A British Officer in Boston in 1775: In Two Parts. Part I


The original diary from which you here print the most important passages came recently into the possession of one of my family. The writer’s name nowhere appears in the diary, nor is there any such direct reference to himself as to designate his rank or name. But a careful examination of the diary and comparisons between what it discloses respecting the writer, his experiences and duties, and the records of the siege of Boston, the publications of the British War Office, orderly books and documents of that nature, put certain facts beyond a doubt. The writer was a subaltern officer of the 4th (King’s Own) regiment, attached while here to the light infantry company of that regiment. The diary begins not long after the arrival of this officer in Boston with the King’s Own, which was in the early summer of 1774, and ends soon after his arrival in Halifax in the spring of 1776, following the evacuation of Boston.

In these investigations we have been indebted to individuals interested in historic research, and especially I may say to Professor A. B. Gardner, of West Point, and Colonel Frank M. Etting, of Philadelphia. The examinations and collations have reduced the list of possible authors to two, Lieutenant Perigrine Francis Thorne and Lieutenant David Hamilton, both in the King’s Own during the siege of Boston.

The historic enthusiasm of the centennial year brought out this manuscript, which was in the possession of the family of General Henry Burbeck of the United States Army,— an officer of artillery during the Revolutionary War. None of his descendants remember anything said by him on the subject, and he left no memoranda explaining how and where he obtained it. The most probable explanation is this: the King’s Own soon returned from Halifax to reengage in the war, Lieutenants Thorne and Hamilton with it, and took an active and distinguished part in the battles about New York, in the campaign in the Jerseys, and at Germantown and the Brandywine, and was quartered in the city of Philadelphia. It is known that the British troops quitted Philadelphia in great haste, so much so that they left behind them many things of importance, such as the orderly book at general headquarters, which were of considerable value to the Americans. Among the troops that first entered Philadelphia on the evacuation was the Maryland Artillery; and the manuscript shows signs, by certain indorsements, of having been in the possession of Lieutenant Robert Willmott, an officer of that corps. The next possessor seems to have been Burbeck, then a captain of artillery, among whose papers one of his descendants lately found it, without, as I have said, any memorandum attached.

Copyright, 1877, by H. O. HOUGHTON & Co.

The chief value of the diary is that it is believed to be the only journal by British officer during the siege of Boston known to be in existence. It discloses no new facts of general importance, but it corroborates and explains many things of more or less interest, and has all the characteristics of genuineness. It is just such a journal as a young officer of a fashionable regiment would write, who was full of prejudice against a people of whom he knew nothing, and who jotted down matters which interested him at the time, without any suspicion that the transactions in which he was engaged would ever possess historic interest or claim the attention of the world.



At length is concluded the Glorious Campaign — of Boston Common :1 why cou’d I be so stupid as not to keep Journal of those five months, which will in future fill so respectable a place in the Annals of Britain; and wou’d have furnish’d so noble a field for Satire?

Tuesday, 15th Novr. The four Battalions encamp’d on the Common (and four Companies of Artillery), viz. King’s Own, 5th, 38th, and 43d, the Royal W. Fusilecrs on Fort Hill, the 59th in the advanced Lines, all march’d in to Winter Quarters, leaving the tents standing under the care of a small guard, that they might dry before they were pack’d up, as it had been wet weather for two days. The 10th, three Comps, of the 18th, the 47th, and 52d Regts. landed from their Transports, and also went into winter Quarters. Yesterday, in compliance with the request of the Select Men, Genl. Gage order’d that no Soldier in future shou’d appear in the Streets with his side Arms. Query, Is this not encouraging the Inhabitants in their licentious and riotous disposition ? Also orders are issued for the Guards to seize all military Men found engaged in any disturbance, whether Agressors or not; and to secure them, ’till the matter is enquired into. By Whom ? By Villains that wou’d not censure one of their own Vagrants, even if He attempted the life of a Soldier; whereas if a Soldier errs in the least, who is more ready to accuse than Tommy? His negligence on the other hand has been too conspicuous in the affair of Cn. Maginis to require a further comment. . . .

This day I mounted the first Line Guard,2 with Lt. Cl. Smith 3 of the 10th. We relieved the 59th Regt., who immediately march’d into Quarters; the Place was not fit to receive a Guard, for the guard rooms were not half finished, having neither fire places or Stoves fixed; the weather was so bad and the place so dirty that we cou’d not walk about, which made it very disagreeable; but at night we were better as we got a Stove fixed, when we were pretty comfortable the rest of the time.

Wednesday, 16th. . . . This day the Genl. was pleased to determine the Winter allowance of Money for Lodgings; and the several quantities of fuel and Candles; at same time informing the Army that those indulgences are by no means to be consider’d as Precedents for the future. . . .

Quere — Why is not the 100 days Batt and Forage Money, which has been long due the Troops, paid them? Because Tommy feels no affection for his Army, and is more attach’d to a paltry Oeconomy, both in Publiok and Private.

Thursday, 17th. All the Tents on the Common struck and deliver’d into the Qr. Mr. Genl’s store, to preserve for a second (wliat in reality were not fit for a first) Campaign. How mistaken is that Oeconomy which, to save a trifle, will hazard the lives of Thousands! All the Hutts in ye rear of the Camp also destroyed to day. . . .

