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Regiment of Troops Under the Command of Colonel Leslie


Salem, February 28, 1775.

Last Sabbath, the 26th instant, the peace of the Town was disturbed by the landing of a Regiment of the King' s Troops, the particulars relative to which are as follows:

A Transport arrived at Marblehead, apparently manned as usual. Between two and three o' clock (as soon as the people had gone to meeting) the decks were covered with Soldiers, who having loaded, and fixed their bayonets, landed with great despatch, and instantly marched off. Some of the inhabitants suspecting they were bound to Salem, to seize some materials there preparing for an Artillery, despatched several messengers to inform us of it. These materials were on the North side of the North River, and to come at them it was necessary to cross a Bridge, one part of which was made to draw up to let vessels pass. The inhabitants kept a look out for the appearance of the Troops. The van guard arrived, and took their route down Town as far as the Long Wharf, perhaps to decoy the inhabitants thither, away from the place, to which the main body was destined. The main body arrived soon after, and halted a few minutes by the Townhouse. It is said inquiry was immediately made, by some of the officers for a half-brother of Colonel Browne, the Mandamus Counsellor. Be this as it may, he was soon whispering in the Colonel' s ear, in the front of the Regiment, and when he parted from the Colonel the Regiment marched with a quick pace, towards the North Bridge; just before their entering upon which the Bridge was pulled up. The Regiment however pushed on till they came to the Bridge, not observing (as it seemed) that it was drawn up. The Colonel expressed some surprise; and turning about, ordered an officer to face his Company to a body of men standing on a wharf on the other side the drawbridge, and to fire. One of our townsmen (who had kept alongside the Colonel from the time he marched from his own house) told him he had better not fire; that he had no right to fire without further orders, and if you do fire (said he) you will he all dead men. The Company neither faced nor fired. The Colonel retired to the centre of his Regiment, assembled his officers, and held a consultation; which being ended he advanced a little, and declared he would maintain his ground, and go over the Bridge if it was a month first. The same townsman replied, he might stay there as long as he pleased, no one cared for that. The half-brother, before mentioned, (it is said) made towards the Bridge, but seeing the drawbridge up said "it is all over with us."

He has since disappeared, meanwhile two large gondolas that lay aground (for it was low water) were scuttled, lest they should cross the channel in them. But whilst one gentleman with his assistants was scuttling his own gondola, a party of about twenty Soldiers jumped into it, and with their bayonets charged against our unarmed townsmen, (some of whom they pricked) compelled them to quit it; but before this a sufficient hole, was made in the bottom. This attack of the Soldiers, and some other occurrences occasioned a little bickering, but by the interposition of some of the inhabitants, the disputes subsided. At length some gentleman asked the Colonel what was his design in making this movement, and why he would cross the Bridge? He said, I have orders to cross it, and he would cross it if he lost his life with the lives of all his men; and asked, why the King' s highway was obstructed? He was told it was not the King' s Road, but the property of the inhabitants, who had a right to do what they pleased with it. Finally the Colonel said he must go over, and if the Bridge was let down so as he might pass, he pledged his honour he would march not above thirty rods beyond it, and then immediately return.

The Regiment had now been at the Bridge about an hour and an half; and every thing being secured, the inhabitants directed the Bridge might be let down. The Regiment immediately passed over, marched a few rods, returned, and with great expedition went back to Marblehead, where they went on board the Transport without delay.


When all the circumstances are considered, there can remain no doubt that the sole purpose of this manoeuvre was to steal away the Artillery materials.

It is regretted that an officer of Colonel Leslie' s acknowledged worth, should be obliged, in obedience to his orders, to come upon so pitiful an errand. Various reports were spread abroad respecting the Troops; the country was alarmed, and one Company arrived in Arms from Danver' s, just as the Troops left the Town. We immediately despatched messengers to the neighbouring Towns, to save them the trouble of coming in; but the alarm flew like lightning (and some, doubtless, magnified the first simple reports) so that great numbers were in Arms, and some on their march, before our messengers arrived.