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[No. 119.] Annapolis, April 14, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: Very urgent affairs of the Province require your attendance in Council. We therefore request you will immediately join us at Annapolis.

We are, &c.

To Thomas Smyth and T. B. Hands, Esquires.


You justly complain of my short letters; but the critical state of things, and the multiplicity of avocations, must plead my excuse. You ask where the fleet is? The enclosed papers will inform you. You ask what sort of defence Virginia can make? I believe they will make an able defence. Their Militia and Minute-men have been some time employed in training themselves, and they have nine battalions of Regulars (as they call them) maintained among them, under good officers, at the Continental expense. They have set up a number of manufactories for fire-arms, which are busily employed. They are tolerably supplied with powder, and are successful and assiduous in making saltpetre. Their neighbouring sister, or rather daughter Colony of North-Carolina, which is a warlike Colony, and has several battalions at the Continental expense, as well as a pretty good Militia, are ready to assist them, and they are in very good spirits, and seem determined to make a brave resistance. The gentry are very rich, and the common people very poor. This inequality of property gives an aristocratical turn to all their proceedings, and occasions a strong aversion in their patricians to Common Sense. But the spirit of these Barons is coming down, and it must submit. It is very true, as you observe, they have been duped by Dunmore. But this is a common case. All the Colonies are duped, more or less, at one time and another. A more egregious bubble was never blown up than the story of Commissioners coming to treat with the Congress; yet it has gained credit like a charm, not only with, but against, the clearest evidence. I never shall forget the delusion which seized our best and most sagacious friends, the dear inhabitants of Boston, the winter before last. Credulity and the want of foresight are imperfections in the human character, that no politician can sufficiently guard against.

You give me some pleasure by your account of a certain house in Queen-street. I had burned it long ago in imagination. It rises now to my view like a phoenix. What shall I say of the Solicitor-General? I pity his pretty children; I pity his father and his sisters. I wish I could be clear that it is no moral evil to pity him and his lady. Upon repentance, they will certainly have a large share in the compassions of many. But let us take warning, and give it to our children. Whenever vanity and gayety, a love of pomp and dress, furniture, equipage, buildings, great company, expensive diversions, and elegant entertainments, get the better of the principles and judgments of men or women, there is no knowing where they will stop, nor into what evils, natural, moral, or political, they will lead us. Your description of your own gaieté de cœur charms me. Thanks be to God, you have just cause to rejoice; and may the bright prospect be obscured by no cloud. As to declarations of independency, be patient. Read our privateering laws and our commercial laws. What signifies a word?


New-York, April 14, 1776.

SIR: I have just received information that the Nautilus sloop-of-war is arrived here from Newport, said to be sent express from thence for the Asia, Phenix, and Savage, and that they are intended for New-London, in order to block up your squadron in that harbour. I thought it my duty to give you notice of this by express, that you might take your measures accordingly. The Phenix, Savage, and Nautilus, sailed this morning. The Asia still remains in the harbour.

I should be much obliged to you if you would forward the cannon and stores I left a list with you for, as soon as possible; and as the men-of-war are now out, I should be extremely glad if you would keep a good look-out, to see that the coast is clear before any more of the Continental Troops embark from New-London

I am, very respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant.


To Admiral Eseck Hopkins.


Alfred, New-London Harbour, April 14, 1776.

SIR: When, agreeable to your request, I undertook to write you an account of our proceedings in the fleet, I did not imagine that I should have been so stinted in point of time. I owed you a much earlier account; but since our arrival here, the repairs and business of the ship have required my constant attention. I will endeavour to be more punctual hereafter; in the meanwhile, hope you will excuse this omission till I can account for it personally. I pass over what was prior to our arrival at the Capes of Delaware, where we were met by the Hornet sloop, and Wasp schooner, from Maryland.

On the 17th of February, the fleet put to sea with a smart northeast wind. In the night of the 19th, (the gale having increased,) we lost company with the Hornet, and Fly tender. We continued steering to the southward, without seeing a single sail, or meeting with anything remarkable, till the 1st of March, when we anchored at Abaco, one of the Bahama Islands, having previously brought to a couple of New-Providence sloops, to take pilots out of them. By these people we were informed that there was a large quantity of powder, with a number of cannon, in the two forts of New-Providence. In consequence of this intelligence, the Marines and Landsmen, to the number of three hundred and upwards, under the command of Captain Nicholas, were embarked in the two sloops. It was determined that they should keep below deck until the sloops were got in close to the fort, and they were then to land instantly, and take possession before the Island could be alarmed. This, however, was rendered abortive, as the forts fired an alarm on the approach of our fleet. We then ran in, and anchored at a small key three leagues to windward of the town, and from thence the Commodore despatched the Marines, with the sloop Providence and schooner Wasp, to cover their landing. They landed without opposition, and soon took possession of the eastern garrison, (Fort Montague,) which, after firing a few shot, the Islanders abandoned. The next morning the Marines marched for the town and were met by a messenger from the Governour, who told Captain Nicholas that “the western garrison (Fort Nassau) was ready for his reception, and that he might march his force in as soon as he pleased.” This was effected without firing a gun on our side; but the Governour had sent off one hundred and fifty barrels of powder the night before.

Enclosed you have an inventory of the cannon, stores, &c., which we took possession of, and brought off in the fleet. We continued at New-Providence till the 17th ultimo, and then brought off the Governour and two more gentlemen prisoners. Our course was now directed back for the. Continent, and, after meeting with much bad weather, on the 5th instant, off Block-Island, we took the Hawke schooner, of six guns, one of Captain Wallace’s tenders, and the bomb-brig Bolton, of eight guns and two howitzers. The next morning we fell in with the Glasgow man-of-war, and a hot engagement ensued, the particulars of which I cannot communicate better than by extracting the minutes which I entered on the Alfred’s log-book.

“At two A. M., cleared ship for action. At half past two, the Cabot, being between us and the enemy, began to engage, and soon after we did the same. At third glass the enemy bore away, and by crowding all sail, at length got a considerable way ahead, made signals for the rest of the English fleet, at Rhode-Island, to come to her assistance, and steered directly for the harbour. The Commodore then thought it imprudent to risk the prizes, &c., by pursuing farther; therefore, to prevent our being decoyed into their hands, at half past six made the signal to leave off chase, and haul by the wind to join our prizes. The Cabot was disabled at the second broadside, the Captain being dangerously wounded, the Master and several men killed. The enemy’s whole fire was then directed at us, and an unlucky shot having carried away our wheel-block and ropes, the ship broached to, and gave the enemy an opportunity of

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