<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0623

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Marine Committee
Recipient: Livinus Clarkson and John Dorsius

Gentlemen1

Your Letter of the 14th instant arrived yesterday and is the only one we
have received from you respecting the Randolph Frigate altho it is a
considerable Time since we heard of her putting into your Port
dismasted. From what you write she will be fitted and ready for the sea
by the Time this reaches <you>, and it is sent by Express that the
orders may arrive in Time.

We very chearfully express our approbation of your Conduct in employing the
Schooner Lewis, Captain Stevens, to assist in taking up the anchor and
cable you mention, as well as in making a purchase of the Schooner
Betsey to continue that service and shall acquiese in such reasonable
reward as you may think a proper recompence for the services of Mr.
Richard <Hurn> in this business, never doubting but you will have due
regard to the Interest of our Infant Country, which will have to
struggle with a heavy debt after the present contest is ended. It is
the duty of every individual to take what care they can for the States
but more particularly it is the duty of all Public officers, and we are
persuaded your Conduct will bear the proper Marks of Oeconomy. Under
this perswasion we desire the continuance of your endeavours to save
what can be saved of the Anchors, Cables, Guns or Stores of that Fleet
which suffered such distress in their Attack on fort Moultree as forced
them to leave these things behind them. As the increasing of our Navy
will be a constant object it will be necessary to purchase suitable
Materials and Stores whenever they can be met with in these States. The
Actions2 Anchor will no doubt come into
use before long and you will please to purchase it on the lowest terms
in your power; the price of the best Anchors made here before the price
of Labour was raised by our inlistments was 6½d this Currency per
lb. but an Anchor suitable for the Public service and obtained as a
prise should not be held in proportion to the general state of enormous
Prices that too much prevail through the Continent at this time. You
must purchase this and such other Materials and stores suitable for the
Navy as you meet with them, as cheap as possible. The
Experiments3 Cable had best be unlaid
and as you propose made up into small Rigging, we mean that of 40
fathom. The whole Cable may remain as well as the Anchors until we
order them for the use of some of the ships now building. The Other
Anchors and Cables not delivered to Captain Biddle may remain for the
same purpose & when you have finished the business of taking them
up, you’l send us a return of all that remains after the Randolph is
gone.

We shall order you to be Credited for the amount of the supplies to the
Schooner Lewis, Sloop Hornet and Ship Randolph in due time and you will
furnish the Accounts and vouchers for those supplies. We understand
there are some of the Actions Guns that have been saved by the State of
South Carolina, we wish to purchase them as we find some dificulty in
getting Guns cast fast enough. These Guns are not so suitable for the
Land as for the sea service and we hope the State will part with them.
If they agree give us immediate notice that we send for them, but
should they refuse to sell they will probably exchange. We are told the
Guns are 9 Pounders and it may be in our power to procure 9 Pounders of
the long sort which are fitter for fortification. If any of those ships
Guns still remain in the water you will no doubt use your utmost
endeavours to have them taken up & we flatter ourselves that
success will attend you. The Service Captain Biddle is now Ordered upon
being urgent and the objects in veiw important, we request your utmost
exertions to get him out to sea as soon after the receipt of this
Letter as it possibly can be done.

With much esteem we remain Gentn,
Your hble servants

P.S. As Mr. Clarkson wishes to leave Carolina for a few Months, we can have
no objection as you will take care that the public bussiness does not
suffer thereby. You’l mention to Mr. Ceronio the articles he had best
to ballast the returning Ships with.

Notes:

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

1 Clarkson and Dorsius were Continental prize agents at Charleston, S.C.

2 H.M.S. Actaeon – the vessel to which reference is presumably being made-had
run aground and burned during the unsuccessful British assault on
Sullivan’s Island in June 1776. See Morgan, Naval Documents, 5:797 – 801, 905.

3 H.M.S. Experiment, though not captured, had been heavily damaged during the
battle of Sullivan’s Island. Ibid., pp. 801, 804, 806, 927, 1001,
1003, 1160.