Table of Contents List of Archives Top of Page
Previous   Next


[No. 56.] Annapolis, March 13, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: We have received your favour of the 10th instant, and send you the four hundred pounds. We think it proper that an account of the disbursements should be rendered to the Council of Safety, and not to the next Convention, as you apprehend; and, therefore, request you will furnish us with it as soon as you can make it convenient.

We are, &c.

To the Committee of Observation for Harford County.


[No. 57.] Annapolis, March 13, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: Enclosed you have a narrative, which will fully inform you of the transactions of the Otter sloop-of-war, and her tenders, which have lately paid us a short visit.* They are much chagrined, we believe, at their losing a large vessel belonging to Mr. Hudson, that was loaded with provision, by order of the Congress, and had been made a prize of but a day or two before, and at their disappointment in accomplishing their design of taking the Ship Defence, which, by all accounts, they made sure of effecting, and was their grand object. Just before they weighed anchor, a flag came on shore with some prisoners, who said they had been treated with great humanity; and, in return, it was thought proper to compliment the officer with two quarters of beef. As soon as they can get a reinforcement, which we imagine they are gone after, we expect to have another and more important visit, and are making the best preparations in our power. We are, &c.

To the Committee of Safety of Virginia.


Philadelphia, March 13, 1776.

DEAR SIR: I was in Virginia (from whence I am but just returned) when your favour of the 26th December came here; and now I have but a moment, before this gentleman goes off, to thank you for it, and to cover a letter from your brother, with the proceedings and ordinances of our last Convention.

General Clinton had left Virginia before I did, and was gone to one (but which we do not know) of the Carolinas. General Lee is now here, on his way to the southward, where he is to take the direction of our and the Carolina Troops. I shall write you fully in a post or two. In the moan time, beg my compliments to your lady, and Mr. and Mrs. Custis.

I am, dear sir, your most affectionate friend,


To General Washington.


Philadelphia, March 13, 1776.

MY DEAR FRIEND: I had a sight of your last to Mr. Jewes. I am glad to find that you are in the land of the living. Life was never more called transitory than in the present uncertain state of things. He makes a very wild wager who bets upon existence for six months to come.

I am happy to hear that my family are well; would to God I was with them. The commotions in Canada are alarming. I wish the accounts we have of the success of the friends of Government against them, may be true. I hope you will not be lulled by their promises into a delusive security. The little regard they have had to their past promises, is a bad earnest for their future punctuality.

We are kept in most surprising ignorance of the present state of North-Carolina. When we leave the Province, our friends seem to consign us to oblivion; and give us the important trust of defending their liberties, without affording us such intelligence of their situation as is absolutely necessary to put it in our power to do it effectually. We anxiously wait the return of Cheer, the express.

Twenty Commissioners have sailed from England, to treat with Assemblies, Counties, Townships, in America —in the last instance, with the Continental Congress, when they have tried every other expedient unsuccessfully. Amherst and Lord Howe are of the number. The King would not, for a long time, consent to treat with the Congress, but was at last prevailed upon. They are to contend for much, and be content with little. Their erred is Divide et impera. Heaven grant that America may have virtue to resist their lures. I most earnestly wish peace and reconciliation upon terms honourable to America. Heaven forbid that I should submit to any other.

The enclosed will give you the state of the Army in and out of Boston. Howe is leaving it with his troops, and we suppose is bound to New-York. Pray make my best respects to your lady and family, and all my good friends near you. I am yours affectionately,


To Samuel Johnston, Esq., Edenton, North-Carolina.

N. B. What I say of the Commissioners, I have only on report; take it for so much.


Cambridge, March 6, 1776.

DEAR SIR: I mentioned to General Washington the letter mentioned in the memorandum you left with me. He bids me say, he sent it into Boston the next day after it came to his hand, and has never heard anything from it since.

You know an attack was intended by us on Boston, when you were here. Last Saturday night our people began a cannonade and bombardment on the town, from Cobble-Hill, Lechmere’s Point, and Lamb’s Dam. Sunday night it was continued by us, and warmly resented by the enemy. They sent us shot and shells, five to one. The first night we burst one thirteen-inch and two ten-inch iron mortars; and on Sunday night, with the third charge, the brass thirteen-inch likewise burst.

We have been extremely unlucky in this way. On Monday night our people went upon Dorchester Neck, on the second large height back of Nook’s Point. They had a strong party, more than three hundred teams, to carry on all necessaries for their works. They marched on by seven o’clock in the evening; and when the march began, a signal was made, and the cannonade and bombardment were renewed with redoubled vigor. This proved a diversion to

*ANNAPOLIS, March 14.—The publick will expect some account of the alarm occasioned by the man-of-war and her tenders. The following is the most perfect we can give at present. On Tuesday, the 5th of March, about seven in the evening, we received information that a man-of-war and two tenders were coming up the bay, and had taken a New-England schooner lying at the month of Patuxent. The wind blew hard at S. W., and the general expectation was that they would be at this place in a few hours. The necessary dispositions were made to receive them in case they thought proper to land; and expresses were despatched to Baltimore Town, and other parts of the Province, to communicate the intelligence. Between twelve and one on Tuesday night the wind shifted, and came on a violent gale at N. W., and so continued all day on Wednesday; during which time we had not any certain information where the vessels were. On Thursday, there was a light breeze up the bay. About two o’clock the vessels hove in sight, and at half past three came opposite this city, with some prizes, and stood up the bay. Off the mouth of this harbour they burnt a shallop loaded with oats, and in the evening anchored near the mouth of Patapsco. On Friday night we received intelligence that the vessels were the Otter sloop-of-war and two tenders; and the general opinion was confirmed, that they were going to Baltimore, to take or destroy the Ship Defence. On Saturday we expected to hear of an engagement, and the rather, as at Baltimore the celerity of their movements exceeded expectation. The Defence being got ready on Friday night, was towed down the river, manned with a number of brave fellows, all of whom were Americans in their hearts, and most of them by birth: several small vessels attended, crowded with men to assist in case of an engagement, which, in all probability, would have been a bloody one. Captain Nicholson got under way early on Saturday morning, resolved to retake Hudson’s ship, (a large vessel the Otter had made prize of, loaded with wheat and flour,) and to engage the Otter, if she moved to assist the tenders which guarded the prize. The morning was thick and hazy, and the Defence got nearer to them than was expected before they discovered her, bearing down upon them. Those on board the tenders appeared much alarmed, and pushed off with precipitation; and, on a signal given, more hands were sent by the Otter to assist in rowing them off; which was effected with difficulty. Three or four email prize vessels were abandoned, besides Hudson’s ship. The Defence having manned the prize, and seeing the Otter get under way, clued up her courses and prepared for battle, expecting her to come up; but the Otter having lain about two hours, as if wanting Captain Nicholson to come down, at length bore away, and in the afternoon, came to anchor off this port. Captain Nicholson continued his station some time; and, having performed this gallant action, returned with the prizes to Baltimore. On Sunday morning the Otter sloop and her tenders made sail, and went down the bay, having restored several prisoners taken in a vessel in the mouth of Patapsco. The Regulars, Militia, and the people in general, behaved with the greatest spirit and alacrity.

Table of Contents List of Archives Top of Page
Previous   Next