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1775 Printing at Harvard College: Accounts of Battles of Lexington and Concord; Report of British “Black List” of Patriot “Rebels to Execute”; PA. & N.Y. Associations Support Mass.
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Just weeks after “the shot heard ’round the world,” this American newspaper from Cambridge published excerpts from several intercepted British soldiers’ letters about their experiences in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, as well as much other revolutionary content.

some of the Peasants fired on us…. they did not fight us like a regular Army, only like Savages, behind Trees and Stone Walls, and out of the Woods and Houses…. this extensive Continent is all in Arms against us: These people are very numerous, and full as bad as the Indians for scalping and cutting the dead Men’s Ears and Noses off, and those they get alive....

[REVOLUTIONARY WAR]. Newspaper. The New-England Chronicle, or the Essex Gazette, May 2-12, 1775 (Vol. 8, No. 354). Cambridge, Harvard College: Samuel Hall and Ebenezer Hall. 4 pp., 10 x 15½ in.

Inventory #26145       Price: $6,800

This issue starts with an extensive report of a speech in Parliament by George Johnstone, former Royal Governor of West Florida from 1763 to 1767, in support of conciliatory actions toward the American colonies and warning “that the Americans are unanimous against this power of Taxation, as lodged in the British Parliament” (p1/c1-p2/c1). It then moves on to important reports and correspondence following the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Copy of a Letter to his Excellency General Gagefrom the Hon. Jonathan Trumbull, Esq… Governor of Connecticut....Important letters, printed in full, between the (Patriot) Governor of Connecticut and the Royal Military Governor of Massachusetts.  Excerpts:

Jonathan Trumbull, April 28, 1775: “You will not therefore be surprised that your first arrival at Boston, with a body of his Majesty’s troops, for the declared purpose of carrying into execution certain acts of parliament, which, in their apprehension, were unconstitutional and oppressive, should have given the good people of this colony a very just and general alarm; your subsequent proceedings in fortifying the town of Boston, and other military preparations, greatly increased their apprehensions for the safety of their friends and brethren; they could not be unconcerned spectators of their sufferings in that which they esteemed the common cause of this country; but the late hostile and secret inroads into the heart of the country, and the violences they have committed, have driven them almost into a state of desperation. They feel now not only for their friends, but for themselves, and their dearest interests & connections.” (p2/c1)

Thomas Gage, May 3, 1775: “The intelligence you seem to have received, relative to the late excursion of a body of troops into the country, is altogether injurious and contrary to the true state of facts; the troops disclaim, with indignation, the barbarous outrages of which they are accused, so contrary to their known humanity. I have taken the greatest pains to discover if any were committed, and have found examples of their tenderness both to the young and the old, but no vestige of cruelty or barbarity: It is very possible that in firing into houses, from whence they were fired upon, that old people, women or children, may have suffered, but if any such thing has happened it was in their defence, and undesigned.

When the resolves of the Provincial Congress breathed nothing but war, when those two great and essential prerogatives of the King, the levying of troops, and disposing of the public monies, were wrested from him; and when magazines were forming by an assembly of men… for the declared purpose of levying war against the King, you must acknowledge it was my duty, as it was the dictate of humanity to prevent, if possible, the calamities of civil war, by destroying such magazines. This, and this alone, I attempted.... The leaders here have taken pains to prevent any account of this affair getting abroad, but such as they have thought proper to publish themselves; and to that end the post has been stopped, the mails broke open, and letters taken out; and by these means the most injurious and inflammatory accounts have been spread throughout the continent, which has served to deceive and inflame the minds of the people.” (p2/c2)

Lexington and Concord News from “intercepted Letters of the [British]Soldiery in Bostonthat show British efforts “to have it thought that the Provincials began the Fire, and behaved with savage Barbarity during the Action.

