America rose dramatically from the sea and from it has increasingly drawn strength in the incredible events since Columbus' first thrilling landfall.The New World was discovered on the eve of and accelerated, if it did not in part cause, the series of revolutions that have swept through the past centuries like a typhoon. These revolutions have accompanied a rising gale of freedom—from antiquity the sea and nations wielding its trident have promoted democracy and liberated man from chains of every sort. In the American Revolution, which our documentary publication encompasses, the"cause of freedom" itself depended upon the sea. Independence could not have been won without wise exercise of force upon it. As Washington wrote in 1781, and none could know better:
Your Excellency [Admiral Comte de Grasse] will have observed that whatever efforts are made by the Land Armies, the Navy must have the casting vote in the present contest....the triumphant manner in which Your Excellency has maintained the mastery of the American Seas, and the glory of the french Flag-leads both nations to look to you as the Arbiter of the War.
The meaning of the sea to the United States in the War for Independence has been comprehended by few Americans—had it been, each generation would have more wisely employed its growing influence upon our destiny and therefore upon that of liberty itself.
One reason the sea's early importance has not been understood may be the restricted availability of naval source material of the American Revolution. More than for any other key period of United States history the "seagoing" documents of this period have been widely scattered. Many have been lost. Many that remained were relatively inaccessible in private collections as well as public ones spread throughout much of Europe as well as the United States. Some valuable publication of documents has occurred, as by the old Naval History Society, but the vast body of this source material has lain little touched and little known for nearly two centuries.
It has long been apparent that the Naval History Division should seek to correct this deficiency. One of the primary responsibilities of it and predecessor offices has been collecting, editing and publishing records and documents of naval operations in wars of the United States.
This enduring mission got underway with the publication of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, 31 volumes (1894-1927). Then followed Naval Documents Related to the Quasi War Between the United States and France: Naval Operations from February 1797 to December 1801, 7 volumes (1935-1938), and Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars With the Barbary Powers: Naval Operations Including Diplomatic Background from 1785 Through 1807, 7 volumes (1939-1944).
Periodically over the years publication of the naval records of the Revolution was considered. For various reasons these hopes did not reach fruition. The Directors of Naval History, however, did steadily collect records. The core of these, known as Record Group 45 (to which William Bell Clark made large contributions), now rests in the Naval Section of the National Archives where it was sent by that able historian and thinker, Commodore Dudley W. Knox.
My competent predecessor, Rear Admiral John B. Heffernan, passed on to me the publication of the naval documents of the American Revolution, as a project highly recommended by the Secretary of the Navy's distinguished Advisory Committee on Naval History. A fortunate conjunction of wisdom, men and money soon made it possible to start the vast undertaking.
Few citizens have as clear realization of the importance of the past in shaping the future as have Thomas S. Gates, in 1957 Secretary of the Navy, and Admiral Arleigh Burke, then Chief of Naval Operations. Both understand that true progress (and not just "rat race" change) in material things, including even the most advanced ones reaching into space, depends upon the building of a sound foundation—the new is but the breaking crest of a tidal wave of advancing knowledge. Both also profoundly understand an equal if not greater value: From the past comes inspiration. It stirs us and those after us to emulate the courage, the selfless service, the patriotic sacrifice of our ancestors. Without these qualities America could not have been born free, could not have grown to greatness, and cannot endure great.
With their support, albeit not without frequent knocking on the door in competition with mighty projects like Polaris and space activities, initial funds became available.
At the same time the specially qualified individual to edit this massive undertaking had retired from business to North Carolina. William Bell Clark wrought a successful career in business, becoming Vice President of N. W. Ayer & Son, Inc. His heart, however, went to sea. Soon after World War I he first wrote about naval matters. Not long thereafter he began to concentrate on the American Revolution. Today he is the leading authority on the naval aspects of that world changing struggle.
As the project took shape in this office (and before agreement to allocate funds for it), we discussed the choice of editor with the Secretary of the Navy's Advisory Committee on Naval History. Some members were especially versed in the American Revolution. These included Samuel Flagg Bemis, Julian P. Boyd, Waldo Leland, Chairman, the late William E. Lingelbach, Allan Nevins and Walter Muir Whitehill. To a man they recommended Mr. Clark.
When I visited him, in his library I found other reasons than most of us realized why he was the man for the job. All knew him to be a tireless researcher, competent writer, and walking encyclopedia of the American Revolution. Few, if any, realized, certainly I didn't, that in his library reposed transcripts of much of the material we would publish. Around the bulkheads, from deck to overhead, stood neatly tabbed portfolios with thousands of transcripts from repositories in Europe and the United States. Here was the distilled essence of a lifetime avocation—now to become a new and inspiring vocation.
