George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major Benjamin Tupper, 20 October 1775

To Major Benjamin Tupper

[Cambridge, 20 October 1775]

Whereas Information has been given to me that two Vessels the one belonging to [ ] Holmes & the other to [ ] Coffin, both Persons of known Enmity to the United Colonies are now laying at Martha’s Vineyard, intending to proceed to Boston with their Cargoes for the Benefit & Refreshment of the ministerial Troops there—These are therefore to require you to seize the said Vessels, with their Cargoes, & Secure them in the Safest & nearest Port to this Camp, for the Use of the United Colonies, and all Persons, Friends [of] their Country & the Cause of America, are desired to aid & assist you in the Said Enterprize—for which they shall be reasonably rewarded out of the Said Vessels1—Given under my Hand at Head Quarters Cambridge Octor the Twentieth Annoq Domini 1775


LB, in Thomas Mifflin’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1The two Loyalists were apparently Benjamin Mulberry Holmes of Boston, who owned several whaling vessels, and John Coffin, a prominent distiller in Boston before the war. Tupper succeeded in capturing a brig and a schooner at Martha’s Vineyard. On 26 Oct. Joseph Reed wrote to him: “The General thanks you for your Care & Diligence in the Enterprize—the Success of which we are just now informed of—You will endeavour to get the Vessels to Plymouth as soon as possible—where you will find Mr Watson who is Agent for the Continent & will advance you what Moneys may be necessary for the Satisfaction of those who have assisted you—The General will notice you himself as it would be indelicate to leave that to yourself—You will then put those Vessels and the Cargoes in the Hands of Mr Watson who will take Care of them ’till farther Orders. We Apprehend that with Care and a Good Pilot you may get safe to Plymouth” (DLC:GW). Reed also wrote to William Watson on the same date, directing him to receive the vessels and to dispose of any perishable articles in their cargoes as promptly and advantageously as possible. “If Major Tupper could immediately man the Brig from Plymouth & be equipped without Loss of Time in sending backwards & forwards here for Ammunition,” Reed told Watson, “the General would not object to his going out on a Cruize with her for a Month or 6 Weeks—but if it cannot be done in a few Days the Season is too farr advanced for this Purpose” (ibid.). See also Watson to GW, 30 Oct. 1775.

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