Vice Admiral Samuel Graves

to Philip Stephens1

Preston Boston July 28 1775.

By Letters lately from Halifax I find a terrible Fire had like to have happened in his Majesty's Yard at that place. It broke out in the Paint Cabin in the Boat house about ½ past 10 in the Night of the 8th instant. By timely assistance it was extinguished in less than half an hour; though not without alarming the Town. This is the second time within a twelve month.

The very next Morning after the Action at Lexington on the 19 of April I dispatched Orders to Captain [Edward] Medows of his Majesty's Ship Tartar (whom I had intended for the Gulph and River St Lawrence) to stay at Halifax for the protection of the Kings Yard and Stores That Ship has accordingly remained there, and every Intelligence from thence proves the necessity, not only for a well manned Ship, but a much greater Force for Security of that Magazine. I am informed that the Ordnance Store House wherein there is upwards of four thousand Stands of Arms, is situated entirely out of the reach of assistance from the Ships; and as a great many People from this Province (notoriously disaffected) have removed themselves to Halifax and other parts of Nova Scotia, there is reason to fear the worst actions from such an Influx of Rebels, where they can do much Mischief. However I hope the Vigilance of Captain Medows and the Officers of the Tartar, and those of the Yard, will baffle every secret attempt to destroy or injure it.

I expect the Canceaux Armed Ship and Halifax Schooner from thence every day, and I have also directed Lieutenant [John] Knight in the Diligent Schooner to leave the business of sounding for the present and come to Boston, having more pressing Service for him than what he is now employed on.

In this Harbour there is only the Somerset, Boyne, Preston, and Lively.

In consequence of an application from General [Thomas] Gage (a Copy of which is inclosed) I shall place either the Falcon or Merlin, when they arrive, in the Symmetry's Station; though if I had one it ought to be a stout Frigate.

Never were Ships more wanted than at present for various Services; In particular to seize every thing intended for the support of the Rebels or that may arrive and fall into their hands, and to remain and form a proper force in different parts of the Harbour.

The great number of Whale Boats collected here requires all possible Vigilance on our parts to prevent a Surprize, and necessarily occasions a great deal of Boat duty.

The want of fresh Provisions and the hot Weather begin to be felt in the Squadron, and Fluxes incapacitate numbers from doing their Duty, but as yet this Disorder is not fatal. I am &c.

Sam Graves

1. Graves's Conduct, I, 158-160, MassHS Transcript.
Source: Naval Documents of the American Revolution, I, 997