powered by google
Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Advanced Search Options
Letter from Josiah Martin to William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth
Martin, Josiah, 1737-1786
July 16, 1775
Volume 10, Pages 96-98

[B. P. R. O. Am. & W. Ind.: No. Carolina. No. 222.]
Letter from Governor Martin to the Earl of Dartmouth.

Cruizer Sloop of War in Cape Fear River,
No Carolina, July 16th, 1775.

My Lord,

Since the departure of Mr Schaw who was charged with my Dispatches to your Lordship No 34 and 35, Duplicates of which are herewith enclosed, I have the honor and satisfaction to acquaint your Lordship, that by the Master of a Vessel arrived immediately from Boston, I have learnt that Major General Howe, at the head of three Thousand of His Majesty's Troops, attacked, forced and defeated a Body of Fifteen Thousand of the Rebels, intrenched upon the heights near that Town, on Saturday the 17th day of last month, and that this Detachment of the Royal Army, having killed, wounded and taken Prisoners near 3000 of the enemy, with the loss of near 500 of its own numbers, had taken up their ground, and was encamped upon the Field of Battle. This Account my Lord is no other than the relation of the Master of the Ship, who unfortunately for the cause of Government here, brings no more authentick report of this important event than his own Story, which from the appearent honesty of the man, and the probability of his narrative, I am willing to believe. I cannot help lamenting however My Lord, that we have not received by that or some other Channel a certain and full account of this interesting Affair, which your Lordship will perceive by the enclosed printed Paper, that is circulated about this Country from South Carolina with the utmost diligence, is travested, discoloured and disguised, by all the Arts of disengenuity and misrepresentation to inflame the minds of the People here, and to promote the black and horrid purposes of that unprincipled and unnatural Rebellion, which, by the cherishing aid and clamours of the Demagogues in Britain, as much, or more than by those of New England, it at last worked up to declare itself by open & daring hostilities. These encouraging false reports My Lord, operate most fatally upon the people here, and if means are not employed to make them acquainted with the truth of such occurrences more expeditiously than has been done heretofore, they will be gained over universally by falsehood, to the congenial Standard of Rebellion.

-------------------- page 97 --------------------

I am still waiting My Lord with eager expectation of those Supplies from General Gage which are indispensible to my availing myself for His Majesty's Service, of the strength this Country now affords, that is daily and hourly falling off, consuming and mouldering away before the Industry, and address of the Leaders of Sedition here, who have cut off in great measure my intercourse with the People of the interior Country, upon whom I depend, and who are still nevertheless able and willing to open their way to me, whenever I can assure them of the necessary means to make them respectable, of which they are now totally destitute. It is rumoured that a letter from General Gage to me is intercepted, and in the hands of a Committee at Wilmington, wherein the General in Answer to my requisition of Arms and Ammunition says, that he cannot furnish me with the former, but will endeavour to send me a supply of the latter, which if true is most discouraging intelligence indeed.

Since my former Letters to your Lordship the continual reports of the People designing to make themselves Masters of Fort Johnston, & Captain Collet's just and well grounded Representations that he would not pretend to hold the place, with only three or four men that he could depend upon, against a multitude said to be collecting to attack it, determined me to dismount the Artillery that is considerable in value, and to lay it under cover of the Cruizer's Guns. I have also my Lord withdrawn the little remainder of the Garrison, with the shot, and movable Stores, and shipped them on Board the vessel lately arrived from Boston, to take a lading of Naval Stores here, pursuant to a charter party, but the person to whom she is addressed having refused to load her, because she had been employed as a Transport in the King's Service to carry artillery to Boston, the Master as a matter of favour to me, has received the remnant of the Garrison of Fort Johnston, and some of its Stores on Board, while he lays here to accomplish the Days of his Charter Party engagement, after which if no change of circumstances happens in the mean time, I shall think it necessary to engage the Vessel in the King's Service, for the purpose above mentioned, in which I hope your Lordship will hold me justified.

Fort Johnston My Lord, is a most contemptible thing, fit neither for a place of Arms, or an Asylum for the friends of Government, on account of the weakness and smallness of it, so that the keeping of it is of little consequence, and the King's Artillery which is all that is good about it, will be as well secured under cover of the

-------------------- page 98 --------------------
Cruizer's Guns, at less charge, as upon the Walls of that little wretched place; if I could furnish it with a sufficient Garrison, which I could now only collect out of the Highlanders upon whom, by drawing forth a number of them for such a service, I should immediately turn the resentment of the whole Country, before they are provided with the means of defence, and by that step perhaps frustrate my best and fairest expectations, formed upon the strength and good dispositions of that people in this Colony. A further cogent reason with me for disarming Fort Johnston was, that its Artillery whih is heavy might in the hands of the Mob, be turned against the King's Ship, and so annoy her as to oblige her to quit her present station which is most convenient in all respects.

Having an opportunity of writing safely by a passenger in a Merchant's Ship, I could not let it escape me without giving your Lordship the Accounts contained in this letter relative to the operations of the Army at Boston, which I hope are better confirmed to your Lordship by this time, and that they will be soon succeeded, according to my belief and persuasion, by certain assurances of His Majesty, of the entire and complete reduction of New England, and the utter extinction of Rebellion in America which the power of Britain now vigorously excited, cannot fail soon and fully to effect.

Hearing of a Proclamation of the King, proscribing John Hancock and Saml Adams of the Massachusetts Bay, and seeing clearly that further proscriptions will be necessary before Government can be settled again upon sure Foundations in America, I hold it my indispensable duty to mention to your Lordship, Cornelius Harnett, John Ashe, Robert Howes and Abner Nash, as persons who have marked themselves out as proper objects for such distinction in this Colony by their unremitted labours to promote sedition and rebellion here from the beginning of the discontents in America, to this time, that they stand foremost among the patrons of revolt and anarchy. Robert Howes is commonly called Howe, he having impudently assumed that name for some years past in affectation of the noble family that bears it, whose least eminent virtues have been ever far beyond his imitation.

I have long impatiently expected with the poor people (who feel themselves sorely oppressed by it) the Royal disallowance of the present wretched system of Courts here, which I hope will be accompanied with the King's Disallowance of the Sheriffs Law also.

I have the honor to be &c.,
JO. MARTIN.