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Frederick George Mulcaster to General Grant


Intercepted Letter transmitted to Congress by General Washington, with his Letter dated December 18, 1775.


St˙ Augustine, October 3, 1775.

DEAR SIR: I wrote you about five days ago [29th September]


by Captain Fordyce, who is not yet sailed. The day before yesterday a man-of-war schooner appeared off; the pilot immediately went out and was put on board; it blew fresh, and she stood off and on the remainder of the day and night. Yesterday she came in with the flood-tide, without the least difficulty. The wind being to the eastward, you, sir, very well know, throws a heavy sea upon our bar, but, not withstanding, she did not even touch; and Lieutenant Graves, who commanded her, told me she then drew nine feet water. Had she been in need of assistance, there is here (belonging to Government) a sixteen-oared launch, a decked schooner of about fourteen tons, and a stout open boat, which would have been ready to have lightened her; but for vessels of that burden there is no such need wanting. She rides safe at an anchor opposite the Chief Justice' s door. I have also a decked boat, which is always ready, and the pilots have my leave to command her at a moment' s warning for the publick use; and you may be assured she would have been out had occasion been necessary. Indeed, I did not dream that such assistance would be even thought of for vessels of that burden, till I got your letter, which makes me imagine that this bar is held to the northward as a bugbear; it was formerly so, only by the jealousy of our two neighbouring Colonies, for fear we should outdo them in their own produce of rice and indigo. I hope now men-of-war' s men will have better opinion of it; in truth, it is done great injustice to. The Governour, Lieutenant Brown, of the Fourteenth, and myself, not above two months ago, sounded it with the pilots; we had seven feet at low water, the tide runs five, which gives twelve at high. The St˙ Lawrence came in at three-quarters flood. When I write to you I am confident you will believe me, as I wish only to say what your Excellency may assert, in favour of a Province once under your protection, and we find how you have still at heart. The St˙ Lawrence' s log-book will prove this. She is infinitely necessary here, for neither provisions, correspondence, or any thing whatever is to be obtained at this place without such assistance.

The Carolinians are, or, I should rather say, have, fitted out three vessels in order to attack the Tamar at Charlestown, which is the reason Thornborough has taken the Cherokee to support him, for they were to be ready in two days after our last accounts from them. They are also fitting out a stout vessel of ten guns, to give Captain Lempriere, (the rascal who look our powder,) for his gallant behaviour off this bar; by this you see that private cruisers are upon this coast as well as the northern.

The guns at Fort Johnston were thrown over the parapet by the Tamar' s people, but what could possess them not to destroy the carriages and knock off a trunnion I cannot conceive; they might at least have thought of spiking them, but Thornborough is old, and unfit for service. It is very well to send such men in time of peace to a hot country, for the chance of a vacancy; but in time of rebellion, surely active officers should be employed.

There is a set of five guns, I have been told, at Providence, and, if my intelligence is good, (and you know I have not in general any bad,) the Carolinians intend soon to have them; should they get them, it will not reflect great honour upon the navy.

The troops going to Virginia can certainly be of no use, but you are mistaken in regard to Lord Dunmore' s sending for them without authority. The first detachment of Captain Leslie and sixty men and the Providence company, was a positive order from General Gage; the detachment of sixty men which goes now was also a positive order of the General' s; and the last order says that, if Lord Dunmore makes a requisition of the rest of the regiment, it is to go upon the arrival of the three companies of the Sixteenth. These orders I have seen, and there is, at this hour of my writing, nothing contradictory to it, so that, should the companies arrive to-morrow, the regiment must, of course, embark, in consequence of those orders, (Lord Dunmore having made the requisition.) However, as the companies are not arrived, the order has undoubtedly miscarried; but the St˙ Lawrence has brought a duplicate of the order to Governour Tonyn, who is to forward it to West-Florida; but there is no contradiction in regard to the regiment. This last article is hearsay, but I believe I am right, and am positively certain that


Furlong has no orders whatever from General Gage to contradict his former, consequently I do not believe that Tonyn has; and if he had, I should most likely have heard it.

A provision vessel would have been of great service; the Pensacola people will have none, but for their passage; and although the troops are not at present in want, yet the inhabitants begin to be in distress for flour. And what is to become of our boasted asylum, if there is nothing to eat for those who choose to come among us? I hope Tonyn will write for a provision vessel by this occasion, I have desired Moultrie to give him a hint of it. Urquhart writes to his brother officers that General Grant lives like a General. He tells them also this Province may thank you for the St˙ Lawrence; by the by, Tonyn wanted to make believe she was sent in consequence of a letter from himself. If your Brigade-Major is as good an officer as the generality of the Fourteenth, you are happy with him; I have often heard him spoken well of by them. Urquhart writes that he expects the Virginia detachments will certainly go to Boston, as they can be of no use with Lord Dunmore, and that the regiment will undoubtedly remain here. Surely there is some strange jumble and mistake of orders in regard to these people; but observe, that what I have already said in regard to the orders I am exceedingly correct in, for, I repeat to you again, I saw them.

