George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Wharton, Jr., 11 March 1778

From Thomas Wharton, Jr.

In Council Lancaster [Pa.] March 11. 1778.


The enclosed is copy of a letter written by the Navy Board of Pennsylvania;1 which the Council thought proper to refer with such intelligence respecting the boats &c. in Delaware as Captain Huston shall be able to give, to your Excellency.2 However unwilling the state may be to lose their little force on Delaware, their confidence in your wisdom will induce a ready obedience to your Excellency’s Orders in that and every other military department. Perhaps it may be necessary to take effectual measures to prevent the men belonging to the boats from joining the enemy upon their being ordered to sink the gallies &c.

Captain Huston will receive orders from you to the Navy Board. I have the Honor to be with great respect Your Excellencys Obedient Humble servant

Tho. Wharton junr Prest

LS, DLC:GW; Df, PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–1790.

1The enclosure, a letter from William Bradford, Sr., to Wharton, dated 5 Mar., transmitted GW’s letter of 2 Mar. addressed to the Pennsylvania Navy Board, and continued, “The gallies are now fitted and some fallen down as low as Bordentown, and had not a spel of bad weather come on they would have been at Burlington. The people on both sides the river are very uneasy, and fear they shall be plundered if the gallies do not protect them, and as we can compleatly man six or seven of the gallies we think they will protect the river and prevent any of their craft from coming up to plunder the towns and inhabitants along the shores, which they certainly will if the gallies are totally laid by. If they are laid by all the vessels at Bordentown will soon be destroyed as two or three small boats may easily do it. The Generals letter we shewed to Governor Livingston who advises by no means to sink the gallies. We have sent this of[f] by express to your Excellency praying your advice and order on this matter. How we shall remove the Cannon I cannot tell, as we can find no carriage to carry them. Mr Pancass [David Pancoast] was here some time ago, and said he would send some travelling carriages to us, but we have never heard any thing more from him. If your Excellency would send to Colonel Flower, and ask him to forward the Carriages down, we could then easily remove the cannon” (DLC:GW).

2Thomas Houston, who entered the Pennsylvania navy as first lieutenant of the galley Franklin in Sept. 1775, was promoted to captain of the galley Warren in March 1776. In mid-August 1778 he was appointed captain of the brig Convention, newly commissioned as a state privateer, which captured at least three ships by October of that year. After his naval service Houston was granted letters of marque for the brig Hetty in March 1780 and for the brigantine McClenachan in July 1781; the latter ship, under Houston’s command, was captured by the Guernsey before September 1782. In November 1786 Houston petitioned the state legislature for the “benefits and emoluments” of a naval officer, arguing that his commission had never been revoked (Pennsylvania Gazette [Philadelphia], 29 Nov. 1786).

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