Sunday, 20th. Hard frost continues. A day or two ago the Comr. in Chief applied to the Select Men for the use of Faneuil Hall as a place for the Troops to attend Divine Service. They most Graciously refused to comply with his Request, as a grateful return for his singular compliance with all their desires. Was it for this he gave a protection of an Officer’s Guard to their Brick-kilns, to secure them from the Labourers who had not been paid for their work? and after affording such Protection asking to become a Purchaser of the Bricks, and receiving for answer “ No, they were to be appropriated to other purposes than accommodating the King’s Troops.” Was it because he disarmed the Troops to please them that the Select think it incumbent on them, to oppose him in every thing? But his . . . deserves it. Is it not astonishing that the daily instances of the opposition of the People shou’d tend to make him more earnestly attentive to them? Not long since a Corporal of the King’s Own Regt. was confined by the express Orders of the Genl, for having ill treated an Inhabitant. A Court of Enquiry was order’d, composed of Officers of the Regt.; the Declaration of the Inhabitant was taken, and under a pretence that all his Witnesses were not in Town, the Corpl. was remanded back to his confinement; about ten days afterwards a message came from Head Quarters to the Commandg. Officer of the Regt. to inform him if the Corpl. wou’d beg the Inhabitant’s pardon he might be released; He refused unless the General positively order’d him, at same time declaring He wou’d rather stand a General Court Martial than make a submission where he knew he was not in the wrong: in a few days an order came to release him without any condition: he immediately went to his Captain and begged leave to resign his Knott, as in the character of a private Soldier he shou’d be less exposed to Complaints; observing that the whole foundation of the complaint against him was from his protecting a Sentry from the Insults of a Servt. of a Townsman, who wou’d, had his complaint been well founded, have had him more severely punished; his manner of being released is a sufficient proof not only of the disposition of the people, but of the readiness of Mr. T——y to give up a Military, whether right or wrong.

Monday, 21st. Frost not so severe as yesterday. Capn. Cain 4 of the 43d appointed Town Major. The Comr. in Chief issued Orders for the several Regts. to exercise every fine day, and to fire with Ball in all directions, &c., &c. It’s obvious to the most inattentive Observer that the American Winters must he particularly favorable to parade Duties. From Tuesday to Friday 25th nothing worth remarking, except the 24th order’d that in case of fire the Regts. to parade in their own Barracks, and then wait for the Genls. Orders. Went this eveng. to the Concert, and heard the most miserable of all female Singers; however, she has the poor consolation to reflect that she was once young and pretty, and a tolerable performer on the Edinburgh Stage 12 or 13 years ago. . . .

Monday, 28th. Reported that Ld. Percy is to take the command of the Grenadiers and light Infantry, and make an excursion up the Country.

Tuesday, 29th. This day heard by a Ship arrived at Salem from England that she sailed two days after the Searborough, who remained but 36 hours in England after the delivery of the letters she took home from Genl. Gage, when she was again dispatch’d with Answers. She is hourly expected. This day the Army order’d to be Brigaded as follows : —

Major-General Haldiman, Commanr. in Chief.

First Brigade under Ld. Percy: the King’s Own, Royal Welsh Fusileers, and 47th Regts. Brigade Major, Moncrieffe.

Second Brigade, Brigadier Pigott. The 5th, 38th, and 52d Regts. Brigade Major, Small.

Third Brigade, Brigr. Jones, The 10th, 43d, 59th, and detached Comps, from the 18th and 65th, two of the latter and three of tlie former. Brigade Major, Hutchinson.

Col. Jones appointed Brigadier this day, and Cn. Hutchinson of the R. A.5 his Brigade Major. . . .

Deer. Thursy. 1st. John McDonald, Soldier the light Infantry of the King’s Own, ivas found dead this morning; he mounted Guard at the Lines yesterday, and last night about 10 o’clock was seen exceedingly drunk, but not being confined wander’d into the rear of the Works, where he was found early this morning dead, He was some distance below High Water Mark, and tlie tide had washed over him; but as his forehead was much bruised, it is supposed that a fall among the stones on the Beach had seconded the Yanky rum in his death. . . .

Monday, 5th. The Asia arrived this morning, with Major Piteairne on board and part of a reinforcement of 460 Marines, exclusive of the Complement of the Ship.

Wedy. 7th. A Field Day on the Common, the 4th, 5th, 23d, 38th, 47th, and 52d Regts. all out, but not at tlie same time. The Provincial Congress removed from Cambridge to [Watertown] being disturbed in their last situation by the saluting of the Men of War. . . .

Friday, 16th. The Regt. march’d into the Country to give the Men a little exercise; this has been practised several days past by the Corps off duty; as they march with Knapsacks and Colours the People of the Country were allarm’d the first day; think those troops were sent out to seize some of the disaffected People; finding that is not the case they are since grown very insolent. . . .

Sat. 17th. Desertions are still too frequent among us, tho’ not as bad as it lias been ; last night a Soldier of the 10th deserted from his post at the Blockhouse,6 where he was sentry; and this evening one of the 10th was taken as he was endeavouring to make his escape by the water side, but the night was too light and the sentry too vigilant for him. Sup’d this evening with Barron 7 at the Neck, and skated by moonlight.

Sunday, 18th. Very fine day; still frost. The 43d Regt. have been pumping out the W ater in their Reservoirs, which smells so excessively strong that many of the Men drop down in fits while they are pumping. We have the use of a Church for our Men, but are obliged to go at 1/2 after eight in the morn, that we may not interfere with the Inhabitants. We this day heard from Portsmouth in New Hampshire that the Rebels had risen there and taken a Port which was defended by a Capn. and 4 or 5 Men; they took away a great many Guns and 97 barrels of Powder, with 1500 Stand of small Arms, all which they have convey’d up the Country.

