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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Robert Howe to Cornelius Harnett
Howe, Robert, 1732-1786
December 30, 1775
Volume 11, Pages 262-264

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[From Ms. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]
Col. Robt. Howe's Letter to Provincial Council with sundry papers Inclosed 30th Dec 1775


I have not been able to get a Man to Ride Express to Johston tho' I have been endeavouring it for several Days and now am obliged to send this Packet to Edenton to be forwarded from thence. This may be very surprising to you but we are shut out from all direct communication with Johnston Court House, so I am forced to take this round about way. Indeed I had nothing very important to communicate so that I was the less anxious about it, especially as I hardly expected to find you Sitting. I have directed Mr. Robert Smith of Edenton to forward this letter to the Council (if Sitting) by Express and if not to send it to the President wherever he may happen to be. I inclose you a Copy of a Resolution transmitted to me by the President of the Virginia Convention by which you will see the High sense that Honorable body entertain of the assistance sent them by our Province. I likewise send you a Copy of the Presidents letter in which it was Inclosed, in that you will observe the care they took to give credit to our Currency, in Consequence of some difficulties I found on my first arrival from the Tory Spirit of opposition in this Neighborhood, but as the money now passes with the readiest acceptance I shall not trouble them to Exchange it. I send you Sir several Copies of letters passed between Capt. Bellew of His Majesty's Ship the Liverpool, Lord Dunmore and myself. And I shall be happy if my conduct meets with the probation of your Honorable Board. The Liverpool is a large Frigate, with her came a store ship with 4000 stand of Arms and every other kind of military stores. We were informed they had mounted two Mortars, we therefore have been in Momentary Expectation of being Bombarded, they fired very smartly last night upon one of the Guards and tho' they shott thro' the Guard House and among the men not a man got hurt. Last night arrived a large Vessel and several less vessels on board of which some soldiers, they say, 300 are arrived. The men of war many times yesterday fired signal Guns which were distinctly answered from vessels in the Bay. I have sent scouting parties down the Bay to make observations,

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they are not yet returned I expect them with anxiety. Everything here wears the face of action, for which we are not so well prepared as I wish, the men we have are not enough to occupy a place so extensive as this is. Their duty is very fatiguing, to which the very cold and very wet weather has very much added, we shall however I persuade myself give a good account of them come when they will. Every circumstance conspires to demonstrate this colony will be the seat of war, and Norfolk a place of Arms. To those who have command of Navigation, it is the most advantageous situation I ever saw and Government would be wanting to itself should the Fatal policy of Enslaving America continue, did they not endeavor to obtain a place which would Barrack any number of troops and at once annoy two Colonies with the same number of men, I look up on it that Virginia and North Carolina must stand or fall together, and then if they fall Norfolk will be the cause of it.

I send you a copy of my letter in the Virginia Convention upon this subject, this will more fully explain my Sentiments upon this occasion. I have been long in expectation of Receiving your iustructions Particularly as to Mr. McKnight. I inclose you two Depositions and if they are not enough can get fifty of the same sort. I induced Col Gregory and some other Persons to have an Eye to his Effects, and if Necessary to call out some of the minute Men and Militia rather than let his property be removed, I send you Col. Gregory's Letter just now received, Please let me be favored with your Instructions as soon as possible, you may be Assured it will be my Pleasure to obey them upon all Occasions. Our Commissary has hitherto supplied us with provisions, Please inform me if he is to Continue to do so. I am more anxious to hear from the Council than I can express, oblige me for God sake with a letter. I think it my Duty to mention how absolutely Necessary it is in my humble opinion to prepare for a defence at this Alarming Crisis, when Arms alone can give us safety. I lament when I reflect upon the Disarmed Situation of North Carolina, and can Sir assure you that when to-day I sent out by order of the Committee of Safety to Procure Arms for my own Regiment, the officers could find hardly any Inhabitants armed, and such as had Arms, not one in twenty fit for service, This Sir I take the Liberty to Mention, and in which I hope I have not Deviated from that

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respect which I so truly bear to your Honorable Board. Virginia seems to grow out of conceit of the minute Battallions, and place their reliance upon Regulars of which they are going to raise several thousands, they are getting up workmen to make Arms, and are taking every method to procure Artillery and Ammunition, and are putting their Army upon the most Respectable footing. They expect every moment to be invaded and are sitting night and day to make preperation for it. Give me leave sir thro' you to present my Respectful Compliments to the Hon Council whose Orders I shall be happy to be favored with and to whom I hope my conduct has been agreeable.

I am Sir with the Greatest Respect,
Your most obedient humble servant,

Norfolk 30th Dec. 1775.


Maj. Hangerford admitting me to take a copy of Mr. Pendleton's letter please send me Back or a copy of it.

Since I wrote the above I have received the letter from Captain Bellew a copy of which and of my answer I send you. I have broke open the Pacquet to inclose them. the Inhabitants of the Town are to Evacuate on demand and I then imagine we begin to commence a different kind of correspondence.