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Letter from Jonathan Beall to Maryland Council of Safety



Prince George' s County, March 15, 1776.

DEAR SIR: Permit me to trouble you with these lines, on the arrival of gunpowder in Potomack, for the publick use, and to inform you of the great desire and expectation of the people that a part of it will be allotted to the use of this County, (particularly the Potomack part of it,) where the people much wish to be provided, as well as may be, from the apprehension of an armed force soon proceeding up the river to Alexandria, which, you know, lies about opposite to the centre of this County, on the Potomack side. We have five companies on this river in the Piscataway District, and four or five in that of Bladensburgh.

The wisdom of the Council of Safety will direct the quantity, and how to be ordered in the disposition; but I will take leave to submit, whether it may not be thought best to have it lodged under the direction of the Committee of Observation at Bladensburgh and Piscataway, presuming it will not be thought proper to deliver it into the hands of the people, for obvious reasons. I think there are some of


the Captains on whose undoubted care dependance might be had; but I fear there are some others whose prudence on such occasions may be doubtful. This causes me to think of its being under the direction of the Committee of Observation in each neighbourhood where it is lodged, as the most proper method.

The people had begun to be somewhat dispirited, on account of want of arms and ammunition, especially the latter. There is an obvious change since the arrival of tills powder, (the article most wanted,) from the expectation of their being furnished therewith. This being done, I make no doubt the inhabitants in these parts will prove as spirited as in any part of the Province.

They are on a sudden more active in getting their firearms in order, on this prospect of getting powder. We are busy casting bullets and buckshot, of which I believe we can make out fifteen or sixteen hundred pounds. We are also tolerably well off for gun-flints, the Committee having, last summer, purchased all the lead and flints they could lay their hands on. I am in hopes we can manage to have better than half of our people provided with fire-locks; but several of them can only be used for want of better. I wish we could be happy enough to be better furnished; but we must do the best we can. I know the gentlemen of the Council of Safety, and with a real pleasure can say I have a confidence in them, and that they will do the best in this, as well as every other part of their duty. I freely express these sentiments to the people. Your candour will not think there is any flattery in this declaration — there is really none. But I think it not at all improper to express myself freely, and shall do so more from your last letter. The information you there mention to have received from this County, I think must have a very slight foundation. Should the Council think it convenient to allot a pound of powder per man for the numbers in the several Potomack Companies, I believe it would have a great and good effect on the spirits of the people. As the companies on the Patuxent lie less exposed, there may not be thought so great an allowance necessary as on Potomack, where we must expect any attack on these parts most likely to be.

I would wish to be understood as to my sentiments of the powder being lodged under the direction of the Committees of Piscataway and Bladensburgh, not to mean jointly; but that a part be lodged with each place, under the direction of those of the Committee of Observation in each neighbourhood, that no obstruction to the use, when required, may take place. But after taking the freedom to trouble you with so much, I submit the whole to the determination of the Council.

Please offer my best compliments to the worthy members of your able Council, and be assured (to you and them) I am, with real esteem, dear sir, your obedient humble servant,


To the Hon˙ Daniel of St˙ Thomas Jenifer, Esq.

I hope to hear of your recovery from your late lameness. Several gentlemen, deserving attention in this County, have asked my mentioning them to the Council, as desirous of acting as officers in any other regular force that may be raised in this Province, either Continental or Provincial. The names follow, viz:

Luke Marbury, John Addison, Hezekiah Wheeler, Thomas Dent, John Beanes, William Duvall, Walter Cox, John Burgess. The three first are Captains in the Militia, and hope to have not a town commission. As above, &c.