The Coming of the Continentals

-Delaware River:-

The Coming of the Continentals:

“. . . A Seafaring inclination . . .”


1. The Continental Congress Inherits a War

When the Second Continental Congress reconvened on 10 May 1775, the delegates to the Congress from the twelve colonies found that, instead of meeting to plan conciliation with George III and his ministers, a war had already begun against those same ministers. Although peaceful resistance had its adherents, it was difficult to face the facts: hostilities had commenced in Massachusetts only twenty-two days before. From 10 May 1775 until March or April 1776, the Congress would pursue a wavering and unsure, but steady, course toward assuming sovereignty. Events sometimes propelled this course, and sometimes men did. British actions frequently forced the course farther along.

The moderates in the Congress urged conciliation and compromise; but, and it was a significant but, even they did not urge disarmament. A defensive war was acceptable. On 26 May Congress resolved that the colonies place themselves in a state of military readiness so as to be able to defend their rights and liberties It was another significant step. Congress was now directing (suggesting) the individual colonies, who were generally accepting the directions. Congress took another step on 29 May, urging the Canadians to join with the southern colonies. Throughout June more steps toward sovereignty followed. The army around Boston was adopted, and George Washington appointed as Commander-in-Chief. First armed forces, then money. Some $2,000,000 was voted to be issued in bills of credit to finance the war. Few signs of sovereignty could be as clear: American Army, American money.

All these measures, the de facto government, the army, the money, could be justified as defensive measures, only intended to reduce or prohibit ministerial pressure. Further steps would necessarily have to be more bold. The idea of American naval activity was current at the time, coached in the terms of defensive war. But fleets and ships denoted sovereignty most clearly: they were instruments of offensive war. So Congress hesitated. On 18 July Congress passed its first resolution on naval matters, suggesting  “That each colony, at their own expence, make such provision by armed vessels or otherwise, as their respective assemblies, conventions, or committees of safety shall judge expedient and suitable to their circumstances and situations, for the protection of their harbours and navigation on their sea coasts, against all unlawful invasions, attacks, and depredations, from cutters and ships of war.”1 This resolution was developed as part of a scheme being debated in Congress to open up the American ports to all nations, thus defying several current and ancient acts of Parliament. The object was to obtain military supplies to fight the war.

Congress recessed in midsummer to allow the delegates to confer with their home governments and constituents. They would take up their deliberations again in September.

2. Creation of the Continental Navy and the Naval Committee, 12 September-30 October 1775

When the Second Continental Congress reconvened on 12 September 1775, that body was faced with a host of pressing issues. Dominant over all else was the ever increasing war. Boston was fully besieged; an incipient northern front was in existence on Lake Champlain; and British naval forces were becoming a nuisance on the New England coast. To the south, Royal Governor Lord Dunmore of Virginia was in the process of creating a naval and military force to harry the Virginia countryside. Other southern Royal Governors wished to emulate him. As important as these challenges were, there was one challenge even more important. No fighting could be done, no defensive war fought, without the establishment of supply lines to obtain the critical and necessary materials of war: muskets, bayonets, camp goods, clothing, tents, cannon and gunpowder.

The earliest substantial resolves of the Continental Congress that bore on naval affairs centered on the need for munitions. On 18 September 1775 members of the Congress moved that a committee be set up to procure various items of munitions for the Continental Army, with the munitions to be paid for by exporting the produce of the country. Some debate arose over the last provision, for it would be a violation of the generally followed Non-Exportation Agreement, directed against the British. After a time the consideration of exporting produce was postponed to another day.2 Congress then resolved to set up a “secret Committee” to contract for the importation of five hundred tons of gunpowder, forty field pieces, ten thousand muskets and forty thousand musket locks. The Secret Committee, as it was generally labeled by contemporaries and historians, was empowered to draw on the Continental treasurers to pay for its contracts. The committee was to consist of nine members, five of whom would make a quorum for doing business. The Congress further resolved that “the business be conducted with as much secresy as the nature of the service will possibly admit.”3 The next day the Congress elected the members of the Secret Committee. Those chosen were Thomas Willing (Pennsylvania), Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania), John Dickinson (Pennsylvania), Philip Livingston (New York), John Alsop (New York), Thomas McKean (Delaware), John Langdon (New Hampshire), Samuel Ward (Rhode Island), and Silas Deane (Connecticut).4

At first thought the operations of the Secret Committee would seem to have little to do with naval operations, but in the widest sense of the word, the Secret Committee's operations were of a naval nature. All munitions had to be imported; all such imports had to come by sailing vessels; and the British navy was attempting (if feebly) to impose a blockade to prevent such imports. The Secret Committee of the Continental Congress became the first of three standing committees with the authority to purchase and insure vessels and cargoes, and, eventually, to arm its vessels. Secret Committee vessels and those of its contractors were usually armed, sometimes heavily manned and sometimes commanded by naval officers. They could, and did, engage the British. The officers and crews fought, some died, and many were captured and made prisoners of war. The Secret Committee extended its operations over a wide spectrum of space and society, dealing with high patriots, shady operators, traitors, sailors, merchants, spies, crooks, and kings, ministers, and government agents in several neutral European countries and numerous West Indies islands.

Two days after designating the members of the Secret Committee, Congress took up two requests for exemption from the Non-Exportation Agreement. Two vessels were to sail, one from Baltimore and one from Philadelphia, if the desired exemptions were granted. A general debate over the Non-Exportation Agreement arose among the delegates. Willing (of the Secret Committee) was in favor of the exemptions, noting that the Non-Exportation Agreement was hard on all classes of people. After a bit the debate turned to a discussion of vessels supplying the British at Boston under cover of being cleared out for other ports. After calling for an investigation of some recent captures, thought to be of this nature, the debate ended.5

Congress set up another committee on 29 September. This was to be composed of three members, and was to go to Cambridge Camp to confer with Washington and the heads of the governments of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, on the means of supplying, supporting and regulating the Continental Army.6 On the 30th the members were selected for the Conference Committee: Thomas Lynch, Sr. (South Carolina), Benjamin Harrison (Virginia), and Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania). A committee of five members was selected to draw up instructions for this delegation, and the President of the Continental Congress, John Hancock, wrote to all parties concerned to meet the committee at Cambridge.7 It will be remembered that Washington was in the process of fitting out his first schooners at this time, and that Hannah had already been at sea.

On 3 October 1775 the Rhode Island delegation presented to Congress the resolves of the Rhode Island General Assembly of 26 August. These called upon Congress to build and equip. “an American fleet as soon as possible,” and listed various useful benefits to be derived from this fleet.8 Congress collectively paused, then resolved to debate the Rhode Island resolves on Friday, October 6.9

Congress did well to pause: creation of a Navy was a serious business. First, ships of war were very expensive, just as they are today. Secondly, equipping ships of war had political overtones of some consequence, for it implied sovereignty. There were many members of Congress who believed the colonies were fighting for colonial rights within the framework of the British Empire: indeed, this was the official policy of the Americans. For these men starting a Navy was a step toward independence. Independence was not a word heard among the open councils of the day. Third, all these men were painfully, and, until quite recently, very proudly aware of just how powerful the Royal Navy was. To many it would seem rash to challenge the most powerful Navy afloat. Fourth, sectionalism was a factor. Any American navy must be, could only be, a primarily New England affair. In New England were the sailors, shipwrights, ports, timber, and skilled labor. New England and New York were the most industrialized part of the colonies, if that term can properly be used. Three of the four New England colonies had already created naval forces of some description. Southern delegates feared, and with considerable justification, that a national navy would be a way to get the southern colonies to pay for a New England coast defense force.

Frequently, the affairs of men and nations are altered by small happenings, coming at an appropriate time. In this case it was the arrival of a ship, the Aurora, Thomas Read master, from England. Aboard this ship came recent English papers and many letters. These were presented to Congress on 5 October.10 From these letters and papers Congress learned that two munitions brigs had sailed from northern England en route to Quebec with arms and powder. Both these articles were in very short supply in the American forces, of course. A motion was made to appoint a committee to devise a plan for intercepting these two brigs. The debate began at once.

It was clear to all that the debate of the next day had begun a day early. And it was in plain terms. Here was an operation, not offensive by its nature, but one requiring a naval force. John Adams of Massachusetts was a strong proponent of the measure, but the opposition was “loud and vehement.” Edward Rutledge of South Carolina was the chief opponent. Adams had a none too lofty opinion of Rutledge, and noted that he was never so elegant, informed, or wise, as when he spoke against this motion. Adams suspected he had been coached out of doors by several merchants of Philadelphia. The measure was “the most wild, visionary, mad project that ever had been imagined. It was an infant, taking a mad bull by his horns; and what was more profound and remote, it was said it would ruin the character and corrupt the morals of our seamen. It would make them selfish, piratical, mercenary, bent wholly upon plunder, &c, &c.” Adams countered as best he could, noting the advantages of “distressing the enemy, supplying ourselves, and beginning a system of maritime and naval operations.” The vote was taken, the motion carried. Silas Deane (Connecticut), John Langdon (New Hampshire) and Adams were appointed as a committee to recommend a plan. They retired at once to draw one up.11

The Adams committee reported an interim plan in the afternoon, and its plan was immediately accepted. John Hancock was to write to Washington, who was to ask the Massachusetts Council of Safety to lend the Massachusetts Navy vessels at Machias (Maine) to Congress for the mission. Washington was to make certain the vessels were well supplied and manned. The vessels were to intercept the two munitions brigs or “any other transports. . . for the use of the ministerial army or navy in America. . . ; that he give the commander or commanders such instructions as are necessary, as also proper encouragement to the marines and seamen. . . ”12 Another letter was to be written to the Massachusetts Council of Safety requesting the loan of these vessels to Washington. Moreover, Washington was to “employ sd vessels and others, if he judge necessary. . . ” Rhode Island and Connecticut would be requested to send their “vessels of force” after the Massachusetts ones, to assist the enterprise. Hancock was to write to Rhode Island and Connecticut requesting each colony to send one vessel on the expedition. Congress suggested that the master, officers and sailors be given one half the value of the prizes, in addition to the individual colonies' pay. And then came the last part: “That sd ships and vessels of war to be on the continental risque and pay, during their being so employed.”13 Hancock promptly wrote to all the parties involved.14

On 6 October Congress took up a measure calling on the colonies to arrest and intern various “inimical” persons. During the debate on this motion naval affairs kept popping up. Chase of Maryland wished it had been done months before, noting Virginia's royal governor, Lord Dunmore, was now extending his piracies. He added “Have the Committee any Naval Force? This order will be a mere Piece of Paper. Is there a Power in the Committee to raise and pay a naval Force? Is it to be done at the Expence of the Continent? Have they Ships or Men?” Richard Henry Lee of Virginia stated “I wish Congress would advise Virginia and Maryland to raise a force by sea to destroy Lord Dunmore's power.”15 The arrest order passed.

Next Congress took up and passed a resolution allowing the Secret Committee to pay for its munitions contracts by exporting the produce of the country. Less than three weeks before this step was considered too radical. Now, the Adams committee brought in its second plan for intercepting the munitions brigs, which was more ambitious than the first plan. The later version called for Congress to authorize equipping vessels to cruise for the two transports.16 Congress ordered the plan to “lie on the table, for the perusal of the members.” Congress now put off consideration of the Rhode Island plan to Saturday, 7 October. Thus, two distinct naval impulses, one a plan, one a motion, were before Congress.17

Saturday came. Congress convened, and the debate began on the Rhode Island plan. Chase rose to speak against the plan. He called it “the maddest Idea in the World, to think of building an American Fleet.” The cost was Chase's big objection, but he conceded two swift sailing vessels, “for gaining Intelligence,” were acceptable. Someone, quickly reading the mood of Congress, called for a postponement of the debate. Stephen Hopkins of Rhode Island agreed to a postponement, providing it was to a definite future day. Robert Treat Paine of Massachusetts rose and seconded Chase's motion: to postpone debate to an indefinite future day. Chase noted he had made no such motion: “The Gentleman is very sarcastic and thinks himself very sensible.” John J. Zubly (Georgia) rose and spoke. Then Deane spoke: he thought the plan not “romantic” and wished it to be seriously debated. Rutledge of South Carolina moved for a committee to consider a plan and estimate for the fleet, and Zubly seconded. Gadsden of South Carolina arose: he was against the extensive plan from Rhode Island, “but it is absolutely necessary that some Plan of Defence by Sea should be adopted.” John Rutledge announced he could not decide until he heard the arguments, heard the plan and the cost, and knew how many ships were to be built. Sam Adams noted that no estimate could be made without knowing how many ships were to be built. Finally Zubly suggested that Rhode Island prepare a plan. But this was not in order, John Adams noted, for Congress had voted to put off the matter for a time. Zubly, Rutledge, Paine and Gadsden now all spoke, “skirmishing” according to Adams. The Rhode Island delegation knew the day was lost. A committee to estimate the cost was voted down and further consideration postponed until 16 October.18

Meanwhile, and as yet unknown either to Congress of the Adams committee, the first plan for intercepting the transport brigs had collapsed. Connecticut was the first to reply to Hancock's letter. Governor Trumbull agreed to send the Connecticut Navy Brig Minerva as soon as she could be gotten ready. He notified Washington on 9 October that she would sail in a few days.19 Rhode Island reported the next day. That colony could provide no help, according to Deputy Governor Cooke: one vessel was off on a mission for Washington, and the other was too small.20 On 12 October Washington reported to Congress that there were no armed vessels in Massachusetts. Then the General dropped a small nugget of information: he had been in the process of fitting out some armed vessels, and two of these would be sent on the expedition as soon as they were ready. This letter was the first information given to Congress about the Continental Army squadron at Boston.21 Washington had now been given authority to fit out vessels, after he had begun doing so. Congress, it seemed, already had a navy.

Before Washington's letter was received Congress took up the Adams committee's report. On 13 October the report was debated. The debate was not detailed, but this was a much smaller plan than the Rhode Island one. Apparently Congress was softening its stance against naval adventures, for it was “Resolved, That a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months. . . for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies, and for such other purposes as the Congress shall direct.”22

A Committee of Three was elected to prepare an estimate of the expense, to lay the estimate before Congress, and to contract with and for the vessel. Silas Deane (Connecticut), John Langdon (New Hampshire) and Christopher Gadsden (South Carolina) were selected. It was the Adams committee without Adams. The Congress then resolved to fit out a second vessel, and deferred the consideration of the remainder of the Adams committee's report to 16 October.23 No matter, the die was now cast. These two tiny vessels represented the beginning of the Continental Navy. Later in the day John Adams, writing to a friend, said “We begin to feel a little of a Seafaring Inclination here.”24

Silas Deane spent part of Sunday, 15 October writing to his friends. After informing Thomas Mumford of pork barrel opportunities (through the Secret Committee), he noted “A Naval Force, is a Favorite object of mine, & I have a prospect now, of carrying that point. . . ” Deane pointed out to Mumford the advantages and opportunities for New London as a fleet base.25 But the going was not so easy. When the Committee of Three reported on 17 October, Congress refused to accept the report and sent the Committee back out to plan again.26 Congress then took up other affairs, while the delegates discussed among themselves the Rhode Island plan and wrote home about it. On 21 October, Washington's letter of the 12th was received and laid before Congress, which thereby learned it already had warships in operation.27

On 30 October the Committee of Three brought in its revised estimate and plan. The Committee had gone far beyond it's original charge, estimating for a fleet of ten vessels for three months (four vessels of thirty-six guns, two of twenty-two guns, two of eighteen guns, and two of fourteen guns) at a total cost in excess of £67,000, or $180,000. The Committee carefully explained their reasoning. Such a force could meet any British force in North America on equal terms, excepting only the three British battleships, which the Committee knew had been ordered to England. Mere deployment of a naval force such as the one recommended would force the British cruisers to sail in company (concentrate) or face being destroyed in detail. The Committee further anticipated that the Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts vessels would be added to the Continental fleet. The British expected no opposition at sea, and, if the Americans moved fast enough, the British naval forces could be defeated before the transports from England came out in the spring. This presented the alluring prospect of capturing the expected invading army a ship full at a time. In simple terms the Committee proposed to develop a small, concentrated striking force and use it to attack the scattered British naval detachments on the coast. Nor was administration of the proposed Navy forgotten: A committee of men “skill'd in Maratime affairs” was to be set up to outfit the vessels, commission the officers, create the rules and regulations of the naval service, and order the operations of the vessels. It was suggested that proper targets of the Navy would be naval vessels and transports supplying the British army and navy. Finally a Commander-in-Chief was to be appointed to the fleet, with the rank of Commodore.28

