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Memorial of John Frazer to the Congress


Wanted to complete the establishment, one Chaplain, and one Surgeon' s Mate.

N˙ B. Captain Taylor not yet arrived with his company, included in the above. All the officers marked on recruiting, are not yet arrived, nor any return made of the number of the recruits by them inlisted. As to their appointment, it is like that of most all new-raised troops, in want of every article, except about twelve rifles and twenty muskets, without bayonets.



[Read February, 1776.]

On my arrival at Albany, from Canada, I waited on General Schuyler, to know whether any, or what charge, was sent against me. On General Schuyler' s informing me that Brigadier Wooster had mentioned no particular charge, I then exposed to him the treatment I had met with, the reasons, and the letters that had passed between me and Brigadier Wooster. General Schuyler desired a written account, which, he said, he would send to the CONGRESS


and, in compliance with his desire, he received what follows:

"Albany, February 4, 1776.

"Sir: You will receive, herewith, copies of letters that passed between Brigadier Wooster and me. To explain them, and to give, at the same time, some idea of the treatment I have met with, I must go as far back as the taking of the vessels near the river Sorrel, in the river St˙ Lawrence. I was on board, but, being only a passenger, and pot belonging either to the troops on board or to the King' s ship, I was at liberty, (likewise several other passengers,) by an express article in Brigadier-General Prescott' s treaty of surrender, to return to my family in Montreal, unmolested. Twenty-four hours, however, after my arrival, I received from Brigadier-General Montgomery the letter that follows:

"Montreal, November 23.

"SIR: The very great uneasiness expressed by the friends of the United Colonies at your residence in this town, lays me under the necessity of requiring you to remove to some village on the other side of St˙ Lawrence River. The choice I shall leave to yourself, requesting only that you will not remove from it without acquainting me, and that you will be so circumspect in your conduct as not to excite suspicion.

"I am exceedingly concerned that the peculiar delicacy of my situation obliges rne to lay you under this restraint; but your having been under arms in Colonel Allen' s affair, and your great influence among those who are esteemed inimical to the measures of Congress, together with the jealousy entertained of you by our friends, make this step indispensably necessary.

"I hope you will not distress me by any application not in my power to comply with at present. It is with regret I give you this uneasiness.

"I am, sir, your most obedient servant,


"To the Honourable John Fraser, Esq."

This I might have complained of, being in direct opposition to a positive article of the capitulation. However, I had so little desire of remaining in town, that I only acquainted General Montgomery that I had a farm, five miles from town, where I had all the necessary conveniences for myself and family; on which he sent the next lines:

"Montreal, November 23.

"Sir: I must request the favour of you to remove to the other side of the river. I did imagine you would not have had any objections to your father-in-law' s house, at Longueil, and have made that your place of residence. I hope, sir, you will be as expeditious as is compatible with your convenience.

"I have the honour to be your most obedient servant,


"To the Honourable John Fraser, Esq."

I immediately crossed the river, leaving my family behind. I had not been above eight days in my new quarters, with Mr˙ Dechambault, my father-in-law, when we had a visit from an officer and a great number of armed men, about eleven at night. He took us from our house, with our papers, to a tavern at some distance, where we found Colonel Ritzema, who informed us that Brigadier Wooster, who then commanded at Montreal, had received some information that some plot was hatching against the Continental troops, and that some powder, arms, &c˙, lay concealed at Mr˙ Dechambault' s house. The house, therefore, was searched, up and down; nothing was found; indeed, Colonel Ritzema and the other officers seemed soon convinced that they had had a false alarm, and had been in too great a hurry. We were allowed to return home. Some other gentlemen had a visit from the same party, between one and two of the morning, with as little cause. Colonel Ritzema, on viewing his orders next day, told me that he found they were positive to send me to Chambly, but that he would take it on himself to leave me where I was, till further orders. In about ten days after, without any application from me, I received a letter from the acting Town-Major of Montreal, in Brigadier Wooster' s name, that I was at liberty to return to the town, whenever I pleased. I returned, and, before I saw my family, I called on Brigadier Wooster. At parting, he told me he


would be glad to see me again, on business. I called two days after. Brigadier Wooster then observed, among many other things, that he knew that many friends of constitutional liberty in Montreal had been ill used, from depositions, bonds, &c˙, and that, therefore, he now demanded these instruments. I replied, I was sorry to hear him make a requisition that, in my opinion, I could not comply with. Some time was then spent in altercation. I at last observed that I answered the proposition in general; perhaps, would he come to particulars, we would sooner agree; in short, what papers did he want? That I only then recollected a sort of bond, that a Mr˙ Haywood had given, but that it was of such a nature as to be now cancelled of itself; therefore, that I would send to him that sort of instrument, from this reason only, that I looked on, it as of no further use. However, on second thought, after I got home, I thought it was not worth while sending, especially as it might be a sort of precedent for further demands; and I then wrote the following letter:

"Montreal, December 14, 1775.

