George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Langdon, 21 September 1775

To John Langdon

Camp at Cambridge Septr 21st 1775


E’er this you must have heard of the taking, and retaking of your Ship; and of my ordering it to be delivered up to your Agent. I have promised the Officers, to wit Captn Broughton, Lieutt Glover, & another Subaltern whose name I cannot recollect, that I would recommd them to your notice & compensation. I should have done the same thing in behalf of the Men (for you must know the Vessell which retook yours was fitted out at the Publick expence, & manned with Soldiers for a particular Expedition) but for their exceeding ill behaviour upon that occasion—I was obliged to send for, & bring them here Prisoners instead of prosecuting a scheme I had in view with the People of Hallifax, & I hope to bestow a reward of a different kind upon them for their Mutinous behaviour.1 With very great esteem I am Sir Yr Most Obedt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, CSmH. The cover is addressed “To John Langdon Esqr:—of New Hampshire—now at Philadelphia.” Langdon wrote at the bottom of the letter “Answer’d 1st Day of October 75.” No letter of that date from Langdon to GW has been found.

John Langdon (1741–1819), a merchant of Portsmouth, N.H., sat in the Continental Congress from May 1775 to January 1776. He became prize agent for New Hampshire in June 1776 and from 1776 to 1782 served as speaker of the house of representatives. Commissioned colonel of a light infantry company by the New Hampshire general assembly on 25 June 1776, Langdon took the field with his men during the Saratoga campaign in the fall of 1777 and during the Rhode Island campaign in August 1778.

1For a discussion of the recapture of Langdon’s ship Unity by the armed schooner Hannah on 7 Sept., see Nicholson Broughton to GW, 7 Sept. 1775, n.2. The subaltern was Lt. John Devereaux. Langdon gave $60 to Nicholson Broughton, $40 to John Glover, Jr., and $30 to Devereaux. See Joseph Reed to John Glover, Sr., 17 Oct., and Stephen Moylan and Glover to Reed, 22 Oct. 1775, both in DLC:GW. The Hannah’s crew, believing that the Unity was a legitimate prize, mutinied when their spokesman, Joseph Searle, was arrested for objecting too violently to the return of the ship to Langdon. Cargoes of American-owned vessels that were recaptured could not be sold for prize money. See Instructions to Nicholson Broughton, 2 Sept., and Broughton to GW, 9 Sept. 1775. GW sent a detachment to Gloucester to quell the mutineers. For their court-martial, see General Orders, 22 Sept. 1775.

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