Sunday, January 25, 2015

"DEFENCE OF THE PROVINCE" - MERRIMACK VALLEY MINUTE COMPANIES ON THE EVE OF LEXINGTON AND CONCORD

Despite popular modern misconceptions, Massachusetts minute men were not poorly armed and equipped.  Instead it appears most towns, including the Merrimack Valley region of Essex County, took appropriate steps to ensure its minute companies were well supplied for war.  In Bradford, the residents voted to ensure its minute men were uniformly armed with bayonets and cartridge boxes.  “Voted, That the Selectmen provide bayonets and cartouch boxes for the Minute-Men on the town cost, to be returned to the town after they are dismissed from the service.”[1]  Later that year, three Bradford men were reimbursed for fitting bayonets to guns and making scabbards and belting for the town’s minute company.  “Voted, To Phineas Carlton, for 22 Bayonets fitted with Scabbards and Belts, 8l. 5s. 0d.  Voted, To Phineas Carlton, for Scowering the old Bayonets, and fitting with Belts, 4l. 4s. 0d. For 2 Scabbards and Belts, 0l. 3s. 0d.  Wm. Greenough, for fitting one Bayonet and one belt, 0l. 2s. 8d.”[2]

Andover placed a heavy emphasis in arming its two minute companies with bayonets.  “Voted, that the enlisted soldiers be furnished with bayonets at the expense of the town. Voted, that a committee be chosen to collect the bayonets now in the hands of individuals in this Town and provide such a number of new ones as will be sufficient to supply the minute men. Voted, that the Committee chosen at the last meeting to procure bayonets collect as many as they can of those belonging to the Province by next Wednesday, two o'clock, P. M., that they procure one hundred more to be made as soon as possible and supply those firelocks that are effective which belong to the minute men with good bayonets as soon as may be.”[3]  Likewise, Methuen resolved to provide bayonets “which should be brought to Capt. John Davis and after the service was over said Davis is to return said bayonets unto the Selectmen of said town.”[4]  The town also voted to provide guns for all minute men unable to supply their own, blankets and cartridges.[5]  Amesbury voted that its minute men would be responsible for their own arms and equipment.  “Voted that said Minnit men shall upon their own cost be well equiped with arms and aminition according to law fit for a march.”[6]  Boxford merely issued a vague resolution that its minutemen be “arm, equip, and hold themselves in readiness to march in any emergency in defence of the Province.”[7]

Captain James Brickett’s Company from Haverhill appears to have taken the greatest measures to ensure its men were properly equipped and dressed for war.  As discussed earlier, Brickett’s Company was originally formed as an artillery unit.  When its members were unable to procure an artillery piece, it reorganized itself as an “independent corps”.[8]  On the eve of the American Revolution, Brickett’s Company was essentially operating as a minute company.  On March 21, 1775, the company voted “that we Dress in a Uniform consisting of a Blue Coat, turned up with Buff, and yellow plain Buttons, the Coat cut half way the thigh; and the Pockets a Slope. Voted, Also, that we have Buff, or Nankeen Waistcoat & Breeches, and White Stockings with half Boots or Gaiters. Also that the Hats be cocked alike. And that each one have a bright gun, Bayonet, & Steel Ramrod. Voted that the Company be equipd in this Uniform by the first Monday in May.”[9]  The unit also agreed that “each member shall be supply'd with one Pound of Powder and Twenty Balls; to be reviewed twice a year; upon the Days of a chusing.”[10]

A strong emphasis was placed on drilling and training for war by all the towns in the Merrimack Valley.  Following the recommendations of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, Andover ordered its minute companies to drill once a week.  Amesbury resolved that its minute men would engage in “exercising four hours in an fortnight.”[11]  Two weeks later, the town modified its order and instructed its minute men to “[exercise] four hours in a week.”[12]  The residents of Boxford voted on March 14, 1775 “that the minute-men shall train one half day in a week, for four weeks after this week is ended.”[13]  Methuen simply ordered its minute company be “drawn out or exposed to train.”[14]

