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Letter from Arthur Dobbs to George Montagu-Dunk, Earl of Halifax
Dobbs, Arthur, 1689-1765
November 20, 1754
Volume 05, Pages 157-160

[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 12. C. 62.]

My Lord [Earl of Halifax]

I wrote fully to yr Lordship upon my arrival in Virginia what had occurred until my setting out for this Province which was sent with Mr. Dinwiddies Letters; and about ten days ago I wrote a long letter to the Board of Trade of all I had done, or could learn, of the Affairs of the Province until that time, Dated from New Bern by a Ship which was ready to sail from Ocaroe [Ocacok] Bound for Liverpool, to which I beg leave to referr on the 15th I set out to view the Southern Part of the Country near the Sea Coast and the several Navigable Rivers, and to view the Fort lately erected on Cape Fear River, 8 miles below Brunswick, to observe its situation and to give Directions how the £2000 lately given to finish it should be laid out where I had a meeting with the Commrs appointed to finish it, and have given the Necessary Directions to proceed upon it, and to provide the Materials to make it Defensible and Capable of protecting our own Ships, and preventing any enemy from coming up the River, to destroy our Shipping and Settlements, as happen'd last war, A plan of the Fort I enclose with this to yr Lordship: The Fort you may observe is very small, but large enough to Defend the Lower Battery which is made almost a Fleur de l'eau and is proposed to contain 14 18-poundors, 12 in Front where the Channell is not 500 yards wide, and 2 upon the Flank, which will Command the Ships which go up or come

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down the River: which with 16 9 Pounders to be mounted upon the curtain and the two Flanks and faces of the Bastians which Front the River and the Channel going up the River, we think will be Sufficient for the Defense of the River against any Ships of force, which can get over the Bar, and 30 Swivel Guns with Musquetoons fixed in the Same manner will be Sufficient to Defend the Curtains and Bastions lying towards the Land: at present the Rampart and Parapet is faced only with Strong Pine Trees Cut into large Planks 6 inches thick, Sloping inwards, to support the Rampart, and the parapet which is railed no higher than the guns without embrasures; and there are only 5 6 pounders and 4 2 Pounders, old honey comb'd Ship guns, in the Fort, there is a good House built in the Fort which can contain an officer and 12 or 14 men with Guns and Stores; we have given orders to face the Curtains and two Bastions fronting the River, with a Wall which is to be made of a Cement of oyster shells, lime and sand which upon tryal here has been found to grow as hard as a Rock, much stronger and more durable than a Brick Wall and to raise the Parapet higher with embrasures and to forfeit the lower Battery and make a Sally Port thro' the Curtain into the Fort, the Cement wall to be built without the other end as it is railed to take up the Timber, and near the earth behind the wall The other Part of the Fort may continue for some time so that we shall only finish the Fosse and make a Palisade upon the Counter Scarp, as it cant Contain a Garrison to defend a Covered way and therefore shall only make a Glacis, and Clear all the Ground within Gun shot of the Fort we have also given Directions to add to the House and make it as big again to Contain 30 men with the officers Gunners &c and to make a Magazine Bomb proof in one of the Lands Bastions, and to make a Gate and Draw Bridge and sink a well and if any money remain, or a further supply be granted we shall finish the rest of the walls in the same manner.

The River of Cape Feare is an exceeding fine River 18 feet water on the Bar at ordinary Tides navigable to Wilmington and near 20 miles higher upon the North west for large ships, except one small shallow which may be deepned where they take out part of their Landing, and the North East Branch navigable several miles above it, for Large vessels and the main Branch navigable for Periagoes and Flats for about 150 miles from Wilmington which is 30 miles above the Bar. There are above 100 vessels annually enter'd in this River which are Increasing, there were 16 in the River when I went down; at present there are 70 Families in Wilmington which is improving they have built a good County House or Town House; and have raised a large Brick Church which is ready for the Roof. Brunswick contains 20 families and the Planters

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about being opulent they are building a large Brick church 76 feet long by 56 wide which they have raised this season so as to Cover the Windows; and have a House ready for the Parson, and a Glebe of 300 acres; These Towns being seated Close to the River are upon a loose Land but with a Clay Bottom at some depth and have very good springs the Lands which are Dry at some Distance from the River are much the same with other Lands near the sea coasts the marshes along the River and Creeks being Rich but the high Lands generally Pine Barren, which are no ways equal to the Lands on the Back Settlements yet when all the good Lands are taken up these are by no means to be despised.

I have seen the master of the Sloop & Dinbibin who has undertaken the making an Exact Chart of the Sea Coast, and do believe he will perform it very well He has shewn me a specimen of what he has already done, and has made an Exact chart of a very fine Safe Harbour at Cape Lookout which has never yet been laid Down or has been known by any of the Kings Ships, or others landing on this Coast; altho it has been Discover'd by the Spanish Privateers at the latter end of the last War and is now used by our Whale fishers in the winter: a Draught of which I hope to send to your Lordship as soon as he has connected Cape Lookout with Cape Sound at Topsail Inlet where is also a fine Harbour. This new Harbour is as safe as a mill pond without any Bar, land locked from all winds so that in the greatest storm upon knowing the Latitude any Ship may get in safe. The Road is safe where any Ship may ride in 6 or 7 Fathom only open to a South west wind; and the Harbour within, it above half a mile over with 2 fathom close into the Beech where they may ride entirely land locked from to 3 and 4 fathom water.

There has been £1500 Currency appropriated to Erect a Fort at Topsail Inlet near Beaufort, But since this Harbour is found out, as well to protect our ships in time of war as to prevent Privateers from Sheltering there and Interupting our Ships: I shall endeavour to view both places as soon as I have leisure after the Assembly, and the season will permit it.

I had prepared a memorial when I was in London to give in to his Majesty in Council for a Supply of Artillery and ordinance Stores for the Port at Cape Fear; But as I was [not] sufficiently acquainted with the condition of the Porty yr Lordship thought it proper to Deferr it, until I should arrive here and view it if it be therefore agreeable to your Lordship and the Board of Trade that the Application should be now made Since we Dont know whether we are near the eve of an American war, Yr Lordship will be pleased to mention it to Mr. Powell, and Mr. Abercrombie

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our Agent may prepare it and give it in my name, for the number and size of the guns as above mentioned with stores and gunpowder in proportion in Case his Majesty has not already ordered the gunpowder for the use of the Province I wrote for in my last, to the Board and at the same Time a gunner and Butress in case we get the stores and the Independant Company which I apply'd for, and which is absolutely necessary here for his Majestys Service and the Safety of the Colony in Expectation of which I shall endeavour to get a Fund from the Assembly to erect a Fort upon our western Frontiers, at or beyond the mountains to protect our Back settlements, and Indian Allies

Dunbibbin tells me there are a great variety of shells near Cape Lookout and has promised to collect some for yr Lordship

I am with all Imaginable Respect, &c.,

Wilmington November 20th 1754