Caleb Haskell.

Caleb Haskell's diary. May 5, 1775-May 30, 1776; A revolutionary soldier's record before Boston and with Arnold's Quebec expedition; online

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Online LibraryCaleb HaskellCaleb Haskell's diary. May 5, 1775-May 30, 1776; A revolutionary soldier's record before Boston and with Arnold's Quebec expedition; → online text (page 1 of 4)
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Caleb Haskell s Diary

May 5, 1775 May 30, 1776


Edited, With Notes, by Lothrop Withington









HE MEN who make history rarely keep diaries. When
such men do leave behind jottings of personal experiences,
these are generally but meagre records of the achievements of
the actors in the scenes referred to but not described. It
is left to the men of study to perpetuate the deeds of the men of action.
When, however, we do get at first hand historic notes, we should read
them not as the carefully considered and finely embellished product of
the professional historian, but as the skeleton plot of a noble drama
which our imagination must people with its life and bustle. Who can
read a play with warmth and enthusiasm unless he sees the characters
before him with all their impassioned action and utterance, the
villain with his polished sneer, the lover with his sunken eye, and the
heroine with her dangerous glance more perilous than twenty swords?
The soldier who struggled through the forests of the upper Kenne-
bec, who lived upon the scanty remnants of a canine carcass, who
lay at death s door within a pest-house, who stood in the besieging
trenches amid the snows of a Canadian winter, and did the bidding
of such a driving master as Benedict Arnold, hurrying from place
to place, had little time for graphic story-telling on the line of march
and field of combat. If his scanty notes, put down at hurried in
tervals, for his own use and not to instruct the world, read in their
bare outline like entries in an almanac, it is because they are not
filled in with the reader s light of history and tradition. The follow
ing is a plain man s mention of events which he partook in and where
the partakers have been raised to the rank of heroes.

[The Diary is reprinted from the Newburyport Herald. The
copy used was one made several years since by Mr. GEORGE INNIS
and in the possession of Mr. ISAAC WARREN LITTLE, to both of whom
the editor is greatly indebted. The original appears to be a sort of
vanishing jack-o -lantern. When JOSHUA COFFIN wanted it for his
History of Newbury it was not to be found, and no one seems to
know of its whereabouts at the present time. When the copy which
has been here used was made, the original was in possession of the
late MOSES PETTINGELL, Esq., son-in-law of the soldier who wrote it.]

Caleb Haskell s Diary.

5th, 1775. At Newburyport, enlisted in the American
army under the command of Capt. Ezra Lunt,

May 8th, Monday. This morning our company was
called together. We chose our sergeants and corporals.
In the afternoon Mr. Parsons gave us a discourse suitable to the
occasion from Judges 7th and 20th.

May 9th, Tuesday. We are getting in readiness to march to

May 10th, Wednesday. This morning we were paraded at
town house. After attending prayers at Mr. Gary s meeting-house
and taking leave of our friends, we set out on our march. We took
refreshments at Rowley, at night we put up at Ipswich.

May llth, Thursday. Public Fast! We set out at five o clock
in the morning, took breakfast at Beverly, attended public worship
in the forenoon. Mr. Hitchcock gave us a suitable discourse from
Psalms 56th and 3d. ; set out at noon; took refreshments in Dan vers;
put up at night in Lynn.

May 12th, Friday. Set out in the morning; took our break
fast in Mystick. We arrived at Cambridge at half after 11 o clock;
took our quarters at Bolin s (a Tory) house.

May 13th, Saturday. This morning we were ordered on guard
at Inman s Point. In the afternoon had orders to hold ourselves
in readiness to meet the enemy; had an alarm; the larger part of
our army marched down to Charlestown; the alarm proved false.

May 14th, Sunday. In the morning were relieved from guard.
In the afternoon attended public worship in the meeting-house;
heard Mr. Noble from Exodus 32 chap. 7 to 12th verses.

May 15th, Monday. In the forenoon I went to Charlestown;
were called together on the common in the afternoon; after attending
public prayers were dismissed.



May 16th, Tuesday. This morning, between one and two
o clock, we were alarmed, proceeded to our alarm post immediate
ly; the alarm proved false.

May 17th, Wednesday. A pleasant morning; the whole army
was paraded in the afternoon on the Common ; in the evening about
nine o clock we espied a large fire in Boston.

May 18th, Thursday. Warm weather; no remark today.

May 19th, Friday. We removed from Bolin s to Wiggles-
worth s.