Haverhill initially voted that its minute men “be duly disciplined in Squads three half days in a Week, three hours in each half day.”[15]  On March 14, 1775, the town also voted to raise thirty dollars “to procure a military instructor to instruct the Militia in the Art Military.”[16]  One week later, it was voted that the minute-men should train one whole day per week, instead of three half days as previously voted.  Furthermore, the minute men were to be trained by a “Mr George Marsden, whom we have hired.”[17] 

In a document prepared by Sergeant Michael Whittier, the names of the minute men belonging to Captain Sawyer’s Company Haverhill Minute Company and the number of days each soldier attended military drills for the months of March and April is described:
A Role of the Miuit Men in Capt James Sawyer's Company & the Number of days Each man Trained according to the Voat of the Town of Haverhill in March and Apirel 1775.

                                                Days                                                    Days  
James Sawyer Capt                 5                      Samuel gips Mitchel    -
Timothy Johnson Lieut           5                      Joshua Emory              6
Nathaniel Eaton Lieut             5                      Jerimiah Stickney        5
Mitchel Whiticher Sargt          6                      Joseph Webster           5
Moses Heselton Sargt             5                      Isaiah Eaton                5
Wm Rolf Sargt                        5                      Ebenezer Grifen          4
Charles Davis Sargt                5                      Samuel Emerson         5                         Enook Eaton Coprel             4                      John Silver                  -
Chas Sarjant Coprel                3                      Seth Wymon               4
John Bery Coprel                    6                      Daniel Lord                 5
Ruben Sargent                        3                      Nathan Peabody         5
Asa Currcr                               5                      James Whiticker          4
Thomus Tiylor                         5                      Samuel Sanders           3
Daniel Colby                           3                      Henerey Springer       1                     
John Dow                                6                      Ebenezer Webster      -
John Eaton                              4                      Johnathan Dusten       4
Joseph Emorson                      5                      Daniel Grifen              3
Simon Picck                            4                      Moses Emorson Juner 4
Lewis George                          5                      John gipson                 3
'Wm Davis                              2                      Nathan Ayre               4
Mossc Emorson                       5                      James Townsand         4
Job gage                                  4                      Stophen Runcls           4
Peter Emorson                         3                      John Tiylor                  3                     
Samuel George                        -                       James Wilson              -
John Cheney                           1                      Daniel Remock           3
Nathaniel Cahaney                  -                       Stephen Jackson          3
Samuel Ealy                            2                      Joshua Moors              1         
Wm Sawyer                            4                      Philip Bagley               4         
James Smiley                           5                      Humpree Nicola          4
Joel Harrimcn                          5                      Dudley Dusten            3
James Snow                            5                      Johnthan Lowger        4                     
Mark Emorson                        -                       John Sanders               4

Atteset,
Mitchel Wittier Serjant


On April 13, 1775, Captain Sawyer and forty six of his men travelled west to Andover to hold a joint drill with Captain Thomas Poor and his men.  According to Sawyer’s subsequent report, the purpose of the event “[was to meet] at Andover for Exsise "[18]

Meanwhile, an “Independent Corps” commanded by Captain Brickett of Haverhill passed their own resolutions regarding preparations for war.  “That we will meet together (on the first and third Mondays of September, October and November following, and on the first and third Mondays of the six Summer months annually till the Company shall agree - to dissolve the same) for the exercise of Arms and Evolutions, And that the role shall be called two hours before Sunset, and the Company shall be dismissed at Sun set N. B. If it be fowl weather tho Day appointed, the Company shall meet the next fair Day.”[19]  Shortly thereafter, the men voted to adopt “the exercise as ordered by His Majesty in the year 1764.” [20]  Two months later, Brickett’s “independent corps” voted “that we hire Mr George Marsdin for 4 days at 12s a day, & that he be paid out of the fines.”[21]


