Vice Admiral Samuel Graves

to Philip Stephens, Secretary of the British Admiralty1

Preston Boston 17 August 1775

In my last Letter July 29 by Col. James I acquainted you that the Falcon was ordered to convoy the Russia Merchant Transport twenty Leagues to the Eastward of Cape Cod; Captain [John] Linzee accordingly sailed the 30th with Directions to cruize between Cape Ann and the Isle of Shoals to intercept Supplies of Ammunition and Provisions coming to the Rebels.

On the 10th. instant the Falcon anchored at Nantasket, and I received a Letter from Captain Linzee, (a Copy of which is inclosed) giving an Account of an unsuccessful attempt to take a large Schooner in Cape Ann Harbour and to destroy the Town, and that he was obliged to come away with the Loss of two Boats, his master Gunner, Sixteen Seamen and seven Marines taken Prisoners, and his Lieutenant wounded. It is so difficult to procure British Seamen that the Loss becomes considerable. At present they cannot be replaced with Europeans and experience shews Americans are not to be trusted.

In a former Letter I mentioned the Rebels having burnt the Wooden part of Boston Light house. The Governor ordered it be repaired immediately; Materials and Artificers were accordingly sent down, and at his request I ordered Lieut. Coulthurst and a Party of Marines from the Preston and Boyne for their Guard. The Preston's Long Boat also staid with them, and Captain [Thomas] Bishop of the Lively at Nantasket had directions to give them all the assistance in his power, and to settle Signals to be made in case of danger. They had exceeded a week on this Duty and were to have been relieved on the 31st when to my great astonishment, I was informed they had been all cut off just after Day Light. The inclosed Account from the Midshipman who commanded the Long Boat will shew more particularly how this Affair happened. As the Light house Island with 30 men was judged capable of being defended against 1000, it was extremely unfortunate the Party of Marines made so little resistance, for in less than half an hour a great Reinforcement arrived: but I am sorry to say it appears to me the Party were intent only upon escaping, although the Marine Officer was at the Reduction of Belle Isle and accounted a brave and experienced Officer.

Captain [John] Robinson of the Preston happened the night of the 30th. to have the Boats of the Squadron endeavouring to get at and destroy some Whale Boats, secreted in a Wood near the Water Side; this Scheme failed, but he arrived time enough to chase the Whale Boats across the Lighthouse Channel to Hull Beach, from whence he brought away two of them and Lieut. Colthursts Body. Seven Artificers having got away from the Rebels, after being landed on the Main were brought off in one ofthe Boats, with Captain Robinson; Two more escaped in the Long Boat. But two wounded Marines out of the whole Party were not taken, one of whom is since dead of his Wounds.

The Merlin anchored the 2d instant in the Lighthouse Channel from a Cruize

On the 5th. his Majestys Ship Fowey arrived from Virginia and brought fifty two men for the Squadron, many of them very indifferent. I ordered Captain [George] Montagu to place his Ship between Charles Town and Boston, but I shall send her to Halifax as soon as I can put another in her place.

On the 6th. his Majesty's Sloop Kingsfisher arrived with a Vessel having on board 20 head of Cattle seized in the Sound on the restraining Act. They have been since condemned in the Admiralty Court at Boston. By Captain George Montagu I received a Letter from Lord Dunmore Governor of Virginia (a Copy of which and of my Answer is inclosed) exhibiting complaints of a very serious nature against Captain [John] Macartney of his Majesty's Ship Mercury and referring me to Captain Montagu for Particulars. I inclose also Captain Montagu's upon my requiring him to inform me of such Facts relative to Captain Macartneys Misconduct as had come to his knowledge. Conceiving it therefore unsafe to the Command of his Majesty's Ship any longer with Captain Macartney I ordered the Kingsfisher to Virginia, and have sent Lieut. [Alexander] Graeme in her with Directions to put Captain Macartney in Arrest, and to bring the Mercury forthwith to Boston. The Kingsfisher accordingly sailed from hence the 14th instant.

A Tender belonging to the Rose came in the 6th instant, and I received from Captain [James] Wallace a Parcel of Rebel Letters taken from two Men who came lately from Philadelphia and were going in a Boat to Providence. I transmit Copies of three of them, the rest are chiefly written on domestick & trading subjects.

The Merlin sailed the 8th with a Transport carrying a part of the poor of Boston, and returned again the 16th with the Transport having landed them at Marblehead.

The Canceaux arrived from Halifax the 9th and sailed again the 17th. with the Spinckes Tender laden with provisions for the Scarborough at Piscatagua.

On the 11th I determined to send the Somerset to Halifax to stop her Leaks, and accordingly have given Captain [Edward] LeCras Orders to that purpose, and respecting the Security of the Yard and Stores while he remains there, and to return as soon as possible to Boston; but not to leave Halifax unless a 20 Gun Ship at least is in the Harbour. He now waits only for a Wind to put to Sea directly.

The Governor expressing his Uneasiness for the Safety of a Number of Transports sent to Gardiners and Fishers Islands for Cattle and other live Stock, I sent Captain [Thomas] Bishop in the Lively to cruize for them from Cape Cod to the Isle of Shoals. He returned the 15th with the whole Convoy, which has brought the Garrison a very good supply of Cattle and Sheep.

On the 11th instant I received a Letter from Lieut. [John] Knight, late Commander of his Majesty's Schooner Diligent, but now a prisoner at Cambridge. I inclose a Copy of his Letter, to which I can only say that Mr Knight must have been totally unacquainted with the disposition of the people at Mechias, and the fate of the Margueritta, and apprehending no danger, had put in there as usual; but as I know of no good Service that could call him to Mechias, until his release and an enquiry is made into his Conduct, no true Judgement can be formed. In the mean time the Rebels having possession of the Diligent not only deprives the Squadron of her assistance, but will I fear for some time hinder the publication of such of Mr Des Barres Draughts as wait only for the Soundings.

I have appointed the Honorable Mr [John] Tollemache to be Captain of the Scorpion by Commission dated 29th July, and Mr James Drew of the Preston Lieutenant in his room. This S1oop is nearly ready for Sea and I intend to send her to relieve the Cruizer at North Carolina, and that both the Cruizer and Tamer shall forthwith come to Boston. I am &c

Sam Graves

1. Graves's Conduct, I, 175-183, MassHS Transcript.
Source: Naval Documents of the American Revolution, I, 1164-6