Joseph Grice

Autobiography of an American Revolutionary Hero

 Joseph Grice began his autobiography in about 1819. Joseph was part of a family of American shipbuilders around the Philadelphia area, his son Francis Grice was the last Navel Constructor for the US navy.  It covers 4 years of his life while in the American Revolution, age 16 to 20. The original letter is in fragile condition and resides at the Pennsylvania Historical Society. Document has been transcribed, not edited. This collection is copyrighted by the owner and intended for personal use only, not for commercial profit.

 My grandfather emigrated to this country from Wales in old England, and settled in the province of Delaware on the main post road south of Neighman’s Creek1, where my father was born. My Grandmother was the daughter of Walter Marlin, who emigrated from England and settled in the province of Pennsylvania on a farm that he purchased adjoining, if not the very spot, on which the town of Marcus Hook now is situated and where my grandmother was born, and her fathers with the rest of the old stock remains are deposited in the churchyard of that place.  The burial ground of which, and on which the church is built was a free gift from my great grandfather, Walter Martin, as will appear to this day on the church records, if they are preserved.


My father served an apprenticeship, in the neighborhood of his nativity until he was twenty one years of age to a millwright and house carpenter, and wrought at the business there. Sometime after he was of age when he took the notion of going to Philadelphia to endeavor to mend his situation as I have often heard him say and being acquainted with a Mr. Richard Dennis2, a shipbuilder. He joined to work with him by the day which after a very short time Mr. Dennis was so well satisfied with him that he made a proposal to learn him the shipwrights trade. He, Mr. Dennis, proposed to my father that he should work with him three years, in which time he could make himself master of the trade. Mr. Dennis proposing to allow my father thirty pounds a year


and board and lodge him and to eat with him at his table and to be considered as an acquaintance and companion being nearly of one age which my father agreed to, and I have often heard Mr. Dennis say that in every respect they agreed for the whole of the time stipulated, and their acquaintance was always kept up while they lived. My mother was a native of the province of Maryland, born near Bohema3 I have often heard her say. Her parents were I think from England, her maiden name, Brockenborough, brought up an Episcopalian, and I have reason to believe of pious parents from her attention to religious duties. She departed this life in December 1775. As I write entirely from memory I do not recollect the day of the month. After the death of her parents, I have heard her say, she was advised to go to Philadelphia with some very respectable family, that removed from their neighborhood, the name of which I cannot at present recollect, but it was one of the first Families in the country at that time. She went as a seamstress and companion for the lady of the family that removed. I have heard her often express her gratitude towards them, for their kind attention to her, and after she was married to my father. Her sister Susan was sent for to take her place in the family where


she continued for many years from what I learned from my mother. My Father was not brought up to any particular seat of religion, served his apprenticeship nearest to a Friend or Quaker meeting house, and knew very little else except that of silence on the subject of religion. But that through her persuasion he complied and attended regularly, once a Sabbath, at least to go with her to church and was baptized some time after they were married. I perfectly remember, since I was three years, of age every miniutra of my life that I have passed through, and was I to repeat them or commit them to writing, it would take up the remainder of my time, that could be possibly spared of my life to come, say to be spared to a respectable old age, as I am now in my sixtieth year, being born December 23, 1759 in Queen Street in the district of Southwark Philadelphia. How many of my brothers and sisters were born before me and after me, I do not know as I have no record to guide me, but from the best of my recollection, think I have heard


my parents say that they had nine or twelve, I am not clear which, live born children. I was put to school as soon as I could speak plain so as to be understood, by way of keeping out of harms way, as the saying is, and from perplexing of my mother who at the time had several younger children, and several apprentices to my father,


Francis Grice esq

who carried on his trade as a shipbuilder from the time I could remember until the last of the year 1775, when he took a very active part in the war and commenced with his apprentices, at building vessels for the government’s defense in which he continued as long as they were building in Philadelphia, after which he took a situation in the quartermaster’s department of the army under General Mifflin4, in which capacity he listed and ranked as a Major, until he was taken on the 26th September 1777 near the city of Philadelphia as he was making his way out of it, where he had been ordered to destroy whatever public property was left in the city, and his over-conscientiousness to complete his orders was the cause of


his being captured as he was leaving the city the day before they took it. He was carried prisoner by a troop of horse, which took him after a chase of near three miles to Germantown. From them he was removed with their other prisoners to the city of Philadelphia and confined for some time in the State House, and from thence removed to the new jail or prison house for safer security, where they were put under the charge of a jailer, or what is called in the military service, provost, a person by the name of Cunningham5, one of the greatest brutes that the British general could collect for the purpose of using severity to the rebels, as we were all termed who took up arms for defense of their liberty. At the evacuation of the city in June 1778 by the British forces, he was put on board a transport ship and carried round to New York and there confined for a while in a sugar house, and afterwards for the remainder of his captivity was paroled to Long Island and resided near to the village of Flatbush, and was exchanged in January 1780, when he returned to Philadelphia


which made his captivity while a prisoner amount to two years and four months being. When exchanged in his 54 year of his age, (he) found on his return his property had all been destroyed, as he held nothing but personal estate, and his family dispersed, none left when he returned, nor anything to comfort him in his declining years, except the hope that he would see his sons grow up to years of maturity on whom, with his dependence on God, he relied for support in old age. As our country was at the time of his exchange bankrupt, and the few certificates that he did receive for part of his services and property sold to government, he was obliged to sacrifice to get means to subsist on. His pay as Dept. Quartermaster General he petitioned the old congress for ’til his patience was exhausted, so much so, that when the Federal Government took place, he could not be persuaded to put in his claim to them, which it was supposed he would have secured, if he had, and would have received a compensation that would have made him independent for life, if he


had obtained it. My mother was very much troubled before her death that her sons should be brought to be soldiers but it pleased God to relieve her from that, as we were all of us, except myself, under the age of 16, except myself who was just arrived to it, at the time of her death.


Light infantry and Artillery company

And in the spring of 1776 (I) joined a light infantry company composed of all young men not one married officer nor private in the whole company, when it commenced and was known by the name of, the young men’s company, was attached to a regiment of militia, commanded by Col. Thomas McKean6 afterwards Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, and in the later part of his life was nine years governor of the same. (I) marched in July 1776 from Philadelphia to Perth Amboy with said regiment, served a two months campaign, returned to Philadelphia and worked on the frigate Effingham7 again, then building in the Northern Liberties. In December following, (I) again marched to meet the enemy as a volunteer in Capt. Mouldar’s* [Marlson?] company of artillery, who had by this time nearly over run the state of Jersey when


within twenty miles of Cooper’s Ferry our company was ordered and stationed at Dunk’s Ferry, Pennsylvania side. (We) remained there until the day after Christmas then took up the line march and crossed the Delaware above Bristol, marched to Burlington there stopped over night, next day marched to Bordentown with the whole of the Philadelphia volunteers lodged there over night, pursued on after the enemy, as at Bordentown we made prisoners of their sick and wounded, halted at Crosswicks and refreshed the troops two or three days, took up the line of march for Trenton, roads very muddy, arrived at Trenton8 at noon of January 2, 1777. Just began to cook our provisions when the alarm gun fired all hands to quarters, and retraced our steps backwards over the Assunpink9, a small creek that passes through Trenton and empties in Delaware. The enemy made their appearance in full force, and a severe cannonade commenced which lasted until dark night. At midnight had orders to freshen our fires and get our guns out of the breastworks we had


thrown up and *manned? (paned?) in the main road which passed through the town. All was silence, the enemy’s sentinels within hearing, took up the line of march with the whole army and knew not where we were going until the sun rose on us near Princeton, when we were attacked in front by two British regiments, which after a short time gave way and fled before our troops10. took about 300 prisoners, killed and wounded I suppose, from one to two hundred, our army lost our General Mercer and several officers, marched on through Princeton filed off to the left at Kingston, and reached Somerset Courthouse that night before we rested, the whole of the British army in close pursuit of *Washington (until) We left Kingston, our guns nearly being taken twice, before we filed off, by the British Light horse, pursued our march and arrived at Morristown, when the army took winter quarters for the remainder of the winter. In February our company had orders to return to Philadelphia, which we did, with loss of our men wounded at Princeton and two ran away in the battle never showed themselves afterwards to the company.


After returning home from the winter’s campaign, (I) was sent the later end of February with a few carpenters to Lamberton, near Trenton, to repair the ferry flats which had been scuttled and hauled up in the woods on the Pennsylvania side, repaired them, and returned to Philadelphia. Assisted in launching the Effingham frigate 32 guns, and then commenced working at Kensington on flat bottom boats to carry troops, completed them and put twenty of them on carriages, and set off and joined the main army with them at Correl’s [sp] ferry on the Delaware. From there (we) proceeded on to the North River11 nearby to New Windsor, when it was found that the British fleet had only made a feint and returned down again, as soon as it was known which course they took, followed the army with them to the Delaware, again re-crossed it, and got on to Philadelphia and was advised to wait for further orders which we soon received to put the boats afloat and dismiss the teams which was done soon after the battle


of Brandywine which caused all Philadelphia to be alarmed at the retreat of our army before the British. All was confusion, all public officers set about to remove to the westward to Lancaster, Yorktown etc. etc. the President of the State and Legislature to Lancaster, and the President and Congress to Yorktown. Every man was called on to take up arms to meet the foe, but many were panic struck and supposed all was lost. Capt. Maulden* of the City Artillery called his old company together and harangued them on the occasion for the company had been for some time passed broken up owing to informalities taking place in the officers of the regiment. The company met at the Captain’s quarters and elected their officers, and in a few hours were ready to march against the foe, but the council and assembly had fled and there was none left to sign our commissions of which I was elected to a second lieutenant. But such was the influence used with our company that we marched to the banks of the Schuylkill with our artillery, on a promise that the commissions should be forwarded to us immediately. Our company continued firm at the post at the fording place past

