Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library Research Report Series - 1627
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library
|CHAPTER I. CONSTRUCTION AND EARLY YEARS: 1710-1750||1|
|CHAPTER II. THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR TO THE LAST DAYS OF COLONIAL RULE: 1750-1774||20|
|CHAPTER III. THE REVOLUTIONARY YEARS: 1774-1781||40|
|APPENDIX A. CONTAINING A LIST OF DOCUMENTS, LETTERS, INVENTORIES, AND CORRESPONDENCE PERTAINING TO THE PUBLIC MAGAZINE||74|
|APPENDIX B. A CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF THE MEN WHO WORKED AT THE PUBLIC MAGAZINE: 1714-1781||86|
|APPENDIX C. ENTRIES FROM THE PUBLIC ARMORY AT WILLIAMSBURG||91|
One does not write a paper of this kind without assistance, and that I received in abundance. I would like to take the time to thank those who were so helpful. Dr. Edward M. Riley, Director of the Colonial Williamsburg Research Department, always found time to answer my questions and supplied me with many useful "leads." Messrs. Harold B. Gill and Raymond M. Townsend, Associate Directors of the Research Department, provided me with a wealth of information. My thanks go to their secretarial staff for many efforts on my behalf. Mrs. Belk, Research Librarian, and staff were most cooperative in helping me to find materials. Mr. Luther G. Mitchell, Director of Group Visits, generously gave me the time to finish the project. Special thanks must go to Miss Joan Hardwick who was faced with the task of translating my rambling manuscript into something readable. Above all, I want to thank my fellow employees at the Public Magazine and Gaol who have patiently endured my coming and goings these past fifteen months.
The Public Magazine provided essential services to the military forces of Virginia throughout the colonial and revolutionary period. It served as a storehouse for nearly sixty-five years until the state capital was moved from Williamsburg to Richmond in 1779-1780. During that time many persons, of high and low station, were associated with the building. One of the most fascinating was Alexander Spotswood.
It is with him that our story begins.
("...an Act is pass'd for erecting a Magazine.") --- Alexander Spotswood
Alexander Spotswood was born in the British outpost of Tangier on the African side of the Strait of Gibralter in 1676.1 His father was a doctor, but young Spotswood decided on a career in the British Army.2 Spotswood learned his military ABC's while serving under John Churchill, the First Duke of Marlborough and one of the finest soldiers England has ever known. His classroom was Flanders and Central Europe, the cockpit of a bloody dynastic struggle between the leading monarchies of the Continent. In this particular conflict, called the War of the Spanish Succession, the young officer received his first exposure to the grim realities of combat at the battle of Blenheim in 1704.3 Seriously wounded, he was sent to London to recover but was back in time to participate in the hard-fought encounter at Oudenarde in 1705 where he was captured after his horse was shot out from under him.4 The Duke of Marlborough himself took part in the exchange negotiations, and "soon he was back in the field directing the transport of grain for Marlborough's army."5
Spotswood was separated from the Army in 1708 after fifteen years' service. Early the following year, he was appointed lieutenant-governor of the colony of Virginia.62
The Old Dominion did not get her first look at Spotswood until 20 June 1710 when his ship dropped anchor at Hampton Roads. The newly arrived governor soon discovered that he had inherited many problems from his predecessor, one of the most important being the unready state of the colony's military defenses.
Virginia's military difficulties presented many problems for her governors throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. One of the most important was the lack of adequate storage facilities for the colony's military supplies. This was especially true of Williamsburg, the colonial capital.7
This is not to say that none were available prior to Spotswood's arrival but those in existence were considered to be substandard. Spotswood, in a series of letters written to the Commissioners of Trade and Plantation, complained about the sorry condition of those military supplies actually on hand. One communique, containing an inventory of military stores belonging to the colony in 1712, ended with the sobering comment that "Most of the Arms are unserviceable and the powder very much decayed."8
Spotswood had no intention of allowing this sad state of affairs to continue. He presented arguments for an adequate structure for shielding military stores from the elements and to protect them from potential looters. For one thing, there was the always present fear of a slave uprising. One such rebellion had been uncovered only weeks before Spotswood arrived in Virginia.9 There was also the possibility that the long war against France could heat up again even though by 1713 a truce had been in 3 effect for several months.
Freebooters posed yet another menace to the colony's security. Many of them had been driven from their old haunts in the Caribbean as a result of the increasing effectiveness of seek and destroy operations conducted by naval forces of the major European powers. Some had taken refuge amid the sheltering coves and inlets of North Carolina's Cape Fear Country where they had become a threat to local shipping.10
Finally, there was always the possibility of a full-scale Indian war with its accompanying horrors and depredations. Virginia's borders had not been seriously threatened in recent years by savage raids such as those that had made a shambles of frontier settlements in the Carolinas but reports of "incidents" continually reached Williamsburg from outlying areas. A series of treaties had been concluded with tribes such as the Tuscaroras, but nerves were still on edge.11
Spotswood undoubtedly had these things in mind when he presented a plan to the Colonial Council on 30 April 1713. It called for an armourer to be appointed in order to clean and repair the firearms stored in Williamsburg.12 He would be paid an annual wage of £12, £5 of which would be deducted from the Gunner's salary at James City.13 There, had been a fort and magazine at Jamestown for many years and the gunner, one Edward Ross, had served in that capacity since 4 June 1695 and was to remain so at least through 3 November 1716.14 Mr. Ross's reactions to his 4 salary cut are not recorded. Late the following year, the Virginia Assembly took heed of the governor's urgings and passed "An Act for Erecting a Magazine." Recognizing the need for a place to store "arms and ammunition which are in danger to be imbezzled and spoilt for want of a convenient and proper place to keep them in," it required:
That as soon as conveniently it may be done, there shall be erected and finished one good substantial house of brick, which shall be called the magazine, at such place as the lieutenant-governor shall think proper: in which magazine, all the arms, gun-powder, and ammunition, now in the colony, belonging to the king, or which shall at any time hereafter be, belonging to his majesty, his heirs, or successors, in this colony, may be lodged and kept. For the building and furnishing which magazine, there shall be laid out and expended any sum or sums of money, not exceeding two hundred pounds. 15
The money was to be raised from duties coming from liquor and the slave trade. Governor Spotswood was instructed to order construction of the Magazine and to "issue his warrant from time to time, on the treasurers of this dominion, for the paiment of money hereby given."16
The bill further asserted that a keeper should be appointed to look after the contents of the Magazine. He would receive an annual salary of £20. In addition, an armourer was to be hired whose main job was to see to the actual maintenance and upkeep of the weapons. He would also receive £20 annually. Finally, the act called for the formation of an Indian trade company that would contribute £100 towards building the Magazine.17 In return, it would be allowed to store gunpowder and other merchandise in the building.5
It is said that Spotswood himself designed the building while one John Tyler was in charge of the actual construction. Work went on throughout 1715, and the Magazine was ready for use by February, 1716. Governor Spotswood, in a letter to the Lords Commissioners of Trade, confirms this by saying that he was ready to move a consignment of small arms "into a new magazine lately built here."18
The Public Magazine, or Powder Horn as it later came to be known, was a handsome octagonal-shaped structure situated in the middle of Williamsburg's Market Square. The exterior walls were made of brick, and a brick inlay known as Flemish Bond was incorporated. The roof was covered with hand-split wooden shingles called "round-butts."19 The interior consisted of three rooms with plastered and whitewashed walls and an attic. There were two compartments on the ground floor. The one in front was called the Smith's Shop. Here, work was done on the public arms by the armourer. The rear compartment, or Powder Room, was where the bulk of the colony's ammunition supply was kept. Outside doors provided access to both spaces, but the compartments had no connecting passageways on the inside. This may have been a safety precaution to prevent sparks from the Smith's Shop from landing in the Powder Room. The floors of these two rooms were comprised of bricks resting on a hard clay base.20
The second floor, or Armory, is where the stores were kept. An additional storage space was provided on the third floor. A spiral staircase, situated in the center of the building, granted 6 access to the upper compartments. There was no cellar in the Magazine. A protective fence, probably of wood, was erected around the building in 1722,21 but the familiar brick wall was not added until 1755.
The unique architectural style of the Magazine has been the subject of many favorable comments. Marcus Whiffen, in his excellent study, The Public Buildings of Williamsburg, says that:
Walls and roof are of exactly the same height and the total height from the ground to the apex of the roof is equal to the diagonal of a square constructed on the diameter ... the result is satisfying, and aesthically considered the Magazine is a most successful building. 22
There were some reservations, however, about the building's safety. Eighteenth century magazines were designed to hold large amounts of gunpowder. They were usually made fireproof and were equipped with special apparatuses to protect them from lightning. This does not appear to have been the case for Williamsburg's Magazine. The interior, with its wooden floors on the second floor, attic, stairway, and roof, were susceptible to fire. However, the Public Magazine was fortunate. There were no reported cases of fire occurring ring there during the period described in this paper.
The magazine was now ready to fulfill its purpose as a military storehouse and by 16 February 1716, it contained no less than "300 firelocks, 300 Soldiers' Tents, 154 barrels of Powder, 3 Ton 7 lb of Musqt ball, 2 field-pieces, with their Carriages and furniture..."237
Several years later, in May, 1723, when it became apparent that the Magazine might be endangered by stripping the city of defenders for duty elsewhere, the Assembly passed a statute guaranteeing that:
... whereas it may happen, that the chief magistrates and other inhabitants of the said city may be listed and compelled to serve under the command of the officers of the militia, in the counties of James City and York respectively, without the said City; and forasmuch as the same may be very inconvenient and may render the governor's house, public magazine, the capitol, in the said city defenceless in times of danger, Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that no inhabitant of the said city, capable of serving in the militia, shall hereafter be compellable to make his or their appearance at any muster of the militia, hereafter to be had or taken, out of the said city: ...24
Now, we come to the most frustrating yet fascinating part of our story: learning something about the men who actually worked there. Factual data on personnel who were employed at the Magazine during this time (1714-1750) is scarce, but there is enough material available to give us a fairly good outline.
