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Letter from Captain Leslie to General Howe



Gosport, Virginia, November 1, 1775.

SIR: I have the honour to inform you that I landed, the 12th of last month, at eleven o' clock at night, about three miles from hence, with Lieutenant Lawrie, two Sergeants, and forty rank and file, of the Fourteenth Regiment, and after marching three miles into the country, in search of artillery, we found, in a wood, nineteen pieces of cannon, some of them twelve, others nine, six, and three-pounders; seventeen of which we destroyed, and brought off two; and then, returning to our boats, we re-embarked without the least opposition. Lord Dunmore accompanied us upon this expedition.

On the 17th of October his Lordship was informed that there was a great quantity of artillery, small-arms, and all sorts of ammunition, concealed in different stores, at a place called Kemp' s Landing. In consequence of which, I, with Captain Cooper, Lieutenants Batut, Lawrie, and Leslie, Ensigns Wools, Boys, Ogle, and Lindsay, three Sergeants, and seventy rank and file, of the Fourteenth Regiment, Lieutenant Allen, one Sergeant, and twenty marines, some young gentlemen of the Navy, and ten or twelve seamen, embarked, at two o' clock in the afternoon, in boats and a schooner, in which some guns were mounted to cover our landing, and proceeded seven or eight miles up the eastern branch of Elizabeth River, to Newtown, where we landed without opposition. Notwithstanding above two hundred of the Rebels were at exercise near that place the same evening, and marching three or four miles through the country, we arrived at Kemp' s Landing a little after it was dark, where we searched several stores, and could discover nothing but a good many small-arms, musket locks, a little powder and ball, two drums, and a quantity of buck-shot, all which we either brought off or destroyed; and returning pretty near the same road we went, we re-embarked, about two o' clock the next morning, without interruption. We likewise took several prisoners; one of whom was a Captain of Minute-men, and another a Delegate of the Convention at Richmond.

I have also the pleasure to acquaint your Excellency that Lieutenant Batut, with two Sergeants and thirty-six rank and file, landed at Norfolk, the 19th of October, at twelve o' clock at noon, and marching into the country two miles from thence, took twenty pieces of cannon (from six to three-pounders) concealed in a wood; thirteen of which he destroyed and brought away seven, and returned, about four o' clock in the afternoon, unmolested. Many great guns, small-arms, and other implements of war, have been taken since by small parties; so that there has been, in all, at least seventy-seven pieces of ordnance taken and destroyed since my detachment arrived here, without the smallest opposition, which is a proof that it would not require a very large force to subdue this Colony. There are about eight hundred of the Rebels now at Williamsburgh, and four hundred at Hampton. We are in possession of a large store on the banks of the southern branch of Elizabeth River, under cover of the Otter, sloop-of-war; so that we are not very apprehensive of an attack, though the Rebels often threaten to pay us a visit. As our situation is so extremely critical, I flatter myself that you will be so good as to send us a re-enforcement as soon as possible, particularly the two Companies of our Regiment at Boston or Castle William. The rest of the Regiment we expect from St˙ Augustine as soon as it is relieved by three Companies of the Sixteenth from Pensacola. There are thirty men of my detachment on board Lord Dunmore' s ship, and another one that his Lordship has taken up for a transport.

I have been favoured with your Excellency' s letter of the 12th of September, wherein you inform me that my detachment must be supplied with provisions by the contractors of St˙ Augustine, and that the King must pay the transportation of them from thence; which mode of supply, I am well assured, will be impracticable at this time, for we never could be sure of being furnished with them regularly, as vessels cannot be procured for that purpose, and even if they could, they would be in constant danger of being taken by the Rebels; and, besides, fresh provisions is much cheaper and better for the men than salt, and the expense of the transportation of the latter from St˙ Augustine would be, by all accounts, almost as much as the


former will cost here. However, Lord Dunmore says that he will take upon himself to have whatever troops may arrive here properly supplied in the mean time, and his Lordship thinks that there ought to be a particular contractor appointed for this Colony, exclusive of any other.

Captain Fordyce, with Lieutenants Napier and Wallace, three Sergeants, three Corporals, two Drummers, and fifty-five private men, arrived here from St˙ Augustine the 20th of last month, from whence he brought some ammunition, bedding, and provisions, and was prevented from bringing a greater quantity of the two last articles by Governour Tonyn' s giving positive orders to the agent of the contractors and the Barrackmaster not to issue more on their peril.

I do myself the honour to enclose your Excellency two monthly returns, by one of which you will see that Captain Blackett died here the 14th of last month; in consequence of which, I flatter myself that Captain James Urquhart will succeed to the Company, Lieutenant William Brown to the Captain-Lieutenancy, and Ensign Thomas Appleford Wools to the Lieutenancy, as they are all very worthy men and good officers.