Gunston-Hall June 8th. 1777
Your favour of the 31st May, with the Sum of fifteen hundred pounds Virga. Money, on Acct. of the Tobo. Purchase, came safe to Hand per Mr. Payne, to whom I gave a rect. for the same: The sd. Purchase is now compleated, & great Part of the Tobo. on board: that is I have purchased the Quantity Daniel Carroll Esqr. (Mr. Pliarne's Agent here) inform'd me wou'd be wanting to fill up the Ship; Mr. Pliarne having previously ingaged to take in a good deal of Tobo. upon Freight for some Gentm. at Philadelphia: He afterwards wrote to Mr. Carroll from Wmsburg, that he was desirous of taking in about 400 Hhds. for this Commonwealth, & leaving out 200 Hhds. of that he had ingaged for in Philadelphia; but Mr. Carroll told me he understood these Gentm. had ordered Insurance, & that he cou'd not avoid the Contracts made with them; upon which we made a Calculation of what I shou'd purchase to fill up the Ship; which I have done accordingly, at the Price of 25/ to 32/ P[er] hund. besides paying 5/ for Caske & 3/ for Inspection, the greater part at 25/.
Yesterday I recd. a letter from Mr. Carroll, advising me that he was apprehensive of being disappointed in 100 Hhds. from one of the Philadelphia Gentlemen's Agents on Rappahannock; which he cou'd not be certain about 'til next Wednesday's Post, & desiring, in that Event, to know if it wou'd be convenient to me to purchase so much more for the Ship on the Commonwealth's Acct. Had I known this sooner, I wou'd chearfully have done it; but being now recovered from the Small pox, I think myself obliged to attend my Public Duty, & my eldest Son being just setting off out for the Augusta Springs, on Acct. of his Health; I wrote Mr. Carroll I cou'd not undertake it, unless a Quantity cou'd be at once bought of two or three people; which I had little prospect of, & even if I had Leisure to attend to it, I am of Opinion that Quantity cou'd not speedily be purchased now, except of some of the Merchts. at a very high Price, I believe not under 40/; but that I shou'd in the meantime endeavour to pick up what I cou'd, least he shou'd be disappointed in the above mentioned 100 Hhds. from Rappahannock. You will do me the favour to lay this matter before the Governor & Council, & if they think fit to order me (in case of Mr. Carroll's Disappointment) to purchase the Quantity wanted at the before mentioned high Price, it shall be done; but my orders should be expeditious, & Money sent for the Purpose. I have been so particular in mentioning this matter, that the Board may see there has been no neglect in me. The Tobo. I have purchased will be all on board before the private Freighter's Tobo. so that the ships will not be delayed an hour on the Public Acct. I was once thinking (if Mr. Carroll is disappointed) the Ship might run down to York or James River for the Tobo. wanted; but on considering that she is a large Ship, &can't go into shallow Water, this seems to be attended with nearly as great Risque as getting out of the Capes.
Mr. Herbert is much at a Loss in the Execution of yr. last Instructions of the 30th of May, & sent down one of the New England Capts. to me today about it. Capt. Sparkes, in a small Schooner, is just arrived, & his Men upon coming up to Alexandria, & hearing there was a number of Soldiers there in the Small pox, threaten'd instantly to leave the Vessel unless they were imediatly inoculated, as all the rest of their Country-men, who arrived lately, had been; these Fellows follow one another like Sheep, & the Capt. & all his Crew were of course inoculated on Friday Evening last; in this Situation it wou'd [entire line illegible] I have therefore ventured to direct Mr. H[erbert] to detain [his] Vessel, 'til he hears further from [you], & promised to advise you of it by this Day's Post. There [are] two continental Vessels now here[, Capt. Barnes,] Capt. Sparkes; I find them both exceedingly averse to going into York or James River, they think the Risque greater than getting out of the Capes, & say they [should be ruined], if then they are [taken,] having [consi]derable property of their ow[n] in the Vessels. The New England men are so cautious, so well used to playing at Hide & Seek with the Enem[y] & so well acquainted with every Shoal & Swash, that if they are permitted to take their own Way, they will probably get out clear. They seem very positive of being able to get thro' Cape Charles in the night. I told them I wou'd lay the matter before you, & desire yr. directions to Mr. Herbert by the next post. I am Dr Sir Yr. most obdt. Sert.
P. S. If it is thought proper Capt. Sparkes can easily be loaded at Alexandria. I shou'd be glad to know if the Commonwealth wants any [fur]ther fine Barl. flour. I have 275 barls. of my own, for which I wou'd take 20/ hund. I have also abt. 14 or 15 Hd. pds. Ship Bread.