There was a short debate, George Ross (of Pennsylvania), speaking against the idea of a navy. Ross pointed out that Pennsylvania was having trouble manning its small row galleys and wondered whether the new Navy could be manned. Wythe, Nelson and Lee all rose and spoke in favor of the fleet. And so, the votes were taken and Congress did resolve “. . . That the second vessel ordered to be fitted out on the 13th Inst, do carry 14 guns. . . That a Committee be appointed to carry into  execution. . . the resolution of Congress of the 13th Inst. . . and,. . . That two other armed vessels be fitted out. . . the one to carry not exceeding 20 guns, and the other not exceeding 36 guns.” All were “to be employed in such manner, for the protection and defence of the United Colonies, as the Congress shall hereafter direct.” Congress then set up a committee to carry out the resolves “with all possible expedition.” The new committee was fixed at seven members, with a quorum of four members. Four members were elected to the three already existing: Stephen Hopkins of Rhode Island, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, Joseph Hewes of North Carolina, and John Adams. This new committee was known to contemporaries and to us as the Naval Committee. It was the first executive department of the Navy. The new committee immediately procured a room in a local tavern and agreed to meet every evening at six in order to expedite their business.29

3. The Work of the Naval Committee, November-December 1775

It would be well to record the conditions under which the Naval Committee did its business. John Adams later noted that “the pleasantest part of my Labours for the four Years I spent in Congress. . . was in this Naval Committee. Mr. Lee, Mr. Gadsden, were sensible Men, and very cheardul: But Governor Hopkins of Rhode Island, above seventy Years of Age kept us all alive. Upon Business his Experience and Judgment were very Usefull. But when the Business of the Evening was over, he kept Us in Conversation till Eleven or sometimes twelve OClock. His Custom was to drink nothing all day nor till Eight OClock, in the Evening, and then his Beveredge was Jamaica Spirit and Water. It gave him Wit, Humour, Anecdotes, Science and Learning. He had read Greek, Roman and British History: and was familiar with English Poetry. . . And the flow of his Soul made all his reading our own, and seemed to bring to recollection in all of Us all We had ever read. I could neither eat nor drink in those days. The other Gentlemen were very temperate. Hopkins never drank to excess, but all he drank was immeditely no only converted into Wit, Sense, Knowledge and good humour, but inspired Us all with similar qualities.”30 With a fire warming the room in the cool evenings and with the body warmed by food and drink, one can picture old Hopkins casting his philosophical musings upon the waters of the Naval Committee. Fellow citizens of Rhode Island would reap the fruits, as we shall see.

There was, indeed, much work to be done. There were vessels to find, officers to commission, sailors to recruit, regulations to write, and superintendents, materials, cannon, stores, munitions, and assorted other necessary and desirable items to locate. There were plans to formulate, orders to write, and an administrative system to create. There was, in fact, no time to waste. The first order of business was money. On 2 November the Naval Committee returned to the Congress, requesting funds. Congress obliged by making up to $100,000 available to the Naval Committee, as it was needed. The Naval Committee was also given the power to enlist officers and sailors, and was authorized to fix as prize shares one half the value of all warships captured and one third the value of all other prizes.31

Chart I: Interlocking Membership of Five Committees
September 1775-October 1775

Secret Committee of the Continental Congress
18 September 1775
Thomas Willing
Benjamin Franklin
Philip Livingston
John Alsop
Silas Deane
John Dickinson
John Langdon
Thomas McKean
Samuel Ward

Washington Conference Committee
29 September 1775
Benjamin Franklin
Tomas Lynch
Benjamin Harrison

Adams Committee
5 October 1775
Committee of Three
13 October 1775
Naval Committee
30 October 1775
John Adams
Silas Deane
John Langdon

Christopher Gadsden
Silas Deane
John Langdon
Christopher Gadsden
Silas Deane
John Langdon
Stephen Hopkins
Joseph Hewes
John Adams
Richard Henry Lee

Interlocking Committee Membership
Member/(Colony ) Secret Conference Adams Three Naval Member/# Com
John Adams (MA)     x   x 2
John Alsop (NY) x         1
Silas Deane (CT) x   x x x 4
John Dickinson (PA) x         1
Benjamin Franklin (PA) x x       2
Christopher Gadsden (SC)       x x 2
Benjamin Harrison (VA)   x       1
Joseph Hewes (NC)         x 1
Stephen Hopkins (RI)         x 1
John Langdon (NH) x   x x x 4
Richard Henry Lee (VA)         x 1
Philip Livingston (NY) x         1
Thomas Lynch (SC) x         1
Thomas McKean (DL) x         1
Samuel Ward (RI) x         1
Thomas Willing (PA) x         1

Hopkins was selected as Chairman of the Naval Committee and Hewes was given the task of treasurer.32 For other parts of its naval administration the Naval Committee used the existing institutions of the Pennsylvania Navy or contracted the work out. As early as 4 November James Wharton was supplying chandlery for the vessels the Naval Committee was fitting out.33 Shipwright Joshua Humphreys was hired to supervise the work and furnish ship carpenters and laborers.34 Nathaniel Falconer, a local merchant and sea captain, was used to receive supplies and transport them to the vessels,35 and James Reed was retained as “Paymaster to the Fleet.”36

Another subject, taken up by Congress on 2 November, had naval implications. The inhabitants of Passamaquoddy, Nova Scotia (in what is now New Brunswick) had elected a Committee of Safety and petitioned to join the Americans. Congress set up the inevitable committee to study this issue, choosing Deane, Hopkins, Langdon, Adams and John Jay (New York). In other words, the Naval Committee was, essentially, given the task.37

The first vessel selected for conversion had been obtained by 4 November 1775. She was the trans-oceanic merchant ship Black Prince, a large (300-ton)38 square-sterned vessel built in 1774. Black Prince was owned by a group of Philadelphia merchants including John Nixon, Thomas Willing (member of Congress), Robert Morris (member of Congress), Thomas Morris and John Wharton.39 Black Prince had sailed for England in December 1774 under master John Barry, and arrived at Bristol on 31 January 1775.40 In early October 1775 she had returned to Philadelphia41 from London.42 By 4 November she had been hauled alongside the Willing & Morris Wharf43 where her conversion to a warship began under the supervision of Joshua Humphreys.44 By 9 November she had been assigned the new name Alfred, after the “founder of the greatest navy that ever existed.”45 The renamed Alfred satisfied the last vessel authorized, the one of “not exceeding 36 guns,” but there were more to find.

A modern black and white rendering of Alfred being converted at the Willing & Morris Wharf. Nowland Van Powell painting.

The only known authentic portrait of Esek Hopkins. Click for a discussion of Hopkins portraits.

With one vessel acquired and work on her begun, the Naval Committee proceeded to select a Commander-in-Chief. On 5 November Esek Hopkins of Rhode Island (brother of Stephen Hopkins)46 was chosen as commodore of the nascent fleet (perhaps after one of those warm, late evenings). Esek Hopkins was born in 1718 on a farm near Providence (now the site of Scituate, Rhode Island) and reared there. He went to sea in 1738 and retired to the farm in 1772. A prominent man in Rhode Island affairs, with thirty tears' experience in the merchant service, and some naval experience (he had commanded a privateer in the Seven Years' War), his patriotic credentials were well established. In his prime he had been a tall, strong man, energetic, aggressive and dominant.47 Hopkins took an active part in Rhode Island politics and had been elected to the General Assembly several times.48 At age 57 he had slowed down considerably. Like brother Stephen, Esek was a noted drinker, the only known authentic portrait of him being set in a tavern in Surinam with other carousing sea captains. When the war began, he was in the Rhode Island militia, being appointed a Brigadier General on 4 October 1775.49 Hopkins had served against Captain George Wallace's small British squadron in the complex affairs at Newport and was one of the men on John Adams' short list of potential naval commanders.50 Hopkins was informed of his appointment (“. . . they have pitched upon you to take the Command of a small fleet”) the next day, in a letter from his brother, who urged him to accept the appointment. Hopkins was free to enlist officers and men, who would enter pay from their first enlistment.51

Meanwhile Adams was attempting to gather information concerning the availability of both officers, sailors, and vessels in Massachusetts. In letters of 6 November to his friends Joseph Warren (Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives) and Elbridge Gerry, Adams wanted to know if sailors would enlist and what vessels were available to be used as warships; were shipyards available to be used to build warships, and who could be used as commanders. Although Adams was careful to be as secretive as possible, the secret was now being shared.52 Warren replied on 14 November, assuring Adams there were plenty of men and vessels in Massachusetts.53 The day before Warren's reply, Richard Henry Lee had written a similar request for information to fellow Virginian George Washington.54

On 8 November the (essentially) Naval Committee presented the study and plan that had been done on the Passamaquoddy petition. Once again the plan presented was far beyond the apparent charge that had been given the committee. It was a plan to enter and conquer the province of Nova Scotia, and destroy the great British naval base at Halifax. The Committee proposed that Congress raise two battalions of Marines for the proposed invasion, of five hundred men each, plus officers. The men were all to be mariners and to be enlisted for the duration of the war. These battalions were to be formed and en route by 1 December 1775, if necessary raising the men from the Continental Army. The “American Marines” were to sail to Minas, Nova Scotia, land, march across the country and seize Halifax. Spies were to be sent into the country, to feel out the inhabitants and prepare the way.55 Congress debated the report on 9 and 10 November and approved the measures on the latter day. Washington was directed to raise the battalions from the Army, of which they were to be considered a part, and was ordered to send out the scouts to Nova Scotia.56 This resolution marked the beginning of the Continental Marines, although the Nova Scotia scheme soon died.

Another problem was beginning to arise, unknown to the Naval Committee but probably not unanticipated. The news concerning the incipient fleet was starting to circulate. On 9 November committee member Joseph Hewes had informed a correspondent in North Carolina (noting the expenses were “enhanced amazingly”),57 and a citizen of Philadelphia reported in a letter of 13 November that the Black Prince was fitting out, and was to carry twenty 9-pounders and enough other cannon to bring the total to thirty-two.58 By 14 November Governor Cooke of Rhode Island had heard the news (probably from Hopkins) and informed Governor Trumbull of Connecticut.59 It could hardly be long before British spies began making their reports.

By 17 November the Naval Committee had located a second vessel. On that day60 the brigantine Defiance61 was hauled alongside Cuthbertson's Wharf,62 and her conversion to a warship begun with Joshua Humphreys attending.63 She was named the Andrew Doria, after the great Genoese admiral,64 the name being assigned on 19 December 1775.65 Andrew Doria was the second of the vessels authorized on 13 October and re-authorized on 30 October.

The search for vessels was still underway and now expanded to New York. On 17 November the Naval Committee ordered member Silas Deane to go to New York and purchase a ship fit to carry twenty 9-pounders and a sloop (Bermuda built was preferred) suitable to carry ten guns. Deane was to equip, arm, and man these vessels. Should these preparations be in danger from the British warships in New York harbor, he could transfer operations to Connecticut. When equipped, these vessels were to sail to Philadelphia to join the fleet.66 Deane's trip was fruitless. He stayed until 25 November, accomplished nothing, and then returned to Philadelphia.67

The day before the Naval Committee ordered Deane to New York, the Royal Governor of that colony, William Tryon, sat down and penned a memo to a British naval officer, probably Admiral Graves. Tryon had a former servant, James Brattle, who was working as valet to James Duane, a delegate to Congress from New York. Brattle copied information and papers that Duane brought to his rooms in Philadelphia and forwarded it to Tryon in New York. Brattle was caught in January 1776, but escaped to New York. But now he had forwarded the first, confused reports of the naval preparations at Philadelphia to the British.68 Others noticed the work in progress at the wharves, in full view of passers-by. A correspondent (18 November) noted that Alfred was nearly finished, mounted thirty guns, and that a brig of fourteen guns was under conversion.69

Meanwhile, Washington had received the resolutions of Congress respecting the “American Marines” and was less than pleased. In a carefully worded letter to Congress, dated 19 November, he explained the difficulties this task would throw him into. He and his staff were attempting to integrate four armies from four different colonies into one Continental Army. Each regiment was to be standardized, some colonels were thrown out, a painstaking analysis of the others was underway so as to assign them to places where they could perform best, and at the same time taking the sensibilities (sometime very tender) of the four colonial governments into account. Hardly had this work been done and the officers and men becoming accustomed to the new arrangements than this resolution arrives. Now two colonels must be thrown out to make room for the two Marine colonels, and the men must be picked out, one from this company, two from that one, and so forth. Washington would never refuse Congress, but he certainly suggested this order did not have a high priority. After noting some further objections the General suggested that the men be raised in Philadelphia or in New York.70 By 28 November Washington had cooled down somewhat and informed Congress that he had dispatched the scouts to Nova Scotia and would try to form the Marine battalions at a later date.71

Commander-in-Chief elect Hopkins, although somewhat skeptical of the prize allowance offered by Congress72 had plunged into recruiting. By 20 November he had signed up enough men, almost all officer candidates, to apply to Governor Cooke for the use of the Rhode Island Navy Sloop Katy (Captain Abraham Whipple) to transport them to Philadelphia.73 Hopkins left immediately after, traveling overland.74

Cooke now saw a chance to insinuate the idea that Congress should take over the expense of the Katy and, at the same time, rid Newport of the pesky British squadron under Captain James Wallace. In his orders to Captain Whipple, dated 21 November, Cooke ordered Whipple to take the recruits down to Philadelphia (at Continental risk and pay), and then to cooperate with the new fleet (on Continental pay), but only if it was sailing against the British forces at Rhode Island. Cooke thought Congress should pay for Katy's upkeep even if she were not part of the fleet. If the fleet was not destined for Rhode Island, Katy was to pick up a load of flour and return to Providence.75

On 21 November the Naval Committee acquired its third vessel, the ship Sally. At the request of the Naval Committee, Robert Morris had approached the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety, which owned the ship, for permission to purchase the vessel. The Committee of Safety readily agreed to sell her for their first cost, plus accrued charges. Sally had been built at Philadelphia by Joshua Humphreys for Conyngham & Nesbitt at a cost of £1947. She was 75' long on the keel, with a beam of 26' and measured 288 tons.76 Sally was alongside the Willing & Morris Wharf77 by 24 November when conversion work was begun. Humphreys supervised, as was usual.78 She was renamed Columbus (after the great navigator)79 on 8 December.80

The Naval Committee finished a major piece of work when it presented the draft of the rules and regulations of the Navy to Congress on 23 November.81 Adams had drawn them up in his own hand, following the Royal Navy regulations, and then the Naval Committee had reviewed the rules line by line, changing and editing.82 In later years Adams was quite proud of his work on these rules and regulations.

The Committee began with an exhortation to the captains and commanders to make themselves good examples of “honor and virtue.” They were to monitor the behavior of their subordinates and to suppress “all dissolute, immoral, and disorderly practices,” as well as those contrary to good discipline. To assist in this  divine service was to be held twice a day on board, with a sermon on Sunday, unless bad weather or some other reason prevented it. That least admirable and most vicious vice of sailors, swearing, cursing, or blaspheming, was to be punished by causing the offender to wear a wooden collar “or some other shameful badge of distinction” until the captain thought a sufficient time had elapsed. Drunken sailors were to be put in irons until sober, but commissioned or warrant officers were to be fined. In time of action the captain was to put his vessel in a “posture” to fight, encourage and “heart” his men, so that they did not cry out for quarter, and generally provide for battle, upon pain of court martial.

No officer could inflict more than twelve lashes on a man's “bare” back with the “cat of nine tails” without putting the offender before a court martial. An officer could only continue a prisoner until a court could be convened by the commander-in-chief. No captain could discharge a commissioned or warrant officer, nor strike or punish such an officer, but he could suspend and confine one until the commander-in-chief called a court martial. A temporary commander could only confine an offender until his captain reported aboard.