The first armourer who may have actually worked at the Magazine was Salathiel Quinie. The only thing we know about him is that he drew his semiannual salary in the years 1713-1714.25 That is the extent of our knowledge of Mr. Quinie. The reason behind this scarcity of information about some the Magazine's staff is the fact that many of them lived in James City County. Williamsburg, at this time, was divided between James City and York Counties. What makes it so difficult for the researcher to find adequate data on people living in James City County is based on events that occurred during the American Civil War.8
In 1862, when Union General McClellan was cautiously advancing up the Peninsula towards Richmond, the James City County records were taken to the Confederate Capital for safe keeping. Unfortunately, when that city was evacuated in April, 1865, a disastrous fire broke out that burned or damaged many buildings and their priceless collections of public records. Among those lost were James City County's. Therefore, most of the information we have on people related to the Magazine concerns those living in York County. A brief look at the map on page nine will show what I mean. Until copies of those destroyed records can be found, indeed if they can ever be found, information must be gleaned from other sources.
Quinie was succeeded as armourer by one Daniel Jones. We know a bit more about Mr. Jones. He drew his pay at least until the end of 1717, perhaps longer.26 In addition to being armourer, Jones was also a blacksmith or ironmonger. According to "The Proceedings of the Visitors of William and Mary College" in 1716, the iron bedsteads of the students at the Wren Building were to be made of iron "according to the model prepared by Daniel Jones."27
Jones was followed in 1718 by John Brush who held the armourer's position for several years. Tyler's Magazine states that Governor Spotswood brought Brush with him to Virginia.28 Brush was later badly injured when he was "blown up and hurt in firing the Guns on his Majtys [George I) Birthday."29 He petitioned the Colonial Council for redress but his appeal was rejected. Other evidence linking Brush with the Public Magazine is this letter written by 10 Anne Maury on 2 September 1745. It says in part that:
Mr. Maury tells me that my brother John knows my brother Francis's wife very well, if he can remember. She is the daughter of one Brush, who was a gunsmith to Col. Spotswood, He used to clean the magazines and the Governor's arms at the same time my brother John was at the Governor's.30
Brush must have had other duties besides being a gunsmith because one document states that he was reimbursed for work done on the Governor's Palace.31
The keeper of the Magazine during this period was Henry Cary. Cary is the first man associated with the Magazine of whom we have more than a scattering of information. He was born about 1680 and learned his trade, which was building, from his father. Cary moved to Williamsburg in 1721 and was a vestryman at Bruton Parish Church. He was responsible for the construction of such buildings as the President's House at the College of William and Mary. He also erected the chapel that made up the south wing of the Wren Building.32 He was an acquaintance of Brush's and worked with him on other projects outside the Magazine on at least one occasion. However, these gentlemen apparently let their other affairs override their duties at the Magazine because the Colonial Council, in a stern rejoinder issued on 26 April 1723, had this to say:
Wheras it has been represented to this Board that great part of the arms in the Magazine and at the Governor's House are much out of repair & unfitt for Service; and wheras by the Act of Assembly for Erecting the Magazine, the salary therin appointed for the Armourer is expressly given for mending and repairing the Arms; It is the Opinion of this Board that if the present Armourer, do not put in sufficient Repair, the said Arms, his Salary be stopt, 11 and applyed towards mending and repairing the same: And if the Governor shall find it necessary to apply to the same purpose, the salary of the keeper of the Magazine that he be requested either to appoint some fitt person who will undertake for the said Salarys to amend and keep in Order the said Arms, and apply the Salarys of the said Officers towards defraying the Charge thereof until the same be compleatly put in order. 33
It is not known what Brush and Cary had to say in their defense. At any rate, Governor Hugh Drysdale, who had succeeded Spotswood in 1722, agreed with the Council's findings and went one step further. In a written address to the House of Burgesses on 10 June 1723, he requested that £100 be appropriated in order to restore the arms to public service.34 In order to ensure that no additional charges would be added to the account, Drysdale said that he had received a proposal from an individual who could provide £2000 security to keep the weapons in good order. He would be reimbursed by receiving the annual salaries of both keeper and armourer. The House concurred with Drysdale's request for the £100 and said that the necessary funds would be raised.35 Brush and Cary, obviously aroused by this threat to their jobs, paid much closer attention to their duties because no more was said about the matter. Several months later, they received their salaries as usual.
This was the first recorded instance of the Magazine's employees being called to task before the government for neglect of their duties. Unfortunately, it would not be the last. There would be several such incidents in the following years.
Brush died in 1726, but Cary remained keeper until October of that year when he submitted his resignation. Before he did 12 so, however, he saw to it that an inventory of the Magazine was submitted to Governor Drysdale on 29 June 1726.36
Cary's successor was Samuel Cobbs, a man who was, like him, a person of some stature in the community. Cobb's nomination was sponsored by none other than Robert "King" Carter who was then acting in the capacity of interim governor following the death of Hugh Drysdale.37
Cobbs was born in York County and moved to Williamsburg in the early 1700's. He married Edith Marot, daughter of Jean Marot, a local innkeeper. In 1716, he purchased the lot on which the James Geddy House now stands.38 He served as keeper of the Magazine from 1726 at least through 1729 and possibly as late as 1736. At any rate, his name was entered under the title "Keeper of the Magazine" in a large tabular statement listing all the public officials in Virginia in 1729.39
Cobbs probably helped in compiling an inventory of military stores in Virginia that was submitted to the Board of Ordnance on 9 August 1728. This inventory, one of the most detailed we have for those early years, is a fine source of available arms, ammunition, and other stores of war. In it we find that there were seven cannon in Williamsburg at the time, but only two of these were operational, and they were merely three pounders.40 Other materials were entered under such headings as "Gunners Stores," "Small Arms," and "Carriages such as are used in the King's Ships, and bound with Iron &c."4113
With the departure of Cobbs in 1736, we have no positive identification of keepers associated with the Magazine until 1755. What extent information we have deals only with armourers, and nothing is forthcoming on them, except for semiannual wage entries, until 1744.
There are several possible explanations for this scarcity of material. One, as mentioned earlier, is the lack of James City County records. It is also possible that since this was a period of comparative peace between England and France, with a subsequent easing of tensions between these two traditional rivals, military affairs were no longer granted priority. Hence, they were delegated to the backwaters of governmental policy.
This hiatus, however, does provide the opportunity to discuss the role played by the keepers of the Public Magazine. There is evidence to indicate that some of them received their jobs through political patronage. Both Cary and Cobbs were men of some importance in the community while another keeper, Dr. George Pitt, whose long association with the Magazine will be covered in a later chapter, was on friendly terms with several governors.
It can be assumed that men of this background were not involved with the actual physical labor associated with the building. Theirs was a supervisory or administrative position while subordinates did the actual work. Some of them, as we have seen, were neglectful of their duties and taken to task for it while others took pains to ensure the protection of those materials entrusted to them.14
This is also a good occasion to give a brief account of the overall military structure of colonial Virginia. I have decided to use the administration of Governor William Gooch as the basis of this description because of its length (twenty-two years: 1727-1749) and the fact that the final years of his term witnessed the end of peace between England and France and the resumption of their great world-wide power struggle.
Virginia's military force at this time consisted exclusively of militia. The men were expected to furnish their own equipment and were paid only for the time they were on active duty. They were paid not in hard cash but by pounds of tobacco according to rank. Thus, a county lieutenant would receive seventy pounds of tobacco per day while a private would get fifteen.42 The governor was obligated to see that the crown was reimbursed for supplies issued to the colony, and "the colonists were to provide themselves with arms from this supply at their own expense."43
All counties had their own officers such as county lieutenants, colonels, lieutenant-colonels, majors, captains, etc., etc., representing both cavalry and infantry. Senior officers were appointed by the governor while those below lieutenant were chosen by the county lieutenant. The governor also saw to it that rangers were employed to scout along the frontier to be on the alert for any signs of hostile Indian activity. There was also an adjutant or major-general of musters whose function was to see to the regulation and disciplining of militia. He was a "royal appointee and paid out of the revenue of two shillings per hogshead on 15 exported tobacco. In Gooch's administration there were four adjutants, one for each of the four military districts of the colony. They were then appointed by the governor."44
Although the governor was the overall commander-in-chief of the militia, he seldom exercised this authority in person. All members of the Colonial Council were appointed colonels in the militia.45
By the spring of 1738, the period of peace between England and France was drawing to an end. Actual hostilities began, however, between Great Britain and Spain, one of France's principal allies. Known as the War of Jenkin's Ear (after the skipper of an English merchantman who had had that piece of his anatomy removed by the captain of a Spanish warship several years earlier), the conflict gradually gathered in intensity until Europe and her overseas colonies were once more swept up into global war.
Such repercussions were inevitably felt on the Virginia frontier. On 7 April 1738, The Virginia Gazette ran this feature:
Last Week His Honour the Governor receiv'd Information, that two White Men, Inhabitants of Orange County, had been lately kill'd by some Indians: and that further Danger was dreaded from them, by the Inhabitants of the frontiers: Whereupon his Honour was pleas'd to give Orders, that Arms and Ammunition should be sent from the Magazine for the Use of the Inhabitants of those parts, which is accordingly done. 46
It seemed as if the Public Magazine was about to emerge from its obscurity. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case, at least not yet. With the exception of the semiannual allocation of the armourer's salary and the above-cited quotation, I have 16 been unable to find any positive information about the building during this period (1738-1744). This is most unfortunate because the Magazine must have served as a supply center for one of the most interesting campaigns in colonial American history: the combined Anglo-American operation of 1740 against Spain's South American stronghold of Cartagena.
The energetic Gooch was in charge of this ambitious undertaking that consisted of 3,000 men from four colonies including a Virginia contingent of 400 troops and a regiment of British regulars.47 The assault was successful but losses to the attackers were high, with debilitating tropical diseases such as malaria and yellow fever accounting for a good percentage of the deaths. Gooch himself was wounded in the fighting and later returned to Virginia with the remnants of his force.
