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not. If we act unworthily, our with household goods, &c. are carmemories will be execrated by fu- ried into Stonington; and by them ture generations. I remain, with we learned that the enemy on the sentiments of esteem, dear sir, your island have sent to New York for a most humble servant,
reinforcement, and that they have JOSEPH PALMER. landed at Newport all the marines
from out of their ships of war there. Tiverton, Oct. 5th, 1777. This expedition was not in such for(Letter enclosed in the next letter.) wardness on our arrival as we ex
By general orders of this day, pected, and if we do not soon go Major Gen. Spencer has directed on, our troops will not be so good the brigadiers from the state of Mas- as at present. I hope in three or sachusetts Bay, to send for all draft- four days all will be ready, if wind ed persons, who have not yet joined and weather permit. Delay will their respective regiments, or are give the enemy time to prepare absent without leave, that they may against us, and will occasion great be dealt with as deserters.
loss of spirits on our part. I thereIn obedience to such general or. fore deprecate delay. ders, Brigadier Gen. Palmer directs This covers copies of circular Cols. Cotton and Williams to send letters, which are to be forwardwithout delay, to the commanding ed as soon as it is determined how officers of the several regiments of to fill up the blanks, which will be militia, to which such absent persons settled this day as I suppose. belong, that they may immediately (Evening.) General Spencer has send to head quarters.
been obliged to go to Providence, Cols. Cotton and Williams will which has prevented a consultation also return to the brigadier general this afternoon. He has just returnwithout delay, the names of all such ed, but too late to meet. absent persons with their places of The Connecticut troops have abode, so that such may be sent for marched and are expected in toas the brigadier may order.
Mr. Spooner has had Gen. Spencer is also desirous some considerable success in prothat four companies of light infan. curing boatmen, as we hear. They try should be formed by volunteers will essentially serve the cause if out of any of the Massachusetts they come in season.
Five persons troops, to serve on parties, or in who were drafted at Sandwich or their regiments, as they may be or- its vicinity have gone off to Rhode dered. Not more than one compa. Island and given all the intelligence by to be permitted to be formed out in their power! It is said, that of any one regiment, nor to consist when drafted they pleaded conof more than sixty-nine men, offi- science against bearing arms in any cers included. Such as desire to case; and that at Rhode Island they serve as officers are to send their pleaded conscience against bearing names, without delay, to the briga. arms against the king. I believe JOSEPH PEARSE PALMER,
Col. Freeman knows the men, and Brigade Major. I hope he will catch them.
This waits upon you by express, To the Hon. J. POWELL, President of the in order to obtain flints. We are Council in Boston.
very deficient in that article, and Tiverton, Oct. 8th, 1777. beg that you will forward (perhaps General Douglas of Connecticut by Col. Crafts) ten thousand at least, arrived here last evening; but the and if you have them, thirty thoutroops have not yet arrived. Three sand. vessels from Newport to New York Had matters been properly preVol. III.
pared against the 1st instant, we they may. This will give us our then were not suspected, and might own time for embarkation, and will have made an easy conquest; but save the boats and boatmen, which this delay will make it much more
in the other case were greatly difficult, and will cost many lives. exposed. The volunteers will not Through the mercy of Heaven, we wait longer than this night; this may may yet succeed, and without that be relied on. If it should be thought we should have failed in the former proper for three thousand men to case.
embark below, we shall have men I am, dear sir, with great esteem, enough to go on at Howland's, and your most humble servant,
the three thousand may attack the JOSEPH PALMER. works opposite Fogland's and there
by form a junction, or they may (For consideration.) proceed to the town, or, it
be Tiverton, October 17, 1777. only a feint, as may be judged best. Many movements having been All is respectfully submitted by made for a real embarkation below Joseph Palmer, Brigadier General, Fogland's Ferry, and for a feint at to the Hon. Major General Spencer Howland's, of all of which we may and the other general officers. suppose the enemy has obtained a competent knowledge, therefore, and
Tiverton, Oct. 21, 1777. for many other reasons, it is pro- Dear Sir-I wrote you a few posed for consideration to reverse lines a few minutes ago, and stopped the plan of operations, and to make the horseman to breakfast. In the the real attack from Howland's on mean time, Lieut. Col. Hall of Col. both necks, and the feint below Fog. Cotton's regiment, informed me that land's. This is not liable to so ma- seven men deserted from one comny casualties, and may be carried pany last night, and that several into execution be the wind and tide others are gone off. Their pretense as it may, only excepting violent is, want of small stores. wind. The communication is easy, molasses could be obtained for them, and may be always kept open. We it might prevent the contagion's may land and form without danger, spreading. and we may force over the necks If a party of the advance guard at low water. In this way it is pro- or other light troops, to about the bable we shall not lose so many amount of six hundred, were to go men as in the former plan. Be- up round Common Fence Point, sides, it appears, so far as I can ob- cross over the Bristol Point, stop serve, to be the plan most approved near Hog Island, and land at the by experienced officers and others back of the enemy's fort, near not admitted into the consultation. Bristol Ferry, at the same time that This sudden change will fault the a body of men were got ready upenemy, if we may judge by their on Common Fence Neck, we might movements; such as landing many make it certain what the enemy inthings from their ships, and carting tended by their late movement. from the forts to the town. If these am, sir, yours, things are so, we may conclude Joseph Palmer, Brig. Gen. they are strengthening the town; but this is not so certain as I could To the President of the Council, Boston. wish. At Quacket, if this plan is
Tiverton, Oct. 21, 1777. adopted, there are boats enough to Dear Sir—The night before last embark, and below for the feint; we got all our troops ready for emwe shall be out of danger of their barkation, but the wind prevented. shipping, be the wind and tide as In bringing the boats from Quatuck
Pond to the southward of Fogland's mon and ordinary general council, Ferry, whence we were to embark, I have determined to do it under my the
enemy fired upon us as we pass. hand, so that if I am wrong it may ed the Ferry Point, by which we had appear against me. one man killed and another wound.