May 20th, Saturday. I went to Watertown to see some cannon
and mortars that were brought in; this afternoon there was a man
whipped and drummed out of the army for stealing.

May 21st, Sunday. Attended public worship, heard Dr. Lang-
don, in the forenoon from Isaiah 26: 11; in the afternoon from
Chronicles 15: 14.

May 22nd, Monday. Today a party of the enemy came out
and landed on Grape Island, near Weymouth, in order to take some
cattle off the island. Our people at Roxbury discovered them.
A number went over on the island and beat them off without the loss
of a single man.

Set fire to a barn and destroyed it with the hay, and brought the
cattle off at night. I went on guard at Lechmere s Point.

May 23d, Tuesday. Came off guard this morning. Were
paraded on the Common in the afternoon. Heard prayers.

May 24th, Wednesday. All still in the camp. No remarks.

May 25th, Thursday. Attended prayers night and morning.
Our army in high spirits.

May 26th, Friday. Fine weather. This evening about three
hundred of our people went down to Chelsea to prevent the enemy
from taking the cattle off from Noddle s Island.

May 27th, Saturday . Today, a party of the Massachusetts
and New Hampshire forces, about six hundred, went over to Noddle s
Island to bring off some cattle. The enemy landed on the island, and



pursued our men till they got back to Hog Island, at which time an
armed schooner belonging to the enemy came to their assistance, and
to prevent our people from leaving Hog Island which she could not
effect. Our people put a heavy fire of small arms upon the barges.
Captain Foster came with two field pieces and began to play upon
the schooner, which soon obliged them to quit her. She then caught
on Winnisimot ferryways. Our people set fire to her and burned
her to the water. We saved all that was not burned. We took four
pieces of cannon, a number of swivels and some clothing, and brought
all the cattle off from both islands. In the engagement we had
not one killed, and but three wounded, and those not mortally.

May 28th, Sunday. This morning, held ourselves in readiness
to assist our men fighting at Chelsea, which detained us from pub
lic worship. In the afternoon heard Dr. Langdon, from John 3:

May 29th, Monday. This day, a quantity of the spoil taken
at Chelsea was brought to Cambridge. In the evening saw a large
fire, supposed to be in Boston. Had a report that one thousand
men would come out; held ourselves in readiness to meet them.

May 30th, Tuesday. This day, the remainder of the cattle
taken from off the island were brought to Cambridge.

May 31st, Wednesday. This day the new Provincial Congress
met at \Vatertown, before whom the Rev. Dr. Langdon preached a
sermon well adapted to the occasion from Isaiah 1:26. Joseph
Warren, Esq., was chosen president, and Mr. Samuel Freeman,

June 1st, Thursday. Nothing remarkable today.

June 2nd, Friday. This morning a man belonging to Haverhill
hung himself in a barn. A number of men with artillery went about
their business private.

June 3rd, Saturday. This morning our men at Chelsea took a
barge with two men near Deer Island; took two men and four
hundred sheep, and a number of cattle from off the island. In the
afternoon the army were all drawn up on the Common, when two



men were whipped, and one drummed out for stealing. In the
evening the barge that was taken was brought to Cambridge on

June 4th, Sunday. This morning attended public worship at
Cambridge; heard Mr. Cleaveland of Cape Ann, from Isaiah 1st., 21,
22 and 23. In the afternoon went to Watertown; heard Mr. Wood
ward of Weston, from Psalm 126, 5.

June 5th, Monday. Nothing remarkable today.

June 6th, Tuesday. Today General Putnam went down to
Charlestown, and exchanged six prisoners with General Gage, and
brought our men to Cambridge.

June 7th, Wednesday. This morning I rode down to Rox-
bury; went down to the lower sentinel, attended prayers on the
Common in the evening.

June 8th, Thursday. A very dry season. This morning a bad
woman was taken up in the camp, in the afternoon was doused in the
river, and drummed out of town.

June 9th, Friday. This morning our regiment was paraded.
We had an alarm; heard that 1400 of the enemy were landed at
Noddle s Island.

June 10th, Saturday. Today our people at Chelsea went over
to Noddle s Island, set fire to a building improved by the enemy for
a store, and laid it in ashes. Those that lay near by fired on them
several times, but did no damage. There is now no building left

June llth, Sunday. This morning was on guard. In the after
noon went to Watertown. Heard a sermon from Luke 12, 20.

June 12th, Monday. Nothing remarkable today.

June 13th, Tuesday. Dry, warm weather. In the evening
had a refreshing shower.

