Revolutionary War:  Washington's First Navy


later renamed the 14th CONTINENTAL REGIMENT

Washington's First Navy

Excerpts from a paper entitled "Memoir" read at a meeting of the Essex Institute, March 9th 1863,
 as a Report upon a donation to the Library of certain books formerly belonging to Gen. Glover:*

"It was under the agency of Col. Glover that Capt. John Manly’s vessel was fitted out, and the crew was obtained from his Regiment.

"Manly, who was a native of Marblehead, received a naval commission from Washington, October, 1775.  His first command was the schooner Lee; he was subsequently in command of the frigates, Hancock and Hague.  He died in Boston, in 1793, and was buried with distinction.

"Capt. Samuel Tucker, another celebrated Privateersman of Marblehead, sailed under the same auspices.  He is said to have captured more British guns and British seamen than Paul Jones, or any other Captain in the service of the thirteen states.  Captain Tucker took John Adams to Europe in 1779.  On the passage, he fell in with an enemy.  It was agreed to fight her, and also that Mr. Adams should retire below; but Tucker soon observed him, with a gun, fighting as a common marine, and in tones of authority ordered him to leave the deck; Mr. Adams, however, continued at his post, when, at last, Tucker seized him, and forced him away, exclaiming as he did so, 'I am commanded by the Continental Congress to carry you in safety to Europe, and I will do it.'  He removed after the Revolution to Bristol, Maine, where he died in 1803.

"The gallant Capt. James Mugford also, whose capture of the Brig Hope, with her cargo of fifteen hundred barrels of powder, besides other munitions of war, in Boston Harbor on the 17th of May, 1776, was of such inestimable value to the Colonies, had been a Captain in this Regiment, and his crew of 20 men were volunteers from it at Beverly.

"This capture was at the time considered by Washington as of the greatest importance, supplying the Army as it did with the much needed article of powder at a time, when the stock on hand did not amount to more nine rounds per man, and our lines, if attacked, could have, made no resistance.

"Capt. Mugford, with others in Marblehead, had been, the previous year, impressed into British service by a press-gang, which ashore from the Frigate Lively, then lying in Marblehead Harbor, opposite 'Skinner's Head' on the Neck side.  The Frigate had thrown out ballast here, and the place is still called 'The Ballast.'  Mugford’s wife, as soon she heard of the capture of her husband, went on board the frigate and demanded his release, stating that they had but just been married, and she depended upon him for her support.  The Captain promised to release him, and did so.

"When taken, Mugford had been sent on board a sloop of War, which lay off the Harbor.

"While there, he heard the sailors talking about the 'Powder Ship,' which they were expecting from England. It was this knowledge, which made him so eager to undertake his enterprise.  He applied for, and obtained from Gen. Ward, then at Philadelphia, a commission, with power to capture the expected vessel, and under that commission he sailed.  The haste with which he proceeded occasioned some irregularities, which perhaps was the cause why the prize money failed to be properly justly paid.

"Mugford’s naval victory on the 19th of 1776, though fatal to himself, places him on the List of Naval Heroes and of the Revolution.  At his funeral, which was conducted with great ceremony and distinction, the 'Marine Regiment' performed the Military honors.

"To show the activity and zeal with which the privateering business was conducted in that time; it is stated, that in a single season there were dispatched from Salem and Beverly fifty-two privateers, chiefly owned in Salem and Beverly, which mounted about seven hundred and fifty guns, and carried crews of nearly four thousand men.  From May 1775 to February 1778, the American Privateers, one hundred and seventy-three in number made prize of seven hundred and thirty-three British vessels, which with their cargoes were worth more than twenty-five millions of dollars, after deducting the value of the property retaken and restored."*

"The following documents show the manner in which Glover was connected with this business:



"Oct. 4, 1775."

"His Excellency, having resolved to equip’ two armed vessels, has empowered you to negotiate this business, in which the following directions are to be observed:

         "1st. That the vessels be approved sailers, and as well found as possible. .

         "2d. That you have an appraisement made of them, by indifferent people.

         "3d.  That you agree, at as reasonable a rate as you can, for the hire of the vessels, and, if possible, procure the cannon and swivels on loan, and if not, purchase them at the cheapest rate per month.

        "4th.  If you cannot equip them suitably at Salem or Marblehead, one of you proceed to Newburyport, where there are several vessels, and sundry cannon provided, suitable for this purpose.

        "5th.  You are, as soon as possible down proper directions for the making of the cartridges, and providing ammunition, and a list of what will be wanted.

        "6th.  You are to nominate some suitable person at Cape Ann, Marblehead, and such other place, where any prizes may be sent, as an agent to care of such prizes, instructing him to give as early information as able of all captures, and all cargoes, as far as he can do it from papers. These persons when nominated by you, to receive instructions from Head Quarters. You are also to settle with them the terms; and let them be persons of approved good character, and known substance. All agreements & c. be put on writing.

        "7th.  All contracts entered into by you jointly, when together, or separately, if one should go to Newbury, the General will ratify and confirm.

        "8th.  As soon as either of the vessels is in such forwardness, as to be ready to sail in a few days, you are to send notice to Head Quarters, that the officers and men may march down."

"I am Gentleman, your obedient servant,  

   GEORGE WASHINGTON"              

* American Fisheries, Sabine 200.


...namely one, containing copies of the letters written by Gen. Glover herein referred to as "The Letter Book"; and the other six are "Orderly Books", kept in the 21st Provincial Regiment, afterwards the 14th Continental Regiment, commanded by Col. John Glover from the commencement of the Revolution until the 21st of February 1777, when he was made a Brigadier General.

Revolutionary War:  History of Colonel Glover's Regiment: Washington's First Navy
Copyright © 2013  14th Infantry Regiment Association
Last modified: January 20, 2013