George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 29 July 1776

To John Hancock

New York July the 29. 1776


Your favor of the 24th I received on Saturday Evening, and agreable to your request shall expunge the preamble to the Resolution Subjecting the property of Subjects to the British Crown to forfeiture and confiscation.1

Our Stock of Musquet powder is entirely made up in Cartridges, I therefore request that Congress will Order Four or five Tons more of that sort to be immediately forwarded It being not only necessary that we should have more for that purpose but also some stock to remain in Barrells.2

Yesterday Evening Hutchinson & Sergeants Regiments from Boston arrived, also Two Row Gallies from Rhode Island. I am fearfull the Troops have not got entirely clear of the small pox. I shall use every possible precaution to prevent the Infection spreading and for that purpose have Ordered them to an Encampment separate and detached from the rest.3

By Saturdays report from Long Island Camp, Five Ships, a Brigg & five Schooners had got into the Hook,4 By Yesterdays two Ships more and a Sloop were standing in, what they are I have not been able to learn.

I have transmitted a General return herewith, by which Congress will perceive the whole of our Force at the time It was made.5

I have Inclosed you an Account of Sundry Prizes which was transmitted to several Gentn here by Saturdays post6—the Two last prizes I did not see mentioned in the Letters shewn me, and I fear the report of the 2d provision Vessell is premature—I was also this Minute informed that Captn Biddle had taken a Ship with Sugars for Britain & in bringing her in, unfortunately lost her on Fishers Island.7 I have the honor to be with the greatest esteem Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 30 July and referred it to the Board of War (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 , 5:621).

1GW is referring here to Hancock’s letter to him of 26 July. Hancock’s letter to GW of 24 July arrived at GW’s headquarters on the morning of 26 July, and GW acknowledged receiving it in his letter to Hancock of 27 July. The previous Saturday was 27 July.

2On the recommendation of the Board of War, Congress resolved on 31 July that “five tons of musquet powder be sent immediately to General Washington at New York” (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 , 5:623; see also the Continental Congress Secret Committee to GW, 1 Aug.).

3The smallpox hospital was on Montresor’s Island in Harlem River (see General Orders, 14, 19 April and 8 May).

5GW apparently enclosed the “Return of the Army in the service of the United Colonies, in and near the City of New York, commanded by His Excellency George Washington, Esqr., General and Commander in Chief,” 27 July, which is in DNA: RG 93, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775–83 (see also Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 1:639–40). It shows a total of 15,215 rank and file, of whom 9,516 were present and fit for duty. In addition, there were 1,374 noncommissioned officers, 153 staff officers, and 955 commissioned officers. An attached return for Knox’s artillery regiment reports its total strength as 588 officers and men.

6This enclosure has not been identified.

7The Continental brig Andrew Doria, commanded by Nicholas Biddle, on 11 July captured the ship Nathaniel and Elizabeth, bound to London from Jamaica with a cargo that included about two hundred hogsheads of sugar and ninety-five hogsheads of rum. Biddle ordered the prize crew that he put aboard the Nathaniel and Elizabeth to sail for the nearest safe port, but on 26 July the vessel was chased onto a reef near Fishers Island by the British warship Cerberus. In a letter to Hancock of 31 July, Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., writes: “Imediately a number of arm’d men from Stonington went on board [the stranded ship] & as they say prevented the man of Warr from Destroying her, the next day Capt [Elisha] Hinman in the Cabot went to their assistance & has saved & brot to this Port [New London] 90 hhd Rum & about 7 hhd Sugar the Remainder of her Cargo is lost” (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 , 5:1304; see also Shaw to GW, 1 Aug.).

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