George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Massachusetts Council, 2 August 1777

From the Massachusetts Council

Council Chambers [Boston] August 2d 1777


The inclosed are Copies of two Letters one from Salem & the other from Glocester from which it appears that the Information respecting the British Fleet being off Cape Ann is not to be relyed on. Should we gain any certain Intelligence respecting them Your Excellency may Depend on being regularly informed thereof.1 Any Information from You advising the Situation of the Army under Your Command or any advice Respecting the Enemy’s intentions will be very acceptable to the Council In whose behalf I am With great respect Your Excellency’s Most Obedt humble Servant

Artemas Ward President

LS, DLC:GW; Df (photocopy), DNA: RG 93 Photocopies of State Records, M-Ar. For GW’s reply to this letter, which is docketed in part “Ansd 11th,” see GW to Artemas Ward, 11 August.

1The enclosed letter from the Salem, Mass., committee of correspondence, inspection, and safety to the Massachusetts council, written on 1 Aug. 1777 by committee chairman Thomas Mason, reads: “Whereas an Express was this day forwarded to the Hon’ble Board, from Brigr Genl [Michael] Farley at Ipswich, giving information, that the British Fleet was seen off of Cape Ann, from which we suppose, it will be generally believed that they were going to Boston & as any misinformation upon a matter of such prodigious importance, may prove infinitely prejudicial to these States, this Committee think it their Duty, from a regard to the publick Safety, to inform the Honble Board, that they have the strongest reason to doubt of the truth of this Account; for the following reasons: one Mr Gardner, who came athwart the Bay Yesterday, informs the Committee, that he saw nothing of any Fleet. Capt. Hugh Smith, being before the Committee, informed them, that yesterday about 11 oClock he was about 5 or 6 Miles, northeast of the Salvages, & saw about 20 Sail, which He took to be Boats, lying at Anchor, a fishing, & was pretty certain they were nothing more than Boats. an Express is gone on to Cape Ann, to gain intelligence; if upon its return, the Committee should have any further advice of importance, they will immediately dispatch a special Messenger to Council. By order of the Committee . . . The Committee would not by this representation, mean to put the people off their Guard but only to prevent a needless Alarm” (DLC:GW).

The second enclosure is Lt. Col. David Warner’s letter to the Massachusetts council from Gloucester, Mass., of 1 Aug. 1777: “Friday 9 oClock Evening Your Honors may depend I shall endeavor to do my Duty with all vigilence in giving the Earliest Intelligence of Importance from time to time as may come to my Knowledge or I can Collect—With respect to the Fleet, we have not had any further Intelligence nor have we heard of any other persons seeing any fleet since what Capt. Knight reported which we sent to Brigadier Farley. Capt. Knight is a Gentleman of Credit and Judgment, but many persons thinks He might be deceived by the Extraordinary Haze and the Cooming of the Isle of Shoales. Two Men of War are in Sight and have been Several Days” (DLC:GW).

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