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Letter from Major Price to the Council of Safety



Upper Camp, St˙ George' s, July 27, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: The day before yesterday, in the evening, the Roebuck and other ships returned down the river, and came to about five miles from this place. At two o' clock yesterday morning, I received a line from Captain Nicholson, acquainting me that he intended to attack the fleet at daybreak. I immediately despatched an officer, with orders, if possible, to speak to Captain Nicholson, and let him know the ships had returned down the river, and were then within nine or ten miles of the fleet, and that I did not think it prudent to attack them. Colonel Barnes had sometime before despatched an officer. The one I sent got to his camp, but neither of them could come up with Captain Nicholson. I immediately, on the receipt of the letter, ordered the troops under arms, and despatched Captain Thomas with about forty on the Island, to alarm the enemy in that quarter, Major Eden with about the same number on the Point, with a four-pounder, and I took the remainder, twenty-five in number, on board of two boats and canoes, and went down St˙ George' s River as near the enemy as we could with safety, when I left them under the command of Lieutenant Adams, with orders, if there should be any confusion in the fleet, to push up with their boats to Cherryfield Point, where I would be. I then went across to the Point, where our people from the lower camp had been at work all night, and by the time the sun was rising, had mounted the two largest cannon. About an hour after, we espied the Defence making up for the fleet. The Fowey, which lay about a mile from the battery, did not see her, or seemed to take no notice of her, for more than an hour, when we noticed boats going ahead of her, as we supposed, to carry out her anchor, in order to warp her out; and in a short time, we observed her hauling out, when I immediately ordered the cannons to be fired at her. We fired four times from the nine-pounder, and twice from the four, one of which (the nine, we think) hulled her; the other struck a boat laying at the stern, with, I believe, men in her. I saw them a very little time before, the Fowey all the time hauling out. By this time, observed the Defence put about, and stand down the river. I believe she must have seen the Roebuck, which was seen some time after standing down after her, the Fowey giving chase a very little while before. Upon the whole, the enemy appears to be a good deal alarmed, and I am in hopes will leave this in a short time.

Captain Boucher came to camp last night; he left two row galleys about two miles above this place. I furnished him with a boat and some hands to go back by water; he expects to be down with the galleys this evening. I am collecting all the boats and cannons, to give him all the assistance in my power. The remainder of the Militia here must be discharged tomorrow night. I expected to have had a fresh recruit of them by this time. Shall be very weak — not less than twenty regulars down with fevers at this time. There will be great difficulty in getting the


cannon back by land; should think it best to have them carried by water, if vessels can be had, as soon as the enemy goes off.

Enclosed you have Governour Eden' s answer to Mr˙ Wolstenholme' s letter, which was brought to Captain Forrest, who I ordered to that station, in place of Captain Mackall, whom I could not so well depend upon. You have also enclosed Captain Forrest' s letter to me, and Mr˙ Wolstenholme' s answer to Governour Eden.

This is a shocking country: everything scarce; water we are obliged to haul nearly three miles; no liquor but bad whiskey to drink; everybody fatigued and tired of the place. If the enemy continue here, must certainly have fresh troops. I had almost forgotten to tell you that the nine-pounder turns out extraordinarily good, perhaps none better; all here are much pleased with her.

I am, gentlemen, your most obedient servant,

To the Honourable Council of Safety.