George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, 10 February 1777

From Brigadier General Benedict Arnold

Providence Feby 10th 1777

Dear General

Inclos’d is two receipts, one from Earl Percy for twenty Six prisoners deliver’d him the 8th Instt; the other from John Read (Secretary to Sir Peter Parker) for seventy Seamen receiv’d from Mr Clarke, and Capt. John Havens, those receiv’d from the latter I have Inclose’d a particular list of, which with those deliver’d Earl Percy amount to Fifty, who were received from New Hampshire, the others were sent from this State.1 Captain Havens had positive Instructions, to take a receipt specifying the rank each Officer bore in the Army, or Navy, Sir Peter Parker refusd signing such a receipt (as appears by Captn Havens cirtificate) for what reasons I cannot apprehend. The Prisoners I mentioned in my last to be sent from the Massachusetts Bay are all stop’t except a few—who will go from this in a day or two.2

General Spencer return’d Yesterday from Boston, the State of Massachusetts Bay, have desired General Ward to send One Thousand Continental Troops to this Place, and have furnish’t General Spencer, One Thousand Pounds Lawfull Money, This State and Connecticutt have been apply’d too, in vain, as both are exausted of Cash, for want of which every wheel in this department moves slow.

The Govenor and Council of this State have form’d themselves into a Council of War who are by a certain Gentleman to be consulted on all occasions, this accelerates our opperations very little—I wish the way of decission may not prevent our striking a Capital stroke in this Quarter for which there appears a tolerable opening.

By some persons who lately left New Port we are inform’d the Enemy are drawing of their Troops from the out Posts, on Rhode Island into New Port—I wish they may not all be drawn of to New York, or Reinforced, I hope we may be able to manage those now on the Island, which we suppose to be about four thousand. I have the Honor to be with every Friendly and Affectionate Sentiment Dear General Your Most Obedient & very Humble Servt

B. Arnold


1The enclosed receipts and list have not been identified, but a list made by Sir Peter Parker’s secretary John Read at Newport on 8 Feb. gives the names of twenty-three Americans prisoners who were placed on board a cartel sloop on that date. The prisoners were the captains and crew members of four New England vessels that were seized and escorted to New York by H.M.S. Unicorn in mid-January, sloops Savage and William and schooners Smack and Abigail. The vessels were sailing for the south with cargoes of rum, sugar, mahogany plank, flaxseed, and other goods (see List of Prisoners, 8 Feb. 1777, in 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 , 7:1143, and New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury, 27 Jan. and 3 Feb. 1777, ibid., 1046, 1095). For the names of fifty-seven British prisoners who were held by the Americans in New Hampshire, including thirty-one seamen who were captured from the British ships Hero and Royal Exchange and the armed schooner George, see A List of British Prisoners Sent from the State of New Hampshire, Lately Taken by Sea & Land, and Brought There, 31 Jan. 1777, in Bouton, N.H. State Papers description begins Nathaniel Bouton, ed. State Papers. Documents and Records Relating to the State of New-Hampshire during the Period of the American Revolution, from 1776 to 1783 . . .. In New Hampshire Provincial and State Papers, vol. 8. 1874. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 8:476–78. John Haven (1735–1813) was the first lieutenant of a company of 100 volunteers that the New Hampshire house of representatives ordered to be raised on 12 Dec. 1776 for the reinforcement of the Continental army at New York. By late January 1777, when he was ordered to accompany the British prisoners in New Hampshire to Newport, Havens apparently had been promoted to captain (see the Exeter committee of safety’s orders to John Haven, 30 Jan. 1777, ibid., 474–75).

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