George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 16 July 1776

From Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Lebanon [Conn.] July 16th Anno Dom. 1776


This will be delivered to You by the Captain of one of our Galleys, two of which, The Whiting and the Crane are ordered to proceed to New York forthwith, and put themselves under your Command. the Third is stationed at Stonington, which may be exposed to suffer from the Attack of a single Ship (several of which are now cruising near it) if the Galley is removed from thence.1

The great desire I have to comply with every requisition which concerns the Defence of the American States, at this Critical Juncture, has induced Me to send you these Gallies, altho I am sensible they are not furnished with Guns as may be necessary to render them so usefull as they might be with heavier Metal; the Guns intended for them by the Colony are not yet compleated at Salisbury from whence we hope for them soon.

I have directed the Captains to move your Excellency for some heavier Guns while in your Service, or untill we can get such as are more suitable from Salisbury down the North River if possible.2

I am sorry we cannot possibly spare You any heavy Cannon it being wholly out of our power; we have no more than are necessary, and are mounted upon our Forts at New London and Groton, should any of them be taken away, those fortresses will become, in a great Measure, useless, and the Town and Fort, upon an Attack might fall into the possession of the Enemy, which could not happen but with the greatest Detriment to the united States in General, as well as this in particular. I am with great Esteem and Regard Sir your obedient Humble Servant

Jonth. Trumbull

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, Ct: Trumbull Papers.

1The Whiting, which was launched at New Haven on 29 May, was commanded by John McCleave, and the Crane, which was launched about the same time at East Haddam, was commanded by Jehiel Tinker (1741–1780). The row galley at Stonington was the Shark, which had been recently built at Norwich and was commanded by Theophilus Stanton. All three Connecticut galleys arrived at New York by 28 July, and during the next eleven weeks they were assigned to the American naval force that attempted to defend the Hudson against British warships (see Clap, “Diary,” 249; GW to Trumbull, 1 Aug. and 1 Oct. 1776; and Benjamin Tupper to GW, 3 Aug. 1776). For accusations of misbehavior against the three Connecticut captains, see General Orders, 21 Aug., and Joseph Reed to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 18 Oct. 1776, in 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 , 6:1317–18. The Crane was run aground and captured by a British warship near Dobbs Ferry on 9 Oct. 1776 while Tinker was absent from the vessel. The Whiting apparently was captured or burned about the same time, and on 30 Oct. 1776 the Connecticut council of safety dismissed McCleave and his crew from its service. The Shark remained in the Hudson without a crew until the following spring when efforts were made to man it again (see Alexander McDougall to the Continental Marine Committee, 16 May 1777, in 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 , 8:979–80). McCleave, Tinker, and Stanton each subsequently commanded a Connecticut privateer.

2Capt. Jehiel Tinker wrote to Trumbull on 18 July from New London, where he was outfitting the Crane: “I have got on board three cannon, (nine-pounders,) of the five that were here, which is all that will answer; and two three-pounders out of the old fort” (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 1:425). The Connecticut galleys apparently received heavier guns and other equipment at New York later this month (see Capt. Benjamin Trumbull’s journal entry for 30 July in Conn. Hist. Soc. Col. description begins Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society. 31 vols. Hartford, 1860–1967. description ends , 7 [1899], 179–80). The iron furnace at Salisbury, Conn., in the northwestern corner of the state, had been improved the previous winter to enable it to produce cannon and cannonballs. The Salisbury foundry remained in operation throughout the war and manufactured camp kettles and salt pans as well as ordnance for the state and Continental forces.

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