Letter from Richard Caswell to William Caswell
Caswell, Richard, 1729-1789
Volume 09, Pages 1247-1250
[From MS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]
Letter from Richard Caswell to his son.
Philadelphia, 11th May 1775.
My dear Son,
By a Gentleman Bound to Tar river I now write to inform you that after I parted with you at Halifax, Mr Hewes and myself proceeded
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on our journey as follows: Sunday evening we arrived at Petersburg in Virginia, where we met the express, with an account of a battle between the King's troops and the Bostonians; the next day we crossed James River and lodged at Hanover Court House, where we had an account of 1500 men being under arms to proceed to Williamsburg in order to oblige Lord Dunmore to return some powder he had taken out of the magazine and lodged on board of a man of war in James River; what was done in that matter we have not since heard. The next day we were constantly meeting armed men, who had been to escort the delegates for Virginia on their way towards this place. We lodged that night at Port Royal, and were only 2 or 3 hours after the Virginia gentlemen. The next day we got down to Potowmack side before the boats returned that had carried the Virginians over. Here were part of the militia of three counties under arms and in the uniform of hunting shirts; they received us and conducted us on the return of the Boats to the water's edge with all the military honors due to General Officers. We then crossed the river and learned at the ferry on Maryland side that a company of Independents in Charles County had attended the Virginia Delegates from thence under arms. We proceeded and overtook them at port Tobacco, where indeed the Independents made a most glorious appearance. Their company consisted of 68 men beside Officers all genteelly drest in scarlet and well equipped with arms and warlike implements, with drum and fife. Sentinels were placed at the doors and occasionally relieved during the time we stayed there. The next morning we all set out together and were attended by the Independents to the verge of their County, where they delivered us to another Company of Independents in Prince George County, they in like manner to a second and that to a third, which brought us through their County. We lodged that night at Marlborough; and the next day, though we met with a most terrible gust, lightning, thunder, wind, hail and rain, arrived at Baltimore, at the entrance of which Town we were received by four Independent Companies who conducted us with their colors flying, drums beating and fifes playing, to our lodging at the Fountain Tavern (Grants). The next day we were prevailed on to stay at Baltimore where Col. Washington accompanied by the rest of the Delegates reviewed the Troops. They have four Companies of 68 men each complete who go through their exercises extremely clever. They are raising in that Town three other Companies which they
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say will soon be full. We were very genteelly entertained here in the Court House. The next day we breakfasted at my old master Cheynes and dined at Susquehannah, crossed the river and lodged at the Ferry House. As I had in some measure been the cause of the Virginia Gentn
going round the Bay by recommending that road and being the only person in the company acquainted with the road I was obliged to keep with them, so that I did not call on my relations. I sent George in to Jos. Dallams, where he left the Letters I brought for our friends, and was informed my Grand Mother and all friends were well except Mr
Dallam, who has been poorly some time.
The next day we got to Wilmington, where we fell in with several of the Maryland Delegates and came all into this city to dinner on the 9th Instant. Yesterday the Congress met agreeable to appointment and this day it was resolved that they enter upon the consideration of American grievances on Monday next. Here a greater Martial Spirit prevails if possible than I have been describing in Virginia and Maryland. They have 28 Companies complete which make near 2000 men who march out to the common and go through their exercises twice a day regularly, scarce anything but warlike music is to be heard in the streets. There are several companies of Quakers only and many of them besides enrolled in other companies promiscuously; 'tis sayed they will in a few days have 3000 men under arms ready to defend their liberties. They are raising men in New York and all the Northern Governments—the Yorkers, I am told by their Delegates, are determined to defend their liberties and since the action between the King's troops and the Provincials scarcely a Tory is to be found amongst them. I herewith enclose you a paper in which is a list of the killed and wounded of King's Troops. But 'tis said this is not genuine, a much greater number being actually killed. On the side of the Bostonians 37 were killed outright, 4 are missing and I forgot the number of wounded, I think thirty odd; thus you have the fullest account I am able to give of these matters and as the account is so long 'twill not be in my power to communicate the same to any other of my countrymen and friends but through you, you may therefore remember me in the strongest manner to your Uncles, Capt. Bright and others of my particular friends. Show them this letter and tell them it will be a reflection on their country to be behind their neighbors, that it is indispensibly necessary for them to arm and form into a Company
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or Companies of Independents. When their Companies are full 68 private men each to elect Officers, viz, a Capt, 2 Lieuts, an Ensign and Subalterns and to meet as often as possible and go through the exercises, receive no man but such as can be depended on, at the same time reject none who will not discredit the Company. If I live to return I shall most cheerfully join any of my countrymen even as a rank and file man, and as in the common cause I am here exposed to danger that or any other difficulties I shall not shun whilst I have any blood in my veins but freely offer it in support of the liberties of my Country. Tell your Uncles (the Clerk & Sheriff) it may not be prudent for them so far to engage yet awhile as to risk the loss of their Offices in any Company; But you my dear boy must become a Soldier and risk your life in support of those invaluable blessings which once lost posterity will never be able to regain. Some men I fear will start objections to the enrolling of Companies and exercising the men and will say it will be acting against Government. That may be answered that it is not so, That we are only Qualifying ourselves and preparing to defend our Country and support our liberties. I can say no more at present but that may God Almighty protect you all and His blessing attend your good endeavors is the ardent prayer of, my dear child,
Your affectionate Father,
Mr William Caswell
P. S. Only show this letter to such as I have described above and dont let it be copied. Consult Capt. Bright, &c.