[Portsmouth, N.H. 1775]. pp. on a single folded sheet. Lightly silked. Minor edge chipping, a handful of clean tears expertly repaired, second leaf inset into slightly larger backing sheet. Very good. Item #WRCAM55565
Official manuscript copy of a document by His Majesty's Court of General Sessions of the Peace in New Hampshire assenting to "the humble petition of Benjamin Akarman, Samuel Cutts [and three other] Selectmen of Portsmouth...shewing that an highway and place for a ferry ways to the ferry over the Piscatuqua [sic] River are necessary to be laid out...beginning at the northwest corner of Mr. Eleazer Russells land...which highway...would be a great benefit to the public....We humbly pray that a committee may be appointed to lay out the same and to award satisfaction to the owner or owners of the land through which the said highway may be laid....At the same court...it was ordered...that the Hon. John Phillips [and two others] be a committee to view, examine & lay out the way...also to estimate the damages sustained by the owners....The Committee reported they "are of the opinion that the way petitioned for is necessary & convenient & have therefore provided and laid out an highway...as follows...which being fully heard...by the Court, it is therefore ordered that the same...be established as a public highway and ferryways. Attest Js. Rindgell." The document also notes that "the claimants were notified and but one of them appeared." Though planned and authorized primarily as a civic measure in February, 1775, the outbreak of the American Revolution at Lexington and Concord just two months later rendered this ferry logistically valuable to the American army by facilitating troop movements from the Portland area to Boston. Writing from Portland on Sept. 3, 1779, James Thacher, much honored surgeon who served in the Revolution, related that "Orders are now received from General Gates for our regiment to return immediately to Boston. Commenced our march from Falmouth [i.e., Portland] on the 7th instant, passed through Scarborough, Kennebunk, and York, to Portsmouth....Having crossed the ferry at Portsmouth on the 10th, we encamped on the common. A number of gentlemen of this town treated us with buckets of punch at the ferry way...we reached Cambridge on the 14th..." - Thacher, MILITARY JOURNAL DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY WAR (Boston, 1823), p.209. Early in the war, General Washington recognized the strategic importance of Portsmouth situated at the mouth of the Piscataqua River. He wrote to General John Sullivan on Nov. 7, 1775, "You are to proceed immediately to Portsmouth...to secure that and other towns, at the entrance of Piscataqua River...to prevent the enemy from passing up the river" - Ford, WRITINGS OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, Vol. III, p.145. The ferry continued to serve the area during peace time, until the first bridge between Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine was built in 1822. A colonial New Hampshire document relating to a ferry that provided strategic advantages for the American Revolutionary Army.