George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Winthrop Sargent, 7 April 1776

From Winthrop Sargent

Glouster [Mass.] Apl 7 1776


The Bayer [bearer] of this has under his Gard a Number of Prisoners & Toreys tachen by Comodor Manley & Capt. Warters the Prise is sent to Portsmouth I mack Know doubt you have had Acount of before this Reaches your Excellence thar nams you have below thare is two Women & Sum Children Left hear which is not Abel to Travel1 Should be glad your Excellence would Send me Answor to what I Roat you Last about Capt. Watt:s Goods2 and what I am to dow whith the Prisoners for I have Thirtey hear now upon Expences. I Rem[ai]n You[r] Hume Sarv.

Winthrop Sargent, Agent

P.S. Sence I rote the above Capt. Tucker here Carres the Prisners to Marvelhead ware thay well be sent to head Quartr3 will not Carrey the women & Children for fear of the Small Pox so I am fors to porvide for them hear Should be glad of your Order in Regard to the afore—Yr Hu.


ALS, DLC:GW. This letter is endorsed in part, “Ansd in my Lettre to Genl Ward—9th May 1776.”

1On 2 April a few miles off Cape Ann, the American armed vessel Hancock commanded by Commodore John Manley, the Lee commanded by Capt. Daniel Waters, and the Lynch commanded by Capt. John Ayres captured the brigantine Elizabeth, a straggler from the British fleet which had recently evacuated Boston. The next day the prize was brought into Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The Elizabeth’s cargo, valued at about twenty thousand pounds, consisted of woolens, shoes, and other goods that had been removed from shops and warehouses in Boston, mostly ones owned by Patriot sympathizers, to prevent those useful items from falling into the hands of the Continental army. For an account of the problems encountered in disposing of the vessel and its cargo, see GW to Hancock, 25–26 April 1776. On the Elizabeth also were sixty-three persons including the crew, a number of Loyalist refugees, a sergeant and twelve privates of the British 4th Regiment, and four slaves. Most of the Loyalists and four of the soldiers were put on the Lee with their families and were landed in the vicinity of Gloucester. The other prisoners were taken to Portsmouth. The list that Sargent included with this letter contains the names of eleven men in the group of prisoners who arrived at Gloucester. Prominent among them were Caleb Wheaton of Machias, Me., who is described in the list as a “Bad Man,” and three of his sons, Caleb, Jr., John, and Joseph (DLC:GW; see also Clark and Morgan, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964–. description ends , 4:694).

2For Sargent’s efforts to salvage the cargo of the ship Stakesby, James Watts, master, see his letters to GW of 12, 14, and 26 Mar. 1776.

3Capt. Samuel Tucker of the armed vessel Franklin delivered twenty-two persons who had been taken aboard the Elizabeth, including Wheaton and his sons, to the Marblehead committee of correspondence on 9 Arpil (see Jonathan Glover to the Massachusetts Council, 9 April 1776, in Clark and Morgan, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964–. description ends , 4:733). The Massachusetts General Court subsequently ordered the Marblehead committee to send the British soldiers and their families to Gen. Artemas Ward at Boston and the male Loyalists to the General Court for examination. After Caleb Wheaton’s examination, he was obliged to post a bond for £500 to guarantee his future good behavior (Mass. House of Rep. Journal description begins A Journal of the Honorable House of Representatives. At a Great and General Court or Assembly for the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay in New-England. Watertown, Mass., 1776. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , Mar.–May 1776 sess., 107, 120–21, 157, 177–79, 246; “Mass. Council Journal,” Mar.–Sept. 1776 sess., 99, 116, 143–44, 150–51).

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