George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Watson, 26 January 1776

From William Watson

Plymouth [Mass.] 26. Jany 1776


This pr express, comes to inform your Excellency that Commodore Manly, took yesterday off Cohassett rocks, after an hours engagement (haveing one man wounded in the breast, not dangerous) Two Ships from white Haven bound for Boston, leaden with Sea coal, potatoes &c. Incclosd are bills of Loading—your Excellency will please to direct in what manner I shall conduct with these vessells.1

The prisoners will be treated with kindness & will be sent forward Tomorrow—I am getting the Ships to the wharf & shall secure the small articles from pilferers who frequently infest vessels in there circumstances—I congratulate your Excellency on this reitterated instance of Commodore Manlys success and wish sincerely, that all the servants of the american Republic were equally industri[ous] with Manly. I am most respectfully your Excellencys most obedient, much obliged very humb. Servt

William Watson

N. B. the express brings all the papers taken in the ships.

[P.S.] I wod acquaint your Excellency, that the engagement refered to in my Letter, was with a Tender of 8 guns & full of men, which had those Ships under Convoy, which circumstance I forgot to mention thro hurry. Yours as before

Willm Watson

ALS, DLC:GW. The postscript is on a separate undated piece of paper addressed to GW. The context indicates that it belongs with this letter.

1John Manley captured the Happy Return, James Hall, master, about eight o’clock on the morning of 25 Jan. a short distance east of the Boston lighthouse, and about nine o’clock he took the Norfolk, Jonathan Grendall, master, near the Cohasset Rocks, which lay several miles farther south near the town of Cohasset. Manley engaged the British tender General Gage about 9:30 in the morning and arrived at Plymouth with his prizes about six o’clock that evening (extract of a letter from Whitehaven, 18 June 1776, in 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 , 3:996, n.2). For a fuller account of the engagement with the General Gage, see Watson to GW, 29–30 Jan. 1776.

Stephen Moylan replied to Watson on 28 Jan. and requested him to libel the two prizes immediately. “The Sooner they are brought to trial,” Moylan wrote, “the more agreeable it will be to the General[.] you will take notice that the private property of the Captains & Crews are to be Carefully Guarded for them, & that his Exy aproves much of your precaution in getting the ships to the Wharf in order to Secure the small articles from Pilagers” (DLC:GW). On 1 Feb. Moylan wrote to Watson: “Major Hobart will want 100 tons of the Coals taken in the two prizes sent into your place by Com. Manly, as it is for the publick Service, His Excellency is willing to Let him have them, he paying as much for them as any one else woud[.] His Excellency desires you woud be Carefull to prevent waste of this Article, as it will be very much wanting for the publick works. he is informed that there has been Some pilfering allready” (ibid.).

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