Thomas Gage to Ticonderoga – Be Wary of Armed Vagabonds

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in about Warren

by Thomas Gage

Date:  March 8, 1775

Letter to Capt De la Place 26th Regt: Ticonderoga

“…no doubt have put you on your Guard against any attempts to Surprize your Fort; and I conclude that you have made Report thereof to Major General Carleton, to whom you will apply for any Succor you may stand in need of. There are a Numbers of Armed Vagabonds going frequently about the Lakes looking out for Lands, and if they meet you off your Guard may form a Scheme to Seize your Ammunition which they are in want of.”

Source:  transcribed from the Thomas Gage Papers, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Clements Library, American Series, Vol. 123

Commentary:  The source of Governor General Gage’s information remains unclear, as well as whether this warning ever got from Boston to Fort Ticonderoga.  At this juncture Gage was more concerned with ammunition falling into Patriot hands rather than the fort’s cannon being seized and transported over mountainous country to Eastern Massachusetts.  We know the “Armed Vagabonds” to have been Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys. 

Hostilities commenced at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.  Joseph Warren’s support for Benedict Arnold’s designs on Ticonderoga dates to late April of 1775.

While Gage’s intelligence was good in this instance, using it to strategic advantage was quite another story.  Allen and Arnold jointly took Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775.  As early as May 17th Warren received and transmitted into occupied Boston the news of Fort Ticonderoga’s fall.  Warren’s correspondent in Boston was chief selectman John Scollay, father of Joseph’s unofficial fiancée Miss Mercy Scollay and active Son of Liberty.  John Scollay had decided to remain within Boston to look after his property there. As chief selectman he also served as an intermediary between Joseph Warren and Governor General Thomas Gage. 

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