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Letter from Captain John A. Thomas to Maryland Council of Safety



Leonardtown, March 8, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: On Tuesday last, in the afternoon, I received advice that three armed vessels were in, and near, the Patuxent; that one of them had taken a vessel laden with flour, bound to Casco-Bay. On the above notice (as soon as it was possible) we marched down to the mouth of the Patuxent; but before we could do anything we were obliged to borrow all the arms from one company of the Militia, and those but very indifferent — indeed, so bad that it would be cruel to set men to work with them. The company from whom I borrowed the arms are at this moment in the greatest want of them, as we have certain intelligence of, a man-of-war (a large armed sloop) being at this time riding in Potomack. The Militia are, through this County, in a most defenceless state; and my company, if possible, in a much worse one. I have therefore sent Mr˙ Steward up to you requesting to have the arms allotted for us. If you have them not, Mr˙ Steward says he can purchase them. Besides the arms, we want more ammunition; and it is impossible to do anything without them. This County being so particularly circumstanced, I entreat you to allow Mr˙ Steward to look out for arms for us. Under the exigency of affairs I submit it, whether it would not be better to form my company into two and make them sixty-eight non-commissioned officers and privates, with the proper commissioned officers. If you should approve of this arrangement, I would take the liberty to recommend to your notice two young gentlemen who have entered cadets into my company, and who will fill (in my opinion) very well the stations of Third Lieutenants. I have stationed half my company at the mouth of Patuxent, and half (as soon as quarters can be got) will be stationed at the mouth of Potomack; this will put it out of the power of Mr˙ Ford to provide for them. I have therefore contracted for a considerable quantity of pork and bread, which will serve the men on Patuxent a month or more; and Mr˙ Neal goes off directly to the mouth of Potomack to get provisions and quarters for the troops there. As the exigency of affairs would not permit me to consult you, I have, in every step that I have yet taken, consulted the principal gentlemen of the place, who have unanimously agreed to the steps that I have taken; but if they are judged by you to be improper, I beg to be immediately advised, and you may rely that every order from you shall be strictly complied with. I mentioned in my last the necessity of having a horse for expresses and any other uses; I now see the necessity more than ever. The hiring of horses is attended with great delay, and frequently not to be got; I therefore request that you will let me purchase one. I know the publick will be advantaged by it. I also mentioned to you the necessity of having two drummers and fifers. Indeed, little can be done


without them. I beg you will allow Mr˙ Steward to get them at any rate. If purchased, they are the servants of the publick, and their wages (if they live) will soon pay for them, though times are such that I hope you will not stand for trifles. Cartridge paper is indispensably necessary: I beg we may have some. Permit me to press you to consider the naked situation of the County, and to request that Mr˙ Steward may be allowed to look out for arms, &c˙ The money you ordered me is all expended, and the people not yet supplied, or near it, with clothes and blankets. I beg you will send me a sum of money immediately: the purchase of provisions, clothes, &c˙, exclusive of the money already received, will take at least between two and three hundred pounds. I hope I may not be stinted, for I have but little cash of my own; Indeed, what I had has been expended in the service, and the publick is now considerably in my debt. The men are allowed rum and molasses, neither of which articles can be got here. I wish some method could be fallen upon to get us some. If you think proper to form two companies, I hope the gentlemen now in my company will not be overlooked; they well deserve your notice, and the two young; gentlemen cadets; their names are Robert Chesley and Henry Cabery. For any particulars, Mr˙ Steward will wait on you, to give you any necessary information.

I am, gentlemen, your most obedient humble servant,


To the Honourable the Council of Safety of Maryland.