Primary tabs

Letter from James Murray to Maryland Council of Safety



Cambridge,March 15, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: From the sudden alarm which the sloop-of-war and her tenders have this week occasioned, it was thought necessary to order the Militia of this County on duty, to guard the frontier on the bay shore, &c˙, which they cheerfully complied with; but previous thereto, were under the necessity of making application for arms and ammunition. We were in hopes that, when it came to the test, we should find many of them prepared with private property in ammunition; but in this we find we were deceived. There remained with us a barrel of powder and some ball, sent from Newtown last fall by the Council of Safety, which we have distributed, though it appears to be very Indifferent, and not such as we think men ought to hazard their lives with. This has gone but a small way in supplying the companies.

The people grow exceedingly clamorous. We have been under a necessity of distributing what little we have of private


property; but the whole put together would scarce make three rounds apiece for the companies. To what lengths they may go, if not supplied, we cannot say; but fear when they find that, upon repeated applications, they are not supplied with the means of defence, they may despond, and tamely submit to such ravages as these barbarians may think proper to commit. From the late conduct of the men of our County, we have not the least doubt of their spirit and firmness, and are fully satisfied they will make a bold and resolute stand in defence of the liberties of their country, if properly furnished with arms and ammunition.

We are dally in expectation of another visit from the enemy, and have therefore thought it our indispensable duty to lay the weak and defenceless state of our County before you; not doubting but that, on your being thus truly informed of our situation, you will immediately order us such a supply of arms and ammunition as may be necessary for the defence of the County; as without it, we shall be under the dreadful necessity of submitting to such depredations as our enemies may think proper to commit.

It is currently reported and believed here, that the arms and ammunition for this Province are arrived at Philadelphia; and if this report is true, and we cannot, in our distressed situation, be more expeditiously supplied, we would undertake, by your directions, to send a wagon or two to Philadelphia for arms and ammunition, if you think proper to give an order for the delivery of them to us. Captain Woolford has now upwards of eighty men of his company inlisted. They are a daily expense to the Province, and, in their present situation, of no real service, there being but one man of the whole that has a gun.

We beg leave to report to you, that Mr˙ Thomas Ennalls, nominated as the Supervisor of our Saltpetre Works, has refused to act. We have advertised for another, and as soon as the vacancy is filled, shall inform you.

We are, gentlemen, with regard and esteem, your obedient humble servants.

Signed by order of the Committee of Observation:


To the Honourable the Council of Safety of Maryland.

P˙ S˙ We have given Captain Woolford an order on Captain Robinson for the Province arms, which he received from the Committee of Observation of Kent County; and we hope soon to be able to completely arm his and the other Independent Companies stationed on your Shore.

Upon the late alarm, some powder was given into the hands of the Militia on this side the bay; and we fear it will be difficult to collect the greatest part of it again, and that too much of what remains with the people will be lost to the publick. We recommend it to you, therefore, to deliver to the Captains on the water side as much as you may conceive will he sufficient, (taking their receipts,) with orders not to distribute it among their respective companies until there is a real necessity; and to keep the residue in some convenient part of your County, where, upon any emergency, the other companies may be readily supplied.