It is not until 4 October 1744 that we come across another specific reference to the Magazine. Anne Geddy, widow of James Geddy, a gunsmith who may have been armourer at one time, petitioned the House of Burgesses "setting forth, That her late Husband, James Geddy, by Order of the Governor, cleaned Seven Hundred Arms in the Magazine, for which the Treasurer does not think fit to pay her, without the Direction of this House so to do: and praying the Consideration of the House therein."48
Her petition was submitted to the Claims Committee whose findings were returned the following day. "On Consideration of the Petition of Anne Geddy, Widow, Resolved that the Petition be rejected."4917
Documentation shows that a James Bird was armourer two years later. There is extant a petition of his dated 5 March 1746 that he presented to the House. In it, Bird asked "that he may be allowed the whole Salary of fifty pounds Sterling per Annum as Armourer, and that this House will make him some Allowance for cleaning the Great Guns before the Governor's House."50
The House's reaction to Bird's request is not recorded. Perhaps it was declined, and Bird returned to his gunsmith's trade. We do know that he remained as armourer at least through 17 November 1746. The York County records show that Bird purchased a lot in Williamsburg on that date. His attornies were to be reimbursed by having their fees deducted from his armourer's salary. Bird also had subsequent dealings with the government as a courier because the Colonial Council, on 29 August 1751, "Order'd that the Receiver General pay James Bird, Sixteen Pounds for Several Journey's on the Government Service."51 Several months later, on 12 December, that body ordered the Receiver General to "pay James Bird £11..12s..0d. for going express to Colo [James Patton an Indian Commissioner] and the President's on other Services for the Government.">52
Bird later fell upon hard times. On 23 February 1759, the Council received the following appeal:
... of John Lane, Sergeant of the Court of Hustings for the City of Williamsburg, praying relief of the Board on Account of his having discharged one James Bird, upon whom he had served an Execution at the suit of One Emery Hughes for £32-7-9 by Order of the late Governor, who had employed him to go Express to New York, the Petitioner being now without Hopes of 18 recovering the Debt, the said Bird having absconded in low Circumstances, by which he was become liable himself for the debt, was read and upon due Consideration, rejected.53
Bird's successor was a gunsmith named Joseph Davenport. Like so many other persons employed at the Magazine during these early years, we only have scanty records about him. The only thing we can definitely say about Mr. Davenport is that he received his £6 semiannual wages.54
In May, 1746, the Assembly appropriated funds for another expedition that was to be sent far from Virginia's borders. This time the objective was Canada. Entitled "An Act for giving a sum of money, not exceeding four thousand pounds, towards defraying the expence of inlisting, arming, cloathing, victualling, and transporting the soldiers raised in this colony, on an intended expedition against Canada," it provided:
... wheras the soldiers so to be raised, cannot be timely supplied with arms in any other manner, than out of the public magazine: Be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That it shall and may be lawful to and for the said John Robinson, esq., Mr. Secretary Nelson, Richard Randolph, William Beverly, Beverly Whiting, Benjamin Waller, Carter Burwell, Edward Digges, and John Harmer, gentlemen, or any five of them, to cause the soldiers to be furnished with arms well-fitted, out of the arms belonging to this colony, now in the public magazine , upon obtaining a warrant or warrants under the hand of the lieutenant-governor, or commander-in-chief, for the time being; and to deduct the cost and charges of such arms so to be furnished, together with the expence of refitting them, out of the money herein given and granted.55
Only one company of troops reached New York, the others were needed closer to home, but these developments show that the 19 Magazine was once more beginning to assume a position of importance in the colony's affairs.
This introductory chapter has delved into the origins of the Public Magazine and has attempted to throw some light on the men who actually worked there. The next chapter will concern itself with further additions to the building and the continuing story of its staff. The Magazine was an integral part of Virginia's military establishment. Subsequent developments, especially those on the turbulent frontier, will show how men such as Edward Braddock, Robert Dinwiddie, and George Washington, not to forget a few thousand French and Indians, played a significant role in its future.
("[General Braddock] wrote for 400 Small Arms w'ch I sent him, with 500 sent the New Jersies and 800 to New York, [which] Leaves our Magazine very bare of Arms.") --- Robert Dinwiddie, 2 June 1755.
On 12 July 1750 Thomas Lee, Acting Governor of the Colony, sent a brief inventory of military stores in Williamsburg to the Duke of Newcastle, Britain's Secretary of State. Lee stated that the Public Magazine was the repository of 364 muskets, bayonets, and cartouche boxes, 59 barrels of powder; 50 cases of ball, 53 tents, and "2 Mortars wt . 562 & 326."56 The Governor's Palace was even more heavily equipped containing no fewer than 276 muskets, 100 carbines, 193 pistols, and 264 swords. There were also seven pieces of brass ordnance including two nine pounders and one five pounder. The others were made of iron of which two, curiously enough, were situated at Bruton Parish Church.57
This brings us up to another one of those frustrating information gaps in the Magazine's history. Aside from the usual semiannual notations of the armourer's salary being entered on the pages of the Colonial Council's Journals, no known data exists about the building or its personnel until 1754.21
However, such obscurity would not be the norm for too much longer. England and France, after sixty years of their long on-again-off-again struggle, were reaching a point of no return. The decisive showdown for control of a vast empire, ranging from the forested depths of North America to the teeming bazaars of India, was at hand. This massive confrontation, known to history as the Seven Years' War, could trace its origins to developments occurring at the Forks of the Ohio River. Here, the French, after driving out a small defending force of Virginia militia in 1753, were building a fort whose very name would soon send a shudder of terror along the colonial frontier: Fort Duquesne.
Governor Robert Dinwiddie was quick to see the danger. A militia formation, known as the Virginia Regiment, under the command of young Major George Washington, was sent to observe the actions of the French. In addition, they were "to protect our frontier Settlements from the incursions of the French and Ind's in F'dship with them."58
Apparently, the supplies in the Magazine had been depleted since Governor Lee sent in his report four years earlier because the only available items Dinwiddie was able to send Washington from it consisted of twenty-four tents.59 The Magazine even lacked pole arms for the officers, so Dinwiddie told them to use small arms as symbols of rank.60
Shortly thereafter, in a letter to Governor James Hamilton of Pennsylvania, Dinwiddie said that he had "Not above 350 Small Arms remaining in our Magazine, some thereof I believe must be 22 sent to the Ind's."61 He was trying to get the governors of other colonies to act with Virginia against the French, and several of them had requested arms and other military supplies for that purpose. Dinwiddie sent what he could but Virginia's resources were insufficient for her own troops. Dinwiddie explained this scarcity in a letter to North Carolina's Governor Matthew Rowen on 23 March 1754:
Since closing my Let'r of this date, I have examin'd into our Magaz'e, and find we have only 300 small Arms remain'g, that I hope you will be able to Supply Y'r Regim't in Your own Colony. We allow Bedding to the Soldiers, but send Tents with Them; we are also deficient in them, but I propose having some made. I found our Magazine very short of Warlike Instrum'ts, not having any Cutlasses, but Bayonets for the Arms. 62
In another communique, dated 10 May to Robert Darcy, Fourth Earl of Holdernesse and New castle's successor as Secretary of State, Dinwiddie complained that his military cupboard was practically bare:
Our Magazine is in want of almost every Thing-no Cutlasses, Mortars, Granad Shells, or Coehorn[s], all W'ch w'd be absolutely necessary in a Siege, or in retaking the Fort began to be built in his Majesty's Name, or do I care particularly to pay for these Supplies.63
In spite of the hard-working governor's efforts, Washington's little army, after some initial success, was forced to fall back to hastily prepared positions at Fort Necessity. Here, they were besieged by a superior French force and compelled to surrender on 4 July 1754. The results of this defeat were far-reaching. A distinguished historian of the period, Lawrence Henry Gipson, 23 has said that "what in the spring of 1754 had been Virginia's little private war, as viewed by Governor Glen of South Carolina, was by the following spring becoming Great Britain's War for the Empire."64
Britain was truly alarmed by this threat to her colonial dominions. Accordingly, two regiments of British regulars were sent to Virginia under the command of Major-General Edward Braddock as part of an ambitious campaign for 1755. These were to act in conjunction with the military forces of other colonies and drive the French from the Ohio Valley.
The Public Magazine played an important part in these developments. Supplies were sent from it to other colonies to aid in the common effort. In fact, Governor Dinwiddie was somewhat overzealous in his desire to see the French ejected. We get an idea of how he emptied the Magazine in a letter, dated 2 June 1755, to Governor Robert Morris of Pennsylvania:
I have supplied the Gen'l with 400 [muskets] and New York with 800, so that I have few left in our Magazine, but as I have the Expedit'n so sincerely at Heart, I was glad that I had those Arms to Supply them, not doubting they will be duly replaced.65
The end results of Braddock's expedition are well known, and it is not my intention to give a detailed narrative of that operation. To do so would be to wander too far afield from our main story. It must be said, however, that one of the Magazine's future guardsmen was somewhere in that winding column of redcoats and militiamen that slowly hacked its way through forest and underbrush towards Fort Duquesne. He was James Atherton, a young 24 corporal in the Virginia militia.66
It is ironic that Braddock would fail almost within sight of his objective. On 9 July 1755, the advanced column of his army made contact with the enemy less than five miles from Fort Duquesne. There was no ambush on the French part--both forces actually blundered into each other--but once the French saw how inept the British regulars were at defending themselves in the forest, they and their Indian allies began to pour a devastating fire into their massed ranks. The Virginians fared somewhat better in their defense procedures, but they became hampered by the panic-stricken regulars. Finally, when Braddock, who had vainly tried to set up some kind of battleline, was wounded, the army literally stampeded to the rear. Washington and a handful of officers and non-commissioned officers tried the stop the rout, but it was useless. Stung by fire from an enemy they could not see with hundreds of their companions lying dead or screaming for aid, with the wild screeches of drunken Indians ringing in their ears, the only thing these men wanted was to leave this scene of death and carnage as quickly as possible. The dying Braddock was carried off the field in a litter made from his own sash.67 More than a thousand of his men had been killed and wounded while Braddock himself had only a few more days to live.68 One of those wounded who managed to stumble away from the debacle was Corporal Atherton clutching a shattered left wrist.69
Braddock's successor, Colonel Charles Dunbar, made no attempt to resume the offensive even though the bulk of his army was still 25 intact. Instead, "to the amazement of the Virginia governor, Dunbar not only beat an ignominious retreat, but he also destroyed his ammunition and supplies, and had almost immediately thereafter to call upon the colonies for a great quantity of food."70
Braddock's defeat and the subsequent withdrawal of Dunbar left the frontier practically defenseless. The French and Indians did not wait long to take full advantage of the situation. Soon their far-ranging war parties were ravaging outlying settlements not only in Virginia but in neighboring colonies as well. As these incursions increased in intensity, it became apparent that countermeasures had to be quickly implemented.