I am well, all but a Wound I received through the Leg by a Ball from one of the Bostonians. At the Time I wrote you from Quebec, I had the strongest Assurance of going Home, but the laying of Tax on the New-England People caused us to be ordered for Boston, where we remained in Peace with the Inhabitants, till, on the Night of the 18th of April, twenty one Companies of Grenadiers and Light-Infantry were ordered into the Country about 18 miles; where between 4 and 5 o’clock in the Morning, we met an incredible Number of People of the Country in Arms against us. Col. Smyth of the 10th Regiment ordered us to rush on them with our Bayonets fixed; at which time some of the Peasants fired on us, and our Men returning the Fire, the Engagement began; they did not fight us like a regular Army, only like Savages, behind Trees and Stone Walls, and out of the Woods and Houses, where in the latter we killed Numbers of them, as well as in the Woods and Fields. The Engagement began between 4 and 5 in the Morning and lasted till 8 at Night. I can’t be sure when you'll get another Letter from me, as this extensive Continent is all in Arms against us: These people are very numerous, and full as bad as the Indians for scalping and cutting the dead Men’s Ears and Noses off, and those they get alive, that are wounded and can’t get off the Ground.” (p2/c2-3)

The Grenadiers and Light Infantry marched for Concord, where were Powder and Ball, Arms, and Cannon mounted on Carriages; but before we could destroy them all, we were fired on by the Country, who are not brought up in our military Way as ourselves, were surrounded always in the Woods; the Firing was very hot on both Sides.... We were obliged to retreat to Boston again, over Charles River, our Ammunition being all fired away. We had 150 wounded and killed, and some taken Prisoners; we were forced to leave some behind, who were wounded.... I had my Hat shot off my Head 3 Times, 2 Balls through my Coat, and carried away my Bayonet by my Side, and near being killed. The People of Boston are in great Trouble, for G. Gage will not let the Town’s People go out.” (p2/c3)

As soon as we came up we fired the Cannon, which brought them from behind the Trees, for we did not fight as you did in Germany, for we could not see above 10 in a Body, for they were behind Trees and Walls, and fired at us, and then loaded on their Bellies. We had but 36 Rounds, which obliged us to go Home that Night, and as we came along they got before us and fired at us out of the Houses and killed and wounded a great many of us, but we levelled their Houses as we came along. It was thought there were about 6000 at first, and at Night double that Number. The King’s Troops lost in killed and wounded 150, and the Americans 500 Men, Women and Children, for there was a Number of Women and Children burnt in their Houses.... We have been busy in fortifying the Town ever since we engaged, and in a few Days we expect a good many more Troops from England, and then we shall surely burn the whole Country before us, if they don’t submit, which I don’t imagine they will do, for they are an obstinate Set of People.” (p2/c3)

The Rebels were monstrous numerous, and surrounded us on every Side, when they come up we gave them a smart Fire, but they never would engage us properly.... I received a Wound in my Head. The Troops are in Boston, and surrounded on the Land Side by the Rebels, who are very numerous, and fully determined to lose their Lives and Fortunes, rather than be taxed by England.” (p2/c3)

The 19th of April the Engagement happened, and my Husband was wounded and taken Prisoner, but they use him well, and I am striving to get to him.... I hear my Husband’s Leg is broke, and my Heart is almost broke.” (p2/c3)

Historical Background – Lexington and Concord
General Thomas Gage was the military governor of Massachusetts and commander-in-chief of British troops in North America, with approximately 3,000 soldiers garrisoned in Boston, supported by the British navy. In the spring of 1775, through rapid strikes from Boston, he sought to destroy supplies stockpiled by Patriot militias.

On the night of April 18, “Grenadiers and Light infantry marched for Concord,” approximately 16 miles northwest of Boston, “where were Powder and Ball, Arms, and Cannon mounted on Carriages.” Meanwhile, Paul Revere and William Dawes left Boston to warn Patriot leaders in Lexington of the British expedition. While traveling further west, accompanied by Samuel Prescott, to warn Patriots in Concord, Revere and Dawes were stopped by a British patrol that arrested Revere. Dawes fled back to Lexington, and Prescott escaped to continue on to Concord.

At sunrise on April 19, the advanced British forces “met an incredible Number of People of the Country in arms against” them on Lexington Common. Neither side was prepared to engage, but “Col. Smyth of the 10t Regiment ordered us to rush on them with our Bayonets fixed; at which time the Peasants fired on us, and our Men returning the Fire, the Engagement began; they did not fight us like a regular Army, only like Savages, behind Trees and Stone Walls, and out of the Woods and Houses....” The conflict left eight Lexington men dead and ten wounded before the British forces continued on to Concord. There, the militiamen of Concord and Lincoln were soon reinforced by minutemen that streamed in from towns further west. The British forces found and disabled three cannon and threw 550 pounds of musket balls into the millpond. Patriot militia engaged a smaller detachment of British regulars at the North Bridge over the Concord River, driving them back toward the center of town, where the British soldiers completed their search for military supplies, ate lunch, and began their march back to Boston.

