George Washington Papers

Instructions to Colonel John Glover and Stephen Moylan, 4 October 1775

Instructions to Colonel John Glover and Stephen Moylan

[4 October 1775]

His Excelly having resolved to equip two armed Vessels has impowired you to negotiate this Business1 in which the followg Directions are to be observed.

  • 1. That the Vessels be approved Sailors & as well found as possible.
  • 2. That you have an Appraismt made of them by indifferent People to be returned to Head Quarters.
  • 3. That you agree at as reasonable a Rate as you can for the Hire of the Vessels—& if possible procure the Cannon & Swivels on Loan if not purchase them at the cheapest Rate per Month.
  • 4. If you cannot equip them suitably at Salem or Marblehead—one of you to proceed to Newbury Port where there are several Vessels & sundry Cannon provided suitable for this Purpose.2
  • 5. You are as soon as possible to send down proper Directions for the making of the Cartridges & providing Ammunition & a List of what will be wanted.
  • 6. You are to nominate some suitable Person at Cape Ann, Marblehead & each other Place where any Prizes may be sent as an Agent to take Care of such Prizes instructing him to give as early Information as possible of all Captures & the List of the Cargo as far as he can do it from Papers—These Persons when nominated by you to receive Instructions from Head Quarters3—You are also to settle with them the Terms & let them be Persons of approved good Character & known Substance. All Agreemts &c. to be put in Writing.
  • 7. All Contracts entered into by you jointly when together or separately in Case one should go to Newbury the General will ratify & confirm.
  • 8. As soon as either of the Vessels are in such forwardness as to be ready to sail in a few Days you are to send Notice to Head Quarters that the Officers & Men may march down.

Copy in Joseph Reed’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Although Reed’s copy has no dateline, it is endorsed “Octr 4th 1775.” The Varick transcript includes the closing, “I am, Gentn Your Most Obt Servt G. Washington.”

1GW left much of the correspondence concerning the fitting out of these vessels to Joseph Reed. On Saturday 30 Sept. Reed discussed the matter with a committee of the Massachusetts house of representatives, and on 2 Oct. he wrote to James Warren: “Pursuant to the Declaration I had the Honour of Communicating to you and the other Gentlemen last Saturday from his Excellency, he has directed 3 Vessels to be immediately equipped: But as he gave the Several Captures to the Disposal of the General Court it may be necessary for them to Signify in some proper way that these Vessels are to be at the Direction of the General or such as he shall appoint: Which may prevent any Obstacles arising with the Committees or other Persons with whom the Management of this Business is intrusted” (DLC:GW).

The General Court resolved on the afternoon of 3 Oct. that the Marblehead committee of correspondence dispose of the captured schooner Industry and the Gloucester committee of safety dispose of the captured brigantine Dolphin by having each vessel appraised by three persons under oath, sending the appraisements to the General Court as soon as possible, and then delivering each vessel “to his Excellency General Washington’s Order, for him to improve her as an Armed Vessel for Defence of the Country, he giving his Receipt for the same accordingly” (Mass. House of Rep. Journal, July–Nov. 1775 sess. and Nov. 1775–Feb. 1776 sess description begins A Journal of the Honorable House of Representatives of the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England. Watertown, Mass., 1775. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 136–37; see also “Mass. Council Journal,” July 1775–Feb. 1776 sess description begins In Journals, Minutes, and Proceedings, State of Massachusetts Bay, 1775–1780. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , 201–2, and the copies of these resolutions in DLC:GW).

“The Vote of the General Court is at length received,” Reed wrote to John Glover on 4 Oct., “but upon Such Terms & in Such a Manner that his Excellency the General does not chuse to meddle with either of these Vessels—You will therefore on Receipt of this take up two other Vessels the most suitable for our Purpose upon the best Terms you can—let them be prime Sailors, put them into the best Order & loose no Time—A great Number of Transports are hourly expected at Boston from England and elswhere—If you cannot equip them with Guns Suitable from Salem—by going to Newbury Port you may find not only a suitable Vessel but have your Choice of Guns for the Purpose—As you may have more men upon your Hands than you will be able to manage Mr Moyland the Muster Master General is associated with you in this Business & whatever Engagements are entered into by you & Mr Moyland when you may happen to be together or by either in Case one goes to Newbury the General will fully ratify & Confirm” (DLC:GW).

Reed also wrote on 4 Oct. to the Salem and Gloucester committees of safety: “I am directed by his Excellency General Washington to inform you that he has referrd the Disposal of the Cargo of the Vessel lately taken within your District to the General Court of this Colony, to whom he has also recommended the brave Captors for a suitable Compensation. He now proposes to equip the Vessels as Ships of War & immediately to send them on a Cruize, or if these Vessels are not fit for the Service to exchange them for others. For which Purpose he has dispatchd Colo. Glover, & as it will not only be a Protection for the Coast but probably greatly distress the Enemy, his Excellency requests your kind Assistance to Colo. Glover in managing this Business” (ibid.).

2The Newburyport committee of safety petitioned the Massachusetts General Court on 27 Sept. for an armed vessel to protect the town’s harbor, promising to “procure a Vessell, & Commander & Men” and “if necessary eight or ten Carriage Guns, a number of Swivels, & a small Quantity of Powder & Provissions” (Clark, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends , 2:218–19).

3See the draft of instructions to prize agents and the nearly identical letter-book copy of instructions to William Watson, both dated 17 Oct. 1775 and signed by Joseph Reed by order of GW, in DLC:GW. The latter document is printed, ibid., 492–94.

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