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Seizure of Arms and Powder at Fort William and Mary


It is, arguably, the most stirring moment in New Hampshire history. In December 1774, Seacoast patriots stormed the King's fort at New Castle and robbed the armory of its gunpowder and weapons. The rebels might have been hanged as traitors, but survived to rule the new American state of NH.




ABOUT Charles Brewster 

Editors Note: C.W. Brewster was a Portsmouth columnist in the mid-1800's. This article includes his opinions and may not reflect current research or current values.   -- JDR


Seizure of Arms and Powder at Fort William and Mary--The finale at Provincial Government in New Hampshire

SEE ALSO: Photos of Re-enacted Raid 
SEE ALSO: The Shot Not Heard Round the World 

THE seizure of arms and powder at Fort William and Mary, (now Fort Constitution) in Portsmouth harbor, was the first capture made by the Americans in the war of the Revolution. We give the following extracts of letters of Gov. John Wentworth, communicated to the New England Historical and Genealogical Register of July, 1869, by Hon. John Wentworth of Chicago.

In a letter to the Earl of Dartmouth, dated "Portsmouth, 20th Dec. 1774," Gov. Wentworth says:

"On Tuesday, the 13th instant in the afternoon, one Paul Revere arrived express with letters from some of the leaders in Boston to Mr. Samuel Cutts, merchant of this town. Reports were soon circulated that the Fort at Rhode Island had been dismantled, and the Gunpowder and other military stores removed up to Providence, and an Extract of the circular letter directing the seizure of gunpowder was printed in a Boston Newspaper of the 12th in consequence, as I have been informed, of the said letters having been communicated to the House of Assembly at Rhode Island. And it was also falsely given out that Troops were embarking at Boston to come and take possession of William and Mary Castle in this Harbour. These rumors soon raised an alarm in the town; and, although I did not expect that the people would be so audacious as to make any attack on the castle, yet I sent orders to the captain at the Fort to be upon his guard.

On Wednesday, the 14th, about 12 o'clock, news was brought to me that a Drum was beating about the town to collect the Populace together in order to go and take away the Gunpowder and dismantled the Fort. I immediately sent the Chief Justice of the Province to warn them from engaging in such an attempt.


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