Monday, 19th. Frost broke up, rained most of the day. The Somerset came into the Harbour, all well, as likewise the Swan, Sloop of War, Cn. Ayscough from New York; the Yankys exceedingly disappointed at seeing the Somerset, as they were in hopes she was lost. The Harbour now cuts a formidable figure, having four Sail of the Line, besides Frigates and Sloops and a great number of Transports. Upon the News yesterday from Portsmouth, a Schooner was immediately dispatched there, and to day the Scarborough sail’d for there too. We shall see now whether the Genl. will do anything or not.

Tuesday, 20th. Last night the weather clear’d up and turn’d to a hard frost, so that this morning the streets were cover’d with ice. I to day mounted Guard at the Lines, which I found much improved since I was there last.

Wed. 21st. Last night still harder frost; the Sea was froze for a considerable way; the Cold more intense than it has yet been. To day was order’d an Officer, 1 Sergt., 1 Corpl., 1 Drumr., and 18 Private to get ready immediately to embark for Rhode Island; Lt. Knight of ours 8 for that duty; they were all got ready when the Adjt. went to the Adjt. General to know where they were to parade, who told him they need not be in a hurry, for that they might not sail this day or two; ... it wou’d not he amiss if some People wou’d write their Orders so that they might be understood.

Thurs. 22d. Snow all day. The Detachment not yet sailed; we hear it is to go to Rhode Island to bring away a quantity of Powder from a Vessel which has been drove in there, and which they are afraid to trust without a Guard.

Friday, 23d. Sleet and a little snow all day; one of our Men deserted; heard of some robberies committed in the Country, most probably by' some of the Deserters, who will do more harm than good, as nothing but Rascals go off; serve tlie Yankys right for enticing them away.

Sat. 24th. Bad day; constant snow till evening, when it turned out rain and sleet. A Soldier of the 10th shot for desertion; the only thing done in remembrance of Christ-Mass day. It is said Genl. G——e never pardons De-

serters; at same time I don’t think his manner of executing ’em sufficient examples, as he has only the Piquets of the Army out, instead of the whole, which wou’d strike a greater terror into the men. Punishments were never meant only to affect Criminals, but also as Examples to the rest of Mankind. The Common Guard has now got proper Orders; hitherto they ’ve had none; the Block-house is still in the same situation; it is something extraordinary having Guards without giving them any Orders.

. . . The night before last two Men deserted, one from the King’s Own, the other from the 43d.

Sunday, 25th. Snow all day; at night rain, sleet, and frost; dangerous walking. Govr. Wentworth, of Portsmouth, and all the Council have been order’d to quit that Province; I hear he is arrived here; the People of that Province seem to he worse, than any other; and one wou’d imagine they had not so much business with it either; it is to he hoped they will get a greater share of punishment. There is a talk of a Spanish War, but I believe without foundation.

Monday, 26th. Snow’d hard in morn.; at night, frost. Order’d a Guard of 1 Sergt. and 12 Men to protect the new Guard House at the North End where there is to he a Capa’s. Guard. . . . The Marines not yet landed, owing to the Adml., who wants to keep them on board that He may have the advantage of victualling them; but He won’t carry his point as he ’ll be obliged to land them; a mean, dirty, principle! . . .

Wed, 28th. A great fall of snow, hard wind, drifts of snow very disagreeable. This even’g a Soldier of the 10th was drown’d: he had jump’d off a Wharf (where he was Centry) to save a Boy who had fallen over; he succeeded in his humane attempt, for which he paid with his life. . . .

Thurs. 29th. Nothing extray to day but a Quarter Master and all the Pioneers order’d to clear the Grand Parade and the road to the Magazine,9 from thence to the Officer’s Guard on the Common ; that Officer has now the charge of the Magazine; for a long time He had no orders whatever; they have at last given him proper ones; there is still an Officer’s Guard at the Block house without any orders, a very unusual thing, I fancy! . . .

Fri. 30th. To Days Orders. . . . The Alarm Guns will he posted at the Artillery Barracks, at the Common, and at the Lines. The Alarm given at either of those places is to he repeated at all the rest by firing three rounds at each. On the Alarm being given the 52d Regt. is immediately to reinforce the Lines, leaving a Captain and 50 Men at the Neck. The 5th Regt. will draw up between the Neck Guard and Liberty tree.10 The King’s Own will reinforce the Magazine Guard with a Captn. and 50; and with the remainder draw up under Barton’s point.11 The 43d Regt. will join the Marines and together defend the passage between Barton’s Point and Charlestown ferry. The 47th Regt. will draw up in Hanover Street, securing both the Bridges over the Mill Creek.12 The 59th will draw up in front of the Court House. The Companies of 18th joined by those of the 65th together with the 10th, 23d, and 38th Regts. will draw up in tlie Street from the General’s house13 to Liberty Tree. Major Martin’s Coinpy. of the Royal Artillery will move with expedition to the Lines, reinforcing the Neck Guard with 1 Commission’d Officer, 2 Non-commission’d, and 12 Men; the remainder of the Royal Regt. of Artillery will get their Guns in readiness and wait for Orders. If an Alarm happens in the night the Troops will march to their Posts without loading, and on no account to load their firelocks. It is forbid under tlie most severe penalty to fire in the night, even if the Troops shou’d be tired upon; but they will oppose and put to rout any Body (that shall dare to attack them) with their Bayonets; and the greatest care will be taken that the Counter-Sign is well known by all the Corps; and small Parties advanced, that in case of meeting they may know their friends and not attack each other in the night through mistake. . . . The Officers commandg. Regts. will reconnoitre tlie Streets leading from their Quarters to their respective Alarm Posts, and fire on those they intend passing through, each taking a different rout. . . . These are Orders which one wou’d imagine shou’d have been given immediately upon tlie Troops coining into Winter Quarters. It’s probable we shou’d not have had ’em now but for the frost, which seems to threaten joining the Continent to the Town by the Ice, which is already very considerable. ... In consequence of the above Orders regimental ones were issued for Patroles to visit the Alarm Posts frequently in the night. . . .

