Your Readiness to Obey Orders Does You Great Honor

Dr. Benjamin Church, Jr. (1734-1778)

in by Warren

“To General Thomas

May 10, 1775.

I have this moment received your letter, the Contents very much surprised me, as I had been absent from the Committee of Safety all Day I could not at first understand the matter, but upon Enquiry I find the Committee gave Orders that all recruiting Officers should repair to Cambridge with the Men they had enlisted, but the sending the Order to your Camp was certainly a very great Error, as it was designed only for those Officers who are in the Country, absent from Camp.

Your readiness to obey Orders does your great Honor, and your prudence in sending to Head Quarters upon receiving so extraordinary an Order convinces me of your Judgment.”  [Joseph Warren]

Source:   Transcription in Charles Martyn’s The Life of Artemas Ward – the First Commander-in-Chief of the American Revolution, New York: Artemas Ward, 1921.  A footnote on p. 104 asserts that this letter surfaced in an auction of Rev. Thomas Raffles of Liverpool, England at Libbie’s, Boston, Feb 3-5, 1892.  I do not know the present whereabouts  of the manuscript.  Dr. Benjamin Church’s letter to General John Thomas, also dated May 10, 1775, is in the Emmet Collection of the New York Public Library.

Commentary:  General John Thomas (1724-1776) thought odd Dr. Benjamin Church’s order for him and his forces to abandon precipitously the southern Siege of Boston fortifications.  He must have written urgently to Joseph Warren for confirmation, who responded to Thomas forthrightly and forcefully.  Warren countermanded Church’s order.  He did so decisively, communicated in a manner which maintained the chain of command, and complimented Thomas’ prudence. Warren must have had a follow-up discussion with Benjamin Church, but the nature and content of that conversation do not survive. Was Church’s misdirection of General Thomas an honest mistake or part of a nefarious plot?  Did Joseph Warren suspect Church’s fidelity as a Patriot?

E.J. Witek maintains a blog filled with authoritative and interesting information on Dr. Church and his family.

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