On 5 August, Governor Dinwiddie addressed the House of Burgesses. His was an emotional appeal for them to vote the funds necessary for an effective defense posture against those "Brutal savages who are lurking and prowl'g ab't our habitations to perpetuate the most cruel Outrages and have justly subjected themselves to be considered rather as devouring Beasts of Prey than hostile Men."71 If the governor's language appears to be unduly harsh, let us keep in mind that for years a vicious conflict had been going on in which both sides had committed loathsome atrocities.
Dinwiddie ended his speech with words most important to our story:
The Magazine in this City is much expos'd, I therefore think it absolutely necessary to have a Guard-Room built, and a proper Guard established, to be by due Rotation constantly in duty. I hope you will agree w'th me that this is necessary, and accordingly appropriate a sufficient Sum for build'g the Guard-Room and paying the Guard.7226
The Assembly quickly responded to the governor's request. That very same day they passed "An Act for raising the sum of forty thousand pounds for the protection of his majesty's subjects on the frontiers of this colony."73 In addition to calling for the creation of adequate defense forces, it ordered:
... by the authority aforesaid, That Peyton Randolph, esquire, Carter Burwell, John Chiswell, Benjamin Waller, and James Power, gentlemen, or any three of them, be and are hereby appointed directors, to treat and agree with workmen, to erect a high and strong brick wall, to enclose the said Magazine, and to build a guard house convenient thereto. And that the said directors apply to the governor, to issue his warrants to the treasurer of the colony, for the payment of such sums of money, as they shall from time to time have occasion for the purposes aforesaid...74
It proved to be much easier to build a brick wall around the Public Magazine than to equip sufficient numbers of men for frontier duty. Dinwiddie had all but emptied the Magazine to supply Braddock's expedition. Colonel Dunbar, who had led the remnants of Braddock's force into winter quarters around Philadelphia, refused to return any of the supplies Dinwiddie had forwarded.75 The governor was left to fend for himself as best he could. As usual, this resulted in his writing a spate of letters requesting aid.
Meanwhile plans went ahead with the Magazine's wall. On 5 September The Virginia Gazette printed this notice:
The Persons appointed by Act of Assembly, to agree with workmen, for the building of a Wall round the Magazine, and a Guard House, will meet for that purpost on Wednesday next.76
Dinwiddie finally began to receive some help in response to his appeals. He was able to write Washington on 18 October that 27 "...There comes by the Sloop Alliance all the Small Arms fit for use in the Magazine, Ten B'ls Powder and some Lead."77 He hoped that many more weapons would be shipped to him from London by Christmas.78
On 29 October, he received more good news. Five hundred barrels of powder had arrived along with 400 stand of small arms. Several weeks later, he noted that the colony had received "... some Ordnance Stores, and one Mr. [Adam] Stephens to be Storekeeper to the Stores with Orders to land here four brass Cannon, 12 pounders with all their Appurtenances and some Powder, and he is order'd to reside at N. York..."79
One can imagine that the Magazine was a busy place what with workmen building the tall brick wall and the coming and goings of work parties who were either unloading supply shipments from overseas or preparing to send them out to various outposts. The 400 small arms that Dinwiddie received in October certainly did not go very far. By 23 February 1756, he was reporting to the Lords of Trade that:
... The Stores in the Magazine of this Gov't are as follows; 520 whole B'ls and 180 half B'ls of Gun Powder; 17 Caggs of shott, a bout thirty lb. weight; 8 Small Caggs of Flints; 28 Halberts and 12 Drums; no Small Arms, having sent Gen'l Braddock 400, and N. York and the Jersies 1300 and 800 to the Soldiers now in the pay of this Colony.80
This was an important period for the Magazine in other ways. The building received a keeper who remained in that capacity for more than twenty years. His name was George Pitt and because he is the first keeper associated with the magazine on whom we really 28 have some solid information, I would like to spend some time with him.
Pitt was born in the Parish of St. Swithin's on 11 June 1724. He became a surgeon by trade and journeyed to Williamsburg, arriving there on 8 February 1744. He married one Sarah Garland, widow, on 16 December 1753.81 In 1755, he was "... appointed by the English Government, Master or Keeper of the Magazine in Williamsburg , which contained all the Military Stores of the Province of Virginia."82 Dr. Pitt continued his medical practice in addition to being keeper and his office, called the Sign of the Rhineocerous, was probably a well-known Williamsburg landmark. Dr. Pitt's affluence is demonstrated by the fact that no fewer than nine of his slaves were baptized at Bruton Parish Church between 1762 and 1767.83
Pitt had been keeper for nearly a year when the Guard House was ready for use. At that time (April, 1756) the Assembly was asking Dinwiddie to "appoint an Officer, with a number of Men not exceeding Twelve, as a Guard to the Public Magazine in the city of Williamsburg, and to assure his Honour, that this House will provide for the Support and Maintenance of the said Guard."84
Who were the men that comprised the security force? We are most fortunate in having the following document because in it I was able to trace down some of the guardsmen stationed at the Magazine during the French and Indian War. It is dated 23 December 1762 and is in the form of:
A Petition of Michael M'Carty, James Atherton, Thomas 29 Jones, Sen., Thomas Jones, Jun., John Connelly, John Davis, Stephen, Foster, Bryan, William Shae, John Peal, Thomas Buckmaster, and John Archer, setting forth that they have been some Time employed as Guardsmen over the Magazine in the City of Williamsburg, and hope they have discharged their duty faithfully during which time they were exempt from mustering with the Militia, and or finding Arms: that they are very poor Men, and not able to spare so much from the Maintenance of their respective Families that they may be permitted to keep the Arms they made Use of when they Guarded the Magazine, which they promise shall always be ready for the Service of their King and Country, whenever occasion may require was presented to the House and read; and the Question being put that the said Petition be referred to a Committee.85
Perhaps the petitioners thought that the Assembly, looking forward to Christmas, would be generous. Unfortunately for them, this was not the case. Their request was denied.86
The above-cited document is most useful because it is the only known statement we have listing by name the Guardsmen who were used as a security force at the Public Magazine during the years 1756-1762, the year the guard was officially discontinued. Using their petition as a guide, I proceeded to run down all available "leads" concerning these men.
Time has blurred their faces and eight of them have slipped into obscurity: the Jonses, father and son, Stephen Foster, William Shae, John Peal, Thomas Buckmaster, and John Archer. The eighth man was merely listed as Bryan. We have fragmentary traces on three of the remaining four guardsmen: John Davis, Michael M'Carty, and John Connelly.
John Davis (if this is the correct John Davis, there being several of them residing in Williamsburg at the time) was the object of the following notation. On 9 June 1773 Benjamin Powell, 30 a master builder allotted two days pay to "Thos. Irvis & John Davis in Assisting puting up & Raising Scafolds &C. :18:10" for work done on the Public Gaol.87
Michael M'Carty had a slave baptized in Bruton Parish Church in 1762.88 Also, lots 78 and 79 on the Williamsburg Street Map of 1791 (?) were made out to M'Carty. The Williamsburg City Land Book: 1782-1802, shows that M'Carty paid taxes on his property from 1782 until his death in 1798.89 That is all we can ascertain, however, since the property was situated in James City County whose records, for reasons stated in Chapter One, are no longer in existence. M'Carty also tried for the Doorkeeper's position At the Capitol first in 1766 and again in 1772 but was unsuccessful.90
John Connelly provides us with a bit more information. When his job as guardsman was terminated, Connelly apparently turned to the hatter's trade because several entries to that effect are to be found in the Robert Carter Nicholas Account Books and the Webb-Prentis Papers.91
Connelly was also a family man. Between 1764 and 1770, he and his wife, Mouning, had three births entered on the ledgers at Bruton Parish-Church.92 The York County Records show that Connelly acquired city lot 323 on 19 August 1772.93
This now brings us to the last name on the petition, James Atherton is the one guardsman of whom we have more than a scattering of data. He was the only one with known combat experience. In 1755, as mentioned earlier, he marched with Braddock on his ill-fated expedition to the Monangahela where he suffered a severe 31 wound. Early the following year, Atherton and several others petitioned the Assembly to grant them some kind of disability compensation.94 His appeal was taken under consideration and on 30 March 1756 the following decision was reached:
On examination of James Atherton, late a Corporal it appeared that he was shot thro' the left Wrist, has thereby lost the Use of his Hand, and that he hath not received the said £5 .
... Resolved, that the said James Atherton, ought to be allowed the Sun of £20 as a recompence for the Damage he hath received and in full of the said £5 and his pay.95
It is possible that Atherton's soldiering experience may have been a deciding factor in his being chosen as a guardsman. His militia rank of corporal may have even made him senior to the others, but there is no textual evidence to support this theory.
Atherton was married, and his wife, Lucy, gave birth in 1759 to a son named James.96 In spite of his disability he was a carpenter in later years, and we have several vouchers showing him receiving payment for serves rendered. One of these, dated 21 October 1765, has Atherton earning £6.15.10 for pailing a lot.97 The Virginia Gazette Day Book: 1764-1766 has numerous entries under Atherton's name including such items as a bill for a runaway apprentice, an "Almanack" and "l Morocco Prayer Book."98
Apparently, Atherton's business was not very successful. He said as much in an ad he placed in The Virginia Gazette on 18 June 1767:
By great Severity and many Misfortunes, the subscriber is rendered incapable of carrying on the CARPENTER Business in the manner he had done for several years past: He therefore would be glad to engage with any gentlemen 32 by the year, either in Virginia, Carolina, Florida, or the West Indies.-He has tools for eight or ten hands. 99
Perhaps he had difficulty in lining up clients because he changed his mind as to his destination. Several months later, the Gazette printed a brief statement saying that Atherton intended to go to London.100 How he fared on his voyage, indeed if he even went to England, is unknown. We do know that he was back in Williamsburg by 1772. On 10 February of that year, Atherton, along with ex-guardsman M'Carty, were among those being considered for Doorkeeper at the Capitol. Both were unsuccessful. The delegates voted for a man with the interesting name of James Drinkard.101
Several years later, in the fall of 1774, Atherton sold a lot for £100 to John Shepard, a harness maker and a former guardsman himself.102 That is all the information we have on the known life of James Atherton with the exception of this notice placed in The Virginia Gazette on 3 February 1775:
Wheras my Wife Lucy hath behaved in a very unfriendly manner to me, this is to forwarn all Persons trusting her on my Account, and I will not pay any Debts she may contract. I intend to leave the colony soon and return in a few months.103
There are, two other guardsmen about whom we have some information. One of them, John Shepard, was stationed at the Guard-House in 1761. This can be verified by checking the following entry in Alexander Craig's Account Book for 1761-1763. Craig, a Williamsburg merchant of repute, noted that Shepard "went to keep the Magazine Guard" on 23 November 1761.104 Shepard was a journeyman harnessmaker with Craig at the time, so it is possible that other guardsmen worked at jobs during their off-duty hours.105 Perhaps 33 they worked out some kind of watch-standers schedule with the Officer of the Day. Until more information can be found to support this theory, however, it must remain speculative.