1775, Jany. 1st. Nothing remarkable but the drunkenness among the Soldiers, which is now got to a very great pitch; owing to the cheapness of the liquor, a Man may get drunk for a Copper or two. Still a hard frost.

3d. The Regt. march’d about 5 miles into the Country; the Snow in some parts was very deep, but was froze so that it wou’d all bear; Nothing now but Slays are used; it seems to be an expeditious way of travelling, but I think must be very cold, as it cannot be any exercise. . . .

8th. Genl. Orders. If any Officers of the different Regts. are capable of taking sketches of a Country, they will send their Names to the Dep. Adj. Genl.

. . . that is an extraordinary method of wording the Order; it might at least have been in a more genteel way; at present it looks as if he doubted whether there were any such.14 . . .

12th. The Frost, is broke op and to day it rains and thaws. Gaming having got to a very great length among many of the Officers, the Gcnl. lately expressed his disapprobation of a Club they have instituted for that purpose; but finding that of no effect, he has set on foot a Subscription for a Card Assembly, which will be very reasonable, as there are rules that no Person is to play for above a certain Sum; a number of People have subscribed; they call it the Anti-Gambling-Club. I fancy the Genl. is trying to shame the other Club, but I don’t believe be will succeed, as it’s very rare seeing a Person alter who is once enter’d into that way, unless it is by being incapable of continuing it, which I dare say will be the ease of many of them before the Winter is over. On the 9th Inst. Govr. Wentworth issued a Proclamation couched in the most spirited terms, accusing those people who bad forcibly enter’d the Castle of William and Mary at Portsmouth and taken from thence Barrels of powder, Cannon, and small Arms, of treason and rebellion; and exhorting all his Majesty’s loyal Subjects in that Province to exert themselves in the detection of those high Offenders, and to use every means of bringing them to a punishment equal to their Crimes. Yesterday even, was a Ball by subscription ; seven of each Corps was the number fix’d, and the Ladies were invited by the managers; this scheme was proposed by Mrs. G—e,15 and carried into execution by her favorites; by which she enjoyed a dance and an opportunity of seeing her friends at no expense.

13th. Hard frost last night; to day I walked out to Jamaica Pond, five miles from town; it is a large piece of water, about three miles round; it is entirely froze over, and as fine ice as ever was seen.

14th. Cards sent from the Loyal Society of the Blue and Orange to Genls. Gage and Haldiman, Brigadiers Earl Percy, Pigott, and Jones, and to the Adml., inviting them to dine with the Society on the Queen’s Birthday. Order’d this day that for the future the Troops are to receive 4 days salt provision and 3 days fresh, all except the Marines and Regimental Hospitals. We have been fortunate in having only fresh for so long a time; the Troops in America used always to have salt before this time. . . .

18th. Being the Anniversary of the Queen’s birthday, it was celebrated by firing a Royal Salute from the Artillery in Town at 12 o’clock, at which time the Picquets of the Army were march’d to King street and fired three volleys; the Ships of War also fired at 1 o’clock. The Loyal and Friendly Society of the Blue and Orange met and dined at the British Coffee House,16 some days previous to which they had a meeting to admit new Members and to appoint Stewards; many of the Loyal and Publick Toasts were accompanied by the discharge of a Volley from 23 Grenadiers of the King’s Own, agreeable to the custom of the Society; there were sixty eight members present. I was prevented being among them, by being on Guard.

20th. Late Lieut. Furlow of the Welch Fuziliers was buried to day; he had been long ill of a consumption. The Battalion of Marines under the command of Major Pitcairne order’d to do duty with the first Brigade ’till further Orders; though they have been some time ashore, yet they have hitherto done no duty, on account of their Watcheoats and Leggings not being made up.

21st. Last night there was a Riot in King street in consequence of an Officer having been insulted by the Watchmen, which has frequently happen’d, as those people suppose from their employment that they may do it with impunity; the contrary, however, they experienc’d last night: a number of Officers as well as Townsmen were assembled, and in consequence of the Watch having brandished their hooks and other Weapons, several Officers drew their Swords and wounds were given on both sides, some Officers slightly; one of the Watch lost a Nose, another a Thumb, besides many others by the points of Swords, but less conspicuous than those above mention'd. A Court of Enquiry is order’d to set next Monday, consisting of five field Officers, to enquire into the circumstances of the Riot.17

23d. This day, at 3 o’clock r. M., a Detachment of 1 B., 3 S., 4 S., 4 C., 2 D., 100 P., embark’d on board two Vessels, to go to a Place called Marshfield about 30 miles from hence; it is in consequence of about 200 People there having declar’d themselves for Government, for which the People of Plymouth have threat’ned to attack them and force them to their measures, as they sent to the Commr. in Chief to request He wou’d send them some Troops for their protection, and Arms and Ammunition for themselves, both which He has done. Capn. Balfour of the 4th 18 has this Command; we shall now perhaps see whether the Scoundrels will dare put their threats in execution, but I dare say not; they will still be the same as they have hitherto been. Mr. Thomas who lives there has order’d his House to be fitted up for Barracks: it will hold them all, I make no doubt, but they will have a very pleasant time of it, as there are two or three Gentlemen who will be as civil to ’em as they can; indeed it will be for their own sakes, a motive that will carry a Man further than anything I know.

