THE SCOTS MAGAZINE
August 1776 p 427 to p 429
In the American papers appeared the following letter from Lt-Col Campbell to Gen Howe.
Boston, 19 June 1776
I am sorry to inform you, that it has been my unfortunate lot to have fallen into the hands of the Americans, in the middle of Boston harbour; but when the circumstances have occasioned this disaster are understood, I flatter myself, no reflection will arise to myself or my officers on account of it.
On the 16th of June, the George and Annabella, transports, with two companies of the 71st regiment of Highlanders, made the land of Cape Anne, after a passage of seven weeks from Scotland, during the course of which we had not an opportunity of speaking to a single vessel that could give us the finellest (sic) information of the British troops having evacuated Boston. On the 17th, at daylight, we found ourselves opposite to the harbour's mouth of Boston; but from contrary winds, it was necessary to make several tacks to reach it. Four schooners, which we took to be pilots, or armed vessels in the service of his Majesty (but which were afterwards found to be fourAmerican privateers, of eight carriage-guns, twelve swivels and forty men each)were bearing down upon us at four o'clock in the morning. At half an hour thereafter, two of them engaged us; and, about eleven o'oclock, the other two were close along-side.
The George transport, on board of which Maj. Menzie and I, with 108 men of the second battalion, the adjutant, the quartermaster, two lieutenants, five volunteers, were passengers, had only six pieces of cannon to oppose them; and the Annabella, on board of which was Capt. MacKenzie, together with two subalterns, two volunteers, and 82 private men of the first (?) battalion, had only two swivels for her defence.
Under such circumstances, I thought it expedient for the Annabella, to keep ahead of the George, that our artillery might be used with more effect and less obstruction. Two of the privateers having stationed themselves upon our larboard quarter, and two upon our starboard quarter, a tolerable cannonade ensured, which, with very few intermissions, lasted till four o'clock in the evening, when the enemy bore away, and anchored in Plymouth harbour. Our loss upon this occasion was only three men mortally wounded on board the George, one man killed, and one man slightly wounded, on board the Annabella.
As my orders were for the port of Boston, I thought it my duty, at this happy crisis, to push forward into the harbour, not doubting I should receive protection, either from a fort, or from some ship of force stationed there for the security of our fleet.
Toward to close of the evening, we perceived the four schooners that were engaged with us in the morning, joined by the brig Defence, of sixteen carriage-guns, twenty swivels, and 117 men; and a schooner of eight carriage guns, twelve swivels, and 40 men, got under way, and made towards us. As we stood up for Nantasket road, an American battery opened upon us; which was the first serious proof we had that were could scarcely be many of our friends at Boston; and we were too far embayed to retreat, especially as the wind had died away and the tide of flood not half expended.
After each of the vessels having twice run aground, we anchored at George's Island, and prepared for action; but the Annabella, by some misfortune or other, got aground so far astern of the George, we could expect but a feeble support from her musketry.
About eleven o'clock, four of the schooners anchored right upon our bow, and one right astern of us. The armed brig took her station on our starboard tide, at the distance of 200 yards, and hailed us to strike the British flag.
Although the mate of our ship, and every sailor on board, the captain only excepted, refused positively to fight any longer, I have the pleasure to inform you, that there was not an officer, non-commissioned officer, or private man of the 71st, but what stood to their quarters, with a ready and cheerful obedience. On our refusing to strike the British flag, the action was renewed, with a good deal of warmth on both sides; and it was our misfortune, after the sharp combat of an hour and a half, to expended every shot that we had for our artillery.
Under such circumstances, hemmed in, as we were, with six privateers, in the middle of an enemy's harbour, beset with a dead calm, without the power of escaping, or even the most distant hope of relief, I thought it my duty not to sacrifice the lives of gallant men wantonly in the arduous attempt of an evident impossibility.
In this unfortunate affair, Maj. Menzie and seven private soldiers were killed; the quartermaster and twelve private soldiers wounded. The Major was buried, with the honours of war, at Boston.
Since our captivity, I have the honour to acquaint you, that we have experienced the utmost civility and good treatment from the people of power at Boston, insomuch, Sir, that I should do injustice to the feelings of generosity, did I not make this particular information with pleasure and satisfaction.
I have now to request of you, that so soon as the distracted state of this unfortunate controversy will admit, you will be pleased to take an early opportunity of settling a cartel for myself and officers. I have the honour to be, with great respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
Lieut-Col of the 2d bat. 71st reg
On my arrival at Boston, I found that Capt. Maxwell ("Ann Transport"), with the light infantry of the 1st battalion of the 71st regiment, had the misfortune to fall into the hands of some other privateers, and was carried into Marblehead the 10th inst. Capt. Campbell ("Lord Howe Transport"), with the grenadiers of the 2d battalion, who was ignorant as we were of the evactuation of Boston, stood into the mouth of the harbour, and was surrounded and taken by eight privateers this forenoon.
In case a cartel is established, the following return is, as near as I can effect, the number of officers, non-commissioned officers, and private men of the 71st regiment, who are prisoners of war at and in the neighbourhood of Boston.
The George transport:
Lieut. Col Archibald Campbell
Lieut and Adj Archibald Campbell
Lieut Archibald Balneaves
Lieut Hugh Campbell
Quartermaster William Ogilvie
Surgeon's mate David Burnes
Patrick Macdougal, volunteer, and acting serjeant-major
James Flint, volunteer
Dugald Campbell, volunteer
Donald MacBane, John Wilson,
3 searjeants, 4 corporals, 2 drummers, 90 private men
The Annabella transport:
Capt George MacKenzie
Lieut Colin MacKenzie
Mr Mackenzie, volunteer
Alexander Mctavish, volunteer
4 serjeants, 4 corporals, 2 drummers, 81 private men
The Lord Howe transport:
Capt. Laurence Campbell
Lieut Robert Duncanson
Lieut Archibald Maclean
Lieut Lewis Colhoun
Duncan Campbell, volunteer
4 serjeants, 4 corporals, 2 drummers and 96 private men
The Ann Transport:
Capt Hamilton Maxwell
Lieut Charles Campbell
4 serjeants, 4 corporals, 2 drummers, 96t private men
Lieut Col of the 2d bat, 71st Regiment
The above portrait of General Howe is from the book by Richard Holmes, Redcoats: the British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket, Harper Collins, 2001.
The next part of Campbell's story covers his time as a Prisoner of War. It was not completely comfortable, after all. However, while in Concord, he purchased the Knap Estate. He was not freed until 1778.