Every sailor was to know and understand the articles of war. These were to be read once a month to the assembled crew, and posted in a public place on the ship so the crew could read them. An accurate muster roll was to be kept showing a man's time of entry, rating, desertion, and death. Before a vessel sailed the captain was to leave a copy of the muster roll and when he returned he must present the muster roll before the crew could be paid. Captains were to provide slops (clothing) for the sailors, keeping a record so a proper deduction could be made from the sailor's pay. An inferior officer83 (not a warrant or commissioned officer) or a volunteer seaman transferred from one vessel to another was not to be entered in the receiving vessel at a lower rating than he held in the transferring vessel. If a sailor died the captain was to send a ticket to the proper person at the earliest moment so his wages could be paid to his heirs. A dead sailor's personal effects were to be secured against loss. Sick men were to be kept separate from the other sailors and men assigned to assist them in keeping themselves and their quarters clean.

Provisions were to be issued daily, consisting of one pound of bread, and one pound of beef (Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday), or one pound of pork (Monday, Thursday, and Saturday). This was filled out with cheese, potatoes, turnips, peas, butter and pudding. No meat ration was issued on Wednesdays. Each man was to have a half pint of rum per day, with extra rations on special occasions; for example, an engagement. Provisions were to be frequently inspected and could be shortened by commanders if the need arose, but the men were to be “punctually paid” the short rations. Adams, no doubt, provided the frugal touch that all vessels were to have fishing tackle aboard, so that the men could catch fresh fish for the sick, and for the officer's and sailor's messes. The fish were to be distributed “without favour or partiality and gratis, without any deduction of their allowance of provisions.”

The rules provided that courts martial consist of three captains, three first lieutenants, three Marine captains, and three Marine first lieutenants, if there were that many Marines available. Court martial offenses were embezzlement of the ship's stores or furniture, quarreling with or striking a superior officer, sleeping on duty, negligence, desertion, robbery, theft, desertion in the face of the enemy, mutiny and sedition, and murder. The penalty for each crime could be fixed by the court martial. Death was provided as an option in the case of desertion in the face of the enemy, and for mutiny and sedition. Death was the only penalty prescribed for murder. No capital sentence could be carried out without the commander-in-chief's approval, and he had the power to pardon or remit any sentence.

After inserting a provision that sea officers always outranked Marine officers of the same rank, a pay table and rating chart was provided. The highest paid sea officers were the captains, at $32.00 per month, followed by that highly valued technical officer, the surgeon, at $21.33. Naval lieutenants, masters, and the chaplain were all to be paid $20.00 per month, while the master's mates, boatswain, gunner, carpenter, cooper, and the captain's clerk were all rated at $15.00 per month. The surgeon's mate and the steward earned $13.33 per month, and the gunner's mate and the carpenter's mate rated $10.66. The boatswain's first mate rated $9.33, his second mate rated $8.00 and able seamen were paid $6.67 per month. The Marine captains earned $26.67 (second highest on the ship), Marine lieutenants $18.00, sergeants $8.00, corporals, fifers, and drummers $7.33, and privates $6.67 (the same as sailors). The shipping articles provided for a month's advance pay for all ratings.

The true inducement to enlisting in any navy in the days of sail was the lure of prize money. Congress had already limited it to one half (warships) and one third (all others) of the value of prizes. The Naval Committee provided that any commander disabled in the taking of a prize would be paid $400 before any prize distribution was made, and, if he were killed, it would go to his heirs. Similarly, if a commissioned officer or a captain of Marines was disabled or killed, $300 would be distributed. In all other cases, the stipend would be $200. The first man who sighted a prize got a double share, the first who boarded a resisting prize a triple share, and ten shares were reserved for the most deserving inferior officers and sailors, to be assigned by the superior officers.

Any man, officer or sailor, could have his prize money paid to an agent or assignee, upon presentation of an attested order by the captain, purser, master or chief magistrate of some town or county. Even so, seamen were to be discouraged from the pernicious habit of selling their shares in speculation and captains were not to attest letters of assignment gained by the purchase of future shares. A sailor of officer who lost part of the papers of a prize could be tried by a court martial, and would lose his shares if convicted.

Congress ordered that these rules lie on the table to let the members examine them, postponed the expected debate twice, and then went over the rules carefully, paragraph by paragraph. They were approved on 28 November.84 On 25 November, in response to prodding by Washington, Congress had clarified what a legal prize was. All British naval vessels (warships) were to be legal prizes, as were transports engaged in taking stores of any kind to the British army and navy, but only the cargoes. The vessels themselves were not to be prizes, unless the owners were Americans, in which case the vessel was a legal prize too.85

Meanwhile, Captain Whipple had sailed for Philadelphia with his cargo of Rhode Island recruits for the Navy, on 26 November. As Katy was going out Sekonnet Passage she met a 30-ton schooner (Matthew Chub or Chubb) en route from Boston to Newport to obtain provisions for the British army.86 The schooner was captured and the crew put aboard Katy, which proceeded on her voyage. The prisoners eventually landed in jail in Philadelphia.87 The schooner was sent to Providence.88

As Katy sailed down the coast the Naval Committee prepared to offer captaincies in its new navy to various men. Adams had composed a list of possible candidates.89 Of the twenty-two names there listed three were commissioned in the new navy and three more were eventually commissioned in the Continental Navy. On 27 November,90 at the solicitation of Silas Deane,91 the Naval Committee offered the post of senior captain to Deane's brother-in-law, Dudley Saltonstall of New London, Connecticut.

Saltonstall was born in 1738 in New London, the descendent of an old Massachusetts family. He entered the merchant service and commanded privateers in the Seven Years' War. Saltonstall was a captain in the merchant service before the war started. He took charge of the fort at New London when the war began.92 He had sandy hair, a light complexion, hazel eyes and was thick set, being 5'9" tall; a big man in other words.93 He was popular in Connecticut, it was said, but was much less popular in the Continental Navy.

At the time that the Naval Committee was writing to Saltonstall the fourth of the vessels authorized by Congress had been taken up for conversion at Cuthbertson's Wharf. This was the brigantine Sally94 She was a 186 or 189 ton vessel, with a length on the deck of 74'9½", a length on the keel of 53'7", a beam of 24'8", and a depth in the hold of 11'4".95 She was to become the Cabot, named after the great English discoverer of North America.96

Congress was appointing another committee on 29 November, one to correspond with “our friends in Great Britain, Ireland, and other parts of the world.” This committee became known as the Committee of Secret Correspondence, and was the third standing committee to be involved in the operations of the Continental Navy. Selected to this forerunner of the State Department were Benjamin Harrison (Virginia), Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania), Thomas Johnson (Maryland), John Dickinson (Pennsylvania) and John Jay (New York).97

The issue of the “American Marines” was back in Congress on 30 November. After hearing Washington's objections Congress suspended raising the Marines from the Army and ordered that they be raised independently.98 The Naval Committee had anticipated this resolution by issuing the first commission in the Continental Marines to a well-known local citizen, Samuel Nicholas.

Nicholas was born in Philadelphia in 1744, the only son of Anthony and Mary Shute. His father was a blacksmith. Nicholas was raised in the Philadelphia area and attended school at the Academy of Philadelphia from 1752-1759. His father died in 1751. Nicholas joined the exclusive Schuykill Fishing Company in 1760 and made the acquaintance of numerous local gentry. In 1766 he joined the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club, a similar institution. He was reputed to be an innkeeper and had sailed as a supercargo for Robert Morris before the war.99 Appointed soon after him as Captain of Marines were Joseph Shoemaker, another Philadelphian and member of the Fox Hunting Club,100 and, as First Lieutenant of Marines, Isaac Craig.

Isaac Craig was born in Hillsborough, County Down, Ireland in 1741, and immigrated to Philadelphia in 1765 or 1767, with his brother. He became a master carpenter and lived with relatives in Philadelphia. Craig was commissioned as senior Marine lieutenant on 29 November 1775.101

These three men were joined in early December by Captain John Welsh and lieutenants John Fitzpatrick, Robert Cummings, John Hood Wilson, Henry Dayton, Matthew Parke, and one Miller.102 Welsh was supposed to have been born in Ireland and had traveled to America specifically to enlist with the Americans. He was probably living in Philadelphia when he was appointed.103 Fitzpatrick was another Philadelphian, possibly a laborer or tanner before the war. It is probable that he was a friend of Nicholas.104 Wilson possibly completed the Philadelphia group, although this is not certainly known.105

Matthew Parke was born in Ipswich, England in 1746. His grandfather was a British army colonel, former aide to the Duke of Marlborough, and served as Governor of the Windward Islands. When the grandfather left the islands he traveled to Virginia, taking his grandson with him. When the grandfather moved to England he left Matthew behind. Parke moved to Philadelphia where he was commissioned on 28 November.106 Technically he was a Virginian, and may have owed his appointment to Southern pressure, as did John Paul Jones. The two may have known each other in Virginia. Nothing whatever is known of Cummings (or Cumming) and Miller.107

Esek Hopkins arrived in Philadelphia around the end of November 1775, accompanied by his youngest son, Esek Hopkins, Jr., and a young friend, Rufus Jenckes. While the boys were inoculated for smallpox and roamed the streets of Philadelphia, seeing the sights, the elder Hopkins looked over his command and conferred with the Naval Committee. It was by no means certain that he would accept the command of the fleet, for he still thought the prize shares too low.108 But the Committee prevailed and his acceptance gave “universal Satisfaction.” There was some dispute about the Katy: Rhode Island considered her a Continental vessel, yet wanted to direct her movements. The Rhode Island delegates to Congress noted the impossibility of this.109

Congress made several important decisions on 2 December, the day that Hopkins decided to accept command. Recent news from Virginia had reminded the southerners of how obnoxious Lord Dunmore had become. Moving to assist Virginia, Congress ordered the Naval Committee to confer with Captain William Stone, and engage him and his vessel, “on the most reasonable terms, in the service of the Continent, for the purpose of taking or destroying the cutters and armed vessels in Chesapeake Bay, under Lord Dunmore.” Congress also ordered Benjamin Harrison of Virginia to go to Baltimore and to fit out “two or three” armed vessels to “cruize on, take, or destroy as many of the armed vessels, cutters, and ships of war of the enemy as possible. . . ” Harrison was to be assisted by the Maryland delegates to Congress. These vessels were specifically authorized to seize American vessels violating the Non-Exportation Agreement. Further, the Naval Committee was to “employ the armed sloop, commanded by Captain Whipple. . . and despatch her forthwith to aid the marine business to the southward.” The Naval Committee was ordered to design a form of commission and have three hundred printed. Congress also requested that the Pennsylvania militia mount guard over the vessels fitting out at Philadelphia.110 The guard of ten men was mounted that evening.111

While Congress was doubling the size of the Navy, another British spy was writing a report. Gilbert Barkly was an occasional resident of Philadelphia who had been dispatched by Lord North to that city in March 1775 to “exert” himself for reconciliation and to provide intelligence, chiefly the latter one gathers. Barkly had some contacts and picked up the common talk, for he knew of the addition of Katy to the fleet the day the resolve was passed. Barkly used his “outmost Efforts” to discover the fleet's true destination, which he did “by the force of money.” The fleet was to sail to Ascension Island, and cruise between Ascension and St. Helena to intercept the homebound East Indiamen. Since the common talk around Philadelphia was how to chastise Lord Dunmore with the new fleet, one supposes some clever Yankee had received a “force of money” for this piece of disinformation.112 But there were so many reports out that one finally landed on target: Admiral Graves learned of the fleet on 3 December, in a reasonably accurate report with a decidedly accurate statement of mission. “They design to attack the Kings Ships at Virginia,” said the spy. Graves had no reinforcements to send there, unless he chose to weaken the tiny squadron at New York. He chose to await reinforcements.113 The real reason for not sending help to Virginia was quite simple. When Graves passed this information to his officers in Virginia, and to the Admiralty at home, he said he did not believe the attack would occur.114

On 3 December the Rhode Island Navy Sloop Katy arrived at Philadelphia with its cargo and crew of Rhode Islanders. All the most eligible were promptly invited to a big dinner thrown by the Congressional delegates from Rhode Island. With four Hopkins present, and a Whipple in the bargain, we may be sure much spirit was consumed. There is no doubt that Stephen Hopkins had done well by his constituents: two more Hopkins, Whipple, and a Burroughs (another related branch of the family) all became officers.115

With the arrival of the Rhode Islanders, Hopkins felt more spirit. On 3 December he boarded the Alfred where he met his future senior First Lieutenant, John Paul Jones. In a small ceremony, Jones raised the Grand Union flag with his own hands, more or less putting the fleet in commission.116

John Paul Jones was born in 1747 in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, the son of a gardener. At age 12 he was apprenticed to a shipowner of Whitehaven and made a voyage to Virginia. He stayed there for a time with his brother William, a successful tailor at Fredricksburg. When he returned to Whitehaven, Jones found his employer had gone bankrupt and he was released from his apprenticeship. He signed on a slaver as third mate, on the Guinea to Jamaica route. At age 19 he signed on another slaver as first mate, but quit soon after, disgusted with the business. He was offered passage home in the sloop John. En route the master and mate died and Jones brought her in safely, being rewarded with her command. He sailed her and a larger craft in the West Indies trade for several years, but was plagued by two unsavory incidents, the last of which resulted in the death of a mutineer at Tobago. Jones fled to America in 1774 and showed up at Philadelphia in the fall of 1775, where he may have helped in Alfred's conversion. He was appointed the senior First Lieutenant in the fleet for one reason only: he was friendly with Joseph Hewes, who absolutely insisted on a Southern lieutenancy. Jones was available, although technically a Virginian.117

Although the terms were disputed between Rhode Island and the Naval Committee for a while, the Katy now entered Continental service. She was renamed the Providence, after the home town of the Hopkins clan.118 The Naval Committee gave her command to John Hazard, about whom very little is known indeed. He may have been from New York.119 The Naval Committee had other plans for Whipple.

Abraham Whipple was born in 1733, descended from an old Rhode Island family. He entered the merchant service and commanded the famous privateer Game Cock in 1759-1760 (in which he captured twenty-three French vessels as prize). Whipple married either a sister or niece (Sarah Hopkins) of Esek and Stephen Hopkins and lived down on the farm as a neighbor and friend to Esek. He was long a firebrand in the revolutionary movement and had engineered the notorious Gaspee affair in 1772. On 12 June 1775 he was appointed Captain of the Katy and Commodore of the Rhode Island Navy. He served in several scrapes with the British warships in Narragansett Bay. Whipple was a short, heavy set man, with a keen sense of humor. He had his limitations. Whipple agreed to enter the Continental service on 5 December, and was assigned to the Columbus120

Presumably John B. Hopkins (the B. was for Burroughs) was selected as commander of the Cabot solely on the basis of merit and ability. He was the oldest son of Esek, born in 1742, and went to sea early. This Hopkins was with Whipple in the Gaspee affair. He married his cousin, Sarah Harris, in 1768.121

Congress took up more naval work on 5 December. The Naval Committee was authorized to sign up sailors to 1 January 1777 and to borrow such items as were needed from the Pennsylvania authorities. A loophole in the prize distribution law was filled by setting a salvage value on recaptured vessels (vessels taken by the British and recaptured by the Americans before they had been condemned in an Admiralty court). The amount depended on the length of time the prize had been held by the enemy.122

The taking of the Katy into the Continental Navy encouraged Connecticut to hope that the Connecticut Navy Brig Minerva might be paid for by Congress. Governor Trumbull inquired of Connecticut delegates in Congress. They replied on 5 December. They pointed out the naval preparations of Pennsylvania (at its own expense) and noted that when Congress had wished to use the Minerva it had not been available. Never the less, Silas Deane thought that, if the Minerva brought down sailors for the fleet, and the vessel was found acceptable, it might be taken into service.123 The Minerva never made the voyage.

