George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Watson, 29 November 1775

From William Watson

Plymouth [Mass.] 29 Novr 1775


This pr Capt. Martindales Lieutenant,1 who comes to acquaint your Excellency, that the people on board the Brigantine Washington are in general discontented, & have agreed to do no Duty on board sd Vessel, & Say, that they Inlisted to Serve in the Army & not as Marines.

I believe Capt. Martindale has done all in his power to make things easy—His people really appear to me to be a sett of the most unprincipled, abandond fellows I ever saw—your Excellency knows in what manner to conduct in this matter—I am very apprehensive that little is to be expected from Fellows drawn promiscuously from the army for this Business, but that if people were Inlisted for the purpose of privateering much might be expected from them.2

I have just heard that Capt. Coit is at Barnstable—driven in there by two men of Warr—He has sent an express to your Excellency, but I had not the pleasure of seeing him when he passed thro’ this Town.3 I am your Excellencys most obedient much Obligd Humb. Servant

William Watson


1Moses Turner of Rhode Island was lieutenant of the armed schooner Washington. Captured on 4 Dec. when the Washington was taken by a British warship, Turner escaped from Halifax with Captain Martindale in June 1776.

2“As to Captain Martindale’s People,” Stephen Moylan replied to Watson on 1 Dec., “it is his Excellency’s Orders, that all Such as are unwilling to proceed to Cruize with him, be immediately Sent to Camp to join their respective Regiments under the Care of an Officer, & if Captain Martindale Can with your Assistance get people to go with him, they shall Receive 40/, L[egal] Mo[ney] per Month, & One third of all prizes they may have the good Luck to Make—divided agreeable to the instructions given unto the Captain, indeed the Shares I believe will be on a better Plan than therein Mentioned as it is now under Consideration of Congress to allow one third of all Vessels & Cargoes to the Captors—Should you & Captain Martindale find it impossible to get Men on these terms in a reasonable time I must only Say, that the deficiency of publick Spirit in this Country is much more, than I cou’d possibly have an Idea of—His Excellency has been abroad whilest I wrote the foregoeing—it is his desire that as the Brigte is So well fitted, that at all events she must be sent out to Cruize—She is on the publick service, & Ceremony must be waved, So that if Capt. Martindale Cannot get hands to go with him, you must put in Captain Coit or any one else that Can as his being detaind in Port now may be of the utmost prejudice to the American Cause—fourteen Transports with military Stores Saild in Company with one now taken by Capt. Manly of immense value his Crew will Make their fortunes by Manlys Activity, I am Sorry to think that this is a qualification that Martindale is defficient in, at Least he has given reason for the General to think So. Coud not a Crew for the Brigte be picked out of both Vessells, in fine get her out, Let the expence be what it will, & put what Captain & Crew you think best for the good of the Service on board of her” (DLC:GW).

3“Capt. Coit’s Lieutenant [Henry Champion],” Moylan wrote to Watson on 1 Dec. “has been here, gives an Account of his Schooner being So Old & Crazy as to be unfit for the Service She is employ’d in, If there was a possibility of fixing a better Vessel out, in Six or eight days & removing the guns &c. from on board the Schooner, his Excellency wou’d be glad it cou’d be done, as there are Storeships & transports expected all this Month, but that Mutinous Spirit which reigns thro’ the Marines & Sailors makes the General dispair of your being able to effect this to any purpose, so that I believe it is best to Give the Affair up, & not put the Publick to an unnecessary expence, you must be the proper Judge on this matter, to you His Excellency Leaves it Adverting that if the Vessel Cannot be fitted & Men willing to go in her, within the abovementioned time, you are to Lay the Schooner up, have the Ammunition Stores & every thing on board Carefully Secured, a proper Inventory taken of them Signed by the proper Officers, & transmitted to Head Quarters, by first good Conveyance—Should this be Necessary you will please to inform Captain Coit, that it is His Excellency’s Orders that he make what dispatch he Can to Camp with the Men under his Command” (ibid.).

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