24th. This day the Court of Enquiry sat and took the evidence of some Officers concerned in the riot last friday; it is supposed it will be a tedious affair, and will not be finished some time; the same day tlie Watchmen were examined before the Select Men. . . .

25th. Several of the riotous Officers bound over to appear at the April Assizes, when I suppose the affair will drop, as they can’t have any Jury but according to the new Acts which they are hitherto so much averse to. . . .

27th. This evening is to be given a Ball by tlie Superior and Members of the Loyal and Friendly Society of the Blue and Orange; to which the Generals, the Adml., Mrs. Gage, and Mrs. Graves are invited, with all the Ladies of the Army and a great number of Gentlemen and Ladies of the Town. . . .

31st. Yesterday a Ship arrived at Marblehead which brought the King’s Speech; the Whigs look very black upon it, but pretend to say it is the very thing they wished. . . .

Feby, 1st. Lieut. H—ks—w 19 of the 5th put under Arrest for having been concerned in a Riot yesterday evening, in which an Inhabitant was much wounded by him; it is supposed He will be brought to a Court Martial.

8th. This day the Deer. Packet arrived; the Genl. got his letters last monday by express; we don’t yet hear that there is anything determined; I had two letters, but no news in either. ... A few days ago the Congress at Cambridge had the assurance to vote Adml. Greaves a Traitor to his country and voted also to petition the King that He wou’d relieve him from this Station and dismiss him the service; all this was in consequence of his having pressed several Men for something or other the Committee had done to him; the Adml. wants to burn their Town, and it is with difficulty the Genl. can prevent him; they certainly deserve it for their insolence. Lt. H——w who was lately in arrest is released, and nothing more heard of the matter. . . .

16th. Three days ago we had a fall of snow, but not a great deal, since which as well as before we have had the finest weather ever was known in this Country for the time of year; it has indeed been too mild and open, as it lias made the Town very sickly.

March 6th. This day20 an Oration was delivered by Dr. Warren, a notorious Whig, at the great South Meeting opposite the Governor’s house; it was in commemoration of what they term the Massacre on the 5th of March, 1770. It was known for some days that this was to be deliver’d; accordingly a great number of Officers assembled at it, when after he had finished a most seditious, inflammatory harahgue, John Hancock stood up and made a short speech in the same strain, at the end of which some of the Officers cried out, fie! fie!21 which being mistaken for the cry of fire an alarm immediately ensued, which fill’d the people with such consternation that they were getting out as fast as they cou’d by the doors and windows. It was imagined that there wou’d have been a riot, which if there had wou’d in all probability have proved fatal to Hancock, Adams, Warren, and the rest of those Villains, as they were all up in the Pulpit together, and the meeting was crowded with Officers and Seamen in such a manner that they cou’d not have escaped; however it luckily did not turn out so; it wou’d indeed have been a pity for them to have made their exit in that way, as I hope we shall have the pleasure before long of seeing them do it by the hands of the Hangman. The General hearing there was to be a procession at night upon the same occasion sent for the Select-Men, and told them that they had better not have any such thing, as most likely it wou’d produce a disturbance, from which if any bad consequences ensued He wou’d make them answerable; this put a stop to it and they did not put it in execution; the General in case they shou’il had order’d all the Regts. to be in readiness to turn out at a moment’s warning, and strengthened some of the Guards. . . .

20th. A General Court Martial was order’d to be held to try Ensn. Murray of the 43d. Regt. in consequence of an affair between him and Ensn. Butler of the King’s Own, who accuses the former of ungentlemanlike behaviour: they had been out to fight, but were prevented and put under arrest; it seems to be a confused affair and I believe both sides in the wrong; it is suspected Mr. B——r will gain as little credit by it as the other.

23d. Three Officers of the 5th put in arrest for a Riot, viz. Cn. G——e, Messrs. Raym-d and Belleg—re;22 the same evening another duel slop’d between the Lt. Col. of that Regt. and Ensn. Patrick of the same; some words passing between them, the Lt. Cl. struck Mr. P——k in the face, upon which they both immediately drew their Swords; but the other Officers interfering it was put a stop to till the Rolls were call’d, when they both went to the Common, where they agreed to fight with Pistols, which Mr. Patrick went for, and upon his return was met by an Officer of the Regt. who by some means took the Pistols and fired ’em in the air, which alarmed the Guard, which turned out and took him Prisoner and carried him to Lord Percy, who put him in arrest, then went to Col. Wallcott and put him in arrest likewise; there the affair rests.

March 30th. The 1st Brigade marched into the Country at 6 o’clock in the morning; it alarmed the people a good deal. Expresses were sent to every town near: at Watertown about 9 miles off, they got 2 pieces of Cannon to the Bridge and loaded ’em, but nobody wou’d stay to fire them; at Cambridge they were so alarmed that they pulled up the Bridge. However they were quit for their fears, for after marching about the Country for five hours we returned peaceably home. A General Court Martial has been sitting some days to try Lt. Cl. Walcott and Ensn. Patrick of the 5 th; it’s thought it will be a tedious one. The Works at the Lines are enclosing in the rear with Pickets; the Gorges of the Bastions are shut up; the G——l wou’d employ but 20 Men, and as a further saving made the Guard work for nothing, which was a hardship on them as they worked in their good things; it was represented to him, and there is now a Sub. and 20.