[1] Resolution of the Town of Bradford, January 20, 1775.
[2] Resolution of the Town of Bradford, September 21, 1775.
[3] Resolution of the Town of Andover, February, 1775.
[4] Resolution of the Town of Methuen, January 1775.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Resolution of the Town of Amesbury, March 20, 1775.
[7] Resolution of the Town of Boxford, January 5, 1775.
[8] Minutes of Captain James Brickett’s Company, November 12, 1774.  19th Century sources refer to this unit as a “light infantry” company.
[9] Minutes of Captain James Brickett’s Company, March 21, 1775.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Resolution of the Town of Amesbury, March 20, 1775.
[12] Resolution of the Town of Amesbury, April 7, 1775.
[13] Resolution of the Town of Boxford, March 14, 1775.
[14] Resolution of the Town of Methuen, January, 1775.
[15] Resolution of the Town of Haverhill, January 30, 1775.
[16] Resolution of the Town of Haverhill, March 14, 1775.
[17] Resolution of the Town of Haverhill, March 21, 1775.  A secondary source suggests Mr. Marsden was a British deserter who ultimately rose through the ranks to serve as an adjutant with Colonel Scamman’s Regiment.
[18] Return of Captain James Sawyer’s Company, April 13, 1775.
[19] Resolution of Captain James Brickett;s Company, September 5, 1774. 
[20] Resolution of Captain James Brickett’s Company, November 21, 1774.
[21] Resolution of Captain James Brickett’s Company, February, 1775.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

"PERFECT THEMSELVES IN MILITARY SKILL": IMPORTANT 1774 RESOLUTIONS FROM THE MASSACHUSETTS PROVINCIAL CONGRESS



When war with England appeared inevitable, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress looked to the colony’s militia to serve as its military arm.  The origins of the Massachusetts militia can be traced back to the reign of Edward I, when Parliament enacted legislation decreeing that every freeman between the age of fifteen and sixty was to be available to preserve the peace within his own county or shire.[1]  In the towns where the freemen were located, they were organized into military units known, by the virtue of their periodic training, as “trained bands”.  However, when Parliament, under the rule of Charles II, revised membership requirements, established payment protocols and appointed officers, trained bands became known as militias.  By the 17th century, militias had become one of the cornerstones of English society.  Thus, when Plimouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies were founded, the establishment of the militia followed naturally.  In both colonies, every man over sixteen automatically became a member.  Musters were frequent and mandatory, and punishments were doled out for being absent or not properly equipped.  The governor maintained the sole authority to activate the militia in the time of crisis.  Each time a new town sprung up, a militia company was formed.  As the town expanded, additional companies often were created.  When counties were formed, the various town militias within the borders of each county were organized into regiments.  The governor held the sole authority to activate the militia in the time of crisis.  However, with the elimination of the French threat as a result of the French and Indian War, the need for a militia decreased significantly.  After 1763, companies and regiments of Massachusetts militia rarely assembled to drill and as a result, were of little military value.  By the eve of the Boston Tea Party, a militia muster was not viewed as a military gathering, but rather as a sort of town holiday offering an opportunity for families and friends to get together.   
            The Massachusetts Provincial Congress recognized it had to “consider what is necessary to be done for the defence and safety of the province.”[2]  Quickly, it resolved to wrest control of the militia away from the group of loyalist officers who commanded it.  To achieve this, the Provincial Congress first ordered the militias to “meet forthwith and elect officers to command their respective companies; and that the officers so chosen assemble as soon as may be . . . and proceed to elect field officers.”[3]  Congress also recognized the need to revitalize and further strengthen the colony’s militia system as quickly as possible.  As a result, the congressional delegates set in motion the process of creating minuteman companies.
On October 26, 1774, the delegates set into motion the formation of minute companies within Massachusetts.   As part of its resolution, it declared
[The] field officers, so elected, forthwith  [shall] endeavor to enlist one quarter, at the least, of the number of the respective companies, and form them into companies of fifty privates . . . who shall equip and hold themselves in readiness, on the shortest notice from the said Committee of Safety, to march to the place of rendezvous . . . said companies into battalions, to consist of nine companies each.[4]

            Emphasis on proper military skill and supply was strongly emphasized by the delegates.  On the same day as the creation of minute companies, the Provincial Congress resolved
That, as the security of the lives, liberties and properties of the inhabitants of this province, depends under Providence, on their knowledge and skill in the art of military, and in their being properly and effectually armed and equipped, it is therefore recommended, that they immediately provide themselves therewith; that they use their utmost diligence to perfect themselves in military skill; and that, if any of the inhabitants are not provided with arms and ammunition according to law, and that if any town or district within the province is not provided with the full town stock of arms and ammunition . . . that the selectmen of such town or district take effectual care, without delay, to provide the same.[5]

