Washington, George, 1732-1799. The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources: Volume 4
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To THE MASSACHUSETTS LEGISLATURE Cambridge, March 21, 1776.

    Gentn.: Er'e now, I was in hopes of congratulating you on the departure of the Ministerial Troops, not only from your Capital, but Country. That they still remain in the Harbour, after having been five days embarked, affords matter for speculation, and, collected as their force is now, of apprehension.


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This Circumstance, the Security of Boston by a work on Fort Hill & demolition of the Lines on the Neck, and preservation of the Stores, for Continental use, belonging to the King, by a proper search after them, rendered it indispensably necessary for me to throw some Troops into the Town immediately (It coming within the line of my duty); but notwithstanding all the precaution, which I have endeavoured to use, to restrain and limit the Intercourse between the Town and Army and Country for a few days, I greatly fear that the Small Pox will be communicated to both.

    So soon as the fleet sets Sail, my attention must be turned to another Quarter, and most of the Continental Regiments now here march'd off. It may be necessary therefore, for you, Gentn., to consider the state of your Harbour, and think of such works as shall be found necessary for the defence of it, and the Town, in case another Armed Force (which I by no means expect) should be sent hither. I shall leave three or four Regiments, as circumstances may require, for security of the Stores, and throwing up such works as shall be deemed necessary for the purposes above mentioned; and shall direct the Officer Commanding them, to receive such Instructions, in respect to the latter, as you may think proper to give.

    It has been suggested to me, that, in the Town of Boston &c., there is a good deal of property belonging to Refugees and such other Inimical persons, as from the first of the present dispute, have manifested the most unfriendly disposition to the American Cause; and, that part of this Property is in such kind of effects, as can be easily transported, concealed, or changed. I submit to you, therefore, Gentlemen, the expediency of having an Enquiry made into this Matter, before it is too late for redress, leaving the decision thereupon (after the Quantum, or Value, is ascertained, and held in state of durance) to the


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consideration of a future day. I have ordered that no violence be offered by the Soldiery, either to the Persons, or property of those people; wishing that the matter may be taken into consideration by your Honorable body, and in such a way as you shall judge most advisable. 54

[Note:The number of refugees who left Boston with the British Army was more than 1,000. The following statement is taken from the official return made to the government and now deposited in the public offices in London: "Members of the council, commissioners, customhouse officers, and other persons who had been in some official station, 182; clergy, 18; persons from the country, 105; merchants and other inhabitants of Boston, 213; farmers, traders, and mechanics, 382; total, 924." All these returned their names on their arrival in Halifax. About 200 others did not return their names.

   General Howe wrote from Halifax to Lord George Germain (April 25): "Many of the principal inhabitants of Boston under the protection of the army, having no means of subsistence here, apply to me to find them a passage to Europe, which they cannot otherwise get than at a most exorbitant rate. They have my assurance, that the first transport that can be spared shall be given up for this purpose. I am sorry to inform your Lordship, that there is an absolute necessity of issuing provisions to the whole of them, about eleven hundred, from the King's stores, without any prospect of stopping it. It must be confessed, that many, having quitted the whole of their property and estates, some of them very considerable in value, are real objects of his Majesty's most gracious attention." By the army returns the British force amounted to about 8,900, officers and men. They sailed in 78 ships and transports. -- Sparks. ]

    The inclosed came to me a few days ago, and I beg leave to recommend the purport of it to the consideration of the Court. I shall take the Liberty to add, as my opinion, that the Congress expect nothing else, than that the Field Officers of the Massachusetts Regiments, should receive the same pay as those of the other Colonies have done; and that they expected, at the time the pay was fixed, that £15 to a Colonel, £12 to Lieut. Colonel and £10 to a Major, was the actual establishment of this Government. I could wish, therefore, they were allowed it, to remove the Jealousies and uneasiness which have arisen. I am etc.