George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain Peleg Wadsworth, 16 December 1775

From Captain Peleg Wadsworth

16th December 1775

May it please your Excellency

Agreeable to your Orders of the 5th Inst: I have examined the Harbour of Cape Cod.1 Give it as my Oppinion—that Cape Cod makes a very extensive Harbour with any Winds from the West to North & N. E. & Shipping may conveniently Ride out of the Reach of Cannon altho’ the whole Shore was lined with them. But the Cove, which may Strictly be called the Harbour might be pretty well commanded from an Eminence on the Shore. This might deprive an Enemy of the most commodius part of the Harbour prevent their Watering, Rendesvous &c. &c. I am with due Respect your Excellency’s Humbl. Servt

Peleg Wadsworth

ALS, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in GW to Hancock, 25 Dec. 1775, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC item 169; copy, NjMoHP.

Peleg Wadsworth (1748–1829), a captain in Col. Theophilus Cotton’s Massachusetts regiment, served as an engineer to Gen. John Thomas at Roxbury during 1775, and in February 1776 he became an aide-de-camp to Gen. Artemas Ward. After the British evacuated Boston in March, Wadsworth was named brigade major of the forces defending the city. In 1778 he became adjutant general of Massachusetts, and from 1779 to 1781 he was involved in military operations on the coast of Maine.

1Stephen Moylan wrote to Wadsworth on 5 Dec.: “I have it in Command from his Excellency General Washington, to Desire that you will examine the Harbour of Cape Cod, & see what Fortifications may be necessary for the defence of its entrance, which when you have, with attention & accuracy executed you will please to make a Report thereof, at Headquarters” (PHi: Gratz Collection). For the desire of the Massachusetts General Court to have this harbor defended, see GW to Hancock, 4 Dec. 1775, n.10. On 18 Dec. Wadsworth sent GW two accounts, one for £4.16.6 spent traveling to and from Cape Cod and one for £4.15 for a journey to Plymouth to erect fortificatons for the defense of that town (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 , 3:150–51). GW paid neither sum, and Wadsworth subsequently applied to the General Court, which granted him the full amount of his claims.

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