On March 27, 1775, John Torrey asked for help from the Massachusetts Committee of Safety as Plymouth prepared for the war certain to come.
Torrey wanted a militia to guard Plymouth Harbor. It was just a few weeks before a shot would be heard round the world from Concord, Mass. Anxiety and fear ran rampant through the towns of Plymouth, Kingston and Duxbury.
Committees of safety began to form in 1774 to keep an eye on the royal government. By 1775 they functioned as provisional governments of the colonies. Massachusetts formed the colonies’ first committee of safety in the fall of 1774. John Hancock served as its chairman. The committee had the power to call out militia and impose penalties for failing to respond to the call.
Torrey’s letter describes the fearful mood that prevailed as the American Revolution loomed.
How Plymouth Prepared
The Selectmen and Committee of Correspondence of the Town of Plymouth beg leave to represent the peculiar circumstances of this Town,” he wrote. He asked for “aid and protection as you in your wisdom shall think proper to direct.”
Torrey then explained Plymouth had a harbor open to Plymouth, Kingston and Duxbury. For 12 to 15 miles, he wrote, troops would find it extremely easy to land. They could then “commit ravages, and retreat, unless a sufficient force is continually on duty to watch and report them.”
He then described how Plymouth prepared for war. “[T]he inhabitants of this Town (apprehensive of danger) have been on almost constant duty, without being able to attend to their private affairs, the consequence of which roust produce great distress, if not ruin, unless they can be relieved.”
Torrey also pointed out the difficulty of help coming from the back country. Plymouth, he wrote, was “surrounded by a wilderness, extending several miles.” The back country had no inhabitants at all. Several more miles had “few and scattering ones.”
“We therefore; pray your consideration of these matters, and that you would order the Minute Regiment under the command of Colonel Cotton, be posted here, and that proper provision be made for them,” he wrote.
It turned out Plymouth had nothing to fear. British troops did not ravage Plymouth.
This story last updated in 2022.
Paul Gilpin, check this out
I believe my relatives Jeremiah and Ebenezer Learned manned whale boats after April 18th, to help with guarding the shore and watching the British fleet just to the north of Boston
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