George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Continental Navy Board, 17 December 1777

From the Continental Navy Board

Continental Navy Board
Borden Town [N.J.] 17th Decr 1777


In Consequence of your Recommendation per Col: Worthington, we have done every thing in our Power to forward the Work in Hand. I have the Pleasure of assuring you that every thing goes on with Secrecy & Dispatch, to the Satisfaction of the Artist. We expect he will be enabled in a Day or two to try the important Experiment.1 We have the Honour to be with all Esteem & Respect Your Excellency’s most obedient humble servts

Fras Hopkinson

John Wharton

LS, in Francis Hopkinson’s writing, DLC:GW.

1This experiment was an attempt to damage British vessels anchored near Philadelphia through the use of floating mines constructed by David Bushnell, who the year before had developed a submarine designed to destroy British vessels (see Benjamin Franklin to GW, 22 July 1776, n.1, and William Heath to GW, 10 Oct. 1776, and note 3). Bushnell and his traveling companion, Col. William Worthington, were both optimistic about their prospects for success. Worthington had written Gov. Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut on 20 Nov. that he believed “(by accounts) that below the Cheveaux de frize at Red Bank is as Good a Place to make an attempt as any in america & if it should Succeed there, would Yeald the most Important Service” (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 , 10:548–49). Worthington (1740–1810), who had been appointed a lieutenant colonel in the Connecticut militia in March 1777 and promoted to colonel the following May, also served several terms in the Connecticut general assembly as a representative from Saybrook during the early 1780s and as a justice of the peace for New London County. No written recommendation by GW for Worthington has been identified.

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