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General Instructions for the Commanders of the Provincial Armed Boats


The Instructions for the Captains of the Armed Boats were this day gone through, approved of, and are as follow, viz:

General Instructions for the Commanders of the Provincial Armed Boats.

1. Every Captain or other Officer shall give strict attention that the Boat he commands be kept clean and in good order at all times.

2. The Officers of the Boats are to use the Crew well, and to keep strict discipline among them.

3. Each Captain shall appoint all Officers under the rank of a Commissioned Officer, and oblige them to perform diligently the duties of their station.

4. Every Captain and other Officer shall be punctual in observing the orders he shall from time to time receive from the Commodore, Committee of Safety, and Assembly.

5. No Powder to be expended for exercising either Great Guns or Small Arms, without orders from the Commodore, Committee of Safety, or Assembly; and only Swivel Guns or Muskets to be fired for signals, except in cases of immediate danger.

6. The Commodore shall order the Crews, or each Captain his respective Crew, to be exercised in the use of their Oars, Great Guns, Small Arms, and Pikes, as often as possible, without impeding the publick service, or harassing the men too much.

7. The Crew not to be suffered to go on shore or absent themselves from on board the Boats without leave from their Officers, nor to disturb any inhabitants or settlements on any pretence whatever.

8. The Commodore or Commanding Officer shall appoint proper signals, copies of which shall be given to the Captain or Commanding Officer of every Boat, to all which signals the Officers are to pay due obedience and respect.

9. The eldest Officer present, when more Boats are present than one, to act as Commodore, and have the command of the whole.

10. When a Boat is below the City, the Commanding Officer on board is to examine all Vessels bound up, whether the people on board are our friends or foes; and if they refuse satisfaction in these points, they are to be considered as enemies.

11. The Officers of the Boats are to treat the Masters and Crews of all Vessels, both foreign and others, who have no hostile intentions against us, and who do not violate the laws of the Continental Congress, or rules and regulations of the Committee of Safety or Assembly, with decency and good manners, nor are they to put them to unnecessary


delay or trouble; but if any should be in distress, they are to lend them all reasonable assistance.

12. A copy of the Articles subscribed by the Officers and Men shall be hung up in some publick part of the Boat, for the perusal of the Crew, to whom they are to be read once every week, in an orderly manner; all the Officers who can conveniently attend to be present.

13. The Boats are not to leave any particular station assigned them out of port, or, when appointed to any duty, without orders from the Commodore, Committee of Safety, or Assembly.

14. The Captain of each Boat shall cause his Clerk to make out a Muster-Roll of the Crew of the Boat which he commands, with their names, stations on board, time of entering the service, whether they are sickly or maimed, and what is their ailment; and if any of the Crew should die or be discharged, specify the time thereof; all which is to be returned to the Muster-Master of the Boats once every month at least, or oftener if required by him.

15. No Captain or other Officer shall discharge any of the Boat' s Crew without leave from the Commodore, Committee of Safety, or Assembly, unless he ships an equal number to those discharged immediately.

16. The Commander of each Boat is, by ticket, to certify to the Contractor, from time to time, the number of Rations that are required for his Boat' s Crew; the Steward of the Boat is to receive the same from the Commissary, upon producing the said ticket, and is to give his receipt and be accountable.

17. The Commander of each Boat is to examine into the quality of the Provisions, from time to time, and see that they be good and wholesome, and that the proper quantity be delivered out by the Steward, and in convenient messes.

18. If the quality of the Provisions should be objected to, the Captain of the Boat is to report the same to the Contractor, with a desire that they may be exchanged for such as are good and wholesome; but if the Contractor is dissatisfied with the report of the Captain, they are to have a survey made, by two judicious and impartial freeholders, mutually chosen, who may determine the same, if they agree; but if otherwise, they are to call in an umpire, who shall decide upon the quality of said Provisions. If they are condemned, the Contractor shall supply others to equal amount in kind; but if the judgment of the referees should be otherwise, the men must receive them for their allowance.

19. No Warrant Officer or Private, discharged from the service of the Boat he first ships in, shall be admitted into the service of any other Boat, unless by mutual consent of the commanders.

20. The Commanding Officer of each Boat is constantly to enforce a due observance of all the articles signed and agreed to by the Officers and Men, for their regulation in this service.

21. In case of making Prisoners, it is recommended by the Committee of Safety, to all the Officers and Men employed in the Pennsylvania Fleet, to treat them with humanity and such kindness as the publick good will admit of.

22. It is recommended by the Committee of Safety, to all the Officers and Men employed in the Pennsylvania Fleet, to attend the publick worship of Almighty God as frequently as in their power.

23. If any of the King' s Ships, Sloops, Cutters, or other Armed Vessels, shall proceed up the River Delaware in a hostile manner, or with hostile intentions; if they attempt to pass the machines now sunk, or hereafter to be sunk, in the River Delaware, or if they attempt to weigh those that are sunk, or obstruct the sinking of others that are or may be ordered by the Committee of Safety or Assembly; or if they seize or attempt to seize any property of the inhabitants of the United Colonies of America, or to molest or destroy their property or persons, in any shape or manner whatever, the Officers and Men employed in this Fleet are hereby ordered to oppose all such proceedings and attempts, by whomsoever made, and to repel force by force, even to the taking, sinking, or destroying all such Ships, Sloops, Cutters, Armed Vessels, or other force employed in such designs and attempts against the peace and security of the United Colonies.


Resolved, That William Bradford print one hundred copies of the Instructions to the Captains of the Armed Boats.