18
18
Allen, Ethan, Revolutionary Soldier
Estimate
30,00040,000
LOT SOLD. 18,750 USD
JUMP TO LOT
18
Allen, Ethan, Revolutionary Soldier
Estimate
30,00040,000
LOT SOLD. 18,750 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

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New York

Allen, Ethan, Revolutionary Soldier
Autograph letter signed ("Ethan Allen"), 2 pages (7 1/2 x 6 1/4 in.; 192 x 161 mm) on a bifolium (watermarked crowned gr), "Parish of Saint Tuors," 20 September 1775, to General Richard Montgomery ("Before the Loines at Saint John"), autograph address and two dockets on verso of second leaf; lightly browned, marginal fold separations, small internal tear to address leaf. Accompanied by an autograph postscript signed by Allen, one page (8 3/4 x 7 1/2 in.; 222 x 193 mm; watermarked English arms), evidently of the same date and place but from a letter to a different recipient; browned, fold separations mended on verso with cloth tape. Half blue morocco folding-case gilt.
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Catalogue Note

With General Montgomery's army encamped before St. Johns, Allen urges him on: "if the place be Taken the Country is ours if we miscarry in this all Other Atcheevments will Profit but Little[.]"

On 18 September, Richard Montgomery, second-in-command (to Philip Schuyler) of the American expedition to Canada, had directed Allen to try to raise a regiment of Canadians to join his siege of the British outpost at St. Johns. Allen here sends a typically frenetic, unpunctuated reply. "I am now in the Parish of Saint Tuors four Leagues from Surrel to the South, have 2 hundred and fifty Canadians under arms as I march they Gather fast these are the Objects of Taking the Vessels in Sorel and General Carlton These Objects I pass by to assist the army Besieging Saint Johns if the place be Taken the Country is ours if we miscarry in this all Other Atcheevments will Profit but Little I am fearfull our army may be Sickley and that the Siege may be hard therefore Chuse to assist in Conquering Saint Johns which of Consequence Conquers the whole You may rely on it that I shall Join You in About three Days with five hundred or more Canadian Voluntears[.]"

Allen is confident that he "could raise one or Two Thousand in a weeks Time but will first Visit the army with a Less Number and if Necessary will Go again recruiting those that used to be Enemies to our Cause Come Cap in hand to me and I Sware by the Lord I Can raise three Times the Number of our army in Canada Provided You Continue the Siege[.]"  Allen in fact, found recruiting rather more difficult than he anticipated, and many of his Canadian recruits drifted off after a few days service. 

The letter ends with a fervent wish for Montgomery's success. "In fact all Depends on that it is with the advice of the Officers with me that I speedily repair to the army God Grant You wisdom fortitude & Every Accomplishment of a Victorious General the Eyes of all America Nay Europe are or will be on the Oeconomy of this army and the Consequences attending it[.]"

Despite his desire, Allen was not directed to join Montgomery at St. Johns on the Richelieu River. Five days after writing this letter he launched a reckless attack on Montreal and was taken prisoner. Allen was not released until 6 May 1778, when he was exchanged for Archibald Campbell.

The autograph postscript of the same date is in much the same fiery vein, with the same idiosyncratic spelling and punctuation: "I have purchased four Hogsheads of Rum and Sent a Sergent with a small party to Deliver it at Head Quarters and Mr Levingston and Others under him will provide what fresh Beef You Need as to Bread and flower I am forwarding what I Can You may rely on my utmost attention to this Object as well as raising Oxcilleries I know the Ground is swampy and bad raising Batteries but pray Let No Objects of Obstruction be unsurmountable the Glory of a Victory which will be attended with Such Important Consequences will Crown all our Fatiegues Risques and Labours to fail of Victory will be our Eternal Disgrace but to Obtain it will Elivate us on the wings of Fame[.]"

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

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New York