the falls of the river, anxiously looking day after day for the commissions, as we were placed in a very awkward situation without them, but none arriving. We received orders from G. Washington to retreat into the city and make the best of our way out of it into Jersey, as every other road was taken possession of between us and our army in Pennsylvania, and that he did not mean to prevent them from going into Philadelphia. After our return to the city, we held the company together for some time in hopes of the commissions before we dispersed at length, (and) being wearied out the company the day before the British took possession of the city, was disbanded and every man left to shift for himself. The ammunition was crossed to Jersey and two guns irons thrown off the wharf, as there was no boats left to carry them, and two large battery cannon was spiked and left in the redoubt on the Schuylkill thus ended that campaign. I myself, got a conveyance the same day to Burlington and that afternoon as I afterwards heard my


father was made prisoner. After a week or ten days spent at Burlington, Bordentown, Trenton etc. I heard of the captivity of my father officially. I was without money, clothing or friends that was able to assist me, no employment to be had at our business. I accepted of the carpenter’s berth of the frigate Effingham, then laying in the Delaware opposite White Hill, and continued on board under the command of Capt. John Barry until she was sunk by order of Congress when I left her and went on to Wright’s Ferry on the Susquehanna where the town of Columbia now is, with a number of others distressed as myself, and was employed building of flats or scows for government to cross the wagons, horses, oxen, cattle, etc. etc. over for the benefit of our army, which was wintered at the Valley Forge * (continuation on page (76)) After completing as many boats as was necessary, (I) then was ordered to Reading, and near there on the Schuylkill and first commenced building of boats for the purpose of carrying provisions, etc. to the camp aforesaid, and was there at the time the British army left Philadelphia sometime in June 1778. Immediately on the news reaching us, (I) was ordered to


proceed to the city, which we did with the boats in our possession, laden with timber planks, our baggage, tools, etc., etc. which ended our campaign in the service of government for that time, as our service was not wanted any more. To the best of my recollection, by the time we got to the wharves of Philadelphia there was not a vessel of any description at them, for the British, during their stay in the Delaware had destroyed all the sea vessels and nearly all the river craft they could put the torch to wherever they could get at them. But one ship or square-ridged vessel escaped to my knowledge, and that was a large new ship belonging to the Cliffords which lay on the Jersey shore opposite their place on the Neshaminy creek, which was saved by a fine spirited militia man who came to the bank and fired on and beat off the party that was sent to burn her, for they, the British, paid no respect to Whig’s or Torie’s ships or vessels destroyed all indiscriminately they could get at, for which, if my memory serves me, the militia man was never paid a dollar for. I believe it was understood at that day, that if she had been destroyed the owners, namely The Messrs. Clifford and Sons, would have been


the gainers, as the British government paid liberally for all the Tory property they destroyed, or that the Tories made appear they lost during the war of the Revolution and yet those people were allowed peaceable to remain amongst us, and even many of them that went with the British troops to Nova Scotia, England etc. were allowed to return, and enjoy the liberties of the country that they had worked so hard to destroy. On the same footing with Whigs, that suffered everything of the loss of their property that this earth afforded them, the land alone excepted, and not a farthing of their loss ever make up by our government and what is the most mortifying is to see those very men, who were the satelites and lick spittles of the British government during the war, take every advantage of the soldiers to depreciate those certificates, which was all the government could do at the time of the disbandment of our army, was to settle each man’s account and give him a due bill or what is called a certificate for his pay for fighting the battles of his country. I say that those Tories and I am sorry to add some unprincipled men who were Whigs, who for the love of gain joined in the cry, and said our country would never be able to redeem them at their par value, and in their desire to get the certificates cheap, fixed the value at two shillings and sixpence in the pound or for every twenty shillings, and many that


that I am acquainted with and some few of them are yet living, who with their offspring are rolling in luxury by the earnings of the blood of the soldiers, who were necessitated to sell for any price they could get. For some part of my father’s services he received certificates after the peace and held on to them as long as he was able and when they ran to six shillings, had to part with them to subsist on, and very soon after they sold for twenty two or three shilling in the pound after the Federal government took place in 1789 owing to the interest due on them and unpaid. I now go back to our arrival at Philadelphia down the Schuylkill (XO- it was after our return from Rhode Island) when, I believe the first thing I was employed at was to go up Cooper’s Creek with a number of others to cut timber to build some schooners for government to bring lumber from *Morris River etc. as every vestige of timber had been taken away and destroyed by the British, and the sawmills through Jersey generally had gone down and many of them destroyed by the British as they passed through the different parts of Jersey. For during the war there was no part of


Jersey from Cape May to the New York line but what they were in some part of it. I then had a small respite assisted to build one of those ships for government and then a sharp ship for a privateer called the General Green12, which we completed by the following spring,) and in March 1779. A company of carpenters, boat builders etc. was ordered to go to the Potomac River in Virginia to build boats to carry provisions up said river to Fort Cumberland, where the provisions was conveyed on pack horses to Fort Pitt etc. The place we built the boats at I think, was called Hartley’s Ferry, however the town of Williams port in now built on the Maryland side at the ferry we built the boats on to the best of my recollection.

Rhode Island

We returned after completing the building as many boats as was necessary to Philadelphia. In the month of July and immediately after we returned, and before we had got ourselves into any work ), for there was but little to do, an application was made to raise a number of the same, description of people to go up the North River to build boats for the use of our army there, and upwards of one hundred set off, and arrived at Peekskill which was a very considerable way up the North River. We had not arrived there twelve hours, before a draft of the best of the people was made to go on to Providence state of Rhode island on a secret expedition, that we knew nothing of until we got there. To the best


of my recollection between 40 and fifty were chosen to go, of which I was one. We were all marched on horseback and took nothing with us except a blanket and great coat, if any had them, and a shirt besides the one on our backs, and perhaps an extra pair of stockings. But this was not so grievous as it constituted generally all our wardrobe except our clothes on our backs. We were in our working clothes, not a long coat amongst us, except Major Benj. Eyre and Captain Richard Salter13, two shipbuilders who commanded us, and as we passed through Connecticut to Rhode Island, we astonished the natives. Every question was put (to) us such as they are used to ask of strangers. Our orders was not to tell the truth, who we were, and the yankees male and female, were never before, I believe, so much puzzled, for we had no arms nor no tools, even the rules in our pockets were ordered out, and put in our knap-sacks to prevent discovery. Sometimes we were tailors (which) had been drafted to go to Boston to make clothes for the army, sometimes shoemakers etc., etc, everything was told them but the truth which is not to be spoken at all times, and as soon as we arrived at the town of Providence was set to work to assist in building boats for a descent onto the Island of Rhode Island14.


( One the *** 16th page where I go back to my arrival at Philadelphia after the British army left it, I find myself mistaken in saying the first thing I was employed at was to go up Cooper’s Creek for timber etc. ) I recollect the first the? thing was, we went up to Bordentown with the boats we brought from Schuylkill to bring down the water casks belonging to the frigate of ours that was burned at White Hill by the British, which casks were saved by being hidden in a swamp and were brought to Philadelphia filled with water and forwarded to the French fleet then off the capes of Delaware under the command of Count De Estange [d’Estaing], which had come from France to our assistance. And had they arrived a few days sooner would have taken all the British ships of war and vessels in the Delaware evacuating of Philadelphia, and it was at this time we were called on to go to the North River, and from there to Rhode Island, and after we returned went to Jersey to cut the timber to build the schooners for government General Green etc. so that the expedition to Rhode Island as so far stated was before the one to the Potomac River as is fully stated) for I never went a campaign after the one to the Potomac.) So to proceed as I was relating the building of boats at the town of Providence for to carry the troops on to the island of Rhode Island, when as many was completed as was found necessary we, that is our company, together with all the other carpenters, boat builders etc. were ordered down to where our army was encamped at a place called Tiverton, to man the boats to make the descent on to the island of Rhode Island. Our company was the last that left Providence, our Capt. Salter was sick and could not go with us, and Major Eyre went by land, so that we were left without a commander, but rec(eived)



our instructions to go down the distance being thirty miles and no pilots to be procured, we were ordered off to find the way, the best manner we could, being divided into three boats, our company everyone who was directed* to command a boat had his own head and some of them were very wrong ones. One of our boats insisted they saw our flag flying on one of our redoubts and pulled directly for it, although urged not to go. And they got so near that they discovered it was the enemy’s flag before they put about, a few strokes more would have brought them so near that the guns of the fort would have brought them too. The British pursued us up the island with a small field piece to endeavor to cut us off from getting by the east end where the passage is very narrow, at what was called Bristol Ferry, fired several times, but without effect, at us, and we succeeded in reaching our camp at Tiverton before night, more by good luck than good management. And the very next day, I think it was, began to land our troops which we did on the island without any opposition being made by the enemy, who retreated before our troops into the town of Newport where they were strongly fortified. The French fleet at the time off the harbor, and waiting for our army to make the arrangements for attacking of the British, of which History will give you a full account from the arrival of Count De Estang on our coast and all that they done till they left us.

