Two Autographed Documents Signed from the Continental Army
Place Published: Massachusetts
Date Published: 1781
Description: Two remarkable war-date documents signed "J. Pettengill." The first one is 2 pages, 8.75 x 7.25 inches, no date, Massachusetts -- an affidavit to the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, concerning a soldier (John Baptise Villiard) who enlisted in the Continental Army for three years and pocketed a bounty of $120. Fifty-seven days later the soldier was discovered as being a deserter and produced papers declaring that he was a French citizen and in the French Service. At that point he was placed under arrest, in part: "...Jean Baptise Villiard enlisted into the service of the United States of America for the Town of Ipswich and received $120 to serve them for the term of three years. I passed him muster upon a certificate that I supposed to be good...but upon a second examination it appeared to be written in French - permitting John to pass and re-pass from town to town in that country which was understood to be in America. He was accordingly (upon the deception) delivered to a Continental officer and receipted to me as our man of this Commonwealths quota...and did, on the second day of March desert the party - which was about 57 days ago. Last Saturday he was arrested in the town of Andover and brought to me as a Deserter. I examined him strictly...asked how he came by so much money and he informed me that he had over and above the money he received of Captain Collins...that he brought it with him from France. I received of John B. Villiard 25 Guineas as security for his good behavior for the future...promising him that when he would arrive in camp he would receive his money. Two days later a French gentleman from that Island took John from me and also demanded that I return the money to him. I offered the gentleman the man (if he's engaged in the French Service)...and all the money over and above that of which he received of the Public Funds...I conceived it my indispensable duty, as a public officer, to detain as much money for the ease of the deficient town, as he the said John has unjustly taken by deception from them." Still fuming over the contempt he holds towards Villiard, Pettengill wrote the second document -- a letter to Governor John Hancock, 1 page, 13 x 8.75 inches, November 7, 1781, in full: "May it please your Excellency since I left you this morning I am taken extremely unwell, scarcely able to walk - being anxious for strict justice to be done between John Baptise Villiard and the Commonwealth. I have thereupon taken the liberty to enclose to your Excellency, true facts relative to this case - that whoever may be judges in this case may be acquainted with every circumstance respecting the subject." Docketed on the back, "Major Pettengill, Rec'd Nov. 7. 1781," possibly in the hand of Hancock. Both documents are in very good(-) condition. The first one has a tiny smudge on the front, partial tearing along the folds, and small pieces of tape reinforcing the back. The second one has small tears, light toning, and a hole from the original red wax seal.
Comments: Major in the 9th Massachusetts Regiment who became the officer in charge for Bounties advanced persons in the Continental Army.Signed: Y
Book ID: 230916