With the Enemy in close pursuit of us – under these circumstances I ask what other Orders or Instructions were necessary to be given than the General one of making the best of their way up the River to escape from the Enemy – I was totally unacquainted with the River. The Council of Massachusetts Bay had refused upon Application to be at the expense of obtaining the necessary Information of the Nature & situation of the country. I could not therefore possibly direct the Ships where to rendezvous & as there was no possibility of acting with united force, I tho’t myself justified in giving the Signal for each ship to shift for itself – I am persuaded that the Court by adhering to the evidence will be convinced that I not only attempted but made use of every possible exertion to save & secure the Ships under my Command from capture. That the Warren ran up as far as possible the first Night appears from the testimony of Lieut. House & Page – and th’o she remained at anchor within Gun Shot of the Enemy. I did not suffer her to be destroyed till every Hope of preserving her to ourselves was vanished – When I found my directions to the several Commanders to send their Boats to my assistance was unattended to, I went in person to order them down having first landed my men in order to be in Readiness to Destroy the Ship if necessary leaving orders at the same time on Board not to burn her till my Return, unless drove to it by Necessity – This piece of Conduct is made the foundation of another Charge against me. It is peculiarly Unfortunate to be Accused with the Neglect of Duty, when the most Strenuous Efforts to perform it do but give rise to an Additional
Accusation – Had I not have landed my men it would have been impossible for me to have effected the destruction of my Ship upon the sudden approach of the Enemy – and she must of course have become an Acquisition to the Enemy – Had I not have left her & sought after the other Ships Boats to come to her aid no hope would have been left of getting her further up the River – Under the circumstances I cannot doubt but the Court will entirely approve my Conduct in these Instances and of course will justify me in taking the last step, that of destroying the Ship, that it might not fall into the hands of the Enemy – when I reach’d the other ships I found their men in an ungovernable state swearing that as the Militia had deserted them they would be held no longer – I was inform’d by Cap’t. Holmes & Cap’t. Waters that they could not pacify their men or keep them together any other way than by assuring them that the Ships should be burnt the next day – I found that the men from the other Ships were partly landed – That my own Pilot had refused to take any further Charge of the Ship, that no other Pilot could be obtained – in fire that it was impracticable to defend or Secure her – In this situation I asked the Advice of Cap’ts. Holmes & Waters, whose opinion perfectly coincided with my own that it was most eligible to destroy the Warren as well as the other Shipping – They were accordingly burnt – With regard to my not fortifying – I need but repeat the testimony of some of the Witnesses to convince the Court it was impracticable – The land force were scattered & gone home and there were no intrenching [sic] tools provided – and the men on Board the Shipping refractory & ungovernable
and determined to go home as soon as they set their feet on Shore. We knew not the disposition of the People of the Country & we were without Resources – These circumstances alone would be a sufficient justification for not attempting it, but when it is added to this, that with every Effort we had scarcely time enough to escape falling into the Enemy’s Possession, there is not room to doubt its impracticability – The reason why I did not attempt to prevent the capture of the Schooner appears from the testimony of Cap’t. Burke who says that a Number of our Ships abreast were then pressing up the River with all the sail they could crowd , and had the Warren have fired her stern Chases, it might have thrown the whole into confusion & given the Enemy an ‘eminent advantage in the pursuit – The annoyance of the Enemy therefore in the capture of that Vessel could never have been an object that could have justified the hazarding so much – As to the Charge of speaking discouragingly respecting our Strength & the force of the Enemy – This seems to be founded in the testimony of Cap’t. Williams, a Gentleman who in the whole Course of his Evidence, seems to deliver his opinion of matters with great Positiveness & assurance which is no mark either of the greatness of his mind, or the goodness of his heart – but his Evidence is explained in this Instance by others who say that at the opening of the several Councils, the Place alluded to by Cap’t. Williams I only gave the Council a fair & candid Representation of our own & the Enemy’s force & telling them that we ought either to make an immediate attack or raise the siege & this I conceived it my duty to do – I have now gone thr’o the Evidence as it respects the Several articles of Charge, for which I am in Trial and without a further detention of the Court I shall only ask that while I cheerfully submit my cause to their
decision it may be examined with that candour & unprejudiced attention, that is due to every man who holds his Reputation dearer than his Life.
Little is known about the Lieutenants House and Page that testified in the Court Martial. Captain Daniel Waters commanded the Massachusetts State Navy ship GENERAL PUTNAM and was a former Continental Navy captain. Captain John Foster Williams commanded the Massachusetts State Navy brig HAZARD. Captains Alexander Holmes and William Burke captained privateers in the Penobscot Expedition.