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Copy of a Letter from Mr. Isaac Lothrop


Watertown, June 22, 1775.

"Before this reaches you, you will doubtless hear of the engagement of last Saturday, between our Troops and those of the Army at Boston; but lest you should not be well informed, I will now undertake to give you as regular an account as can at present be obtained. Last Friday evening a detachment from the camp at Cambridge marched to Charlestown, and there took possession of Breed' s Hill, about half a mile from the ferry; their intrenching tools not coming up in season, it was twelve o' clock before they began their works. As soon as daylight appeared they were discovered from Boston, when the men-of-war in the ferry, the battery from Copp' s Hill, and the floating batteries, kept up a continual cannonading and bombarding, which fortunately did but little execution, although our intrenchments were very far from being completed. This continued till about two o' clock, when a large Army of between four and five thousand men, (as we since hear from Boston,) under the command of General Howe, landed on the back of the hill, and marched up with great seeming resolution towards our lines. Our men reserved their fire till the enemy had advanced very near, when a general engagement ensued. The fire from our lines was so excessively heavy, and made such a terrible slaughter, as obliged the enemy twice to give way, although many of their officers stood in the rear with their swords pointed at their hacks, ready to run them through. Our men kept up a continual blaze upon them for about an hour, with such execution as is scarce credible. The enemy then came on the flanks, marched up, and forced their way over the ramparts with fixed bayonets, cutlasses, and hand-grenades, which obliged our little brave Army, consisting only of about five hundred men at most, to retreat.

"The Town of Charlestown was fired in various parts during the action, and is now consumed to a wretched heap of rubbish. I kept my ground at Watertown; but what with the thundering of cannon and small arms, the conflagration of Charlestown, the wagons and horse-litters, with the wounded men coming to the hospital in this Town, and the streaming of expresses to and fro, exhibited such an awful scene as I pray God Almighty I may never again behold. The brave and worthy Doctor Warren was killed, stripped, and buried within the intrenchment.

"Our numbers killed are not yet known; but by the best account I can obtain it will not much exceed fifty, and the wounded short of a hundred. Several credible persons have since made their escape by water from Boston, some of whom I well know. The latest out says, that upwards of fourteen hundred of the enemy were killed and wounded, with eighty-four officers; and that twenty-eight of our men were made prisoners, and the enemy had buried forty-one of our dead. All agree that the loss of the enemy in killed and wounded is more than one thousand. General Howe says, you may talk of your Mindens and Fontenoys, &c˙, but he never saw nor heard of such carnage in so short a time. All the surgeons in the Army, with what they could get in Boston, were not sufficient to dress the wounded. Although they were twenty-four hours, night and day, in removing them from Charlestown, with the assistance of many of the inhabitants of Boston, whom they pressed into the service, many died in the streets on their way to the hospitals.

"N˙ B˙ Doctor Matherhad his whole furniture, with his library, plate, &c˙, consumed in the fire at Charlestown."