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Marine Committee to Commodore Hopkins



Philadelphia, October 10, 1776.

SIR: We learned some days ago, with much concern, that the expedition we had planned for you to execute would prove abortive, as the ships had gone out a cruising, under the sanction of Governour Trumbull' s recommendation, with which we cannot be well satisfied, although, in this instance, we are disposed to pass it by in silence, being well convinced both he and the several Captains meant to perform service at a time the ships were idle. Supposing, therefore, that you will have been obliged to lay aside the expedition to Newfoundland, we now direct that you immediately collect the Alfred, the Columbus, Cabot, and Hampden, take them under your command, and proceed for Cape Fear, in North-Carolina, where you will find the following ships of war: the Falcon, of eighteen guns, the Scorpion, of sixteen guns, and the Cruiser, of eight guns, and a number of valuable prizes, said to be forty or fifty in number, and other vessels under their protection, the whole of which you will make prize of with ease. We understand they have erected a kind of a fort on Baldhead, at the entrance of Cape Fear river: but it being only manned with a few people from these ships, we expect you will easily reduce it, and put the same in possession of North-Carolina, or dismantle it, as may appear best. When you have performed this service, you had best deliver to the Continental agents there such of your prizes as may sell well, or be useful in North-Carolina; others you may convoy into Virginia, or this place, for we don' t recommend your remaining at North-Carolina, for fear of being blocked up there. Perhaps you will receive advice that will render it eligible to proceed farther southward to rout the enemies' ships at South-Carolina and Georgia; and if that is practicable, you have not only our approbation, but our orders for the attempt.

We hope, sir, you will not lose one single moment after the receipt of this letter, but proceed instantly on this expedition.

We are, sir, your humble servants.

To Esek Hopkins, Esq.

P˙ S˙ Should the Cabot be still on a cruise, or, if returned, cannot be ready to proceed upon the above expedition as early as one of the frigates lately launched at Rhode-Island, you will proceed with the latter in lieu of the Cabot, as soon as she can be prepared for the sea, or you may take both the Cabot and the frigate if to be done without delay. We wish your plan for manning this fleet from the State of Rhode-Island, may prove effectual; and we do, in the warmest manner, urge you to omit nothing on your part which may tend to promote so important a purpose, and which we have most earnestly at heart. The commissions for the officers of the frigates will be forwarded immediately.