April 1st. Lieut. Jackson of the 5th died of a fever ; same day Captn. Hamilton 23 of the 18th or Royal Irish fell from his horse and was near killed ; he now lies in a dangerous way.

3d. Yesterday the Court Martial upon Ensn. Murray finished. he is honorably acquitted. . . .

6th. By way of Burlesque several Officers have formed a congress, that they call the Grand Congress of Controul; 3 Officers from each Regt. and 1 from the Navy have been eliosc for it.

12th. The Officers order’d to provide themselves with Baggage saddles, at least 3 pr. cornpy., 1 for the Capt., 1 for the Companies Tents, See., and 1 for the two Subns.

14th. To days orders say, “ As the Contractors decline giving fresh Meat for the present, the Troops will receive salt provisions ’till further Orders.” This is because Meat happens now to be a trifle dearer than usual ; so these Contractors are to have all the advantages but none of the disadvantages !

15th. Genl. Orders. “ The Grenadiers and Light Infantry in order to learn Grenadrs. Exercise and new evolutions are to be off all duties ’till further orders.” This I suppose is by way of a blind. I dare say they have something for them to do.24 . . .

19th. Last night between 10 and 11 o’clock all the Grenadiers and Light Infantry of the Army, making about 600 Men, (under the command of Lt. Coll. Smith of the 10th and Major Pitcairn of the Marines,) embarked and were landed upon the Opposite shore on Cambridge Marsh; few but the Comm and g. Officers knew what expedition we were going upon. After getting over the Marsh, where we were wet up to the knees, we were halted in a dirty road and stood there ’till two o’clock in the morning, waiting for provisions to be brought from the boats and to be divided, and which most of the Men threw away, having carried some with ’em. At 2 o’clock we began our March by wading through a very long ford up to our Middles: after going a few miles we took 3 or 4 People who were going off to give intelligence; about 5 miles on this side of a Town called Lexington, which lay in our road, we heard there were some hundreds of People collected together intending to oppose us and stop our going on; at 5 oclock we arrived there and saw a number of People, I believe between 2 and 300, formed in a Common in the middle of the Town; we still continued advancing, keeping prepared against an attack tho’ without intending to attack them; but on our coming near them they fired one or two shots, upon which our Men without any orders rushed in upon them, fired and put ’em to flight; several of them were killed, we con’d not tell how many, because they were got behind Walls and into the Woods; We had a Man of the 10th light Infantry wounded, nobody else hurt. We then formed on the Common, but with some difficulty, the Men were so wild they cou’d hear no orders; we waited a considerable time there, and at length proceeded on our way to Concord, which we then learnt was our destination, in order to destroy a Magazine of Stores collected there. We met with no interruption ’till within a mile or two of the Town, where the Country People had occupied a hill which commanded the road; the light Infantry were order’d away to the right and ascended the height in one line, upon which the Yankies quitted it without firing, which they did likewise for one or two more successively. They then crossed the River beyond the Town, and we march’d into the Town after taking possession of a Hill with a Liberty Pole on it and a flag flying, which was cut down; the Yankies had that Hill but left it to us; we expected they wou’d have made a stand there, but they did not clause it. While the Grenadiers remained in the Town, destroying 3 pieces of Cannon, several Gun Carriages, and about 100 barrels of flour, with Harness and other things, the Light Companies were detached beyond the River to examine some Houses for more stores; 1 of these Compys. was left at the Bridge, another on a Hill some distance from it, and another on a hill 1/4 of a mile from that;25 the other 3 went forward 2 or 3 miles to seek for some Cannon which had been there but had been taken away that morning.26 During this time the People were gathering together in great numbers, and, taking advantage of our scatter’d disposition, seemed as if they were going to cut off the communication with the Bridge, upon which the two Companies joined and went to the Bridge to support that Company. The three Compys. drew up in the road the far side the Bridge and the Rebels on the Hill above, cover’d by a Wall; in that situation they remained along time, very near an hour, the three Companies expecting to be attacked by the Rebels, who were about 1000 strong. Captn. Lawrie,27 who commanded these three Companies, sent to Coll. Smith begging he would send more Troops to his Assistance and informing him of his situation; the Coll, order’d 2 or 3 Compys. but put himself at their head, by which means stopt ’em from being time enough, for being a very fat heavy Man he wou’d not have reached the Bridge in half an hour, tho’it was not half a mile to it; in the mean time the Rebels marched into the Road and were coming down upon us, when Cupn. L——e made his Men retire to this side the Bridge (which by the bye he ought to have done at first, and then he wou’d have had time to make a good disposition, but at this time he had not, for the Rebels were got so near him that his people were obliged to form the best way they cou’d) ; as soon as they were over the Bridge the three companies got one behind the other so that only the front one cou’d fire; the Rebels when they got near the Bridge halted and fronted, filling the road from the top to the bottom. The fire soon began from a dropping shot ou our side, when they and the front Compy. fired almost at the same instant, there being nobody to support the front Compy. The others not firing the whole were forced to quit the Bridge and return toward Concord; some of the Grenadiers met ’em in the road and then advanced to meet the Rebels, who had got this side the Bridge and ou a good height, but seeing the manoeuvre they thought proper to retire again over the Bridge; the whole then went into Concord, drew up in the Town, and waited for the 3 Companies that were gone on, which arrived in about an hour; 4 Officers of 8 who were at the Bridge were wounded;28 3 Men killed; 1 Sergt. and several .Men wounded; after getting as good conveniences for the wounded as we cou’d, and having done the business we were sent upon, We set out upon our return; before the whole had quitted the Town we were fired on from Houses and behind Trees, and before we had gone 1/2 a mile we were fired on from all sides, but mostly from the Rear, where People had hid themselves in houses till we had passed, and then fired; the Country was an amazing strong one, full of Hills, Woods, stone Walls, &c., which the Rebels did not fail to take advantage of, for they were all lined with People who kept an incessant fire upon us, as we did too upon them, but not with the same advantage, for they were so concealed there was hardly any seeing them: in this way we marched between 9 and 10 miles, their numbers increasing from all parts, while ours was reducing by deaths, wounds, and fatigue; and we were totally surrounded with such an incessant fire as it’s impossible to conceive; our ammunition was likewise near expended. In this critical situation we perceived the 1st Brigade 29 coming to our assistance: it consisted of the 4th, 23d, and 47th Regts., and the Battalion of Marines, with two field pieces, 6 pounders; we had been flatter’d ever since the morning with expectations of the Brigade coming out, but at this time had given up all hopes of it, as it was so late. I since heard it was owing to a mistake of the orders, or the Brigade wou’d have been with us 2 hours sooner. As soon as the Rebels saw tins reinforcement, and tasted the field pieces, they retired, and we formed on a rising ground and rested ourselves a little while, which was extremely necessary for our Men, who were almost exhausted with fatigue; in about 1/2 an hour we marched again, and some of the Brigade taking the flanking parties we marched pretty quiet for about 2 miles; they then began to pepper us again from the same sort of places, but at rather a greater distance. We were now obliged to force almost every house in the road, for the Rebels had taken possession of them and galled us exceedingly; but they suffered for their temerity, for all that were found in the houses were put to death. When we got to Menotomy 30 there was a very heavy fire; after that we took the short cut into the Charles Town road, very luckily for us too, for the Rebels thinking we should endeavour to return by Cambridge had broken down the Bridge and had a great number of Men to line the road and to receive us there; however we threw them and went on to Charles Town without any great interruption. We got there between 7 and 8 oclock at night, took possession of the hill above the Town, and waited for the Boats to carry us over, which came some time after; the Rebels did not chuse to follow us to the Hill, as they must have fought us on open ground and that they did not like. The Piquets of the Army were sent over to Charles Town and 200 of the 64th to keep that ground; they threw up a work to secure themselves, and wo embarked and got home very late in tlie night. . . . Thus ended this Expedition, which from beginning to end was as ill plan’d and ill executed as it was possible to be; had we not idled away three hours on Cambridge Marsh waiting for provisions that were, not wanted, we shou’d have had no interruption at Lexington, but by our stay the Country People bad got intelligence and time to assemble. We sliou’d have reached Concord soon after day break, before they cou’d have heard of us, by which we shou’d have destroyed more Cannon and Stores, which they had had time enough to convey away before our arrival; we might also have got easier back and not been so much harrassed, as they would not have had time to assemble so many People; even the People of Salem and Marblehead, above 20 miles off, had intelligence and time enough to march and meet us on our return ; they met us somewhere about Menotomy, but they lost a good many for their pains.

