Jun 21, 2016 - Sale 2420

Sale 2420 - Lot 33

Price Realized: $ 4,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION--1775.) Palmer, Jonathan. Manuscript diary and memorandum book titled "First Events of the American War." 7 manuscript pages. 12mo, stitched; moderate edge wear. (MRS) Stonington, CT, 5 September 1774 to 10 November 1775

Additional Details

Jonathan Palmer (1747-1810) of Stonington, CT began keeping this record in the months before the war, explaining in his first entry that it was a "memorandon for ye most remarkable events relative to ye war, begining with ye siting of ye grande Congress at Philadelphia." After the first meeting of the Continental Congress, he skips ahead to the actual war: "1775 April ye 19th was ye first attempt ye Regulars made, which was at Lexington and Concord. They was drove back with considerable loss." He goes on to describe the siege of Boston and the formation of the Continental Army, and then more battles: "1775 May about ye first of this month was Ticonderoga and Crown Point taken without any loss . . . June 17th was ye very hard battle at Bunkers Hill and Charleston burnt. By ye best accts ye loss of ye Regulars was about 1000 men and ye loss of ye Provincials was about 100 kill and missing. General Waring killd & Capt. Parks of Stonington missing." Other highlights include "Generals appointed by ye Congress: George Washington Esqr. comm'd in chief." This information was gleaned from newspaper reports, enhanced with information from local soldiers when possible. It is evocative of how the most dramatic war news spread out away from the front lines.
Palmer also wrote on events closer to home as an eyewitness, leading to the construction of the rebel fort at Long Point in Stonington: "August 7th ye militia was call'd at New London & at Long Point to protect ye inhabitants & keep ye ships from taking stock &c. There was 9 or 10 ships which took ye stock from Fishers Iland. Capt. John Breed was capt. of ye gard . . . ye rest of ye officers that staid on sd gard was Lt. Chesebrough, Lieut. Wheeler & myself. . . . Sd ships took from Gardner's Iland as they left. Ye acct is 62 cattle, 3 calves & 823 sheep, but ye inhabitants say it was more. They took from Fishers Island as much or more." Most dramatic was the attack on Stonington, 30 August: " Ye canonade by ye ship Rose. Capt. Walles at Long Point had in his fleet 3 or 4 tenders besides ye vessels he took their, firing from ye ship and all ye tenders from morning untill just night continued, but only one man wounded, named Jonathan Weaver Jr. Houses were damaged considerable in our fire of small arms. On ye ships & tenders was certainly some wounded & is thought several kill'd. The day was as rany as was ever known allmost. Ye minute men with their oficers attend 2 days." In reaction to this British assault, "September this month was the fortifications begun at Long Point. 12 pieces of canon brout from N Haven. The soldiers station here cald to Boston & 50 listed to gard Long Point & finish ye works." These accounts of Stonington give this slim volume a claim to be a true Revolutionary War diary, kept by a militia lieutenant on active duty. Diaries by Revolutionary War officers are rarely encountered on the market.
This volume was published in facsimile as "Colonel Jonathan Palmer's War Diary" in 1985, with a full transcription and extensive notes by Norman Boas (a copy included in this lot, inscribed to Milton Slater). Provenance: sold by Seaport Autographs to the consignor circa 1985.