George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Stephen Moylan, 13 October 1775

From Stephen Moylan

Portsmouth [N.H.] 13th Octobr 1775


I arrived here the 11th inst. & deliverd Colonel Reeds Letter to the Chairman of the Committee1 in Consequence of which he calld a meeting of the members, the result was, that they woud deliver to my Care 1200 barrells of the flour, and let me know what would be done, with the rest of the Cargo, when they received an Answer to a Letter they had wrote to your Excellency, in which (they inform me) they express the great want of that article in this province.2

As even a half a Loaf woud be better than no bread I told them I woud take immediate charge thereof, and yesterday I engaged two sloops, to begin the transportation, one of them will take in, this day.

I have engaged in behalf of the Continent to insure (against the enemy only) the Vessells,3 the Committee will appraise them, they are to receive one shilling Lawfull money per barrell, which at this season of the year is not extravagant, I find by haveing had a few barrells weighed, they fall short 3. 4. & 5 pounds, of the weight Markd on them, & as it will probably become a Continental Charge, I have thought it best to have them all weighed, that the publick, or the Commisary into whose hands they fall, may not pay for more flour than they realy have.

As there are people in this town inimicall to the Cause, I think best (in part) to Keep it secret where this flour is to be Landed, the engagements I have made are, that they must proceed to Newbury, Ipswich, Cape Ann, Salem or Marblehead, according to the orders, I shall give them when goeing to sea.

A Coppy of these orders, I have the honor of incloseing to you.4

I have appointed Trist. Dalton Esqr. of Newbury Agent for the Armed schooners, & any Prizes they may Carry into that port, & Colonel Joshua Wentworth for this Province, they are to obey all Orders they will receive from Headquarters.5 I have the honor to be Your Excellencys Most Humble & Obedient Servant

Stephen Moylan

P.S. Your Excellency will be pleasd to order, two hundred and forty Dollars to be sent me by the bearer, that I may pay the freight and other Charges attending this business.6


Joseph Reed replied to this letter about 15 October. See John Glover to GW, 15 Oct., n.2, and GW to the New Hampshire Committee of Safety, 15 Oct. 1775, n.2.

1Reed wrote Hunking Wentworth on 7 Oct. that “the General fearing he shall give you & the other Gentleman of the Committee too much trouble has directed me to inform you that he has dispatched Mr Moylan Muster Master General of the Army to negotiate the Transportation of the Flour he will give a Receipt for it, so that any Directions of the Congress with Regard to any Compensation for Capture may be fully complied with, should any such Claim be made. The Vessel &c. his Excellency thinks should remain under your Care till the Determination of Congress is had. You will therefore, Sir, oblige the General & promote the Service giving Mr Moylan all the Assistance you can” (DLC:GW). For more of this letter, see GW to the Portsmouth Committee of Safety, 5 Oct. 1775, n.2. See also Reed’s covering letter to Moylan, 7 Oct. (DLC:GW).

3Moylan enclosed a copy of his certificate, dated 13 Oct., insuring each sloop for £300 against the risk of capture by the enemy (DLC:GW).

4The enclosure in DLC:GW reads: “You are to proceed with the first fair wind to the Port of Salem, and deliver your Cargo Consisting of [ ] barrells of Flour to the Care of Mr Hask. Darby [Elias Hasket Derby] at his Wharf, who will give you a receipt for the Same. You are by no means to go farther out to Sea than is absolutely necessary for the preservation of your vessell & Cargo—Hugg the shore all the voige as much as possible. Avoid every vessell you See and make all the dispatch you possibly Can. by Complying with these instructions, you will render the risque of the enemy trifeling, you will merit the Confidence of your Country, and you will be entitled to receive one shilling Lawfull money per barrell for your Freight.”

5Tristram Dalton (1738–1817) of Newburyport, Mass., and Joshua Wentworth (1742–1809) of Portsmouth, N.H., were prominent merchants who played active roles in the public affairs of their respective colonies. A copy of Moylan’s instructions to Dalton, dated at Newbury 10 Oct., is in DLC:GW. “The terms on which you are to be compensated for your trouble,” Moylan told Dalton “are 2½ per Ct on the sales of any Cargoe that you may have orders to dispose of in this port, & the same on the necessarys which the [armed] schooners may want from you.”

6For the sending of the money, see Joseph Reed to Moylan, c.16 and 19 Oct., Moylan and John Glover to Reed, 19 Oct., and Reed to Glover and Moylan, 20 Oct. 1775, all in DLC:GW.

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