Two private letters written from Philadelphia on 6 December to correspondents in London reveal that public information about the fleet was very accurate. These writers knew the commander's names, the number of vessels, and the approximate battery of the Alfred, twenty to thirty 12-pounders and 16-pounders. Two “stout” brigantines and a sixteen gun sloop were listed. The intention to strike at Lord Dunmore was repeated.124

On 7 December Saltonstall “cheerfully” accepted the command offered by the Naval Committee. He notified the Committee he would be somewhat delayed in reporting to Philadelphia, as he planned to recruit sailors before leaving. To do so he needed the articles of enlistment, which had not yet arrived.125 It is obvious that Saltonstall was also under the impression he was to appoint his own officers.126

The Naval Committee had now been reduced to five members. John Langdon and John Adams had set out, the one on a mission for Congress, the other for home, about 6 December, and were therefore absent for the upcoming events.127 Congress, on 9 December, and no doubt upon the recommendation of the Naval Committee, added nine ratings to the Navy. These were armorer, at $15 per month, midshipman, sailmaker and cook, at $12 per month, yeoman, quartermaster, and coxswain, at $9 per month, and quarter gunner, at $8 per month. Pilots were to be paid at the usual rates, with an additional “gratuity” if absolutely necessary. A final, significant entry in that day's journal: the Rhode Island resolves would be taken up on Monday, 11 December.128

Stephen Hopkins proposed another recruiting venture in Rhode Island on 9 December. He wrote to Nicholas and John Brown, very prominent merchants of Providence, and requested they recruit sailors for the fleet. Hopkins was sending a small sloop, the Fly (Munroe), owned by Clarke and Nightingale of Providence, to them for the purpose of bringing back the sailors, if the owners agreed. Hopkins admitted men were raising slowly in Philadelphia. If the Browns raised more men than the Fly could carry, they were advised to charter another vessel, which would be allowed to return a cargo of provisions from Philadelphia.129

The Continental Navy acquired another captain on 9 December, when Nicholas Biddle resigned as a Captain in the Pennsylvania Navy to enter Continental service. Biddle was born in Philadelphia in 1750 of an old New Jersey Quaker family, soon after his parents moved there. He made his first sea voyage at age 13, to Quebec. After that he served in the merchant service. Biddle went to England with letters of introduction to Captain Sterling (later Admiral) from Sterling's brother-in-law, Thomas Willing. With this introduction Biddle was appointed a midshipman on Sterling's Portland, where he served until the autumn of 1772. Biddle attempted to secure a berth on the polar exploration ship being fitted out by Captain Phipps (later Lord Mulgrave) but was not accepted. Biddle resigned his commission to serve aboard this ship as a sailor, just to participate in the adventure. Aboard the ship he messed with another young sailor, Horatio Nelson, who had done exactly the same as Biddle in order to get aboard. After this voyage Biddle returned to America. He made a powder voyage to the West Indies, in a pilot boat, in the summer of 1775. On 1 August 1775 he was appointed as a Captain in the Pennsylvania Navy, assigned to the Pennsylvania Navy Galley Franklin. Biddle was young (age 25), aggressive, and brilliant. He was assigned to the Andrew Doria.130

Biddle's executive officer also came from the Pennsylvania Navy. On 11 December First Lieutenant James Josiah resigned to enter the Continental service. Josiah was another Philadelphian, and was assigned as First Lieutenant of the Andrew Doria.131

The Congress took up the often delayed Rhode Island resolutions on 11 December. By this late date there was little opposition to naval expansion, and the debate was short. A committee was set up to “devise ways and means for furnishing these colonies with a naval armament.” A member was elected from each colony; save Georgia, these being Josiah Bartlett (New Hampshire), Samuel Adams (Massachusetts), Stephen Hopkins (Rhode Island), Silas Deane (Connecticut), Stephen Crane (New Jersey), Francis Lewis (New York), Robert Morris (Pennsylvania), George Read (Maryland), William Paca (Delaware), Richard Henry Lee (Virginia), Joseph Hewes (North Carolina) and Christopher Gadsden (South Carolina). The committee was charged to report “with all convenient speed.”132 It will be noted that the entire membership of the Naval Committee was included, except Langdon and Adams, who were absent.

This ways and means committee reported to Congress on 13 December 1775. The debate began at once, although the delegates from Maryland and Georgia were absent.133 The extent of the debate is unknown, but the result was inscribed on the journal:

Resolved, That five ships of thirty-two guns, five of twenty-eight guns, three of twenty-four guns, making in the whole thirteen, can be fitted for the sea probably by the last of March next, viz. in New Hampshire one, in Massachusetts Bay two, in Rhode Island two, in Connecticut one, in New York two, in Pennsylvania four, and in Maryland one.

Congress further approved the cost estimate of $866,666.67 for the whole program, or an average of $66,666.67 each, with “two complete suits of sails for each ship.” Congress noted that all items necessary for construction of these ships could be furnished in the colonies except canvas for sails and gunpowder. The Secret Committee was to take steps to acquire 7500 pieces of canvas and one hundred tons of gunpowder for the ships. Furthermore a permanent committee was to be set up to carry the project forward, in the nature of an admiralty board.134 This last item generated some debate. After a time Congress deferred choosing the committee until the next day.135

This resolution put the Continental Navy directly in view as a fighting force of considerable potential potency. These ships were to be designed, keel to truck, as fighting vessels, fit to stand toe to toe with any British ship of equal size. They were, possibly, the largest ships ever to be built in America. The cost was staggering. The closest modern parallel might be the commitment to the Apollo Project. The key word in all this was, of course, potential: if these ships were built and manned, they could fight on even terms with the British. The projected frigate building program was not beyond American capabilities, but it stretched them to the limits.

Congress took two other actions that day, one a seemingly minor affair. The Naval Committee was authorized to pay up to $8.00 per month for able bodied seamen, as a spur to recruiting, and Thomas Willing requested permission to leave the Secret Committee. Willing lived out of town and the Committee met in the evening. Congress graciously agreed to replace him, and elected his business partner, Robert Morris, in his place.136 Mark well this name, this man; we shall hear much of him.

On 14 December Congress proceeded to elect the “board” to run its frigate construction program. A member was to be elected from each colony. Bartlett, Crane, Morris, Read, Lewis and the entire available membership of the Naval Committee were elected, to whom were added John Hancock (Massachusetts), the President of the Continental Congress, Samuel Chase (Maryland) and John Houston (Georgia). This committee became known to contemporaries and historians as the Marine Committee and was a permanent committee of congress. The Marine Committee was the second executive in charge of the Navy, and completely absorbed the Naval Committee, whose work ended, at the latest, in February 1776.137

The news of this event was quickly sent out. Samuel Ward advised Henry Ward of the appointment of the Marine Committee on the day it was elected, noted the number of frigates to be built, and added “two of these vessels are to be built in our Colony.” Ward requested that “the particulars I would not have mentioned.”138 The meeting time of the Marine Committee, at six o'clock in the evening, caused problems for some members. George Read told his wife that he would be delayed in coming home: “I was yesterday put upon a committee. . . which may be obliged to sit regularly for ten days to come, and as I am considered a great absentee hitherto, I must attend constantly for a while.”139 Silas Deane let his wife know he would not be home for Christmas on 15 December: “Naval preparations are now entering upon with spirit, and yesterday the Congress chose a Standing Committee to superintend this department, of which I had the honor to be unanimously chosen one. This will detain me here some time after the 1st of January. . . ” Deane expected to stay the whole period of adjournment to 1 March 1776. He concluded by saying that he wished “brother Dudley” would arrive as “His Ship is a fine one, of thirty odd guns, and is nearly ready.”140

Chart II: Steps to the Marine Committee
October 1775-December 1775
Naval Committee
30 October 1775

John Langdon
John Adams
Stephen Hopkins
Richard Henry Lee
Christopher Gadsden
Silas Deane
Joseph Hewes
Committee of Secret Correspondence
29 November 1775

Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Johnson
John Jay
Benjamin Franklin
John Dickinson
Committee to Devise Ways and Means
11 December 1775

Josiah Bartlett
Stephen Hopkins
Silas Deane
Francis Lewis
Stephen Crane
Robert Morris
George Read
Richard Henry Lee
Joseph Hewes
Christopher Gadsden
William Paca
Samuel Adams
Marine Committee
14 December 1775

Josiah Bartlett
Stephen Hopkins
Silas Deane
Francis Lewis
Stephen Crane
Robert Morris
George Read
Richard Henry Lee
Joseph Hewes
Christopher Gadsden
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
John Houston

Interlocking Committee Membership
Member/(Colony ) Secret Naval Correspondence Ways/Means Marine Member/# Com
John Adams (MA)   x       1
Samuel Adams (MA)       x   1
John Alsop (NY) x         1
Josiah Bartlett (NH)       x x 2
Samuel Chase (MD)         x 1
Stephen Crane (NJ)       x x 2
Silas Deane (CT) x x   x x 4
John Dickinson (PA) x   x     2
Benjamin Franklin (PA) x   x     2
Christopher Gadsden (SC)   x   x x 3
John Hancock (MA)         x 1
Benjamin Harrison (VA)     x     1
Joseph Hewes (NC)   x   x x 3
Stephen Hopkins (RI)   x   x x 3
John Houston (GA)         x 1
John Jay (NY)     x     1
Thomas Johnson (MD)     x     1
John Langdon (NH) x x       3
Richard Henry Lee (VA)   x   x x 3
Francis Lewis (NY)       x x 2
Philip Livingston (NY) x         1
Thomas McKean (DL) x         1
Robert Morris (PA) [from 12/13]     x x 3
William Paca (MD)       x   1
George Read (DL)       x x 2
Samuel Ward (RI) x         1
Thomas Willing (PA) [to 12/13]         1

Meanwhile, “brother Dudley” was becoming a “much disappointed” man. He had found a fair number of men willing to enlist in the Navy, but had still not received the recruiting papers, and the men would not sign on without knowing the terms. On 14 December Saltonstall turned the recruiting over to officers he had appointed141 and set out for Philadelphia142 on 17 December.143 At New London, Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., and Thomas Mumford were fitting out vessels (one of which was the sloop Lizard) to take Saltonstall's recruits to Philadelphia. Mumford was in hopes of recruiting many of the soldiers who were just returning from Washington's army, their time having expired there. Captain Elisha Hinman, a merchant skipper, was expected to arrive any day, and it was thought he would gladly sign on as Saltonstall's first lieutenant.144

The Naval Committee was also looking for recruits in Philadelphia. On 18 December the Committee cast a covetous eye on one source of sailors: the Pennsylvania Navy. The Committee decided to request permission to enlist men from the Pennsylvania fleet, as many as would be permitted and wished to enlist.145 Stephen Hopkins called on the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety, with this request, the next day.146 The type of recruit that the Continental Navy was likely to get from this sort of request was demonstrated on 19 December. One William Green, a seaman in the Pennsylvania Navy, had been placed in jail for breaking regulations. After five weeks in “Gaol” he petitioned the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety for release, so that he could enter the Continental Navy.147 The Committee of Safety accepted this request with alacrity.148

The recruiting for the Continental Marines, in contrast to that for the Navy, was going pretty well in Philadelphia. By 19 December First Lieutenant Isaac Craig had signed up thirty-four men in his company, and had discharged one man. These men were chiefly immigrants and a great many were Irish. Craig signed up eleven more by 22 December.149

Congress was also asking Pennsylvania for help in fitting out the Navy. On 19 December that body requested the loan of four tons of gunpowder and four hundred stand of small arms from Pennsylvania, promising to use “their whole influence and authority” to repay these items by 1 February 1776. A more significant item passed in Congress that day involved a change in the prize rules. Vessels carrying cargo for the British Army and Navy had been liable to seizure, with the vessels to be released and only the cargo condemned. By resolution, and in response to letters from Washington, Congress now allowed the vessels to be condemned in addition to the cargo.150

Stephen Hopkins called on the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety with the requests for assistance from the Naval Committee and Congress. Pennsylvania agreed to give all the powder available, except the “Battle” powder, and as many small arms as possible. Further, the Naval Committee could enlist one hundred sailors from the Pennsylvania fleet, and the men were to be gathered in barracks, partly to facilitate this recruiting.151 The Naval Committee then found itself in the position of asking that the fleet surgeon, Dr, Joseph Harrison of Alfred, be furnished with thirty-six pounds of saltpeter by Pennsylvania. To sweeten this request it was coupled with a generous thank you for past loans.152

Congress took up naval matters again on 22 December, when the Naval Committee presented a list of officers it had appointed. Congress accepted the list and ordered the officers commissioned, with those under the rank of Third Lieutenant to be warrant officers. These men were to take seniority as listed. The pay of the Commander-in-Chief was fixed at $125 per month,153 after some fractious debate, many thinking the figure was too high. Hopkins had offered to serve without pay. When the question of paying for the Commodore's table rations came up, it was at once voted down.154 Congress also ordered the Naval Committee to devise how the prize shares assigned to the fleet were to be divided and instructed them to draw up sailing orders for the Commodore.155

The list presented to Congress was neither, complete, accurate, or even current. It did not show assignments to vessels for those under the rank of Captain. To obtain a reasonably accurate picture of the officers of the fleet, it is necessary to look at this list in some detail.

The first thing one notices is the absence of a captain, John Hazard of Providence. But of course, Katy, renamed Providence, had been added to the fleet by this date. This would indicate that her command was unsettled when the list was drawn up. The last captain selected was Nicholas Biddle, who knew of his appointment by 9 December, when he resigned from the Pennsylvania Navy to take it up. In the list of First Lieutenants is found a man named Stansbury, (who is Richard Stansbury), but no mention is made of James Josiah, later First Lieutenant of the Andrew Doria. Josiah resigned his commission in the Pennsylvania Navy to join the Continental Navy on 11 December. It would thus appear, that this list was drawn up between 9 and 11 December 1775. By 11 December it was known that Richard Stansbury would not take up his station, and Josiah was recruited.

Why then, is John Hazard not listed as captain of the Providence. If Pitcher was already slotted as her First, who was the captain supposed to be? John Paul Jones said, later, that he was offered her command, but declined it. When this happened is not exactly known, but it would perhaps, explain the absence of a commander. John Hazard was not commissioned until 9 January 1776.

There are however, five First Lieutenants listed. If we look at the Captains, seniority runs from Alfred to Columbus to Andrew Doria to Cabot. Now it happens that the First Lieutenants follow this order too. John Paul Jones was commissioned on 7 December on Alfred. Rhodes Arnold entered on 20 November (part of Katy's load of recruits) and served on Columbus. Then comes Stansbury (who served nowhere; but was replaced by James Josiah, who served on Andrew Doria), and, last of the four, “Hersted” Hacker (Hoysted Hacker), who enlisted on 20 November and was aboard the Katy. Jonathan Pitcher also enlisted on 20 November (and was thus a Katy) recruit. He is carried on Alfred's muster roll without comment, but is known to have been on sloop Providence by February 1776. It would thus seem that Pitcher was, perhaps, already slotted for First Lieutenant of the Providence a week after Katy arrived at Philadelphia. This would be the natural progression: Alfred to Columbus to Andrew Doria to Cabot to (new vessel).

Chart III: Officers of the Continental Navy
(as presented to Congress), 22 December 1775
Esek Hopkins

Dudley Saltonstall, Alfred
Abraham Whipple, Columbus
Nicholas Biddle, Andrew Doria
John Burrows Hopkins, Cabot

First Lieutenants
John Paul Jones
Rhodes Arnold
Hersted Hacker
Jonathan Pitcher

Second Lieutenants
Benjamin Seabury
Joseph Olney
Elisha Warner
Thomas Weaver

Third Lieutenants
John Fanning
Ezekiel Burroughs
Daniel Vaughan


There are five second lieutenants listed and only three third lieutenants. The odd man is M'Dougal (John McDougal) of Andrew Doria, listed as fifth-ranking second lieutenant. Although this seems to negate our theory above on the sequence of the seniority by vessel, it does not. The second lieutenants are Benjamin Seabury, who entered on 20 November and served on Alfred (and who arrived on Katy), Joseph Olney (entered 20 November; arrived on Katy) who served on Columbus; Elisha Warner, who served on Andrew Doria; and Thomas Weaver, who served on Cabot. According to Andrew Doria's muster roll, McDougal was a Third Lieutenant. Coincidentally, there is no Third Lieutenant listed, who later served on Andrew Doria, in the list given to Congress. The Third Lieutenants listed are John Fanning (25 November; Katy), assigned to Alfred, Ezekiel Burroughs (20 November; Katy), assigned to Columbus, and Daniel Vaughan, assigned to Cabot.

It is obvious that these assignments were penciled in after Katy arrived in Philadelphia, and most were done before it was confirmed she would be in Continental service, that is between 3 December and 11 December. No lieutenants are listed other than those from Rhode Island and vicinity, and Philadelphia.

