George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Artemas Ward, 20 May 1776

From Major General Artemas Ward

Boston 20 May 1776


I am to inform your Excellency that yesterday afternoon Captain Mugford in the armed Schooner Franklin, fell down in order to go out on a Cruise but got a ground near Point Shirley in the Evening. Major Frazers little armed Schooner went down at the same time with the Franklin, and anchored not far from her;1 about midnight a number of sail and other Boats from the Men of War attacked the two armed Schooners,2 the people on board Major Frazer’s cut their cable and came up; Capt. Mugford was very fiercely attacked by twelve or thirteen Boats full of Men, but he and his Men exerted themselves with remar[ka]ble Bravery, beat off the Enemy, sunk severy of their Boats and killed a number of their men, it is supposed they lost sixty or seventy. The intrepid Captain Mugford fell a little before the Enemy left his Schooner, he was ran through with a lance while he was cutting off the hands of the Pirates as they were attempting to board him; and it is said that with his own hands he cut off five pair of theirs: no other Man was either killed or wounded on Board the Franklin.3

These are all the particulars which I have been able to collect, as but one man has yet come up from the Schooner this morning. I am Your Excellencys Obedient Humble Servant

Artemas Ward

P.S. Mr Mugford was not commiss[ion]ed Captain of the Franklin, but Master, and as the other Officers had left the Schooner he took the Command.


1John Grizzage Frazer, an assistant quartermaster at Boston, obtained a commission from the Massachusetts council on 22 April 1776 for an armed schooner called the Lady Washington. This privateer, which was owned solely by Frazer, sailed under the command of Joseph Cunningham, with a crew of 20 men, 4 cannon, and 20 swivels.

2The attack was made by five boats from the British warships Renown and Experiment, which were anchored at the entrance to Boston Harbor.

3Seven British attackers were killed in the engagement. For additional details, see Ward to GW, 27 May 1776, and the New-England Chronicle (Boston), 23 May 1776.

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