Camp at Dorchester, near Boston. Jan. 5, 1776. p. Old fold lines. Minor soiling. Very good. In a half morocco and cloth clamshell case, spine gilt. Item #WRCAM44554
A letter written by Rev. Ebenezer Cleaveland from the Continental Army's encampment at Dorchester Heights, outside of Boston, requesting that General John Thomas allow his underage son to remain on the muster rolls as his "waiter." Cleaveland, a minister in Gloucester, Massachusetts, served as an army chaplain during the American Revolution. Here he writes from camp during the Siege of Boston, explaining the difficult circumstances which have led him to keep his young son with him at the army's encampment. Cleaveland had twelve children and lived on a minister's means; in this letter he notes that financial interests require him to keep his son with him whether or not he draws pay from the army, and he finds his son to be very capable around camp. He writes: "When the alarm was made in good earnest on the memorable 19th of April, my family being exposed to the ravages of the enimy, I sent them out of town all saving my 2 sons. The eldest engaged as an officer in the Army, the other but about 12 years of age chose to tarry with me and upon my engaging in the Army he came to the camp with me and has served as a waiter and his service was so well accepted in the col[onel]s. mess that the cols. judged it just to enter him on wages and had him instated in his regiment and he has passed the muster the season past. "I am urged to engage him [as] a fifer, but I know of no one waiter who will serve me every way equal to him and as my wages are small, and [I have] an expensive family and no other support, [having been] drove from my parrish and interests have at present suffered the loss of my all; and but few waiters but what would be very expensive, and I must study frugality and shall be obliged to keep him for my waiter, whether I draw provisions and wages for him or not, and tho' he is but young yet it can be made to appear that he is not the weakest nor most incapable to act the part of a souldier, but exceeds in vigor and activity some who have five years advantage of him in age. However, I pray that if its not in your province to pass him as a souldier that your honor would so far commiserate my suffering sircumstances as to solicit his Excellency General Washington in my behalf. Had I the least thought it would injure the cause I would be silent but submit to your wisdom." An intimate look into some of the issues facing those men who joined the Continental cause.