George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain Joshua Davis, 22 July 1775

From Captain Joshua Davis

Cambridge July 22nd 1775

Pursuant to your Excellency’s Orders I herein Render an Account of such necessarys as will be wanting to Compleat One hundred Whale Boats for the Service—As Also for keeping Said Boats in good repair.

Wanted for Manning the Boats, 601 Men exclusive of Officers

  • One Officer, as Commander in chief
  • One Capt. & Two Lieuts. to each 96 Men
  • One master Boat Builder—at Capts. pay
  • Twenty five boat Builders—at Serjts pay
  • One Boat Master to each boat at Serjts pay
  • Six Men, Exclusive of Officers, to each Boat

Necessarys for the Boats

  • 20 Small Swivel Guns
  • 20 Small Anchors, or Graplins
  • 10 fathom of Whale-Wharp1 to each of the 20 Boats
  • 5 fathom of Cordage for Each of the other boats
  • 600 Oars & 600 Paddles—very good
  • 2 barrs. Pitch & 4 do of Tarr
  • 25 Small Pitch Pots & 5 Ladles
  • 25 Small Pitch Mops—½ lb. weight each
  • 100 lb. weight of White Oakum
  • 6d. 4d. & Clapper Nails: & 100 Yards old Canvass
  • 1500 feet Cedar Clapboards, Sawed for Whale Boats
  • 100 Short Wool’d Sheep Skins for Muffling the Oars

Josha Davis

N.B. A Clerk of Stores & Provissions will be necessary.


Joshua Davis, a ship captain from Boston, actively assisted the Massachusetts committee of supplies throughout the spring and summer of 1775 in obtaining cargoes of flour and other provisions. He also purchased whaleboats and vessels of a similar nature for the use of the colony, and on 11 July the Massachusetts provincial congress consigned all of the assembled boats to Davis’s care (Mass. Prov. Congress Journals description begins William Lincoln, ed. The Journals of Each Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of Safety. Boston, 1838. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 487). Davis later commanded privateers, and in 1781 he was captured by the British and imprisoned for a time in England.

1Whale warp is rope used with harpoons and to haul boats from place to place.

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