"Sir: The sort of recognisance that Mr˙ Haywood entered into, with sureties, I have just found, and I am now more convinced than before that it is of no further use. It is the only instance of the kind that occurred before me. There was no information laid against him; therefore, no charge: and, if I took bail for him, it was because he came to offer it himself. From the nature of it, it is now at an end, as his bail could only be bound for him while the Governour' s authority continued here entire; the condition being that he should not depart from hence without the Governour' s leave, and that he would behave himself true and faithful to the same cause. For the above reasons, I did not scruple to say that I would send to you the said instrument, but I do not now really think that it is worth sending, and I hope you will excuse me in withdrawing my promise. If the bail desire it, I will satisfy them, at any time, that their obligations are at an end. I now recollect that some other papers may be under rny care, but they are of a different nature from the aforementioned, and they have been early taken care of. In my opinion, I cannot, and I will not, on any account, deliver them, nor any paper of any transaction prior to the capitulation of Montreal. Since then, I will always be ready to account for my conduct, but not for any thing done before. This resolution I have taken, from a conviction that I cannot act otherwise with any propriety, which will ever be the rule of my conduct.

"I am, sir, your most obedient and humble servant,


"To Brigadier-General Wooster."

This letter produced, next evening, the following answer:

"Head-Quarters, Montreal, December 18, 1775.

"Sir: Your breach of promise, and insolent letter to me yesterday, justly merit a set of iron ornaments, which you and your associates have very lately been so fond of bestowing on the friends of constitutional liberty; but, as I disdain to follow your inhuman and infamous example, I shall only,order, and I do hereby order and direct you, on the receipt hereof, to repair to the fort at Chambly, under such an escort as I shall direct, and there to remain, in close abode, till further orders from, sir, your humble servant,


"Brigadier-General, Commanding at Montreal.

"To John Fraser, Esq."

Mr˙ Nicolson, as Town-Major, had scarcely delivered to me the above letter, when Mr˙ Fleming appeared at the door, with a party from the guard, and had sentries placed in my house, at front and back doors, with orders to let nobody in our out, servants excepted. Next day, I was taken across the river St˙ Lawrence, to the Fort of Chambly, confined to the fort, where I got such a hole for my apartment as not to be able to make use of rny own bedstead. There I remained during five weeks, till I was ordered, with other gentlemen, for this place. These are the facts antecedent and subsequent to the letters. The letters will speak for themselves. I will make no observations. I cannot, however, help saying that the most savage have a tender regard and respect for women. Mrs˙ Fraser was very near lying in, which Brigadier Wooster


well knew; therefore, placing sentries within my house so abruptly must be deemed rather cruel.

"The papers that Brigadier Wooster wanted are of no consequence, yet they were a trust in me reposed, long before the capitulation. He had no right to demand them, and I could not with propriety give them. At any rate, I must be supposed to have acted from principle. Had I considered my own peace only, I might have expected to have better attained that by giving up the papers; but my rule of conduct is to endeavour to distinguish right from wrong, and to do what is right, be the consequence what it may. Exclusive of sentries in my house, under the circumstances, my being taken from my family, and sent across the river, at the worst time, my close confinement in the fort for five weeks, I beg the letter from Brigadier Wooster may be attended to, and let then the cause of such treatment be weighed.

Although it removed me further from my family, yet it was with pleasure that I found myself ordered for this place, as the constant report we had in Canada from the gentlemen who had been sent here was that the greatest politeness was uniformly kept up towards them. I have no doubt about the opinion you will entertain of my usage, and I have only to beg the favour you will lay the whole before, the Congress. I am confident they will consider such treatment as it deserves, and will apply the proper remedy. I am really sorry to encroach so much on your time. I have endeavoured to be as short as possible, without omitting any thing material. I will now conclude, and I remain, sir, yours, &c˙,

John Fraser.

To Major-General Schuyler, Continental Forces,