George Washington Papers

Instructions to Nathaniel Tracy, 2 September 1775

Instructions to Nathaniel Tracy

Head Quarters [Cambridge] Septr 2. 1775

You are hereby authorized & impowered to take up for the Service of the sd Colonies so many Vessels as shall be necessary for the transporting a Body of Troops to be detached from this Army on a secret Expedition:1 Freight of such Vessels to be paid in such a Manner and at such a Rate as is indorsed hereon: And in Case of Loss or Damage to such Vessels or any of them such Loss or Damage to be compensated by the Publick according to an Estimation to be made before the sd Vessels proceed in the above Service.2

G. Washington

Df, in Joseph Reed’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

Nathaniel Tracy (1751–1796) was a prominent merchant in Newburyport, Massachusetts. During the Revolution he outfitted a large number of privateers and for a time achieved considerable wealth. Tracy was bankrupt by 1786, however.

1Benedict Arnold needed transports to take his expeditionary force to the Kennebec River, up which he planned to march toward Quebec. For Arnold’s expedition, see GW to Schuyler, 20 Aug. 1775, n.6, and General Orders, 5 Sept. 1775. On 7 Sept. Joseph Reed wrote to Tracy: “Colo. [John] Glover has just informed the General that there are 5 Vessells at Beverly & two at Newbury which were fitted out for another Purpose, but will answer the Present equally well—as they are completely equipp’d with Platforms, Wood, Water &c.—It will be a saving both in Time & Expence to make Use of these, You will therefore be pleased in your Transaction of this Matter to consider these seven Vessells as a Part of the Transports, & only extend your Care to the Remainder. Whatever Expence may have accrued in preparing any Vessells which will not be necessary by this Arrangement must be carried to the General Account. But you will be careful not to add any Thing to it after this Comes to hand” (DLC:GW). Arnold’s force sailed from Newburyport aboard eleven transports on 19 Sept. and landed at Gardiner, District of Maine, three days later.

2On the reverse of this draft Joseph Reed wrote “To prevent any Disputes which may arise respecting the Freight of the within Vessels it is agreed that Col: [Azor] Orne of Marblehead with two other Persons to be nominated by him fix the Price which shall be binding on both Parties and that the sam Gentlemen do appraise the Vessels before they proceed. J. Reed Secy &c.”

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