June 14th, Wednesday. Today a number of trumpets arrived
from Boston, with a reinforcement of horse and foot; were ordered in
readiness for a battle.



June 15th, Thursday. Making all preparations for a battle.

June 16th, Friday. This morning I went on guard. In the
evening a party were ordered to Bunker s Hill in Charlestown to

June 17th, Saturday. This day begins with the noise of cannon
from the ships firing on our men entrenching on Bunker s Hill. The
firing continues all the fore part of the day; but one man killed.
We were alarmed at Cambridge; heard that the enemy were landing
in Charlestown. The army set out. We found the town in flames,
and the Regulars ascending the hill; the balls flying almost as thick
as hailstones from the ships and floating batteries, and Corps Hill
and Beacon Hill in Boston, and the ground covered with the wounded
and dead. Our people stood the fire some time, until the enemy
had almost surrounded us and cut off our retreat. We were obliged
to quit the ground and retreat as fast as possible. In this engage
ment we lost the ground and the heroic General Warren; we had
138 killed and 292 wounded. The loss on the enemy s side were 92
commissioners,* 102 sergeants, 100 corporals, and 700 privates; total,

June 18th, Sunday. Early this morning were employed making
cartridges and getting in readiness for another battle. A large re
inforcement came in from the country. At noon we were alarmed
again. Marched to Prospect Hill which we were fortifying; were
ordered to halt and wait for orders from the General. Marched
back again; had orders to hold ourselves in readiness to march at the
first notice. The enemy kept a continual firing upon us at Prospect
Hill, which we are fortifying. At nine o clock in the evening re
ceived orders to go down to the hill, march to headquarters. Re
ceived new orders to go back to our quarters and hold ourselves in

June 19th, Monday. The daylight comes on with the noise of
cannon from Bunker s Hill and floating batteries discharging at us
on Prospect Hill, which continues all day. The enemy set the upper
end of Charlestown on fire. We mounted picket guard.

*Commissioned officers.



June 20th, Tuesday. On guard this morning; we passed muster
in the afternoon; in the evening were relieved from guard.

June 21st, Wednesday. Pleasant weather. We continued en
trenching on Prospect Hill without disturbance.

June 22d, Thursday. Today we were sworn and receive one
month s pay.

June 23d, Friday. This day were ordered to Prospect Hill,
where we are stationed. Went down, pitched our tents, went to

June 24th, Saturday. This morning were alarmed by the
enemy marching towards our lines. In the afternoon there was a
hot firing at Roxbury. Two of our men went down to set the enemy s
guard-house on fire; they were both killed. Three houses were set
on fire at Roxbury by shells thrown from the fortification, but by
the expedition of the people they were put out. We built booths with
turf and brush and moved into them.

June 25th, Sunday. This day is showery. We drew our tents
and pitched them in an orchard below Prospect Hill. In the evening
a number of Indians went down to the enemy s sentinels and fired
on them. Killed five and wounded one.

June 26th, Monday. This morning is pleasant. In the after
noon we struck our tents and moved them about a quarter of a mile
and pitched them on a hill adjoining Prospect Hill.

June 27th, Tuesday. Nothing remarkable today.

June 28th, Wednesday. This morning were paraded; marched
to our alarm post in the fort, where we exercised two hours over the
breastwork. In the afternoon stormy and uncomfortable weather
for us in our tents.

June 29th, Thursday. This morning at 3 o clock, three men
were punished; one had 79 stripes for challenging his officer, one had
39 stripes for stealing, and one rode the wooden horse for abuse to
his officers. In the evening had a hot firing at Roxbury on both



July 1st, Saturday. This morning, about 2 o clock, a hot
firing began on both sides at Roxbury, which lasted four hours.
We were alarmed on Prospect Hill. Two ships arrived at Boston.

July 2nd, Sunday. This day the Hon. George Washington,
Esq., commander-in-chief of the united forces in America, arrived at
Cambridge. This afternoon had rain.

July 3d, Monday. Nothing remarkable today.

July 4th, Tuesday. This morning our people took four horses
from the British. In the afternoon a party were ordered to Lech-
mere s Point to entrenching.

July 5th, Wednesday. This morning at 3 o clock we were
turned out. In the morning at 10 o clock were alarmed by a firing
at Roxbury. Proceeded to our alarm post; was dismissed in one
hour; all still.

July 6th, Thursday. This day Rev. Mr. Cleaveland, our
chaplain, came into the camp. Attended prayers at our barracks.
In the evening a man deserted from our army to the enemy.

