Below is a transcript of a letter from Richard Howell to his friend, and Commanding Officer, Colonel Israel Shreve about some personal letters Richard wrote to his future wife, Kaziah Burr, that were left unattended by the mail carrier and opened by an unknown individual. The letters were then presented to “the council,” presumably the Quaker Council of Elders. This greatly incensed Richard. It is known that Kaziah was a Quaker. Quakers, being anti-war, generally discouraged their daughters from being involved with military officers.
It appears that Kaziah’s parents found out that Richard was courting Kazaih and took steps to place her in “severe and agonizing confinement,” to keep her from seeing Richard. Richard was much distressed by his separation from Kaziah, but wanted Israel Shreve to keep what he knew about this situation to himself. The letter requested Shreve to “appear a stranger to the affair when you go down but observe what you can.” Richard was stationed at “Black Point” New Jersey near Sandy Hook, at the time he wrote this letter.
I received yours and thank you for the mention
and I wish I could have seen you below. I went
down incognito and am now to assure you of a
circumstance of a most extraordinary nature.
Some letters written by me to Philadelphia
lost by the careless puffery who took
charge of them and (then) found by some foolish zealot,
who laid them before the council. My
private letters were barely read and sent on un-
sealed. Had they open(ed) them, saw the signature,
and transmitted them sealed, it would not have
been extraordinary_ Oh damn them! Heaven
or vengeance unnecessary_ There were letters
from the enemy to people in New York Philad.a
but they had been examined by me and endorsed as
such under my signature commanding at this
post. What business then had they to open
the(?)- Curse on their ungentlemanly and fatal
curiosity- fatal indeed to my peace and that of a=
nother who’s happiness must ever be dearer
than my own- The secret of my affections for
a particular lady whom you know has transpired
perhaps by that means and her parents alarmed
at the designs of a soldier snatch the
dear girl from me into severe and agonizing
confinement- Oh Colo: I am the most wretched
man alive- and if I know myself much more
so on her account than my own- vengeance
on this man who destroyed my peace and hers.
Please to appear a stranger to the affair
when you go down but observe what you can.
Present my affections compliments to
Colo: Dayton Ogden Bearly DeHart Rhea
Major Bloomfield and Conway and all the officers
of my own corps- tell Jack that the person
is now attacking Miss Becky in favor and I
fear she will praise a Coquit in ingenuous to both.
Show this all to Jack Peck to whom I send the
twist he mentions if possible.
To Colo: Shreve,
I received Schraud last evening and for-
word by Capt. Cummings:_should come
with him but can not possibly get a horse_
I wish you all possible pleasure and hap=
pines during your absents and a safe
return when layed with enjoyment.
This is a map of New Jersey at the time of the Revolutionary War. Black Point, where Richard was stationed on Oct. 5 1778 is located in the middle of the map on the right hand side, near Sandy Hook.
John Clement Fitzpatrick
U. S. Govt. Print. Off.
Source copy consulted: UVA Library A 1931 .W36 The National Digital Library Program at the Library of Congress makes digitalized historical materials available for education and scholarhsip.This transcription is intended to have and accuracy rate of 99.95 percent or greater and is not intended to reproduce the appearance of the original work. Accompanying images provide a facsimile of this work and represent the appearance of the original.
Washington family United States — History — Revolution, 1775-1783 United States — History Fitzpatrick, John Clement, 1876-1940 Matteson, David Maydole, 1871-1949 George Washington Bicentennial Commission (U.S.)