Letter from Arthur Dobbs to the Board of Trade of Great Britain
Dobbs, Arthur, 1689-1765
Volume 05, Pages 570-575
[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 12. c. 102 and 103.]
Letter from Governor Dobbs to the Board of Trade.
Newbern 15th March 1756.
Your orders of July last I fully answered last December but could not hear of any vessel bound to England sooner than one bound from Cape Fear to Liverpool and therefore sent it by that ship Coll: Sampson Commander inclosed to Captain Campbell in Liverpool to be forwarded safely to you your orders of the 19th of September I received at the same time and immediately issued a Proclamation to all the County Clerks of the several Counties to send me a List of the Taxables distinguishing Whites from Blacks in order to form a Judgment of the whole number of Souls their returns being of Males whites from 16 upwards and of Negros of both sexes from 12 years and upwards with a computation of what number there might be in each County who evade the Tax by false returns or concealing themselves; I at the same time gave orders in the proclamation to all commanding officers of the Militia to muster and send me a true return of the numbers mustered and how armed and trained neither of which orders in above two months have
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been fully complyed with, and I have no power over the County Clerks but by suspension as they are not appointed by me but by the Secretary nor can I fine the Militia Officers and if I suspend or dismiss them I must disoblige and get no others in their room, some of them as well as the County Clerks have made their returns but the Militia Officers are so defective that I can give you no satisfactory account but from the former years return for as I obtained a Law to draught men out of the unmarried men in the Militia to make up our Companies they did not attend the Musters when summoned so that of the Regiments returned they are far short of the former years, this was to avoid being draughted; they are all so indolent and relaxed by not having the Laws executed that they wont submit to Government; but fly to the swamps and are concealed by their friends and Neighbours so that 'till I get proper return you must be content with the former years return: as to their arms they are not near half armed and I shall be obliged to give them what arms I can spare out of the Thousand I brought over, after arming our raised companies, to the Militia on the sea coast, if there be a war as I have already done to the exposed Western Counties on the Frontier There is some Gunpowder received by the powder Duty, of which, thō applied for I have not yet got a return from the Collectors, but not yet sufficient to supply the Militia, far less to allow any to the Forts; the Forts or Batteries necessary to defend our sea coasts are one at Cape Fear which is at present tenable and the Commissioners have now employed Workmen to face the front next the Sea with a good cement wall to support the rampart and parapet of the curtain and two front Bastions which are immediately necessary and the pallisadoes without the Fosse and Buildings necessary for the Garrison within, but there is at present neither ammunition, arms nor cannon except a few ship guns unfit for service nor Garrison and a commander who was appointed by General Braddock to get rid of him who by a Letter from him to me got £100 to raise recruits which he sunk in his pockett only raising three Sergeants to keep in his Fort. By a letter wrote to me by General Braddock's order he said he would not trust him with a Hogsty and the best thing I could do would be to hang him up on the first tree I could meet with, that he gave it him as a feather to get rid of him.
Upon my excursion last Summer to fix upon two places to erect Forts or Batteries to secure our Northern Rivers and new Topsail Inlet I fixed upon one Battery at Core Banks near Ocacock Barr to make a Battery where they are now at Work, the Assembly having given £4000 this currency for that purpose, and I fixed upon a place for a Battery at new topsail Inlet, who are now at work upon it £1500 having been granted
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by the Assembly for that purpose, for each of these cannon and proper Stores will be wanted as also Gunpowder, as our powder Duty at present will only answer our Militia and perhaps a little more, for the immediate use of the Forts and Batteries But I think a Fort is absolutely necessary to be erected at Cape Look out Harbour as I fully before have wrote to your Lordships to which I refer, as it is by much the safest harbour from the Cape of Florida to Boston in New England with this advantage that they can be at Sea from it in two hours where they are land locked from all winds and can run ashore without Danger where ships may wood, water and clean it being in some places steep too within 20 yards of the shore 18 feet water. This is now known to the French and Spaniards from the last War where the Spaniards wooded watered careened and got fresh provisions and could see every ship that passed the coast or sailed into Ocacock or Topsail Inlet and could be at Sea and chase them in 2 hours from the Harbour this would be of the greatest Benefit in the time of War to erect a sufficient Fort and Garrison there proof against Privateers or small Frigates who may cruise upon these Coasts and would be by much the best place for our Cruizers in time of War as they could be from it 48 hours as far North as Cape Henloper or Delaware or to Georgia to the Southward, and at Sea in 2 hours when they may be kept, when in any of our rivers or in Chisapeak Bay for some days. This is of such vast consequence to destroy our Enemies in time of War and to protect our Trade from Britain that no time should be lost in fixing and erecting a sufficient Fort there and establishing a proper Garrison which in time of War might contain 300 men and stand any attack from shipping without a formal Siege in time of peace at least 100 is requisite to be kept in it—And there ought not to be less than 200 in the Forts and Batteries at Cape Fear Core bank and Topsail Inlet £1000 is granted for a Fort on our Western Frontier where a place is fixed upon near Catawba's River where a stockadoed fort is ordered to be erected for our frontier Company but as we expect our frontier will extend Westward, we shall not be at any great Expence as it may afterwards be proper to extend it further to the Westward where only Swivel Guns will be necessary or Musquetoons This is all the account I can give at present the Lists
of the Militia and taxables
are herewith enclosed as also the number of the cannon wanted (never received) for the Forts and Batteries
the Board of Ordnance will send other proper stores with them according to the size and number wanted and I think 20 Barrils of Gunpowder may be sufficient until we can procure a quantity by our Powder Duty, we can get no supply of Arms for our Militia who would pay for them if they could be procured. I
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have but just received the Instructions from the Lords of the Regency of July last to enable me to agree with the Assembly in reenacting the County Laws which had been repealed and to repeal and reenact such Laws for Counties as have been since passed before my arrival here which I shall take care to do at next Assembly.
