John Polley orderly book  1775
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The John Polley orderly book (162 pages) contains Continental Army orders kept by a Connecticut soldier stationed in Roxbury, Massachusetts, from September 19 to December 31, 1775. Entries include brigade orders issued from General Artemas Ward's headquarters at Roxbury, and general orders from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Subjects treated are camp conditions, hospitals, pickets and guard duties, construction, courts of inquiry for desertions and other crimes, punishments, provisions and rations, furloughs, and enlistments. Particularly well documented are courts martial under Artemas Ward. Polley's signatures are on page 16, 139, and 158. Besides Ward, other officers mentioned include General Charles Lee and Colonel Ebenezer Learned.

Entries of note:

  • September 22, 1775: Men were whipped and drummed out for disobedience, mutiny, and riot (page 6)
  • September 28, 1775: Inquiry into Dr. Benjamin Church's conduct (pages 22 and 28)
  • October 2, 1775: Order against gambling and "games of chance" (page 31)
  • October 3, 1775: Dr. Isaac Foster became Church's replacement as head of hospitals (page 32)
  • October 17, 1775: Announcement of a public auction for books, furniture, and accoutrements taken from the British (page 50)
  • October 22, 1775: Deputies from the Continental Congress met in Washington with the governors of Connecticut and Rhode Island, the Council of Massachusetts, and the Convention President of New Hampshire, concerning continuing troop levels in the army (page 56)
  • November 5, 1775: Comments on the danger of the "Rediculas and Childish Custom of the burning the Effigy of the Pope…at a time when we are Soliciting and have really obtained [the] friendship and alliance of the people of Canada whom we ought to Consider as Brethren…" (page 72)
  • November 10, 1775: Mention of a skirmish with the enemy at Leechmore's point (page 77)
  • November 12 and December 30, 1775: Discussions of free African Americans wanting to enlist in the Continental Army (pages 81 and 157)
  • November 28, 1775: News that Montreal had fallen to the Continental Army (page 112)
  • November 28, 1775: Order from Washington that forbade officers from "cursing and swearing and all profanity and Drunkenness" (page 114)
  • December 3, 1775: Mass desertion of Connecticut troops
  • Undated: List of the allowance of rations for officers July-December 1775 (page 159)
  • Undated: Holdings of the Brig Nancy coming from London to Boston (page 160)
  • Undated: Fragment of a description of a battle (page 162)
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