Primary tabs

Instructions to Commodore Davidson


In Committee of Safety, June 20, 1776.

Present: John Nixon, Chairman, George Clymer, John Cadwallader, Robert White, Samuel Howell, David Rittenhouse, Daniel Roberdeau, Alexander Wilcocks.

Instructions to Commodore Samuel Davidson were drawn up and agreed to yesterday, and delivered him this day, and are as follows:

In Committee of Safety, June 19, 1776.

SIR: The Committee have thought proper to appoint you Commodore-in-Chief of all the Provincial Naval Armaments in the river Delaware, which you are to notify to the officers of the Fleet by publishing to them your commission. It becomes necessary to give you some instructions to regulate your conduct in some points of this important trust.

And, first, you are by all possible means to establish such a proper sense of subordination in the Fleet, that all the orders you think necessary to issue be punctually and implicitly obeyed- a loose and relaxed discipline utterly enfeebling every military establishment, however respectable it may otherwise be in the circumstance of number and force.

Secondly. As it is the duty and inclination of this Committee to maintain the Fleet in a constant state of preparation to receive the enemy, you must immediately take an exact survey of its present condition, and whatever may be wanting in its equipments, to make report of to Captain William Richards, who is appointed and directed to supply all its deficiencies.

Thirdly. An attack from the enemy being highly probable, though the time uncertain, it is necessary that every part of the Fleet should have its proper stations assigned, in such way as to afford mutual support, and that the whole may act to the best effect.

Fourthly. You must particularly attend not only to the situation of the Fleet, but take great care that the officers and men are not absent from their respective vessels any length of time and at any great distance; but as it is probable that some of the officers of the boats may be desirous of coming up to this city, you may give leave of absence to them, but only to six officers at one time; and that no more than three of that number shall be Captains, who shall not be absent more than forty-eight hours at one time from their respective vessels.

Lastly. Should any accident or circumstance happen in the Fleet that has the least tendency to affect the service, you are to give the earliest information of it to the Committee of Safety, that they, if they have the means of remedy, may apply such as the nature of the case may require.

These being the principal matters that have occurred to the Committee, they confide in your prudence and discretion, which have directed their choice, to supply their omission in those numberless circumstances and situations in which you may be placed, earnestly recommending to you, however, that you endeavour to promote the utmost harmony between you and the officers of the Fleet and between one another, on which depends so much the success of every undertaking where men are to act in concert, and mutual assistance is required.

By order of the Committee:

JOHN NIXON, Chairman.