This collection, added to Record Group 45, then appeared to be most of what we needed except for records overseas. Yet in the seven years we have worked on this project we have added much. Mr. Clark himself has since found large bodies of new manuscripts in Canada and in the United States from Massachusetts to California. In my own duties, which call for considerable travel in connection with other activities of the office, and those of others of my staff, research has been fruitful in scores of repositories. We have been helped by many scholars in this country and overseas.
My personal research concentrated in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Florida, several repositories in New York and New England, and a few elsewhere. State archives and those of historical societies yielded large cargoes; and it has been like finding "seas yet untried" to come upon private collections with extensive naval documents. Notable among the latter have been the Smith Collection, now in the National Park Service, Morristown, N.J., the Hayes Collection still in the original plantation house near Edenton, N.C. (microfilm in the University of North Carolina) and Captain John G. M. Stone's priceless Langdon Papers—a particular jewel transplanted out of New England into my home port of Annapolis.
A key man in the project has been Dr. William J. Morgan, author, student of the American Revolution, and head of the Historical Research Section of this office. He has researched for materials, developed leads to new sources of documents and has worked closely with Mr. Clark, Admiral Loomis and myself on formulating and implementing our editorial policy.
Dr. Morgan's Section, amidst a heavy workload of other assignments, has handled the cataloguing and processing of new materials. His group has done the comparison reading and re-reading of documents, essential in this vast compilation, and the many editorial details to transfer the manuscript, as delivered by Mr. Clark, into this book. The following have served with him as naval duty rotated them in and out of the Section of usually seven people who worked on the American Revolution as other duties permitted: Lieutenant John R. Ganey; Lieutenants (junior grade) Paul Withington, Christopher Smith, Llewellyn Heigham, John Sturgeon, Rex Vail, Stephen Schuker, Margaret Helfrich, Richard Basoco, and David Patterson; Chief Yeomen Harold Eagan, Bartley Sisson, and Frederick S. Coward; Yeoman First Class Samuel Lopiccolo; Yeomen Third Class Pauline Shipker and Marion Shafer. The duties of Robert I. Campbell, civilian assistant in the Section, have included microfilming thousands of documents at the Library of Congress and elsewhere. The excellent work of Lieutenant Patterson in many areas as this volume was readied for the press is worthy of particular notice. During the final stages of preparation of Volume I, we were also most fortunate in obtaining the services of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Scheffenacker whose devoted interest and competence have been a real boon.
Several from other sections of the Naval History Division have contributed markedly to this volume. These include: W. Bart Greenwood, Librarian and Coordinator of Naval Libraries, with F. S. Meigs, Miss Barbara Lynch and Miss Mary Pickens of his staff; Commander D. V. Hickey, Head of the Curator Branch, Lieutenant Commander Mary Linderman, Lieutenant (junior grade) Richard Webber and Charles Weaver; H. A. Vadnais, Jr., Assistant (civilian) Curator; Jesse Thomas, Donald Martin and Miss Florence Sharswood.
Commander Hickey and Mr. Greenwood have pulled strong oars in a major area of the project—the collection of illustrative material. Initially searching our own library for leads, we have enlarged our search, as for manuscripts, to include many ports. Catholic in exploration, we have sought photographs of contemporary and near contemporary paintings, engravings, charts, cartoons, broad sides, relics, and other iconographic material. These have been added as a special collection in our comprehensive historic photographic file in Commander Hickey's section. This collection on the American Revolution approaches 5,000 items. It is noteworthy that in all our searching we have found no picture of Vice Admiral Samuel Graves, early Commander of British Naval Forces in America.
In addition, Mr. Greenwood obtained rich treasures from many repositories (principally the Map Division of the Library of Congress) in charts, maps and engravings of port scenes. Under the leadership of such men as Dr. Arch C. Gerlach and Dr. Walter Ristow, the Map Division has become. a world leader with its superb collection. The knowledge and cooperation of Richard W. Stephenson, research librarian, has been most valuable.
Naval Reservists, teachers by profession, on periods of summer active duty have measurably contributed: Commander John Tierney, Lieutenant Commander W. L. Hemeyer, Chief Builder Robert Payden. We have likewise profited by having experienced historians perform brief Naval Reserve duty with us: Captain Neville Kirk of the Naval Academy and Commander William Franklin, State Department.