. . . Thus for a few trifling Stores the Grenrs. and Lt. Infantry had a march of about 50 Miles (going and returning) through an Enemy’s Country, and in all human probability must every Man have been cut off if the Brigade had not fortunately come to their Assistance; for when the Brigade joined us there were very few Men had any ammunition left, and so fatigued that we cou’d not keep flanking parties out, so that we must soon have laid down our Arms, or been picked off by the Rebels at their pleasure.

24th. The Rebels the day after the Action took possession of Roxbury and still continue there, keeping the Town block’d up; their numbers there and at Cambridge are it is said 10 or 12000; there has been no communication with the Country since, the General not allowing any body to come in or go out; the Men of War have taken all the boats and the Lines are shut up; they are kept constantly in readiness for an attack which the Rebels threaten, but I dare say will not put in execution; they are nowin such a good state of defence that it wou’d be no easy matter to force them. There is an Abbattis in front of the left Bastion, and across the road is a treple row of chevaux de frise. . . . A Battery was yesterday began on the Hill above Charles Town Ferry, in order to defend the Somerset Man of War, who lays in the Channel, from any Battery which might be raised against her on a Hill on the Charles Town side where she cou’d not bring her guns to bear. Another Battery is erecting for four guns close under the Blockhouse, to command the Marsh to the left of the Dyke. . . .