The general idea upon which this ed. Yesterday in the afternoon, enterprise was planned, was foundand this morning, the enemy appear ed upon the supposition of eight or as if they intended to evacuate the nine thousand men being necesnorth end of the island, but the rain sary to do the business when conprevents our making such discove. ducted with secrecy and the enemy ries as we could wish. If they are attacked by surprise. moving off, as I believe they are, I I believe that our numbers are think we shall go on at Howland's not equal to what was then thought Ferry and one other place, and beat necessary; and it is certain that we up their quarters.
can not now surprise the enemy; for Last night an express arrived they know the secret and are prefrom Gov. Cook to Gen. Spencer, paring against our design. Besides with the great news of Gen. Bur. the spirit of the army is not what it goyne and his army; about four was at first. thousand five hundred having sur- From these facts I think we ought rendered to Gen. Gates—the British now to reason, and if the public and Hessian officers, to be allowed weal requires us to push on at all to wear side arms; but no terms events, then let us do it in the most for the tories.
desperate manner; but if the pubI hope that our Court will never lic good forbids our running any more join in such an important en- such risks, then let us return in an terprise, unless they have better as- orderly way, and take care of our surance of every thing being ready boats, &c. against a more favorable against the given day. We ought time.
. to have been in the plan and pre- If eight thousand men were neparation. Though I do not expect cessary, with secrecy and surprise to be saved by our own wisdom, in in aid of their numbers, surely no the
present or any future expedition, wise man will say that a greater yet I think we ought to have some- number are not necessary, when we thing to do with planning and pre- have neither secrecy nor surprise to paring, as well as executing. If the assist our numbers. weather permits, it is probable we Other reasons might be offered shall be successful, through the against making the attempt under goodness of Providence; but I am present circumstances, but every sure we shall have very little reason man who reasons justly will reflect to boast of our own wisdom. I am, upon the consequences of a defeat, dear sir, with great respect, your and will consider it possible. The most humble servant,
consequences may be such as we J. PALMER. may be utterly unable to answer
for. Now is the time for cool de. To the general officers in the camp at Tio liberation, and we ought to deliber.
åte so as to justify our conduct to Camp at Tiverton, Oct. 26, 1777.
our country. Gentlemen-From a full convic. I am very sensible of the coloring tion of the right and propriety of which will be given to this way of each general officer's delivering his reasoning, and shall presume that sentiments upon the present circum- no man will impute it to any other stances of the expedition, and the than pure love to the common cause. difficulty of doing this in the com- love to our country.
