George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Artemas Ward, 3 May 1776

From Major General Artemas Ward

Boston 3 May 1776.


Yesterday afternoon a Vessel arrived at Newbury from Bilboa in twenty nine days, the Captain of which informs, that on the fourtee[n]th of April in longitude 45, from London he spoke a Vessel from Plymouth in England,1 who informed him that three days before he parted with a fleet of sixty sail of Transports bound for Boston under the Command of Admiral Howe, having on board twelve thousand Hessian Troops; that twenty seven Commissioners were on board this fleet,2 that they were directed if possible to adjust matters with the Colonies; if not, to penetrate at the risque of every thing, into the Country: if this could not be effected, then to burn and destroy all in their power; that Genl Burgoyne was near sailing with four thousand Hanoverians for Quebec; a number of Regiments are gone to the Southern Colonies; that the King of Prussia was made quiet by having all his demands complyed with: that France and Spain had objected against any Russians coming to America.3

Commodore Manley declines going on another Cruise until he has a larger Ship, and he says he cannot recommend his first Lieut. for the Command of the Vessel he last sailed in.4

Frequent applications are made to me to appoint Commanders of the Privateers, and for other matters which no Person here is authorised to transact. I am in great haste Your Excellency’s Obedient Humble Servant

Artemas Ward

LS, DLC:GW; LB, MHi: Ward Papers.

1The informant was Capt. John Lee of Newburyport. According to the version of Lee’s intelligence that Thomas Cushing enclosed with his letter to GW of this date, Lee encountered the vessel from Plymouth on 15 April, and it was a brig bound to Newfoundland.

2Richard Lord Howe and his brother Gen. William Howe, who was then at Halifax, were the only peace commissioners appointed.

3The enclosure with Cushing’s letter of this date indicates that Captain Lee read about the satisfaction of Frederick the Great’s demands and the directions to the peace commissioners in English newspapers that he saw while visiting aboard the vessel from Plymouth. Lee also learned from them “that the Parliament had voted pay for the foreign troops” and “that the People in England were greatly desirous of a Settlement” (Salem committee of safety to the Massachusetts General Court, 2 May 1776, DLC:GW).

4On 17 April Congress elected John Manley captain of one of two Continental frigates under construction in Massachusetts. He served in the Continental navy in that capacity until he was captured by the British in July 1777. Lt. Richard Stiles resigned as first lieutenant of the armed schooner Hancock when he learned that he would not succeed Manley as its captain. Stiles took command of the privateer True Blue at Marblehead, Mass., in April 1777.

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