Samuel Culper, Jr., to Major Benjamin Tallmadge
10 [New York], July 15th1 1779.
I did not mean that Nr 1 shou’d be sent as it was wrote,2 I intended it as hints for my friend S.C. Senior, and expected that he wou’d have wrote you more particular—the shortness of the notice, and not at that time being sufficiently acquainted with the Character of 30 [post rider], prevented my writing so particular as I cou’d have wished—However I flatter myself that it was of some service. I saw S.C. Senior a few days ago,3 and inform’d him of the arrival of 10 sail of Vessels from the West Indies, with Rum &c. and a small fleet from Hallifax, but no Troops—12 sail of Cork Victuallers arrived on sunday last—2, which were then missing, are since arrived;4 also a ship from Thineruffe5 loaden with wines—A Fleet (say about 6 sail) from Jamaica laden wth Rum &c., is daily expected—they are to take the advantage of the June Convoy for England. The Romelus of 44 Guns fell down to the Hook this day—The Daphne & Deleware Frigates are to fall down to-morrow, with some light Transports, which are said to be bound for Hallifax—The Romelus, Daphne & Deleware are to cruise in Boston Bay for the purpose of annoying their trade, and to intercept a number of Privateers & arm’d vessells which it is said are now fitting out of Boston.6 I have conversed with some of the most inteligent of the Masters of the Cork Victuallers, and from what I can collect from them, there will be but few Troops from England this season. some say, who I am certain do not wish it, that there will not be more than 4 Redgments to this place—Ireland is almost to a man against the present Administration; and that most loyal of all Countrys, Scotland, has been for some time past in the greatest confusion, said to be occassion’d by a motion made by Lord North for to pass some Laws in favor of the Scotch Roman Catholicks—They have gone so far as to burn that Minister in Effigee—This is fact.7 I have recd yours of the 10th Inst., and note the contents—The instructions shall be followed as far as in my power8—30 [post rider] came unexpectedly this evening, and says he must go out to-morrow morning, which prevents my being so particular as I cou’d wish—I did not expect him ’till saturday.9 The situation of the army I cannot give you with any exactness; but will endeavour to do it by next opportunity. You may rest assured that I will not give you any entiligence as fact, but such as I am certain is so—I will not intentionally deceive you, as I know that it may be attended with the most fatal consequences. I gave S.C. Senior some hints concerning a Cristopher Duychinck, formerly Chairman of the Committe of Mechanicks of this place, which hope he has transmited10—This much I will inform you that he has acted as an agent for David Mathews, since the commencement of the war11—The particulars must be kept a profound secret, as few persons but myself know them, and it is known that I do. Note a paragraph in Rivingtons paper of the 10th Inst. under the N.-Yk head, and you’ll observe that something has either leaked out, or they have conjectur’d very right.12 I am, sir, Your Humble servant,
samuel Culper, Junior
1. Townsend wrote a “5” over a “4” to change the day of the month from 14 to 15.
4. The diary entry for Sunday, 11 July, of a British officer stationed in New York City reads: “A fleet of 16 Sail of Victuallers arrived from Corke” (Ritchie, “New York Diary,” 428). British officer Archibald Robertson wrote in his diary for the same date: “Cork Fleet Arrived at New York” (Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries, description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends 198).
5. Teneriffe (Tenerife), the largest of the Canary Islands, was a Spanish possession.
7. Catholic efforts in Scotland to ameliorate the penal laws against the practice of their religion had provoked Protestants to riot in Edinburgh during early February. The Pennsylvania Evening Post (Philadelphia) for 15 May printed a notice describing the violence, datelined “EDINBURGH, Feb. 6,” which concludes: “The above outrages are shocking at any time, but what renders them still more inexcusable is, that the Roman Catholic bill is not to be brought into parliament.”
8. The letter of 10 July from Tallmadge to Townsend has not been identified. The “instructions” that Townsend acknowledged likely refer to directions for the new Culper spy given in GW to Tallmadge, 27 June (first letter).
9. The next Saturday was 17 July.
11. David Mathews simultaneously held the posts of mayor and registrar for the court of vice admiralty during the British occupation of New York City.
12. James Rivington published the Royal Gazette (New York), and his issue for 10 July printed several paragraphs under the heading “New-York, July 10.” Townsend probably is referring to a portion of one paragraph, which mockingly begins: “Still the rebels cherish one another with assurances, of eating their next Christmas dinner in New-York. . . . Indeed Mr. Washington has declared he will very soon visit that Capital with his army, as it is confessed, without the least reserve, there are many Sons of liberty in New-York, that hold a constant intercourse and correspondence with the Commander in Chief of the Rebel army, from whom he is supplied with accurate communications of all arrivals and departures, and of every thing daily carrying on there, both in the military and civil branches.”