The final guardsman that concerns us was named Richard Vaudin. Mr. Vaudin is the most unique of them all in a way because he died while on duty at the Magazine. Vaudin left a last will and testament that contained a detailed inventory of his worldly possessions. The full text of this inventory can be found in Appendix A, and it shows us that Magazine guardsmen were not among the more affluent members of the community. Among Vaudin's possessions were listed such items as six pewter spoons, one tin pepper box, one frying pan, fifteen quart bottles, and one wine glass. The total value of his estate was put at £18.104.22.168 The following entry appears at the bottom of the will:
Ballance due to Richard Vaudin from the Country as a Guard to the Magazine to be added to the above is eight pounds five shillings two pence makes the whole.107
George Pitt verified the above and the will was duly entered on the York County Records in July, 1762. This statement provides us with the only known piece of information we have concerning the pay of the guardsmen. If, like the armourer, they received their wages semiannually, they may have earned something in the vicinity of £15-20 a year.
We now leave the guardsmen and return to Robert Dinwiddie who was still aiding other colonies in their struggle against the French and Indians. On 26 May 1757 he sent Governor George Lyttleon of South Carolina 100 barrels of powder from the Magazine along with 34 several boxes of lead shot.108 Virginia was certainly doing more than her fair share in contributing to the war effort. Dinwiddie even dispatched troops outside Virginia's borders if they could be spared. Such actions on his part had led to several clashes between him and the Assembly but, on the whole, they supported his measures. Therefore, on 24 December, he was pleased to write John Campbell, the fourth Earl of Loudon, and commander-in-chief of British operations in North America, that:
The Legislature readily obey'd Your Orders in sending Forces to So Carolina, with Powder & Lead from the Magazine; in short, my Lord, I must do the Country the Justice to say, that they have been more read than any of the others in supporting the Common Cause.109
Dinwiddie's term as governor was drawing to an end, and early in 1758, exhausted by his labors, he returned to England where he continued to maintain a keen interest in Virginia's affairs until death claimed him on 27 July 1770. So we say good-bye to Robert Dinwiddie. Like Alexander Spotswood and William Gooch before him, he had payed a significant part in the Magazine's development.
Let's return now for a brief look at the overall military situation.
The years 1756-1757 had not been successful for the Anglo-American cause. The French, even though heavily outnumbered and cut off from supplies from the mother country by a British blockade, fought with great skill and determination under such redoubtable leaders as the Marquis de Montcalm. The British, plagued with incompetent field commanders, interservice rivalries, and ignorance of the terrain, found it difficult to launch a sustained drive. 35 Colonial bickerings were also far from helpful. Things began to change, however, when the brilliant and mercurial William Pitt became Prime Minister in 1758. Under his dynamic leadership, Great Britain went over to the offensive on a world-wide scale. In 1758, Fort Duquesne, long a menace to frontier settlements, fell to a force led by the resolute John Forbes. The capture of this important position meant that France had lost her principal stronghold in the Ohio Valley. It also led to a significant decrease in Indian raids with many tribes defecting from their French allegiance and going over to the British side. That same year witnessed the surrender of the formidable French stronghold of Louisburg, long a guardian of the St. Lawrence River and Quebec, to young James Wolfe. In 1759, Wolfe won his famous victory over Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham before Quebec. With the capitulation of that great bastion, the days of New France were numbered. In 1760, Sir Jeffery Amherst led an overwhelming force in a thrust towards Montreal. The French, hopelessly outnumbered, yielded without firing a shot. French installations along the Great Lakes quickly followed suit. By the end of 1762, Britain had wrested an enormous empire from her ancient enemy.
The Public Magazine continued to serve its purpose as a supply center during these momentous years. Consignments of firearms, gunpowder, and other military supplies were received then sent on to places where they were needed. The security force stood their watch and used the Guard House for a shelter, waiting room, and lounge. Perhaps the keeper filed his copies of inventories, bills of lading, and receipts there as well.36
The Magazine also acquired a new armourer during this period. His name was Hugh Orr, and this gentleman has the distinction of being the first known blacksmith in Williamsburg.110 Orr served as armourer until October, 1763. Alexander Craig's Account Book shows that he charged Orr with transporting Magazine Stores from Capitol Landing in January, 1763.111 Orr died on 6 January 1764 and is buried in Bruton Parish Churchyard. The inscription on his grave marker is still legible and reads:
Here Lyes the Corps of Hugh Orr hammerman of Williamsburg who died Jan'ry 6th 1764 aged 54 years. 112
The guardsmen's days were also numbered but for different reasons. With the lessening of hostilities, many people felt that their services were no longer necessary. Accordingly, on 8 November 1762, the Assembly presented a motion to Dinwiddie's successor, Francis Fauquier, asking:
... that the Guard appointed for the Magazine in the City of Williamsburg be discontinued, it being at this Time, in the Opinion of this House, an unneccessary Expense to the Country; and that Mr. Bland do wait on him with the said Address.113
That same month "An Act for disposing of the publick stores of gunpowder in the Magazine in the City of Williamsburg" was read to the delegates. It said in part:
... that a large quantity of gunpowder is constantly kept in the public magazine in the said city; which, being left entirely unguarded, may be of dangerous consequence, as well to the publick in general as to the said city in particular.114
The Act further stated: 37
Be it therefore enacted, by the Lieutenant Governor Council and Burgess, of this present General Assembly, and it is hereby enacted, by the Authority of the same That from and after passing of this act it shall and may be lawful for the governor commander in chief of the colony for the time being, and he is hereby desired to cause the said gunpowder, or such thereof as he shall judge necessary, to be sold and disposed of for the best price that can be got; and one moiety of the money arising from the sale thereof shall be to our soverign lord the King, his heirs and government, and the contigent charges thereof; and the other moiety thereof shall be paid to the treasurer of this Colony for the time being, to be accounted for to the general assembly.115
Bland went to Fauquier with the Assembly's request and returned saying that the governor was in agreement. However, Fauquier did have one suggestion, saying that it would be wise to continue the guard until the powder was disposed of.116 Discussion of the bill continued into December, and it was read before the House several times.117 On 23 December, the guardsmen presented their unsuccessful plea.118 This was also the date that the act for disposing the gunpowder stores was approved.119
One powder sale took place in July, 1763. We have the receipts of the sale which can be found in the Webb-Prentiss Papers. On 17 July, James Cocke and Robert Prentis each received from William Prentiss £318.5 "being half of Sixty Seven bbls Gun Powder sold out of the Magazine."120 Some months later, on 22 February 1764, these same gentlemen received £98.12.3 "for the half of 25 ½ bbls of Gun powder sold out of the Magazine."121 It might also be noted here that Orr had been replaced as armourer by one John Bell who remained in that capacity until 1766.122 It is possible that both Orr and Bell, along with Pitt, played some part in the transferral of gunpowder.38
Gunpowder was not the only item in the Magazine to be disposed of. On 7 November 1764, keeper Pitt sent the following report to the Assembly:
A Representation of George Pitt, Keeper of the Magazine in the City of Williamsburg, setting forth that there is in the Magazine a large Quantity of Muskets, which have been examined and reported as unfit for Use, and are now lying as Lumber therein, which might be repaired without any great Expense. That there are also sundry other things which might be sold, and which will be wholly useless if suffered to continue any longer where they are. That the barrels in which the publick Powder is contained are in very bad order, to the great Danger of the Magazine, especially as the Magazine itself wants repairing, and praying the direction of the House therein, was presented to the House and read.
Ordered, that the said Representation be referred to the consideration of Mr. Attorney, Mr. Burwell, Mr. Phillip Johnson, and Mr. Grymes; that they examine the magazine and the stores therein belonging to the Publick, and report to the House what repairs are necessary to be made to the Repository of Arms, and what Stores it may be proper to dispose of.123
It was nearly a year before any action was taken on Pitt's recommendations. Finally, in October 1765, "An Act for the sale of the useless stores in the magazine at Williamsburg" was approved:
WHERAS there are considerable quantities of military stores of divers sorts now remaining in the publick magazine in the city of Williamsburg, which are of little use or value, and in a short time will be rendered entirely useless, if they continue there: Be it therefore enacted by the Lieutenant-Governor, Council, and Burgesses, of this present General Assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same , That Peyton Randolph, George Wythe, Lewis Burwell, Phillip Johnson, and John Randolph, esquires, be, and they are hereby appointed commissioners for the sale and disposing of the said useless military stores; and it shall and may be lawful to and for the said commissioners, or any three of them, after having carefully examined into the condition of the arms and other military stores in the said magazine, to sell and dispose of them as they shall judge unnecessary to retain in the said Magazine for publick use, or which may be destroyed or rendered useless by continuing there any longer: And 39 the said commissioners shall account for and pay one moiety of the money arising from the sale thereof to the receiver general of his majesty's revenues, and the other moiety to the treasurer of this colony to be by him accounted for in the general assembly. 124
After this piece of legislation, the Magazine faded into the background once again. The security force had long since departed, and the only two people now associated with the building were the keeper and armourer. One event of importance did occur. In 1766 John Bell departed Williamsburg to set up a new business in Portsmouth.125 His successor was James Anderson, a man who would play an important role in the Magazine's history. Mr. Anderson and his relationship to our building will be discussed more fully in Chapter Three.