After assisting the crossing of the troops on to Rhode Island all the carpenters were employed at the east end of the island or with in two or three miles of it, near the place we landed, to make the platform for the battery cannon, which when completed, was taken down to the line opposite the town of Newport and conveyed into the works in the night. As nothing but a small creek that put in back of the town Newport separated us from our enemies, as soon as there was daylight so that we could see to drive a pin into the platform, we began to work and as soon as we began the British opened their fire on us from their different batteries. One directly opposite to our company was manned with seaman and others from their ships, for we could hear them distinctly before they began to fire making use of their way of conversing every word with an oath attached to it, and it was called by our troops D–n Your Eyes Fort . They gave it to us as hot as we could put it, but we had our redoubt pretty forward before they knew we were on the spot, such silence on our part was attended to. Our company was without provisions and towards noon I was ordered up to our camp, distance about twelve miles for provisions, but


before I could have time to return, met our company on the road returning to camp having completed their work was ordered out of the works as there were then no more occasion for them, there which all were well satisfied to get out of the way of danger as soon as possible. And that very night the carpenters from Boston and Providence made their retreat off the island totally without permission so to do, and no doubt our company would have done the same had we not been such a great distance from home. For we were without clothing, as it were, and had suffered considerable hardships for want of provisions etc, which during a severe NE. storm which lasted near three days that we could not get the provisions from the main to the island, although the distance at Tiverton, the place we crossed, is not over three quarters mile wide, yet such was the tempest that no boat could cross. This happened before the Bostonians left us, and before we went to the lines, and when we got back to our camp they were determ-


ined not to risk another storm, so took a French leave as did Count De Estange as History will inform you. Our army retreated out of the works with much precaution, removing the heavy battery cannon at night, and supplying their places with field pieces to deceive the enemy, which was done until I believe the whole of the heavy artillery was removed, which we, that is our company, assisted to get off the island together with all the heavy baggage of every description, as fast as it was known by our enemy that the French fleet had left us, they began to attack our troops and of course our General Sulivan15 gave orders to retreat out of the works , which was done by hard fighting from the morning our troops began the retreat till sundown of the same day, when our generals perceived they had as good success and better than they expected, both sides were tired and as it were, agreed to lay by till morning. Our army pitched their tents in front of the British as if intended to take up their night’s lodging, but as soon


as all became silent, about midnight our tents were taken down gradually and carried to the boats with the troops, and the front row of tents kept up till all the main body of the army was crossed in the most profound silence, all the oars being muffled, and no soldier allowed to speak. When the main guard came down, and before daylight appeared, every man and boat was off the island belonging to our force that we could find, and the enemy never made the discovery until daylight, when they found our camp had fled away, Two pieces of very heavy artillery was left in one of the redoubts near our place of debarkation, which were left loaded and not spiked up into which redoubt. They marched about sunrise with the greatest precaution and fired those cannon, but the shot did no damage, as they dropped short of our camp on the main at Tiverton. Two of our men belonging to our side, who they were I do not recollect, but they had over slept themselves, the noise of the guns waked them and they ran with all the speed they could do down to the beach where a boat was sent over for them

and saved them off of the island. Thus ends this campaign on Rhode Island as far as my knowledge goes. Our company then was ordered to proceed to Providence, which we did by water immediately and horses were provided for our return to Philadelphia. Saddles and bridles could not be obtained sufficient for us, as some of ours had been issued out or stolen. We drew lots for them and it came to my lot to go without, in consequence of it I rode bare backed with only a blanket under me for eighty miles, to New London where I purchased one on my own account, second handed for twenty dollars, suppose about five in real money. The enemy appeared off the harbor of New London with a threating posture of landing the militia when all called on immediately, and our company was requested by the commanding officer there, to assist in preventing of their doing it, we volunteered to go into one of the forts, and was detained there nearly a whole day for that purpose, when the fleet made sail and stood off and we received the thanks of the commander, and had orders to proceed on


on our journey home, glad enough were we of it. Came the road by the way of Stonington and along the Long Island Sound through New Haven etc., etc., and before we came to the White Plains filed off to the right and came through our army that lay in camp there, the troops of which were as much surprised to know who we were, as the yankees were when we went on to Providence from the North River11. Nothing, particular occurring, when we came to Trenton, I got permission to give up my horse and exchanging my old saddle with one of the company for a good one, I returned to Philadelphia by the way of Bordentown, and when we came to receive our pay, the money had very much depreciated, so that we could scarcely replace the clothes we had worn out with the money we received for our pay.) It was now after our return from Rhode Island that I was employed to go into Jersey to cut timber, as is already stated on page 16 beginning at the mark thus OX,



The Mars

After my return to Philadelphia in the summer of 1779 from the Potomac campaign the first employment I recollect to have was with Major Benj. G. Eyre and Joseph Bower who entered into co-partnership, and the first job was the fitting up of a sloop called the Mars, which was originally built for a New York pilot boat, but was fitted out early after the British left Philadelphia for a privateer, was called, I think, The Adams was not very successful, and had been one voyage as a letter of mark* when her owners concluded to haul her up and lengthen her, which was done by adding ten feet to her. Capt. Nicholas *Valance who commanded her, after we had launched her, advised me to go to sea with him as carpenter of her, and I being very well tired of soldiering of it, agreed to go with was then First Lieut. of a company of Militia at Kensington, commanded by Richard Salter. About the middle of November 1779 I sailed in the Mars. Nicholas Valance commander mounting *ten double forty six pounders for a voyage to St. Eustatuis16 and back to Philadelphia. Nothing very material happened except of any

of my being exceedingly seasick for several days, and the brutal treatment that I received from both Captain and First Mate one John Ryan, who the first thing after we got to sea persuaded the Captain to order a gun barrel to be put in the lung of the water cask to drink out of, in order, as he stated, to preserve the water. And the art of sucking the barrel I did not learn, but was compelled through necessity to find out other means to get water, which as the water was stowed away in the after hatch way where a stearage ought to have been for gunners, boatswain, and carpenter, but where we stowed and slung our hammocks on the top of the provisions and water I made a machine to draw the water out of the bungs of the casks when I wanted. The severity of the gun barrel was carried so far, that before the voyage was ended in coming home every man after he drank was compelled to take the gun barrel into the main top and there have it, and the difficulty was to prove how I made out for water, which they never discovered of themselves, although strictly


watched by Ryan, the Mate, who was a villain ingrain. As soon as we made the land in the West Indies, we were chased by vessels of war and escaped by superior sailing into the harbor of St. Martins where we unloaded and our cargo was taken to St. Eustatius in neutral droghers, and our returned cargo received in the same way. We loaded our vessel principally with valuable goods from Europe, with the exception of one thousand bushels of salt for ballast, which would at that time bring eight Spanish dollars per bushel at Philadelphia. Took it on board at half a bit per bushel, had about fifty bushels on board for my advantage. Sailed from St. Martins17 23? December 1779, which day I was twenty years old. Nothing very particular happened until we made soundings* which was on the eighth day after we left Great Bay, except that the night after we came out of St. Martins just before the eight o’clock watch was called, a young man by the name of Justin Morris who was ordered aloft to send down top gallant yards, fell from the main top gallant yard overboard into the sea, the vessel going at the rate of seven or eight knots.


Immediately on discovering it, all hands was called, several things hove* overboard for him, the vessel put about and stood the direct course back. Very little hope was entertained of saving him, but in a few minutes after the vessel was about, he was seen standing as it were in the water, head and shoulders out, was taken in at the starboard fore chains, and all hands agreed it was the kind hand of Providence who saved his life, as he could not swim any. I observed already we made soundings the eighth day after leaving port which brought it to the 1st of January 1780. As soon as we got on to sounding we found the weather very severe and being short of provision, the crew were all put on allowance with the exception of those in the round house. After suffering every hardship on a winters coast that men could stand, we made Cape Henry in Virginia about the 27th, came to anchor abreast of where the light house once stood. The Captain sent me ashore with four


hands in the boat to try to get some provisions, landed between the hummocks of ice on the beach, could find no inhabitants, returned on board the vessel just at sun setting very sorrowful. A brig from Lisbon commanded by one Nicholson, came to anchor same time we did, under the Cape, went on board of her and got some little wine for the round house from them, had nothing to return for it, rode with both anchors* ahead. In the night the ice came down the bay so heavy, Captain Nicholson hailed us and told our Captain he would beach his vessel if possible and advised him to do the same, of which all our crew wished it. The Captain refused and to save the vessel from being cut through, the cables were both cut, and we drove to sea, fast in the ice with our sails furled*. Next morning as soon as it was light we saw the boat hauling ashore by a line from the brig to the land, while we lay like a log froze up within one mile of the beach, and a dead calm the chief part of the day. Towards evening the wind arose, raised a sea* and jumbled the ice up, previous to it though, several of our people left the vessel with an intent to walk ashore on the ice, which they accomplished as far as


as where the surf rolled, which broke the ice so that they could not reach the shore without the aid of a boat which our Captain would not let them have, and they were obliged to return to the vessel again. As soon as the wind arose we crowded all the sail possible to get out of the ice, and succeeded by getting close in shore a few miles south of Cape Henry, where we came to anchor with our kedge* anchor which held us under the hand*[land?] the whole night. Next day I was again ordered on shore for to search for provisions, took sugar and coffee on shore to pay for it, found a small house on the beach with a woman and several children, the husband having gone over to the main that morning to get provisions for his family. We waiting for his return and got all from him that he collected, which was some beans and peas, I do not recollect of any thing else, he had supposed he might get us a sheep on the main if we would wait till he went over, got some eggs, and made a pot of coffee on shore, eat up all his corn bread and then*



These men are now at this time I am writing this, I believe, both living in Philadelphia. One Jacob Wayne cabinet maker, and the other Conrad Weckerty, who resides in Third Street northern liberties, and is possessed of immense property, supposed by many to be from one to two hundred thousand dollars. I mention this to show that we should never despair for while there’s life there’s hope. Mr. Wayne is the father of a numerous family of children, has always supported the character, of a very industrious good citizen, beloved by all his neighbors. Weckerty is a bachelor and universally disliked by all around him, was never to my knowledge known to do any charitable action in his whole life, is a miser in every sense of the word, we are all three nearly of the same age. They informed me after I arrived at Philadelphia, that they footed it all the way home, the bays and rivers being all frozen up, there was no conveyance by water, they suffered very severely both on board and an shore. ) But to return to what was passing on board after those men
(above page seems out of place somewhat but above is frontside of below backside)

were landed*, some altercation or dispute took place between the captain and his mates, they objected, as I understood, to stand off to sea, in which case the Captain said they might go on shore if they chose, and leave the vessel, as I understood afterwards from the steward, who was present at the time, when Ryan agreed to be put on shore provided he might take his trunks with him. I suppose his conscience began to check him, expecting that Captain Valance would favor* him as he intended to favor* Wayne and Weckerty. But the Captain ordered the boat to be got ready and to take him and all that belonged to him on shore, which was done to the great joy of all the crew that remained, for he was disliked by all of them. After the mate Ryan was put on shore, the second mate Bower proposed to me to endeavor to get the men opposed to standing off with the brig, as if the vessels did not come out, we could bring the vessel so much by the head, we could force her over the bar at

bar at high water. I objected to Bower to interfere in anyway whatever, that I could stand it as long as the Captain could. However he managed to get the people to murmuring against standing off to sea again, that it was agreed we should try the bar in the morning, even if those small schooners did not come out, and on these terms the people turned in and went to rest. The next morning by daylight all hands was employed shifting the cargo forward to bring the brig by the head, at which every man done his best to accomplish, looking very wishfully every minute in hope of seeing the vessels get under way to come out to us as from our vessel we could see* them at anchor inside, but the weather began to be boisterous and wind N.E. , all hope of the vessels coming was given up and the anchor was made* [raised?] and sail put on the vessel and the attempt made to force over, but our vessel drew nine feet after shifting every thing we could forward and the deepest water we could find at high water the day before on the bar was seven feet, yet there was no


