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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Joseph Leech to Richard Caswell
Leech, Joseph, 1720-1803
September 17, 1777
Volume 11, Pages 623-625

[From Executive Letter Book.]

New Bern, Sept. 17th, 1777.

Dear Sir:—

Capt. Bowling in a Schooner bound out for the West Indies, has just returned from the Bar, having had a narrow escape from being taken as there came over Ocracock Bar two Brigs, and came to anchor in the lower road yesterday morn, they have been cruising

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in company with a Sloop for some time past, close in with the Bar, and between Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout. They made an attempt a few days before to come in, but one of the Brigs happened to strike on the Bar coming over, and they both went out again. Its very lucky for the Pennsylvania Farmer, that they went out again as they did, as she must inevitably have fallen into their hands, but the day she got in they happened to be to Leeward of the Bar towards Cape Hatteras, but in sight when the Farmer came in, and I think very fortunate for this Town that the Sturdy Beggar met with the misfortune of having one of her Lighters with provisions shot &c. on board, sank in Adam's Creek, which detained the Sturdy Beggar in the river,—What makes me think it a lucky circumstance is, that the Enemy's knowing them two vessels the Farmer and Sturdy Beggar being here, may perhaps prevent or discourage them coming directly up to Town, as we are in a very bad situation to prevent them, was it not for those two vessels.

I begin to be apprehensive of their being troublesome to us this fall and winter, as the situation of Howe's fleet is so near us, if something is not done to keep them from laying within our Bar. If its only them two Brigs, and the Sloop their Consort, we shan't have a single vessel coming in, escape them and will prevent our getting any further supply of salt or any thing else from the West Indies—there was a vessel Capt. Gibbins came last week into Beaufort from Providence, with a load of salt, and I have just heard there is 2 or 3 small vessels more, came in there also, with salt, and also a ten gun Sloop, bound to Baltimore put in there. One of the officers that came in the Sturdy Beggar has just come from the Lighter in Adams' Creek tells me they heard Monday evening and yesterday morning a considerable firing of cannon, which they imagined was across towards Beaufort, so that some of the tender or small vessels might have run in there to cut out those vessels, so that they may probably have a number of small armed vessels on the coast which your Excellency I hope will take into consideration, whether any thing can immediately be done for the protection of Trade, & the securing the stock on the Banks, which they may have an intention of getting to carry off. I have heard that there is one or two armed vessels at or near Edenton, that have been ready for the Sea for some months past, one from there with the Farmer and S. Beggar might be enough to manage

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the Brigs at the bar, and the Sloop also if she has come in, if the Sturdy Beggar can be got, she is well manned already. We should be glad to know what possibly can be done for our present safety, as we are really in an indifferent situation for defence—was it not for the armed vessels being the river we might look for the enemy up to Town every hour. If your Excellency could possibly spare the time to come to Newbern you would be better able to judge what might be most proper to be immediately done.

I remain with the greatest esteem your Excellency's most obedient humble servant,