In 1768, George Pitt was sent to London on official business by the governor. According to his son, Richard, Dr. Pitt:
...was nominated by the Governor as the most proper Person to bring over his Dispatches at the Critical Period. And upon his arrival in England he had several audiences with the late EARL OF CHATHAM, which afforded him an opportunity of laying before Government his finding out the Secret of making Saltpetre in Virginia , which was to have been rewarded by His Majesty's Letter of Patent...126
In 1769, some much needed repairs were made on the Magazine by Benjamin Powell, a prominent master builder.127 It was now fifty-four years old and beginning to show its age.
The 1770's arrived quietly, but the calm was deceptive. Within a few years, a storm would sweep over the land and completely alter the scheme of things. Revolution came to Virginia and, with it, the Magazine embarked on the most controversial and dramatic course of its history.
("The morning, between 3 and 4 o'clock, all the gunpowder in the magazine, to the amount, as we hear, of about 20 barrels, was carried off in his Excellency, the Governour's wagon, escorted by a detachment from the armed schooner Magdalen, now lying at Burwell's ferry, and lodged on board that vessel.") --- The Virginia Gazette, (Purdie), 21 April 1775
By 1770 the Public Magazine had been serving the colony for more than half a century. Now, in the tenth year of the reign of His Britannic Majesty, King George III, the Magazine entered into a quiet period, the last it would enjoy for many years.
It was a lull between storms. The 1760's had been rocked with turmoil as the British government, saddled with an enormous debt as a result of her struggle with France, sought to find solutions for her financial woes. British policy makers thought that the Stamp Act of 1765 would be a constructive step. When the Act became public knowledge in the colonies, however, it led to angry demonstrations and riots. The Stamp Act was hurriedly repealed, but Colonial resentment lingered.
The Proclamation Line of 1763 was another sore point with the colonists. The Line used the Appalachian Mountains as a natural barrier that confined settlers to a comparatively narrow 41 strip of land along the Atlantic Seaboard while the vast hinterland to the west was turned into a huge Indian Reserve. Thus, the royal government could tap the area's natural resources, such as the vastly profitable fur trade, and maintain it as a site for future land speculations.
Some people were so aroused by these actions that they talked about breaking away from the mother country and charting an independent course. However, by 1770, such rumblings appeared to have largely subsided. In Virginia, the popular Lord Botetourt was governor, and the populace were concerned with other things besides revolution.
In Williamsburg, Dr. George Pitt continued to serve as keeper while James Anderson carried on with his armourer's duties. This would be a good time to discuss the latter's background since he figures so prominently in our story.
Anderson was born in Gloucester County in 1740. Unfortunately, we have no information about his formative years or from whom he acquired his knowledge of the blacksmith's trade. It is known that Anderson purchased some bellows hides from Alexander Craig in 1762. Harold B. Gill, Jr., in his excellent study, The Blacksmith in Colonial Virginia, says that this was the earliest known reference to Anderson the blacksmith.128 In 1766, as mentioned in Chapter II, Anderson was appointed public armourer. In the meantime, he had purchased some lots in Williamsburg. Judging by this and other transactions, it can be ascertained that "... Anderson must have been at least a moderately successful businessman."12942
It is possible that Dr. Pitt was still in England during much of this time which meant that Anderson may have assumed the responsibilities of both armourer and keeper. Indeed, if this was the case, Mr. Anderson must have been a very busy man indeed. Pitt had returned to Williamsburg by late 1773. This is verified by an ad placed by him in the Virginia Gazette on 11 November:
The subscriber has on hand about eight or nine hundred pounds sterling worth of GOODS, which he will dispose of on reasonable terms.--It will be taken kind in those who have neglected paying their balances to my attornies during my being in England, if they will now Pay them to me as I have suffered much by such neglect. No further indulgence can be expected. 130
Meanwhile, age continued to take its toll of the Magazine. On 12 March 1772, Messrs. Benjamin Powell and Joseph Kidd presented claims to the Assembly for repairs made on the building.131 Powell, who had already done some work on the Magazine several years earlier, was a well-known master builder who had renovated many of the public edifices in Williamsburg including the Public Gaol and the Capitol.132
Pitt and Anderson continued to draw their salaries on a semiannual basis. Vouchers show that Anderson received his earnings on 25 April and 16 November 1773.133 There is also extant one of the few known pay entries issued to a pre-revolutionary war keeper of the magazine. Because of its uniqueness, I have quoted it in its entirety: 43
1774 Augt 25
To Geo: Pitt
To a Year & Four Month's Salary as Storekeeper to the Magazine, from April 25th: 1773
to this day at £20 pr Annum
Pay the Above
To the Treasurer
of Virginia 134
The man authorizing Pitt's salary was John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore who also holds the dubious distinction of being the last royal governor of Virginia. Dunmore was in Winchester at the time preparing to take the field against the Shawnee Indians in conjunction with such well-known frontiersmen as Michael Cresap and Andrew Lewis. This conflict, known to history as "Lord Dunmore's War," was the result of Indian opposition to land speculators, including Dunmore himself. A force of militia were raised with many of the men being supplied with arms and other equipment from the magazine. The one major engagement of the campaign, the battle of Point Pleasant which occured on 9 October 1774, was basically a draw. However, it was enough to make the Shawnee come in and sue for peace.135
This might well be called Dunmore's last victory in Virginia. Nine months later he fled Williamsburg for the safety of a British warship. This was due, in large part, to events of his own making, 44 the most significant being his ordering the removal of gunpowder stored in the Public Magazine. This incident, and its repercussions, are most important to our story and shall be discussed in detail.
By the winter of 1774-1775, relations between Great Britain and her American colonies had deteriorated to an alarming degree. The port of Boston had been sealed off by royal decree as a reprisal against those citizens who had participated in the famous Boston Tea Party of 16 December 1773. Four thousand British regulars were subsequently sent to that city to enforce the hard-line policies of George III and his ministers. The first Continental Congress had convened in Philadelphia in the autumn of 1774 to discuss these and other developments. Delegates from Virginia were participating in these deliberations along with other colonies.136
Dr. Pitt, a loyalist by persuasion and perhaps fearful of things to come, left Williamsburg that fall. He had been keeper of the Magazine for nearly twenty years, and his departure marks the definite end of an era. His successor, John Frederick Miller, had a tenure that was brief but memorable.
Lord Dunmore had received instructions from England authorizing him to remove the powder in the event of an emergency, but he wanted an excuse to justify its removal. He soon found one. Reports reached Williamsburg about a slave uprising in Surrey County.137 This proved to be groundless; however, Dunmore had found his pretext.45
Keeper Miller, in a deposition later given to a "Commotion Committee" investigating the removal of the gunpowder, stated that "About the middle of April last" he had:
Delivered up the Keys of the Magazine to the Governor, and he then left there twenty one barrels and a half of Powder, including the three unfitted, three hundred and forty two new Muskets, lately cleaned and in complete order, others that wanted but small repairs, and a large number of old Muskets and uther small Guns, almost useless, and many other Articles, which he could not enumerate.138
Another sources says that Miller had:
informed the town authorities that the governor had taken the locks (firing mechanisms) from the muskets and was planning to carry off the stock of powder. As a result the local volunteer company mounted guard on the magazine over the Easter weekend, and were still doing it on the night of the twentieth [April].139
Dunmore was helped by the fact that the volunteer guardsmen soon grew bored of their assignment. When several days went by without incident, they simply left their posts and went home to bed.140 Such laxity must appear strange by today's standards, but keep in mind that there was no actual state of war, and no one in Williamsburg had yet heard of the bloody confrontation between the minute men and redcoats at Lexington and Concord.
When Dunmore was notified that the sentries had straggled off, he quickly put his plan into operation. Lieutenant Henry Collins, commanding officer of the armed schooner "Magdalen" and a squad of Royal Marines were alerted for their task. Dunmore wanted them to remove the powder at night in order to avoid any difficulties with the populace. It was his intention to remove 46 the powder without anyone being the wiser. Unfortunately for Dunmore, his plan went awry.
There has been considerable debate as to the particulars of the operation, such as the size of the wagon, whether or not its wheels were greased, or if it was pulled by one horse or two. The exact route they took to the magazine is also open to conjecture. Ivor Noel Hume asserts that the most likely route was via the Palace stable yard and out into North England Street. He goes on to say that:
the side street would have given them fair cover until they reached the market square: once there they would have crossed the grass and stopped in the shadow of the new courthouse until they were certain that Duke of Gloucester Street, the main thoroughfare, was deserted. From there it was only 230 feet to the magazine gate and to the deep shadows cast by the building and its wall. The entire trip from palace to magazine should not have taken more than five or six minutes at Walking pace.141
The marines apparently reached their destination between three and four a.m. Once there, they proceeded to make their way around to the gunpowder room at the rear. They were able to seize a considerable amount of this valuable commodity, the exact amount like so many aspects of this operation is still the subject of controversy, load it on the wagon, and take the same to Burwell's ferry five miles outside of town, where the "Magdalen" was waiting for them.142 The following entry from "Magdalen's" log book gives us a concise account of the operation as seen through British eyes: 47
April 1775 Moord abreast Burwels Ferry in James River Thursday 20th at 3AM landed 20 men Armed to take some Gunpowder out of the Magazine at Williamsbg. at 6 the people returned with fifteen half Barrls. lost one Scabbard for Bayonet by handing the Arms into the Boat. at lPM had intelligence that the Inhabitants at Williamsburg were under Arms and threatened to attack the Schooner. got in readiness loaded with Round & Grape and put the vessel in a State of Defence.
However, the marines did not accomplish their primary objective which was to carry off the gunpowder undetected. They were observed and the alarm was quickly sounded. Dunmore, in a letter sent to Lord Dartmouth, the Secretary of State, said:
Drums were sent thro' the City - the indipendent company got under arms. All the people were assembled and during their consultation, continual threats were brought to my house, that it was their resolution to seize upon, or massacre, every person found giving me assistance if I refused to deliver the powder immediately into their custody.144
Williamsburg's mayor, John Dixon, put it somewhat differently. In testimony given before the Commotion Committee, the mayor admitted that while many townspeople were agitated over Dunmore's actions, he didn't believe or had he "heard any injury or insult was intended to the governor, and that after Dunmore had spoke to them and through the efforts of the magistrates and other Gentlemen, [they] were satisfied and returned home in quiet."145 Dixon also said that he saw Lieutenant Collins and another officer walk down the streets of the city unmolested that same afternoon.14648
In other testimony given before the committee, Dr. William Pasteur, a local physician, said that he had met Dunmore while tending to a patient at the Palace. According to Pasteur, Dunmore made "Use of several rash expressions," one of them being that if any harm came to Captain Collins, "or if any insult was offered to himself or either of them, that he would declare Freedom to the Slaves, and reduce the city of Williamsburg to Ashes."147
Dunmore then told Pasteur to convey his opinions to the Speaker of the house and other officials. Pasteur did as he was told with the result that two leading gentlemen of the city sent their families into the country for safekeeping.148 Such out-bursts did not aid Dunmore's cause in the least.
