A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 3

To Henry Knox
RTP Knox, Henry
Dear Sr., Philada. July 27. 1776

I was sorry Mr. Byers left N York before he had finished your business. He has been longer here than was intended, & very unhappily when he came I was so sick of a fever1 that nothing but the nature of his business induced me to see him, & in short I have not been able to settle the plan of another Air Furnace in the manner proposed. I got some of the Committee to my Room & all that could be agreed upon was that mr. Byers Should Work up your Mettal first & then purchase all the Mettal he could in N York & make Six pounders. I wish it was determined whether the Congress Mortar is as serviceable as a Mortar. If not I think it had better be cast into Cannon. I have desired Mr. Byers as he returns to take the pattern of the Pensyl 6 lb. & 12 lb. now in the Jerseys. Handsomer Guns I never saw, the former of wch. weighs 4.2. &c the other 8:0:9. As soon as I recover a little Strength I hope to devise Some Method of having this business enlarged. Meantime I wish the Iron Cannon that lay at Kings bridge were put into Some use. They are as good as any guns to be stationary & defend lines to vast advantage, if mounted only on Ship Carriages. I would suggest to you the Advantage of having vast quantitys of Chain & barr Shott & other Contrivances to cut Rigging especially at the Forts in the Highlands. We have Contracted with a Man to cast 18.24. & 32 pounders. He has succeded so well in long 18 pnds. that we hope he will answer our desires in the rest. Yrs. &c.,


Dft. ; internal address: “To Henry Knox Esqr. Col. of Artillery at N York”; endorsed.

257 1.

RTP noted the progress of the fever in his diary: (July 19) “taken very ill of a fever”; (July 20) “blooded & Physic”; (July 24) “rode out, very week”; (July 26) “took vomit”; (July 27) “very week”; and (July 29) “took Physic.” He returned to Congress on July 31.

From David Cobb
Cobb, David RTP
My Dear Sir, Boston July 29th, 1776

As there is a general stagnation of Public News in this part of America; my Journal this week can’t afford you but little entertainment; but as I mean to continue this Method of writing, concluding that you must from it receive the best information of what is going on here, you will, I doubt not, be willing to take the bad with the Good.

Monday 22d. The Militia of this Town were this day call’d forth to draft out every 25th Man for the Nothern Army

Tuesday, 23d. The Jamaica Ship that was carried into Cape Ann came into this Harbour today for sale.1

Wednesday, 24th. Sundry of our Prisoners that broke out of Halifax Goal came to Town last night; among ’em are Capt. Martindale & his Officers & Lieut. Scott who was wounded & taken at Bunker’s Hill.2

Thursday 25th. News arriv’d by the way of Providence that Genll. Lee had defeated Genll. Clinton at South-Carolina. We are doubtfull of the truth of it.3

Fryday 26th. The Jamaica Ship taken by Derby’s Letter of Mark, that I mentioned last Sunday was not carried into Salem; but was yesterday retaken by a Frigate as she was coming in, off Newbury in sight of Land.

Saturday 27th. A confermation, by the post, of Genll. Lee’s Engagement, receiv’d with great Joy, but no Letter from you. I much expected one.

Sunday 28th. Two of the Continental Privateers have taken a Ship from Halifax to New York laiden with English Goods, Provisions & Tories, & carried her, this Morning, into Marblehead; among the Tories are Benja. Davis & Son & two Semple Scotchmen.4 You’ll have a share of this Cargo. Two transports of Germain Troops have arriv’d at Halifax & are gone from thence to New York.

In the course of the week past we have had a number of our Eastern Wood Vessells taken by a Frigate & some arm’d Vessells that are Cruizing on the Eastern Shore & in this Bay; the Frigate that took three of258 ’em, put all the Crews aboard one of the Vessels & sent ’em off, after saying that they must not blame them for taking their Vessells as they were absolutely oblig’d to do it by their orders, & damn’d very heartily both Men & Measures that oblig’d ’em to commit such Pyracies on the Americans. We suffer amazingly for want of some heavy Ships to Guard our Coasts.

Do send me a Letter weekly, if possible, if its nothing more than a News paper inclos’d with R. T. P. at the Bottom. Our Powder Mills are both at work, thô that at Stoughton is not yet compleated, but when it is, the Master Workman tell’s me, he’ll turn out at the rate of 600 lb. of powder per Day; it will cost the Provence almost £3000 Sterling.

Your Family were all well when I heard from ’em last, but we have had little or no communication with the Country for this week or two on Acct. of our being pox’d.

I am Dear Sir your constant Friend & much oblig’d Servant, David Cobb

Just now the Tories were Landed at the Long Wharf from Marblehead & were attended from thence to the Prison by 2 thousand people; the Women from the Windows asking Davis5 whether he wanted any Gingerbread, refering to his treatment of the little Chreldren when they were going out of Town last Year. I wish the Devil had ’em.

RC ; addressed: “To The Honble. Robert Treat Paine Esqr. At Philadelphia per post”; postal stamps: “Boston,” “29 July”; endorsed.


Capt. Joseph White in the Massachusetts privateer sloop Revenge took the Anna Maria (Naval Documents of the American Revolution, 5:1178).


“Last Tuesday Evening came to Town from Halifax, Lieutenant William Scott, who was unfortunately taken Prisoner at the Battle on Bunker’s-Hill, the 17th of June, 1775. He made his escape by breaking through the Goal in which he was confined, as did also about14 others; among whom are, Capt. Simon Martindale, and his two Lieutenants. Mr. James Carpenter, with 5 others, that had made their Escape also, and got as far as Windsor, 45 Miles from Halifax were pursued by a large Body of Men, overtaken, carried back, and loaded with Irons.” Scott also reported that James Lovell was still imprisoned at Halifax although in good health and good spirits (New-England Chronicle, July 25, 1776).


News of Gen. Charles Lee’s victory over Gen. George Clinton at Sullivan’s Island was conveyed by letters Lee to General Washington (July 1) and to John Hancock and the Congress (July 2). Although just a rumor to Cobb in Boston on July 25, he was able to have it confirmed two days later (The Papers of George Washington: Revolutionary War Series, 5:168–172, 385).


The ship Peggy (James Kennedy, master) in the British Merchant Service was captured on July 22 by the armed schooners Franklin (John Skimmer, captain) and Hancock (Samuel Tucker, captain).259 In addition to property of Benjamin Davis, the inventory also included goods belonging to John Semple (The Papers of George Washington: Revolutionary War Series, 5:495–496, 507–509).


Benjamin Davis (1729–1805) was in a merchant partnership with his brother Edward, but when Benjamin refused to sign the nonimportation agreement they dissolved the business. He served with the Associated Loyalists and left with the evacuation of Boston in March 1776, first to Halifax and later to New York. En route to New York a gale separated his ship from the fleet and the Americans captured it. They imprisoned Davis from July 26, 1776, to June 4, 1777, along with his son Benjamin and a negro servant. Eventually he was released in a prisoner exchange, went to New York and at its evacuation settled at Shelburne, Nova Scotia, as a merchant. At the end of his life Davis returned to Boston where he died (Sabine, Loyalists of the American Revolution, 1:359–360).