  1. The King’s Own and other regiments on their arrival in Boston were encamped for some months on the Common, as no barracks were in readiness for them, and a question had arisen whether the General Court was obliged to provide barracks, or not.—E.
  2. The old fortifications at the Neck were a little south of Dover Street. “ The Lines ” were in advance of these and crossed the Neck between Dedham and Canton streets. — E.
  3. This was Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Smith, who afterwards had command of the expedition to Concord. — E.
  4. It was by his fatal letter to this Cane, or Kane, that Dr. Benjamin Church’s treachery was discovered and proof obtained of his being in the pay of the British government,—E.
  5. The Royal American or 60th Regiment. —E.
  6. The Blockhouse was at the fortifications on the Neck, “ near the Marsh to the left of the Dyke ” — E.
  7. Edward Barron, a lieutenant in one of the flank companies of the King’s Own. He was afterwards wounded at Bunker Hill. — E.
  8. Joseph Knight of the King’s Own. He was afterwards killed during the retreat from Concord on the 19th of April. — E.
  9. The Magazine stood near the foot of what is now Pinckney Street. —E.
  10. The Liberty Tree stood at what is now the corner of Washington and Essex streets, then an open space called Hanover Square, or Elm Neighborhood. — E.
  11. Barton’s Point was the point of land from which the bridge to East Cambridge now crosses the Charles River.— E.
  12. The Mill Creek, which ran just east of the present Canal Street, through Blaekstone and along North streets, into the old Town Dock, was crossed by two bridges, one on Hanover and one at North Street. — E.
  13. The. Province House, which stood a little back from Washington, then Marlborough Street, about opposite the Old South Church. The residences of some of the other principal officers were as follows : Hugh Earl Percy occupied “ the estate at the northerly corner of Winter and Tremont (then Common) streets, an antique wooden house [belonging to inspector Williams] in the midst of a delightful garden extending down Winter Street, and in rear to what is now -Hamilton Place.” “ Brigadier Pigott improves a house just above Liberty Tree.” Major-General Frederick Haldiman lived in the Elliot house on the corner of Tremont and Beacon streets, opposite the King’s Chapel. Admiral Graves lived on the southeast corner of Pearl and High streets, where he could have easy access to his ships. The Court House mentioned above stood in Court, then Queen Street, on or near the site of the present Court House. —E.
  14. The result of this general order was the selection of two officers, one of whom, Ensign he Berniere of the 10th, gives the following account of its object: “ The latter end of February, 1775, Capt Brown and myself received orders to go through the Counties of Suffolk and Worcester and sketch the roads as we went for the information of Genl. Gage, as he expected to have occasion to march troops through that country the ensuing Spring. We set out from Boston on Thursday, disguised as countrymen, in brown cloaths and reddish handkerchiefs round our necks.“ ...”March 20th, rec'd further orders from Genl. Gage to set out for Concord and examine the road and situation of the town, and also to get what information we could relative to quantity of artillery and provisions.” (De Bernière’s Narrative.) It was under the guidance of this De Bernière that the British went to Lexington and Concord on tko 19th of April. — E.
  15. Mrs. General Gage.—E.
  16. The British Coffee House was on King, now State Street.—E.
  17. The American account of this affair is naturally from a different point of view: “Last evening a number of drunken Officers attacked the townhouso watch, between eleven and twelve o’clock, when the assistance of the New Boston watch was call'd, and a general battle ensued; some wounded on both sides. A party from the main guard was brought up with their Captain, together with another party from the Governor’s. Had it not been for the prudence of two officers that were sober, the Captain of the Main Guard would have acted a second Tragedy to the 5th March, as he was much disguis’d with Liquor and would have order’d the guard to fire on the watch had he not been restrain'd. His name is Gore, being a Captain in the 5th or Earl Pcirey’s regiment. He was degraded not long since for some misdemeanour.(Letters of dohn Andrews.) — E.
  18. Nesbitt Balfour, afterwards wounded at Bunker Hill.— E.
  19. Thomas Hawkshaw. — E.
  20. The 5th came on Sunday in this year. —E.
  21. “ Captain Chapman [Benjamin Chapman of the 18th or Royal Irish] held up to his view a number of pistol bullets, at the same time exclaiming, ‘ Fie ! fie! ’ This was construed to be a cry of fire, and threw the house into confusion until quieted by William Cooper, while Warren dropped a handkerchief over the officer’s hand.” (Drake’s Old Landmarks of Boston.) — E.
  22. Captain John Gore, and Ensigns James Raymond and John Balaguire, the latter of whom was afterwards wounded at Bunker Hill. — E.
  23. Captain Robert Hamilton. John Andrews in his Letters gives an account of his vain endeavors to get Hamilton to pay his debts. This was probably Sir Walter Scott’s friend, of whom he writes in his diary on August 6, 1814, “ A laugh with Hamilton, whose gout keeps him stationary at Lerwick, but whose good-humor defies gout and every other provocation, concludes the ev’g.”Lockhart adds a note explaining that it was Robert Hamilton, afterwards Sheriff of Lanarkshire, a particular favorite with Scott; that he had fought gallantly and been wounded severely in the American war, and that when upon his death-bed in 1831 he gave to Sir Walter the sword which he had worn at Bunker Hill. — E.
  24. He was right. This was in preparation for the expedition to Concord a few days later, and it was this order which first caused the inhabitants of Boston to suspect that some secret plan was on foot. — E.
  25. The company left at the bridge was the light company of the 43d under the command of Lieutenant Gould of the King’s Own. The other two posted on the hills near by were the light companies of the 10th regiment and of the King’s Own (with which was, no doubt, the writer of this diary). — E.
  26. These three light companies, under the command of Captain Lawrence Parsons of the 10th, went to Colonel Parrott’s guided by Ensign Do Berniere.—E.
  27. Walter Sloane Lawrie, of the 43d,—E.
  28. These were Lieutenants William Sutherland of the 38th, Waldron Kelly of the 10th (wounded again at Bunker Hill), Edward Gould of the King’s Own, and Edward Hull of the 43d. — E.
  29. Under Lord Percy, who as senior officer now assumed the command. — E.
  30. West Cambridge, since Arlington. — K.