James Madison Papers

Board of Admiralty to James Nicholson, 17 April 1780

Board of Admiralty to James Nicholson

FC (NA: PCC, Marine Committee Letter Book, fol. 280).

April 17th 1780


The Board were this day favoured with your letter of the 27th Ultimo2 by which they find the frigate Trumbull is compleatly rigged, wooded, & Watered with 120 Men on board officers included, and that she only waited for some additional provision & Cannon which you have no doubt will be on board in three weeks.

As the Continental Ship Saratoga Captain John Young is now launched and fitting with the utmost expedition3 the Board intend that Ship to Cruize in concert with the Trumbull, therefore you are hereby directed to take a Short Cruize in such latitudes as you think will be most likely to annoy the enemy,4 and afterwards come into Delaware towards the latter end of the Month of June, in Order to join the Saratoga and any other of the Continental Ships which may be here at that time. On your arrival at the capes5 send an express to advise the Board thereof and the State of your Ship, who (Should there be Occasion) will give Orders for compleating your complement of Men & Provision from hence. Any Prizes you may take you are to send into this port, if from your situation and other circumstance it may be deemed the most convenient.

The Board have reason to expect the Continental frigates Alliance & Confederacy soon on this Coast, therefore they hope to have a Squadron of respectable force, especially if the Deane & Bourbon can be added.6

I am Sir &c &c    By Order

John Brown Secy

1Captain James Nicholson (ca. 1736–1804) of Maryland commanded the frigate “Trumbull,” then at New London, Conn.

2Not found.

4For the outcome of this cruise, see Board of Admiralty to Navy Board, Boston, 12 May 1780, n. 5.

5Entrance of Delaware Bay.

6The “Alliance” reached Boston from France in mid-August 1780 (Charles O. Paullin, ed., Out-Letters of Board of Admiralty, II, 260). For the “Confederacy,” see Board of Admiralty to Langdon, 14 April 1780, n. 1, and to Harding, 2 May 1780, n. 1; for the “Deane,” see Board of Admiralty to Navy Board, Boston, 12 May 1780, n. 6; and for the “Bourbon,” see Report of Board of Admiralty, 29 March 1780, n. 3, and Board of Admiralty to Trumbull, 30 May 1780. The Board of Admiralty intended Captain Nicholson, as senior officer of the navy, to command this fleet. For the fate of the plan, see Board of Admiralty to Nicholson, 22 May 1780, n. 3.

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