Halifax 8th. May 1776
I had the Honor to acknowledge the Receipt of your Lordships Dispatches to [the] 2lst [of] December by Sir James Baird, who sailed the 2d Inst[an]t in a small Sloop ordered to England by Admiral Shuldham. As I had it not in my Power to be particular in my Answers, I have your Lordships Commands before me for that Purpose.
The Appointment of Lieut[enan]t Colonel Roy to the Superintendency and Management of all Matters, relative to the providing and shipping Stores and Necessaries for the Use of the Army in North America, will certainly be of great Utility to the Service, and I hope that Lieut[enan]t Bailey of the 23d Regiment whom your Lordship mentions, arrived in Time, with the Demands of the Corps, to assist in forwarding this necessary Business.
Your Lordships Intentions to prevent volunteers coining out to this Army have been in some Measure frustrated by several who have arrived from Ireland strongly recommended by the first Gentlemen of the Kingdom, and four in particular by the Lord Lieutenant, but your Lordship may depend that I shall not make any Appointments to Ensigncies, except where some singular Act of Gallantry and good Behavior merits the Honor.
The Omission of the 38th Regiment in the Distribution of the Forces transmitted on the 11th June 11th and 9th [of] July 1775, I find to be an Error in the Adjutant General['s] Clerk, who, making this Mistake in the first Return, continued it.
The Order your Lordship has transmitted respecting the Establishments of the five Regiments leaving Ireland, vizt. 15th. 37th. 53d. 54th. and 57th. shall be duly observed as will also your Directions relative to the Appointments of Hospital Mates.
I learn upon Enquiry [sic] that the Distribution of Officers Tents sent out in March 1775 was carried home by General Gage.
His Majesty's Commands for the Reduction of the ten supernumerary Serjeants and Drummers [of] the 17th. 27th. and 55th. Regiments are obeyed, but to prevent murmuring, and that the Disappointment may be less the Sufferers, I have consented, at the Request of the sever[al] Commanding Officers, that the Serjeants reduced should se[rve] in that Capacity upon Corporals Pay, and the like Num[ber] of Corporals on the Pay of Privates, until Vacancies may happen to reinstate them which has been cheerfully accepted: at the same Time I beg Leave to observe to your Lordship, that of these Regiments, not augmented, should meet with Losses in the Beginning of the Campaign, they will soon be capable of little more than Camp Duties, which Inconvenience we have hitherto [sic] experienced, in so much, that our strongest Battalions cannot produce from their eight Companies in the Field more than 220 Men, which occasions the Necessity of forming them always two deep, and as your Lordship will readily see the Weakness of that Order, I am persuaded you will agree with me in the Propriety of an Augmentation to those Battalions, wherefore I must beg your Lordships Intercession with the King for this Measure.
I am highly concerned to express my Chagrin and Disappointment at the Promotion of Major Grant of the 40th Regiment when immediately under my Command, superseding the Powers given in my Commission, this Promotion being prior to His Majesty's Pleasure signified by Lord George Germain "That I should only have the posting of Field Officers without Commissions;" and from the Expression of your Lordships Letter, it seems as if the Remainder of that Succession was left to me rather by particular Permission, than in Consequence of the Powers which I had the Honor to receive from His Majesty. Other Promotions have also been since made of Officers in lower Rank under my Command, upon which I beg Leave to observe, that His Majesty's Service must suffer if the War Office is to fill up the vacancies of the American Army; but having taken the Liberty to lay this great Inconvenience before the Secretary of State, that I may obtain His Majesty's Pleasure concerning it, I do no[t] trouble your Lordship further on the Subject.