Word of the governor's action quickly spread throughout the countryside. Volunteer companies assembled in Fredericksburg with the announced intention of marching on Williamsburg to demand the return of the powder.
By 28 April nearly 700 men had gathered in the bustling community on the banks of the Rappahannock.149 By the time other contingents had joined them, the total force was estimated at 2,000.150 In Charlottesville, the First Company of Independents from Albemarle County vowed that they would "attend in Williamsburg properly equipped (& if not to be obtained otherwise) to enforce an immediate delivery of the powder, or die in the attempt."15149
In Fredericksburg, it was decided that one last effort should be made to convince Dunmore to return the powder without violence. Three messengers were chosen to convey their intentions to the governor with all due speed. They were ordered to return as quickly as possible if Dunmore's answer was in the negative so the troops could commence their march on the capital. One of the couriers, Mann Page, Jr., made the hundred-mile journey to Williamsburg in less than twenty-four hours.152 When the messengers arrived, they were quickly ushered into the governor's presence. Dunmore coldly told them that the powder was not to be returned. The couriers then left vowing (in Dunmore's words) "Vengeance of their enraged Confederate against me, and I am consequently in hourly expectation of their appearance."153 Dunmore knew that there was no way for him to hold out against a really determined assault inasmuch as the only British military units in the area were the marines and crew members of H.M.S. "Fowey" and "Magdalen."
Not only did Dunmore have to contend with the worsening situation in Virginia but, on 29 April, he received news of the fighting at Lexington and Concord. Fearing that his wife and children might be taken into custody, the distraught man sent them to the comparative safety of the "Fowery" anchored off Yorktown.154 This maneuver did not sit well with the townspeople. Many of them believed that Dunmore had sent his family to safety before carrying out his pledge to burn Williamsburg to the ground.155
Meanwhile, Mann Page had returned to Fredericksburg with Dunmore's answer. He also carried a letter from Peyton Randolph, 50 Speaker of the House. In it, Randolph said that he "was reasonably satisfied with the state of things, and he gave Page a letter to his council strongly urging that they should desist from their punitive intention."156 The camp council, which consisted of 102 delegates from fourteen militia companies, engaged in a long debate over Randolph's request. They eventually decided to disband for the moment rather than take the final momentous step towards war.157
The crisis was averted in Fredericksburg only to flare up again in Hanover. There, Patrick Henry was raising a large body of men with the expressed purpose of marching on Williamsburg and returning the powder to the Magazine. By 3 May, Henry and his men had arrived at Doncastle's ordinary, just sixteen miles from the capital. While there, he sent a small force to the home of Richard Corbin, the Receiver-General, to hold him hostage or obtain sufficient funds to cover the cost of the powder. When it was discovered that Corbin was at Williamsburg, Henry's men returned to camp.158
Carter Braxton, a prominent member of the assembly, had gone out to meet Henry in the meantime. Finally, after a lengthy discussion, Braxton was able to talk Henry out of marching on the capital.
By now, Dunmore had realized that his position was rapidly becoming more untenable. Reluctantly, he agreed to pay Henry £330 for the powder. The money was sent to Doncastle's Ordinary and Henry duly made out the following receipt: 51
Doncastle's Ordinary, New KentReceived from the Honourable Richard Corbin Esq., His Majesty's Receiver-General £330, as a compensation for the Gunpowder lately taken out of the public Magazine by the Governor's order; which money I promise to convey to the Virginia Delegates at the General Congress to be under their direction laid out in Gunpowder for the Colony's use, and to be stored as they shall direct ...159
May 4, 1775
Henry declared that the incident was closed. However, Dunmore now contrived to bring up some protection of his own to Williamsburg. This was in the form of forty-three marines from the "Fowey" under the command of its captain, George Montagu.160 One source states that the marines were so exhausted from their trek that "several of them tumbled into a ditch, which it was necessary to cross to prevent their being observed by the inhabitants of the town.161 Even though the marines did not make any fanfare about their arrival, their mere presence created tensions.
Perhaps some of the citizenry, thinking that Montagu's men were going to stage another raid on the Magazine, decided to go them one better by conducting one of their own. At any rate, on the evening of 4 May, "some person or persons unknown" broke into the building and made off with some firearms, swords, canteens, and other military accoutrements.162 Mayor Dixon, the Common Council, and the city alderman condemned the action and urged the populace to refrain from similar conduct in the future. They also asked those persons responsible for removing the firearms to return them immediately.163 In conclusion, the council said that if some "trusty person should be appointed by His Excellency the 52 Governor to be keeper thereof," they had the right man for the job.164 Their choice was Gabriel Maupin, who, like James Anderson, would be closely associated with the magazine in years to come. Another thing in Maupin's favor was that his Market Square Tavern was immediately adjacent to the Magazine.
By the middle of May, it appeared as if the turmoil had subsided. Lady Dunmore and her family returned to the Palace on the 12th of that month, and the marines were sent back to the "Fowey."165 Dunmore called upon the Assembly to convene on 1 June. The Colonial Council was very pleased by these developments, and it was hoped that a calming trend would set in.
This was not to be the case. Accounts of Lexington and Concord reached Williamsburg along with news of the British Army subsequently being bottled up in Boston by a large besieging force. There was also news of the bloodless capture of the great fortress of Ticonderoga. This bastion, strategically situated on the shores of New York's Lake Champlain as it were, could serve as an excellent "jumping off" place for any invasion of Canada. In Virginia, the countryside was still adamant over Dunmore's actions and people did not hesitate to make their feelings known. When the Assembly began its deliberations on 1 June, many of the members displayed their sympathies by wearing uniforms. Some consisted of a "shirt of coarse linnen or canvas over their cloaths and a Tomohock by their sides."166 Some of the delegates even brought rifles with them.16753
The first order of business was the selection of a house speaker. Peyton Randolph was elected to the position without opposition. Randolph then read Dunmore's opening speech to the assembly. During the next several days, procedural matters and unfinished business from the last session were taken care of. On Saturday 3 June, the House adjourned until Monday.
Late that night, a shot rang out in the vicinity of the Market Square. Townspeople were awakened by shouts and screams. A group of them traced the uproar to its source: the Public Magazine. Alexander Purdie's Virginia Gazette gives us a good account of what happened when:
two persons of this city who, with a number of others, had assembled at the magazine, to furnish themselves with arms. Upon their entering the door one of the guns, which had a spring to it, and was charged eight fingers deep with swan shot, went off, and lodged two balls in one of their shoulders, another entered at his wrist, and is not yet extracted; the other person had one of his fingers shot off, and the next to it so much shattered as to rend it useless, by which sad misfortune he is deprived of the means of procuring a livlihood by his business. Spring-guns, it seems, were placed at other parts of the magazine, of which, the publick were totally ignorant; and certainly, had any person lost his life, the perpetrator, or perpetrators, of this diabolical invention, might have been justly branded with the approbrious title of MURDERERS.168
This was the third time that the Magazine had been broken into since April. Yet, no steps were taken to establish a permanent security force there until 6 June, two days after the latest incident. By that time, it was really too late because an angry mob, infuriated by the spring-gun episode, broke into the building and made off with four hundred guns.16954
No one knows who actually installed the spring-guns though The Virginia Gazette (Dixon & Hunter) says that the gun was "said to be contrived by L--d D ----- e."170 Dunmore, in a subsequent communique to Lord Dartmouth, admitted that the device "had been placed by the keeper in such a manner that any person forcing through it would fire the gun against himself."171
Could the keeper in question be Gabriel Maupin? I find this hard to believe because it is very unlikely he could have retained his position, a post he held throughout the war, if he was suspected of being in collusion with Dunmore. Hume provides us with what is probably the best answer:
The general consensus was that the installation was the work of Marines from the Fowey during their May sojourn at the palace; and that was probably the truth of it. Although Dunmore may not have specifically ordered that the building should be booby-trapped, it is almost certain that he would have been told that it had been done. The fact that he did not order the guns' removal therefore left him with the responsibility for the outcome.172
At any rate, all this excitement prompted the Assembly into action. One development was the creation of a committee to investigate the disturbances of recent months, and to "enquire into the State of the Public Magazine."173 This was the "Commotion Committee" referred to earlier. It consisted of twenty-one members including such notables as Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Nelson, Charles Carter of Stafford, Francis Lightfoot Lee, and Carter Braxton.
Another development was the formation of a guard force for the Magazine. James Innes, the commander of Williamsburg's 55 volunteer company, was placed in command of the detachment. The guard would be maintained until the House ordered its disbandment.174
On 7 June, Dunmore, as requested, sent the key to the magazine to the investigating committee. This was one of the last official acts he performed as governor while residing in Williamsburg. In the early morning of 9 June 1775, the governor, along with his family, Captain Edward Foy, his secretary, and a few personal servants left the Palace for the security of the "Fowey" at Yorktown.175
He was never to return.
