Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Hogsheads and puncheons

‘Yesterday arrived, the Continental Schooner Wasp, Captain Baldwin; brought with her a large Guinea ship bound from Jamaica for Liverpool, having on board three hundred and five hogsheads of Sugar, fifty-one puncheons of rum and other goods.’ This is Christopher Marshall, born 310 years ago in Ireland, who emigrated to America, ran a successful pharmacy business in Philadelphia, and was a staunch advocate of American independence. His diaries, which were published several times in the 19th century, are considered to offer ‘interesting insights’ into the revolutionary war era.

Marshall was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 6 November 1709. He was educated in England but emigrated - without his parents permission - to America in the 1720s; by 1729, he had established a pharmacy shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He married Sarah Thompson in 1736 and the couple had three sons. He became committed to American independence, but was disowned by the Society of Friends, to which he had been very attached, because of the active part that he took in the revolutionary war. Sarah died, and in 1774 he married Abigail Fisher Cooper. Around the same time he retired from business and took up various public offices.

In 1776, Marshall became a delegate to the Philadelphia Provincial Council, and he was twice appointed to the Continental Committee of Council and Safety. In 1777, he relocated to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to improve his health and avoid the British armies. With the war over, he moved back to Philadelphia where he died in 1797. Brief further details are available at Famous Americans or The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

From 1774 until 1795, Marshall kept diaries, making near daily entries in some periods. A detailed breakdown of these diaries is provided by The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, which holds the Marshall Papers, including diaries, notebooks and various transcripts and copies made subsequently. The Society says ‘regardless of form, Marshall’s diaries provide interesting insights from a local merchant into Revolutionary War-era Philadelphia, as well as first-hand accounts of events leading up to the war.’ Extracts from Marshall’s diaries in 1774, 1775 and 1776 were first edited (by William Duane) and published in 1839, under the title Marshall’s Remembrancer - available at Internet Archive. A subsequent edition dated 1849 includes diary entries from 1777 as well. Some 30 years or so later, a further edition - Extracts from the Diary of Christopher Marshall kept in Philadelphia and Lancaster during the American Revolution - includes extracts from 1774 through to 1781.

Here are several extracts from the 1849 edition.

9 September 1776
‘A number of the troops, it’s said, from the country, went out of town yesterday. Those gentlemen, delegates, mentioned to go out on the Seventh, to converse with Lord and General Howe, did not go till this morning. It was General Sullivan that went thenabouts, from this City.’

13 September 1776
‘Went to [the] Committee Room at Philosophical Hall, where William Wild appeared in support of his Memorial. Upon being interrogated respecting the money, [which,] he had said, belonged to the merchants in England, he now declared otherwise, and that the whole sum was his own private property, and in order to prove that, said his letter and cash books would shew it, which he could fetch in one quarter of an hour, if requested. Upon this he was desired to fetch them, and the Committee would wait. In about that space of time he returned and declared he had destroyed his letter and cash book and every other book, about ten days ago, which might publicly bring his employers into trouble. Referred to next meeting.’

16 October 1776
‘Yesterday arrived, the Continental Schooner Wasp, Captain Baldwin; brought with her a large Guinea ship bound from Jamaica for Liverpool, having on board three hundred and five hogsheads of Sugar, fifty-one puncheons of rum and other goods. Letter from Harlem, where our companies [are], of the Thirteenth instant, says most of Howe’s forces are got about six miles above King’s Bridge, and were landed in order if possible to surround our camp, so that a general engagement may be hourly expected to be heard of.’

6 September 1777
‘This afternoon, the two thieves, who stole Col. White’s cash and trunk, were marched about a mile and a half out of town, in order, it’s said, to be hanged, but upon the Colonel’s lady’s intercession, it’s said, they were pardoned from death, but received two or three hundred lashes each, well laid on their backs and buttocks. A great number of spectators, it’s said, were assembled.’

11 September 1777
‘News was that the enemy advanced towards the Concord road to Philadelphia; that part of our army was gone to Chad’s Ford; that several deserters were gone for Philadelphia; some, very few, come here; that some of the Virginia forces coming to our assistance had crossed [the] Susquehannah to the amount of one thousand; others on the road. From Fort Pitt that one or two persons were apprehended, coming there from Detroit, on one of them were found some papers, particularly one with the list of names of those in the fort and in the neighbourhood, who had declared their allegiance to George the Third. One of the persons, by name Wm. Gallaher, formerly a pedler, had made his escape, for whom a reward of six hundred dollars is offered.’

16 September 1777
‘I am informed that yesterday were brought to this jail, three or four persons from Chester County, two of them named Hunter, who, by receipts found upon them, appear to have been as suppliers of Howe’s army with sheep, cattle, &c. The others are called Temple, who appear to have been concerned as directors of the roads to Howe’s army, and informing against sundry persons to him as good friends to the United States, and other inimical practices.’

6 October 1777
‘Went into town; spent chief [part] of the afternoon there in conversation, respecting public occurrences, as the express had just come in; brought account of a parcel of our army’s moving in three divisions last Sixth Day night, eight or nine miles, and [that they] attacked our enemy near five next morning near Chestnut Hill; threw them into disorder and drove their grenadiers with others into Germantown, where they took refuge in churches, houses and meetings, with their cannon (of which our people had brought none with them) and as the main body of the enemy advanced our little party retreated back to their former ground in good order, taking one piece of cannon with them, and all their wounded. Accounts say that we had killed, wounded and prisoners on our side about four hundred, and that the enemy had nearly fifteen hundred in killed, wounded and prisoners.’

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