George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, 18 December 1776

From the Pennsylvania Council of Safety

In Council of Safety Philadelphia
18th [December] 1776


We have to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellencys favour of the 16th & 17th instant, and shall be attentive to the subjects recommended.

Yesterday Captain John Rice commander of a Look out Vessel which we Stationed at Cape May arrived here from his Station and informs us that Five of the Enemys Ships with three Tenders are in our Capes, The Roebuck and Fowey are of the number, the names & force of the others we are ignorant of—We presume they do not intend up our River unless General How’s future movements should encourage them.1

We have sent a quantity of old Cloathing by the bearer which may be of some use to such of our fellow Countrymen who are in the Army and are necessitous for want of suitable covering at this inclement season of the year. We requ[e]st your Excellency will give orders to have them distributed to such as most want them particularly to the Southern troops who we are informed are in great Need. By order of the Council I have the Honor to be Your Excellencys Most obedient Servant

Davd Rittenhouse V. President

LS, DLC:GW; Df, PHarH: Records of Pennyslvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–90. In the draft, which is dated 19 Dec., the last paragraph is at the beginning of the letter and is followed by the text in the first two paragraphs.

1John Rice (1744–1823), who had been appointed captain of the Pennsylvania row galley Dickinson in September 1775 and captain of the state’s new row galley Convention in August 1776, was ordered by the council of safety on 18 Nov. to proceed to Cape May with the Convention to protect American trading vessels there and to give early warning of any attempted British invasion up the Delaware River (see the council of safety to Rice, 18 Nov., in Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 3:192). “Capt. Rice’s Gally,” Thomas Proctor wrote the president of the council of safety on 17 Dec. from Fort Island, “arriv’d from Cape about an hour ago, and Anchors off the Fort. The Lieut. of which Informs of Eight Ships and three tenders being in the Cape, the Fowey and Roebuck is supposed to be two of them” (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 , 7:505–6). Rice was discharged from the Pennsylvania navy in August 1778, and he subsequently commanded various privateers.

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