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Bids may also be submitted via fax. Send a list of lots with the sale number and your contact information to (212) 979-1017. You will receive a confirmation before the sale.Sale 2310 | Lot 26
Price Realized: $3,120 With Buyer's Premium Show Hammer Price
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Sale 2310 Lot 26
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION.) Archive of Rhode Island commissary agent Asa Waterman, including a letter from Benedict Arnold. 49 items, various sizes and conditions, including 18 letters addressed to Waterman, 13 retained draft letters by Waterman, and 18 other receipts, documents, and related papers; some with substantial water damage, wear, and loss of text, but more than half in strong condition. Vp, 1774-89, bulk 1775-81
Estimate $3,000 - 4,000
Asa Waterman (1743-1789) was deputy commissary general during the Revolution, responsible for supplying the Continental Army's many troops in the Rhode Island area; he was based primarily in Providence, RI, but spent part of the war in Norwich, CT. His correspondence documents his efforts to keep the troops in salt, beef, herring, and onions. Noteworthy are letters from Benedict Arnold, Rhode Island governor Nicholas Cooke, Jonathan Trumbull Junior, and Jeremiah Olney. The Governor Cooke letter is addressed from Providence to Mrs. Cooke in Connecticut; perhaps Waterman was charged with delivering it. Cooke offers his wife two long pages of unsubstantiated rumors about the Saratoga campaign concerning a battle at Stillwater, in which Benedict Arnold and British general Sir John Johnson were alleged to have perished and General Burgoyne captured, 20 August 1777.
One quite worn letter from early in the war offers Waterman's firsthand account of the Siege of Boston: "We have extended our fortifications [within?] rods of theirs. The King's throops have lain [very?] still & quiet for sum days until yesterday [when?] they fired severall shots at our people. . . . We have deserters coming out [of] Boston every day, but don't bring out any[thing] new, as they are kept in ignorance" (Roxbury, MA, 17 September 1775). A draft letter from Waterman to Colonel Henry Champion concerns beef for the forthcoming siege of Newport: "I had no order to do it until this intended expedition. . . . I was ordered to do it by Maj. Genl. Sullivan on application to him by Count Destaing" (Providence, RI, 9 August 1778). Waterman's draft letter to Captain Amasa Keyes concerns a privateering investment gone bad: "Our small boat is haul'd up as she rec'd sum damage on her last unsucksessful cruze. Sum of the owners have sold out. She now belongs to Mr. Joseph Cooke, Silvenus Jenckes, you & myselfe. The owners think best to sell her for the most she will fetch" (Providence, 10 November 1778). Other letters are addressed by Waterman to Horatio Gates and Providence merchant Moses Brown. A group of 10 post-war letters and documents relate to Waterman's trade with Haiti.
The Letter Signed by Benedict Arnold is in poor condition, lacking a substantial portion of text. The signature, reading "Bt. Arnold Br. Genl," is intact, though a small hole appears between two of the words. It was written while south of Providence, RI, preparing for a possible offensive against the British in Newport, and orders Waterman "to make strict inquiry & search for Wt. India rum, spirits & molasses in the states of Massachusetts Bay or Rhode Island" (Swansea, MA, 20 March 1777). Complete inventory available upon request.Price Realized (with Buyer's Premium) $3,120