During that march, Patriot militia repeatedly ambushed the column. The British were running out of ammunition by the time their reinforcements reached Lexington, around 2 p.m. After a brief rest, they resumed their march back to Boston, facing continuing attack from the colonial militia. By sundown, when the British reached the safety of Charlestown, they had lost 300 men killed, wounded, and missing. Colonial losses totaled fewer than 100 men. By the next morning, more than 15,000 colonial militia had arrived to surround the British, beginning the Siege of Boston, which lasted for nearly a year before the British were forced to evacuate in mid-March, 1776.

Historical Background – Seeds of American Colonial Unification
Convening in Philadelphia in September and October 1774, the First Continental Congress met to consider a unified response to the Intolerable Acts, which the British Parliament had passed to punish the Province of Massachusetts Bay for the Boston Tea Party and other defiant acts. Delegates to the Congress agreed to boycott British goods beginning on December 1, 1774, and threatened to boycott the West Indies if those islands did not agree to non-importation of British goods. Congress also declared that if the Intolerable Acts were not repealed by September 10, 1775, the colonies would cease exports to Britain. They also called for a second meeting the following spring. In February 1775, both houses of Parliament declared in an address to King George III that a state of rebellion existed in Massachusetts.

The Second Continental Congress convened on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with delegates from twelve of the thirteen colonies present; Georgia’s delegates arrived in mid-July. On June 14, the Congress created the Continental Army out of militia units besieging the British army in Boston and appointed George Washington to command it.

Additional Content
News that the Connecticut General Assembly passed an act for raising and paying 6,000 men “for the defence of the Colony” (p2/c3);

News that the governor of North Carolina had addressed the Assembly “in a high flying, abusive, anti-American speech, in which he speaks hard things of all the Colonies, Congresses, Committees and People on this continent (except those of his own stamp,) and begs of his Assembly not to approve of sending Delegates to the [Second Continental]Congress in May. – To which the Assembly returned a truly noble answer....”(p3/c1);

The Philadelphia Association: “Whereas it appears from authentic Accounts received from England, that it is the Design of the present Ministry, to enforce the late unjust and cruel Acts of Parliament complained of in the most legal [loyal] and dutiful Manner by the CONGRESS; and, whereas an additional Number of Troops, with a Fleet, have been ordered for AMERICA, to assist the Troops now in BOSTON in the Execution of the said Acts: We, the Subscribers, agree, That we will ASSOCIATE for the Purpose of learning the Military Exercise, and for defending our PROPERTY [, LIBERTIES,][1]and LIVES against all Attempts to deprive us of them.” (p3/c1) Like colonists in other cities and areas, Philadelphians agreed to work collectively to defend their rights and property against British tyranny.

The New-York Association, in News from New York, May 4:
The whole city and province are subscribing an association, forming companies, learning the military exercise, and taking every method to defend our rights. The like spirit prevails in the province of New-Jersey, where a large and well disciplined militia are now fit for action. All the other C[o]lonies, we hear, are equally well prepared.

The following Association was set on foot here last Saturday, and has been transmitted for signing, to all the counties in the province, and signed by most of the men of this city.

“‘PERSUADED that the salvation of the rights and liberties of America, depend, under God, on the firm union of its inhabitants, in a vigorous prosecution of the measures necessary for its safety; and convinced of the necessity of preventing the anarchy and confusion which attend a dissolution of the powers of government; WE, the Freemen, Freeholders and Inhabitants of the city and county of New-York, being greatly alarmed at the avowed design of the ministry to raise a revenue in America, and shocked by the bloody scene now acting in the Massachusetts-Bay, DO, in the most solemn manner, resolve never to become slaves; and do associate under all the ties of religion, honor, and love to our country, to adopt, and endeavour to carry into execution, whatever measures may be recommended by the Continental Congress, or resolved upon by our Provincial Convention, for the purpose of preserving our constitution, and opposing the execution of the several arbitrary and oppressive acts of the British Parliament, until a reconciliation between Great-Britain and America, on constitutional principles, (which we most ardently desire) can be obtained; –and that we will, in all things, follow the advice of our general committee respecting the purposes aforesaid, the preservation of peace and good order, and the safety of individuals, and private property. “‘Dated in New-York, April and May, 1775.’” (p3/c1-2)

