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William Watson to General Washington



Plymouth, January 29, 1776.

SIR: I must ask your Excellency' s pardon for omitting, in my last, some very material circumstances relative to the capture of Commodore Manly' s last prizes. I had not, when I wrote, got an exact account of the matter, since which the Commodore tells me that he had taken the prizes, and had put his people on board them some time before the tender came to their assistance; that there were two other vessels from Nova-Scotia, with stock, in company with these ships, and that the whole fleet, with the tender, would have been taken, had it not been for the cowardice of one of our Continental armed vessels, who was very near them, but dared not engage, and who made the best of his way off.

Commodore Manly fought in very disadvantageous circumstances, not having more than sixteen of his own people on board; but then he received considerable assistance from his prisoners, more particularly from the Captains, who did as much as they dared do in such circumstances.

Your Excellency will please to direct me in what manner I shall conduct with these Captains, relative to what they brought with them on their own account, memorandum of which is enclosed. If these people are indulged to return to Plymouth to take care of their effects, (provided their private adventures are given them,) will it be any disadvantage to the publick? However, your Excellency will much oblige our people, particularly the people belonging to the armed vessels, if you will permit the baizes and checks to be stopped here, as they are greatly wanted to make them shirts.

Commodore Manly is now in our harbour; has been puzzled with the ice, with which we are now blocked up, but has received no damage.

The Harrison, Captain Dyar, is now in the ice, has lost an anchor and cable, but we hope to find them again; we are now cutting the ice, and hope to get him out without further damage.

I shall do every thing in my power to forward getting these vessels to sea, as a large number of ships, from England, are expected, with provisions, and but one of them is of any force.

Captain Morton, of the Artillery, the bearer of this, takes charge of the prisoners, Captains Hall and Grindall, who would have been sent forward before, had not the extreme cold weather prevented.

I am, most respectfully, your Excellency' s most obedient, much obliged, very humble servant,


To His Excellency George Washington, Esq.

Tuesday morning, eight o' clock.—The Hancock, Manly, and the Yankee, Burnes, are now under sail, bound on a cruise.

Memorandum of Sundries, belonging to the Captains HALL and GRINDALL, viz:

Twelve pieces checked lining, cost 36 12 2d˙; ten pieces red baize, cost 141 6d˙; four pieces coarse lining, cost 6 1 4d˙; two ullages Jamaica rum; one handgun; twenty barrels of beef; eight ditto pork.

The above on board the ships Norfolk and Happy-Return, at Plymouth, January 30, 1776.