I have the Honor of transmitting to your Lordship a particular State of the Promotions made by me on the Augmentation in Consequence of your Lordships Letter of the 31st [of] August, annexing them to those received from the War Office by the Milford Frigate on the same Occasion, and have judged it expedient to defer publishing them in Orders, until I have the Honor to know His Majesty's Pleasure upon the Report of Appointments made here, which was sent home by the Boyne. I am induced to take this Liberty solely wit[h] the View of avoiding the Confusion which these Changes would create in the Army and to obviate the Inconveniences arising from double Promotions, I shall keep open all Ensigncies until they are determined.
Your Lordship will also receive enclosed a List of Promotions, since my last transmitted by the Preston Ship of War, for His Majesty's Approbation. The Memorial of Major Humphry's [sic] commanding the 52d Regim[en]t respecting Captain Lieut[enan]t Mackelwaine, and of Major Musgrave recommending Captain Lieut[enan]t Everest for Leave to retire, will explain my Motives for granting their Requests in the Manner I have done.
I beg Leave to remark upon the Promotion of Captain Montgomery to the vacant Troop in the 17th Light Dragoons, by Major Bishops retiring, that I appointed Captain Montgomery in Consequence of a Letter from Major General Preston of the 8th [of] December, which was received the 25th [of] February, Informing me of the Kings Consent for Major Bishop to sell, and recommending Mr. Montgomery in the strongest Terms to succeed to the Troop, it being known to him that none of the Lieutenants would purchase. The General also wrote to Lieut[enan]t Colonel Birch to the same Purport, and in both Letters he takes Notice of an Approbation having been made to the King in Favor of Cornet Stanley for the Purchase of the Troop, and of His Majesty's Answer, which he mentions to have been, "that a Cornet could not be allowed to purchase a Troop." Without the least Idea of Mr. Stanleys Promotion being affected by the Succession of Mr. Montgomery, I filled up the Vacancy but by a Letter received from Major General Burgoyne on the 26th [of] March, I find that His Majesty has been pleased to consent to Mr. Stanley's having the Troop and that my earlier Appointment may be the Cause of His Majesty's Intentions not being fulfilled in Favor of Mr. Stanley, wherefore I humbly beg your Lordship, if this should be the Case, to represent to His Majesty the Motives upon which I have proceeded.
In Consequence of His Majesty's Approbation for the Appointment of an Adjutant General to this Army, I have appointed Lieut[enan]t Colonel Paterson of the 63d Regiment to that Office, having a thorough Confidence in his Abilities, and military Knowledge.
Captain Lyons late of the 17th Foot 5 is appointed Town Major of Halifax on the Resignation of Captain Marsh of the 65th. Regiment, and Lieut[enan]t Spaight of the 65th. succeeds Captain Marr of the 47th. as Assistant Deputy Quarter Master General. These Gentlemen are so well qualified for their Offices that I can confidently recommend them for His Majesty's Approbation.
There being some Officers in this Army who were appointed by General Gage to the new Corps, hold at the same Time their Rank in the established Regiments, I beg to know if it is His Majesty's Pleasure that they should retain both Commissions, or only have the Option of one. I should have troubled your Lordship sooner upon this Point, had I not understood from General Gage that he would apply to have it settled.
The 47th. Regiment sailed from hence the 20th. [of] April for Quebec under Convoy of the Niger Frigate, as an additional Reinforcement to the earliest sent from England, and I trust that the Town will by this Assistance be preserved until the Arrival of more Troops from Europe, to recover that important Province.
The 17th Light Dragoons are sent for the Convenience of Forage to Windsor on the Side of the Bay of Fundy.
From later Advices than your Lordships Letters of [the] 30th. [of] October, I understand Captain Crawford of the 52d. has withdrawn his Resignation, which occasions me to postpone the Appointment of Officers to succeed on his Vacancy.
I have the Honor to be,
most obedient and
most humble Servant
/Signed/ W Howe
The Right Hon[ora]ble
Lord viscount Barrington &c &c &c
[Source: The David Library of the American Revolution, Microfilm Collection, P.R.O. W.O. 1/2, 393-396. As transcribed by Gilbert "Skip" Riddle.]