Finally, the Congress voted to create a Committee of Safety, charged with the responsibility to “carefully and diligently . . . inspect and observe all and every such person or persons as shall at any time attempt or enterprise the destruction, invasion, detriment or annoyance of this Province . . . [The Committee] shall have the power . . . to alarm, muster, and cause to be assembled with the utmost expedition, and completely armed, accoutered . . . march to the place of rendezvous, such and so many of the militia of this Province, as they shall judge necessary for the ends aforsaid.”[6]  To support the logistical needs of the Committee of Safety, a sister committee was created to gather “such provisions as shall be necessary for [the militia’s] reception and support, until they shall be discharged by order of the Committee of Safety.”[7] 
Three days later, on October 29, 1775, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress addressed what appropriate military exercise the various militia and minute companies should adopt.  It is unknown what military drill Lexington’s militia utilized.  It is possible that the delegates considered the “Norfolk Exercise”.  Developed in England in 1757, the Norfolk Exercise, or “A Plan of Discipline, Composed for the Use of the Militia of the County of Norfolk”, had been adopted by many New England militia companies by 1768 and was declared the official drill of the colony in the early 1770’s.  However, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress instead ordered that “it be recommended to the inhabitants of this Province that in order to their perfecting themselves in the Military Art, they proceed in the method ordered by his Majesty in the year 1764, it being, in the opinion of this Congress, best calculated for appearance and defence.”[8]  Known as the 1764 Crown Manual of Arms, this was the drill used by the British troops stationed in Boston in 1775.




[1]  Edward M. Harris, Andover in the American Revolution, (Marceline, Missouri: Walsworth Publishing Company, 1976), 37.
[2] Massachusetts Provincial Congress, Saturday, October 22, 1774.
[3]  Massachusetts Provincial Congress, Wednesday, October 26, 1774.
[4]  Ibid
[5] Ibid
[6]  Ibid.
[7]  Ibid.
[8]  Massachusetts Provincial Congress, Saturday, October 29, 1774.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

"WITH THE RAGE OF DIVELS": PERIOD IMAGES OF ANTI-LOYALIST VIOLENCE

Image of Loyalist James Rivington Hung in Effigy
New York Gazeteer
April 20, 1775


A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practised at BOSTON in NORTH AMERICA
Published by Carington Bowles
1774

The Savages Let Loose, or the Cruel Fate of Loyalists
Published by William Humphrey
March, 1783

 The Bostonians Paying the Excise-man, or Tarring and Feathering
Printed for Robert Sayer and John Bennett
October 31, 1774


Title Unknown
Date Unknown


Untitled
Possibly Carington Bowles
177?

A Warm Place In Hell
Unknown
1767

Alternative of Williamsburg
Phillip Dawe
February 16, 1775

The Bostonians in Distress
November 19, 1774



Tuesday, January 6, 2015

“RAN AWAY FROM ME THE SUBSCRIBER”: PERIOD EXAMPLES OF 18TH CENTURY MEN’S CLOTHING IN MASSACHUSETTS


            The following dozen examples of runaway advertisements has been compiled in order to illustrate the common materials, patterns and fabrics of 18th century men’s clothing    available on the eve of the American Revolution.  Examples include, but are not limited to, descriptions of hats and caps, jackets, trousers, shoes and breeches.     

1.       “Ran away from me the Subscriber, on the 4th instant, an apprentice Lad named Uriah Stone, about 18 years of Age; he is Short in Stature, and of a dark Complexion. He had on when he went away a Flannel Jacket without Sleeves, a striped Tow Shirt, a Pair of Short Wide Trowsers, and an Old Felt Hat. Whoever Apprehends said Lad and brings him to his Master Sall be resonably rewarded for their Trouble. NATHANIEL BROWN Rehoboth, August 13, 1767.”  Providence Gazette, August 15, 1767.