Shipwecked in the Ice off Cape Henry

no alternative left as the Captain would not back the vessel, nor the people agree to stand off to sea, the fatal moment drew nigh, and in attempting the bar, the vessel struck and all hands fell on down as if they had been knocked down, we then discovered that it was ebb tide, and the water had fell so that all hopes of getting the vessel off was given up; in the second thump the vessel bildged, at the same time the tide took her starboard bow, and as she was afloat forward canted her, and this main and fore, top sail being set, the wind took them and canted her down on her side, then the mast were ordered to be cut away, which was done , and owing to the lee lanyards being under water the wreck could not be cleared before she righted and the tide had ebbed more, but fortunately they swung* under* the bow. I ought to have mentioned the boat was in the tackles before we weighed anchor, so as to be ready to lower over the side if wanted, and as soon as she struck this was done, and so many jumped in that the boat filled before the tackles was unh-


unhooked, most of the men were obliged to come on board again and the boat hoisted up so as to bail her out, which was done, and seven men with the gunner whose name was John Tamson set off again in the boat, and we saw them reach the beach safe. In the meantime this was going on, the most of the other people were lashing of spars together to make a raft and had nearly succeeded when the ebb tide took the starboard bow and canted our vessel, as all ready related, but we having a good hawser fast to it as she canted we launched it to the leeward, and it swung* under the bows before we cut the masts away, so that when the masts swung, the raft was inside of them. After the men had succeeded to get on shore in the boat, the Captain determined to try the raft, and had two of his valuable trunks lashed on to it, and got himself on to the raft, and by over persuasion got me to consent to try it with him, which I attempted and got down on the raft, and the only security from being washed off was to put your legs in the water astride a spar, which I attempted but found myself so much benumbed with cold, that I desired those


those on board to send down a rope and haul me up. All the entreatys of the Captain could not prevail* on me to go with him, as it came in to my mind if I must perish I might as well do so on the wreck as any where else. The Captain at his request was cut loose, and the wind being N.E. drove him to the south of the inlet, which beach he was drove ashore on, just before sun set, and we discovered a boat passing inside to go to his relief as we expected, which turned out to be the case, and he was conveyed over to a small house on the north side of the inlet before dark. Nothing but death appeared for us that was left on board, seventeen in number including a male child about four years old who was in charge of a Captain Clark, who was passenger with us, and as I have heard of people being saved by a hen coop when they have fallen overboard, we had one large one on the round house which I cut the lashings off and got overboard with the intentions of

trying to get on shore on it, although persuaded by the second mate and others, by no means to attempt it, yet nothing short of the attempt would do for me, and I got astraddle of it, put my silver buckled in my waist coat pocket, took a stave for a paddle and desired them to cut me loose, which was done after a long persuasion on the part of the crew for me not to go as it was nearly impossible I could succeed. As soon as I was cut loose and got a few fathoms from the lee side of the brig a heavy breaker broke over me, reached me, and the first place I found myself was nearly at the top of the breaker, my coop some distance from me, I could hear the people on board lamenting my fate, that I was gone, but my spirits were kept up wonderfully, and I had the presence of mind to think, if, when the breaker recoiled back, I could get hold anywhere of the vessel my life would still be spared, and I swam down the breaker and through God’s mercy reached the fore chains, when I was immediately hauled up on board again and observing to one

of the men (Justin Morris) that the fire was yet in the stove in the round house, I desired him to assist me to get on to the round house, and I would lash myself to the rail and if he could get me a blanket, I could get the pipe of the stove between my legs, and keep the smoke under the blanket until it warmed me, for by this time it had began to freeze severely, he did so, and I continued for half an hour in that situation, but the tide coming in and over* of the upper doors of the round house being unshipped* the [water] rolled in and carried away the stove to sea-ward which deprived me of any further heat from fire. I then made the attempt to get into the round house, where sixteen souls were already in, some in hammocks and some on the weather lockers. The lee side being under water I watched the breakers and made the attempt, and succeeded in getting into a hammock next to the cabin door, which was filled apparently with water*


I had left it. I immediately took* it* and got to the main chains by the time the boat was alongside, which proved to be the brig’s boat with four of the natives in her, who said they were authorized to take possession of the wreck, when they found us, to their surprise alive, as no expectation from those on shore, as I afterwards understood, expected any of us had survived and could be living, but which, thanks to the Almighty, there was not a hair of our heads hurt excepting numb with cold. As soon as the wreckers came out of the boat on to the wreck, I immediately got into the boat and took possession of her, called to the steward Mr. John McShand who held the child, or little boy, William Turner of Georgia near Savannah, in his arms the whole of the night, and under God was instrument of saving his life, to come immediately into the boat and bring the child with him, which he did, I then allowed as many men to get in as I supposed the boat would carry. I say allowed, for I stood in the bow of the boat with my axe raised for execution if attempts were made to get in more than I thought sufficient. Which as soon as that was done, I ordered the boat pushed off, amongst the cries and intreatys of the rest of the crew to be sure that the boat came back for them.


The wreckers threatened me for taking the boat from them, but it availed nothing. We made for the beach on which we soon landed, about eleven of clock in forenoon after we were wrecked on the bar. Our crew that were on shore were, of course, rejoiced to see us, for it was more than they ever expected to do living. We met as we passed from the wreck a small boat with some more of the native wreckers going off to the wreck, our boat was also taken from us immediately by the natives on shore, for by this time they were in considerable numbers congregated on the beach. They manned the brig’s boat and went off to the wreck, which, with the small boat we passed, brought all the crew ashore, with the exception of a Captain Clark of New England who was a passenger on board and had charge of the child before mentioned. We that were landed got up to a small house about a mile from the mouth of the inlet where we landed, and there got all the refreshment the house afforded, which was very trifling, and what added to our distress, we could with difficulty obtain as much wood as would make fires to warm our bodies with, but want of sleep the

whole night before, and the fatigue of our minds and bodies while on the wreck had so exhausted us, that we soon got to sleep as poor as the lodgings were. In the morning those who were able to stir about, went to the Inlet to see what was going forward where they found the natives in great numbers, collecting what they could from the wreck, some with boats and some picking up on the beach. Captain Clark remained on board the whole of the night by himself, and gave for reason, that the wreckers would not permit him to take his trunk on shore, and that he was determined to keep possession until they did. The gunner, Mr. John Tawson, was permitted at noon to go on the brig’s boat with the wreckers to the wreck, to use his influence to get him to come on shore, in which he succeeded by getting him and his bed into the boat and safe landed on the beach just before sundown, when he was conveyed up to the house, him and his bed, in an oxcart, placed in one of the nooks in the chimney corner, supplied with yapon [japon?] tea well steeped [straped?] with Jamaica spirits, his bed was put under the one bed in the house, which was given up to our Capt. Valance and Mate to lodge in. Night came on, all our crew soon asleep, and old Capt. Clark surrounded by the natives round the fire place, for the weather was intensely cold. He, Capt. Clark slept without waking, in the nook until morning, when

he awoke and inquired for his bed, behold it was missing and could not be found. He, Capt. Clark, then observed, that the whole of his property was in it, for that, when he found the wreckers claimed everything on board the vessel and would not permit him to bring his trunks on shore. That in the night during their absence from the wreck, he took all his valuable goods from his trunks and stowed them in among the feathers of his bed, together with the clothing of the little boy, William Turner, whom he had charge of, and then when the gunner went on board to use his influence to get him on shore, he agreed to come provided they would let him take his bed which was agreed to, and as soon as the wreckers returned again on board after landing Capt. Clark, they went to examine his trunks and found them empty, so that they discovered the Capt. had so far got to windward of them, but they never rested until they, the wreckers, succeeded, and when the most* of the feathers were discovered where they had opened the bed, nothing of the property was found, except one red morocco boot that belonged to the child. Such was the conduct of those native villains, who, as I afterwards discovered were some of the race* of Old Teach, alias Black Beard the pirate, whose place of rendezvous, according to History, was in the very neighborhood of this place, so that taking all things into view, much better could


be expected from them. The next night after they plundered Capt. Clark, they made several attempts to rob our mess, which was composed of the gunner, boatswain, and boatswain’s mate, boy and myself, which had possession of a small outhouse, which had been used for a kitchen, but we had some arms and were on the alert, and fully determined to sell our little property dear, if they attempted by force to take it away from us, but which they did not attempt, but artfully made excuses during the night to come in, expecting to find us all asleep, but they did not succeed; even the man’s wife, who occupied the house, came in the dead of the night herself, and made some excuse for disturbing us, but it all did not prevail, and the next day we agreed with a man who had a pair of oxen and cart on the beach, to haul us to Norfolk in Virginia, for which we had to pay him an extravagant price in money and goods, for amongst us, we had both, having saved some from the wreck. After we breakfasted we started in the cart, all except the boy, who had chose to go with the people. We traveled on until overtaken by a snowstorm, when we came too at every respectable looking farm house in Princess Ann County Virginia , where we were permitted to tarry, and the man who owned the cart and oxen said, he would