I wrote several times to your Lordships about fixing the Seat of Government about 50 miles by water higher up Neuse where I found good high land upon the River; we have no convenient houses here but most indifferent houses not 30 feet long and 20 wide exposed to the Weather and none can be undertaken until the place is determined besides this place is very aguish and the other place is very healthy that the Council and Assembly are afraid of meeting here unless in Winter or Spring and they have very broad Ferries which is very inconvenient and expensive all which would be avoided and be more central if placed higher up the River, I therefore hope you will take it into consideration and fix the place soon that we may begin to build.
We have applied the paper Bills of Credit which were set apart for the Publick Buildings and building of Churches and Schools subject to his Majesty's approbation and not to be issued till his Majesty's pleasure was known, by Act of Assembly for the raising the several companies for the protection of the Colonies and have granted a Tax to pay off the Bills, which they as the Taxes come in either ought to be repaid for the same purposes if it be agreable to his Majesty that the Money should be so applied or they must be taken in and cancelled, I find notwithstanding the number of Bills struck amounting to £40000 Currency that since the Northern Counties have taken them and circulate them there that there will be no more than what will be necessary to pay the publick Taxes and Quit Rents when duly collected and to circulate in Trade as in many Counties they now complain of the scarcity of Notes so that it will rather be a conveniency than any Detriment to continue the circulation of all the new notes and only to cancel all the old ones which were current before as they are almost worn out I therefore want his Majesties Instructions about it against next Session, and hope his Majesty will approve of the Bills being replaced again for the publick Buildings and building of Churches and Schools which are very much wanted, instead of cancelling them, as long as they shall appear necessary in trade until Commodities are raised or our Trade is enlarged to pay our Demands to the British Merchants of which I hope we shall have soon a considerable quantity by our Indigo and probably Silk as we find the Mulberry Trees grow as fast as Willows and we can have two crops of silk in the Summer of which we have had a full proof and the last crop
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better than the first and afterwards eggs enough for the next year, which I dont find that they have yet had in Spain France and Italy it would also now be of great advantage if we were allowed to import Wine and Salt from Portugal and to allow us to supply them with Naval Stores which would enable us also to supply them with scantling Timber from our saw Mills for their Buildings cheaper than they can be supplied from the Baltick, which would all be returned to Great Britain in Bills, for it is in vain to expect Bullion here, whilst we contract large Debts in England and all we can spare must be laid out in paying Slaves which althō it increases our Stock must keep us bare of Coin as all must be paid in Bullion, where other Returns can't be had.
I am pleased to hear that Instructions have been given to the Governor of South Carolina to withdraw the former Instructions about the Frontier Line betwixt these two Provinces for nothing can be done with Mr. Glenn who I think is never to be superseded; and he is now countenancing and protecting our Settlers North of 35o from paying their Taxes to this Colony which they have done for these 8 years without grumbling when we can't find funds to raise our Taxes, and his Government does not expect any Taxes from them and has again and again wrote to me not to molest them until the line be settled besides his having sent Surveyors to survey Lands within our Limit, and encouraging the Cataubas to disturb our planters who have taken up lands within 30 Miles of their Town no less than 1,800,000 Acres allowed by him to 300 Warriors a Circle 60 miles in Diameter These are points I hope you will soon take into your consideration and advise his Majesty what Instructions to send about these particulars. I have had no letters from your Lordships since the 19th of Sepbr nor any kind of Instruction except those mentioned above I thank God my health seems to be perfectly reestablished and I propose to go soon to the Southern Sea Coast and Frontier and if I can shall return after viewing the Fort and Bar at Cape Fear along the Sea Coast to see what is doing at the several Batteries Our 3 companies are near compleated and we are recruiting for the Company at Fort Cumberland who after General Braddocks unhappy defeat deserted in great numbers with their arms and cloaths and thō many are returned to this Province, and have been offered their Pardon to return yet they are skreened by the Inhabitants and if pursued fly to the Swamps, I am at a great loss how to pay the Companies after they leave this province since we have no Cash and our paper is of no use, we last year endeavoured to pay them with buying up Pork to send abroad to Virginia where it was blown upon and obliged to be reshiped again for other Provinces and to the Islands so that one third of the sum
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allowed to pay the Company was lost, so that if we can't be paid by England or the Provinces when they quit our Province our Taxes are raised to no purpose, we can pay, cloath and give provisions to them when in the Province and could recruit or raise some men if they would be paid when they quit the Province by the Publick but we can do little more when we lose so much by provisions when we send them to the other Colonies.
There shall be nothing wanting in my care and endeavours for the publick service. I am with the greatest respect
My Lords Your Lordships, &c.,
Additional Notes for Electronic Version:
A list of militia and taxables was enclosed with this letter - See Related Documents.