Report declaring that General Gage had received a “black list” of “rebels” to execute:
From unquestionable authority I learn, that about a fortnight ago, dispatches were sent from hence by a sloop of war to General Gage, containing, among other things, a royal proclamation, declaring the inhabitants of Massachusetts-Bay, and some others in different colonies, actual rebels; with a blank commission to try and execute such of them as he can get hold of;...with this is sent a list of names to be inserted in the commission as he may judge expedient. I do not know them all, but Messrs. Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Payne, and John Hancock, of Massachusetts-Bay;...John Dickinson, of Philadelphia; Peyton Randolph, of Virginia; and Henry Middleton, of South-Carolina, are particularly named, with many others.... This black list, the General will, no doubt, keep to himself,... and unfold it gradually, as he finds it convenient.” (p3/c2).

In Virginia, Richard Henry Lee informed Colonel Landon Carter that the list of “proscribed Americans” included thirty-two names, including some Virginians.[2]

Additional news items, including one that Connecticut had instituted an Embargo against the export of many foodstuffs; “We hear that 4000 Troops will be raised in Pennsylvania, for the Preservation of American Liberties.”; “The People of New-York have removed 40 Pieces of Cannon to King’s Bridge, in order to fortify that important Pass.”; and the last note in this section ironically captures a major oversight:“General Gage has fortified every considerable Eminence in Boston.” (p3/c3)From the beginning of the American siege of Boston in April 1775 until March 1776, neither side occupied Dorchester Heights, south of the city, which had commanding views of Boston and its outer harbor. A British attempt to fortify heights around the city led to the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775, in which the British occupied the hill but suffered great losses. Finally, when cannon the Americans had captured at Fort Ticonderoga arrived in February 1776, General Washington decided to occupy Dorchester Heights. On the night of March 4, American forces moved cannon to the Heights, placing both the British fleet and the British troops in Boston at risk. In response, British General William Howe evacuated the city on March 17.

Publishers S & E Hall note that “At the Desire of many respectable Gentlemen, Members of the Honourable Provincial Congress, we have removed our Printing-Office from Salem to this Place [Harvard College in Cambridge];where we shall exert our best Endeavours in continuing to conduct the Business in general, and this Paper in particular, in such a Manner as will best promote the public Good, especially in this important Crisis—when the Property, the Lives, and (what is infinitely more valuable) the LIBERTY, of the good People of this Country, are in Danger of being torn from them by the cruel Hands of arbitrary Power.” (p3/c3);

An important resolution by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, sitting in Watertown, detailing the planned resettlement of nearly 5,000 inhabitants from British-occupied Boston to surrounding towns (p4/c1-3); and a variety of notices and advertisements.

The New-England Chronicle, or, the Essex Gazette was published in Cambridge, Massachusetts from May 1775 to March 1776, as the successor to the Essex Gazette (1768-1775), published in Salem. Harvard College’s Massachusetts Hall, Harvard Hall, Hollis Hall, and Holden Chapel housed approximately 1,600 Colonial soldiers, while more were in temporary shelters in the Yard. The Provincial Congress assigned a room in the three-story Stoughton Hall for Samuel Hall (1740-1807) and Ebenezer Hall (1749-1776) to publish the newspaper. When Boston was once again in Patriot hands, Samuel Hall published the newspaper there from April to June 1776, as the New-England Chronicle. Edward Powars and Nathaniel Willis purchased it in June 1776, and soon renamed it the Independent Chronicle.

Condition: Some browning and soiling; a few tiny losses at intersecting folds; disbound; very good. Name of John Fisher, Esq., presumably the subscriber, is struck; signed by Cyrus Smith, presumably the next early owner.



[1]“LIBERTIES” appeared here in several printings of the Philadelphia Association and appeared in other Associations throughout Pennsylvania.

[2]Richard Henry Lee to Colonel Landon Carter, April 24, 1775, William Bell Clark, ed., Naval Documents of the American Revolution, 13 vols. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1964-2019), 1:215-17.


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