Apr 15, 2021 - Sale 2564

Sale 2564 - Lot 155

Price Realized: $ 938
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 500 - $ 750
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION--1781.) Jonathan Lawrence, Jr. Letter by a young officer attempting to raise a new company of New York troops. Autograph Letter Signed to George Clinton in Poughkeepsie as Governor of New York. 2 pages on 2 sheets, 6 1/4 x 7 1/2 inches, stitched at an early date, with address panel (marked " 1/4 1.8 Public service") and docketing on versos; minor wear and foxing. Rockland, NY, 26 May 1781

Additional Details

Jonathan Lawrence (1759-1802) was an intrepid young officer who helped deliver dispatches to General Washington and later corresponded with him. At this point, he had been serving as a captain in a state militia regiment, and was trying to raise a company to become a captain in the Continental Army, in response to the governor's call for new troops. He resided in the village of Palisades, part of the small town of Orangetown in what soon became Rockland County (the docketing refers to "raising levies in Orangetown"), at the southernmost point of New York west of the Hudson River. As shown in this letter, fresh troops were hard to come by.

"Every endeavor in my power has been made use of to perswade the field officers of our militia to be speedy in raising the levies agreeable to the act of the Legislature, but few are classed as yet. . . . They will not be more than nineteen exclusive of the officers. . . . Giveing your Excellency an account of the low proceedings of the officers will create me many enemies, but as it is my duty I determined to do it. . . . I have several times applyd to the officer of the whale boats to go with one to fetch off those familys . . . could I have procured the boats only I might have got volunteers. . . . As it is not likely I shall have a command in the levies, I shall be happy Your Excellency would recommend me to Gen'l Du Portail for a company in his Corps of Sappers."

Lawrence was indeed appointed as captain in the sappers shortly thereafter. He resigned his commission late in 1782 due to tuberculosis contracted in his service, a disease which apparently ended his life at the age of 43.