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    "Shot & shells" from Dorchester Heights convinces General Howe to "quit the Town [Boston] with his Troops"

    Captain William King Autograph Letter Signed Twice "W: King" to Captain Truman Wheler in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Three pages, 6" x 7.75", Camp Dorchester [Massachusetts]. Captain King, also of Great Barrington, dates the first half of the letter March 4, 1776, and the second half March 9-only days before the end of the Siege of Boston. In this letter, King informs Captain Wheler (or Wheeler) about pay issues of the soldiers in his company, as well as the historic Continental Army's climactic bombardment of British strongholds from Dorchester Heights using cannon just arrived from their arduous transport from Fort Ticonderoga.

    In the first half of the letter, dated March 4, Kings writes of matters concerning his company's pay. "Desire you therefore to send me a List of the men's Names whose wages I sent to you. I have no reference to the minute men as I sent all the Money that I drew for the whole." Some soldiers were given guns which "They have lost, or sold, or swap'd or fooled them away. It will be necessary for me to have their receipts, in order to justify my making a stopage out of their pay."

    King begins the second part of his letter dated March 9 by describing rousing details of a diversionary cannon attack from Cambridge and Roxbury, designed by General Washington to cover the secret fortification of Dorchester Heights, with its commanding view over the British position. "At 11 o'clock Last Saturday Evening, the Army at Cambridge & Roxbury began a can[on]nade & Bombardment which was continued till Morning & was returned by the ministerial slaves in Boston. On Sunday Evening about Eleven the Continental Army resumed their firing, as the evening preceding. On Monday Dorchester was full of Teams. . . . At Evening a Detachment of 2500, commanded by Gen'l Thomas, marched on Dorchester Hill, erected two forts on the highest ground, & two Breastworks, the further side of the neck, & by morning had got into a . . . [illegible] defencable state. Shot & shells were sent from our lines, as the 2 nights preceding. The Enemy never suspected the design till on Tuesday Morning they beheld the hill fortified & full of Men, as their attention was taken up by the firing from Cambridge & Roxbury." Although the British force under General William Howe did not evacuate Boston for another eight days, King felt certain the bombardment signified a successful end to the eleven-month siege: "Gen'l Howe proposes to the Selectmen of Boston to quit the Town with his Troops, provided we will let him get ready & depart in peace." This letter is toned with some staining and soiling, particularly on the address panel (the fourth integral page). Some weakness and separations exist along the smoothed folds. A tape repair exists on the address panel.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2013
    17th-18th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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