De Brahm is on board the Cherokee,as I told you in my last; he has with him a nephew of his own name and the youngest Row, the former from Germany. Some time before Mrs˙ De Brahm died, when in England, she broke open a will of De Brahm' s; the contents (to her astonishment) were leaving every thing he possessed in the world to his brother in Germany. This she wrote to her father, some time before he died; she had sufficient sway with him to make him alter it in her favour, but, as such was his feeling,it is happy for the poor woman she died first. This circumstance I did not know till two days ago, when the person told me had it from old Row. I did not expect even my children would get any thing from him, except, possibly, he might have left them his house and lands after her death; but that he should leave her (who had only him to depend upon) destitute, was beyond my belief almost, but it seems it was too true.

The Government takes up lately a great deal of Skinner' s time; he is not able to visit the plantation so often as necessary, and the crop will not be the better for it; Skinner says much the worse, and complains of the prospect; however, he generally grumbles a good deal till he has done making, therefore I do not expect it is so bad as he says he expects; but I shall see the plantation before Wallace sails, and will be more particular by him. The furniture business you shall then hear about, but at present it is impossible to speak to a man absorbed in pen, ink, and paper, preparing despatches, &c˙, although he did not receive three letters, and no news; even his letters from Donkin, the General' s Aid-de-camp, (who is his particular friend,) I do not hear gave him any intelligence. The furniture is an arduous undertaking; the valuation is highly necessary, but, for the pecunia, I am afraid it is non habet.

Wallace is to take your advice, and bring oranges, &c. As he is not idle, I suppose he will sail soon; at present he is employed in carrying out part of this detachment to the snow, which could not come in, not because she drew too much water, but because her transom beam was broke, and she was afraid to venture, lest, if she chanced to touch, she should go to pieces.

It is now eleven o' clock at night, therefore I shall leave off till to-morrow, when I shall give you an account of the situation of Charlestown. I have finished the plan of the harbour, and the town I shall do in the morning. When it is done, you will have at large the opinions you desired on that subject.

October 4, 1775.

Your black man Alexander was with me this instant to inquire after your health, and has loaded me with beaucoup de complimens. He wishes much to come to make your bread, for he says he gives no satisfaction to his present master and mistress; the former he says is assez bon, but madam, who is always referred to, is the diable.

The parson has got the fever, and is really very yellow.


I wish he could go to the northward; but if he did, his Excellency would have no one to advise with; and, should counsellors grow scarce, he would not know who to appoint.

The enclosed plans I got done with difficulty, as Kirkland was hurrying me, from whom I got the original. I must refer you to him for many particulars. He has with him the last new survey of the Province of Carolina, and he can explain to you all you can want to know of the interior parts, the complexion of the people, the prospect of assistance, &c. I did not tell him what I wanted his draft for, so he does not know of its going by this conveyance to you. I have made some remarks upon the plans, should they be for attacking the town. You must also observe, that the buildings upon the wharves are always filled with pitch, tar, and turpentine. The batteries were in very bad order, but I have heard they were busy preparing to mend them. Fort Johnston is exceedingly out of repair, but, were it otherwise, the shipping can go to the northward of the Middle Ground without danger, as nothing but random shot could hurt them; besides, a frigate could always cover them. Should it be necessary to attack the south side of Broughton' s bastion by frigates, that d-d Fort Johnston must then be silenced, as the south side of the Middle Ground will, by much, be the most convenient water for the vessels to go up to their station. Behind Shute' s Folly transport vessels may easily pass; so Mr˙ Kirkland tells me, which would be a pretty safe way of getting into Cooper river; and, should the landing in the town be deemed rash or improper, they may proceed higher up that river, and land at several places within three, four, five, or six miles of the town, which would be the means of forming an army between them and the country, save their town, (which the rascals do not deserve,) and reduce them to compliance. What I call an army is four or five battalions; for that, with their harbour blocked up, would effectually do their business. Their work at the town gate is out of repair, and not thought of, their chief attention being towards the water; and, even with their utmost efforts there, I do not see how they could resist the frigates. Besides, their batteries are en barbet, and their men exposed. Their harbour is deep water close to their wharves, so that men-of-war might go as near as they pleased on that side; and in Ashley river the frigates marked d, d, may lay much nearer than the letters are placed, for the soundings are set down between them and the shore. These people undoubtedly deserve no favour; why not employ a bomb vessel or two at once; they, under the cover of frigates, would completely do the business; or, place a thirteen-inch mortar on Shute' s Folly, and it will be of infinite service. The enclosed plans will give a clear idea of the situation vessels may be placed in, as you have the shoals and soundings. The town will refresh your memory in regard to the situation of the streets, &c. The plans will also guide you to ask Mr˙ Kirkland questions, which he can, I believe, answer. His general plan will show you the roads and the situation of the Catawbas, with Colonel Thompson' s regiment of Horse, at the fork where the Congaree and Wateree rivers meet. They remain there, not to move till wanted. The regiment consists of about three hundred men, and live about those parts; they do not choose much to come to Charlestown, because of ill health and expense.