go home and return to us again, as soon as it was cleared up and done snowing. The storm lasted the whole of the succeeding day, but we were well housed, well fed, and good lodgings, which I, as well as my companions had not seen nor enjoyed before from the time we sailed from Philadelphia. The weather cleared up just before night of the second that we stopped, and on the next day we looked with expectation of our oxcart man to come to us, but we looked in vain, for he did not make his appearance and we had to hire the planter, at whose house we were, to send us on, which after much persuasion, and paying him double price out of our little stock of goods, for as to the money, he would not take it, although we had received it only a few days before, for goods sold on the beach, which I believe he had a share of from what I discovered while at his house, where his daughters were showing the articles that had been brought them by their father. It was at this house that I found the History of Blackbeard and read it. When I told them, that no better could be expected from such a race of beings, for they were in general at that time no better nor even so hospitable, as many of the savage tribes would be to men in


in similar distress. About midnight we started in an oxcart for Norfolk, my feet being so frosted, I could not get on a pair of shoes that I had made for me while detained by the snowstorm, so that of course I was not able to walk at any rate, nor was any of us much better, so that we were, before we reached Norfolk, which was just as the day broke, nearly stiff with the cold and confinement in the cart. Norfolk at this time was in a deplorable situation, scarcely any of’ the houses rebuilt from the time it was burnt January 1, 1776. We made out to get into the only tavern there was at that time in the place, and sold the landlord Mr. Smith a bag of coffee, which procured us a good reception while that lasted.
The Happy Return

Here we separated, the gunner and myself went over to Portsmouth side to take up our lodgings, which we were under the necessity of shifting three times during the time we stayed there, which was only about two weeks before we went to sea in a schooner called The Happy Return, commanded by William Cannon, the gunner as mate and myself as carpenter of the vessel, bound to Curracoa16. We had not been long at sea before the Captain and Mate disagreed, which made the passage out very unpleasant. We were several times chased, but always escaped by superior sailing, and arrived safe in the harbor of Curracoa,

where our Captain resided with his family, and as soon as the cargo was discharged the Mate and all the crew was discharged from the vessel, with the exception of one man and a boy beside myself. After we had refitted the vessel and took in a cargo, we sailed for Aux Cape, a port in Hispaniola17, where we also safe arrived, after being chased and fired at several times by strange vessels. After discharging our cargo, and taking in another of molasses, sugar, and coffee, we sailed for home, nothing material occurring on the passage, we made the land of Ocracoke in North Carolina , into which place we entered and anchored, inside in the roadstead*, obtained another pilot, to take us up through the marshes, where we kept on afterwards without any, passed Edenton and entered the mouth of the Chowan River, before we let go* our anchor from the time of leaving the bar* of Ocracoke. The Captain landed to pay a visit to the parson of the parish whose plantation was abreast of where we lay, and while with the parson, the people in the boat borrowed one of the parson’s lambs, the wind coming out fair, we pushed aboard the schooner with all speed as soon as the Captain got in the boat.

We had a long pull before we got along side the schooner, as the Captain, before he left the vessel to go on shore, desired the Mate, if the wind sprang up fair, to fire a gun and make sail and endeavor to get through Stumpy Beach before night. After getting alongside the people soon prepared the parson’s lamb for a sea pye, on which we fared sumptuously, being the first fresh meal we had, had for a long time. We drove the vessel with all speed while the wind lasted in our favor, after which we rode and warped* her all the way up the river Chowan night and day till we arrived at a small settlement called South Quay in Virginia where we discharged our cargo and was paid off, when the whole of the crew took the road for Norfolk and Portsmouth on foot, distance I think about fifty miles, at the later place of which. I stopped, with a view of going on to Philadelphia, but meeting with several Captains of my acquaintance from there, amongst whom was my old Captain Valance and Captain Alexander Cain, who both used their influence with me to stay with and superintend vessels they were getting built, the later of which I agreed with to go to Tanner’s Creek to give directions more particularly to the builder, how to build a round house on the brig he was building for Captain Cain. The builder, whose name was Lowry’s shipyard was six miles from Norfolk by land, and who agreed to give me the same wages he gave the best of his journeyman, and



The Renown

Captain Cain agreed to give me the same. After being at Tanner’s Creek about two weeks the round house and brig was so completed as to be ready for launching, which was attempted, and in doing which, she fell down and bildged her starboard side in, and filled with water as far as the tide flowed at high water. After a few days the brig was repaired where she was bildged, and got afloat, when I left Tanner’s Creek and the brig, although Captain Cain made me a fair offer to go in her with him, but I declined it, as she was a very indifferent built vessel, made out of pine timber, pine planks, and pine pegs, and to this the old prejudice, that a vessel would not have good luck that met with any accident in launching. I than was again fixed on going to Philadelphia but the owners of Schooner, Happy Return, in which I had sailed with Captain William Cannon one voyage, owned a part of, not the whole of, a ship of twenty guns named, The Renown, to go in her as carpenter to St. Eustatia , from there, they said the ship was bound to Philadelphia which induced me to ship on board. The ship then lay lading at Flowery Hundreds on the James River where the crew was sent to her from Norfolk and Portsmouth, where they were shipped under the command of Captain Elliott of Portsmouth. After arriving in Hampton Roads abreast of Newport News, Captain Elliott came on board and brought a Capt. Lewis with him who he said was to have the command of the ship,


which appeared to dissatisfy the crew very much, but after explanation the business appeared to be settled, but before we got under way to go to sea, a report prevailed that the ship was ordered to go to Suriname on the South American coast, where all flesh dies , in which the crew was so dissatisfied, that they, with all the petty officers except myself, refused to get up the anchors to go to sea, which took some time to appease them, for the owners of the ship was obliged to come down an board the ship themselves, before are the crew was satisfied the ship was not to go to Suriname. All things being now settled, the fleet, of which our ship carried the Commodore’s flag, only waited for a wind to get under way to go to sea. While laying in Road of a very calm day in the afternoon the Sergeant of marines filled his hat with powder from the magazine, and carried it on deck to fill the powder horns in the arm chest, which stood on the quarter deck; after unlocking, of it, in lifting up the lid, a strap on the underside of which caught a kock of one of the muskets, and lifted it up some distance when it, the musket, fell and fired it off set fire to the powder in the sergeant’s hat and blew him up, or rather blew him away from the chest, and set off several of the muskets, the fire immediately flew to the mizzen rigging ran up the mast and alarmed the crew so much, that several jumped overboard; the vessels at anchor alongside manned their boats and came to our assistance. Captain Lewis was dining out of the ship in one of the fleet,



came also alongside immediately, and the fire was got under without much damage. All things being again put in order we embraced the first wind to get under way for sea, which we did, and as soon as we appeared off the bars of Cape* Henry, we discovered a fleet of the British standing from the southward, with a view to attack us and cut us from the land. But our fleet immediately by signal, hove about, and stood in for Hampton Roads again, the British pursuing us with all the sail they could crowd. Off Lynnhaven Bay they overhauled us so fast that a new brig commanded by Capt. Brown of Portsmouth, was near falling into their possession, when our Captain Lewis, who was Commodore of our fleet, proposed to our ship officers, and crew to put about and attack their head most ship, which appeared to be our size, and weight of metal, which was agreed to cheerfully, and the ship put about, stood back, hailed Captain Brown as we passed by him and desired him to persevere and stand on, as he was then in act of putting his brig on the beach to avoid being taken, he did so, and we stood for the enemy, and was alongside of their head most ship in a few

few minutes, gave her a broadside, and then passed under her stern, raked her as we crossed her, and came abreast of her again when we gave her the second broadside before they were prepared to return it. What damage we did to the enemy we never heard of, but heard much noise and confusion (on) board as we passed her. By this time the brig with the rest of the fleet was considerable ahead of the enemy and we pressed all sail we could we soon came up with them and the enemy finding they could not overtake us, gave out the chase. The whole of our fleet anchored abreast of Newport’s News that night, but the next day Captain Lewis thought proper to get the fleet underway, and stood up the river as far as James* Island, where the fleet again anchored and remained for several days, filling our water up etc. when the fleet again came down to the Roads, again to our old anchoring grounds, where we lay for several days more before we made another attempt to go to sea, which, when we did several owners of the fleet were on board of our ship and the ship America of our size and force, which also belonged to Portsmouth,

when we got underway again for sea, and continued on board until the Pilots left us. As we saw none of the enemy in sight, it then being near sundown the whole of our fleet put to sea and stood to the eastward, by which means we expected to pass those vessels of the enemy, which we were confident was on the lookout for us. But about 12 o’clock at night all hands being at our quarters we, the head most ship fell in with them and we passed just to windward and fired our broad side into them as we passed each other, in a minute, as it were, looking astern the fire commenced from all the vessels on both sides that had guns, and they, the best off that could sail fastest. After scattering the small fry astern, the large ships pursued after us, and continued the chase the whole of the next day till night. They took the new brig Captain Brown, not far astern of our ship and the frigate that took her, many times appeared as if she would be alongside of us before we caught the breeze that brought her up. Many a

timid Captain would have struck to her had they been in our situation. But Capt. Lewis was brave, and encouraged the crew who worked the sweeps in the cabin, which saves us from being taken at that time. About six or seven of the fleet were together at this time and continued so till we made Island of St. Martins in the West Indies. On our passage we were becalmed for, six or seven days in the calm latitude at which time were carried away our foremost tressel trees which gave me as Carpenter of the ship a job to secure them, though I had plenty of assistance besides the carpenter’s mate there were several young men carpenters who had enlisted as landsmen on board to get clear of their draft in the militia on shore, which poor fellows got out of the frying pan into the fire as the saying is, as will appear hereafter. While in Hampton Roads heaving up the first time we attempted to go to sea we twisted off the neck of our capstan and on James Island I felled a white oak tree and got out a new barrel into the sixteen square to make a new one of when we arrived in the West Indies. Immediately on our making the land in the West Indies, we saw a small schooner which stood off from the land as if she appeared to fear us, but our Capt. Lewis observed she wanted to deceive us by drawing us from land, before we came up with the passage between St. Martins and St. Bartholomew.