Chart IV: Revised Scheme of the Officers of the Continental Navy
22 December 1775
Esek Hopkins

Dudley Saltonstall (Alfred)
Abraham Whipple (Columbus)
Nicholas Biddle (Andrew Doria)
John Burrows Hopkins (Cabot)

First Lieutenants
John Paul Jones (Alfred)
Rhodes Arnold (Columbus)
James Josiah (Andrew Doria)
Hoysted Hacker (Cabot)
Jonathan Pitcher (Providence)

Second Lieutenants
Benjamin Seabury (Alfred)
Joseph Olney (Columbus)
Elisha Warner (Andrew Doria)
Thomas Weaver (Cabot)

Third Lieutenants
John Fanning (Alfred)
Ezekiel Burroughs (Columbus)
John McDougal (Andrew Doria)
Daniel Vaughan (Cabot)

Sam Adams closed a letter to cousin John on 22 December with these words: “Our Fleet. . . will be ready to put to Sea in two or three days, and it is left to the Board of Admiralty [either the Naval Committee or the Marine Committee] to order its Destination—May Heaven succeed in the Undertaking—Hopkins. . . I dare promise. . . will on all Occasions distinguish his Bravery. . . and do honor to the American Flag.”156 Cousin Sam had the right sentiments but was a little in advance of the facts. The fleet stayed tied up at the wharves for nearly two more weeks.

One of the problems was manpower. Sailors were indeed raising slow in Philadelphia. A close examination of the Alfred's muster roll, which shows where each man was shipped, indicates that, counting officers and the men from Rhode Island, there were fifty-three men aboard on 22 December. This includes the Commodore, his secretary, and such other types. Twenty-five of these men were from Philadelphia and twenty more had been recruited out of the Pennsylvania Navy, eight being the Rhode Islanders from the Katy or the Hopkins family. However, the scarcity may have been due to the excellence of the Marine recruiting effort: counting officers, there were sixty signed up by 22 December, all enlisted at Philadelphia.157 A similar examination of the muster roll of the Columbus is less instructive, for the origin of the sailors is not listed. However there were sixty-one Marines signed up for the Columbus by the 22nd.158

Although it had not occurred yet, Hopkins was considering the problem of desertion, along with the Naval Committee. The latter requested permission (on 23 December) from the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety (through Gadsden) to allow the Continental officers to search outward bound shipping for deserters. The Committee of Safety agreed “chearfully,” but recommended a “Discreet Exercise of this Power” and the use of an officer with “prudence.”159

John Langdon returned to Philadelphia from a mission to Canada at some time before 23 December, thus making the Naval Committee six members again,160 and another notable arrived. Dudley Saltonstall finally saw his command, and took up rooms with brother-in-law Silas Deane. Silas was explaining to his wife that he would not be home soon, for the fleet was “stopped up by the ice.”161 The weather that winter was very severe and accounts from all over mention the cold and ice.

The only thing really hindering the fleet from sailing, or at least dropping down the river, was the weather. There was ice in the river. One correspondent reported that two or three of the fleet were to have sailed on 24 December, but the “plenty of ice” stopped that movement.162 On Saturday there had been a storm and on Sunday, the day the vessels were to sail, four inches of snow had fallen, mixed with hail.163 Large amounts of drift ice formed in the Delaware River, stopping all traffic.164 Even so, the Alfred made a “formidable appearance,” and the Columbus was a “noble Ship.”165 But it was not the day to be moving large ships with green and tender crews.

The Marines were still recruiting in Philadelphia, going through the immigrant quarters and raising men there. A drummer would parade, beating his Marine drum, with the rattlesnake emblem and the words “Don't Tread On Me.” The recruiting officers gathered at a convenient tavern or inn. Rounds of beer, ale and grog, promises of advance pay, warm clothing, and full bellies, and that ever elusive pot of gold, a share of the prizes, helped to fill up the muster rolls.166 Near the end of the year the various Marine officers and their companies were assigned to the vessels.

Assigned to the Alfred were Captain Nicholas, First Lieutenant Parke, Second Lieutenant John Fitzpatrick, and Nicholas' company of Marines. Captain Shoemaker, First Lieutenant Miller and Second Lieutenant Robert Cummings went to Columbus, along with Shoemaker's company. First Lieutenant Craig and thirty-six of the men he had raised were assigned to the Andrew Doria, while Captain Welsh and First Lieutenant James Wilson went to the Cabot with Welsh's forty men. Assigned to the Providence were First Lieutenant Henry Dayton (an arrival on the Katy, and a resident of Newport before the war) and six men raised by Craig and fourteen raised by Wilson.167 Miller, if he ever actually reported for duty, must have left soon after, for First Lieutenant James Dickinson drew a month's pay from paymaster Reed in December, as a Marine lieutenant on the Columbus.168 He did not last long either, perhaps to February 1776. Neither Dickinson nor Miller is on the muster roll of the Columbus.169

About the first of January 1776 the weather turned warmer and a thaw set in,170 and Hopkins expected and hoped he could get his fleet away; or at least down to Reedy Island. The Committee of Safety was requested to allow three pilots to be used for that purpose. More embarrassing, the Committee was requested to loan sailors from the Pennsylvania Navy, so the fleet could move. The Committee of Safety agreed to both requests. The Naval Committee was to arrange return of the men.171

By 4 January 1776 the day finally came. The Naval Committee had ordered all sailors and Marines to report to the vessels of the fleet to “avoid being deemed deserters.”172 As the men gathered from town and boarded the two brigs and two ships, the Naval Committee passed a resolution that all officers and men who did their duty, but were taken prisoner, would have their pay continued until released.173 At 1400 First Lieutenant James Josiah opened the journal of the Andrew Doria: “. . . Cast off from the Warf In Company with the Commodore Ship Alfred, Columbus & Cabot, Light airs from the Westward & much Ice in the River. . . ”174 The fleet did not go far, just out to Liberty Island, where they tied up at the piers about 1800.175 Meanwhile there was constant boat traffic between the Willing & Morris Wharf and the fleet as straggling sailors reported aboard.176

By now the British intelligence service had extremely accurate information regarding this fleet, and had developed a speed previously lacking. As Lieutenant Josiah was looking over his journal entries, Captain Hyde Parker, Jr., commanding HM Frigate Phoenix, began a report with these words: “This day about one  o'clock sailed the Ship Alfred and the Ship Columbus. . . ”177 Parker then passed along a detailed report on the fleet, with the battery and crew strength, descriptions, and tactical information. Hopkins planned, according to Parker, to exchange a few shots and then get close aboard, so that his green crews could board. Parker did not certainly know the fleet's destination, but thought it was to Europe or Virginia. Soon after the fleet tied up at Liberty Island, Parker knew, and added it as a footnote to this letter.178 There have hardly ever been more timely intelligence reports than this one.

From the intelligence reports we can get a good picture of these vessels. Alfred had yellow and black sides,179 and a white bottom, with the figurehead of a man drawing a sword.180 She carried her battery on two decks, mounting twenty 9-pounders on the lower deck and ten 6-pounders on the upper deck. The important note was added that Alfred's lower deck gun ports were only eighteen inches above the water.181 Fighting her lower battery would be difficult in a heavy sea. She was reported to have 140 sailors and sixty Marines aboard.182 Columbus was all black with a white bottom and no figurehead.183 She carried her guns on two decks, like Alfred, with eighteen 9-pounders on the lower deck and ten 6-pounders on the upper deck. Her crew was listed as the same as Alfred's.184

Andrew Doria was said to be all black, with no figurehead, and a crew of one hundred sailors and thirty Marines. She mounted sixteen 6-pounders and twelve swivel guns. Cabot had a figurehead and yellow sides, mounted fourteen 6-pounders and twelve swivels, and had a crew of ninety men and thirty Marines. Providence mounted twelve 6-pounders and ten swivels, with a crew of sixty-two sailors and twenty-eight Marines, no description being provided.185 Parker also provided the information that the American colors were like the English, “but more Striped.”186

         Chart V: The Continental Navy Vessels, 31 December 1775
Name Rig Where Guns/Men Captain Lieutenants Marine Captain Marine Lieutenants Status
Alfred Ship Philadelphia 30/200 Dudley Saltonstall John Paul Jones
Benjamin Seabury
John Fanning
Samuel Nicholas Matthew Parke
John Fitzpatrick
Columbus Ship Philadelphia 28/200 Abraham Whipple Rhodes Arnold
Joseph Olney
Ezekiel Burroughs
Joseph Shoemaker James Dickenson
Robert Cummings
Andrew Doria Brig Philadelphia 16/130 Nicholas Biddle James Josiah
Elisha Warner
James McDougal
Isaac Craig Ready
Cabot Brig Philadelphia 14/120 John B. Hopkins Hoysted Hacker
Thomas Weaver
Daniel Vaughan
John Welsh James Hood Wilson Ready
Providence Sloop Philadelphia 12/90 [John Hazard] Jonathan Pitcher Henry Dayton Fitting out
Hornet Sloop Baltimore William Stone Isaiah Robinson John Martin Strobagh Fitting out
Wasp Schooner Baltimore William Hallock Isaac Buck
Elijah Bowen
William Huddle Fitting out

3. Icebound, January-February 1776

With the movement of the fleet out to Liberty Island, the subject of what to do with the fleet was being discussed in the Naval Committee. That body was in the process of producing standing and sailing orders for Hopkins. It was generally supposed that the fleet would strike at Lord Dunmore in Chesapeake Bay. On New Year's Day, Dunmore had bombarded and burned the town of Norfolk, Virginia, and the rage of the southern delegates in Congress against the Royal Governor can be readily understood. The British intelligence services usually reported that the fleet's target was Virginia.

The succession of intelligence reports from James Brattle to Governor Tryon details this knowledge. Dunmore and the fleet are mentioned in the same letter on 12 December,187 and Captain Parker's letter of 18 December implies that he knew the destination of the fleet.188 In fact, on 25 December, Admiral Graves had ordered HM Frigate Roebuck (Captain Andrew Snape Hamond), a forty-four, to Virginia from Halifax,189 although it would be some time before she arrived there.

So general was the knowledge of the fleet's destination that it was common table talk in the Continental Army encampment around Boston by 12 December. A succession of letters from the camp notified the Naval Committee and Congress of the danger. On Christmas Day Washington wrote Colonel Joseph Reed that the destination was so generally known that the purpose of the fleet's going there was in doubt. It was thought, correctly, by Washington that reinforcements had been sent to Virginia.190 On 26 December, in a letter to Richard Henry Lee, a member of the Naval Committee, Washington said that he had heard the destination of the fleet mentioned in “common conversation” a “fortnight” ago.191 A similar warning was repeated on 4 January 1776.192 From New York, on 24 December, Colonel Alexander McDougall gave his opinion that the fleet would be “ruffly handled” if it went to Virginia.193

On 5 January 1776 the Naval Committee communicated two sets of orders to Hopkins, one more or less public, and one secret. In the public orders Hopkins was enjoined to insure good discipline and order in the fleet, make proper returns of stores and men on a timely basis, and to inform Congress, the appropriate Committee, and the “Commander in chief of the Continental forces in America,” of his movements and actions. He was empowered to fit out, officer, and man such vessels as he took prize which might be made into warships, transmitting such information to Congress so the officer appointments could be confirmed, or the officers replaced. He was to look out for the health of the sailors, fix signals for the vessels, keep arms in good condition, and take care of his prisoners, handing them over to the care of local committees if necessary. He was to appoint a place of fleet rendezvous for those units that became separated.194

The second set of orders was more specific: “As a part, and a most important part of defense, the Continental Congress have judged it necessary to fit out several Armed Vessels. . . under your Command. . . that. . . our unnatural Enemies may meet with all possible distress on the Sea—For that purpose you are instructed with the utmost diligence to proceed with the said Fleet to Sea. . . directly for Chesapeake Bay in Virginia.” Hopkins was to send forward a swift vessel for intelligence when near the Virginia Capes, and if the force of the enemy was not “greatly” superior, he was to “Enter the said bay, search out and attack, take or destroy all the Naval Force of our Enemies.” If he completed this mission “successfully,” he was to move to the Carolinas and do the same, and then proceed to Rhode Island for similar operations. However, “if Bad Winds, or Stormy Weather, or any other unforseen accident or disaster disable you to do so You are then to follow such Courses as your best Judgment shall Suggest.” Hopkins was again empowered to fit out vessels, calling on various local committees to assist, and was authorized to draw on the Treasury for money for the fleet.195

This order demonstrates that the original plan of using a concentrated force to attack isolated detachments of the Royal Navy was still holding forth in the Naval Committee. It was a reasonably good idea, except that everybody knew the fleet was going to Virginia, and the British were reinforcing that station. It was not an urgent problem at the moment, for the ice had closed in around the fleet again, locking it to the piers at Liberty Island.

About the same time that Hopkins issued these orders the Naval Committee notified the Virginia Convention that he was coming, opening the letter with these words: “The Congress attentive to the safety and security of every part of the united Colonies. . . ” This was a definite statement to the southerners that they were going to get what they had voted for. The Naval Committee then suggested ways in which Virginia could cooperate. A coast watcher was to be stationed at Cape Henry to pass along the latest intelligence, and two hundred riflemen kept ready to board the fleet upon arrival, and at once, for speed and surprise were essential once the fleet arrived. The Naval Committee hoped the “apprehension” of the enemy was not “awakened.” Surely, even the Naval Committee knew by now that word had leaked out of its plans.196 About this same time, 5 or 6 January, the first orders were issued to the Baltimore squadron.197

On 6 January the Naval Committee presented its report on prize shares to the Congress, which accepted the report. The shares were to be divided into twentieth parts. The Commodore was to receive one twentieth (5%) of any prizes taken by vessels under his “orders and command.” Captains were to receive two twentieths (10%) if cruising alone, or to share two twentieths among themselves, if in a fleet. Marine Captains, naval lieutenants, and sailing masters were classed together and given three twentieths (15%). Marine lieutenants, surgeons, chaplains, pursers, boatswains, gunners, carpenters, master's mates, and the fleet secretary were classed together and assigned two and a half twentieths (12.5%). In the next class, assigned three twentieths (15%) were placed midshipmen, the captain's clerk, surgeon's mates, stewards, sailmakers, coopers, armorers, boatswain's mates, gunner's mates, carpenter's mates, cooks, coxswains, marine sergeants, and the surgeon (on the smaller vessels). The remaining eight and a half twentieths (42.5%) were to be divided among the balance of the crew. Shares were only to be divided among men who were actually aboard when a prize was captured, except for those detached on legitimate orders.198

As an addendum to the prize share division Congress set up a partial table of organization for the ships of the fleet. Each ship was allowed six midshipmen, each brigantine four midshipmen, and each sloop two midshipmen. Two boatswain's mates, two gunner's mates and two carpenter's mates were allowed to all vessels. The ships were allowed two Marine sergeants, and the brigs and sloops allowed a surgeon. All the other petty officers were limited to one to a vessel, regardless of size.199

A small oversight was also corrected on 6 January. The Naval Committee, in a form letter to all the  captains, directed them to place themselves under Hopkins' orders. The usual injunctions about good order and discipline were included.200 A short time later, Timothy Matlack, secretary of the Naval Committee, requested a complete list of all the officers aboard the fleet for the Committee. He also passed along intelligence regarding the Royal Navy vessels at New York.201

Sloop Providence, which had been refitting at a different location from the other vessels, had not sailed with the fleet but still lay at Philadelphia. Matlack delivered various items to Captain Hazard for the fleet, including the famous Rattlesnake Flag (to be used as the Commodore's standard), about 5 or 6 January.202 Providence sailed out to join the fleet on 5 January.203 Hazard was duly commissioned by Congress on 9 January 1776.204

No sooner had the fleet gotten into the river and frozen into the ice than the problem of desertion began to appear. The first newspaper advertisement for a deserter was for Continental Marine Peter M'Tegart, who ran away from brig Cabot. A reward of $2 was offered for his capture (9 January).205 M'Tegart was the first of many.

