In my letter (No. 23) I took notice of the disappointment I experienced to my recommendation, to the House of Assembly at the last session, for a supply of powder and lead for his Majestys service, and the use of this province: The returns I have herewith the honor to transmit to your Lordship of the ordnance, stores, and ammunition of Fort Johnston, will shew the great deficiency in the two last articles: deficiencies I beg may be communicated to his Majesty, as I really apprehend in case of a war, I could not purchase here twenty barrels of powder, nor is it to be expected in such an event, I could be furnished from the neighbouring colonies, It shall be my duty again to urge the General Assembly to make provision for so important a demand, but as I have twice failed in my application, should I then be unsuccessfull, I wish to be honored with his Majestys commands, how these necessary articles are to be supplied.
Three cannon of eighteen pounders are at Wilmington, and six of the swivel guns at Salisbury and Hillsborough, three at each town: These with the ordnance returned by Captain Howe, Commandant of Fort Johnston, make up the whole of the artillery, sent here by his late Majesty in 1754 for the use of this government, except one swivel lost last war by a boat sinking.
In the present condition of the settlements on the sea board of this province I cannot think any part so much exposed to the insults of the enemy as Cape Fear River. The settlements on the other maritime parts of the province, I would be understood, within fifty miles of the sea, are so widely dispersed that an enemy could not by his plunder reimburse the expence of a single vessel on such an enterprise.
Cape Look Out Bay has proved a place of anchorage in former wars for the enemys privateers from whence they could discover all ships directing their course for Ocacock Inlet and easily if the wind was fair, slip out the bay and intercept them. Cape Look Out is now well known to his Majestys sloops on this station. A plan of the Bay was taken by the Viper Sloop of War in 1764, which I understand was transmitted by Captain Lobb to the Lords of the Admiralty.
Enemys privateers might also lay just within Ocacock Inlet, and consequently greatly injure the commerce of the Roanoke, Pamplico, Neuse and Trent Rivers, Ocacock being the outlet for ships of burden trading in those rivers: small sloops and schooners may indeed sail through Currituck Inlet.
A Fort constructed at Cape Look Out and another to command the entrance of Ocacock Inlet, would certainly afford great protection to that part of the country, though I apprehend the province is not in circumstances to construct them, or if they were both able and willing, no person here is capable to undertake the work.
The settlements on Cape Fear River lye more immediately within the insults of the enemy, the town of Brunswick being but twenty miles from its mouth and Wilmington sixteen miles above Brunswick As I have in a former letter directed to the Lords of Trade bearing date the 1st August 1766 described the situation and condition of Fort Johnston and as Captain Collet I presume has informed your Lordship of its present weak state, I shall not now trouble your Lordship with further observations on it
The new inlet of Cape Fear which was opened a few years since by a storm has not yet prejudiced the old bar; It affords a passage only for vessels of seven or eight feet water.
Captain Robinson of his Majestys ship the Fowey entered this river last February and came over the bar at only half tide drawing fourteen feet water. He assured me it was easier to run over this bar than that of Charles Town and that it had on it full as much water; a testimony he said he should transmit to the Lords of the Admiralty. His Majestys sloops of war the Martin and Bonetta being in the river at the time the Fowey came in, formed a little squadron, the first seen in this river.