Vice Admiral Samuel Graves

to Philip Stephens1

Preston Boston 19 August 1775

By the Transport lately arrived with Cattle and Sheep Captain [James] Wallace informs me that Intelligence being sent to him of the Rebels taking the Stock off the Islands he weighed with the Swan from Rhode Island in the Afternoon of the 5th instant and then run them to Fishers Island the same night, where the Rebels had taken away fifteen head of Cattle; however the Transports got a supply there. The next day he convoyed them to Gardiners Island and having cleared the Coast of every Interruption and left the Transports in quiet possession, he returned to Rhode Island, from whence the Service does not admit of his being long absent: he acquaints me the Glasgow had not yet joined him.

His Majesty's Sloop Senegal arrived at Halifax the 4th instant with the Transports under her Convoy sent to get Fuel in Penobscot Bay. By a Letter from Captain [William] Dudingstone dated the 7th instant I find that he continued peaceably at Long Island from the 16th to the 25th of last Month, when he was informed a Colonel [James] Cargill with 7 or 8 hundred men, assisted with three large Sloops also full of men were preparing to attack the Transports and prevent their having any more Wood. The Sloops Captain Dudingstone says he saw with Flags at their Mast Heads and chased them. Capt. Dudingstone also writes that Mr Winslow, who was charged with the Business of procuring Wood, assured him the Sloops he had chased had already destroyed Penobscot Fort, and that as the Country people were disposed, it would be impossible for the Transports to complete their Lading there, or in any other part of New England, and proposed going to Halifax. Captain Dudingstone consented as the most likely method to succeed.

They accordingly proceeded to Halifax, and I find will get as much Wood as they can take on board.

I inclose a Copy of an Affidavit sent me by Governor [Francis] Legge, which I do purposely to assure you that only what relates to his Majesty's Schooner Diligent, and the Philadelphian Sloop, is true. It is even suspected that the Philadelphian was intended for Mechias and not for Halifax, and the Story of her being taken, like many other false Reports, is calculated to serve a particular purpose.

The ostensible Reason given by the Rebels for an Expedition to Nova Scotia is to prevent our having Supplies of fresh provisions, but there is no doubt that their principal Object is the destruction of the King's Stores at Halifax. I shall endeavour to defeat their Designs by keeping a good force on the Coast and in the Harbour, and to render the Navigation between it and Boston perfectly secure.

I include a Copy of a Letter from Governor Legge for your further information on this Subject.

In the King's Yard an Officer's Guard of Marines is constantly on Duty with three Watchmen at Night well equipped, beside a Patrole from eight in the Evening until four in the Morning: And every other precaution is taken to prevent Losses by Fire or Thieves. The Naval Officer acquaints me he has not been able to trace whether the last fire was occasioned through accident or design, but is inclined to think from Accident, as there has been formerly some Pilferings from the Paint Pots; and that finding he can get privately no satisfactory Information he intends to advertize and offer a large Reward for the discovery of the perpetrators.

The Halifax Schooner is by this time ready and sails for Boston immediately. The Hinchinbrook is also in great forwardness. The Store Ship is not yet arrived but much wanted.

Eighteen Sail of Transport under Convoy of the Merlin and Falcon are going for forage and Cattle to Annapolis, Windsor and Cumberland harbour in the Bay of Fundy. They will sail the beginning of next Week, and there will then remain in this Harbour the Preston, Boyne, Lively and Fowey with the Bolton Brig who will be fit for Sea in a Fortnight.

Our sole reliance for Stores and provisions is likely to be on what comes from England. I hope a further Supply is ordered and that the Transports will arrive before the end of December.

We have no Accounts from England later than the 8th June, but are every hour expecting the arrival of some of his Majesty's Ships. I am &c.

Sam Graves

1. Graves's Conduct, I, 183-186, MassHS Transcript.
Source: Naval Documents of the American Revolution, I, 1178-9