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Letter from the Council of Safety to the Delegates of Maryland in Congress



No˙ 53.

Annapolis, March 11, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: We received intelligence by our pilot-boats on Tuesday evening, that a ship-of-war and two tenders were under sail, on their way up the bay; and immediately issued our orders for their reception, which were observed with amazing expedition and punctuality. We are much indebted to the spirited, active, and good conduct of the regular officers and troops. The Militia moved with astonishing despatch; and as soon as the vessels hove in sight, our coast was lined with men. At Baltimore, the celerity of their movements exceeded description, and had very nearly proved more advantageous than they really have, for it was expected by the vessels, (the Otter of sixteen guns, a tender of six guns, and the other with swivels only,) that the ship Defence was altogether unprepared; which led them to conceive themselves in a state of security, which had like to have been attended with consequences very disagreeable to them.

The residue of our guns for the ship arrived only on Wednesday night, and on Thursday morning were mounted. On Friday night she was towed a little way down the river, and manned with a parcel of buckskin heroes, and other brave fellows. Several small vessels were crowded with men to assist in case of an engagement; which would have been dreadful, as we understand Captain Nicholson intended to grapple at once. She got under way very early in the morning, resolved to retake Hudson' s ship, and engage the Otter, (which was four or five miles below,) if she moved to her relief. Hudson' s vessel was guarded by the tenders. The morning was thick and hazy, and the Defence got nearer to them before she was discovered than was agreeable to them. They were much alarmed, (not having any idea our ship was in readiness to venture out,) and pushed off with the utmost expedition, leaving the ship and four or five small vessels, which had fallen into their hands. The tenders would probably have been taken, if the Otter, receiving a single gun, had not sent off men to double man their oars. The Defence stretched backward and forward below her prizes, and at length, seeing the Otter get under way, came to close by Hudson' s vessel, and prepared for battle, expecting she was coming up to her; but, to the amazement of our brave countrymen, she bore away and anchored in the afternoon off Annapolis Nicholson continued his station, thinking it imprudent to risk an action, as he had such a valuable prize under his care.

In the evening a flag was sent in. The gentlemen behaved very politely, and on some subjects were free and communicative. They know everything which is transacted here and to the northward. The flag brought a letter to the Governour, from Captain Squire, commander of the Otter, desiring provision for the sloop, and that a tender might be permitted, unmolested, to take a New-England sloop, loaded with bread and flour, which we had sent up the Severn. The Governour laid that letter before us. We refused a supply of provisions, and took no notice of that part of the letter which related to the New-England vessel, thinking it rather an insult; but ordered a guard of about fifty men to be immediately put over her.

We received two other flags in the morning — one of them for our answer, and the other with prisoners; who say they were treated with the greatest humanity and tenderness. The Otter and her tenders, with some prize vessels, sailed down the bay yesterday. But we expect they will return again soon, reinforced; as, from what we can collect, they are bent upon taking or destroying the Defence. Five thousand seven hundred and eighty-two pounds of powder is


arrived in the Potomack, and safely landed at Bladensburgh. You shall have a full state of facts relative to our late interesting situation, by the next post. This we give you in a hurry.

We are, &c.

To the Deputies for Maryland in Congress.