Vice Admiral Samuel Graves

to Philip Stephens1

Preston Boston 24 July 1775

Sir   As it may appear extraordinary that the Rebels should demand and quietly obtain the money in the Treasury of Portsmouth, belonging to the Province of New Hampshire, I think it necessary to inclose an Extract of a Letter from Captain [Andrew] Barkley on the Subject, that their Lordships may be satisfied the money might have been deposited on board the Scarborough if Governor [John] Wentworth had thought it proper, and that his Excellency had been often applied to for that purpose.

Since my Letter July 16 the Pilot of the Margueritta armed Schooner returned to Boston: I inclose his Account of the Transaction, together with an Affidavit of another Person received from Governor Legge at Halifax. As it is confidently reported that Rebel armed Vessels, from Mechias and other places, are cruizing to intercept the Supplies of Cattle and Provisions we endeavour to draw from the Bay of Fundy; I have ordered the St. Lawrence and Hope Schooners on that coast, with Orders to sink, burn and destroy these Pyrates or any aiding or assisting, wherever they can be found. The Schooners take under their Convoy two Transport Brigs for Annapolis Royal, and they or the Senegal are to return with the Transports, and several others now waiting at Windsor for Convoy.

I inclose a Copy of Intelligence that the Lighthouse on Thatchers Island, generally known by the name of Cape Anne Lights, are destroyed. And on the 20th some Rebels in Whale Boats went from Nantasket in a Calm and set fire to Boston Lighthouse which is at present rendered useless.

The Rebels have collected near three hundred Whale Boats in the different Creeks round this Harbour, and begin to make little Expeditions to the Islands. A few days ago one hundred and five Boats, full of men, landed on Long Island and carried off all the Stock. One of their party was a Seaman belonging to the Falcon, taken in Buzzards Bay, as related in my Letter June 16. This Man was placed Centinel, but concealed himself till the Rebels had left the Island, and then swain to a Canoe lying off, and by that means got on board the Boyne. His Report confirms what we before heard of the number of Whale Boats. From their Lightness and drawing little Water, they can not only outrow our Boats, but by getting into Shoal Water, and in Calms, they must constantly escape. It is not possible to guard every Island in this Harbour from such pyratical attempts without more armed Vessels and Men than can be had. Various are the Conjectures about the Design of the Rebels in bringing so great a number of Whale boats here, Robbing the Islands and burning the Houses and Hay thereon most certainly distresses the Garrison by depriving them of fresh Meat, Vegetables, Milk, Fruit and many other Advantages; but it is generally believed they were principally intended to land a Body of Men in the Night at the most defenceless parts of the Town, when a general attack should be made on the Lines, hoping, with the assistance of disaffected people in the Town, to occasion great confusion and terror and finally defeat his Majesty's Troops.

Others are of opinion that in a calm Night they mean to surprize one of the Frigates of the Squadron and carry her by suddenly pouring in great Numbers of People. And this leads me to mention that the very low Complements of his Majestys Ships at present make the Duty extremely hard in this Harbour. We are obliged to keep a number of Men and Officers in flat bottomed floating Battery Boats, placed in Shoal Water, to flank Boston and Charles Town Necks; To man an armed Transport and a Sloop; and occasionally to lend men to the Transports ordered on Service, instead of theirs who desert. In the Squadron, the Frigates, Sloops and Schooners are seldom without lent Men on board. These Draughts are from the three large Ships, who by that means are sometimes unavoidably left in a weak and almost defenceless Condition. I beg leave likewise to observe that the 20 Gun Ships and Sloops with their present low Complement of Men are Objects of the Rebels attention, who in their large Schooners and Sloops fancy they shall succeed by boarding when the Kings Ship is at anchor.

I am &c.

Sam Graves

1. Graves's Conduct, I, 153-156, MassHS Transcript.
Source: Naval Documents of the American Revolution, I, 961-2