George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Commodore Esek Hopkins, 14 April 1776

To Commodore Esek Hopkins

New York 14 April 1776.

Sir

I have just receiv’d information that the Nautilus Sloop of War is arriv’d here from Newport, said to be sent Express from thence for the Asia Phœnix & Savage, and that they are intended for New London in order to block up your Squadron in that harbour. I thought it my duty to give you notice of this by Express that you might take your measures accordingly—The Phœnix Savage & Nautilus saild this morning—The Asia still remains in the harbour.1

I should be much oblig’d to you if you would forward the Cannon & Stores I left a List with you for, as soon as possible,2 and as the Men of War are now out, I should be extremely glad if you would keep a good look out, to see that the Coast is clear before any more of the Continental Troops embark from New London. I am very respectfully Sir Your most obedt Servant

LB, in William Palfrey’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. On 15 April GW paid £3 “to Jno. Philips for Riding Express to Commodore Hopkins at New London” (Accounts with U.S., 1775–83, 13). Hopkins received this letter on 17 April and enclosed copies of it in his letters to Nicholas Cooke and Henry Babcock of that date (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 , 4:860–61).

1This report proved to be erroneous (see GW to Hopkins, 25 April 1776). The British warships dropped down the bay on this date to take on water at Sandy Hook because the previous week American troops had driven off a landing party at their usual watering place on Staten Island. The sloop Nautilus, which arrived at New York on 13 April with dispatches from Admiral Molyneux Shuldham, was on its way to Virginia but was temporarily detained at New York to assist in covering the watering parties (Hyde Parker to Shuldham, 29 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 , 4:1310–13).

2The list that GW left with Hopkins after their meeting at New London on 9 April has not been identified. In his letter to Hancock of 15 April, GW says that he asked Hopkins for thirty heavy cannon with the mortars and stores that the fleet had captured at New Providence in the Bahamas. GW eventually received sixteen mortars and a large number of shells from Hopkins but no cannon (see Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 25 April; Hopkins to Trumbull, 28 April; and Shaw to Hancock, 31 July 1776, ibid., 4:1250–51, 1295, 5:1304–5). Congress resolved on 16 April that the captured cannon not needed by the fleet should be used to protect New London, and on 7 May it ordered twenty of those cannon brought to Philadelphia for the defense of that city (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 4:289, 333). Hopkins landed only thirty-four cannon at New London and nearby Groton, however, and took twenty-six cannon to his native Rhode Island for the defense of Newport. For the reluctance of Rhode Island and Connecticut authorities to part with any of the cannon, see Hopkins to GW, 22 May 1776.

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