Our Captains idea was correct, for by the time we opened the passage, we saw two frigates endeavoring to cut us off, but we entered the passage, also and gave chase it being then near sundown. Then pursued with all the sail they could crowd, and came so near us at times before our ship caught the breeze as to fire three shots from their bow guns ahead of us. Our first officer proving deficient of courage wanted Capt. Lewis to give up to the enemy but the firmness of Capt. Lewis was such that he gave him for answer before he would do that he would put the ship on shore among the rocks and take chance for our lives to get on shore this I heard being on the quarterdeck at the time. When I spoke to the sailing master Mr. Snow and informed him our boatswain was a good pilot and could carry our ship in the harbor of Great Bay in St. Martins night or day which information he conveyed to the Captain. Immediately when the Boatswain Mr. Christey was sent for, and on interrogating of him of my report, to which he answered in the affirmative, he was desired to take charge as Pilot, and he ran us close to the reef


reef of rocks of the mouth of the harbor of Great Bay, as to run the frigate on it, which he told Captain Lewis he could do before he was ordered to take charge as Pilot. This was as late as between eight and nine of clock at night when in an instant all was confusion on board the frigate, but it appeared she soon got off again, which she must have accomplished by heaving over some of her weighty articles. As soon as we came to anchor, five sail of us which was all that arrived there out of the whole fleet we, that is our Captain, sent on shore a letter to the Governer of the Island, informing him who we were and that we had put in for protection. He answered the letter immediately and said the island and fort were in a very feeble state for protection, but that all the assistance in his power he would give, and desired us to do what we could towards protectioing ourselves. All was quiet through the night although all hands were kept to their quarters on the lookout for the enemy and at sunrise we fired a gun without shot for a signal for our vessels to hoist their colors as we had observed as soon as daylight appeared, a frigate off the mouth of the harbor distance from us about one mile which as soon as our gun


was fired for the signal to hoist our colors, brought her broadside to bear, and fired a shot directly amongst us into the harbor, when our Captain immediately ordered a spring* put on our cable and requested the ship America, which was with us to do the same; and while we were employed getting on the springs and bringing our broadside to bear on the frigate, he made sail and left us. The America was side and side alongside of us all the way coming through the passage, and was within hail of us when Captain Lewis told him we were going into Great Bay, and requested him to keep company which he did. There were two frigates in chase when we first entered the bay but one gave up the chase or her attention was taken off for one or two small vessels that hauled their wind and left us and afterwards we heard they got safe into St Eustatuis as we heard. Our Captain immediately went down to St. Eustatius as soon as the British frigate sailed and returned in a short time, say the


next day or day after, and we began to discharge our cargo, which consisted of tobacco as did the other vessels that were with (us.) Our Captain had, he said, ordered up heavy anchors and cables up form St. Eustatius to assist to ride out the hurricanes with, should they commence before we were ready to sail, it being then the first week in August 1780. I was directed by the Captain to make new tressel trees for the fore mast, and went on shore to see to purchase the wood to make them of, but could not find in all the place sufficient for them, when I had to take the piece intended for the capstan barrel on shore, and to have it sawed up to make them of, in doing which I had my mate and three more carpenters on shore to make dispatch. The cargo was discharging in canoes, and the fore mast entirely stripped of all its rigging, so as to be ready for the new tressel trees, when several vessels of war appeared off the harbor. Our colors and those of all the American vessels were immediately hoisted, and as soon as those vessels were discovered to be coming to the harbor. It was thought by the officers on board our vessels, that (they) were coming in for the express purpose of taking the foreigners our of our vessels, of which there was a number of seamen of them on board, by which means they were immediately ordered into the boats and got on shore.

But to the surprise of our officers on board a 64 gun ship commanded by Captain Robinson laid* close alongside our ship, or rather between both our ships, and ordered the colors hauled down which very much surprised our Captain, and all the rest of the commanders, officers and crew of our vessels that were on shore, to see our flags hauled down in a neutral harbor. The enemy’s boats soon came on shore and Capt. Robinson of the 64 informed the Governor, if a single shot was fired from the fort he would blow the town down, which prevented any resistance being made, for our Captain has mustered the whole of us that was on shore, and had obtained the Governors consent to go into the fort, when Robinson, no doubt was informed of it, and his threat prevented it, for our Captain was very desirous told one shot if* we could get to do it would be sufficient, to create a Dutch war, and then we would have more assistance. But we did not succeed and was obliged to flee into the country to avoid being taken, as a number of marines were in the act of coming on shore to take us prisoners. In the afternoon about 5 o’clock, at the distance of three or four miles from the


town of St. Martins, we halted, not knowing which way to go for security, there might have been in our company between twenty or thirty when we halted. A fine house and an elegant plantation stood some distance from the road against where we halted, and a servant man came to inquire who we were. When our story was related to him, he again returned and said his master desired us to come up to the house and get same refreshment which we all very soon agreed to accept of and walked up the lane to the house, where being met by the gentleman, and after hearing our story, ordered dinner set for us under the arbor before the side of his house. He was particular in his enquiries and finding I was a Philadelphian asked me a number (of) questions after sundry persons there, which answering to his satisfaction, he desired me to call all my messmates, and those I wished one side, and he ordered a table set in the house for us, and gave us everything comfortable to eat and drink, and after being refreshed, the people were like a fish out of water, not knowing what to do, when I was called a* one side and told that this gentleman was the governor of Anguilla (a small British Island) son, and that the suspicion was we would, if we stayed


there, that at night we would be taken, although I could not believe it would be the case. Yet to be on the safe side, I proposed to Justin Morris, a trusty seaman who had sailed with me from the time of my leaving Philadelphia to that time, to take our departure for a small town called Simson’s Bay, where I expected to find a man I was acquainted with. We set off like pilgrims without money or anything else to recommend* us but it pleased God to give us hearts to persevere and he alone protected us, and turned the hearts of strangers towards us. We arrived at Simson’s Bay after night, say 8 or 9 o’clock, heard fiddling and dancing, went in but found the house full of British privateersmen, it being a neutral port, belonging to the Dutch, also for a part of the island belonged to the French Government then we, that is Morris and myself, soon made our escape out of this house, and roving about, found a light in a small hut, where we supposed we might get admittance, knocked and the inquiry was made, “Who’s there”‘? reply “Friends” when


after interrogation, we were admitted and permitted to sleep in his cabin till morning, when he gave us a breakfast such as he had, and we departed again for Great Bay without finding the man I expected. After arriving in sight of the harbor, we took a situation on a mountain that overlooked the whole harbor, and there rested our weary limbs until two or three o’ clock in the afternoon when the man of war weighed anchor end took the whole of the American vessels off with them, and after we had seen them safe out of the harbor, we ventured into town again, destitute of money or friends, and that night went supper less to sleep. Next day we made arrangements with a colored woman to take as many of us in as she could stow away and fed us on the best she could get for us. Our bread was made of cassada17, but in a few days we were paid by our Captain one half the advanced money we were entitled to receive, in which he acted the part of a humane man and gentleman this enabled us to live better, and cheer the heart of our landlady.

Plans were now suggested by many of us, what was best to be done. Capt. Lewis sent for me to his lodgings and informed me, he had hopes of buying the ship, and expected to return to Virginia in her and wished me to go with him, and in order to induce me to consent to wait until he knew further on the subject, paid me the half of the amount of my hoghead18 of tobacco, which I had as an adventure, and which was sold with the cargo. I did not promise him I would, nor did I say positively I would not wait, but informed him I going down to St. Eustatius, where he could hear from me if he succeeded. About thirty of us took a passage in a small schooner and left St. Martins about four o`clock in the afternoon, day nor date not now recollected, expected to be at St. Eustatius before 9 o` clock same night. But owing to neglect of the master of the vessel not attending to his business, the negro man at the helm steered a wrong course and the vessel fell to leeward of the island which took us all the next day to beat up to the roads, and just before we got to the island, a cutter sloop armed and manned as a vessel of war came down alongside of us, and ordered us after hailing us, to send our boat on board them, which was immediately done, with the papers of the vessel, and the boat returned full of armed men, took possession of us as a prize, we, the passengers, remonstrated against (it), and argued we were passengers on board


a neutral vessel, but it availed nothing. I was ordered with five more into the boat, which was as many as she could carry conveniently at one time. After leaving our vessel, the cutter saw a another sail coming into port and instantly made sail after her, expecting we would be alongside by the time they had sail on their vessel. But the moment they began to make sail, we slack padling our canoe for that was the sort of boat we had, in hopes she would leave us, for their men was all on board of our vessel that boarded us in our own boat, and we had hopes of getting safe into St. Eustatius with the canoe. But the cutler perceiving it, hailed us, and threatened to fire into us if we did not get alongside of them immediately. They let run their main sail, and we were compelled to go on board. They again manned their canoe and sent her back to our vessel, and then made sail, but the vessel they gave chase to, got in under the guns of the fort before they could cut her off from the land. Night then came on and we were ordered below, but previous to that being done, they informed us they were a British privateer just going on a four month’s cruise and wanted men, and offered us four sovereigns a piece to enter on their books for the cruise, which was objected to by all of us. After which one of her petty officers found out through a young lad that was with us that


