George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Artemas Ward, 27 May 1776

From Major General Artemas Ward

Boston 27 May 1776.


I am to inform your Excellency that Mr Bartlett the Agent at Beverly has purchased the Brigantine Hannah for the Continent, at five hundred and twenty pounds. Captain Bradford of Boston having represented to me that he had an order from Robert Morris Esqr. Member of Congress, one of the Marine Committee, to provide a good sailing Vessel for Continental Service and that the Brigantine would answer the purpose, I have directed Mr Bartlett to let Capt. Bradford have the Brigantine to fit her for the use of the Continent, as Mr Morris writes that a Vessel is wanted to go a voyage upon particular business immediately.1

In the late account I transmitted respecting the attempt the Pirates made upon the two armed Schooners in this Harbour,2 I mentioned that Major Frazers Schooner cut her cable and came up; since I have learnt more particulars I think it appears that the little Schooner was bravely defended. The Franklin had twenty one men Officers included; the Lady Washington had seven, Captain Cunningham Commander, she was attacked by five Boats which were supposed to contain near or quite an hundred men, but after repeated efforts to board her they were beaten off by the intrepidity and exertions of the little Company who gloriously defended the Lady against the brutal Ravishers of Liberty. I am Your Excellency’s Obedient Humble Servant

Artemas Ward

LS, DLC:GW; LB (incomplete), MHi: Ward Papers.

1GW instructed Ward in his letters of 18 April and 9 May to have the prize vessels Little Hannah and Jenny purchased for use as Continental armed vessels if either of them could be had for a good price at the public auction. For an account of the sale, see William Bartlett to GW, 11 June 1776. Robert Morris wrote on 8 May to John Bradford (1723–1784), the recently appointed Continental prize agent at Boston, directing him on behalf of the Continental Congress’s secret committee “to purchase a small fast sailing Vessell” to cross the Atlantic. “We dont on this occasion seek for a Vessell of Burthen,” Morris said, “it is a fast sailer we want as the principal object is to go & come safe. . . . You’l please to Call this Vessell The Dispatch & keep her in readiness to sail in a few hours after orders arrive from the Committee for her to depart” (Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 3:641–42). Bradford reported his acquisition of the Little Hannah to Morris on 30 May. “She’s not a year off the Stocks and Said to be the fleetest Sailing vessell in America,” he wrote. “Twas with some little difficulty I perswaded Gen Ward to order the Agent to d[e]l[ive]r her to me” (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 , 5:304–5). Renamed the Dispatch as the secret committee directed, the brig sailed for Bordeaux in mid-July under Capt. Peter Parker, carrying letters for Silas Deane and various goods to cover purchases of cannon, muskets, and ammunition from French merchants (Committee of Secret Correspondence to Samuel and J.H. Delap, and to Peter Parker, both 10 July 1776, in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 4:426–29). The Dispatch was captured by a British warship off Cape Henlopen on 22 July. About that same time Bradford became involved in a dispute over his disposal of military stores captured aboard British transports, and in 1777 he was accused of plundering the possessions of a prisoner of war (see Jonathan Glover to GW, 20 July 1776, DLC:GW, Bradford to GW, 29 July, 12 Aug. 1776, DLC:GW; GW to Bradford, 5 Aug. 1776, NjMoHP; and Archibald Campbell to GW, 4 Feb. 1777, M-Ar: Revolution Letters). Bradford nevertheless remained agent at Boston at least until 1781.

2For Ward’s earlier account of the attack on the schooners Franklin and Lady Washington, see Ward to GW, 20 May 1776.

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