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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

April 18. 1777
We are quite idle each day now. There are no odd jobs for us to apply ourselves to on board this prison ship as the British crew is nearly at its full compliment. My mind wanders and floats as does this ship at its mooring with the ebb and flow of the tides.

Today I was reminded of our raid on Fort William and Mary at Newcastle Island in December of ‘74. On the evening of the twelfth of December Paul Revere arrived in Portsmouth with news that the British planned to send a garrison of British regulars to the fort and would possibly remove the powder, cannons and stands of muskets stored there for fear they would be turned on the British at some point in the future. The Portsmouth Committee raised the alarm and close to 400 of us marched on the fort on December 14th and subdued the Provincial soldiers at guard there. The Provincials were grossly outnumbered but they did put up a fight by firing at us with muskets and three cannon. We took away 100 barrels of powder, kegs of bullets and flints and loaded them onto gundalows and moved upriver. It was very cold and ice in the river made this transport difficult. We also hauled down the British flag that flew over the fort. Our force retreated that night to the local taverns in Portsmouth. As the evening wore on there was a general call to return to the fort again the next day to take the cannons. By 10 PM of the 15th about one thousand local men were gathered and marched again on the fort to take away 70 heavy guns. Nearly the entire night was required to load the cannon into gundalows and carry them up the Piscataqua River. At the request of Governor Wentworth the British regular marines arrived from Boston on the HMS Canceaux on the 17th and the HMS Scarborough on the 19th, but too late. This dampened our spirits and our force gradually disappeared but not before hiding the powder and cannons. For the people of Portsmouth the war started in December of ’74.

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