A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 3

From David Cobb
Cobb, David RTP
Watertown Novr. 19th 1775 My Dear Sir,

It is so so long since I wrote you last that I am almost asham’d to call myself your Correspondent; and not hearing from you for a long time past makes me doubt whether I am writing to the Living or the Dead; if to the former I know my sins of omission will be pardon’d, if to the latter, they require none. I am now here on my way to Brookfield where Mr. Greenleaf & myself are going to examine some sulphurious Pyrites, agreeable to an Order of the House.1 The Army are in high spirits & remarkably healthy, but I am fearfull a disaffection will take place in consequence of the late appointment of officers for the next Campaign; so great is the uneasiness that I am confident much the greatest part of the present army will return home at the expiration of their terms, & the 114difficulty attending the getting together an Army at this Season, will oblige the Millitia of the Provence to defend the Lines. Privateers are fitting out from almost every Sea-port in the Provence & we never pass a week without hearing of their success. Deserters are weekly coming from the Parliment Army; six came over last Thursday night, who give an account that they are badly victualled & worse paid, and that they intended to have taken possession of a Hill in Chelsea last Wednesday night had it not been for the Storm; in consequence of which our Army mean to take possession of the same Hill the first good night for it.

I came from Home Last Tuesday & have been detain’d here ever since on account of bad weather; your Family, when I left ‘em where all well & our Friends in general hearty. Salt petre goes on very slow with us at present. I have made no experiments worth relating, but having collected a quantity of Tobacco Storks; I mean to make a Compost for next Spring, intending to spend this Winter in Sulphur, it being more agreeable to the Season. If you are alive, do write me something more than three lines in a Letter & inform me what you are about, if consistant.

Salt Petre has been made at Watertown by Doctr. Whiting & they are now imploy’d at Newbery-Port, where they have a large works.

I shall write you an Account of our Experiments at Brookfield as soon as they are compleated. In the mean time believe me to be your constant Friend (tho’ unsteady Correspondent), & most Humbl. Servant,

David Cobb

RC ; addressed: “To The Honble. Robt. Treat Paine Esqr. Philadelphia”; endorsed.


As a follow-up of his Oct. 6 appointment (see Joseph Greenleaf to RTP, Oct. 17, 1775, above), the House on Nov. 2 appointed Joseph Greenleaf “with other Persons, not exceeding two, as he may choose,” to visit Brookfield or other places “to make Experiments with the Earth there, said to be proper for producing Sulpher” (Journals of the House of Representatives, 51, pt. 1: 224).

To Philip Schuyler
RTP Schuyler, Phillip
Albany Novr. 21st. 1775 Dear Sr.,

This day I arrived here in Company with Mr. Langdon who together with Mr. Robert R. Livingstone1 are a Committee from the Congress to repair to you & consult divers matters mentioned in your 115Letters to the Congress. Mr. Livingstone is not arrived here, but proposed to join to morrow night, after which we shall make all dispatch possible. Mean while We thought it proper to inform you thus far by this Express, who goes so soon to morrow that we have not time to enlarge. We have brought with us blank Commissions for the New Army to be raised.

We congratulate you on the Success of our Army & hoping the restoration of your health I am your most Obedient hble. Servt.,

Rob Treat Paine

RC (bMS Sparks 49.2 [77], Houghton Library, Harvard University) ; internal address: “General Schuyler.”


Robert R. Livingston (1746–1813) was a member of a prominent New York landowning family. He graduated from King’s College in 1765 and was admitted to the bar in 1770. An active revolutionary, he served in the Continental Congress for several terms (1775–1776, 1779–1781, and 1784–1785). Active in committee work, he served on the drafting committee for the Declaration of Independence but had returned to New York before it was signed. From 1777 to 1801, he was chancellor of New York State; from 1781 to 1783, secretary of foreign affairs; and from 1801 to 1804, minister plenipoteniary to France ( DAB ).