<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0622

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Marine Committee
Recipient: Nicholas Biddle


Your letter of the 14th instant is the only one we have received since the
misfortune of carrying away your masts or indeed since you left the
Capes of Delaware so that we are strangers to the cause and manner of
that unfortunate accident, if you wrote us any previous Letter it never
reached our hands. We observe with infinite concern that your people
have been and remain Sickly-this has happened in so many of our Ships
that we cannot help attributing it to some cause that may with proper
care & attention be removed. You should therefore insist that your
officers do frequenly see the Ship thoroughly and perfectly cleansed,
aloft and below from Stem to Stern, burn Powder and wash with vinigar
betwixt Decks order Hammocks, all bedding, bed Cloths and Body Cloaths
daily into the quarters or to be aired on Deck, make the people keep
their persons cleanly and use exercise – give them as frequent changes of
wholesome food as you can, Fish when you can get it and fresh food in
Port. Ventilate the Hold and between Decks constantly. In short
cleanliness, exercise, fresh air and wholesome food will restore or
preserve health more than medicine and it is deserving the utmost
attention of any or every officer to preserve the Health & Spirits
of the men. If he does not do it he never can make a figure but
performing this there is nothing he may not accomplish be his ambition
ever so great. We expect the Randolph will be fitted and ready for Sea
by the time that this reaches you, and it is sent by Express that it
may not arrive too late, you are then to follow these Instructions, as
we hereby revoke those given you by Mr. Morris on our
behalf.1 You are to receive from the
Continental Agents at Charles Town, any quantity of Casks or Packages
of Merchandize that they may have to ship on the public account and
take them on board the Randolph. It is not meant by this that they will
ship more than you can conveniently take in, or so much as to make the
ship deep, or in any degree interfere with the duty or business of a
Ship of war. Perhaps 50, 60 or 70 Casks of Indico may be the extent,
and at the same time that we avoid as much as possible incommoding the
ship, we recommend accommodating the Public service all in your power.
It is absolutely necessary that we make immediate Remittances to our
Agent at Cape Francois in the Island of Hispaniola as his Credit is
nearly ruined there for want of them, and ours has greatly suffered by
having three Vessels laded here intended for his relief blocked up by
the enemy a long time & no likelyhood of their getting away. You
will therefore consult with the Agents and receive from them as much of
the goods as they have to Ship as you possibly can without injuring the
fighting or Sailing of the Ship. It is not only necessary to make these
Remittances but to make them speedily, and therefore we expect your
utmost endeavours will be used to get away with the goods immediately.

The Agents will be ordered to Load one or more Vessels if possible and send
along with you to the Cape; you are to receive them under your Convoy
and give them proper Signals and Sailing orders and then proceed with
them direct for the said Port of Cape Francois useing your utmost
endeavours to keep Company and carry them safe into that Port where you
will apply to Mr Stephen Ceronio our Agent, whom you will probably find
in a good deal of distress which your safe arrival will relieve him
from. To this Gentleman you are to deliver the goods shipped by the
Agents at Carolina and to him the other Ships will be consigned. He
will procure for you any necessarys wanted there and will attend you in
a Vissit to the Governor, Intendent and proper officers of whom you
will ask the liberty and protection of the Port and pay the proper
Compliments on behalf of the States you serve. We have advice that the
American Trade to and from Hispaniola is nearly destroyed by the
Cruizers from Jamaica consisting of two Frigates, Two Brigantines, Two
14 Gun Sloops and 4 or 5 small schooners and it will be a work of great
merit to take and destroy such of these plunderers as your force will
enable you to Cope with; and that we judge may be either of the
Frigates separately, or all the others in any Shape. Going with your
Convoy and goods on board it will be prudent to avoid large Vessels,
but when you have delivered the goods at the Cape, we desire you may
not loose an Hours Time in that Port, take in any fresh provisions or
stores you want and immediately go out on a Cruize against these
enemies of our Peace, Happiness and Prosperity. The Randolph by all
accounts comes to our ears has the Heels of most ships that
swim-therefore if the Frigates Cruize together you can avoid them, if
you meet either single we hope you can & will take them but
particularly exert your utmost diligence and endeavours, to take, sink
or destroy all the small Cruizers of our enemies that infest that
Coast, and after driveing them from the Cape go down to the Mole St.
Nicholas and clear that Coast of them as America has much valuable
Commerce there. Any American Traders that may be ready to sail when you
leave these Ports convoy them safe off, and meeting any bound in you
will contribute what you can to their safety. Mr. John Dupuy at the
Mole will supply you with what may be wanting there. The Ship or two
Ships that go under your Convoy from Carolina, as also a Brigantine
Anne, Captain Garrigues, and Sloop Phoebe, Captain Gilbert, will have
to sail from thence to America soon after your arrival there wherefore
you will fix with Mr. Ceronio the time when they will [be] ready to
depart and return from your first Cruize at that time on purpose to
Convoy them out and off that Coast as they will have stores on board
for the Continental service. You will procure at every Port you go into
and from every Prize you make as many Seamen as possible to enter our
service. We hope you will have the good fortune to take many Prizes
& amongst them a Number of those Cruizers that have been fitted out
against us. You may send your Prizes into the Cape or Mole consigned to
Mr Ceronio, or Mr Dupuy, who will make sale of them to the best
advantage if permitted by the Government there as is done in other
French Ports both in Europe and the West Indies; or you may send them
to the Continent to the first safe Port they can make. But should you
take any fast sailing Vessel with Guns and Stores suitable and can
spare officers and men for her you may employ one or more such as
Tenders to Cruize in Concert with you, giving the Commanding officer a
Copy of your Commission and suitable Instructions; and we hope by this
means you will be able not only to Clear Hispaniola of Cruizers but
also to retaliate the injuries they have done us, on the Trade of
Jamaica; and for this purpose you should get Mr. Dupuy or some other
Person to employ a proper person in Jamaica or to send one on purpose
to send up accounts regularly to the Mole of the Times when single
ships or fleets are ready to sail and the Convoys intended to gaurd
them. Such intelligence will be very useful to you on many accounts and
on every occasion. You may employ the Randolph in the manner already
pointed out to the 10th of July next, when you are [to] open the Sealed
Instructions inclosed herein2 and as
those Instructions require from you an other Service you must keep your
ship in as good Order and as well manned as possible and in every
respect fit for Action at that period or as much so as the
Circumstances of your Cruize will permit. Should it be necessary we
immagine you might heave down or give the ship a Parliament Heel at the
Cape or Mole. Any Prisoners that you take who will not enter into our
Service you may Exchange at Jamaica for Americans taken in Armd Vessels
and held as Prisoners there, sending down a flag from the Mole for that
purpose if you think it necessary or if convenient you may send or
bring them to the Continent always treating them with humanity. We wish
to hear of strict discipline being introduced in our Navy, at the same
time we recommend kind usage and great care of the Crews. You must
attend to the Printed Instructions of the Navy Board and with the best
wishes for your success,

We remain Sir, Your very hble servants


Letter book, Marine Committee Letter Book, Marine Committee Miscellaneous
Papers, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration,
Washington, D.C.

1 See Marine Committee to Biddle, 15 February 1777, which was written at
Philadelphia when Robert Morris was the only committee member there.

2 Not found.