could not have been otherwise supplied. The particular manner whereby she was taken is not ascertained; but so many artifices have been practised upon strangers, under the appearance of friendship, false pilots, &c˙, that those coming out with stores of any kind cannot be put too much upon their guard.

And I submit to your Lordship the necessity there may be of supplying the loss of arms, flints, &c˙, suffered on this occasion.

I am also to request your Lordship will be pleased to direct twice the quantity of engineer' s tools contained in the enclosed return to be sent out in separate ships, for two divisions of the army, both of which may be employed in sieges. The date of this return will point out the time when the requisition was made.

From an apprehension that the advantages gained by the Rebels in Canada, and their good fortune here in possessing themselves of our stores, may encourage them to further attempts, I shall, with all despatch, send to Halifax the part of the Sixty-fifth now here under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce, who will command on his arrival; and with this reinforcement I must conclude that place will be in perfect security.

Upon this unfortunate event in Canada, and your Lordship' s encouragement to mention my opinion, I beg leave to say, for the recovery of that Province as a primary object, the army to effect it should not consist of less than twelve thousand fighting men; at the same time I desire I may not be understood to give up the plan as set forth in my letter, No˙ 2, of the 26th November, as the enemy will feel more immediate distress by being attacked on the


most vulnerable side, than from any success to be gained in Canada.

The Admiral has informed me that, by a letter received this day from Captain Wallace, of the Rose ship-of-war, stationed at Rhode-Island, the Rebels give out they are to fortify the heights above the town of Newport; also that they are fitting out an armed ship at Philadelphia, to carry thirty-six guns, and two or three more of a less force, with a design of cruising to the southward, and to take Lord Dunmore in their way.

I am, &c˙, W˙ HOWE.