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Paul Revere's Diary of the Penobscot Expedition

This is taken from George A. Wheeler's History of Castine, Penobscot and Brooksville, Maine, published in 1923.


As evidence in his behalf Revere sent to the Committee of Inquiry the following diary of events from July 21 to August 19:

July 21. "21st - The 21 of July we arrived at Townsend. (Now Boothbay, Me.)

July 22. "22nd - I was desired by General Lovel to attend at his Quarters at 7 o'Clock that evening; I found Genl. Lovel, Briga Wadsworth, Commod. Saltonstal; most of the Field Officers of the Army, and the Captains of the Navy. There were some debates about the future operations of the Fleet, and the Army; nothing material was determined; it was left to the General, and Commodore, to settle. The afternoon of this day the General Reviewed his Troops.

July 24. "24th - We sailed from Townsend, arrive in Penobscot Bay that evening; came to anchor, under one of the Fox Islands.

July 25. "25th - We came to Anchor close under Magabigwaduce about 3 o'Clock in the afternoon. As we came up the Bay, I could plainly see with my Glass, the enemy had begun a Fort, on one of the Heights; in which was a long Barrack. A number of men attempt to land under Brigr Wadsworth; they approach the shore, orders are given for them to return; the enemy fired upon them and kill one Indian.

July 26. "26th - I attend at a Council of War on board the Warren; it was agreed that a detachment of marines under Capt. Welsh, should attack Bank's Island; and that they be supported by a party of Militia under Brigr Wadsworth. I am ordered to send one Field-piece with the Marines; they get possession of the Island. The General directs me to send two eighteen-pounders, one twelve, and one howitzer proper with a number of officers and men to the Island, which went that evening.

July 27. "27th -In the morning I went with Genl Lovel to the Island. I returned with him about 12 oClock; he desired me to attend him after dinner, on board the Warren. I attended him accordingly. There is a Council of War held; it is determined to make a landing on Magabigwaduce. In the evening I received Orders to land with the men under my Command, as a Corps de Reserve to the General, to leave my cannon, and take my muskets.

July 28. "28th - I landed agreeable to orders, after forming on the Beach. I see the General, who orders me to follow him with my men; we ascend the Steep; then formed and marched near the edge of the wood next the Enemy. The General commanded a halt; we had not halted a great while, when he received accounts, they had got possession of the Heights. He then ordered me to get a Field-piece on shore immediately which was done as soon as possible. He afterward Ordered me to send to Bank's Island for the Howitzer and Field-piece; to make preparation to get them with two eighteen pounders, and the brass twelve pounder, on shore; to call on Col. Davis for Boats and men to fetch them. I afterwards reconnoitered the shore, and found a place much handier to land the Cannon. I informed the General of it; he desired me to call on Captain Williams, Hallett, Holmes and Cathcart for what men I should want, which I did.

July 29. "29th - Early in the morning, a sufficient number of Officers, Carpenters, and Seamen came on shore; I set the Carpenters to clearing a passage and cutting a road, up to the Battery; the Officers and Seamen were employed in getting the cannon on shore. I waited on the General and informed him how far I had proceeded. He desired me to be as expeditious as possible, for he did not think it possible with what men he had, to storm the Enemy's forts. That forenoon I had a fair view of the Enemy's Fort with a good glass; I could see that it was as high as a man's chin; that it was built of squared logs; was Abbeteed; that they had begun to Fraise it round the rampart; that it had two guns mounted which they fired in Barbet. That forenoon the Brass 12 pounder, Howitzer and heavy field-piece was landed; in the afternoon the 18 pounder; they were all hauled up near the lines.

July 30. "30th - By the help of the Seamen we got another 18 pounder on shore and dragged it up to the Battery; in the afternoon we opened the Battery and fired on the Enemy, with two 18 pounders, one twelve and a Howitzer.

July 31. "31st - A deserter came out from the Enemy who said, they were upwards of 900 strong; that they had 650 Soldiers, and near 300 Sailors; that they had sunk most of the Transports, and taken Guns on shore from their armed Vessels.

Augt 1. "1st - Last night the Marines and Militia, stormed one of the Enemy's Batterys, of three six-pounders, which they carried.

Augt 2. "2nd - I went with Brigadier Wadsworth to reconnoitre some Islands to the east of Bank's Island for a place to annoy the Enemy's shipping.

Augt 3. "3rd - The General Ordered one 18 pounder, one 9 pounder and a Field-piece, with a proper number of Officers and men, to a point on the main, where Brigadier Wadsworth was building a Battery to annoy the Enemy's Ships.

Augt 4. "4th - In the afternoon the Battery was opened; after firing a number of Shot, we found the distance too great for a sure Shot.Augt 5. "5th - The General informed me he had sent a letter to Commodore Saltonstall, to know his determinations, whether he would go in and attack the Ships or not.