every one of us had money, which they attempted to get from us, which as soon as I discovered it, I immediately told our people to go aft with me to the Commander, which they did. When I gave him up my money, somewhere about eight or nine sovereigns in gold, the rest followed me and it was put into his trunk. Then the petty officers forward were very angry and insisted on our being put below which was done after considerable desultory conversation took place. About midnight an officer came below, and said they were nearly alongside of a large ship which they had given chase to, and that if we would come on deck and assist to take her, we should share in the prize money, and be set on shore and not made prisoners of. All which was rejected, however they fired into the ship, when she answered they had no intention of resistance, her boat was ordered on board the cutter, and the men put down the hold on the stone ballast with us. They said they were Hollanders and that the English must be drunk to take them when their papers were so clear. They put a prize master and crew on board the ship, and ordered her for St. Kitts, which we were then abreast of, as I understood, but just as the day dawned, those men, Dutchmen, were taken on deck, and as I afterwards understood, were put again in possession of their ship and allowed to

proceed on their voyage. At sunrise we were permitted to come on deck, when I observed we were standing in for the land, and inquiring what land it was, was told it was St. (Eu)statius*. (I) asked, why we stood in so close, answered by the boatswain that they were standing in to get their Captain on board, that they left him and the doctor, and boat crew ashore, when they saw us boating* up, and that they slipped their cable and went out to take us, expecting every minute their Captain would be off to them. We stood in near to a fort, and the Captain came on board, for as soon as the boat was discovered, the cutter was hove too, to wait for him. Immediately on his coming on board, he ordered sail to be made, but at that instant the fort fired on us so hot and heavy, they were obliged to desist* from making sail, and the Captain went on shore to the fort where the boat returned without him, and the vessel, the cutter, ordered in to the roads immediately, and as soon as we had come to anchor, our doctor of our ship, who was passenger on board the schooner we was taken out of, came on board the cutter, and informed me he had prevailed on the prize master, to let him have the schooner’s canoe, and some negro passengers to go on shore , that he could retain the whole of his trunks and baggage for security, as he was himself then on his return to England, having been made prisoner by the Americans and taken to Virginia, from where he had taken passage in


our ship the Renown, and Captain Robison, who commanded the fleet that cut us out of St. Martins, had permitted him to take all his property on shore at St. Martins, in which the Doctor claimed Capt. Lewis’ trunks also as his own and by that means saved them for Capt. Lewis, who was on shore when the ship was taken. The captain of the cutter also came on board under guard of an officer of the fort, and our money all given up by the Lieutenant, whose hands we put it into, and many apologies made for taking us. But* the instant the Doctor got on shore, he informed the proper authority at (Eu)statius* who made diligent search for the Captain of the cutter, but he evaded them by staying on board an English ship in the outer roads all night, but the guns of the fort at Gallows Bay did the business for using the morning. I remained at St Eustatius, in the town, several days and heard nothing from Capt. Lewis. Our people separated, some one way, some another. I worked my passage home on board the brig Trooper of Philadelphia. Samuel Howel, Jr. commander, received two sovereigns from him for it, and purchased

myself a suit of clothes, first rate, which cost me 48 pieces of eight, and after paying other expenses, came home after an absence of ten months, and after being once cast away, once cut out, and once taken prisoner, and one safe voyage, in the time without anything but the few clothes on my back and in my trunk. Thus ended my sea faring life to the present, which was about the last of September 1780.


When I again applied myself to work, and endeavored to improve every opportunity of getting my trade perfect, which I had very little opportunity of doing, as so little steady business was to be had, owing to the fluctuating circumstances of the war. On the 12th of December 1780 I entered on the state of matrimony with one I held more dear than life itself. And although at day’s work I never despaired of some future day, to be at the head of my business. In the fall of 1781 proposals were made to me by Mr. John Harrison to be connected in business, which I accepted of, and the business commenced by building a fast sailing schooner for Dawson and Strong, formerly Delaware pilots. The vessel was taken notice of, which had a tendency to assist us in our occupation, did considerable of old work , put a large sharp vessel


on the stocks in 1782 on our own account, got her on in a considerable state of forwardness, was offered what I considered a living price for her, but it not being the highest price then given, my partner would not consent to the sail of her, continued working on her, till the peace took place, when we could not sell her for as much money as would finish her, was compelled to rip her down, and convert the timber plank etc. to the best use we could. The peace being finally established full vessels were only wanted, and the price for building them was so low, that I again relinquished my title of master builder, dissolved the partnership, and again took up the tools. But it was but of short duration before another proposal of partnership was made to me by Mr. Payne Newman, a shipsmith, and a man who was supposed to be rich and could command as much money as might be wanted to carry the business on. Commence at Point Pleasant northern liberties


with a schooner, contracted for with McCullock & Peterson, lumber merchants, proved a very unprofitable contract. Next a ship of three hundred tons for Collins & Truxton & Co. and then built a brig for a Charleston packet, all which was principally done in the winter of 1783 from which proved a cold and severe winter, journeyman’s wages two dollars a day, and materials in proportion to the wages. The vessel contracted* for at twenty dollars per ton, made our losses very great, and in July 1784 the partnership dissolved, and I was left without employment for myself and three apprentices. Had an offer made me to settle in Maryland near Chester Town, to occupy a shipyard there, went to see it, but did not like it, and returned without coming to any positive determination, but it was left optional with me the terms were made, if I chose to accept them. Had an offer made me on my return home, to go to Mount Holly in New Jersey to finish a brig then on the stocks, building for Mr. Anthony Butler which I accepted of by the day, for myself and three apprentices. In a few days after being there, I concluded to move my family there which I accomplished last August

August 1784. I continued after finishing the brig to follow my occupation there, as no better prospect offered, built and repaired a number of vessels, one a brig of sixteen hundred barrels burden. Had two sons born while I resided at Mount Holly, Charles, the oldest departed this life when between two and three years of age. Francis was born May 20, 1778, and the last of June 1790, I moved my family the city of Burlington, and there carried on my business built several ships, brigs, etc. and did considerable of odd work. Had two sons born while I resided there, to wit, George Washington and another we named Charles. In May 1794, I removed my family to Philadelphia, to the spot I had formerly removed from 1784 but with a considerable increase of children, and apprentices, and commenced immediately at repairing of old vessels, of which I had my share of business to do, and ought to have been a thousand times more thankful to Almighty God for his favors than, I confess with shame, that I have.


Valley Forge

* I must here remark that as soon as we had the first flat or round foothooked scow completed and launched, it was on a Saturday there was an immense number of wagons, cattle, etc. etc. waiting to cross the river to proceed on to our army, and the master ferryman very much drove, that he came up to our quarters and solicited the workmen of which I was one, as a favor to take a load of cattle over, which with the request of our Commander, Capt. Richard Salter, we, the company cheerfully undertook, and carried over to the best of my memory, forty head and landed them on the east side of the river in safety; and when we returned to the west side where we quartered, just above the ferry house, we found another drove of cattle ready to go in the boat, we remonstrated against the drovers driving them into the boat, as were not again going over with the flat, But it was on their part insisted on and on ours as firmly resisted, we observed to them what we had done, was a voluntary act of ours, to assist to get the cattle to the army, and that it then rained, and we were fatigued. We returned to our quarters, and they drove the cattle out of the boat again,


again and we heard no more of the business till the next morning, being Sabbath day we were most of us engaged putting on clean clothes, etc etc. when about nine o dock an officer rode up to our quarters and hailed the house, the eldest man amongst us went to the door, when the first salutation from the officer was, “Do you belong to the cow boats? ” The only* man Joseph Robbinet replied ,”I don’t understand.” He then asked if we did not take some cattle across the river yesterday, to which he was answered, “Yes,” “Then why are you not at work ferrying them over now?” “Because,” replied Robbinet, “it is not our business.” “0”, replies the officer, “I will make it your business,” and immediately drew a pistol from his holster, and swore if we did not turn out immediately, he would fire into us. Robbinet immediately stepped into the room, picked up a musket and presented it, and replied to him to fire away as soon as he pleased, but he chose to turn his horse and immediately rode off. In a few minutes afterwards we heard a pistol go off, and concluded at once he must have fired on our Captain Salter, when all hands that were in the room immediately ran towards the Captain’s quarters, which were in a small stone building adjoining the ferry house. We had only a musket and French fussee, was all the arms we had in our possession,


which we took down with us, but by the time we had arrived at the ferry, our Captain and two of our men were surrounded by a body of armed soldiers, and made prisoners. Our Captain being more prudent than we were, desired us not to attempt at any harsh means to rescue them for the officer must be either a fool or a madman, for he rode from our quarters immediately down to the house Captain. Salter occupied, which consisted of only one room, rode up to the door


and asked, if the Captain of the cow boats lived there, to which Capt. Salter answered, “No, Why who are you?” replied the officer. “I am a gentleman”, said Salter. “Come out here”, said the officer sitting on his horse. “When you address me as a gentleman”, replied Capt. Salter, “I will answer you”. He then immediately drew his pistol and fired at him, as he was sitting on the bedside with one of his children either in his arms, or alongside of him. At this length of time I will not say positive which, but the ball entered the wall just over his head at the back side of his bed, his wife and child all in the room at the time. Captain Salter immediately took down his sword, the only weapon he had, and was passing out of the door to pursue the officer when he was immediately seized by several soldiers, who were on each side of the door outside waiting for the
purpose of securing him. Capt. Salter ordered me to take the boat and four men and cross the river to inform Major Benjamin Eyre whose quarters were on that side of the Susquehanna, and request him to come over immediately, which I did, as it was agreed that a truce should take place till the Major came and while I waited for the Major to get ready I ran to the quarters of the carpenters that were on that side, and gave the alarm. But before I got there, many of them had gone out to the neighboring farms, but all that I could find I requested to come over and help us. Major Eyre desired me to return, and he would follow in the scow with his horse. We filled the two boats that carried about ten or twelve people each, which boats we had built, for our own use, and for dispatch. When the freshets ran so rapid that you could cross in nothing else which often happened in the spring of the year. As soon as the officer perceived the boats coming full of men, he broke his word of honor, if ever had any, and ordered his men to seize on those men who had the arms, which they immediately did and set off for York Town with

the haste they could, which we were informed of, as soon as we landed. We all then assembled at our quarters and took some refreshment, and set off with a determination to go to York Town, which was eleven miles off, and state our grievances to Congress, and determined fully on quitting the service, as we were employed by the day only. We took up our line of march in a civil way, without arms or bludgeons of any kind. The number I cannot say but between twenty (or) thirty of us. After we had traveled near two miles, we were met by a file of soldiers with a sergeant or corporal with them, who said we must not proceed any farther. The roads were very muddy, for it was in the last of March or beginning of April at the breaking up of the frost, and our people were, some an one side of the road and some on the other, picking their way; but as soon as this took place*, we all crossed to one side, and insisted on going forward. The officer, that is the sergeant or
corporal said he had positive orders not to let us proceed and he hoped we would not compel him to use harsh means. At that moment we spied the officer on, horseback riding towards us, full speed and crying to his men to fire away, “Shoot the damned rascals!”


