St. Augustine 24th Decr. 1777
I have the Honor of your Letter of the 20th Instant. Actuated by Motives for the good of his Majesty’s Service & equally desirous to preserve Harmony amongst the Servants of the Crown, I am always ready to give you Sir every Satisfaction.
The Rangers are composed of the Inhabitants of this Province & Refugees from the Province of Carolina & Georgia.
The Refugees were a heavy Expence to Govermt. to ease which I thought it expedient to join them in the Corps of Rangers, in order to render them also of Service to His Majesty.
The Corps is raised under articles of agreement which I remember to have had the Honor to shew you some Time ago.
By these Articles they are engaged to act under the Orders of Govermt. & they are attested to serve three Years or during the Rebellious Troubles-
Their being first raised was from Necessity in the Summer 1776 when the province was invaded by the Rebels & the new Levies of the 60th Regiment incomplete & for the want of Time cou’d be considered as no other raw undisciplined Recruits & without the means of being supplied with Necessaries from the Scarcity in the Province; or could they be acquainted with the Woods.
The Militia & Rangers are a Provincial Institution & as the Province has no Provincial Legislature I am directed by his Majesty’s Instructions to regulate matters of Police as near as may be to the regulations established in the neighbouring Provinces.
When the provincial Troops are called upon Service & act with his Majesty’s Regular Troops they are then I presume Sir immediately under the Orders of the Commdg. Officer agreeable to the 10th Section of the Articles of War.
His Majesty’s Commission to me as Capt. Genl. & Govr. in Chief of this Province, investing the sole & absolute authority to levy, arm & muster, Command & employ all Persons residing within this Province as occasion shall serve & them to embark & Transport from place to place &c.
This Investigation of power delegated by his Majesty I cannot alienate without Infringing on the Constitution of the Province and I am apprehensive wou’d be of dangerous Tendency on the Minds of the People and were I to relinquish this Delegation it wou’d end and anger the Contract agreed upon by the Rangers who wou’d think it broke & themselves dissolved.
I conceive Sir it is not in my Power to give up the Command of the Provincial Troops, it is what I cannot do, but in a Constitution way, agreeable to the Articles of War founded on the Acts of Parliament.
Having Sir I imagine amply explained the System the Rangers are upon whatever you think proper to require of them by signifying your Intention to me they shall instantly have orders to fulfill & when they are joined with the Kings Troops they will Consequently under your Orders & that of other Officers agreeable to the Articles of War.
Upon this Foundation Sir you may have them posted in whatever form you please & order them on any party or Detachment either with or without His Majesty’s Troops & believe that I shall most readily cooperate with you & if the above is not sufficiently satisfactory to you I shall be happy to have a free & Candid Conference with you & endeavour to accomodate myself entirely to your Sentiments.
As I am sincere in promoting whatever you may judge Sir, for the good of His Majesty’s Service & having mentioned the augmentation of the Rangers to forty Men a Company, for one [illegible] many as a provision for the last Body of Carolina Refugees that arrived & as I am informed near five hundred more are at this Time hideing in the woods & may probably come here
if you Sir prefer to raise a Troop as you formerly proposed or as many as you please, to be entirely under your immediate Command, it wou’d further relieve Government of an unavoidable Expence in supporting them & wou’d render them usefull to His Majesty’s Service
if you think proper to put a plan of this kind into Execution I shall with pleasure give you all the assistance in my Power to raise them & I will put a Stop to the present Augmentation of the Rangers.
I take the Liberty to acknowledge the Support you have extended to the Rangers in granting them His Majesty’s Rations without which they cou’d not exist on the Frontiers & I return you thanks for the Assistance you have hitherto afforded them & I hope for Continuation of it.
I had the honor to communicate to you Letters from Capt. FENSHAW & his plan for supplying his Majesty’s Ships on the Southern Station with Water & Provisions from St. Mary’s River & I shall be happy in Cooperating with you Sir, upon any Measure you will please to adopt, to forward the Execution of this important & desireable Object.
Some Bodies of Indians being arrived & I expect a Succession of their Tribes to arrive here during the Winter & the Spring as this is a proper Time to procure fresh Provisions for this Town & Garrison I shall be happy to cooperate in any plan for that purpose which you may think fit to adopt.
The Rebecca Sloop being essentially of Service for the Internal Defence of the Province, will also assist in Capt. FENSHAW’s Plan you will give me Leave to request of you Sir to encourage the Measure by Strengthening her armament in fixing a Serjeants Commd. of 18 Privates on board the Rebecca or any Number you may Conveniently spare.
I have had it long in Speculation you may remember Sir my having frequently mentioned the easy Conquest of the Province of Georgia & the many Advantages that wou’d accrue from it.
I have mentioned how far it has been suggested by lord George GERMAIN: but we continue so much in the Dark with Respect to the Operations, State & Success of the Northern Armies that I am apprehensive until we hear from Gen. HOWE no plan can absolutely be formed.
Your Regiment well disciplined as they now are & the other Troops in the Garrison flushed with Success against the Rebels with the Rangers, Indians & Volunteers that might easily be procured wou’d I am convinced easily effect it relieve Numbers of the distressed & persecuted Friends of Government in that Back Country & afford a Store House for His Majesty’s forces;
but I need not trouble you with Suggestions on that Head, being sensible how desirous you Sir & the Officers of the Garrison are of acting for His Majesty’s Service.
Great Britain, Public Record Office, Headquarters Papers of the British Army in America, PRO 30/55/816.
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