The weather improved a bit about 10 January and the Commodore planned to bring the fleet down river to Reedy Island, and pass through the fortifications there. Robert Morris noted however, that the naval reinforcements recently received by Lord Dunmore meant that “we dare not look at him by Sea.” The destination of the fleet was being kept secret by the Naval Committee, at least in theory.206 Christopher Gadsden hoped that the fleet would soon be calling at South Carolina, and sent Hopkins a list of the officers of the South Carolina regiments.207 But the ice closed in again, freezing the river completely over, and bringing out the ice skaters from the city.208

Sometime after 15 January Christopher Gadsden took passage home in a schooner of the South Carolina Navy that had been sent to Philadelphia. Before he left, Gadsden requested Hopkins to fix a signal to show off Charleston, so that the Carolinians would know a friend was off the bar. Hopkins devised the signal: a striped flag halfway up the flying stay.209 With Gadsden's departure (Langdon had left again) the Naval Committee was reduced to four men. Meanwhile, on 14 January, a shipload of recruits from Rhode Island had joined the fleet.

It will be recalled that Stephen Hopkins had set in motion the recruiting of sailors by a letter to the Brown brothers, sent by the sloop Fly. Fly arrived at Providence on 21 December with Hopkins' letter and the Browns set to work at once. Governor Cooke was consulted and some thought was given to calling the Council together to advance the necessary money, but it was finally decided to use private individuals. Accordingly, Captain Nicholas Power, a “Zealous & suteable” person, was enlisted in the project. He went down to Newport on 22 December to recruit, but obtained no men. Many sailors had enlisted in the local artillery and seacoast defense companies and were unavailable, while the Newport Tories had prevented others from enlisting.210

Cooke now called the Council together. Permission was given to Power to enlist men from the artillery companies. This was not done for the benefit of America as a whole, but because Rhode Island expected “to receive Some emediate Benefit” from the fleet. Power returned to Newport on 26 December.211

He returned to Providence on the evening of New Year's Day, after a week of the “Most Disagreeble perplexing Jobb in the very Seveer Wheather,” but with sixty-four sailors for the Navy. Power proceeded to settle accounts with them, and planned to load sixty on the Fly on 3 January 1776, allowing the sloop to sail immediately. Captain William Grinnell of Newport had gone down to that town to recruit what men were left, and had obtained nine or ten by the 3rd. Grinnell thought he could get thirty more within a week. Brown reported the recruiting was expensive and troublesome, and added that there was no possibility of recruiting sailors without advancing wages.212 Some of these men did not stay recruited long. On 5 January Power placed and advertisement in the Providence Gazette, offering a reward of thirty shillings each for five deserters.213

The Fly sailed about 5 January and arrived at Philadelphia about 14 January with the recruits, which “highly pleased” the Naval Committee and gave “fresh Spirits to the whole Fleet.” The next day the Fly took her forty sailors down to the fleet at Reedy Island.214 Hopkins was so pleased with this sloop that he asked the Naval Committee to take her into Continental service as a tender. Congress so ordered on the 16th.215 The next day her civilian master, Munroe, was drawing a few items of chandlery.216

On 18 January the schooner Unity (Phineas Potter) sailed from Providence with about forty more recruits for the fleet, and a small cargo of whale oil and candles. Unity was dispatched by the Browns,217 and took the remaining men that Power had recruited, in addition to those that Grinnell had raised. Grinnell entered the service as a Lieutenant in the Continental Navy. Among the other men recruited was Master Wingate Newman. Both were assigned to the Columbus when they arrived in Philadelphia, probably about 1 February 1776.218

No sooner had Fly been taken into service than she joined the fleet at Liberty Island, still under her civilian master, Munroe. She began fitting out there, drawing more chandlery.219 Her commander was left to Hopkins, and he offered it to John Paul Jones, who declined, thinking she was too small to have any future. Finally, First Lieutenant Hoysted Hacker of the Cabot was assigned to command the Fly, on 20 January 1776.220 Apparently most of her crew were sailors enlisted in Rhode Island who sailed down to Philadelphia in the sloop. Her master was Robert Robinson, who enlisted on 3 January.221 Third Lieutenant John Fanning was transferred to the Fly from the Alfred on 30 January.222

Fly was a small sloop armed with two guns, and had “scraped sides paid with Tar.”223 She was noted for her speed under sail,224 and had a crew of twenty-seven officers and men when she sailed with the fleet.225 Nicholas Biddle described Hacker as “an Active Smart Seaman” on 15 February 1776.226 Before the war he had operated a ferry between Newport and Providence in Rhode Island,227 and had enlisted there on 20 November 1775, traveling to Philadelphia with Katy's cargo of recruits.228 He was commissioned as the fourth ranking First Lieutenant on 22 December 1775 and assigned to the Cabot.229

More good news was coming on the breeze for the weather was warming up. Warm enough for the fleet (now including sloops Providence and Fly) to drop down the river. The fleet cast off at 0900 on 17 January, with a fresh wind from the northwest, and ran down through chunks of ice to Reedy Island. Here the river was still closed by ice. The fleet tied up at the piers at Reedy Island. Hopkins promptly put his crews to wooding and watering the vessels.230

And here began a very bad time for the fleet. The desertion rate absolutely soared while the fleet was at Reedy Island. A contest developed between the lieutenants, forced to stand anchor watch; the crews, trying to escape the vessels; and the weather, which closed in again around lieutenants and crews alike. Now Jack Tar was used to bad weather, but the one thing which would tempt any man to desert was sickness aboard ship; and there was sickness in this fleet.

One of the first to be ill was Captain Whipple, who was being solicited after even before the fleet dropped down river.231 There is the possibly revealing notice in Alfred's muster roll that two Marines were “left” at Philadelphia—they may have been ill. Another is listed as “dead” without a date being given. One Marine deserted on 29 January, one on 8 February, and a breath-taking twenty-two are simply listed as “Run at Reedy Island.” The fleet remained at Reedy Island until 11 February, which meant that a man a day was leaving the  Alfred.232

Conditions on the Columbus were worse. Her muster roll records not one deserter until after 6 February. On that date two men were listed as “Died at Reedy Island.” On 10 February one was discharged, an unusual place and time for a discharge. The roll lists a further thirty-three desertions, without giving a date. The majority, one strongly suspects, were at Reedy Island.233

The Andrew Doria and the Cabot were suffering too. In fact, Andrew Doria was losing men at Liberty Island, where eight deserted between 6 January and 15 January, one being discharged in the same period. One of the deserters later returned. Three deserted while the brig was at Reedy Island.234 No information is available for the Cabot or Providence; yet there is no reason to believe the record would be any less wearisome.

The day after the fleet dropped down to Reedy Island the Naval Committee passed along the latest intelligence to Commodore Hopkins, noting there was no late information from Virginia, “except what you are well acquainted with.” The Committee added “Should it be your fate to go Southward as far as Savanna,” then Hopkins might capture three Royal Governors, as Martin, Campbell and Wright (North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, respectively) were reported to have collected there. There were no orders as such in this letter, which was signed by only three members of the Committee.235 Although the Naval Committee had largely completed its business, except for paying the bills and presenting its accounts to Congress, it was left in charge of the fleet by a resolution of Congress on 26 January.236

While the fleet lay at Reedy Island any remaining stores had to be carted down to it from Philadelphia. Powder was delivered in this way before 23 January.237 Fly was with the fleet but was not completely fitted out. On 27 January Hopkins requested the Naval Committee to send the most essential of her supplies down by cart, for the river was still full of ice. Hopkins wanted her ready to sail if the fleet moved.238 Three cartloads came down on the 30th, including swivel guns for the Fly.239

Congress passed several restrictions on recruiting, both military and naval, on 30 January. Apprentices could not be recruited without their master's permission, and all such who had been recruited were ordered discharged. Creditors were requested not to arrest anyone for debt, if that debt was less than $35, who had enlisted in the services. Finally, a man who enlisted that was under twenty-one, was given a twenty-four hour “grace” period to change his mind, provided he returned any bounty or clothing issued.240

About 10 February Hopkins received some cheering news. A party of recruits for the Navy had arrived on the New Jersey shore of Delaware Bay. These men were from Connecticut.

When Saltonstall left for Philadelphia he turned over the recruiting of sailors to his brother, Gurdon Saltonstall. Gurdon was assisted by Thomas Mumford and Nathaniel Shaw, Jr. of New London, who began fitting out vessels to carry the prospective recruits to the fleet. Mumford felt that there were good prospects for recruiting, for the Connecticut troops in the Continental Army were returning home (their time having expired on 8 December).241

The recruiting agents were also awaiting the return of Captain Elisha Hinman. He had been selected as First Lieutenant under Saltonstall.242 Hinman had sailed for the French West Indies in July 1775, commanding a vessel of Nathaniel Shaw's, to obtain a cargo of gunpowder. He was expected to return any day.243 About 24 December Hinman arrived at Bedford, Massachusetts from Cap Francois, Santo Domingo, with two tons of that precious commodity.244 Hinman gladly accepted the proffered lieutenancy under Saltonstall.

Gurdon Saltonstall was busily recruiting by 23 December.245 Meanwhile Deane had applied to the Connecticut authorities for use of the Connecticut Navy Schooner Spy to bring the recruits down to the fleet. The Connecticut Council of Safety turned down this request on 5 January.246 By 10 January Saltonstall had chartered the sloop Lizard, owned by Meredith Stewart (Joshua Hempstead, Jr., master) to take the recruits to Reedy Island. Stewart ordered his captain to proceed to New Bern, North Carolina after dropping off the sailors, unless Captain Saltonstall wanted to buy or lease the sloop for Continental service.247

On 13 January the men boarded the Lizard. First Lieutenant Hinman had raised forty-eight men, including one Samuel Slack, who was left behind ill with a fever and died on 23 January. Joining him aboard was Second Lieutenant Jonathan Maltbie with sixteen men and Master David Phipps with eighteen. Among these men were Charles Bulkeley and Peter Richards, who became midshipmen aboard the Alfred. The Lizard was equipped with six weeks provisions. Saltonstall reported the recruiting cost $1049. Lizard sailed from New London on 19 January.248

Apparently the voyage was rough and the Lizard landed her recruits in New Jersey. From there word was sent to the fleet. Hopkins ordered the men to report aboard the Fly on 10 February 1776, which he had sent down for the purpose of picking them up. They joined the fleet about 13 February. Hinman was assigned to the Cabot to succeed Hacker, and, possibly, Phipps was assigned to the same brig. Maltbie went to the Alfred.249

Hopkins got another grand gift about 10 February. The private recognition signals for British transports and warships had been captured off Boston in December 1775. Congress passed copies along to Hopkins as soon as they were received, on 9 February.250

The weather was breaking again and the fleet could move. The ships, brigs, and sloop cast off from the piers at Reedy Island at 1000 on 11 February, and the pilots took them through the chevaux-de-frise blocking the river. The fleet fell down the river through the last of the ice, and into the more open waters of Delaware Bay. They anchored at Whorekill Road, inside Cape Henlopen, Delaware.251 Here the Fly rejoined from her mission to collect the Connecticut men. On 13 February, Midshipman John Trevett was promoted to First Lieutenant of Marines aboard the Columbus, to replace Dickenson.252

Dickenson may have flown the chilly coop. On 13 February no less than eight Marines and six sailors deserted from the Columbus. The reason was probably still the sickness aboard: one sailor died on the 14th and one was discharged on the 15th.253 But more sailors were still coming in from Rhode Island, for it was about this time that the Unity arrived. Consequently, Hopkins assigned William Grinnell to Columbus as Second Lieutenant.254

Another reinforcement arrived at Whorekill Road on 13 February. The two vessels of the little Baltimore squadron, sloop Hornet and schooner Wasp, under command of Captain William Stone of the Hornet, arrived and joined the main fleet.255 We must now go back in time to follow the adventures of these two vessels.

5. The Baltimore Squadron, December 1775-February 1776

It will be recalled that Congress, on 2 December 1775, had resolved to fit out two or three vessels at Baltimore, Maryland, and had dispatched Benjamin Harrison of Virginia to set that operation in motion. In addition, Captain William Stone's sloop was to be taken up for service by the Naval Committee. Stone's sloop was then at Philadelphia, and she was duly leased by the Committee. Harrison may have traveled to Baltimore in the sloop.

Hornet was a 100-ton, Bermuda built sloop, specifically recommended as a fast sailing vessel, and had been named Falcon before her conversion began.256 The Naval Committee leased257 the sloop and took her owner and skipper, William Stone, into the service as a Captain. Stone was a native of Bermuda258 with numerous trade connections at Baltimore. He was later described by Nicholas Biddle as “A Very Stout and Very Good kind of man,”259 a man who made lasting friendships. His lieutenant, Isaiah Robinson, described him as a “good devout christian; the humane kind master and the sincere, steady friend.”260 Others, including Master's Mate Joshua Barney, would later accuse him of cowardice. Chosen as First Lieutenant was a Marylander, Isaiah Robinson, early in December. John Martin Strobagh (Strobach, Strogboch) of Philadelphia, was appointed First Lieutenant of Marines about the same time.261

The other vessel was taken up at Baltimore and was the schooner Scorpion,262 “a New Schor Bud for Hudson.”263 She was placed under the command of William Hallock, a Maryland man and the junior of the two Maryland captains. Other officers appointed were First Lieutenant Isaac Buck, Second Lieutenant Elijah Bowen, Master Benjamin Roberts, and First Lieutenant of Marines William Huddle, a native of Philadelphia.264

Harrison employed the firm of William Lux and Samuel Purviance, Jr., to perform the supervisory work.265 By 11 December conversion work had begun at Baltimore.266 On 18 December the Baltimore Committee placed an embargo on sailings to prevent word of the warship conversions getting down the bay to Lord Dunmore.267 The conversions went speedily, for Harrison was back in Philadelphia by 20 December.268 Recruiting and provisioning continued until sailing orders were received on 10 January 1776.269 On 5 January Stone was ordered to take schooner Wasp under his command and fall down Chesapeake Bay. He was to take station at a convenient ice-free port, harass the enemy, and await a junction with Hopkins' fleet.270 Hornet was reported as armed with ten guns on 7 January.271

Meanwhile, on 5 January, the merchants of Baltimore requested that the two vessels escort merchant vessels, loaded on the Continental account, to sea when they sailed. On 9 January Congress directed the Naval Committee to order Hornet and Wasp to do so. The escort was to extend to the Virginia Capes. After this mission, Hornet and Wasp were to sail up to the Delaware Capes and rendezvous with Hopkins' fleet.272 On 13 January the skippers received the orders from the Naval Committee, and from Commodore Hopkins, even as they dropped three or four miles down the river at Baltimore to clear ice and finish provisioning.273

Hornet and Wasp sailed some time after 4 February 1776,274 performing their escort mission. They were the first vessels of the Continental Navy to actually get to sea. The two came into Whorekill Road and joined the Continental fleet on 13 February. All stayed put there until the 18th.275

6. Final Preparations

On 14 February Hopkins issued very detailed signals for the fleet,276 and a formal order to each captain to keep company with the fleet, observe the signals, and, if separated, attempt to rejoin the fleet. If, after four days, the captain did not rejoin the fleet, he was to make for the southern part of Abaco, in the Bahama Islands.277

Biddle had an interesting little adventure on the 14th. William Green, lately of the Pennsylvania Navy (where he had been jailed as a troublemaker) had enrolled as a carpenter's mate on the Andrew Doria, as a method of getting out of prison. On 10 February, at Reedy Island, he deserted.278 The sight of deserters from the fleet had become so familiar to the people on shore that they commonly secured the deserters, knowing that an officer would soon be around to collect them. Green was captured in this manner. However, he was recognized as a debtor and the sheriff arrested him on that complaint and put Green back in jail. When Andrew Doria's officer came around Green was not released.279

Biddle heard of this and came ashore to address the local jury. In a rousing speech he read the jury the resolve of Congress concerning the arresting of debtors, noted that the debt was not attested on oath as it should be, pointed out that the arrest was irregular. Biddle wondered if was as loyal to Congress and the American cause as it should be. The jury was then persuaded to give up Green. But Green was not ready to come out: he and three other men barricaded the door to their room. Biddle broke down the door and hauled Green off to the Andrew Doria.280

About 16 February the captains of the fleet got together and signed an agreement281 that, in effect,  modified the laws established by Congress regarding prize shares. The captains agreed that all prizes taken were to be shared by the entire fleet, and captures by the fleet were to be shared with separated vessels. If a vessel were lost in any way it was to share “equally” with the rest. Equally apparently meant vessel for vessel, without consideration of strength or number of crew involved. This agreement was to remain in effect for twelve months, and had to be endorsed by every crew member of every vessel.282 This agreement was to cause no end of difficulties in the later distribution of prize money. John Paul Jones later said that “No man or private Society of men hath a Right to add to the Established laws of the land Yet. . . Individuals in the Navy have Assumed that Authority.”283

As the fleet lay at anchor under Cape Henlopen on the night of 16 February, preparing to sail, the sailors and Marines were thinking the deep thoughts of men about to go out, perhaps to fight, perhaps to die. The stars were out and it was a “fine evening. . . quite calm.” There was no wind; Biddle likened the weather to summer. The young captain wrote a letter to his brother with his goodbyes and revealed a little of his apprehensions. However, Biddle said “I well know the Glorious Cause I am engaged in. And if ever I disgrace it May My Kind father who gave me being instantly Blast me in Mercy to me. I mean not to be desperate beyond measure. But to do my duty to the utmost of My Ability. . . And Never in my Life was better pleased with a trip I was going to take than I am with this.”284

Biddle left a few comments about his brother officers that are worth noting. Hazard he thought “A Stout Man Very Vain and Ignorant—as much low cunning as Capacity.” Stone was a “Very Stout and Very Good kind of Man;” John B. Hopkins a “Good Naturd Man;” and Saltonstall “a Sensible indefatigable Morose Man.” He considered himself “a Mighty good Young Man.”285

On the verge of sailing the fleet was as reasonably well manned and equipped as might be expected. Recruits and officers had been shifted about, and the deserters caught or escaped, as the case might be. The sickness aboard, smallpox according to later reports, continued to stalk the fleet. Alfred had a man die the day the fleet sailed, which put her crew, including officers and men, at 229 (168 sailors and 61 Marines).286 The Columbus had a total crew of 151 officers and men (94 sailors and 57 Marines).287 Andrew Doria reported 104 officers and men,288 but her muster roll indicates that there were 107 men aboard (71 sailors and 36 Marines).289 The Cabot perhaps had 133 men aboard (90 sailors and 43 Marines) and Providence had a crew of 83 (62 sailors and 21 Marines).290 Hornet had about 70 men,291 and Wasp had a crew of 49 (44 sailors and 5 Marines).292 Schooner Fly had no Marines in her crew of 25 sailors.293 Approximately then, Hopkins had a total  force of 847 men (including 223 Continental Marines) aboard his eight warships.

