The Papers of Henry Laurens

[Page 408]

Isaac Motte to Henry Laurens


Since I wrote you this evening[1] I've examined the three Sailors that I acquainted you I suspected were from the Packet & that the Liquors they had was intended for the Man of War_ It seems the Liquor was for themselves and Comrades & that they bot: it from one Jones in Elliot Street[2] and who supply'd them with the Boat & Hands
Jno. Jefferies[3] & Pat: Murray, I cou'd get nothing material from, only that they had refused to go on board of the Man of War, when they were asked by the Capt. of the Cherokee Armed[Page 409] Vessel[4] & Capt. Clarke of the Pensacola Packet,[5] both of whom went on board of their Packet & pressed the rest of their hands_ as they were very unwilling to go they were damned for Rascals & wod: not have them_ that the Man of War had weigh'd twice to Attack the Fort, but the Wind failing them, was[6] oblig'd to drop thoughts of it
Elias P[ain]ter[7] declares that Capt. Clarke sayed when he came on board of their Packet_ "What, are you Dogs Men that object illegible fighting for the King, You Dogs_["] the Americans are in Rebellion_ that he took 10 of their Men and returnd again from the Tamer with the Governor's Secretary with and 22 Men to press them, they still being unwilling, were severally abused and not brot: out of the Swallow Packet_ He also says that the Man of War's People are clearing away the Woods that we may not be sheltered from their Shot, if we shod. attack them from that Quarter_ that they intend to throw up an Entrenchmt. on the point of the Island, (Sullivants Island) as they are much afraid we shod: get possession of it_ that they are clearing away the Woods for that purpose_ the Encampment on the other Shore alarmed them very much, thinking the Troops to Troops from thence will attack them from the Island_ that they expect 3 Men of War and Bomb Ketch shortly_ that they are first to attack the Fort & then to proceed to burn the Town_ That the Capt. of the Cherokee took Capt. Copeland by the Nose & wrung it, calling he a Bouger because he wou'd not consent to come to Attack the Fort_ that the Govr. had wrote a Letter to their Capt. desiring he wou'd persuade his Crew to come on bod. of the Man of War & that they wou'd be well rewarded_ this Letter was delivered by Capt. Clarke and the Secretary_ the former when he found it had not the desired effect, pressed all their hands, but themselves (the 3 Prisoners) _ and[Page 410] further that Capt. Clarke & the Governor's Secretary were the most forward for Attacking the Fort_ Capt. Thornborough was very much against making the Attack_ this is the substance of the examination_ I have discharged the Boat & Negroes, but have secured the Liquor & the Sailors, & wait your further Orders_
'Tis beyond a doubt we shall be attacked ere long I hope you'll put it in my power to make a proper defence_ some additions to the Works are absolutely necessary and give me leave to assure you that we have very few Arms and no Accoutrements to be depended upon _ You may rest assured, I shall do everything in my power to defend the Fort as long as possible._
I must trouble you to lay this Letter before the Council of Safety and beg you'll let me know what I am to do with the 3 Men._

I am, with great esteem, Sir,
Your most Obedt: hb¯le Servt.

Isaac Motte, Lt. Coll.
2d: So. Carolina Regt.

P. S.
I hope you'll excuse the incorrectness of this, as 'tis wrote in a great hurry.
ALS, S.C. Militia Papers, 1775-1779, NN; no address; dated "Fort Johnson 19 Sepr. 1775 / 10 o'Clock at Night"; docketed by HL "Collo. Motte 19 Septr. 1775 / Recd. at Midnight / Read in Council early / the 20th_"; numbered "3-28".
[1.] Isaac Motte had written at least two earlier letters that day; the last one had been sent at 5 p.m. Isaac Motte to HL, Sept. 19, 1775, S.C. Militia Papers, 1775-1779, NN.
[2.] Eleanor Jones was the proprietor of a tavern in Elliott St. S.C. GeneraI Gazette, April 28, 1775.
[3.] John Jefferies later served as a seaman on the sloop Scorpion, John Tollemache, and died while a member of that crew, May 11, 1776, near Brunswick, N.C. "Journal of H.M. Sloop Scorpion," Naval Documents (Clark), V, 81.
[4.] Lt. John Fergusson, captain of the armed ship Cherokee, had arrived at Charleston September 7, and was accompanied by William Gerard DeBrahm, Surveyor General of His Majesty's American Dominions in the Southern District. His primary orders were to assist DeBrahm in making surveys; his secondary orders, to seize vessels employed in illegal trade. S.C. General Gazette, Sept. 8, 1775; Naval Documents (Clark), I, 449.
[5.] Capt. Arthur Clarke of the packet boat Diligence.
[6.] "was" written over "were".
[7.] Elisha Painter, the boatswain of the Swallow packet, was later taken into service aboard the Cherokee, but he deserted and was assisted by the South Carolina Council of Safety in getting to Georgia where he hoped to obtain passage to his native England. Collections of the South Carolina Historical Society, III, 42.