Church’s advice to the Governor 1704

Church’s advice to the Governor of Massachusetts in 1704

Tiverton, February 5, 1704
May it please your Excellency –

According to your request, when I was last with yourself, and in obedience thereunto, I present you with these following lines, that concern the preparation for next spring’s expedition, to attack the enemy. According to my former direction; for it is good to have a full stroke at them first, before they have an opportunity to run for it. For the first of our action will be our opportunity to destroy them, and to prevent their running away, in waylaying every passage, and make them know we are in good earnest. And so we being in a diligent use of means, we may hope for a blessing from the Almighty, and that he will be pleased to put a dread in their hearts, that they may fall before us and perish.

For my advice is,

First. That ten or twelve hundred good able soldiers, well equipped, be in a readiness fit for action, by the first of April at farthest; for then will be the time to be upon action.

Secondly. That five and forty or fifty, good whaleboats be had ready, well fitted with five good oars and twelve or fifteen good paddles to every boat. And upon the wale of each boat, five pieces of strong leather be fastened on each side to slip five small ash bars through; that so, whenever they land, the men may step overboard, and slip in said bars across, and take up said boat that she may not be hurt against the rocks. And that two suitable brass kettles be provided to belong to each boat to dress the men’s victuals in to make their lives comfortable.

Thirdly. That four or five hundred pairs of good Indian shoes be made ready, fit for the service for the English and Indians, that must improve the whale boats and birch canoes; for they will be very proper and safe for that service. And let there be a good store of cow hides well tanned, for a supply of such shoes, and hemp to make thread, and wax to mend and make more such shoes when wanted, and a good store of awls.

Fourthly. That there be an hundred large hatchets, or light axes, made pretty broad, and steeled with the best steel that can be got, and made by workmen, that they may cut very well, and hold, that the hemlock knots may not break or turn them, to widen the landing place up the falls. For it may happen that we may get up with some of our whaleboats to their falls or headquarters.

Fifthly. That there be suitable quantity of small bags, or wallets provided, that every man that wants may have one to put up his bullets in, as such a size as will fit his gun, (and not be served as at Casco) That every man’s bag be so marked that he may not change it. For if so, it will make a great confusion in action. That every man’s store of ball be weighed to him, that so he may be accountable and may not squander it away and also his store of powder, that so he may try his powder and gun before action. And that every particular company may have a barrel of powder to themselves and so marked that it may by no means be changed. That men may know beforehand, and may not be cheated out of their lives, by having bad powder, or not knowing how to use it. And this will prove a great advantage to the action.

Sixthly. That Colonel John Gorham, if he may be prevailed with, may be concerned in the management of the whale boats, he having been formerly concerned in the eastern parts and experienced in that affair. And whalemen then will be very serviceable in this expedition, which having a promise made to them, that they shall be released in good season, to go home a whaling in the fall, your excellency will have men enough.

Seventhly. That there be raised for this service three hundred Indians at least, and more if they may be had; for I know certainly, of my own knowledge that they exceed most of our English in hunting and skulking in the woods, being always used to it. And it must be practiced if ever we intend to destroy those Indian enemies.

Eighthly. That the soldiers already out eastward in the service, men of known judgment, may take survey of them and their arms, and see if their arms be good and they know to use them in shooting right, at a mark, and that they be men of good reason and sense to know how to manage themselves in so difficult a piece of service as this Indian hunting is, for bad men are but a clog and hinderance to an army, being a trouble and vexations to good commanders, and so many mouths to devour the country’s provision, and a hinderance to all good actions.

Ninthly. That special care be had in taking up the whaleboats that they be good, and fit for that service, so that the country be not cheated as formerly in having rotten boats and as much care that the owners may have good satisfaction for them.

Tenthly. That the tenders or transports, vessels to be improved in this action, be good decked vessels, not too big because of going up several rivers having four or six small guns apiece for defence, and the fewer men will defend them, and there are enough such vessels to be had.

Eleventhly. To conclude all, if your excellency will be pleased to make yourself great and us a happy people, as to the destroying of our enemies and easing of our taxes, &c., be pleased to draw forth all those forces now in pay in all the eastward parts, both at Saco and Casco Bay, for those two trading houses never did any good nor ever will, and are not worthy of the name of Queen’s forts; and the first building of them had no other effect but to lay us under tribute to that wretched pagan crew; and I hope will never be wanted for that they were first built; but sure it is, they are very serviceable to them; for they get many a good advantage of us to destroy our men and laugh at us for our folly, that we should be at so much cost and trouble to do a thing that does us so much harm, and no manner of good: but to the contrary when they see al our forces drawn forth, and in pursuit of them they will think that we begin to be roused up, and to be awake and will not be satisfied with what they have been pleased to leave us, but are resolved to retake from them that they formerly took from us, and drive them out of their country also. The which being done, then to build a fort at a suitable time, and in a convenient place, and it will be honorable to your excellency, and of great service to her Majesty, and to the enlargement of her Majesty’s government (the place meant being at Portroyal.)

Twelfthly. That the objection made against drawing off the forces in the eastward parts will be no damage to the inhabitants, for former experience teacheth us that so soon as drawn into their country, they will presently forsake ours to take care of their own. And that there be no failure in making preparation of these things aforementioned; for many times the want of small things prevents the completion of great actions. And that every thing be in readiness before the forces be raised to prevent charges, and the enemy having intelligence. And that the general court be moved to make suitable acts for encouraging both English and Indians, that so men of business may freely offer estates and concerns to serve the publick.

Thus hoping what I have taken the pains to write in the sincerity of my heart, and good affection, will be well accepted, I make bold to subscribe as I am, your excellency’s most devoted humble servant.

BENJAMIN CHURCH