We have obtained most new manuscript material on microfilm, have had it processed into paper copies and have catalogued them employing a multiple card system similar to that used in the notable Jefferson, Franklin and Adams publications by Julian P. Boyd, Leonard W. Labaree and Lyman Butterfield. Since we got underway these able editors have been among our valued advisors and have given many sound sailing directions.
Our large microfilm library, added to Mr. Clark's extensive lifetime collection, runs to over half a million pages and still grows. All material cannot appear in the published volumes, but the combined group will have unique research value, including as it does gleanings from a fleet of collections in America and from overseas.
A repository that seems never to exhaust itself is the Library of Congress. In its superb Manuscript Division under Dr. David C. Mearns, we have microfilmed documents with our portable equipment, whenever opportunity allowed, for some four years and still have not reached home port.
This project has benefited by the wise advice and assistance of Rear Admiral F. Kent Loomis, USN (Ret.), Assistant Director of Naval History, who has furthered the accomplishments of this office in numerous ways. It also could not have gone forward without the ever resourceful assistance of several of my immediate office associates: Miss T. I. Mertz, Mrs. Gertrude M. Johnson, Yeoman First Class John Murphy and his successors over the years, Chief Yeomen D. W. Tamblyn and R. C. Rhoades. Mrs. Johnson has made the project incomparably easier in her skilled handling of the complex ordering and financial arrangements and the numerous archival correspondence files.
In the Chief of Naval Operations' administrative section, Mr. J. B. James' flexibility and cheerful willingness in funding hundreds of orders for microfilm and other reproduction, and Mr. John B. Gallagher's broad knowledge of print ing procedures, have been indispensable to the success of our operation.The same must indeed be said of the excellent service we have received from Mr. Kenneth A. Hancock and Mr. Charles H. James, Defense Department Printing Service.
Else where we list the principal repositories in which we have found materials for this volume. All of us on the staff extend appreciation to the many helpful souls who have eased our work in them. I would like to note with my personal gratitude the names of the following who have been particularly kind and accom modating to me in correspondence and in my research visits to some three score repositories, public and private, large and small:
The Duke of Argyll, John D. Bakeless; Marquis de Bausset, Samuel Bemiss; Francis Berkeley, Julian P. Boyd, Marion Brewington, Mrs. John Nicholas Brown; Lyman Butterfield; Herbert Cahoon; Arthur B. Carlson; Frank Carr; Miss Margaret Chapman; Clarkson Collins, III; Medecin en Chef Herve Cras, FN; Christopher Crittenden; Captain V. A. Dahlstrom; Charles W. David; Leon de Valinger; Captain J. C. De'Engeilbronner, RNN; Captain Wade de Weese; Rear Admiral Oscar Dodson; Rear Admiral George Dufek; J. H.Easterby; Chief Yeoman Clifford Foley; the Earl of Gainsborough; Howard B. Gotlieb, Capitaine de Vaisseau Grincourt, FN; J. Welles Henderson; Right Reverend K. G. Hamilton; H. Hardenberg; James Heslin; Norman Higson; Robert W. Hill; Richard Hough; John Melville Jennings; Herman Kahn; Commander Peter Kemp, RN; John D. Kilbourne; Leonard W. Labaree; the late beloved William E. Lingelbach; Miss Frances Lordwood; Dwight C. Lyman; Commander W. E. May, RN; David Mearns; Commander E. G. Middleton, RN; Rear Admiral S. E. Morison; Rear Admiral A. M. Patterson; James W. Patton; Howard Peckham; Rear Admiral Hugh Pullen, RCN; Mrs. Granville T. Prior; Morris L. Radoff; Mrs. Marion B. Reed; John B. Riggs; Stephen T.Riley; F. S. Ronalds; Paul R. Rugen; Miss Mattie Russell; Miss Frances Settee; Miss Grace Siewers; Gust Skordas; Edouard Stackpole; Captain John Gilbert M. Stone; Rear Admiral Wallace Sylvester (deceased); Miss Muriel Taylor; William J. Van Schreeven; Guy Weatherly; Walter Muir Whitehill; Mrs. John Wood.
Mr. F. C. Drake conducted research for illustrative material in many English repositories, effectively furthering this area of our work. Through the interest and support of Dr. Daniel J. Reed, Library of Congress, Madame Paul Henri Bonnel in 1963 began similar work for us searching for manuscripts and illustrations in French archives with outstanding results. Most of the French translations are the skillful rendering of Professor Bernard P. LeBeau, U.S. Naval Academy.
Frederick S. Hicks; Irving Halpern; Milton Kaplan; R. F. Metzdorf; Harry Shaw Newman; the late Irving S. Olds; Commander Mendel Peterson, USNR, a number of those in the foregoing paragraphs, and many others have been especially helpful in our illustrations search. Mr. Hicks, noted in his own right as collector and authority, has generously worked long hours on the illustrations and captions for this volume, and in many other ways.
