George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety, 11 July 1776

From the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety

In Committee of Safety Philada 11th July 1776


Your Excellencies Letter of the 8th inst. is receiv’d, but the Committee having previously determined on the Appointment of the four Captains of the German Battalion, think themselves very unfortunate, in not having it in their Power to shew the proper respect to the recommendation of Lieut: Waelpart. the letter is however sent forward to the Convention of Maryland, who probably have not yet filled up the appointments committed to them by Congress.1

The Committee understanding that Fire Vessels & Rafts are preparing at New York, and being told that the Combustibles, are manag’d there, in a method different from ours, they are induced to send Capt. Hazelwood to your Excellency to offer his Services in this Business—they have the highest confidence in his skill and abilities having given him the Command of all their Vessels and Rafts—He has sent forward a quantity of useful Materials, which he is told do not make any part of the composition at New York. The Committee do not mean he shall obtrude his opinion or advice, upon those, to whom your Excellency may have committed the direction of this Species of Defence, but they thought on the Comparison of different Modes, some real improvements might be struck out, He takes with him Mr Bedford who has Assisted in the Construction of some of our Fire Rafts.2 By Order of the Board—I have the Honor to be Your most obedt hum. Servt

Geo. Clymer Chairman


1GW’s letter to the committee of 8 July is quoted in the source note to his letter to Hancock of that date. For John David Woelpper’s appointment as a captain in the German Battalion, see that source note and GW’s second letter to Hancock, 22 July.

2John Hazelwood (Hazlewood; c.1726–1800), a Philadelphia ship captain who had emigrated from England at an early age, was appointed by the committee of safety on 28 Dec. 1775 “to the command of Ten Fire Rafts, and Superintendant at Present over the whole Fleet of Rafts” that had been assembled to protect the Delaware River from British warships (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 , 3:286). In early May 1776 Hazelwood attacked and drove off two warships in the river, and on 21 June the committee made permanent his appointment as superintendent of fire vessels and guard boats (ibid., 4:1467, 5:669). Hazelwood arrived at New York City shortly after the date of this letter and soon proved his usefulness to GW and local officials. “Mr Hazlewood,” William Duer wrote to John Jay and Robert R. Livingston on 21 July, “is peculiarly Clever. The Fireships charged in his Manner must I am confident prove destructive to any Vessel they fix upon” (NNgWHM). Hazelwood prepared six fireships on the Hudson River, some at New York City and some at Poughkeepsie, before returning to Philadelphia in early October (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 6:865). On 15 April 1777 Hazelwood was appointed a commodore in the Pennsylvania navy, and during the fall of 1777 he distinguished himself in defending the Delaware River against the British fleet. When the Pennsylvania navy was subsequently disbanded, Hazelwood apparently returned to private business. He was appointed commissioner of purchases for the Continental army in Philadelphia in June 1780, and in December 1780 he became receiver of provisions for the Pennsylvania militia.

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