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Robert Alexander to Maryland Council of Safety



Philadelphia, February 16, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: I send you, enclosed copies of the instructions and private signals of the several men-of-war and transports on the American station. As these may be of essential service to the different armed vessels now fitting


out in America, copies, by order of Congress, have been transmitted to the different Colonies; and I am ordered by Congress to acquaint you, that they have bound themselves to secrecy; so it is expected that you will consider yourselves under a like tie, and the copy you deliver to the Captain, of your armed vessels, be under seal enclosed, to be opened after his sailing.

The publick papers will communicate all the intelligence, we have, except the arrival of twenty ions of powder, and three thousand stand of small-arms, in Connecticut. We shall send forward some powder and arms to your Province, but I am sorry to say, if we rely on foreign arms, and they are not better than the sample we have, our dependance will be like a broken reed, as I think, if used, they will kill more of our troops than the enemy. What those imported for our Province cost, I know not; a parcel imported here, on a private adventure, have been purchased by Congress, at three pounds two shillings and five pence. Every thing of this kind is exceedingly high; powder seventeen pounds ten shillings per hundred weight. Much of this business passes through a Committee of which I am a member. Patriotism sinks before private interest, and I find many men here, who rank themselves in that class, generally exacting the most from the necessity of their country, hence the publick is plundered.

We have sent off ten six-pounders for the ship, and shall purchase two more. Congress have appointed a delegation to Canada. The persons are Doctor Franklin, S˙ Chase, and Mr˙ Charles Carroll, of Carrollton. I wish you would erect a powder-mill in your Province; I could procure you saltpetre. Your letters of the 1st, 8th, 9th, and 10th instant, are come to hand, and the contents shall be observed.

I am, with respect, gentlemen, your humble servant,


To the Honourable the Council of Safety of Maryland.