July 7th, Friday. This morning I was on main guard; were
alarmed in the afternoon by a drum beating to arms; proceeded to
our post; the alarm being false returned again.

July 8th, Saturday. This morning at 3 o clock our people at
Roxbury went down upon the Neck; rushed upon the guard; they
retreated; our men set fire to the guard house; they made a heavy
fire upon our party, which was returned; a smart engagement en
sued on both sides. Our lines manned for two hours.

July 9th, Sunday. This morning our chaplain came and preached
in our regiment, from Chronicles 6 : 34 ; in the afternoon from Deut
eronomy 23: 9. A flag came from the enemy with a packet by
General Lee. A man in a neighboring regiment was whipped twenty
stripes for striking an officer.

July 10th, Monday. This morning one of the ships fired upon
some of our men, who were in the water swimming, but did no harm.

July llth, Tuesday, This day our people at Roxbury made
another push upon the enemy s guard in order to set the guard-



house on fire, which they did and received no damage, and brought
off one swivel, two small arms, one halberd and a drum.

July 12th, Wednesday. This morning our troops at Roxbury
went down to Long Island; took eighteen men that were tending
cattle on the island, and brought off nineteen head of horned cattle
and one hundred sheep. In the afternoon had a smart shower of
rain, with heavy thunder; were something wet in our tents.

July 13th, Thursday. Nothing remarkable today.

July 14th, Friday. This day a man at Roxbury was killed by a
cannon ball from a floating battery. The enemy are still here.

July 15, Saturday. Exceding hot, and has been this week past.
We are daily employed in making strong fortifications in different

July 16th, Sunday. This morning heard a sermon from Ephe-
sians 5:16; in the afternoon from Judges 5:23.

July 17th, Monday. Nothing remarkable today.

July 18th, Tuesday. This morning at six o clock the grand
manifest from the Continental congress was read to the forces, on
and about Prospect Hill, which were assembled on said hill, by the
Reverend Mr. Leonard chaplain to General Putnam s forces. On
the hill our standard was presented, with this motto: "Appeal to
Heaven with the American Arms." After it was read Mr. Leonard
made a short prayer; then were dismissed with three cheers, the
firing of a cannon, and a war-whoop by the Indians.

July 19th, Wednesday. Last evening some of our troops went
down to entrenching in sight of Bunker s Hill. At one o clock this
morning we were called out and manned our lines, as we expected
the enemy out upon our party as soon as they were discovered;
but they made no stir.

July 20th, Thursday. This day is a Fast, appointed by the
Continental congress. Today the light house at Boston was set on
fire by our people. Heard a sermon in the morning from Psalms
50:15; in the afternoon from Ecclesiastes 7:14.



July 21st, Friday. No remarks today.

July 22nd, Saturday. This day we discovered the enemy land
ing off cannon on Charlestown Common, and a large number of the
enemy drawn up on the hill. At nine o clock in the evening we were
ordered to be upon our arms.

July 23rd, Sunday. We were turned out at two o clock this
morning; manned our lines; heard nothing of the enemy. At sun
rise returned to our tents. Attended public worship today; heard a
sermon in the morning from Isaiah 46:8; in the afternoon from Luke
7:31, 32, and 33. After service had some rain.

July 24th, Monday. Today all the troops under command of
Brigadier-General Putnam, except Colonel Little s regiment, were
ordered to march from Prospect Hill, to be stationed elsewhere, their
vacancies to be supplied with troops from Cambridge, Winter Hill,
etc., under the command of Brigadier General Greene.

July 25th, Tuesday. This day two regiments of the Rhode
Island forces came from Roxbury, and pitched their tents on Prospect
Hill, near the fort.

July 26, Wednesday. This morning our regiment was ordered
out of the great Fort to man the French lines where we are for the
future to repair in an alarm. A grenadier, belonging to the enemy s
side, when on sentry quitted his post, came over to us and delivered
himself a prisoner to our guards. The whole regiment off duty.

July 27, Thursday. This morning two of the enemy s came
over to our guards and were immediately conveyed to headquarters.
No duty done in the regiment.

July 28th, Friday. This day one hundred men on fatigue out of
our regiment.

July 29th, Saturday. The whole regiment on main guard.

