Monday, November 23, 2009

November 22, 1774

Extract of a Letter Received in London from a Gentleman in the British Army dated Boston, November 22, 1774, "The inhabitants of this Colony retain the religious and civil principles brought over by their forefathers in the reign of Charles the First, and are at least a hundred years behindhand with the People of England in every refinement. With the most austere show of devotion, they are void of every principle of Religion or common honesty, and reckoned the most arrant cheats and hypocrites upon the whole Continent of America."

The British officer (as this "gentleman" likely was) speculated, "As to what you hear of their taking arms to resist the force of England, it is mere bullying, and will go no farther than words; whenever it comes to blows, he that can run fastest will think himself best off: believe me, any two Regiments here ought to be decimated if they did not beat, in the field, the whole force of the Massachusetts Province; for though they are numerous, they are but a mere mob, without order or discipline, and very awkward at handling their Arms."

The officer's impressions must have been common even after the sad and shocking events at Lexington and Concord (April 19, 1775) for in May 1775, Joseph Barrell wrote, "O my Dear Sir, the Yankees will fight; they are averse to begin; but when they once draw the Sword, they throw away the Scabbard...& Depend upon it they will prove that they have a true sense of that freedom wch. the God of nature gave & by whose Assistance they will Defend it."

Please consult Joseph Barrell to Unknown, Salem, Massachusetts, 24 May 1775, Correspondence and Journals of Samuel Blachley Webb: Volume 1: 1772-1777 (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Wichersham Press, 1893), 60.
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