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Francis Stephens to General Gage



Office of Ordnance, New-York, August 12, 1775.

SIR: Since my letter to your Excellency of the 31st July, I have been honoured with yours of the 18th preceding, which has given me much uneasiness, as it seems to imply a remissness on my part in not getting more of the stores removed from hence agreeable to your Excellency' s wishes. I must beg leave to observe, that I always used my utmost endeavours to comply with the orders I received, as far as circumstances would admit, but the multiplicity of bulky articles shipped on board the vessels, such as battering planks, boards, joists, bricks, straw, and many other particulars belonging to different departments, (the want of which was strongly urged to me,) took up so much room as to render it entirely out of my power to forward a further quantity of ordnance stores. Had the shipping ordered for that service been in a proper condition to have received their full load, I am well persuaded there would not, in that case, have any thing remained; but as some of them, particularly the ship Henry, had all her water, provisions, &c˙, on board, which the master refused to disembark, I was by that means prevented from sending many more articles which I should have otherwise certainly done.

If your Excellency will be pleased to order the several bills of lading to be laid before you, or an account of the many articles which were shipped from hence on board the different vessels, exclusive of the ordnance stores, you will judge of the vast deal of room they must have necessarily taken up on board these vessels, and which of course prevented my forwarding those stores that have since so very unfortunately fallen into the hands of the rebels.

The brig Countess of Darlington arrived in the sound, a few miles above Turtle Bay, on the twenty-fifth of April,


and had I been permitted to have loaded her, should no doubt have sent to Boston every species of stores I stood charged with, (the largest sizes of shot and shells only excepted,) but the violent commotions which at that time prevailed amongst the people were such as to render it impossible, and the vessel was obliged, for safety, immediately to depart, without my being able to put the least article on board her.

With respect to the saltpetre, it was, at the time, deposited at Turtle Bay, where I conceived it to be equally secure with the rest of His Majesty' s property, and that moving it might excite the jealousy of the people, who assiduously watched that no supplies should be sent to Boston. At this period I had no idea of powder-mills being erected, or that they would ever have the audacity to rob and plunder the store-houses in the manner they have since done; their declared intention at the time being to prevent all supplies going to Boston that might enable your Excellency to act with greater effect against their brethren and fellow-subjects in New-England.

I entreat your Excellency, therefore, to believe me when I assure you, that every thing was done which lay in my power, towards expediting and otherwise forwarding the good of His Majesty' s service.

I am, with the greatest respect, Sir, your Excellency' s most obedient and most humble servant,


To His Excellency the Honourable General Gage.