Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Willis Wilson to Richard Caswell
Wilson, Willis
May 20, 1778
Volume 13, Pages 132-134

[From Executive Letter Book.]

On Board Caswell, Ocracock Bar 20 May 1778.


Since my station at this place there has nothing happened worth your Excellency's notice. There now lies at Anchor without the Bar, waiting for a wind to come in a French ship and Brig; an officer of the former is now on board the Caswell who came in for a pilot; which I shall endeavour to procure him to-morrow, as he has declined going off to-night. Several American vessels have arrived and gone to Edenton and South Quay. This place is not at all infested at present with British Cruisers, shall exert myself to keep it so. The reason I did not get down so soon as I

-------------------- page 133 --------------------
expected, when I last saw your Excellency was owing to my want of bread and 12 pound ball. All I recd from the Virginia Navy Board, for my station at this place, with a full complement of men, was twenty barrels and four hog's heads of bread and flour, and eighteen pound shot, instead of twelve; we very much want a Tender, as it will be impossible for the chief to keep any considerable time at her station without one.

I received your Excellency's favor at Edenton from which it seems to be a doubt (with me) whether the present Assembly will agree to an order of the last, respecting an additional pay to the Caswell's Crew. If this is the case they have brought me in a fine hobble. In consequence of that order (which I rec'd in a letter from your Excellency) I bound myself to every man I shipped to pay them twenty dollars a month, exclusive of the Virginia pay, 'twas also in consequence of that, that I manned the ship. I therefore beg your Excellency with the Honorable the Council, will take it in consideration, and order the pay roll (now offered you by Mr. Cheshire Master of the ship) to be settled. If it is not, I know not what to do, at least I cannot think of keeping the crew on board at my expense, to whom I am already in advance eight hundred pounds, out of my own pocket, and have not a single dollar to defray any imbursement for self or ship, our local situation rendering it impracticable to call on Virginia for every supply make it necessary for me to trouble your Excellency at present on that head, as it's been so long since the men were paid off, and have received promises from me, all of which I've not been able to comply with respecting their money, that I believe they begin to think me guilty of chicanery. Should be proud your Excellency would be pleased to send a Captain's and a Lieutenant's Commission for Samuel Gardner and Hance Bond, who have raised a Company of Marines, under that promise; should be proud to know if allowed for the horse that died. I am

Your Excellency's mo. Ob. huml. servt.

N. B. Having shipped several men since I was at NewBern have made out another full Roll, with a later date than the one left with your Excellency.

W. W.

Since writing the above, I went ashore to get a pilot to go off

-------------------- page 134 --------------------
to the French ship, but could not prevail on one to go. The officer is still on board, and under the greatest anxiety for his ship, which I fear will be cast away or taken, I have not a pilot to the Caswell, or I would compel him to go off. This is not the first instance by many of the rascality of those men; every merchantman coming to this place, experiences it, and its clearly evident to me that they wish every vessel cast away, as they may plunder them. Should be glad your Excellency would make the line of my conduct among them, Mr. Cheshire being sick Mr. Bond of the Marine is the bearer of this. There being no Justice of the peace at this place, could not get the pay-roll proved, but will do it at the settlement of the next.

Your Excellencie's obedient servant,