George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel John Fitzgerald, 19 February 1777

From Colonel John Fitzgerald

Philada 19th Feby 1777

Dear Sir

Since Sealing my letter of this date I met Maj. Morris,1 who told me he had now wrote a Letter to Sr Willm Howe, which in his Opinion could not be object’d to, & which he proposes sending by me.2

I have taken a Copy of it, which I Inclose for your Excellys Consideration—He shew’d me a Pamphlet he wrote in England & says he only wishes to act consistent with the Declarations made therein, & I am of Opinion from the whole of his Conduct that he only wants a Pretence to be forced into our Service, by Sir Willm Howes not Answering his Letter or doing it in a manner not Satisfactory to him.

Two Ships coming up the River one from Nantz, the other from Martinico, their Owners or Cargoes I have not yet Learn’d—there is also a Prize Brig taken at Newfoundland by the Rattlesnake Privateer.3

I shall write to morrow by the Person mention’d in my last & am Your Excellency’s mo. Obedt Hhble Servt4

John Fitzgerald

ALS, DLC:GW.

1This letter has not been found.

2Fitzgerald is referring to Maj. Apollos Morris’s letter of 17 Feb. to William Howe, about which Morris informed GW in his letter of 18 Feb. 1777.

3The unnamed vessels from Nantes and Martinique brought ten tons of gunpowder from France and important letters from American representatives in Paris and the West Indies (see the Committee of Secret Correspondence to the Commissioners at Paris, 19 Feb. 1777, and Robert Morris to the Committee of Secret Correspondence, 19 Feb. 1777, 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 , 6:317–19, 320–21). The prize vessel apparently was the English brig Hope, commanded by Capt. William Price, which was sailing from Newfoundland to Barbados laden with codfish and oil when it was captured on 3 Jan. 1777 about “70 leagues to the eastward of Barbadoes, by an American privateer of 12 guns, and 80 men, and carried into Surinam” (Extract of a Letter from Chester, 21 Mar. 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 , 8:699). The Pennsylvania privateer Rattlesnake, commanded by Capt. David McCullough, escorted the Hope from Surinam to Barbados, and then to Philadelphia, where it arrived on 13 Feb. (see the Pennsylvania Gazette [Philadelphia], 26 Feb. 1777, and Diary of Christopher Marshall, 19 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 , 7:1237). During the spring of 1777 the Rattlesnake, described variously as a 16- and 18-gun vessel, became “such a noted runner that she is said to be a terror to the English Islands” (Nicholas Way to Owen Biddle, 25 April 1777, ibid., 8:430).

4No letter from Fitzgerald to GW of 20 Feb. 1777 has been found.

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