The Papers of Henry Laurens

[Page 313]

Stephen Bull to Henry Laurens


Yesterday I did myself the honor of writing to you as President of the Council of Safety, by Captain Lampriere who commanded the Schooner which has the Gun Powder on board, and in that Letter I would have been more full, had not the Wind and tide suited for Captain Lampriere to sail immediately; but soon after they got under Sail a thunder Squal came up the River by which means the tide was lost; which has given me an opportunity of writing again by Captain Lampriere; in my last I mention'd that I should keep a sufficient number of men in this Town, untill the Powder was safely out of this River, which would have been in a few hours, had not the Squal happend; as soon as the Vessels were under Sail, I discharged a discharged a detachment from two Companies of Prince Williams Parish, where there were the fewest white men in proportion to the Domestics, with orders to proceed to their own homes or districts; but as soon as I found that Captain Lampriere had lost the tide and could not proceed, I detain'd a number of other Men so as to have one hundred & Sixty of my [Page 314] Regiment which added to the detachment of Provincials under Captain Cattles[1] command, with the detachment of Grenadiers and Artillery from Charles Town amounting in all to two Hundred and fifty, a force which I thought would be sufficient for the intended Service_ these Men I shall detain untill the Vessell with the Powder is out of this River, which I expect will be by one O'Clock, when I will discharge the Men untill farther Orders_
With regard to your Recommendation of establishing a Company of Volunteers in Purysburg or Wrights neck, I could have no ojection if there were a sufficient number of Men, which matter was mention'd sometime ago by a Mr. Brisbane[2] to the Leiutt: Governor, who wrote me on the Subject, and the reasons I gave him are still of force, for upon enquiry I found that there were not even five & twenty Men in the boundaries they described, which were too few agreeable to the Resolutions of the Congress_ As to the Argument of their domestics being left without white Men, they certainly are in the predicament with every other Parish or Districts on Field or Muster days; and you certainly will allow that when they are in a body they are more safe and ready to march to Purysburgh Neck or any other part where an Insurrection may be apprehended_
I do assure you I would by no means discourage Volunteer Companies as I know it excites an Emulation to excell, which must have a good effect, and induces them to put themselves into our Uniform, and provide themselves with the best Arms they can_
I wrote to each Captain in my Regiment acquainting them with resolution of the Congress, promoting Volunteer Companies, and order them to make it known to the Men under their Command_ which has in some measure been complied with, as a very good Volunteer Company is nearly compleated on St: Helena Island, in a few days I expect to receive their List, when I shall review them, and apply for Commissions agreeable to the resolution of the Congress_
I can with pleasure inform you that our Troubles will at[Page 315] least have one good effect in the lower part of this County as the Men are in constant training they are at present upon a footing with any Militia in the Province, and I have procured them an exceeding good Drill; and you may be assured that nothing on my part shall be left undone to have them as compleat as possible_
In your favor of the 3rd Instt:, you are pleased to say, that the Report of my[3] being censured by the Council of Safety, was groundless_ give me leave to say, I do think 'twas sufficient to make any Man of feeling uneasy, and I was not singular in my opinion, as people here in general thought me ill used, which I make no doubt proceeded from misrepresentation, and although I would not condescend to tax Captain Joyner, (the Person who was suspected) before I had related to you the manner of the Powder being left here, and requesting the favor of you to acquaint me, who the ungenerous Person was that presumed to make so free with my Conduct, but as Captain Joyner has declared to one of my Officers who spoke to him on the Subject that he was innocent of the matter_ gives me occasion once more to repeat my requisition, and I shall take it as a Singular favor if you will let me know as much as you conveniently can, being fully convinced I have been unfairly dealt with in some representation, if not with regard to the Powder, or I flatter myself the Council of Safety would not have encouraged Joyner or Teabout to raise an Artillery Company on this Island which must be taken from the Militia, and their view or expectation is to have that Company under their Command entirely exclusive of me_
As the Council of Safety is so far distant from this County, cannot know its circumstances and Scituation so well as I do, immagine they would not take a Step of that Sort without knowing my opinion as they must be fully convinced that I am actuated by no other motive than the good of my Country; and hope they will not be misled by two Men who are of no influence or Consequence in this County or even in this Town where they are best known_ this is not only my opinion but that of the principal Gentlemen of this place to who I have communicated my Sentiments on the Subject of an Artillery Company_
As a proof of Mr. Joyners influence and conduct on the ex[Page 316] pedition he was sent to take the Powder from Maitland, you may form some Idea, when I tell you that some days after my return from Charles Town I accidentall fell in here, where I heard that a Canoe had come up from the Camp at Bloody point,[4] bringing an Account that Joyner, had but fifteen Men, Six of which were the Provincial[5] Recruits left at the Camp by Captain Barnwell,[6] and I judgeing it expedient did sent Captain John Bull[7] with upwards of twenty Volunteers, who staid with Joyner and assisted in taking the Powder, and had he applied as he should have done to me, I could with the same ease have sent him Two Hundred Men or more if necessarry_
I do not mean to claim any Merit on my part, or depreciate Mr. Joyner in your esteem but to show you that he is a Man of no influence, and that a Command of the sort he expects, will be taking him entirely out of his Element_ In his own Sphere I would give him the preference of a Command to any Man in this County_
You may perhaps be a little surprised to find 600 weight of Powder being again left here, which was mention'd to me, tho' I approved of the Scheme, knowing the necessities of the People, to avoid Censure I declined haveing anything to do with it_ I have the honor to be Sir

Your most Obedient Servant_

Stepn. Bull[8]

ALS, HL Papers, ScHi; addressed below close "Henry Laurens Esqr / President of the Council of Safety_"; dated "Beaufort 19th. of August 1775_"; docketed by HL "Stephen Bull Esq. 19 Aug. / Answd. 23 Septr. 1775"; numbered "26-18".
[1.] Either William (1747-1778) or Benjamin Cattell (Cattel, Cattle), (1751-1782), brothers from St. Andrew parish each of whom held a captain's commission in Col. Christopher Gadsden's 1st Regiment of South Carolina Regulars. Directory of the S.C. House, II, 147-148; III, 135-136; Journals of S.C. Provincial Congress, p. 46.
[2.] Probably William Alexander Brisbane (1740-1778). The Papers of Henry Laurens, VIII, 289n.
[3.] "my" written over "b".
[4.] Bloody Point is located on the southern tip of Daufuskie Island about three miles from the mouth of the Savannah River.
[5.] "Provincial" written over another word.
[6.] John Barnwell (1748-1800).
[7.] John Bull (ca. 1740-1802), a South Carolina native and the son of Stephen Bull (1716-1770), held a captain's commission in the Granville County militia regiment. He represented Prince William parish in the South Carolina Provincial Congress, General Assembly, and Senate, and was a delegate to the Continental Congress (1784-1787). Directory of the S.C. House, II, 114-115.
[8.] Bull's prickly letter was not answered immediately. However, HL wrote a personal note of apology for the delay on September 12, "lest you Should charge the Council with neglect." HL to Stephen Bull, Sept. 12, 1775, HL Papers, ScHi.