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Proceedings of a Council of War


At a Council of War field at Head-Quarters, Cambridge, July 9, 1775. Present:

His Excellency General Washington; Generals Ward, Lee, Putnam, Thomas, Heath, Greene, and Gates.

The General laid before the Council a Letter from Mr˙ Warren, President of the Congress of Massachusetts-Bay, enclosing a Letter from Mr˙ Gerry, at Marblehead, dated July 8, 1775.

1. A question was then proposed and considered, viz: What is the supposed number of the enemy near and in Boston, including the Troops formerly and lately arrived, and those expected hourly, the forces who may take arms, the sailors who may be spared from the fleet, and the negroes?

Upon which it was agreed, that from the best intelligence, the force on the side of the enemy now amounts to eleven thousand five hundred men.

2. It was then proposed and considered, whether it is expedient to keep and defend the posts at present occupied, or to retire farther back in the country?

Upon which it was unanimously determined, that the publick service requires the defence of the present posts.

3. His Excellency then proposed to the consideration of the Council, what number of troops may be necessary for the present service in and near Boston; to defend the posts already occupied against the force supposed to be employed against us?

Upon which it was agreed, that the Army for the above purpose ought to consist of at least twenty-two thousand men.

4. As it appears by the returns now made that the number of effective men is far short of the above estimate, a question was proposed, viz:

In what manner this deficiency should be supplied?

And it was unanimously agreed, that ought to be done by sending an officer from each company in the forces raised in the Massachusetts-Bay to recruit the Regiments to which they respectively belong to the establishment fixed by the Provincial Congress, (the Colonies of Rhode-Island and Connecticut being already engaged in recruiting.) And that in the mean time his Excellency the General do apply to the Provincial Congress of this Province their assistance in procuring a temporary reinforcement, subject to the same military rules as the Army now raised, inasmuch as the present extent of lines, and the great probability of an early attack, renders such re-enforcement indispensably necessary.

5. As the events of war are uncertain, and a want of a proper rendezvous might, in case of any misfortune, occasion a dissolution of the Army, it was proposed to appoint a proper place for this purpose, in case our present situation should not be tenable.

N˙ C˙ agreed, That the Welsh Mountains, near Cambridge, and in the rear of Roxbury lines, was a suitable place.

6. A question was proposed, whether it is expedient to take possession of Dorchester Point, or to oppose the enemy, if they should attempt to possess it?

Unanimously agreed in the negative as to both.