On 18 February 1776, the Commodore gave the signal for weighing anchor and the capstans began turning in the fleet. By 1300 the fleet was underway, going out past the American coast watchers on Cape Henlopen and meeting the open sea. The Naval Committee had consumed three and a half months in getting its fleet to sea.

Chart VI: The Officers of the Continental Navy
18 February 1776

Commodore Esek Hopkins, Alfred

Continental Navy Ship Alfred
Captain Dudley Saltonstall
First Lieutenant John Paul Jones
Second Lieutenant Benjamin Seabury
Second Lieutenant Jonathan Maltbie
Master John Earle
First Mate George May
Second Mate Thomas Vaughan
Third Mate Philip Alexander
Surgeon Joseph Harrison
Surgeon’s First Mate Henry Tillinghast
Surgeon’s Second Mate John Scott
Midshipman Esek Hopkins, Jr.
Midshipman Rufus Jenckes
Midshipman Charles Bulkeley
Midshipman Walter Spooner
Midshipman George House
Midshipman Robert Sanders
Captain of Marines Samuel Nicholas
First Lieutenant of Marines Matthew Parke
Second Lieutenant of Marines John Fitzpatrick

Continental Navy Ship Columbus
Captain Abraham Whipple
First Lieutenant Rhodes Arnold
[First Lieutenant] William Grinnell
Second Lieutenant Joseph Olney
Third Lieutenant Ezekiel Burroughs
Master John Winning
Master Wingate Newman
First Mate Joshua Fanning
Second Mate John Rogers
Third Mate Guy Rogers
Fourth Mate Bardin Silvester
Surgeon Henry Malcolm
Midshipman Daniel Bears
Midshipman Cogshall Butts
Midshipman Robert Magill
Midshipman William Cornell
Midshipman Michael Knies
Midshipman John D. McDougall
Midshipman Gideon Whitfield
Captain of Marines Joseph Shoemaker
First Lieutenant of Marines John Trevett
Second Lieutenant of Marines Robert Cummings

Continental Navy Brig Andrew Doria
Captain Nicholas Biddle
First Lieutenant James Josiah
Second Lieutenant Elisha Warner
Third Lieutenant John McDougall
Master Benjamin Dunn
First Mate William Moran
Second Mate John Dent
Third Mate John Margeson
Surgeon Thomas Kerr
Surgeon’s Mate [W.] Michael Jennings
Midshipman Dennis Leary
Midshipman William Reynolds
Midshipman Evan Bevan
Midshipman William Lamb
First Lieutenant of Marines Isaac Craig

Continental Navy Brig Cabot
Captain John Burroughs Hopkins
First Lieutenant Elisha Hinman
Second Lieutenant Thomas Weaver
Third Lieutenant Daniel Vaughan
Master Stephen Seymour
Captain of Marines John Welsh
First Lieutenant of Marines John Hood Wilson

Continental Navy Sloop Providence
Captain John Hazard
First Lieutenant Jonathan Pitcher
Second Lieutenant John Peck Rathbun
[Master David Phipps]
Second Mate Joseph Brown
Third Mare John McNeil
Midshipman Joseph Hardy
First Lieutenant of Marines Henry Dayton

Continental Navy Sloop Hornet
Captain William Stone
First Lieutenant Isaiah Robinson
First Mate Joshua Barney
Surgeon William Adams
First Lieutenant of Marines John Martin Strobagh

Continental Navy Schooner Wasp
Captain William Hallock
First Lieutenant Isaac Buck
Second Lieutenant Elijah Bowen
Master Benjamin Roberts
First Mate James Willson
Second Mate Joseph Veasay
Surgeon John Wisenthall
First Lieutenant of Marines William Huddle

Continental Navy Sloop Fly
First Lieutenant Hoysted Hacker
Third Lieutenant John Fanning
Master Robert Robinson
Midshipman John Young

Chart VII: Rating/Pay Table for the Continental Navy
February 1776



Captain of Marines



Lieutenant of Marines

Master’s Mate

Surgeon’s Mate


Gunner’s Mate
Carpenter’s Mate

Boatswain’s First Mate


Boatswain’s Second Mate
Quarter gunner
Marine Sergeant
Able Seaman

Marine Corporal
Marine Fifer
Marine Drummer

Marine Private















Commissioned officer

Commissioned officer

Commissioned officer

Warrant officer

Commissioned officer
Warrant officer
Warrant officer

Commissioned officer

Warrant officer
Not a regular crew member
Warrant officers

Petty officers

Chart VIII: The Share Divisions Established By Congress



Captains of Marines, Naval Lieutenants, Masters

Lieutenants of Marines, Surgeons, Chaplains, Pursers, Boatswains, Gunners, Carpenters, Master’s Mates, Fleet Secretary

Midshipmen, Clerks, Surgeon’s Mates, Stewards, Sailmakers, Coopers, Armorers, Boatswain’s Mates, Gunner’s Mates, Cooks, Coxswains, Sergeants of Marines

Quartermaster, Quarter gunner, Gunsmith, Yeoman, Able Seamen, Ordinary Seamen, Landsmen, Corporals of Marines, Fifers of Marines, Drummers of Marines, Privates of Marines, Ship’s Boys

1 Journals of the Continental Congress, II, 189

2 NDAR, “Diary of Richard Smith,” II, 138

3 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 137-138

4 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 154

5 NDAR, “John Adams' Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” II, 221

6 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 239-240

7 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 255-256; “Diary of Richard Smith,” II, 256

8 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 285; “Journal of the Rhode Island General Assembly,” I, 1236

9 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 285

10 NDAR, “Diary of Samuel Ward,” II, 314 and note

11 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 307-308 and 308-309 note

12 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 307-308 and 308-309 note

13 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 307-308 and 308-309 note

14 NDAR, “John Hancock to George Washington,” II, 311-312; “John Hancock to the Council of Massachusetts,” II, 312; “John Hancock to Nicholas Cook,” II, 312-314

15 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 328-329 and 329 note

16 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 328-329 and 329 note

17 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 328-329 and 329 note

18 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 340-341 and 341 note

19 NDAR, “Minutes of the Connecticut Council of Safety,” II, 378; “Jonathan Trumbull to George Washington,” II, 378

20 NDAR, “Nicholas Cooke to George Washington,” II, 390; “Nicholas Cooke to the Rhode Island Delegates in Congress,” II, 390

21 NDAR, “George Washington to John Hancock,” II, 415-416

22 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 441-442

23 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 441-442

24 NDAR, “John Adams to James Warren,” II, 443

25 NDAR, “Silas Deane to Thomas Mumford,” II, 464

26 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 499

27 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 554 and note

28 NDAR, “Estimate for Fitting Out Warships for a Three Months Cruise,” II, 647-652

29 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 647 and note

30 NDAR, “Autobiography of John Adams,” II, 1182

31 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 861-862

32 Paullin, Navy of the American Revolution, 40-41

33 NDAR, “Chandlery Supplied to the Continental Fleet,” III, 1377-1391

34 NDAR, bills for outfitting various Continental vessels, III, 607-612

35 NDAR, “Minutes of the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety,” III, 641-642 and 642 note

36 NDAR, “Continental Naval Committee in Account with James Read,” III, 961-962

37 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 861-862

38 NDAR, “A Letter from Philadelphia, dated December 6, 1775,” II, 1305-1307 and 1307 note

39 NDAR, “Deposition of John Nixon Regarding Merchant Ship Black Prince,” I, 36 and note

40 NDAR, “Richard Champion to Willing, Morris & Co.,” I, 422-424 and 424 note

41 NDAR, “Diary of Christopher Marshall,” II, 363

42 NDAR, “Pennsylvania Journal, Wednesday, October 11, 1775,” II, 405-408

43 NDAR,

44 NDAR, “Dr. Solomon Drowne to his Parents,” II, 1010 and 1010-1011 note; “Chandlery Supplied to the Continental Fleet,” III, 1377-1391

45 NDAR, “Dunlap's Maryland Gazette, Tuesday, December 19, 1775,” III, 173 and note; “Dr. Solomon Drowne to his Parents,” II, 1010 and 1010-1011 note; “Chandlery Supplied to the Continental Fleet,” III, 1377-1391; “Autobiography of John Adams,” II, 1305

46 NDAR, “John Adams' List of Persons Suitable for Naval Commands, November 1775,” II, 1162 and 1162-1163 note

47 Boatner, Mark Mayo III, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution, David MacKay Company, Inc.: New York, 1974, p. 512

48 Morgan, William James, Captains to the Northward: The New England Captains In The Continental Navy, Barre Gazette; Barre, Massachusetts, 1959, p. 23

49 NDAR, “Rhode Island Recess Committee to Esek Hopkins and William West,” II, 295-296

50 NDAR, “John Adams' List of Persons Suitable for Naval Commands, November 1775,” II, 1162 and 1162-1163 note

51 NDAR, “Stephen Hopkins to Esek Hopkins,” II, 907-909

52 NDAR, “John Adams to Elbridge Gerry,” II, 896-897; “John Adams to Joseph Warren,” II, 1031

53 NDAR, “Joseph Warren to John Adams,” II, 1021; “Joseph Warren to John Adams,” II, 1031

54 NDAR, “Richard Henry Lee to George Washington,” II, 1013

55 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 957 and 957-958 note

56 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 972 and note

57 NDAR, “Joseph Hewes to Samuel Johnston,” II, 960

58 NDAR, “Dr. Solomon Drowne to his Parents,” II, 1010 and 1010-1011 note

59 NDAR, “Nicholas Cooke to Jonathan Trumbull,” II, 1022-1023

60 NDAR, “Chandlery Supplied to the Continental Fleet,” III, 1377-1391

61 NDAR, “Dunlap's Maryland Gazette, Tuesday, December 19, 1775,” III, 173 and note


63 NDAR, “Chandlery Supplied to the Continental Fleet,” III, 1377-1391

64 NDAR, “Autobiography of John Adams,” II, 1305

65 NDAR, “Chandlery Supplied to the Continental Fleet,” III, 1377-1391

66 NDAR, “Naval Committee of the Continental Congress to Silas Deane,” II, 917-918 and 1059 and note. These are two copies of the same order, with different dates. Deane can hardly have been in New York two weeks, so the 7 November date on the first order would seem to be a copyist's error.

67 NDAR, “Naval Committee of the Continental Congress to Silas Deane,” II, 1059 and note

68 NDAR, “Intelligence Received from William Tryon,” II, 1050-1051 and 1051 note

69 NDAR, “Extract of a letter from Philadelphia, dated Nov. 18,” II, 1068 and note

70 NDAR, “George Washington to John Hancock,” II, 1071

71 NDAR, “George Washington to John Hancock,” II, 1168-1169

72 NDAR, “Rhode Island Committee of Accounts to Nicholas Cooke,” II, 1233

73 NDAR, “Nicholas Cooke to Captain Abraham Whipple,” II, 1092-1093

74 NDAR, “Nicholas Brown to Stephen Hopkins and Samuel Ward,” II, 1090-1092 and 1092 note

75 NDAR, “Nicholas Cooke to Captain Abraham Whipple,” II, 1092-1093

76 NDAR, “Minutes of the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety,” II, 1093 and 1094 note


78 NDAR, “Chandlery Supplied to the Continental Fleet,” III, 1377-1391

79 NDAR, “Dunlap's Maryland Gazette, Tuesday, December 19, 1775,” III, 173 and note; “Autobiography of John Adams,” II, 1305

80 NDAR, “Chandlery Supplied to the Continental Fleet,” III, 1377-1391

81 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 1109-1111

82 NDAR, “Autobiography of John Adams,” II, 1182

83 Inferior officers would today be called petty officers, except they included the following warrant officers: master's mates, surgeon's mate, cook, armorer, gunsmith, master-at-arms, and sail-maker.

84 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 1174-1182

85 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 1131-1133 and 1133 note

86 NDAR, “Nicholas Cooke to Samuel Ward and Stephen Hopkins,” II, 1158 and note

87 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 1304-1305

88 NDAR, “Providence Gazette, Saturday, December 2, 1775,” II, 1230-1231 and 1231 note. Since Katy was on Continental “risk and pay” should this not be the first capture by a Continental vessel? But no, apparently not.

89 NDAR, “John Adams' List of Persons Suitable for Naval Commands, November 1775,” II, 1162 and 1162-1163 note

90 NDAR, “Naval Committee of the Continental Congress to Dudley Saltonstall,” II, 1163

91 NDAR, “Autobiography of John Adams,” II, 1305

92 Boatner, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution, 967-968

93 Morgan, Captains to the Northward, 25

94 NDAR, “Naval Committee of the Continental Congress to Dudley Saltonstall,” II, 1163; “Dunlap's Maryland Gazette, Tuesday, December 19, 1775,” III, 173 and note

95 Smith, Marines in the Revolution, 11

96 NDAR, “Autobiography of John Adams,” II, 1305

97 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 1190-1192

98 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 1206-1207

99 Smith, Marines in the Revolution, 12-13, 459-460

100 Smith, Marines in the Revolution, 13, 469

101 Smith, Marines in the Revolution, 13, 437-438

102 Smith, Marines in the Revolution, 13

103 Smith, Marines in the Revolution, 477-478

104 Smith, Marines in the Revolution, 443

105 Smith, Marines in the Revolution, 478

106 Smith, Marines in the Revolution, 13-14, 463-464

107 Smith, Marines in the Revolution, 13, 438

108 NDAR, “Rhode Island Committee of Accounts to Nicholas Cooke,” II, 1233

109 NDAR, “Samuel Ward and Stephen Hopkins to Nicholas Cooke,” II, 1233-1234 and 1234 note

110 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 1231-1233

111 NDAR, “John Hancock to Officer in Command of Pennsylvania Battalion,” II, 1236 and note; “Orderly Book of Captain Josiah Harmar,” II, 1238

112 NDAR, “Gilbert Barkly to Sir Grey Cooper,” II, 1234-1235 and 1235 note

113 NDAR, “Vice Admiral Samuel Graves to Captain Hyde Parker, Jr., R.N.,” II, 1249 and note

114 NDAR, “Narrative of Vice Admiral Samuel Graves,” II, 1264; “Vice Admiral Samuel Graves to Philip Stephens,” II, 1265-1267

115 NDAR, “Samuel Ward to Henry Ward,” II, 1255

116 NDAR, “A Letter from Philadelphia, dated December 6, 1775,” II, 1305-1307 and 1307 note

117 Boatner, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution, 565-568

118 NDAR, “Journal of John Trevett,” II, 1255; “Autobiography of John Adams,” II, 1305

119 Morgan, Captains to the Northward, 34-35 speculates he may have been from Rhode Island, the former First Lieutenant of the Katy. He does not seem however, to have been a Rhode Islander.