From you, gentlemen, I may rea- low. We found him at the comsonably expect that candor, which mencement of the war in affluence; every gentleman has a right to ex- we find him at the close of it, on pect from every other. In full as- the verge of bankruptcy. surance of which, I beg leave to His feelings in respect to the subscribe myself, with sentiments of Rhode Island affair, and the condigreat esteem, your most humble tion of his private affairs at the presservant,
J. PALMER. ent time, may be learned from the
following letters. The failure of this expedition to Rhode Island, was a sore disappoint- To the Hon. Mr. Spooner. ment to the whole country, especi
Germantown, Dec. 6, 1777. ally to those who were immediately Dear Sir-By what my son tells concerned in it. The blame must me, I suppose that I shall be brought fall somewhere; and Gen. Palmer's to trial about the Rhode Island affair, letter, recommending an abandon. before the court martial. I am ment of the enterprise, gave to Gen. glad there is to be a hearing, and I Spencer, the commander in chief, doubt not it will be a fair one, and on whom the principal responsibil. that I shall have timely notice of ity rested, an advantageous position the charge against me, and of the for casting it upon him. But his evidence from the colonels in my honorable acquittal by the court late brigade. The day I left Tivermartial, before which the matter ton, Miss A. B. told me that the was brought, and the preceding cor- General had determined to throw respondence, which every where all the blame upon me, and that exhibits Gen. Palmer as urgent to Gen. Cornel, your townsman, had execute the enterprise with the undertaken to carry the matter greatest possible dispatch, should re. through. I think myself
extremely move from the minds of an impar. injured, and that no part I have acttial posterity every suspicion that he ed since the commencement of these can be justly accused of any re- difficulties has been more innocent, missness in his duty. If his advice not to say meritorious, than my conwas injudicious, if he was influenced duct at Tiverton. I glory in the by timidity and irresolution, he may opposition I made towards the latter be justly censured; but he appears part of the month. Before that, I rather to have been governed in his could and would have joined heartcourse by sound judgment—the dis. ily in a descent, though I thought tinguished characteristic of Wash- and still think it was very weakly ington. Indeed the reader of Gen. provided for, and that there never Palmer's domestic correspondence, were more than half boats enough. which we are obliged to suppress on You know much of my conduct, account of its private character, will and to you I can cheerfully appeal. hardly escape the impression that The affair of the boats was chiefly he more closely resembled Wash- committed to you, and your evidence ington for caution and prudence, will be necessary. I can cheerfully combined with enterprise and en- die to serve the glorious cause of ergy, than any other officer of the liberty ; but then let me die as I Revolution.
ought, as an innocent man, and not Owing, however, to the wound bring the curse of guilt upon an inwhich his feelings had received, he nocent and worthy family which soon retired from public life, and will thereby suffer. with his son, struggled for a few I have spent and lost five thousand years to rescue his fortune from the pounds sterling in this great cause, utter wreck which threatened to fol. and now my old friends look askance
upon me, and I am despised for hav- the injury, and if you believe me ing been faithful to the trust reposed innocent, you will feel for me. But
But I must not enlarge. I do not wish to arrest your judg. Adieu.
J. PALMER. ment. Let that arise from evidence.
I remain, dear sir, with every sen. Germantown, Dec. 22, 1777. timent of esteem, your most humble Dear Sir—The reports of my servant,
J. PALMER. being ordered to be tried at a court Hon. Maj. Gen. Hancock, Boston. martial—that I ought to be shot, &c., which have circulated in vari. Providence, March 25th, 1778. ous shapes in the country, led me, As several charges have been although in great pain, to wait upon exhibited against me relative to a you last week, when you were so late intended expedition to Rhode obliging as to show me the order of Island, I would beg leave to add a court for my being brought to trial. few lines in addition to my state.
As I had no notice, not one mo- ment of facts. It is said that I did ment's notice of the General's not exert myself so much as I might charge against me, until exhibited and ought to have done in getting in open court, I could not fairly be the boats ready. To this I reply supposed to be then prepared for a that, although it was a department defense; and since that I have been distinct from my duties as a general long confined with a very severe officer, and in some considerable disease, so as to render me in a degree incompatible therewith, yet, great measure, incapable of private being zealous to comply with an or public business ; I am now better, order from the General and to for. and am preparing a statement of ward the service, I exerted myself facts, which as I trust, will be fully to the utmost to get them ready as supported by the best evidence, and soon as possible ; but as they were will prove to the world, for the pub. brought in at different times, some lic must have it, how false, unjust, as late as the night of the 14th of and barbarous my treatment has October, we could not know what been. As I have had no copy of repairs were necessary till they are the General's charge ; of the report rived. We met with great difficulty of the court of inquiry; or of the in procuring workmen, materials, orders of court, and as I am very and tools, all of which occasioned desirous of an opportunity to make delay. With the General's appromy defense upon the floor of the bation, I employed the Hon. Mr. house, I must beg the favor of you, Spooner to assist in this business, dear sir, not to bring me to trial and he gave me reason to report until I have had an opportunity to that they would be all numbered, lay the matter before the court in and ready on the 15th or 16th, I am whose justice I confide. I have no not certain which, but think it was favors to ask of the court, but only the 16th. In the morning, Gen. that justice may be done according Lovel and myself called on Mr. to evidence, after a fair and candid Spooner, in order to take the list of hearing before them.
the boats, in order to assign a proIf ever I exhibited any proof of per division of them to each brigade. public virtue, it was upon this ex. He, though zealous in the cause, pedition--and this is the reward !! could not get them ready so soon So long as life and ability remain, as he expected, but told us he would I will justify my conduct, even if send us the list by 11 or 12 o'clock. certain death should be the conse. The list not coming to hand in time, quence.
the General ordered the brigadiers Forgive me, my dear sir; I feel to wait upon Mr. Spooner to receive