I wrote in my last (a few days since) something concerning these back-country people, of their wants and their inclinations to do themselves justice or to join the King' s troops. I also mentioned a scheme of Savannah river and the hack-country people meeting. The man Kirkland can inform you well on all these articles, and, as he knows nothing of my earnestness to acquaint you, or your having wishes to be informed, you may get from him any intelligence you want. If Carolina is to be attacked, he will be of infinite use; but this you will discover as soon as you have conversed with him. I give this letter also to Captain Fordyce, and if Kirkland goes by a safe conveyance from Virginia, he is to deliver them to his care.

John Stuart told me he had, by this opportunity, some instructions from the General in regard to the Indians. Some of them are just now in town; and he told me he intended to keep about forty or fifty encamped near the town for the winter, and he would make up to them in presents


what they would lose by their winter' s hunt. He is jealous of Tonyn. In a day or two, I dare say, I shall know what he intends to do and what orders he has got, but at present he has not opened. His wife being at Charlestown makes him, I fancy, apprehensive for her safety. He thinks she would be massacred should he bring down the red people; he wishes her away, and I wish so too.

Mr˙ Chamier I was already acquainted with. I told him of your recommendation of him. He daily receives instances of people' s hospitality in this place, and your mentioning him will not lessen it. The Barrackmaster Shirreff I cannot say so much for, for I do not see any one who likes him, not from being a bad person, but from being a fool, talking nonsense, a blundering forwardness, and, although, I believe, wishing to be civil, very rude, by all accounts. He is as unlike his brother at Boston as two can well be. I am very well acquainted with him, and I am only pestered by his continually plaguing me to come and drink tea with his wife, who is as stiff and prim as Mrs˙ Catherwood. However, he dines with me to-morrow, and also Chamier, Lieutenant Graves, and Captain Barker, an officer of the Sixteenth, who came in the schooner, expecting to find the companies here. We heard, a few days since, of Barry' s death, the mate of the hospital you got appointed; he died at sea on his way to England, has left a wife and child, and about five hundred pounds, also a will, which gives the use of the money to the wife during her life for her maintenance, and the education of his, son, but if she marries, she loses all benefit of the money, and it is then to go to the child upon its coming of age, which is when it arrives at twenty-four years of age. One would think it was five thousand a year he had left, from the pomposity of the will. However, the poor woman, who had five hundred when he married her, has got by the marriage a child, and less money than she had before.

The bars of Nassau and St˙ Mary' s have been sounded, both of them by Captain Doren and Wallace. St˙ Mary' s I mentioned to you in my last; Nassau is as good as St˙ Augustine, and St˙ John' s I sounded myself, and had nine foot at low water. When Wallace reaches you, he can, as a seaman, give the General, yourself, or the Admiral, a particular account of them. The Georgians talked of visiting us. It certainly was only talk, for there would many difficulties intervene to stop the progress of a flying Yankee party. But suppose it had been so, and they were capable of undertaking schemes of that sort, the armed schooner is at once a safe protection for this Province; one at St˙ Mary' s effectively stops the inland passage by water, and another at St˙ John' s would prevent their passing that river, were they to attempt any thing by land, and that would be attended with little or no expense. I say this, if the Georgians or Carolinians had spirit to make an attempt; but the truth is they are apprehensive at home. They certainly conjecture that it' s more than probable an intention may be to arm the troops to the southward in the winter. However your caution of secrecy will be carefully attended to; no one knows of it but Moultrie, Stuart, and myself. Urquhart says engineers are scarce, and a number of officers employed to assist. Should a southern plan take place, as I am next but one to Montresor on the list, and of the same rank in the corps and army as he is, the General, not being able to spare him, might probably be glad to employ me, and if necessary, have the power to appoint assistants should they be wanted. Besides I am accustomed to the sun, and could escape a fever, when a healthy northern constitution might be laid up. My excursions and lying out for months together for some winters past, makes me not lender or fearful of a wet lodging, or a hungry belly; for I have experienced both. But this I entirely leave to your consideration. Indeed Boston, from all accounts, is no tempting place; but should you think it right for me to join a southern expedition, I am ready at an hour' s notice; an armed schooner to come off a day before the ships sail, would be here time enough to take me in, and meet you before you reached Charlestown Bar, and in case such, a scheme should be approved of, and you like it, time might be saved by the schooner hoisting a yellow flag at her main top-gallant mast head, and firing two guns. I will be aboard of him, if the wind and tide permit, in two hours; therefore, should such a signal appear,


I shall understand it. Captain Fordyce is to forward this by the safest opportunity; but if Kirkland goes soonest, he will deliver them. I need not hint to you to give Kirkland some soup, for I think you will benefit by it. I have been in such extreme hurry, that I have not been able to keep a copy of the enclosed plans; pray be careful of them, should I not be able to procure others; and for fear of discovery, I durst not trust my young men to copy them.

Adieu, and may you succeed in every thing, is the earnest prayer of your always obliged and sincere humble servant,