120 Boatner, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution, 1198-1199; Morgan, Captains to the Northward, 23, 26; NDAR, “Connecticut Delegates in the Continental Congress to Jonathan Trumbull,” II, 1295

121 Boatner, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution, 512-513; Morgan, Captains to the Northward, 23

122 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” II, 1295

123 NDAR, “Connecticut Delegates in the Continental Congress to Jonathan Trumbull,” II, 1295

124 NDAR, “Extract of a Letter from Philadelphia, Dec. 6,” II, 1307-1308; “A Letter from Philadelphia, dated December 6, 1775,” II, 1305-1307

125 NDAR, “Dudley Saltonstall to the Continental Marine Committee,” II, 1234

126 NDAR, “Gurdon Saltonstall to the Connecticut Committee of the Pay Table,” II, 1234

127 NDAR, “Autobiography of John Adams,” II, 1306

128 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 22

129 NDAR, “Stephen Hopkins to Nicholas and John Brown, Providence Merchants,” III, 24 and note

130 Boatner, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution, 76-77; NDAR, “Minutes of the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety,” III, 24-25 and 25 note

131 NDAR, “Minutes of the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety,” III, 60 and note

132 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 59-60


134 NDAR, “Diary of Richard Smith,” III, 91

135 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 90 and note

136 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 90 and note

137 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 100-101

138 NDAR, “Samuel Ward to Henry Ward,” III, 101

139 NDAR, “George Read to his Wife,” III, 117

140 NDAR, “Silas Deane to Elizabeth Deane,” III, 116-117 and 117 note

141 NDAR, “Adam Babcock to Silas Deane,” III, 128

142 NDAR, “Gurdon Saltonstall to Silas Deane,” III, 100

143 NDAR, “Thomas Mumford to Silas Deane,” III, 153

144 NDAR, “Thomas Mumford to Silas Deane,” III, 153

145 NDAR, “Minutes of the Continental Naval Committee,” III, 162

146 NDAR, “Minutes of the Continental Naval Committee,” III, 172

147 NDAR, “Petition of William Green to the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety,” III, 172

148 NDAR, “Minutes of the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety,” III, 172-173

149 NDAR, “Muster Roll, Lieutenant Isaac Craig's Company of Marines,” III, 174-175 and 175 note

150 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 171

151 NDAR, “Minutes of the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety,” III, 185-186

152 NDAR, “Continental Naval Committee to the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety,” III, 185

153 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 207-208 and 208 note

154 NDAR, “Diary of Richard Smith,” III, 209

155 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 207-208 and 208 note

156 NDAR, “Samuel Adams to John Adams, III, 209-210

157 NDAR, “A Roll of all the Officers and Men. . . [of]. . . Ship Alfred,” VI, 696-705

158 NDAR, “Muster Roll. . . [of]. . . Ship Columbus, III, 142-154

159 NDAR, “Minutes of the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety,” III, 216

160 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 216

161 NDAR, “Silas Deane to Elizabeth Deane,” III, 263-264

162 NDAR, “Solomon Drowne to William Drowne,” III, 264

163 NDAR, “Pennsylvania Journal, Wednesday, December 27, 1775,” III, 266

164 NDAR, “Philadelphia Journal, Wednesday, December 27, 1775,” III, 266

165 NDAR, “Letter from Philadelphia,” III, 266-268

166 NDAR., “Letter from Philadelphia,” III, 266-268

167 NDAR, “Marines On Board Commodore Esek Hopkins' Fleet,” III, 302-304

168 NDAR,

169 NDAR, “Muster Roll. . . [of]. . . Ship Columbus,” III, 142-154; Smith, Marines in the Revolution, 438-439

170 NDAR, “Intelligence from Philadelphia, Transmitted by Governor William Tryon,” III, 558-560

171 NDAR, “Minutes of the Committee of Safety,” III, 562-563

172 NDAR, “Continental Naval Committee Order,” III, 613

173 NDAR, “Continental Naval Committee Resolution,” III, 612-613

174 NDAR, “A Journal of a Cruise In the Brig Andrew Doria. . . ,” III, 615 and note

175 NDAR, “A Journal of a Cruise In the Brig Andrew Doria. . . ,” III, 615 and note

176 NDAR, “Continental Naval Committee Order,” III, 613

177 NDAR, “Intelligence from Philadelphia, Transmitted by Captain Hyde Parker, Jr., R.N.,” III, 615-617 and 617 note

178 NDAR, “Intelligence from Philadelphia, Transmitted by Captain Hyde Parker, Jr., R.N.,” III, 615-617 and 617 note

179 NDAR, “Intelligence from Philadelphia, Transmitted by Captain Hyde Parker, Jr., R.N.,” III, 615-617 and 617 note

180 NDAR, “Intelligence from New York, Transmitted by Governor William Tryon,” III, 558-560 and 560 note

181 NDAR, “Intelligence on the Continental Navy,” III, 616 and notes

182 NDAR, “Intelligence on the Continental Navy,” III, 616 and notes

183 NDAR, “Intelligence from Philadelphia, Transmitted by Captain Hyde Parker, Jr., R.N.,” III, 615-617 and 617 note

184 NDAR, “Intelligence on the Continental Navy,” III, 616 and notes

185 NDAR, “Intelligence on the Continental Navy,” III, 616 and notes

186 NDAR, “Intelligence from Philadelphia, Transmitted by Captain Hyde Parker, Jr., R.N.,” III, 615-617 and 617 note

187 NDAR, “Governor William Tryon's Intelligence from Philadelphia,” III, 77 and note

188 NDAR, “Captain Hyde Parker, Jr., R.N., to Vice Admiral Samuel Graves,” III, 154-155; also “Captain George Vandeput, R.N., to Captain Hyde Parker, Jr., R.N.,” III, 157-158

189 NDAR, “Vice Admiral Samuel Graves to Captain Andrew Snape Hamond, H.M.S. Roebuck, Halifax,” III, 235

190 NDAR, “General George Washington to Colonel Joseph Reed,” III, 233

191 NDAR, “General Washington to Richard Henry Lee,” III, 253

192 NDAR, “General Washington to Colonel Joseph Reed,” III, 599-600

193 NDAR, “Colonel Alexander McDougall to John Jay,” III, 225-226

194 NDAR, “Naval Committee to Commodore Esek Hopkins,” III, 636-637

195 NDAR, “Naval Committee to Commodore Esek Hopkins,” III, 637-638

196 NDAR, “Naval Committee to the Virginia Convention,” III, 640-641 and 641 note

197 See below.

198 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 655-656

199 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 655-656

200 NDAR, “Naval Committee to Captain Abraham Whipple,” III, 657-658

201 NDAR, “Timothy Matlack to Commodore Esek Hopkins,” III, 671-672 and 672 note


203 NDAR, “Joseph Hewes to Robert Smith,” III, 672-673

204 NDAR, “Captain John Hazard's Continental Navy Commission,” III, 696

205 NDAR, “Advertisement for a Deserter from Continental Brig Cabot,” III, 700

206 NDAR, “Robert Morris to Major General Charles Lee,” III, 719

207 NDAR, “Christopher Gadsden to Commodore Esek Hopkins,” III, 720-721

208 NDAR, “Autobiography of Charles Biddle,” III, 803-805

209 NDAR, “Christopher Gadsden to Commodore Esek Hopkins,” III, 805-807

210 NDAR, “Nicholas Brown to Stephen Hopkins,” III, 238-239

211 NDAR, “Nicholas Brown to Stephen Hopkins,” III, 238-239

212 NDAR, “Nicholas Brown to Stephen Hopkins,” III, 574-575

213 NDAR, “Advertisement for Continental Navy Deserters,” III, 633-634 and 634 note

214 NDAR, “Samuel Ward to Governor Nicholas Cooke,” III, 820 and note; “Andrew Doria Journal,” III, 838-839

215 NDAR, “Diary of Richard Smith,” III, 820 and note

216 NDAR, “Chandlery Supplied to the Continental Fleet,” III, 1377-1391

217 NDAR, “Nicholas Brown to Josiah Hewes,” III, 915-916. This item was to Joseph, not Josiah, Hewes.

218 NDAR, “Muster Roll of the Continental Ship Columbus,” VII, 142-154

219 NDAR, “Chandlery Supplied to the Continental Fleet,” III, 848, 1377-1391; “Nicholas Brown to Stephen Hopkins,” III, 238-239. The master's name is also spelled Munrow or Morrow.

220 NDAR, “Articles of Enlistment for the Continental Navy,” III, 888-891 and 891 note; “A List of the Seamen. . . [crew list of Fly],” V, 426-427

221 NDAR, “A List of the Seamen. . . [crew list of Fly],” V, 426-427

222 NDAR, “A List of the Seamen. . . [crew list of Fly],” V, 426-427

223 NDAR, “A List of Ships and Vessels fitted out by the Rebels. . . 12th February 1776,” III, 1236

224 NDAR, “Captain Nicholas Biddle to his Brother, James Biddle,” III, 1307

225 NDAR, “A List of the Seamen. . . [crew list of Fly],” V, 426-427

226 NDAR, “Captain Nicholas Biddle to his Sister, Mrs. Lydia McFunn,” III, 1305-1306 and 1307 note

227 NDAR, “John Brown to Ambrose Page and Nicholas Cooke, Deputy Governor of Rhode Island,” I, 665-667

228 NDAR, “A List of the Seamen. . . [crew list of Fly],” V, 426-427; “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 207-208 and 208 note

229 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 207-208 and 208 note

230 NDAR, “Andrew Doria Journal,” III, 838-839

231 NDAR, “Christopher Gadsden to Commodore Esek Hopkins,” III, 805-807

232 NDAR, “A Roll of all the Officers and Men. . . [of]. . . Ship Alfred,” VI, 696-705

233 NDAR, “Muster Roll. . . [of]. . . Ship Columbus,” III, 142-154

234 NDAR, “A List of Names Run from on board the Brigantine Andrew Doria,” III, 1291-1292

235 NDAR, “Continental Naval Committee to Commodore Esek Hopkins,” III, 847

236 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 979 and note

237 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 944

238 NDAR, “Commodore Esek Hopkins to the Naval Committee,” III, 1017-1018 and 1018 note

239 NDAR, “Nathaniel Falconer to Commodore Esek Hopkins, Reedy Island,” III, 1051-1052

240 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 1050-1051

241 NDAR, “Thomas Mumford to Silas Deane,” III, 153 and note

242 NDAR, “Thomas Mumford to Silas Deane,” III, 153 and note; “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to Joseph Trumbull,” III, 241

243 NDAR, “Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to Joseph Trumbull,” III, 241; “Minutes of the Connecticut Council of Safety,” III, 634

244 NDAR, “Minutes of the Connecticut Council of Safety,” III, 634

245 NDAR, “Gurdon Saltonstall to the Connecticut Committee of the Pay Table,” III, 215

246 NDAR, “Minutes of the Connecticut Council of Safety,” III, 634

247 NDAR, “Meredith Stewart to Joshua Hempstead,” III, 716

248 NDAR, “Colonel Gurdon Saltonstall to Silas Deane,” III, 939-940 and 940 note

249 NDAR, “Narrative of Charles Bulkeley,” III, 1088 and note; “Commodore Esek Hopkins to Lieutenant Elisha Hinman and Other Officers,” III, 1206 and note

250 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 1184-1185; “Diary of Richard Smith,” III, 1185 and note

251 NDAR, “Andrew Doria Journal,” III, 1219

252 NDAR, “Muster Roll of the Continental Ship Columbus,” VII, 142-154

253 NDAR, “Muster Roll of the Continental Ship Columbus,” VII, 142-154

254 NDAR, “Muster Roll of Continental Ship Columbus,” VII, 142-154

255 NDAR, “Andrew Doria Journal,” III, 1219

256 NDAR, “Edward Davis to the Maryland Council of Safety,” III, 58-59; Morison, John Paul Jones, 38

257 NDAR, “Continental Marine Committee to Captain William Stone,” VI, 325-326

258 NDAR, “Edward Davis to the Maryland Council of Safety,” III, 58-59

259 NDAR, “Captain Nicholas Biddle to his Sister, Mrs. Lydia McFunn,” III, 1305-1306 and 1307 note

260 NDAR, “Lieutenant Isaiah Robinson to a Member of the Baltimore Committee,” V, 298-299

261 Smith, Marines in the Revolution, 471-472

262 NDAR, Chapelle, History of the American Sailing Navy, 54

263 NDAR, “Edward Davis to the Maryland Council of Safety,” III, 58-59

264 NDAR, “Watch List for Continental Schooner Wasp,” III, 849; “Account of Powder and Arms Supplied the Hornet and Wasp at Baltimore,” III, 1001

265 NDAR, “Joseph Hewes to Samuel Purviance, Jr.,” V, 348 and note

266 NDAR, “Edward Davis to the Maryland Council of Safety,” III, 58-59

267 NDAR, “Minutes of the Baltimore Committee,” III, 163 and note

268 NDAR, “John Jay to Colonel Alexander McDougall,” III, 186 and note

269 NDAR, “George Woolsey to John Pringle, Philadelphia,” III, 218 and note; “Diary of Richard Smith,” III, 606-607 and 607 note

270 NDAR, “Naval Committee to Captain William Stone,” III, 640 and note

271 NDAR, “Joseph Hewes to Robert Smith,” III, 672-673

272 NDAR, “Journal of the Continental Congress,” III, 692-693; “Diary of Richard Smith,” III, 693 and note; “Naval Committee to Captain William Stone,” III, 719-720

273 NDAR, “William Wall to Commodore Esek Hopkins,” III, 773; “Samuel Purviance, Jr. to the Naval Committee,” III, 773-774 and 774 note

274 NDAR, “Stephen West to the Maryland Council of Safety,” III, 1127 and note

275 NDAR, “Andrew Doria Journal,” III, 1219

276 NDAR, “Commodore Esek Hopkins' Signals for the First Continental Fleet,” III, 1287-1289 and 1289 note

277 NDAR, “Commodore Esek Hopkins to Captain Nicholas Biddle,” III, 1291 and note

278 NDAR, “A List of Names Run from on board the Brigantine Andrew Doria,” III, 1291-1292

279 NDAR, “Captain Nicholas Biddle to his Sister, Mrs. Lydia McFunn,” III, 1305-1306 and 1307 note

280 NDAR, “Captain Nicholas Biddle to his Sister, Mrs. Lydia McFunn,” III, 1305-1306 and 1307 note

281 NDAR, “Captain Nicholas Biddle to his Brother, James Biddle,” III, 1307 and note

282 NDAR, “Articles of Enlistment for the Continental Navy,” III, 888-891 and 891 note

283 NDAR, “Articles of Enlistment for the Continental Navy,” III, 888-891 and 891 note

284 NDAR, “Captain Nicholas Biddle to his Brother, James Biddle,” III, 1307 and note

285 NDAR, “Captain Nicholas Biddle to his Sister, Mrs. Lydia McFunn,” III, 1305-1306 and 1307 note

286 NDAR, “A Roll of all the Officers and Men. . . [of]. . . Ship Alfred, VI, 696-705

287 NDAR, “Muster Roll. . . [of]. . . Ship Columbus,” III, 142-154

288 NDAR, “Andrew Doria Journal,” III, 1349

289 NDAR, “Account of Officers and Men Belonging to the Brigante Andrew Doria 1776,” IX, 1007-1011

290 Smith, Marines in the Revolution, 45

291 Smith, Marines in the Revolution, 45

292 NDAR, “Watch List for Continental Schooner Wasp,” III, 849 and note

293 NDAR, “A List of the Seamen. . . [crew list of Fly],” V, 426-427

Revised 6 August 2014 ©