Our Duty Immediately to Establish an Army with the Help of Connecticut

Israel Putnam of Connecticut

in by Warren

Date: April 23, 1775

“In Provincial Congress, Watertown,

Gentlemen, – Before this letter can reach you, we doubt not you have been sufficiently certified of the late alarming resolutions of the British Parliament, wherein we see ourselves declared rebels, and all our sister Colonies in New England, in common with us, marked out for the severest punishments.  In consequence thereof General Gage has suddenly commenced hostilities, by a large body of troops under his command secretly detached in the night of the 18th instant, which on the morning ensuing had actually begun the slaughter of the innocent inhabitants in the very heart of the country, before any intentions of that kind were suspected; and although the roused virtue of our brethren in the neighborhood soon compelled them to precipitate retreat, they marked their savage route with depredations, ruin, and butcheries hardly to be matched by the armies of any civilized Nation on the globe.

Justly alarmed by these manoeuvres, vast multitudes of the good people of this and the neighboring Colonies are now assembled in the vicinity of Boston, for the protection of the country.  The gates of that devoted town are shut, the miserable inhabitants are pent up there, with a licentious soldiery as in one common prison; large reinforcements of the troops under General Gage are hourly expected; and no reason is left to doubt that this whole force, as soon as collected, will be employed for the destruction, first of this, and then of the neighboring Colonies engaged in the same interesting cause, and that all America will be speedily reduced to the most abject slavery unless it is immediately defended by arms.

Unavoidably reduced to this necessity by circumstances that will justify us before God and the impartial world, this Congress, after solemn deliberation and application to Heaven for direction in the case, have this day unanimously resolved that it is our duty immediately to establish an army for the maintenance of the most invaluable rights of human nature, and the immediate defence of this Colony where the first attack is made; that thirty thousand men are necessary to be forthwith raised in the New England Colonies for that purpose, and that of that force 13,600 shall be established by this Colony without delay.

We have not a doubt of the virtue of the Colony of Connecticut, no less engaged then ourselves in the glorious cause at stake, and equally involved in the miseries that must ensue, should it be lost.  In testimony of our reliance on you, we have sent this express to give you the earliest notice of these resolutions, and the circumstances that have necessitated them, and earnestly to request your speediest concurrence, and such assistance in this most important cause as the present urgent necessity requires, and the many former evidences we have had of the spirit and firmness of the Colony of Connecticut give us the highest reason to expect.

We are, gentlemen, Your most obedient, humble servants,

            Joseph Warren, Pres’t pro tem.

P. S.  The great confusion in this Colony prevent our being able to send with this letter such depositions as might give full and particular information of the facts above referred to; but measures are taken for that purpose, and we shall not fail to transmit the result of them by the first opportunity.

To the Governor and Company of Connecticut.”

Source: Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Fifth Series, Volume X, Pages 285-287

Commentary: Having written to Governor Trumbull of Connecticut just the day prior, Joseph Warren, as President pro tem of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, keeps Trumbull informed of key resolutions. Warren calls attention to the new resolution establishing an army. He appeals to Connecticut to supply a fair portion of the envisioned 30,000 troops of what would come to be known early in the Siege of Boston as the New England Army of Observation.

Israel Putnam of Pomfret, Connecticut, needed no formal invitation. According to legend, on hearing of the outbreak of hostilities at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, he abandoned his plough in the field, mustered his militia unit, and immediately departed for the Boston area. The previous summer he personally delivered a flock of sheep to Boston, a gift from his town to the Massachusetts Committee of Donations, in relief of hardships induced by the Boston Port Act. During that visit he conferred with Patriot leaders and is also said to have been courted for British service by old friends in the opposing army.

Previous post:

Next post: