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COUNCIL OF SAFETY OF GEORGIA TO THE PROVINCIAL CONGRESS OF SOUTH-CAROLINA.
In the Council of Safety, Savannah, March 4, 1776.
The intimate connection between this and your Province, in a particular manner renders it necessary to acquaint you with the occurrences in the former, since the date of our last, to which, and the despatches preceding, we refer you.
Our dispositions, in the evening of the 2d, were such as appeared to our officers the most likely to prevent the landing of our enemy; and so as, if they should make their landing good, either above or below the town, to prevent their getting in; however, notwithstanding our vigilance, they, by collusion with the masters and others on board the merchant shipping, which hawled near the shore of Hutchinsons Island in the night time, got on board these ships, about four oclock yesterday morning, to the number, as far as we are competent to judge from the observations we made and the intelligence we received, of between two and three hundred, where they effected to conceal themselves.
We had our fears respecting these shipping, and therefore kept a good watch upon them; but it was impossible for sentinels on this shore to descry them in boarding from the other, the vessels being betwixt.
Captain Rice, who commanded a boat of observation, was sent on board the shipping about nine oclock, to order the rigging on shore, and was, without any noise or the smallest knowledge of us, kidnapped. This we did not know, till about half an hour afterwards: two sailors, under pretence of coming on shore for clothes, gave information of the troops being on board the shipping, and of Rices being taken. About three hundred men were then immediately marched to Yamacraw, opposite the shipping, with three four-pounders, and threw up a breastwork. The armed Schooner Hinchinbrook, ofguns, with a number of men on board, which, with others, went up the Back river in the afternoon of the day preceding, about this time set sail down the South river, with intent, no doubt, of covering the landing of the troops from on board the merchant shipping; but being continually fired at by two companies of riflemen, who were placed in ambuscade, she was obliged to come very slow, and often came too, and returned a very smart fire, at every place where the riflemen fired from, until the tide was spent, and she could not get down. During the course of their firing, only one of our men got wounded, and that slightly, in the thigh; but on board, several were seen to fall.
In town we had exhibited a still more interesting scene; we found the officers and men clamorous about the capture and detention of Rice; and two gentlemen, Lieutenant Daniel Roberts, of the St. Johns Rangers, and Mr. Raymond Demere, of St. Andrews Parish, solicited and were permitted to go on board, to demand a surrender of Rice and his people. They accordingly divested themselves of their arms, and were rowed by a negro on board a vessel, in which were Captain Barclay, the Commodore, and Major Grant; and these officers, contrary to all the principles which cement society and govern mankind, immediately arrested our deputies, and yet detain them as prisoners. We waited with anxious expectation for near half an hour, when we demanded our deputies, (by the help of a trumpet,) without getting any other but insulting answers; whereupon we fired two four-pounders directly into them; and then they informed us, that they would send an answer in writing; which they presently after did, signed by Lieutenant Roberts and Mr. Demere, purporting that, if we would send two of the persons in whom the people most confided, they would treat with them.
Captain Screven, of the St. Johns Rangers, and Captain Baker, of the St. Johns Riflemen, chagrined, no doubt, (the former particularly, on account of his Lieutenant,) by the detention of our deputies, took about a dozen of riflemen in a boat, and rowed directly under the stern of Captain Inglis, in whose vessel were a great part of the soldiery, and, in peremptory terms, demanded the deputies; and were answered, after one shot from Captain Baker, by a discharge directly down upon them, of near two hundred shot, both from swivels and small-arms, which was kept up while they were in reach; the Captains and men in the boat, not one in the smallest degree confused, or even, perhaps, disappointed by the attack, fired their rifles, most of them three times, and, as they say, not without execution; and wonderful to tell, not a man of them killed; one man only received a slug in the fleshy part of his shoulder, which was immediately cut out, without the smallest inconvenience or danger. The spectators all declared, as we now do, that such a Providential deliverance has not yet been known.
This unmanly attack upon a few men, in an open boat, produced a general fire from our field-pieces and intrenchments, and as smart a return from two four-pounders and several swivels from the shipping, which lasted from about twelve oclock to four; and although they often fired langridge, which continually whistled about our men, not a single man was even touched; but We have no doubt a number of the enemy met with a worse fate, as they were seen frequently to fall.
About four oclock we called a council, and determined to have the vessels immediately burnt, and issued orders to Colonel McIntosh accordingly; whereupon, the Inverness, late Captain McGillivray, loaded with rice and deer-skins, was set on fire and cut loose, to the amount of fifteen thousand pounds sterling. Upon this the soldiers, in the most laughable confusion, got ashore in the marsh, while our riflemen, and field-pieces with grape-shot, were incessantly galling them. The shipping were now also in confusion; some got up the river, under cover of the armed schooner, while others caught the flame; and, as night approached, exhibited a scene, as they passed and repassed with the tide, which, in any other but the present times, would be truly horrible, but is now a subject only of gratulation and applause.
The ships of Captains Inglis and Wardel neither got up the river, or on fire. They were ordered on shore, and now are prisoners of Captain Screven, in the country, and their vessels brought close in to a wharf. They were permitted to write to Captain Barclay in the evening, to inform him of their situation, and to request an exchange of prisoners, which the latter peremptorily refused.
We have thus given you a particular detail of things, as they really happened, to prevent the belief of any erroneous intelligence, and from which you will be competent to judge of our situation.
Colonel McIntosh laid before the Board a resolution of your Congress, to aid us, accompanied by a letter from Mr. Lowndes; and we are very glad that you have determined to afford us further assistance. We wish it may arrive in time.
By order of the Council of Safety:
WILLIAM EWEN, President.
To the Honourable the Congress, or Council of Safety, for South-Carolina.
AQUILA HALL TO MARYLAND COUNCIL OF SAFETY.
Harford Town, in Committee, March 4, 1776.
GENTLEMENT: As the Convention of this Province has ordered to disband the companies of Minute-men, and that the Committees of the Counties pay off the said companies, for which purpose money will be wanting, as well as to comply with some contracts for arms that this Committee has agreed for, and for which long since the money was requested, but the amount has never yet been had for the enabling of this Committee to comply with the above, we would hope your Honours will furnish this Committee with four hundred pounds, by Mr. Thomas Hall, for the purpose aforesaid. Accounts of which, and for the faithfully laying out the same, shall be rendered to the next Convention of this Province.
Signed by order of the Committee:
AQUILA HALL, Chairman of Committee.
To the Honourable the Council of Safety of Maryland.
GEORGE STRICKER TO MARYLAND COUNCIL OF SAFETY.
Fredericktown, March 4, 1776.
GENTLEMEN: The man who had the blankets for sale in this town could not stay to know your answer to my letter. I have, therefore, taken them, as I knew of none elsewhere to be had. I hope you will excuse my conduct in so doing, as well as the liberty I have taken to give him an order on the Paymaster for the money. The blankets were already engaged, but he let me have them to oblige the Province.