George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain Francis Grice and W. Masters, 30 May 1777

From Captain Francis Grice and W. Masters

Corells [Ferry, Delaware River] May 30th 1777


Agreable to directions of General Mifflin, we are to informe your Excellency of ower safe arival at Corrells, wth a Continental Fleet consisting of eight flat bottom boats, fixed on Carrages; we expect a reinforsement of twelve by friday next1 all wch when arrived shall agreable to your Excellency’s order be kept on the Carrages untill further Order.

The bearer Capt. Grace2 informes us of a number of Carrages at Hackets town fit for the purpus we submit to your Excellency’s Judgement whether Capt: Grace should wth the teams now at Corrells bring the Carrages he speaks of to Philadelphia as the most expeditious method to get the whole Fleet to their destined Port; knowing the allmost imposability of procuring such Carrages in Philad: & we can bring teams with us suffisciant for the boats we have already up, those boats will carry thirty men each.

We have at Trenton lower Ferry twenty boats built to transport 100 men each, & five artillary scows five other scows will be ready at ower return built to carry two field peeses the Company & apparatus; the last mentioned boats & scows are large & will be expensive pooling them to Corells, therefore request your Excellency’s orders for that particular purpose should your Excellency think it necessary to have them up. Major Corell informs us the boats he has & what he can collect at a short notice will carry over 40 wagons per Day.3

As Young Officers we crave your Excellency’s particular Orders, & as dutifull Soldiers we will endeavour punctually to execute them remaining yours to Command.

Comadore’s Frans Grice

W. Masters

LS, in Grice’s writing, DLC:GW. The addressed cover includes the notation: “per Capt. Grace.”

Grice’s associate in this business probably was William Masters (d. 1788), a Philadelphia distiller who helped to collect Continental boats in October 1777 (see Lewis Nicola to an unknown correspondent, 2 Oct. 1777, DNA:PCC, item 163).

Alexander Hamilton replied to Grice on behalf of GW on this date: “Colo. Biddle has given Mr Grace an order to make use of the Waggons at Hackets Town, for the purpose of transporting the twelve boats you mention. The General [GW] expects it will be done with all possible dispatch, as it is absolutely necessary we should have all the boats we can collect at and about Coryel’s ferry, in case we should want to make use of them.

“The General expected that by this time, all the boats were removed from Trenton to Coryel’s. He desires it may be done, without loss of time; since by remaining there, they can answer no good end to us, and may be serviceable to the Enemy, should they make a sudden push that way; and it would be difficult to move them up the River in a hurry, should it be necessary, whereas nothing would be more easy than to carry them down, if there was occasion.

“You will be careful to keep your boats together, so that they may all be had at a moment’s warning, which cannot be the case, if you allow them to be scattered up and down the River” (DLC:GW).

1The following Friday was 6 June.

2Richard Grace of Anne Arundel County, Md., who had been appointed a sergeant in Capt. John Watkins’s independent Maryland company in January 1776, became a first lieutenant in the 2d Maryland Regiment on 10 Dec. 1776, and he was promoted to captain on 17 April 1777. Grace was captured on Staten Island in August 1777, and he remained a prisoner of war on Long Island until at least November 1779. He did not rejoin his regiment.

3John Coryell (1730–1799) of Bucks County, Pa., the proprietor of Coryell’s Ferry, served on the Bucks County committee of safety from 1775 to 1776. He became a captain in the county militia in August 1775, and he was promoted to major on 6 May 1777.

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