2.      “Ran-away from the Subscriber, living in Gorham, which joins Falmouth, Cumberland County in the Massachusetts Province, short Negro Man named Prince, about 26 Years of Age, 5 Feet some Inches high, talks broken English, has remarkable small Ears, and a Jewel Hole in one of them. Had on almost new Felt Hat, a reddish grey home-made Cloth Coat Jacket and Breeches, with silk knee Garters, a dark Callicoe under Jacket, a white Linnen Shirt, red Collar and Cuffs, to his Coat with Metal Buttons, white Cotton Stockings, Cald-Skin Pumps,. It may be he has a Pass. Said Negro plays tolerable well on a Violin. Whosever will take up said Negro or bring him to his Master shall have Sixteen Dollars Reward, and all Charges paid by WILLIAM M'LEENEN.”  Boston Gazette, June 6, 1774.

3.      “Ran-away from his Master Edward Bardin, a Negro Man named Cuffe, about 22 years of Age, a tall Fellow his Legs crooked the small of them bending out, talks good English : Had on when he went away a white cloth Jacket, short skirts, a red Waistcoat under it, white Shirt, his Hat with a Gold wash’d Loop and Button, he formerly lived with Issac Winslow, Esq; of Roxbury, Whoever apprehends said Negro, and will bring him to his said Master living at the King’s Arms on Boston Neck, shall have a Dollar Reward , and all necessary Charges paid. All Masters of Vessels and other are heredy cautioned against harbouring, concealing or carrying off said Servant as they would avoid the Penalty of the Law. Edward Bardin.”  Boston News Letter, December 28, 1769.

4.    “RUN away from the Subscriber, of Norton, in the County of Bristol, on the 2d Day of December last, an Apprentice lad, named William Haradon, in the 18th Year of his Age, about 5 Feet 10 Inches high; had on when he went away a Felt Hat, a light coloured Surtout, a dark brown homespun Coat, a striped Waistcoat, Leather Breeches, and striped Trowsers. He is of a light Complexion, and has dark brown Hair. If the above Apprentice will return to his Master, his past Misbehaviour will be overlooked. WILLIAM CODINGTON.  N.B. All Masters of Vessels and others are cautioned against harbouring, trading with, or carring off said Apprentice, as they would avoid the Penalty of the Law.  Norton, March 2, 1773.”  Providence Gazette, March 6, 1773.

5.      “Ten Dollar Reward.  RAN AWAY from the Subscriber, Joseph Moors, of Groton, in the County of Middlesex, and Province of Massachusetts-Bay, a Malatto Man Servant, names TITUS, sbout 20 Years of Age, of a middling Statue, wears, short curl'd Hair, has one of his Fore Teeth broke out, took with his a blue Surdan, a Snuff coulor'd Coat, and a Pair, of white wash'd Leather Breeches, a Pair of new Cow-hide Pumps, and a Fur'd Hat with large Brims, and sundry other Articles of Wearing Apparel.---Whoever will take of said Servant and confine him in any of his Majesty's Goals ………Joseph Moors.”  Boston Gazette, July 25, 1774.

6.      “FOUR DOLLARS REWARD.  Ran-away from the Subscriber on the 22d of September, at Night a Negro Man Servant, by the Name of CATO, about Five Feet and Eight Inches high, very thick Lips, speaks broken, and Walks as if he was lame in his Heels. Had on when he went away, a Cloth colour'd Coat, with Pewter Buttons, old Leather Breeches, a Tow Shirt, old Shoes with Silver plate Buckles, wore a Cap, and ?hoves round his Neck, and very high on his Forehead: Carried away with him a Callico Banyan, fine Linen Shirt, Check Linen Trowsers, grey Wigg, also carries or Wears a Felt Hatt with a Silver Lace on it, had a Violin and carries it in a green Bays Bag. Whosoever will return the Runaway to his Master in Winchenden, shall have the above Reward and all necessary Charges, paid by LEVI NICHOL, Winchenden, Sept. 23, 1774.”  Boston Gazette, Monday, October 10, 1774.

