Gentleman in Boston Writing to a Mr. Rivitigton of New York

Under date of December 20th, 1774, a gentleman in Boston writing to a Mr. Rivitigton of New York, says:

     On Monday the 12th inst. our worthy citizen, Mr. Paul
Revere, was sent express from only two or three of the Committee
of Correspondence at Boston, as I am creditably informed (of whom
no number under seven are empowered to act) to a like committee
at Portsmouth, N.H., informing them as 't is said "That orders
had been sent to the Governors of their Provinces to deliver up
their several Fortifications or Castles to General Gage, and that
a number of Troops had the preceding day embarked on board
transports with a design to proceed and take possession of said
Castles." That in consequence thereof the House of Assembly of
Rhode Island had caused the Fort to be dismantled and the Guns,
Ammunitions, etc., to be removed to Providence.

     Upon receiving this intelligence the Committee at Portsmouth
was called together to advise what was to be done in so alarming
a crisis ; but not having a full meeting, nor able to determine
upon any measures proper to be taken, they concluded to deter the
matter till the next day, when a fuller meeting of said committee
was expected, but two or three warm zealous members, having the
good of their country at heart more than the others, and thinking
any further deliberation on so important an affair unnecessary,
gave out their order early the next morning for the drums to be
beat to raise Volunteers to go and take the King's Fort.  With
difficulty a number of men were persuaded to convene, who
proceeded to the Fort, which is situated at New Castle, an island
about two miles from the Town, and being there joined by a number
of the inhabitants of said New Castle, amounted to near four
hundred men ; They invested the Fort and being refused admittance
by the Commander of it, who had only five men with him, and who
discharged several guns at them, scaled the walls and soon
overpowered and pinioned the Commander.  They then struck the
King's colors, with three cheers broke open the Powder House, and
carried off one hundred and three barrels of powder, leaving only
one behind.

     Previous to this, expresses had been sent out to alarm the
country.  Accordingly, a large body of men marched the next day
from Durham headed by two Generals, Major Sullivan, one of the
worthy Delegates, who represented that Province in the
Continental Congress, and the Parson of the Parish, who being
long accustomed to apply himself more to the care of the bodies
than the souls of his parishioners, had forgotten that the
weapons of his warfare ought to be spiritual, and not carnal, and
therefore marched down to supply himself with the latter, from
the King's Fort, and assisted in robbing him of his warlike
stores.  After being drawn up on parade, they chose a Committee,
consisting of those persons who had been most active in the riot
of the preceding day, with Major Sullivan and some others, to
wait on the Governor, and know of him whether any of the King's
Troops or Ships were expected.  The Governor after expressing to
them his great concern for the consequences of taking the Powder
from the Fort, which they pretended to disapprove and be ignorant
of, assured them that he knew of neither Troops or Ships coming
into the Province, and ordered the Major, as a Magistrate, to go
and disperse the people.  When the Committee returned to the
body, and reported what the Governor had told them, they voted it
was satisfactory, and that they would return home.  But by the
eloquent harangue of their Demosthenes they were first prevailed
upon to vote that they took part with and approved of the
measures of those who had taken the Powder.  Matters appeared
then to subside, and it was thought every man had peaceably
returned to his own home. Instead of this, Major Sullivan, with
about seventy of his clients, concealed themselves till the
evening, and then went to the Fort, and brought off in Gondolas
all the small arms, with fifteen 4-Pounders and one 9-pounder,
and a quantity of twelve and four and twenty pound shot, which
they conveyed to Durham, etc.

     The day following being Friday, another body of men from
Exeter headed by Colonel Folsom, the other Delegate to the
Continental Congress, marched into Portsmouth, and paraded about
the Town, and having passed several votes expressive of their
approbation of the measures that had been pursued by the bodies
of the two preceding days in robbing the fort of Guns, Powder,
etc., retired home in the evening, without further mischief.

     Thus by this false alarm was a great part of that Province,
which though staunch in the cause of liberty, before in a state
of peace and good order, kept for three days in the greatest
confusion, and the good people of it persuaded by a few flaming
demagogues, to commit a most outrageous overt act of treason and

     No history, I believe, will furnish us with an instance of a
King's Fort being taken and his Colors struck by his own subjects
in time of peace, and without any cause or provocation.

From: American Archives, Vol. I, p. 1054.