Description

    In July 1776, Connecticut purchases 1000 axes used to cut trees to build the first U.S. Naval fleet commanded by Gen. Benedict Arnold in October.

    Collection of four letters, each dated July 1776. Comprises:

    (1) William Williams Manuscript Letter Signed "Wm Williams Clerk," one page, 7.5" x 6". Lebanon, July 16, 1776. To the Pay Table at Hartford. In full, "Please to draw on the Treasurer for Three Hundred pounds, One Hundred and Fifty pounds to be paid to his Honour the Governor, and the remaining One Hundred and Fifty pounds to be paid to Titus Hosmer Esq. to be improved in purchasing One Thousand felling Axes for the use of the Northern Army on the request of the honorable Major General Schuyler & to be replaced by him." Williams was a Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Endorsed on verso by Governor Jonathan Trumbull: "Please to Send The Contents per Capt John Deshon. Jon:th Trumbull" with unsigned docket by Oliver Ellsworth: "Gov. Trumbull & Titus Hosmer Sec. Recd £150 each to supply Axes to ye Northern Army to be replacd by Gn Schuyler July 17 - 76." "Charge Gen. Schuyler" has been crossed out. John Deshon Manuscript Receipt Signed: "July 17th 1776 - Recd on Order on Treasurer in full the Contents. £300. John Deshon."

    (2) Oliver Ellsworth Autograph Letter Signed "O. Ellsworth," one page, 8.25" x 8.5". Hartford, July 17, 1776. To John Lawrence, Treasurer. In full, "Pay into the Hands of Capt. John Deshon One Hundred & Fifty pounds for his Honour Governor Trumbull & also one hundred & fifty pounds for Titus Hosmer Esqr - all to be by them improvd for the Purchase of One Thousand felling Axes for the Use of the Northern Army - pursuant to Orders the Governor & Council of Safety & charge the Colony." Out of habit, Ellsworth wrote "Colony" instead of "State." Ellsworth later served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1796-1800). On verso, John Deshon Manuscript Receipt Signed: "Recd July 17th 1776 of Treasurer Lawrence One hundred and fifty pounds for Govr Trumbull. John Deshon." On May 6, 1777, John Deshon was appointed a Commissioner of the newly created Navy Board of the Eastern department. Unsigned note: "paid Mr Chauncy Whittelsey One Hundred & fifty pounds for Titus Hosmer Esq as pr Enclosed. July 20 - 1776." John Treadwell Autograph Endorsement Signed "Audited Sepr 2, 1777/J Treadll." Treadwell, later served as Governor of Connecticut (1809-1811).

    (3) Titus Hosmer Autograph Letter Signed "Titus Hosmer," one page, 8" x 4.5". Middletown, July 20, 1776. To John Lawrence, Treasurer at Hartford. Hosmer, member of the Continental Congress in 1778 and judge of the United States Maritime Court of Appeals in 1780, presents the order "for one Hundred and Fifty pounds in my favour to be employed in purchasing Axes, which was left by Capt John Deshon please to pay the amount to the bearer Mr Chauncey Whittelsey who is appointed to purchase the Axes..." Chauncey Whittelsey Manuscript Receipt Signed "Chauncey Whittelsey" on verso. Chauncey Whittelsey (1746-1812) ran a clothing business in Middleton and was a supplier of the Continental Army.

    (4) Jonathan Trumbull Autograph Letter Signed "Jon:th Trumbull," one page, 7.5" x 5". Lebanon, July 30, 1776. To Committee of Pay Table at Hartford. In full, "Please to draw an Order on The Treasurer for the Sum of Ten pounds lawfull Money in favour of Mr. Eliphalet Hyde, to be used to bear Expenses to Skeenesborough to Carry Axes for the Use of the Army..." Eliphalet Hyde Manuscript Receipt Signed "Eliphalet Hyde" on verso.

    On June 27, 1775, Congress established the Northern Army under the command of Major General Philip Schuyler. In 1776, Congress ordered Gen. Schuyler to construct a fleet of ships intended to impede British advance southward on Lake Champlain. This first U.S. Naval fleet of 13 ships was constructed at Skenesborough, N.Y., at the southern end of Lake Champlain, during the summer of 1776. The "felling Axes" purchased by Connecticut were used to cut the trees needed to help build this fleet. Led by Gen. Benedict Arnold, the action of the fleet at the Battle of Valcour Island in Lake Champlain, October 11-13, 1776, delayed British plans for a land invasion from Canada. The Americans used the time to equip and train the Army. The next British invasion attempted was at Saratoga, N.Y., in 1777. The U.S. victory at Saratoga was a major factor in influencing France to send the French Navy across the Atlantic to help the new republic. The naval fleet built at Skenesborough was the only one to see active service in the Revolutionary War. All four documents are on laid paper, with usual folds, and are in fine condition.


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