George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Brigadier General Nathanael Greene, 28 July 1776

From Brigadier General Nathanael Greene

Camp on Long Island July 28 1776

Sir

Col Hands reports that the Enemy continues as they were. they fird several Guns last Night different from any custom that has prevaild amongst them since the Arrival of the fleet, A considerable noise and movement of the Boats was heard, after the Signal Guns; and the hurry and confusion they seemd to be in after the firing discoverd they were Alarm’d, Perhaps they have heard of the fire Ships.

Capt. Talbut of Colo. Hitchcocks Regiment, begs the command of one of these Vessels. he is a daring Spirit and I dont doubt will execute the command agreeable to your Excellencys wishes. As I am totally Ignorant of the matter, I could give him no encouragement until your Excellencys pleasure was known.1 I have the honnor to be your Excellencys most obedient humble Servant

N. Greene

ALS, DLC:GW.

1Silas Talbot (1751–1813), a merchant and shipmaster from Providence, served as a captain in a Rhode Island regiment before becoming a captain in Col. Daniel Hitchcock’s 11th Continental Regiment on 1 Jan. 1776. Talbot took command of a fireship on 1 Aug. 1776, and on the night of 17 Sept. he was severely burned in an unsuccessful attempt to set fire to a British warship, supposedly the Asia (see Talbot to the Continental Congress, October 1777, DNA:PCC, item 42, and 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 , 9:794). As a reward for “his merit and services” on that occasion, Congress promoted Talbot to major on 10 Oct. 1777 (ibid., 793). Nearly two weeks later on 23 Oct. Talbot was wounded in the fighting around Fort Mifflin on the Delaware River. He recovered from that wound in time to participate in the Rhode Island campaign of 1778, and that fall, in command of a small sloop which he had outfitted, Talbot captured the British armed schooner Pigot near Providence, an accomplishment that earned him praise from GW and Congress and promotion to lieutenant colonel on 14 Nov. 1778 (GW to Sullivan, 3 Nov. 1778, NhHi: Sullivan Papers, and 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 , 12:1132). During the spring and summer of 1779 Talbot commanded the armed sloop Argo, which captured a number of prizes in Narraganset Bay and Long Island Sound. Although Congress commissioned Talbot a captain in the Continental navy on 17 Sept. 1779 (ibid., 15:1075–76), the navy had no ship for him, and he subsequently commanded the privateer General Washington. That vessel was captured by a British warship in 1780, and Talbot was held prisoner until December 1781 when he was exchanged. Talbot did not again serve in the Continental army or navy, but in 1794 GW appointed him one of the first six captains in the U.S. navy.

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