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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 3

From Mark Bird
Bird, Mark RTP
Reading 18th May 1776 Sir,

It was mentiond in your Committee that the Cannon shoud be Dd. at Willing & Morriss’s wharf below the Draw Bridge but no person mentiond to provide the Gallises & Takles to unload & Receive them also the Ball. I1 intend sending Ball this week but no guns till I hear by the Return waggons that Everything is ready for the unloading the Guns. There is a Danl. Robinson near Morrisses Warf that sells my Caboosis. If you Imploy him I make no Doubt will Give Satisfaction. I beg you will have these things setled Amediately that the waggoners may not be Detaind. & you’l Greatly Oblige Your Humble Servant,

Mark Bird

RC ; addressed: “To The Honble. Robert T: Paine In Philada.”; endorsed.


Mark Bird inherited from his father, William Bird, the Hay Creek forge and Berkshire Furnace which the latter built in 1740 and 1760 respectively. Mark Bird expanded these properties and became one the most prominent landowners and businessmen in Berks County. He was a member of the local committee of correspondence, represented the county at the Provincial Convention in January 1775, and chaired the county’s standing committee. In addition Bird was lieutenant colonel of the Second Battalion of the county militia and later as colonel of a regiment that he enrolled at his own expence in August 1776, as well as one of the assistant quartermasters general. After the war his businesses failed and about 1788 he moved to North Carolina (Forges and Furnaces in the Province of Pennsylvania [Philadelphia, 1914], 76–78; Pennsylvania Gazette, Dec. 14, 1774, Jan. 2, 1775; Pennsylvania Packet, Sept. 24, 1779).

Extract from the Minutes of the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
Monday, May 20, 1776

A letter from General Lee, dated Williamsburg, 10 May with three papers enclosed, was laid before Congress, and read:1

Resolved, That the said letter with the papers enclosed be referred to a committee of five:

The members chosen, Mr. R H Lee, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Middleton,2 Mr. Paine, and Mr. Wolcott.3


Printed in Journals of the Continental Congress, 4:368.


The committee on this letter reported back to Congress on May 21 and recommended immediately undertaking an expedition against Detroit while suspending one against Niagara. Congress, however, resolved to postpone any further consideration until the arrival of General Washington. Washington had suggested both of these targets in a letter to John Hancock on Apr. 19 (Journals of the Continental Congress, 4:373; The Papers of George Washington: Revolutionary War Series, 4:87).


Arthur Middleton (1742–1787) trained for the law in England but upon his homecoming to South Carolina turned to planting. He was active in provincial politics, followed his father, Henry Middleton, as a delegate to the Continental Congress (1776–1777 and 1781–1782) and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Between his terms in Congress, Middleton served in the army and was held a prisoner by the British from May 1780 to July 1781 ( DAB ).


Oliver Wolcott (1726–1797), graduated from Yale in 1747 and following military service in the Seven Years War was sheriff of Litchfield County, Conn., for 20 years. Wolcott was a delegate to the Continental Congress (1776–1778 and 1780–1783). He was one of the commissioners of Indian affairs for the northern department in 1775 and a signer of the Declaration of Independence the following year. He divided his time between Congress and the army, being commander of the 14 Connecticut regiments sent for the defense of New York in 1776 and in command of a brigade that took part in the defeat of General Burgoyne in 1777. After the war he was lieutenant governor (1786–1796) and governor (1796–1797) of Connecticut ( DAB ).