Manuscript/Mixed Material George Washington to Continental Congress, March 19, 1776

About this Item


Head Quarters, Cambridge, March 19, 1776.

Sir: It is with the greatest pleasure I inform you that on Sunday last the 17th. Instant, about 9th O'Clock in the forenoon the Ministerial Army evacuated the Town of Boston, and that the Forces of the United Colonies are now in actual Possession thereof. I beg leave to congratulate you Sir, and the Honorable Congress on this happy event, and particularly as it was effected without endangering the Lives and property of the remaining unhappy Inhabitants.44

I have great reason to imagine their flight was precipitated by the appearance of a Work which I had ordered to be thrown up last Saturday night, on an eminence at Dorchester, which lay nearest to Boston Neck called Newks Hill. The Town although it has suffered greatly, is not in so bad a state as I expected to find it, and I have a particular pleasure in being able to inform you Sir, that your House has received no damage worth mentioning, your furniture is in tolerable Order and the family pictures are all left entire and untouched. Captn. Cazneau takes charge of the whole until he receives further Orders from you.

As soon as the Ministerial Troops had quited the Town, I ordered a Thousand men (who had had the small pox) under command of General Putnam, to take possession of the Heights, which I shall fortify in such a manner, as to prevent their return, should they attempt it; but as they are still in the Harbour, I thought it not prudent to march off with the main body of the Army, until I should be fully satisfied they had quited the Coast. I have therefore only detached five Regiments besides the Rifle Battalion to New York, and shall keep the remainder here 'till all suspicion of their return ceases.

The situation in which I found their Works,

44. “We saw the ships under way about 8 in the morning and the River full of boats armed with soldiers. This gave an alarm and some suspected they were about to land at Dorchester, but having a full view of them with a glass from Plowed Hill, I found they were going on board the ships. 1 then took my horse, and rode down to Charlestown Neck, where I had a clear view of Bunker's Hill. I saw the sentrys standing as usual with their firelocks shouldered, but finding they never moved, I soon suspected what regiment they belonged to; and upon taking a clear view with my glass, found they were only effigies set there by the flying enemy. This convinced me that they were actually fled, for if they meant to decoy us, they would have taken away every appearance of man. By this time, I was joined by Colo. Mifflin, who, with my Brigade Major agreed to go up, sending two persons round the works to examine whether there was any of them in the rear of the works, while we went up in the front. I at the same time sent for a strong party to follow us on to the hill to assist us in running away (if necessary). We found no person there and bravely took the fortress defended by lifeless sentries. I then brought on a party to secure what we had so bravely won, and went down to the other works where we found all abandoned, but the works not injured in any part. We hailed the ferry boat, which came over and informed us that they had abandoned the town. We then gave information to the general, who ordered me with the troops under my command to take possession of Charlestown, and General Putnam with 2000 men to take possession of the works in Boston; and on Monday Morning his Excellency made his entry into Boston, and repaired to Mr. Hancock's house, where we found his furniture left without injury or diminution.”— Brigadier General Sullivan to John Adams, Mar. 19, 1776.

The fleet of the British consisted of 78 vessels, and carried all of Howe's army, about 8,900 men, and more than 1,1000 refugees.— Ford.

About this Item

George Washington Papers, Series 2, Letterbooks 1754-1799: Letterbook 8, March 14 - July 14, 1776
Contributor Names
Washington, George, 1732-1799 (Author)
Created / Published
Subject Headings
-  United States
-  Manuscripts
Call Number/Physical Location
series: Series 2, Letterbooks 1754-1799
MSS 44693: Reel 008
Source Collection
George Washington papers
Manuscript Division
Online Format
online text

Rights & Access

The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress provides access to manuscripts at the Library of Congress for educational and research purposes and makes no warranty with regard to their use for other purposes. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or holders of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. There may be content that is protected under the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations.

The Diaries of George Washington

The following statement is made by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, the copyright owners of The Diaries of George Washington.

Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1976-79; a series of The Papers of George Washington. Copyright 1976-79 by the Rector and Visitors of University of Virginia. Used by permission of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for the correctness and completeness of the images and texts as they appear in this online collection.

University Press of Virginia External

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Washington, George. George Washington Papers, Series 2, Letterbooks 1754 to 1799: Letterbook 8, March 14. 1776. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

Washington, G. (1776) George Washington Papers, Series 2, Letterbooks 1754 to 1799: Letterbook 8, March 14. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Washington, George. George Washington Papers, Series 2, Letterbooks 1754 to 1799: Letterbook 8, March 14. 1776. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.

More Manuscripts/Mixed Material like this