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Continental Army Major General John Thomas Manuscript Letter (Not Signed)

Major General DR. JOHN THOMAS (1724-1776). Major General in the Continental Army, American Doctor from Massachusetts, and a leader during the Siege of Boston. Thomas briefly commanded the Continental Army withdrawal from Canada after that unsuccessful invasion and died in June 1776 from smallpox during their retreat.

c. 1775 Revolutionary War and Siege of Boston Period, Manuscript Letter by John Thomas (Not Signed), Major General in the Revolutionary War, 1 page, measuring 4.75" x 7.75", no place or date, Choice Very Fine. This historic content, original Letter describes the desperate situation in the period of the Siege of Boston. Here, Thomas writes (spelling and grammer not corrected), in full:

"Sir -- I Received your (letter) of the 3rd Instant am Sorry for your Situation but at present it is not in my power to Give Relief unless you Petition to the Committee of safety which if you will forward to me I will Doe Every Thing in my power to Serve you in it for if I Should Send you a Pass unless it be Done in that Chanel I Cannot Promise you Safety. I Should be Glad that you & all my old friend was Clear from the Town of Boston as I must Suppose it will not be Long before that Situation will be Desparate -- you Cannot Conseve the turn things have taken. Then the Continant Lone I saw you & Should I Relation the one halfe that are facts those of you order in Town will not Give Cudid so I will not Give you the Trouble men arm Ordinace Store of money will not be wanting to Defend the Just Right of our Country - I will Just mention one Particular which is Truth Col. Watson has volentarily offered & advanced mony for the Defense of his Country - I mention this because I Suppose you would Think him to be the Last person that would have acted - you Calling us Rebels or by what appelation you plese Does not Give any concern: to Defend the Just Rites of our Country is Delivered."

Thomas led his troops to the invasion of Boston in February 1775 and the Congress made him Brigadier General of the Continental Army.

Additional Information:

JOHN THOMAS (1724-1776). American Doctor and Soldier from Massachusetts who became a Major General in the Continental Army. During King George's War in 1746 he was appointed Surgeon to a regiment bound for Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia. He later served as Surgeon in General William Shirley's regiment. Liking military service, in 1747 he traded his post as Surgeon for that of a lieutenant.

By the time of the French and Indian War he had risen to colonel in the militia or provincial ranks. He served in Nova Scotia again in 1759. In 1760, General Jeffrey Amherst put him at the head of a division during the attack and capture of Montreal.

In the period leading up to open war, Thomas recruited a regiment of volunteers (2nd Massachusetts Regiment) in Plymouth County and served as their colonel. In February 1775 the state assembly named him a Brigadier General. He led his troops to the Siege in Boston, and in June, the Congress appointed him a Brigadier in the Continental Army.

General Thomas briefly resigned, disappointed that while four major generals were named, he was not on the list. At the time the Congress was trying to name no more than one major general from each state, and at that time Artemas Ward was given preference. When Generals George Washington and Charles Lee both implored him to remain, he returned to service. The Congress did resolve that he would be given precedence over all other Brigadiers in the Continental Army.

On the night of March 4, 1776 he led his division to fortify the Dorchester Heights overlooking the south harbor at Boston using cannon that Henry Knox brought from Fort Ticonderoga. From this position he threatened the British fleet and the British were forced to withdraw, evacuating Boston on March 17th. Thomas was finally named a major general.

After General Richard Montgomery was killed, Thomas was assigned to command in Canada and take charge of the Canadian invasion. He joined the Continental Army besieging Quebec on May 1st, 1776, but found a disaster. The American forces here numbered less than 1,000. Besides its walls, the city had more defenders than that. Over 300 of his men were already overdue for discharge from their enlistment, and smallpox was raging through the force.

He immediately sent the sick men to Three Rivers. He began a withdrawal with the rest. General Thomas died of smallpox on June 2, 1776 during the retreat up the Richelieu River near Chambly. By June 18th, 1776 the Continental Army had abandoned Canada.
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