Lot #1009
Paul Revere Autograph Letter Signed

“There was no Guard on Noddles Island,” the patriot scolds his men, “the Ordinance Stores were not under Lock or Key”


“There was no Guard on Noddles Island,” the patriot scolds his men, “the Ordinance Stores were not under Lock or Key”

Remarkable Revolutionary War–dated ALS signed “Paul Revere Lt. Col.,” one page, 6 x 6, Boston, May 1, 1779. Letter addressed to “Gentlemen.” In full: “Major General Heath told me this day, that Mr. Williams on Noddles informed Him: That there was no Guard on Noddles Island; and that the Ordinance [sic] Stores were not under Lock or Key.” Handsomely archivally cloth-matted and framed with a portrait and two descriptive plaques to an overall size of 23 x 23. In fine condition, with uniform foxing and staining. Accompanied by a copy of a certificate of authenticity from well-known autograph dealer Charles Hamilton.

At this time Revere was a lieutenant colonel of artillery in the Massachusetts militia and in command of Castle William, an outpost south of Noddle's Island in Boston Harbor. Noddle's was a key location—it not only overlooked shipping lanes into Boston's port, but was full of livestock, bales of hay, and other supplies due to the presence of a farm owned by Henry Howell Williams, very likely the "Mr. Williams" referenced in Revere's letter. The militiamen had successfully taken the island in the second battle of the Revolutionary War on May 27–28, 1775, and then fortified it with mounted cannons to protect Boston from attack by sea. This letter of 1779 attests to the importance of the site, as Noddle's Island was apparently still fortified and being used as an armory though the end of the war. In the following months, Revere would command the artillery during the failed Penobscot Expedition, and afterwards was accused of disobedience and cowardice; this resulted in his discharge from the militia in September 1779, though the charges were later cleared. Interestingly, Revere's attention returned to the island in 1814, when he helped build new fortifications to again protect the harbor against the British as the War of 1812 raged on the high seas. Extensive research indicates that this is the only Revolutionary War–dated handwritten letter by Revere to have ever been publicly offered. A supremely rare and historically important piece.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Remarkable Rarity Auction
  • Dates: #438 - Ended September 16, 2014