Augt 6. "6th - I am summoned to a Council of all Land Officers; the General lays before us, a letter he had received from the Commor. in answer to his of yesterday; inclosed was a copy of the determinations of a council of Navy Officers; to this purpose: If the General will storm the Enemy's main Fort, they will attack the Shipping. The General desired the opinion of the Council, whether it is practicable to storm, they are unanimous it is not. A committee of three is chosen to confer with the Commodore. Brigr Wadsworth, Col. Mitchell and myself are sent; we wait on the Commodore. He says he is not willing to confer but will meet Genl Lovel in a general Council; we agree to meet on board the Hazard.

Augt 7. "7th - The Council meet after many debates, the question put, whether the Siege shall be raised; There were thirteen against it & eight for it.

Augt 8-9. "8th and 9th - The firing is kept up against the Enemy as has been ever since the Batteries were opened.

Augt 10. "10th - A Council of war is called on board the Warren, when it is agreed to attack the Enemy's Ships. The General is to send a party of men to take possession of the ground between the Enemy's Fort and ships, to prevent their Sailors getting into the Fort.

Augt 11. "11th - I am directed to send two Field-pieces to the south woods; in the afternoon the General takes out a party of the Militia on the plain grounds to maneuvre them; they march in sight of the Enemy; the Enemy fire upon them; they retreat in the utmost disorder. At 10 o'clock in the evening I am sent for to a Council; after many debates, and for the Reasons set forth in the minutes of said Council, it is agreed that they cannot take possession of the ground as was determined; and that the General inform Commodore Saltonstall in the morning.

Augt 12. "12th - I went on board the Warren, with General Lovel, to inform the Commdr of the proceedings of last evening. The Commor appeared surprised, he said he was ready to go in. They propose another Council to determine what next shall be done. The General Orders me to make preparation to take off the heavy Cannon; we get the Brass twelve pounder and Howitzer on board the Transport; and one 18 pounder to the Beach that night. The Council meet at the General Markee at about Sundown; there is an alarm which breaks up the Council.

Augt 13. "13th - I get the other 18 pounder to the Beach early in the morning; I attend the Council; after many debates, it was put to Vote, whether the Siege should be raised or not; there were Ten for it, and Fourteen against it. The General proposed in the afternoon, to take out a party of men on the south side of the Peninsular, to draw out the Enemy. He directs me to send the Brass twelve pounder and Field-piece there, with a proper number of Officers & men. The General marches a party of men to ye S. East part of the Peninsular; the Enemy fire Grape at him, but do not come out. Our Ships get under sail, we supposing they were coming in, when to our great mortification, (the Fog clearing away) we see five sail of Ships in the Bay; it being near sundown & a shower coming on, the General led off his men. About 12 oClock the General sent for me, and directed me to take off my Cannon and men, which was done before daylight.

Augt 14. "14th - About 7 oClock, Capt Brown is ordered to get his vessel under way, and stand for Belfast; it being calm, and the Tide not for us, he was ordered to proceed up Penobscot River; about 12 oClock we came to an Anchor off Fort Point, expecting every minute to hear our ships attack the Enemy; about one oClock we perceived that our ships were under sail, standing up the River; I went on board the General's Sloop, to acquaint Brigadier Wadsworth with it (for their Vessel lay out of sight of the Ships). He desired me to go on shore with him to the Hospital, to get off the sick and wounded, which I did; but before we could get them off, Our armed Ships had got abreast of the Point; they soon overtook the Transports who had got under way, (the Enemy pursuing) when the Transports found that the Armed Vessels all went ahead of them, they ran on shore and landed their men, in the utmost confusion. The Ordinance Brig in which was most of my men, was the last who came on shore. I got most of my men together in the Edge of the Wood, but while my Boat was getting some men from a Schooner, who had lost their Boat; I was separated from them (all but two officers and eight men) they taking into the woods, I supposing they were gone up the River. I followed in my Boat, (it being sundown) expecting to overtake them; after searching till 12 oClock for them, I went on board a Transport which had got up the River, and staid till Daylight.

Augt 15. "15th - Then sent an Officer in the Boat down the River, to seek after my men; and if he found them, to Order them up to me. As I was going up the River, I saw General Lovel coming down; he told me he was agoing to bring up his men to make a Stand. I went up as far as Grants Mills, where I found a considerable body of men; there I landed to wait for my Boat; she returned about 12 oClock and could find nothing of them. I staid there all that day; toward night I went on board the Vengeance, Cap. Thomas, to enquire what news; he told me he should burn his Vessel in the morning; he had landed some of his men and was delivering out provision to some Soldiers who had none. I went on shore, and went about a mile into the woods with my men two officers & eight men & there encamped.

Augt 16. "16th - Next morning I sett off with a party and came through the wood to Kennebeck River.

Augt 19. "19th - I got to Fort Webster where I found most of my Officers, and men; after supplying them with that money I could spare, I ordered them to Boston by the nearest route.


(Massachusetts Archives, Vol. 145, p. 246-249. On the bottom was written "Colo. Revere's Deposition.")

(Copied from Mr. Charles W. Noyes' collection..)

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