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Letter from the Committee of Worcester County


Letter from the Committee of Observation for Worcester County, to the honourable Council of Safety for the Eastern Shore of Maryland, per Captain William Hopewell:

Committee Chamber, Snow Hill, November 20, 1775.

SIRS: We here transmit to you, under the convoy of Captain Hopewell, Mr˙ Abraham Gibbs and Benjamin Shockly, who have unhappily fell under our censure. The charges against them you will find contained in the enclosed depositions. We much regret the necessity we are under of troubling you with these unhappy people, but thought ourselves, as a Committee, by no means at liberty to pass them over. How far they may appear criminal before you, gentlemen, we cannot pretend to say, nor, indeed, is it our province to determine.

We presume you have had, before this comes to hand, the deposition of Mary Robins laid before you, respecting the infernal machinations of Townsend, His diabolical scheme, since the departure of our first express to you, is incontestably confirmed. We received intelligence, about twelve o' clock on Friday night last, that he, with about seventeen of his wicked associates, had seized upon a small vessel in our river, and had proceeded down to the mouth thereof, on his way to the men of war but that he got aground on the mud flats which make off from the same; in consequence of which, about one in the morning, we sent off a detachment of about forty men, of our militia, well equipped, under the Captains Done and Hopewell, in order, if possible, to apprehend them; but, although every possible despatch was used in getting down, they were unfortunately got off and gone before our detachment arrived.

We have had near one thousand armed men convened at Snow Hill this week, from this and the neighbouring County, (Somerset,) gentlemen of the first character in each, who manifested a very becoming spirit upon the occasion.

We have alarmed the neighbouring Counties of Virginia on this shore; and in case Townsend should, by contrary winds or distress of weather, be compelled to put into any of their harbours upon his return, believe the strictest vigilance will be observed.

We have just resolved to fit out a small privateer immediately, if we can possibly procure a sufficient quantity of ammunition for that purpose, with about forty or fifty men, well equipped with small arms, and some few swivel guns which we have in our possession, to cruise off the mouth of our river, to endeavour to intercept them on their return. We entertain so sanguine an opinion of the intrepidity and resolution of our men, that we doubt not of their ability to cope with any tender, in case that Townsend should come so attended.

We would observe, gentlemen, that Captain Hopewell, the bearer hereof, is elected Captain of our Minute Company, and that the Company has been properly enrolled, and approved of by us, and expect commissions will be issued to him and the other officers of said Company, and that they may receive their proportion of the Province arms. We are much distressed for arms and ammunition. If you can procure us any, pray let them be despatched immediately, as we know not how great call we may have for them, in case that Townsend should return, accompanied as you are already informed.

We don' t know, from the alarms we have already given you, but you may have despatched a number of forces to our assistance. If that should be the case, we shall know how to direct them; but if they are not already on their march, we at present think that more than one good Company would be unnecessary. We can with pleasure assure you, we have conducted matters this week in such a manner as to effect almost a total reformation amongst


our disaffected people to the cause, (at least to outward appearance.)

From the deposition you have already had of Mrs˙ Robins, you may, perhaps, think it strange we have not given him the same conveyance with Gibbs and Shockly. In answer to which, we at present inform you, we have apprehended him, and in our next correspondence will inform you the particulars of our conduct with respect to him.

By order of the Committee:


The following is a list of Officers of the Minute Company:

William Hopewell, Captain; Barnaby Purnell Cannon, Lieutenant; Solomon Long, Lieutenant; Levin Handy, Ensign.

The following Depositions are those referred to in the aforegoing Letter from the Committee of Worcester County: