<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0648

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Marine Committee
Recipient: Thomas Thompson

Sir

We have long been anxious to hear of the Raleigh frigate under your Command
being compleated for the sea but hitherto the dificulty of obtaining
her Guns has been insuperable. You may rest assured that the measures
you have taken to obtain them from the Furnace in Massachusets Bay are
quite agreeable to us. We approve very much of the Iron Ballast being
taken from the Alfred, and in case that should not be sufficient you
are authorized to take a quantity out of the Columbus so much of her
Iron Ballast as may be necessary and shall defray such reasonable
Charges as attend the doing of it. and further we are well pleased that
Mr Paine and Mr Bradford came into this measure and gave you their
assistance. You are therefore to return to the furnace in

Massacusets Bay and immediately try or prove the Guns already cast for the
Raleigh agreeable to the standard or mode given you herewith. If you
find they stand this proof urge the utmost expedition in compleating
the set. We hope a sufficient quantity of the proper Metal will be got
from the Ballast of the Two Ships mentioned, but if that falls short
you may then make application in our name and produce these orders to
the Council or assembly of Massachusets Bay to spare you what may be
wanting from the quantity lately sent them from Maryland and we will
pay for or replace it. We expect and hope that you will get a compleat
set of good Guns for the ship by these means, and if you do you must
take the most effectual means to get them on board as expeditiously as
possible. Apply to Mr. Langdon the Agent to second and support your
endeavours and compleat the Complement of Hands, take in the necessary
Stores, Provisions, Arms & ammunition for a Six Months Cruize if
they can conveniently be had – if not you must be content with less- make
the ship as compleat as you can but don’t loose time or lavish away
Money. Expedition and Vigilance are excellent qualities in a Sea
Officer. Frugallity is an absolutely necessary One in all men that are
connected with the American Revenue. These things duly attended to
proceed as soon as you can on a Cruize. The first thing after you get
out to sea is to try your Ships sailing. If she goes fast you may
venture to take liberties with our enemies, if she does not you must
keep clear of those of superior force and many of these we fancy will
be found on the American Coasts. We hope you will be at Sea by the
Month of June and if so your first Cruize had best be employed in
seeking the Enemies Transports and Provision Vessels bound in for New
York chusing the best station for falling in with them, and as you make
Prizes send them into the first safe Port to the care of the
Continental Agent. Thus you may employ the ship until the first of July
when you are to open the sealed Instructions that we shall send you in
a very short Time.1 Those Instructions
will direct your attention to an object of importance and you must keep
the Raleigh in good order, well manned, clean, and in every Shape fit
for Action or as much so as possible against that time. The said
Instructions will point out your business after that date, therefore we
now return to the supposition of your not geting the Guns wanted from
the Furnace in Massachusetts Bay. If it so happens that you cannot get
the whole there get as many as you can that will stand the proof, and
apply to the State of Massachusets to furnish what may be wanting, if
they cannot, then apply to Mr Paine or Mr Bradford to assist you in
purchasing as many good 12, 9 or 6 pounders as will fill your Ports.
You may do this either in Rhode Island, Massachusets or New Hampshire
wherever you can suit the ship best and cheapest, get the whole on
board with expedition, take in suitable Stores and ammunition, make up
the Complement of about 150 men including Marines and take the first
favourable opportunity to go out to Sea and push off the Coast. Should
any of the Continental frigates or Cruizers be in your neighbourhood
write to the Captains and if inferior in Rank to you, order him or them
to come and Convoy you off; if superior inform him it is our Orders
that he or they do it for which this shall be his or their
justification and you may send him or them Coppies of this Paragraph
which he or they are hereby required to obey. When you get fairly out
to Sea and are but thus partially armed, you must make the best of your
way for Brest in France taking care on the Passage to avoid large Ships
of war, but we hope you will take some Prizes from the Enemy and carry
them in with you, these to be sold and the Continental share of such
Prizes must be sold to pay for Guns, stores and charges. On your
arrival at Brest write to William Lee & Thomas Morris Esqrs. at
Nantes and to the Honble Dr Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane and Arthur
Lee Esqrs. in Paris informing them of your arrival and that your errand
to France is to compleat the ship with a proper set of Guns telling
them how many and the different sorts, mention also what other Stores
and supplys you will want and request them to inform you whom to value
on, and to take effectual measures to prepare with expedition all the
supplies you need, on this head you must never cease urging them until
you get what you want. When you get the proper Guns, strike the others
in your Hold and keep them there until your return to America. You may
ask the Honble Dr Franklin, Silas Deane & Arthur Lee Esqrs. if they
have any commands for you and if they desire you to go on any
particular service, Cruize or expedition you must obey their orders. If
they have nothing particular you will take in water, Provisions &c
for a long voyage and leaving Brest proceed on a Cruize – taking of
Prizes and distressing the enemy must be the object of your Cruize but
particularly we recommend your looking out for some of their East India
Ships. You will find the Ports of France and Spain open to your Prizes
with liberty of selling them there. You must be careful to keep your
ship well manned, and whenever you take Prizes give great encouragement
to Seamen and Petty officers to enter.

Any Prizes you take with Cloathing (particularly Blankets), arms,
ammunition or any of those articles that you think will be particularly
useful in America should be sent for the first safe Port in these
states. We do not object to your Cruizing a reasonable time in the
European seas provided our Commissioners at the Court of France are of
opinion it will be more useful than returning, otherways you will
return back for these Coasts Cruizing on the enemies Ships during the
passage, and should you think it proper to call at any of the French
Islands for information we have no objection. You must make it a point
to encourage Seamen to enter our service wherever you meet with them.
Use your People well but preserve strict discipline, attend most
carefully to keep a clean ship or the Men will grow sickly, treat
Prisoners with Humanity and upon all occasions support with spirit the
Honor of the American flag.

We are sir your friends & servants

Notes:

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

1 The Marine Committee finally sent these instructions to Thompson enclosed
in a brief 1 June letter of transmittal signed by committee secretary
John Brown. PCC Miscellaneous Papers, Marine Committee Letter Book,
fol. 112; and Paullin, Marine Committee Letters, 1:137 – 38. The
instructions themselves have not been found.