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from North-Carolina since that Convention met, I find they are for independence, as they either have, or intend to repeal the instructions that were given to their Delegates, and to leave them at liberty to vote, upon every occasion, as they may think best. Mr.was some little time at Halifax. He says they are quite spirited and unanimous; indeed, I hear nothing praised but Common Sense and Independence. The people of North-Carolina are making great preparations, and say they are determined to die hard.
I assure you, my good sir, the vehemence of the Southern Colonies will require all the coolness of the Northern ones to moderate their zeal. I suspected, when I was with you, that, whenever they were urged, they would go to great lengths.
GENERAL CHARLES LEE TO RICHARD HENRY LEE.
Williamsburgh, April 12, 1776.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I am much pleased with the appointment of the Congress, of the two Engineers, and not less so with the artillery establishment; but, at the same time, am a good deal dissatisfied by an omission of the Provincial Congress of Virginia, in not having mentioned a Company of Artillery, which they had already raised, and at the head of which a Captain Innis was placed. You perhaps know him. He was formerly usher of the German school here; is a man of extraordinary virtue, good sense, and knowledge. The thought of discharging such men is extremely disagreeable. I hope some means may be devised of providing for him in a manner adequate to his merit. If a Commissary of Ordnance is to be an established office, it would suit him. There is, I understand, to be, likewise, a Commissary of Musters. I would beg leave to recommend a Mr. Archer, who has a most unexceptionable character, and lost his allhis household goods and slavesin the destruction of Norfolk. These sufferers have certainly (when qualified for the discharge of their duty) the first and most solid claim to the favour of the Congress. As I can have no jobs in view, as I have no predilections or connexions, I shall make no scruples of appointing to act, and intreating the Congress to confirm my appointments.
I have myself no doubt that the first attempt of the tyrants mercenaries will be on Virginia. My opinion of your troops and officers is, thank God, so good, as to put me entirely at my ease with respect to action corps to corps. I only wish your Provincial Congress and Committee of Safety had taken some precautions for the security of your great navigable rivers against their piratical inundations, and, in my opinion, nothing could be easier effected. Perhaps I may differ from the generality of seafaring people; but, as they have their prejudices, and are, like other professions, a servum pecus, I shall not give up my opinion. I would, then, propose fitting your rivers with twelve or eighteen oared boats, mounting a six-pounder at the head of each, fortifying the sides with occasional mantlets, musket-proof, and manning them with stout volunteers, whose principle should be boarding. I am mistaken, when we are sufficiently provided with fleets of this kind, if a single tender will show itself in your rivers. I have already, for experiment sake, sent out one boat, armed and principled in this manner, on a cruise, and expect with impatience the issue. The men have their cutlasses and pistols, and seem to taste the project. I shall order twenty for each great river. The expense is trifling; and the spiritthe very principle of coming to close quarterswill inspire naturally the people with confidence in their own force and valour.
Another great point I seem in a fair way of obtaining: the conciliating your soldiers to the use of spears. We had a battalion out this day. Two companies, of the strongest and tallest, were armed with this weapon. They were formed something like the Triarii of the Romans, in the rear of the battalions, occasionally either to throw themselves into the intervals of the line, or to form a third, second, or front rank, in close order. It has a fine effect to the eye; and the men, in general, seemed convinced of the utility of the arrangement. In two days I shall visit Norfolk, Suffolk, and Kemps Landing.
To Richard Henry Lee.
MARYLAND COUNCIL OF SAFETY TO RICHARD HARRISON.
SIR: By Captain Kell we send you a cargo of flour, which we hope will get safe to hand, and meet with a good market. As to the species of returns, we have heretofore written you fully. We have nothing to add at present, only that you would please to observe that our bay is so full of men-of-war and tenders, that we are of opinion that, whatever returns you send, should be in small vessels, that sail well, and may occasionally run into some of the inlets on the seaboard side of Worcester County, or come in close under Cape-Charles. We are, &c.
To Mr. Richard Harrison, Martinico.
MARYLAND DELEGATES TO COUNCIL OF SAFETY.
Philadelphia, April 12, 1776, nine oclock at night.
GENTLEMEN: Yours of the 9th instant was delivered to us this day at twelve oclock; and we immediately handed the packet enclosed to the President. It contained the act of Parliament for restraining the trade of the Colonies, passed in December last, and which was received here in the beginning of February. Our friends in South-Carolina supposed we might not have received the act, and therefore sent the first copy they received.
There having been an arrival of powder lately, on account of the Congress, we (just before the receipt of your letter) borrowed a ton, and shall send it to Chestertown, to wait your order in the distribution thereof. Every other Colony has been supplied from the Continental magazine, and this was spared to us without hesitation.
We are, gentlemen, your most humble servants,
To the Honourable the Council of Safety of Maryland.
PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS TO THE ASSEMBLY OF NEW-HAMPSHIRE, ETC.
Philadelphia, April 12, 1776.
GENTLEMEN: While the British Ministry are taking every step that cruelty and revenge can dictate for the destruction of American liberty, it is incumbent on these United Colonies to exert their utmost efforts to defeat them. Happily for our country, their military operations have not been attended with that success which they so sanguinely expected. This circumstance, however, far from abating their rage against us, has had the effect constantly produced by disappointed passions; it has roused them to make new exertions of power against us; and we now behold American property, by a late act of Parliament, made legal plunder. Such a train of rapine and violence can be equalled only by the spirit with which it is likely to be executed. Having authorized the seizure of vessels belonging to these Colonies wherever found upon the high seas, there is too much reason to apprehend the execution of the edict (which we may expect in its greatest extent) will, for a time, prove a severe clog to the trade of America. Under these circumstances, the Congress, in hopes of checking, in some degree, an evil which they cannot, at present, remove, and acting on the same principle of self-preservation and retaliation which they have hitherto adopted, have been induced to come into sundry resolutions relative to the fitting out letters of marque and reprisal. The trade of America is an object of so much consequence, and the protection of it so necessary, that I make no doubt of your giving all the encouragement in your power to any measures that may be deemed expedient for its security and existence.
I herewith transmit bonds, commissions, and instructions, which the Congress has thought proper to request the several Assemblies, Conventions, and Committees of Safety, to make use of on the occasion.
I have the honour to be, gentlemen, your most obedient and very humble servant,
JOHN HANCOCK, President.
To the Honourable Assembly of New-Hampshire.
[Same to the Honourable Assembly of Massachusetts-Bay; Assembly of Rhode-Island; Assembly of Connecticut; and Convention of Virginia.]