Silas Deane Online


S. Deane to Elizabeth Deane.
June 3d, 1775.

… The Congress, tho’ not numerous, are yet a very unwieldy Body, in their very nature, as no motion or resolution can be started or proposed but what must be subject to much canvassing before it will pass with the unanimous approbation of Thirteen Colonies, whose situation and circumstances are various. And Unanimity is the basis on which we mean to rise; and I thank God, it hitherto prevails to a most surprising degree. Besides, our business has run away with us, as I may say, for though the Northern Expedition met with a warm approbation, yet the resolutions necessary to be formed respecting those posts put by the forming a general plan of operation, which, had it been previously laid, every such manœuvre would, of course, have been provided for at once.

You have an indifferent opinion of the spirit of some in our Assembly. You know my sentiments of them in general, and no man living, I am bold to say, knows them better; but though caution has ever been and is predominate, yet when matters come to a push, no Assembly or Government has behaved better; and indeed, not only the name of a Yankee, but of a Connecticut man in particular, is become very respectable this way, and Governor Trumbull is highly applauded by the Congress, for the letters he has wrote us, and the measures he has pursued as Governor. Indeed now, the Constitution of Connecticut appears in its full luster, and the whole continent are sensible of its superiority to any other, and must, I believe, after all, adopt one similar in each Colony.

John Webb is, I presume, before this, returned; and by him you will see, in the first place, what kind of a coat I have got, and in he next place, learn by the letters he carries, and by what we have since dispatched, that the Congress are determined at all events to hold Ticonderoga, and to pursue with vigor every defensive measure.

The militia are constantly out, morning and evening, at exercise; and there are already thirty companies in this city in uniform, well armed, and have made a most surprising progress. The uniform is worth describing to you: it is a dark brown (like our homespun) coat, faced with red, white, yellow, or buff, according to their different battalions; white vest and breeches, white stockings, half-boots, black knee-garters. Their coat is made short, falling but little below the waistband of the breeches, which shows the size of a man to very great advantage. Their hats are small (as Jesse’s little one, almost), with a red, or white, or black ribbon, according to their battalions, closing in a rose, out of which rises a tuft of fur of deer, made to resemble the Buck’s tail as much as possible, of about six or eight inches high. Their cartouch boxes are large, with the word Liberty and the number of their battalion wrote on the outside in large white letters. Thus equipped, they make a most elegant appearance, as their cartouch boxes are hung with a broad white wash-leather strap or belt, and their bayonet &c. on the other side, with one of the same, which two, crossing on the shoulders diamond-fashion, gives an agreeable appearance viewed in the rear.

The Light Infantry are in green, faced with buff; vests &c as the others, except the cap, which is a hunter’s cap, or jockey. These are, without exception, the genteelest companies I every saw. They have besides a body of Irregulars, or Riflemen, whose dress it is hard to describe. They take a piece of Ticklenburgh, or tow cloth, that is stout, and put it in a tanvat until it has the shade of a dry or fading leaf; then they make a kind of frock of it, reaching down below the knee, open before, with a large cape. They wrap it round them tight, on a march, and tie it with their belt, in which hangs their tomahawk. Their hats, as the others. They exercise in the neighboring groves, firing at marks and throwing their tomahawks ; forming on a sudden into one line, and then, at the word, break their order and take their posts, to hit their mark. West of this city is an open square of near two miles each way, with large groves each side, in which each afternoon they collect, with a vast number of spectators.

Next Monday is the day of their general review; after which, I will write you more on the military subject. Mr. Dickinson commands one battalion, Mr. Roberdeaux another, Mr. Cadwallader (a gentleman of immense fortune) a third; I know not the others, only that my friend Mifflin is one of the Majors. They have a body of Horse in training, but I have not as yet seen them out.

I dined yesterday with Mr. Cadwallader, whose furniture and house exceeds anything I have seen in this city or elsewhere.

My time is all taken up; for in Congress at nine, out no day earlier than four, then on committees frequently, leaves me no spare time, and tires me effectually. Well as I love the busy scenes of politics, in your and my friend’s opinion, I had rather not be appointed to committees quite so often as I am; for, since my being at this Congress I have had more than my share of such business.

The Colony of Connecticut having their men ready has been of service, and I trust we shall get a great share of their expense refunded by the Continent. I have wrote so much on politics that I have neither time nor room to add more than love to all of both families and a kind remembrance of the neighbors, &c., &c. Am sorry to hear of Mr. Merriam’s situation; his loss will long be felt by that people. Mr. Peircy is returned from London, and is preaching away here, for the first time last evening. I went to Mrs. Roberdeaux in the afternoon to drink coffee with the celebrated beauty, Miss Keys, of whom I spoke to you formerly. She is really handsome. But Mrs. Roberdeaux is a zealot in religion, which I am far from, at home or abroad. She must needs go to hear Mr. Peircy, at the further end of the city. I told her I had my pocket-book in my pocket and must be excused, and, in plain English, did not approve of evening lectures of any kind. She marked me down as an heretic, and, what is almost infinitely worse, a man of no sensibility or taste, that could at any rate decline walking near two miles and sitting a whole evening to hear a man preach, to have the inexpressible pleasure of being in company with so much beauty. But I shipped Col. Dyer on the voyage, and gave them the slip in the best manner I could. On my return, I fell in company with two young ladies, neither of them handsome, yet so free, merry and diverting, that I must honestly say I had rather spend one hour in their company than four in that where so much formality must be attended to, even were I to gaze at an angel. The ladies I last spoke of are daughters of a very good friend of mine in the city, and are very much like our Sally, only they sing well, which she does not or will not.

What a mess have I wrote! I promised you a long letter, and here you have it: a perfect farrago of politics, military, &c., &c. And here let it end by my wishing you every felicity which human nature is capable of enjoying, and by assuring you I am,

Your most affectionate Husband,
S. Deane

Coll. Conn. Hist. Society, II., 252.


To Mrs. Elizabeth Deane.
Philadelphia, Oct. 17th, 1775.

My Dear,-J. Webb tells me you talk of not coming to see me. I don’t know but you are in the right of it, for my business here will give me no time to wait on you, except between the hours of ten at night and seven in the morning, out of which, if we borrow from sleep, it will not be much. I rise at six, write until seven, dress and breakfast by eight, go to the Committee of Claims until ten; then in Congress till half-past three or perhaps four; dine by five, and then go either to the Committee of Secrecy, or of Trade until nine; then sup and go to bed by eleven. This leaves little room for diversion or anything else, and to tell you the truth, I expect this kind of life must be my lot for some time. I shall, however, steal away and meet you at New York, unless my Brother, to whom I have wrote, or J. Webb will wait on you quite down. I think it will be for the interest of one or both to be here, just at this time. You have wrote me but two letters since I left home. Love to all.

I am yours
S. Deane.

Coll. Conn. Hist. Society, II., 312.


Descriptive Title: Document 12
Description: Letter to Mrs. Elizabeth Deane describing duties and the importance of Connecticut constitution
Location: Connecticut Historical Society Museum
Copyright: Connecticut Historical Society Museum
Author/Creator: Silas Deane
Date Created: June 3 1775 and October 17, 1775
Publisher: Connecticut Historical Society Museum
Editor: J. Hammond Trumbull
Subject: Connecticut’s constitution
Reaction: None

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