I would like in this section to express the gratitude of all of us for the unfailing wise counsel and support of the able members of the Advisory Committee and the Special Consultants. Their names appear ahead of the Foreword.
Many others merit our appreciation. All these, though unnamed, we thank. I must mention, however, among those in the Navy Department who smoothed our course, the following in particular (positions are at the time) : The Honorable Fred A. Bantz, Under Secretary of the Navy; The Honorable Cecil P. Milne, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Material); and Rear Admiral G. R. Donaho, USN, Assistant Vice Chief of Naval Operations (Administration) and his successor, Rear Admiral Roy C. Benson, USN. Without their signatures there would have been no money, no contract and no publication.
We must also thank the present incumbents of the top offices in the Navy Department: Secretary of the Navy Paul H. Nitze; and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral David L. McDonald, USN. Their perception of the importance of sound understanding of the past in all of the Navy's activities has facilitated the launching of thisvolume.
John Paul Jones, the indomitable, truly wrote early in the American Revolution, "Without a respectable Navy—alas America!" A Navy comprises more than warships, though around them all else pivots. Thus, as readers of this first volume will note, the term "Naval" in our title hears a broad definition.The sea's influence in U.S. history has been as far reaching as the winds that sweep its horizons; and every aspect has affected naval power and its exercise.
The sea's influence is no less now than in the brave years of the American Revolution but its meaning was clearer then. This is so because few Americans in 1775 lived beyond the reach of the sea.They felt its need constantly for travel, for transport, for imports that ruled their daily lives such as clothing, tools, arms including powder, staples like tea and salt. The sea winds they could feel and smell also brought home the need of ships for export and for protection from foreign attack. Hence it seemed desirable to introduce in this work selected maritime material dealing with trade and other matters that have indirect as well as direct naval association. As Mahan said, "a nation's sea-borne trade is the life blood of its power, the assurer of its greatness, the preserver of its comfort."
For economy we have been forced to stow a large cargo between these covers. We have endeavored, however, from the splendid manuscript produced by William Bell Clark, to launch a volume worthy of its contents.
Our editorial policy reveals itself in the text, although a few points might be noted. Because every effort is made to retain the spelling, punctuation, and abbreviations of the original writer, the editorial apparatus is in the main uncomplicated. The standard ( [ ] ) indicates editorial insertions. On occasion (ordinarily in long entries), for clarity a paragraph break has been added where none existed in the manuscript.
Superior letters, a favorite eighteenth century device, have been eliminated except in signatures; likewise "ye" (except in some quoted headings) has become "the" and "yt" has become "that".
Document headings are our insertions unless quotation marks set off the heading indicating that it has been taken "as is" from the original manuscript. To save space, superscriptions which repeat information in the heading are omitted or shortened, except in rare instances when the full one adds color or essential data to the document.
Where only part of a letter has been selected for inclusion in this volume, "[Extract]" appears at the top left of the entry. For continuing items such as legislative journals, ship logs, newspapers, or personal diaries which yield a number of individual items, it is clear that an entry on any given date is an extract from the source, and it has not been deemed necessary to note it. Unpublished Crown copyright material in The Public Record Office, London, is reproduced by permission of the Controller of H. M. Stationery Office.
As an aid to the user, the date appears in bold face above and to the left of the initial entry on that date, and to keep a good holystoning day in mind, Sundays are indicated.
We anticipate at least fifteen volumes in the series. Volume II steams in close formation behind this one. Mr. Clark has manuscripts for Volumes III through VI well in hand.
We hope this volume and each of its successors will be of enduring value not only to scholars, who delve into the detailed rigging of history, but also to all Americans who would understand the powerful forces that made and keep us a free nation. Among these forces few have been as potent as thesea.
As Volume 1 shows, General Washington frequently referred to the importance of strength at sea. Subsequent volumes will carry many others of his letters, among them one to Lafayette late in 1781. It was written after the surrender at Yorktown that inevitably followed the French fleet's victory over the British off the Chesapeake Capes which denied Cornwallis the life-giving sea and sealed his fate. In this letter from our far off beginnings appear words that could have been written of World War II, of Korea, of Lebanon, of Cuba—words that are particularly appropriate to the global Confederation of the Sea by which we who love freedom oppose communist chains:
"It follows then as certain as that Night succeeds the day, that without a decisive Naval force we can do nothing definitive—and with it everything honourable and glorious."