I must here observe, at the ferry before I went over the river for Major Eyre, I talked to this officer and told him what I thought of him very plainly, and as I was one that was in front on the line of march, and insisted on going forward, he jumped off his horse, with his sword drawn, made a stroke at me, exclaiming, ” You are the damned saucy rascal that went over the river after your people.” I seized his sword with one hand and his collar with the other and was in the act of choking him, when a soldier came up, clubbed his musket and knocked me down, supposed for dead as he broke the cock* of his musket in doing it, at the same time the officer drew his sword through my hand, the work of massacre then began, the old man, Robbinet, was bayoneted in two places, and Elisha Bloomfield very dangerously, all close to where I lay supposed for dead, the officer persisting in ordering his men to fire at those which were making their escape, one only received a rifle ball through his hand edgeways as it were. The rear of his men as they came up, passed Robbinet, Bloomfield, and myself, which were all lay bleeding, supposed we were dead, and therefore


passed on. All of our men who stood were made prisoners and many that were in the act of running stopped, when they found the balls came so close, we were then all collected. Bloomfield was so bad as to be put on a horse to ride to the next house on the road, where he and two more were left until a doctor was sent from York Town to dress their wounds. Those who were able to walk were compelled to march on and looked more like criminals than citizens. Just as we were all collected, Major Eyre passed us, advised us to try to try to keep our spirits till he got to York Town, had nothing to say to the officer whatever. We were accordingly marched as prisoners to York Town. It was late in the afternoon when we arrived there and were marched through the main street as far as Col. Hartly’s door, when he came immediately to us, and apologized for the situation we were in, said it originated entirely from wrong representations being made to him. Lodgings were immediately hunted up for us, and considerable attention paid to us to make up for the treatment we had received, as were determined to a man to quit the service. Congress set at this time at York Town, and much agitation took place on account of us and a

Court of Inquiry was called to know how the matter originated in which it appeared that the master drovers, who had charge of the cattle, when they found we absolutely refused to carry any more over the river, rode to York Town, and represented us as Torys that we positively refused to take the cattle over after they drove them in the boat. The
Colonel like most other men in military command, sent off the officer, who was quite young, and quite as imprudent as his commander, to take a sufficient number of troops, the number I do not recollect to compel us to immediately take over the cattle or bring us prisoners to York Town, which in the narrative the reader will perceive was done. The Court soon seen the error Col. Hartley had committed in not making the proper inquiry at the first place and in the second to send so young an officer, who did not appear to be of age. I understood after we got to York Town, he was a Lieutenant in the Maryland line, by the name of Carberry He, I believe got promoted afterwards in serving under Gen. Sulivan against the Indians to a lieutenant in the Horse. However to finish the business at York Town the Court of Inquiry acquitted us of all censure, and asked of us to try to look over the insult



that we had received, that every atonement should be made to us that was in the power of Congress to do , that Col. Hartley always been esteemed a good officer, and that if we insisted on his being tried for the orders he gave to Lieut. Carberry, he must be broke, and Carberry could not be touched except by Civil Law, as he had done only what he had in orders from his superior officer, that we were all engaged in one cause which at that time was a very critical one, and our leaving the service might be attended with fatal consequences to our leaving the service might be attended with fatal consequences to our army, which stood in need of supplies that could not be conveniently got to them in any other way than crossing the Suscquehannah, as the country between that and the ocean had been nearly cleared of provisions for man and beast and that without boats to cross the river there could be no calculation of the evil that might arise from it before other men could be collected to complete the boats that were then nearly ready to be launched, that every hour’s delay was dangerous in the critical situatiation our troops at The Valley Forge were in, for want of provisions and every other necessary. After things being explained to our people this way for all hangs came up the next day Monday, to York Town determined on quitting if prompt satisfaction was not made for the injury done, however after the sundry exhortations and fair promises to see

that we were not insulted in future, we agreed to return to our quarters at Wright’s Ferry on the Susquehannah, the place where the town of Columbia now stands and finish and complete the work we had began and never afterwards were molested while we continued there, which was from about the middle of April I think to the first of June 1778.

Notes: The paper is written as a single narrative, and is very sparse in punctuation, capitalization, paragraphs as was the way at that time. All the words are accurate, except perhaps a few, and in correct order. The symbol * was placed at hard to read words. Parts of the original letter are now extremely fragile, faint, and very hard to read. The section titles are not orgional and added as part of this transcription. The pagination is difficult to recover, many of the pages are numbered by the author, some numbered by others, the orgional at HSP is out of order in some ways, and some pages are missed and others so degraded the paper is missing where the number would be There seem to be 2 or 3 pages missing, approximately 33, 42 and/ or 43. I followed the original pagination, and have approximate page numbers in parenthises. A further remark on the Valley Forge was added onto the back of the letter as in the orgional. A few words not in the original were added in brackets for clearity. Underlining is as in the original.
1. Naamams Creek possably Neshaminy creek today
2. The Philadelphia Navy Yard: from the birth of the U.S. Navy to the nuclear age By Jeffery M. Dorwart, Jean K. Wolf page 14
For a time, master shipwritht Francis Grice Jr, (whose Grandson Issac became a Chief Navel construtor for the US Navy) …Grice and Wharton had learned the shipbuilding trade from Richard Dennis, whose warf lay between the drumbling Association Battery and Old Swedes Church. In late 1773 Warton Bought out Grice’s share of the business and gave it to the younger Humphreys, his cousin…

3. Bohemia is Chesapeake City, Maryland or old Bohemia

4. Thomas Mifflin (January 10, 1744 – January 20, 1800) was an American merchant and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly, a Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania, President of the Continental Congress, and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. He served as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, President of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council and the first Governor of Pennsylvania.

5. William Cunningham, British Provost Marshal in New York- He is reported to have made a deathbed confession to starving 2,000 prisoners in the city as he sold their alloted rations for personal profit. He confessed to exceuting outright 275 American prisoners and “other obnoxious persons.” It is said that the Provost Marshal, William Cunningham, destroyed his books, in order to leave no written record of his crimes.
6. Thomas McKean (March 19, 1734 – June 24, 1817) During the American Revolution he was a delegate to the Continental Congress where he signed the United States Declaration of Independence and served as a President of Congress. He was at various times a member of the Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties, who served as President of Delaware, Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, and Governor of Pennsylvania. Also second governer of Delaware.

7. Frigate Effingham Effingham, 36 guns. the port of Philadelphia was taken by the British requiring the scuttling of the not yet complete Effingham

8. Second battle of Trenton

9. Battle of the Assunpink Creek

10. Battle of Princeton

11. the Hudson River

13. Captain Richard Salter 131780 – 2nd BATTALIONSouth Ward, Middle Ward

14. Newport
15. battle of Battle of Rhode Island

16. st estusis

16 Curacoa,Netherland Antilles

17 now Les Cayes, Haiti


6 (may apply to this ship) General Greene was a State ship commissioned to overtake Tory privateer vessels, patrolling the waters near Philadelphia. It launched in 1779. (Industry also)
[Note:A move against New York, should the British move, as Washington suspected, against Philadelphia. By Washington’s orders Hamilton wrote to Capt. Francis Grice, Assistant Deputy Quartermaster General (May 30) ordering the removal of all the boats in the Delaware from Trenton up to Coryell’s. ]


10.[Battle of]

9[battle of the Assunpink Creek



1. Original letter, Joseph Grice file, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Society Miscellaneous Collections

2. The Portrait of Joseph Grice passed down through the Family

3. Daughters of the American Revolution magazine, Volume 35, Miss Virginia S. Staples, of Portsmouth pp 1074-1077 AMERICAN MONTHLY MAGAZINE Vol XXXV. Washington, D.C. November 1909. No 5

4. “The Good Ship Renown, and the Rest of the Fleet” The Virginia Historical Register, and Literary Companion, Volume 6, January 1853 No. 1 page 162-166 edited by William Maxwell, Virginia Historical Society. (thank Charles A. Grice, Esq. of Portsmouth for loan of manuscript copy of a Memoir of his father)

5. File “Photographs and Notes of Susan” (Bradley), Grice Family papers, 2433-ad and ae, Cocke and related Family Papers, ca 1773-1992, box 35, University of Virginia Library, Special Collections, Alderman Library University, Charlottesville, Va (diary was lent to Miss Staples by Mrs. Susan H. Bradley of Washington D.C. about 1901)

6. “The Old Letters” 19 Letters from 1810 to 1862 passed down through the family.


2 thoughts on “Joseph Grice

  1. Charles Lee Grice

    Hi kkt

    I hope that you are still there…..

    I have my ancestry tracked to a Joseph Grice from Pennsylvania, born in 1768. I am working on a theory that Joseph’s grandfather may be connected. How can I get access to the “Old Letters” or the Grice family papers/


    Chuck Grice
    via PS, Leesburg, OH, Chillicothe, OH, Portsmouth, OH, West Portsmouth, Chicago!!!

  2. Elizabeth Gildersleeve

    Thank you! I am a descendant of Joseph through my mother. (Joseph-Charles A-Samuel Davis-Francis Marion-Frank McMullan- to my grandfather Francis Marion). I have seen the memoir previously but had no idea that his likeness had been captured. I can see bits of him in some photos of my grandfather.

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