George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens, 4-7 February 1781

From Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens

Boston 4[–7] Feby 1781.

My dear General.

Upon my arrival here the 25th Ulto I found that men and money were still wanting to fit the Alliance frigate for sea—I immediately insisted on the necessity of an impress, and of having recourse to extraordinary means for the necessary supply of money—The Head of the navy board who is at the same time, a leading member in the house of Representatives gave me such positive assurances on both points—as tempted me to employ the interval of preparation in my visit to Newport1—but as I was returning, I was met with a letter informing me that the motion for an impress had been rejected—to add to our difficulties the terror of the impress had cleared the port of Seamen—and deprived us of the little succour we derived from the ships rendezvous—In these circumstances I was reduced to the necessity of soliciting Genl Lincoln for authority to engage such Voluntiers from the Continental Recruits of this state; and soldiers of the invalid Corps—as might be qualified for the sea-service—I applied to Gov. Hancock for similar authority with respect to a Corps of State troops which garrison the Castle—I addressed myself to the principal merchants—and tried every expedient that could be thought of—as Gov. Hancock could not act but with the authority of the General Court I yesterday presented a memorial, and obtained permission to inlist twenty Voluntiers from the Castle Guard—General Lincoln whose zeal in the service of his country is indefatigable, has condescendingly undertaken to use his personal influence in engaging the men and is gone down to the Castle with a sum of specie, allowed by the Genl Court for that purpose—if he is successful we shall be able to go to sea with confidence—These men are the more necessary to us, as they are natives and persons upon whose attachment we can depend—as a counterbalance to a number of british prisoners who were admitted on board, when the ship first began to be man’d.

I am at all events determined to insist on Barrys sailing with the first wind—I have admitted as many passengers as could be accommodated, on condition of their serving as voluntier Marines—they will likewise be an additional security against the suspected part of our Crew.

7th Captain Barry says our Ship is but barely manned—however I am determined to embark today—and expect he will sail in the course of the week. Wind and weather permitting.2

I have only time to entreat Your Excellency to present my respects to Mrs Washington—and accept the assurances of attachment with which I am unalterably yours

John Laurens.


1The head of the eastern navy board was James Warren. Laurens had consulted with Lieutenant General Rochambeau while in Newport (see Rochambeau to GW, 2 Feb.).

2For the departure of the Alliance on 11 Feb., see GW to Laurens, 15 Jan. (first letter), n.2.

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