Primary tabs

Letter from Colonel Moylan to William Watson, giving him instructions in regard to captured Vessels



Cambridge, December 1, 1775.

Sir: Your favours of the 23d and 29th ultimo are come to hand. Captain Coits lieutenant has been here, and gives an account of his schooner being so old and crazy as to be unfit for the service he is employed in. If there was a possibility of fitting a better vessel out in six or eight days, and removing the guns, &c˙, from on board the schooner, his Excellency would be glad it could be done, as there are store-ships and transports expected all this month. But that mutinous spirit which reigns through the marines and sailors, makes the General despair of your being able to effect this to any purpose; so that I believe it is best to give the affair up, and not put the publick to an unnecessary expense. You must be the proper judge in this matter. To you his Excellency leaves it, adverting that if the vessel cannot be fitted, and men willing to go in her in the abovementioned time, you are to lay the schooner up, have the ammunition, stores, and every thing on board carefully secured, a proper inventory taken of them, signed by the proper officers, and transmitted to head-quarters by the first good conveyance. Should this be necessary, you will please to inform Captain Coit that it is his Excellency' s orders that he make what despatch he can to camp, with the men under his command.

As to Captain Martindale' s people, it is his Excellency' s orders that all such as are unwilling to proceed to cruise with him, be immediately sent to camp to join their respective regiments, under the care of an officer; and if Captain Martindale can, with your assistance, get people to go with him, they shall receive forty shillings lawful money per month, and one-third of all prizes they may have the good luck to make, divided agreeably to the instructions given to the captain. Indeed, the shares, I believe, will be on a better plan than therein mentioned, as it is now under consideration of Congress to allow one-third of all vessels and cargoes to the captors. Should you and Captain Martindale find it impossible to get men on these terms in a seasonable time, I must only say, that the deficiency of public spirit in this country is much more than I could posssibly have an idea of.

His Excellency has been abroad whilst I wrote the foregoing.


It is his desire that as the brigantine is so well fitted, that at all events she must be sent out to cruise. She is on the publick service, and ceremony must be waived, so that if Captain Martindale cannot get hands to go with him, you must put in Captain Colt, or any one else that can, as her being detained in port now may be of the utmost prejudice to the American cause. Fourteen transports, with military stores, sailed in company with one now taken by Captain Manly, of immense value. His crew, will make their fortunes by Manly' s activity. I am sorry to think that this is a qualification that Martindale is deficient in; at least he has given reason for the General to think so.

Could not a crew for the brigantine be procured out of both vessels? In fine, get her out, let the expense be what it will, and put what captain and crew you think best for the good of the service on board of her.

I am, &c˙,


William Watson, Esq˙, Plymouth.