George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Watson, 3 November 1775

From William Watson

Plymouth [Mass.] 3 Novr 1775


I have just this moment receivd intelligence of the shipwreck of a Vessel1 from Philadelphia at Eastham inside of our Bay, Loaden with 120 pipes Wine, and that the wine is all sav’d excepting 2 pipes stove in Landing it—Your Excellency will pleese to order in what manner this Wine shall be disposed of, whether it shall be sent to head quarters, or whether it shall Remain where it is.2

I wod acquaint your Excellency that the Scooner Harrison has been some time ready to sail but bad weather hinders & that the Scooner Lee Capt. Manly is now in this port, who with the Harrison Capt. Coit will sail the first wind3—Capt. Martindal wod have been ready by this, had not the rains & some inpedements respecting procureing Cannon interven’d.4 I have the Honour to be your Excellencys most obligd Humble Servant

William Watson


1A mark here on the manuscript refers to a note in Watson’s writing at the end of the letter that reads: “the Vessel was bound to Boston.”

2The vessel that wrecked on Cape Cod was the sloop Monmouth, Perkins Allen, master. “By your Last,” Stephen Moylan wrote to Watson on 6 Nov., “his Excellency observes that there are 118 pipes of Wine Saved out of a Vessel bound to Boston & Wrecked at Eastham it is his desire that you will take immediate Charge of them & forward them to Cambridge with all Speed, where they will be Sold for the publick Use, & where they fetch a good price if their Quality is tollerable” (DLC:GW). It was later discovered that the Monmouth belonged to Thomas Salter of Philadelphia and that its cargo was not intended for the enemy. See Moylan to Watson, 18 Nov., quoted in Watson to GW, 11 Nov. 1775, n.4, and GW to Hancock, 28 Nov. 1775.

3John Manley (c.1734–1793), a Boston shipmaster who had previously served in the British navy, sailed from Beverly on 29 Oct. in the armed schooner Lee, which had been leased and fitted out by Stephen Moylan and John Glover. After cruising off the coast for three days, Manley anchored at Plymouth to take on fresh drinking water. The news of his arrival there was not welcomed at headquarters. “I hope the Lee is out again,” Moylan wrote to Watson on 6 Nov., “the Chance of taking Prizes must soon be over from the Advance of the Season, therefore the Cruizers should now be in port as little as possible, which you will please to urge to the Gentlemen who Command them” (DLC:GW). Manley and Coit both sailed from Plymouth on 4 Nov., and over the next few weeks Manley took several prizes, most notably the ordnance brig Nancy. See GW to Hancock, 30 Nov. 1775. In January 1776 GW appointed Manley to be commodore of a squadron of four armed schooners, and the following April Manley became a captain in the Continental navy. He was captured by the British in July 1777, and after his exchange the following March, he commanded privateers, being twice more captured and released. Manley finished his naval career as captain of a Continental frigate in 1782 and 1783.

4“The General is apprehensive,” Moylan wrote Watson on 6 Nov., “that Capt. Martindale is going upon too large a Scale, & that he will make the outset of his Vessel too expensive—the intention of fitting out these Vessels, is not to attack the Armed, but to take the unarmed Vessels, which Capt. Martindale Seems to have lost Sight of by putting Such a Number of Carriage Guns on board the Washington; but I sincerely hope his Success, will Amply repay the Expence” (DLC:GW). Martindale did not sail from Plymouth until 23 November.

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