Vice Admiral Samuel Graves

to Philip Stevens, Secretary of the British Navy1

Preston Boston 13 May 1775

My last Letter to you dated April 22d went by Lieut. [Joseph] Nunn in a Brig from Salem.

Lieut. [Thomas] Graves in the Diana is returned: I inclose a List of the Cannon and Ordnance he brought from the Fort at Penobscot. I have since employed the Diana cruizing between Cape Ann and Cape Cod.

I transmit Copies of a Memorial to Lieut. [Henry] Mowat Commander of the Canceaux, and of his Letter to me: from these Accounts and from the representations of the Commissioners of the Customs also inclosed, I find myself obliged to let the Canceaux remain at Falmouth until I can send some other Vessel to relieve her.

The Falcon sailed the 30th of April with Orders to go to [Martha's] Vineyard and seize a Cargo of Flour, then to proceed to Elizabeth Islands to prevent a considerable Number of black Cattle and Sheep from being carried off. Captain [John] Linzee has just informed me that there is about 1500 Sheep on these Islands, with a few Cows, and that from their Vicinity to the Main, it is not possible to hinder the Stock being taken off. The Ship with the flour was not at the Vineyard.

The Tartar still remains at Halifax for the security of that Yard and the Kings Stores.

The Lively continued at Marblehead raising Seamen and protecting the trade of those who are not in rebellion.

I will send a Sloop to Georgia whenever one can be spared from the immediate and pressing services of this province.

The Action of the 19th of April, falsely represented thro' the Continent as begun by the Kings Troops, has furnished a pretence for the seditious and disaffected (before too much disposed to Rebellion to appear in arms; they are absolutely so throughout the four provinces, and the Intelligence sent me by Captains [James] Wallace and James Montagu of the proceedings at New York (Copies of which are inclosed) fully satisfying me of the necessity of sending thither a Ship of force I ordered the Asia, but the prevailing Easterly winds kept her from getting out of this Harbour until the 8th instant.

Since my Letter of the 23d was written we have had repeated Information of the Rebels Design to surprise Castle William; I suppose to destroy the Magazines there. The Asia, Otter Sloop, and Hope Schooner have been employed entirely to prevent such an Attack, and upon the departure of the Asia I ordered the Boyne to take her place.

Reports are also spread that flat bottomed Boats are constructing up the Rivers, and at several places in the Neighbourhood, to be brought by Land to those Rivers, from whence the Rebels are to attack Boston and the Shipping; though these Schemes are scarcely practicable yet we are guarded against every possible Surprize. Our Boats rowing Guard have often been fired at from the Shore, but I have given the Captains of his Majesty's Ships and Vessels Orders not to fire again upon any Account unless they are absolutely attacked, and some one wounded or Killed; and then only to drive away the Rebels without pursuing; being extremely loath (however difficult from repeated provocations to forbear) to commence hostilities by sea without the justest Reason, until I can be honoured with their Lordships Commands on this important Subject. I shall continue to give every support in my power to his Majesty's Governors of Provinces, upon their requisition, for the protection of the Kings faithful Subjects and their property, and for the security of lawful Commerce.

I transmit for their Lordships Information various Intelligence I have received from Captain Wallace of his Majesty's ship Rose. In a Letter of the 26th April Captain Wallace informs me that some friends of Government have been very industrious to bring the town of Newport over to the King, and were they sure of constant support they flatter themselves with succeeding; but what reliance! at present they are in terror of the Kings Ships. However I submit to their Lordships consideration the Importance of such a Post. Possession of this place would cut off any Supplies that could be sent from the Southern to the Northern Colonies, and it appears to me from its Situation of such great consequence that I most heartily wish it was established as a Kings Post and fortified accordingly: In the mean time I shall add a Sloop of War or a Schooner to the Service Captain Wallace is employed in.

All communication by Land is entirely stopped: General [Thomas] Gage has represented to me the necessity for having small Vessels to carry dispatches to and from New York, and occasionally to Piscataqua and Halifax. I have acquainted the Governor that a Vessel shall be ready to depart with Dispatches on the Kings Service whenever his Excellency pleases. I have hired one Sloop for this purpose and shall provide as many as the necessity of the times require and I can procure. I am &c.

Saml Graves

1. Graves's Conduct, I, 83-86, MassHS Transcript.
Source: Naval Documents of the American Revolution, I, 324-6