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Captain Eleazer Bennett’s Account of the events as recorded in 1849
My dear Sir, The account of the expedition to Portsmouth as narrated by Capt. Bennett was noted[?] as follows: He was at the time in the employ of Gen. Sullivan in his mills at Packers Falls. Some time on the 15th Dec. 1774 Micah Davis came up from Durham Falls and told him that the Gen. wished him to come down & go to Portsmouth. And to go round among the heighbors and get any body else he could to come with him, that they were going to have some fun there. That he immediately started off to Langley's and to _______ [name unknown to author], but could not persuade any one to accompany him, because they were afraid that there might be some trouble. That there were some eleven or twelve in the party, as well as he could remember, but he could not recollect their names other than eight: Gen. Sullivan, Judge [Ebenezer] Thompson, Col. Winborn Adams, Maj. Demeritt (of Madbury), Benjamin Small, John Spenser, Micah Davis, and himself. They took a "two cord gondola" belonging to Maj. Ben Mathes (who then lived in the old Capt. Paul house, but was too old to accompany them) and manned it with three men on each side. They started from the old wharf some where between Gen. Sullivan's and the Falls. It was a bright moonlight but bitter cold, they stopped a short time at Portsmouth where John Langdon with another party joined them proceeding in. They landed at the fort, but could not bring the boat to within a rod of shore, the water being so shallow. They waded through the water in perfect silence, mounted the fort, tied the Captain, and frightened away the rest of the soldiers, took one hundred b[arre]ls of gunpowder, brought them down to the boat, again wading through the water, which froze upon them. As soon as they came on to the boat, they then made their way back to Durham. A part of the powder was taken by Maj. Demeritt to his house in Madbury, but the great part was stored under the pulpit of the old meeting house near Durham Falls, and sent afterwards to Charleston [Mass.] where it was used by the patriots in the Battle of Bunker Hill.------- So soon as you can find leisure, I wish you would call on Capt. Bennett and ascertain any other facts that he may have since collected in relating to this adventure, so important in the History of Durham. I hope that some of these matters may be preserved so that our town may have all the credit she deserves. Should you publish an account of the affair, please send me a copy, and oblige, Sincerely, BALLARD SMITH Louisville Sept. 8, 49
From: Durham Town Records (MC 149), Series IX (Miscellaneous), Box 1 folder 1.