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Rev. Lyon's Report on the Machias Incident
Updated 9:42 AM ET Oct 21, 2000

Rev. James Lyons, Chairman of the Machias Committee,
to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress

Machias, District of Maine, Massachusetts (June 14, 1775) -

Gentlemen; We, the faithful & distressed inhabitants of Machias, beg leave, once more, in the most respectful manner, to approach your presence, & spread before you a just and full representation of our very critical situation.

On the 2nd instant Capt Ichabod Jones arrived in this River with two sloops, accompanied with one of the Kings Tenders: On the 3d instant, a paper was handed about for the people to sign, as a prerequisite to their obtaining any provisions, of which we were in great want. The contents of this paper, required the signers to indulge Capt. Jones in carrying Lumber to Boston, & to protect him and his property, at all events: But, unhappily, for him, if not for us, it soon expired after producing effects directly contrary in their nature to those intended. The next effort, in order to carry those favorite points, was to call a meeting, which was accordingly done. On the 6th the people generally assembled at the place appointed, and seemed so averse to the measures proposed, that Capt. Jones privately went down to the Tender & caused her to move up so near the Town that her Guns would reach the Houses, & put springs upon her Cables, -- The people, however, not knowing what was done, and considering themselves nearly as prisoners of war, in the hands of the common enemy, (which is our only plea for suffering Capt Jones to carry Lumber to Boston, since your Honors conceived it improper) passed a Vote, that Capt Jones might proceed in his Business as usual without molestation, that they would purchase the provisions he brought into the place and pay him according to Contract.

After obtaining this Vote, Capt. Jones immediately ordered his Vessells to the Wharf & distributed his provisions among those only, who voted in favour of his carrying Lumber to Boston. This gave such offence to the aggrieved party, that they determined to take Capt Jones, if possible, & put a final stop to his supplying the Kings troops with any thing: Accordingly, they secretly invited the people of Mispecka & Pleasant River to join them; accordingly a number of them came & having joined our people, in the woods near the settlement; on the 11th They all agreed to take Capt Jones & Stephen Jones Esqr, in the place of Worship, which they attempted, but Capt Jones made his escape into the woods, and does not yet appear. Stephen Jones Esqr only was taken, & remains, as yet , under guard. The Capt & Lieutenant of the Tender, were also in the Meeting House, & fled to the Vessell, hoisted their flag, & sent a Message on shore to this effect: "That he had express orders to Protect Capt Jones; that he was determined to do his duty whilst he had life; & that, if the people presumed to stop Capt Jones's vessels, he would burn the Town." Upon this, a party of our men went directly to stripping the sloop that lay at the wharf, and another party went off to take possession of the other sloop which lay below & brought her up nigh a Wharf, and anchored her in the stream. The tender did not fire; but weighed her anchors as privately as possible, and in the dusk of the evening fell down & came to, within Musket shott of the sloop, which obliged our people to slip their Cable & run the sloop aground. In the mean time, a considerable number of our people went down in boats and canoes, lined the shore directly opposite the Tender, and having demanded her to surrender to America, received for answer, "fire and be damn'd": they immediately fired in upon her, which she returned, and a smart engagement ensued. The Tender, at last, sliped her Cable and fell down to a small sloop, commanded by Capt. ------ Toby, and lashed herself to her for the remainder of the night. In the morning of the 12th, They took Capt Toby out of his vessell, for a pilot, & made all the sail they could to get off, as the wind & tide favoured; but having carried away her main boom, and meeting with a sloop from the Bay of Fundy, they came to, robbed the sloop of her boom & gaff, took almost all her provision, together with Mr. Robert Avery of Norwich, in Connecticut, and proceeded on her voyage. Our people, seeing her go off in the morning, determined to follow her. About forty men, armed with guns, swords, axes & pick forks, went in Capt Jones's sloop, under the command of Capt. Jeremiah O'Brian: about Twenty, armed in the same manner, & under the command of Capt Benjamin Foster, went in a small Schooner. During the Chase, our people built them breast works of pine boards, and any thing they could find in the Vessels, that would screen them from the enemy's fire. The tender, upon the first appearance of our people, cut her boats from the stern, & made all the sail she could -- but being a very dull sailor, they soon come up with her, and a most obstinate engagement ensued, both sides being determined to conquer or die: but the Tender was obliged to yield, her Captain was wounded in the breast with two balls, of which wounds he died next morning: poor Avery was killed, and one of the marines, and five wounded. Only one of our men was killed, and six were wounded, one of which is since dead of his wounds.

The Battle was fought at the entrance of our harbour, & lasted for over the space of one hour. We have in our possession, four double fortifyed three pounders, & fourteeen swivels, and a number of small arms, which we took with the Tender, besides a very small quantity of ammunition &c. Thus we have given your honors, as particular an account of this affair as possible. We now apply to you for advice, and for a supply of Ammunition & provisions ( the latter of which we have petitioned your honours for already) which if we could be fully supply'd with we doubt not but with the blessing of Heaven we should be prepared to defend our selves. -- We propose to convey the prisoners to Pownalborough Goal, as soon as possible, there to await your orders. -- We are, with deference, your Honors-most Obedient Humble Servants --

      By the order of the Committee.

   James Lyon Chairman
George Stillman Clerk

Machias June 14th 1775

Footnote: Reverend James Lyon is the 4th great grandfather of Elden Lyon, Jr., still of Machias. Elden is Stanley Getchell's 1st cousin.

Source: Massachusetts Archives, volume 193, 360-362.

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