Monday, May 1:
Edward Mott is in Salisbury, Connecticut, where he increases his party to 16. He notes, “we concluded it was not best to add any more, as we meant to keep our business a secret and ride through the country unarmed.” After crossing into western Massachusetts, two men are dispatched “to go to Albany in order to discover the temper of the people in that place.”
That evening, Mott’s party arrives in Pittsfield where they meet Colonel James Easton of the Massachusetts militia, and the attorney John Brown. Although Brown had recommended the seizure of Fort Ticonderoga to Samuel Adams and John Hancock, he has not contributed to the planning. Easton and Brown warn that there is “a great scarcity of provisions in the Grants, and as the people were generally poor, it would be difficult to get a sufficient number of men there.” Easton and Brown convince Mott that they should be allowed to recruit local militia and accompany the expedition. Easton then gathers 36 men from his regiment.
Tuesday, May 2:
Mott and Easton set out, ahead of the Massachusetts militia, for the New Hampshire grants. Some of the Connecticut men now further ahead send back a rider back with news that the British were “reinforced at Ticonderoga, and were repairing the garrison, and were every way on their guard.” This information comes from a man who claimed to have recently been at the fort and who warned “it was best for us to dismiss the men we had raised, and proceed no further, as we should not succeed.” Alarmed, Mott questioned the rider. “I asked who the man was, where he belonged, and where he was going," but the rider has no answers. Mott therefore “ordered that the men should not be dismissed but that we would proceed.”
The Albany Committee of Correspondence meets with the two men Mott dispatched on May 1. The committee records that they were “sent in consequence of a resolution of their provincial council [not true] founded on information that the garrison at Ticonderoga was furnished with several pieces of brass cannon or ordnance and many fine stand of arms, a quantity of gun powder and other military stores—They say that of the council that gave them the orders and directions was composed Messrs. [John] Hancock, [Samuel] Adams, [Robert Treat] Paine and others.” The two men claimed “their instructions were in writing but they have destroyed them for fear of discovery, and upon suspicions that we might be unfriendly to their project.” The committee notes “their determination in attempting this enterprise [even] should we discourage it.”
The Albany committee privately assures the two men they support their actions, but that they cannot accede to their request for help. The committee complains of “the many applications [for help] that have been and are daily made from the eastward" [i.e., New England]. “We are very scant of powder etc…. and the city is in a very defenseless situation, not a piece of artillery in it.” However, they also decline to provide provisions, which is within their means. The committee does not want to be held responsible for bringing New York into the war.
In Massachusetts, Joseph Warren is having second thoughts about having deferred to New York on a proposal to lead an expedition against Fort Ticonderoga. Warren meets with Artemas Ward about the proposed expedition, and evidently comes away deciding that immediate action should be taken. When the Committee of Safety meets later in the day, Benedict Arnold is given the rank of colonel and “appointed, to a secret service.” The committee votes him “one hundred pounds, in cash; and also order two hundred pounds of gunpowder, two hundred weight of lead balls, and one thousand flints, and also ten horses.”
Joseph Warren also takes time to respond to Governor Trumbull’s letter of April 28 to General Gage. Although the letter is unlikely to produce a reconciliation, Warren leaves no doubt where Massachusetts stands. He expresses “uneasiness on account of one paragraph in your letter, in which a cessation of hostilities is proposed. We fear that our brethren of Connecticut are not even yet convinced of the cruel designs of administration [i.e., the British government] against America, nor thoroughly sensible of the miseries to which General Gage’s army have reduced this wretched colony… Our people have been barbarously murdered by an insidious enemy, who under cover of the night have marched into the heart of the country, spreading destruction with fire and sword. No business but that of war is either done or thought of in this colony; no agreement or compact with General Gage will in the least alleviate our distress, as no confidence can possibly be placed in any assurances he can give to a people whom he has first deceived in the matter of taking possession of and fortifying the town of Boston, and whom he has suffered his army to attack in the most inhuman and treacherous manner. Our only relief now must arise from driving General Gage with his troops out of the country…”
Wednesday, May 3:
General Gage composes a long and dignified response to Governor Trumbull, in which he presents Britain’s view of events, but offers no concessions. There will be no rapprochement.
The governor of Rhode Island remains loyal to the British crown, and he similarly tries to dissuade his colony from the path to war. Writing to the Assembly, he pleads that “The prosperity and happiness of this colony is founded on its connection with Great Britain, ‘for if once we are separated, where shall we find another Britain to supply our loss? Torn from the body to which we are united by religion, liberty, laws, and commerce, we must bleed at every vein.’” He warns of “that ruin and destruction which, in my opinion, some of the orders of the late Assembly must inevitably involve them in, if they are not speedily repealed; for, besides the fatal, consequences of levying war against the King, the immense load of debt that will be incurred… will be insupportable, and must unavoidably bring on universal bankruptcy throughout this colony.”
The Rhode Island Assembly, far from backing down, names the officers that will lead its new army. Nathanael Greene will head the force. Ezra Stiles records in his diary that “The day has been melancholy.” “Governor Wanton affects to be ill and stays at home here in Newport; and so do all or most of the deputies of this [town]… intimidated by the threats of the Men o’ War [i.e., British ships]… However the [Newport] Light Infantry above 40 of them appeared in their uniform, made a very fine appearance, and marched all over the town; and in the afternoon a considerable large body of people appeared at the courthouse and on the parade.”
The province of New York is also steadily slipping out of British control. From New York City, Lieutenant-Governor Cadwallader Colden sends a litany of bad news to William Legge, Secretary of State for the Colonies: “The accounts which I have now to give will almost entirely destroy the expectations you have had reason to entertain of the conduct which this province would pursue… The certainty of losing all the debts due from the other colonies, which are very considerable, and every other argument of private interest that could influence the merchants or anyone, was industriously circulated. The minds of the people in the city were kept in constant agitation by riots and attempts to prevent the transports from loading here with stores, provisions etc. for the army… Several incidents combined to depress all legal authority and… which seemed to vanquish every thought of resistance to popular rage. In this unfortunate situation of the city the first accounts of an action between the King’s troops and people near Boston [i.e., Lexington and Concord] was published with horrid and aggravating circumstances. The people were assembled and that scene of disorder and violence begun which has entirely prostrated the powers of government and produced an association by which this province has solemnly united with the others in resisting the Acts of Parliament.”
In Connecticut, Silas Deane sets off for Philadelphia. The second Continental Congress will convene in one week.