George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Commodore Esek Hopkins, 12 May 1776

From Commodore Esek Hopkins

Providence May 12th 1776

Honor’d Sir

By Captn Jones in the Providence I have sent you as many of your Officers and Soldiers as I could Collect but some of them that I took onboard are Sick and some have left the Fleet, for what Reason I can’t tell.1

Shall Collect as many of those that are left behind as soon as possible and send them by the first Opportunity and Advertize the Remainder as Deserters tho’ the Officers tell me they believe some are set out by Land to join their Regiments. I am with great Regard Your humble Servt

Esek Hopkins

LS, DLC:GW; LB, RHi: Hopkins Papers.

1John Paul Jones (1747–1792), who was to become the naval hero of the war, took command of the sloop Providence following the court-martial and dismissal of the vessel’s former captain, John Hazard, on 8 May (see Hopkins to GW, 1 May 1776, n.1). On 19 May Jones wrote his benefactor Joseph Hewes from New York: “I arrived here Yesterday Afternoon in 36 hours from Rhode Island with a return of upwards of 100 men besides Officers which Genl Washington lent to the Fleet at N. London. . . . I have landed Genl Washington’s Soldiers, and shall now Apply to Shipping men, if any can be Obtained but it appears that the Seamen almost to a man had entered into the Army before the Fleet was Set on Foot, and I am well informed that there are four or five thousand Seamen now in the Lands Service” (Clark and Morgan, 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 , 5:151–53). Jones had previously served in relative obscurity as first lieutenant aboard Hopkins’s flagship, the Alfred. During the next several months Jones distinguished himself as captain of the Providence by capturing a number of vessels, and in 1778 and 1779 he achieved lasting fame with his exploits in British waters as commander of the sloop Ranger and of the frigate Bonhomme Richard.

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