7.      “Joseph Peirce HAS IMPORTED by Captain SYMMES,(who is just arrived from LONDON) and is now opening at his Shop in Kings Street, nearly opposite the North Door of the Town- House, BOSTON . . .Mens white Beaver Hats.”  Boston Gazette, May 2, 1774.

8.      “Ran away from me the Subscriber, on the 4th instant, an apprentice Lad named Uriah Stone, about 18 years of Age; he is Short in Stature, and of a dark Complexion. He had on when he went away a Flannel Jacket without Sleeves, a striped Tow Shirt, a Pair of Short Wide Trowsers, and an Old Felt Hat. Whoever Apprehends said Lad and brings him to his Master Shall be resonably rewarded for their Trouble. NATHANIEL BROWN Rehoboth, August 13, 1767.”  Providence Gazette, August 15, 1767.

9.      “Run away from the Subscriber, at Attleborough, on the 25th of July, a Lad about 17 years old, named Issac Allen, a thick chunky Fellow, about five Feet six Inches high, of a pale swarthy Complexion, has dark brown Hair, which he sometimes wears ty'd: Had on and took with him, when he went away, two Tow Shirts, one Check Linnen Ditto, a Pair of short wide Trowsers, a striped Flannel Jacket, a black Ditto, a yellow doubled and twisted Coat, two Hats, a Black Barcelona handkerchief, a Pair of Check Linen Trowsers, two Pair of Stockings, and one Pair of new Shoes. Whoever takes up said Runaway, and brings him to his Master, shall have Two Dollars Reward, and all necessary Charges, paid by me.  JOHN FISHER.”  Providence Gazette, Aug. 3, 1771.

10.      “Run away from the Subscriber, the Night of the 5th of April last, an Apprentice Lad, named Danile Bowen, about 20 years of Age, about 5 feet and a Half high, has brown Hair, grey eyes, is something round Shouldered, and understands making Buckles; Had on when he went away a new Felt Hat, a blue double breasted Jacket, with flowered Pewter Buttons, striped underflannel Jacket, Striped Flannel Shirt, Leather Breeches, and Yarn Stockings. Whoever takes up said Runaway, and brings him to his Master, Shall have Two Dollars Reward, and all necessary Charges, paid by BENJAMIN KINGSLEY.  Rehoboth, April 25, 1772.”  Providence Gazette, April 25, 1772.

11.      “Ran-away from the Subscriber, living in Gorham, which joins Falmouth, Cumberland County in the Massachusetts Province, short Negro Man named Prince, about 26 Years of Age, 5 Feet some Inches high, talks broken English, has remarkable small Ears, and a Jewel Hole in one of them. Had on almost new Felt Hat, a reddish grey home-made Cloth Coat Jacket and Breeches, with silk knee Garters, a dark Callicoe under Jacket, a white Linnen Shirt, red Collar and Cuffs, to his Coat with Metal Buttons, white Cotton Stockings, Cald-Skin Pumps,. It may be he has a Pass. Said Negro plays tolerable well on a Violin. Whosever will take up said Negro or bring him to his Master shall have Sixteen Dollars Reward, and all Charges paid by WILLIAM M'LEENEN.”  Boston Gazette, June 6, 1774.


12.      “Stop Thief and Runaway Man Servant.  Whereas William Hayward, Baker, absconded himself from my Service 16th March, 1774, and took with him to the Value of eight pounds , L. M. and be being taken and convicted, voluntarily Bound himself, to serve me Six Months, to Pay Damages & Cost: and he last Night absconded himself again; had on an old Felt Hat, an old cloth colour'd Coat and Waistcoat, check'd Woolen Shirt, a Pair of new cloth colour'd Breeches, a Pair of old pale blue Stockings, and a Pair of singleSole Shoes.--Said Hayward is about Thirty-three Years of Age, Five Feet Five Inches high, darkish, short Hair, and down look like a Rogue and Thief.----Whossoever will take up said Servant and Notify me the Subscriber so that I may have him again, shall have FIVE DOLLARS reward. Paid by me, ISAAC SHERMAN,  Marlboro April 9, 1774.  All Bakers are hereby cautioned against Employing said Servant.”  Boston Gazette, May 9, 1774.