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Letter from Colonel Woodford to Edmund Pendleton



Norfolk, December 17, 1775.

Your favour of the 14th came safe to hand last night, and I should esteem myself wanting in duty, and respect to your honourable body, if I did not take the earliest opportunity to express the high sense I have of the great; honour done me by your resolution of the 13th instant, and to assure the Convention that I consider my country' s approbation of my conduct a sufficient reward for any services I may be thought to render at this alarming crisis.

I had taken the liberty to afford that protection and assistance to the distressed Highlanders which I find is the wish of the Convention; and Colonel Howe and myself will pay due regard to your directions respecting those that remain still in this town. Their vessel being detained, and their distressed wives and little ones left to starve in a strange country, is a fresh instance of the inhumanity of a certain Lord.


Your orders respecting the Tories and negro prisoners shall be complied with. We have upwards of one hundred of them now in our guards. Captain Squire sent us yesterday the following ticket:

"Captain Squire' s compliments to Messrs˙ Howe and Woodford, and will be glad to know if they mean to prevent the navy and army from being supplied with provisions and water."

To which we returned this answer: "Colonel Howe and Colonel Woodford' s compliments to Captain Squire, and return him for answer to his message, that as His Majesty' s troops and ships-of-war have long since committed hostilities upon the persons and property of the good people of this Colony, and have actually taken and imprisoned several private gentlemen, and others, who did not bear arms at the time, our express orders are, to prevent, to the utmost of our power, any communication whatever between the said troops and ships-of-war and this town, or any part of this Colony."

In the afternoon the two ships-of-war and tenders got under sail, and fell down towards the distillery. They gave a signal for a snow, with four thousand bushels of salt, to follow; but she not being so quick as-they expected, our guard ordered her to continue. The Kingfisher sent a boat, with about fifteen hands, to bring her off; but our officer hailed her, when within gun-shot, and told her he would fire if she did not return. She took his advice and put about to the man-of-war. On board the snow was Mr˙ Cary Mitchell, with all his official papers, which we have in possession, likewise the vessel, moored to the wharf, and intend landing the salt as soon as a proper house can be got within our guards. That gentleman has made many professions of his innocence, and has prevailed upon Col˙ Howe and myself to take his parole of honour for his appearance before the Convention, for which he sets off to-morrow.

Twenty-odd pieces of cannon were left by the enemy, but spiked and dismantled.