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Two Days Before Christmas, 26 Soldiers in Leighton’s Company Receive Money to Purchase Coats (SOLD)
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[SIEGE OF BOSTON]. Manuscript Document Signed by 26 soldiers. Materiel Receipt from Samuel Leighton. Cambridge, Mass., December 23, 1775, 1 p.

Inventory #20632.14       SOLD — please inquire about other items

William Cole

Enoch Meloon

Frederick Peverly

John Ferguson

Josiah Paul

Thomas Savage

Henry Foss

Ebenezer Hammond

Tobias Leighton

John Frost Junr

John Johnson

Tobias Hanscom

Daniel Green

John Stanley

Stephen Ferguson

Daniel Adams

John Whitelock

James Smart

Pelletiah Witham

John Chick

John Goold

William Nutter

Thomas Mehany

Simon Frost

Moses Witham Juner

Stephen Nason

Historical Background

In the wake of the April 19, 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord, Joseph Warren, chairman of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, sent out an urgent call to arms. Among the first to respond was Samuel Leighton, a prosperous, 35-year old farmer from the region then known as Piscataqua, (the watershed centered around Great Bay and its rivers) near Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine. (Maine was part of Massachusetts at the time.) Leighton was commissioned as a captain and empowered to enlist a company of men “for the protection of American Liberty.” Leighton and his men joined the 30th Regiment commanded by Colonel James Scamman (or Scammon) and promptly marched south to Cambridge. There, they joined a growing cadre of Minutemen and militiamen sent to assist beleaguered Boston. Six months later they witnessed the end of the siege as the British sailed away, to regroup in Canada.

Biographies of Leighton frequently state that he fought at Bunker Hill, but the military record suggests that he and his men missed the June 17, 1775, battle. Due to a miscommunication, the 30th Regiment ended up on Cobble Hill at Lechmere’s Point, instead of at the action on Breed’s Hill. The regiment’s absence led to a court-martial of Colonel Scamman the next month, although he was acquitted on all charges. Drummer Henry Foss, testified that,

as we marched down Cambridge road, we met two men on horseback, who told us the regulars were landing at Lechmere-Point. We then marched very fast, towards the point where we met Gen. Whitcomb, who told Col. Scammans to go round to the hill, which hill I understood to mean the little round hill, we marched to. I was within ten feet of General Whitcomb, when these orders were given.

On July 3, 1775, George Washington arrived to take command of Continental forces. He faced the daunting task of converting the ill-trained troops into an army while at the same time trying to drive the British out of Boston. As the siege dragged on through the fall, Washington sent Henry Knox on a daring mission to retrieve captured cannon from Ticonderoga. When Knox returned with the artillery, Washington and the American army silently fortified Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston, on the night of March 4, 1776. The British awoke to find themselves ringed by cannon. Having to choose between attacking the heavily-fortified positions or evacuate, they chose the latter, retreating to their ships on March 17 and sailing from Boston on March 27.

Selected References

Goold, Nathan. History of Col. James Scamman’s Thirtieth Regiment of Foot (Portland, Maine: Thurston Print, 1899)

Jordan, Tristram Frost and Usher Parsons. Leighton Genealogy: An account of the descendants of Capt. William Leighton of Kittery, Maine (J. Munsell’s Sons, 1885)

Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution, Vols. I-XVII (Boston, 1896)

Revolutionary War service records, www.footnote.com