July 30, Sunday. Last night about one o clock, a party of the
riflemen crept within the enemy s sentries, but being discovered
were fired upon, which occasioned a skirmish between them and the
enemy s guards. Our party killed seven and took two prisoners,



we lost a corporal of the riflemen taken by them. Between twelve
and one o clock we were alarmed and all paraded. There was a
cry for volunteers to follow such officers as would head them, when
all our company to a man marched out, and some part of all the com
panies in the regiment. Then we marched up to the Fort and
grounded our arms to wait for orders. The alarm was on account of
the enemy beginning to entrench on Charlestown Common, and the
meaning of the volunteers was to go and beat them off. But they
being under cover of their own cannon, it was thought prudent by
the general not to proceed, and by these orders we marched back.
Attended public worship in the afternoon.

July 31st, Monday. Last night at ten o clock we were alarmed,
marched to our alarm post, were soon ordered back again. The
alarm was occasioned by a brisk firing at the lower sentry. The
enemy came out of their fort and drove back our sentry. All was
soon quiet, and we were ordered back again and turned in. Soon
after we were alarmed again with the cry, "Turn out, for God s
sake turn out!" We paraded again, manned our lines, and there
remained until after sunrise. The larger part of the night the air was
filled with the roaring of the cannon and the cracking of small arms on
both sides. The riflemen had engaged them on Charlestown Common.
From two o clock till after sunrise, killed a number of them and re
covered five small arms, and lost not one man. At the same time
they were engaged at Roxbury with small arms. Our party set
fire to the new light-house; killed and took all that were on the
island to guard it, which were 43 in number 15 killed and 28 taken.
Two of our party were killed by a cannon ball from Bunker s Hill,
which kept up a continual firing all day. Between sunset and dark
we killed fourteen of those that came out to pick up their dead.

August 1st, Tuesday. Our troops kept out in scouting parties,
firing at them whenever they could see them; had a very hot firing
this afternoon; not one of our side hurt; today a number of the
enemy were seen to be carried off dead; at night two of our Indians
were wounded by our own men; the flag-staff was raised on Prospect



August 2nd, Wednesday. This morning all was still; had some
firing in the afternoon on both sides.

August 3d, Thursday. A hot firing on both sides by spells all
day; one of the Indians wounded on Tuesday night died to-day.

August 4th, Friday. Nothing remarkable to-day.

August 5th, Saturday. Our whole regiment on guard. All

August 6th, Sunday. This morning was relieved from guard.
In the afternoon attended public worship; about sunset a number
of the enemy landed under cover of a floating battery at Penny
Ferry, on Chelsea side; they set fire to a house improved by us for a
guard house plundered some sauce*; we went down to Temple s
wharf and beat them off.

August 7th, Monday. This morning we were turned out very
early; all the regiment off duty.

August 8th, Tuesday. This morning three companies of rifle
men arrived here; one of them went down to the enemy s sentries
and killed one of them and came off without harm.

August 9th, Wednesday. This day a man in our regiment rode
the wooden horse, for leaving his post when on sentry.

August 10th, Thursday. The riflemen are continually picking
off the enemy s sentries.

August llth, Friday. All still; nothing remarkable to-day.

August 12th, Saturday. It is a very wet season; all the re
marks I have.

August 13th Sunday. This morning I went on guard; in
forenoon 2 shallops armed with swivels and small arms, lying in
Mystic river, near Penny ferry took on board a number of soldiers
and went over to Chelsea, we suppose, in order to land; some of our
troops, as soon as they were in small arm shot of the shore fired
briskly upon them, and they returned the fire with swivels; there
was a hot fire for some time, at length we beat them off; we sus
tained no loss on our side; we killed fifteen of the enemy and wounded
a number more.

*Garden "sass"-vegetables.



August 14th, Monday. This morning at ten o clock was re
lieved from guard; nothing remarkable to-day.

August 15th, Tuesday. This morning all still; in the after
noon had a hot firing at Roxbury on both sides; the upper ship
fired upon our rangers at Lechmere s Point; we have not heard of
any damage.

August 16th, Wednesday. To-day the sentries fired at each
other all day; an express came from Cape Ann for men; a number of
riflemen marched off; one of the riflemen was shot through the back
by accident, but not mortally wounded.

August 17th, Thursday. Last night one of the picket guard
was killed by one of our sentries, who hailed him, but he gave him no
answer. The pickets doubled tonight.

August 18th, Friday. The enemy keep a continual firing at our
guards and fatigue men at Roxbury. Had a heavy shower; we
got very much wet in our tents.

August 19th, Saturday. This morning one of the enemy

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Online LibraryCaleb HaskellCaleb Haskell's diary. May 5, 1775-May 30, 1776; A revolutionary soldier's record before Boston and with Arnold's Quebec expedition; → online text (page 1 of 4)