There was a great deal of maneuvering between the self-exiled governor and the Virginia Assembly in the ensuing months. Indeed, there were some who hoped that he could be persuaded to return to Williamsburg. However, that possibility became more and more unlikely as time passed. Dunmore eventually raised a flotilla which he used for the purpose of raiding communities and plantations situated along inland waterways. Then on 9 December 1775, his forces suffered a shattering defeat at the battle of Great Bridge. This forced Dunmore to evacuate his headquarters at Norfolk and on 1 January 1776, his ships opened fire on the city. From that time on nothing he did seemed to work right:
Later in the year Dunmore would again grasp a precarious foothold on Virginia soil, and again he would be pushed off of it. Throughout the rest of the war, apparently driven by a self-tormenting need to prove himself, he would beg for the chance of a "come back." He would still be trying in the spring of 1782, six months after the last flourish and the final exeunt at Yorktown.17656
Meanwhile, the inhabitants of Williamsburg were not shedding many tears over Dunmore's departure. Exactly the opposite appears to have been the case, and some of the city's youth even saw fit to form a military contingent of their own. One of their number was named Robert Greenhow, who, many years later, had this to say about them:
the youth of Williamsburg formed themselves into a military corps and chose Henry Nicholson as their Capt.; that on Dunmore's flight from Williamsburg, they repaired to the magazine and armed themselves with blue painted stock guns kept for the purpose of distributing among the Indians, and equip't as the minute men volunteers in military garb, that is to say in hunting shirts, trousers, bucktails, cockades and "Liberty or Death" suspended to their breasts as their motto; that they could and did perform all the evolutions of the manual exercise far better than the soldiers who were daily arriving from the adjacent counties; that their Captain, Henry Nicholson, he supposes, was about 14 years old.177
On 13 June, the Commotion Committee presented its report to the Assembly. Some of its findings have already been cited. In addition to these, however, there was an inventory of the Magazine's contents plus a description of the building's overall condition. For those who wish to read this interesting report, a copy can be found in Appendix A of this paper.
The inventory lists such items as nineteen halberds, 157 trade muskets "in pretty good order, but very indifferent in kind," 500 mallets, two bundles of match rope, 200 canteens, one tent and tent poles, one hogshead of powder horns and 127 bayonets.178 There were 100 knapsacks in the armourer's workshop while several kegs of ammunition remained in the powder room.179 The report 57 also specified that half-barrels of powder had been buried in the magazine yard "the top of which (in quantity about two half barrels) was totally destroyed by the late Rains, the rest very damp, but quite sound; this, his Excellency acknowledged to your Committee, was buried there by his orders."180
The report also referred to the incident of 6 June, when four hundred guns had been carried off, and went on to say that some of them had been returned as the result of the efforts of certain house members.181 The Committee concluded its findings by saying that the doors and windows of the magazine were in need of repairs, which is understandable considering the stresses the building had been subjected to in recent weeks. It was the Committee's opinion that once these repairs were made the magazine "will be sufficiently secure, it never having been proven otherwise since its first erection now sixty years past..."182
On 17 July 1775, when it became apparent that Dunmore was not going to return to Williamsburg, the third Virginia Convention met in Richmond for the purpose of settling the administrative crisis. They subsequently passed an ordinance creating a Committee of Public Safety for the purpose of governing the colony.183
At another meeting in Williamsburg, on 11 September, a military formation was raised to protect the capital. Patrick Henry was the commander-in-chief of this force, and he selected a field in back of the college as their campsite.184
There was still some difficulty in getting the weapons returned to the Magazine. On 29 September, William Finnie, who had 58 been appointed to supervise the collection of the firearms, ran the following ad in The Virginia Gazette:
THE subscriber being appointed to collect all the PUBLIC ARMS lately taken and lent out from the magazine in this city, notice is hereby given to all persons who have any of the same in possession to return them to the magazine immediately. All reasonable expenses for repairing the same when delivered, will be reimbursed to them.185
Several weeks later, on 12 October, the following notation was made in the Day Book of the Williamsburg Public Store Records:
|Dr pr Comty Safety|
|To||general Acct for|
|2||Blankets @ 11/ ------||£1. 3. -|
|2||Shirts (chick) 2 14/3 ------||8. 6|
|1||pr Shoes -------------------||7. 6 186|
|1||pr Stockings ---------------||2. 6|
This entry is most interesting for several reasons. It is the first time that I have used a direct quotation from the Williamsburg Public Store Records which are a huge compilation of military transactions that cover the period of the Revolutionary War in Virginia. Because of their size I have quoted from them rather sparingly, however, I have included a selection of these records in Appendix C.
Another interesting thing about the notation is the name of the armourer involved: Thomas Harris. I have been unable to discover if Harris was appointed as an interim armourer or if he was an assistant of James Anderson's. Thomas Harris is just another example of a name that appears for a brief moment of the pages of our story then vanishes.59
On 4 December, the fourth Virginia Convention convened in Williamsburg and remained in session until 20 January 1776.187 James Anderson found his work load increasing during this time as well. On 10 February 1776, he was awarded £ 119.2.10½ "the ballance on account for Smiths Work settled by the Commissioner."188
There is also evidence to show that the military formations stationed in Williamsburg were making full use of the Magazine's facilities. Captain George Stubblefield, from Spotsylvania County, an officer of the Fifth Virginia Regiment, made the following notation is his Orderly Book for 14 March:
Williamsburg Head Q'T'RS, March 14, 1776... The Q'T'R Master Gen'l is to apply to the Public Store Keepers for a Return of the Goods belonging to the Publick now on hand; he is also to Procure a Return from Mr. Maupin of the Quantity of Ammunition, Ball &c., in the Magazine, and to make a Perticular Report to the Commanding Officer by 9 o'clock To-morrow.189
Several days later, on 20 March, Anderson signed Articles of Agreement with the Committee of Public Safety. They were acknowledged by him and the Committee's President, Edmond Pendleton.190
On 9 April, a committee was formed to "examine into the State of the Magazine and the method of Gabriel Maupin's disposal and care of the public arms ammuni'n and stores."191 Several months later, on 11 June, Maupin was ordered to deliver one hundred pounds of powder to a blast-furnace operated by John Ballendine.192 Ballendine's furnace was located in Buckingham County.
On 17 June, the Keeper was told to give ten rifles to Captain Taylor of the first battalion "for the use of his company" and 60 ten smooth bores to one Captain Meade of the Second Battalion.193 Later in the month, Maupin was directed to provide "John Young for the use of Captain Travis One hundred pounds of Powder, One hundred pounds of Lead, twenty five twelve pound balls, and fifty swivel Shott..."194
Virginia's naval effort also concerned the Magazine. On 18 June, Maupin was instructed to send five hundred pounds of powder to Captain Calvert for the use of his galley, in addition to "one hundred and fifty Eighteen pound Shott, and five hundred pounds of lead and or Shott."195
Early in July, Anderson was awarded 142 pounds sixteen shillings as a quarterly payment "for the hire of his Shop and Tools, Wages of himself and workmen as publick armourers..."196 Anderson had a shop on his property, and it was here that much of his work was done. The men kept their forges ringing throughout the summer and on into the fall. Late in August the armourer received a large shipment of "Barr Iron."197 Anderson also found it necessary to run ads in The Virginia Gazette for "JOURNEYMEN, GUNSMITHS, and BLACKSMITHS" in addition to "8 or 10 healthy BOYS, as apprentices."198
One can readily ascertain that the Public magazine was once again a very busy place. It was now imperative, what with all the incoming and outgoing traffic, that the keeper undertake periodic inventories of the Magazine's contents. Maupin was ordered to do this once a month along with an "account to whom any part thereof may have been delivered."19961
When a military unit was discharged from active service, they were required to turn in all equipment that had been supplied them from the Magazine. The commander of the Buckingham County Minute Men received a directive to that effect on 9 August 1776.200
Also in August, General Andrew Lewis was "requested to direct another Magazine to be built at some convenient place as soon as possible, the Expence whereof will be defrayed by this Board, if Congress should not deem it a necessary Continental Charge."201 This was barely fourteen months after the Commotion Committee had reported the building "sufficiently secure."202 Work must have proceeded rapidly on the new structure because General Lewis was ordered to move all but four barrels of powder from the old Magazine to the new one on 23 December.203 It is most unfortunate that we really have no idea of where the "new" Magazine was located.
Elsewhere, things were not going at all well for the patriot armies. Since the evacuation of Boston in March, and the bloody repulse of a British naval squadron by the defenders of Charleston, South Carolina in June, American armies had suffered a series of major defeats on all fronts.204
In New York, less than two months after the formal announcement of the Declaration of Independence, Washington's untrained army was badly mauled by the British at the Battle of Long Island on 26 August.205 This was the beginning of a long retreat, a retreat that saw the fall of New York, the second largest city in the country; a retreat that continued across New Jersey; a 62 retreat that saw the American army grow smaller and smaller with each setback. In Canada, another American force, its ranks riddled by disease and desertions, fell back before the British. Only the desperate stand made by Benedict Arnold and his men at the Battle of Valcour Island prevented the British from capturing Albany and cutting the colonies in half.206 In the Carolinas, bands of Cherokees were ravaging the back country settlements. It was a hard time.
Several Virginia regiments were rushed north to help Washington in his desperate efforts to stem the British advance, but, as fall approached, his position was rapidly becoming more untenable. These included several units that had guarded Williamsburg. They were replaced by militia formations drawn from adjoining counties.
Danger also threatened from yet another quarter. Out beyond the Appalachians, Indian resentment against the small Kentucky settlements or stations was being fanned into open hostility by the British. This prompted a worried George Rogers Clark to write Virginia's State Council about "the defenceless state of the Inhabitants of Kentucky and ... requested on their behalf that a quantity of Ammunition ... be supplied them."207 The Council approved Clark's request and ordered 500 pounds of powder shipped to Pittsburg from whence it would be transported to Kentucky. Gabriel Maupin received orders to that effect on 21 August 1776.208
Things were not going too well in Williamsburg either, at least as far as the war effort was concerned. A serious shortage 63 of supplies was making itself felt as requests came in for materials that simply were not available. If things were not bad enough, illness struck the volunteer militia force guarding the capital. One company from Sussex County became so incapacitated that they were discharged and:
... all Guns, Blankets and Camp Utensils Belonging to this State ... in the said Company's possession be delivered by the Captain to the Keeper of the publick Magazine; and that he produce for the same the said Keeper's Receipt to this Board. 209
Finally, there was some good news. On 28 October, Maupin received some badly needed gunpowder that had been brought in by the Schooner "Betsey".210 Gunpowder by this time was literally worth its weight in gold, and shipments, such as those brought in by the "Betsey", were most welcome.
Several weeks later, on 14 November, Maupin was told to deliver a load of firearms to one Luke Jennings with the understanding that they would be sent to the State Manufactory of Arms at Fredericksburg.211 The factory had been in operation since February, and one of its first tasks had been to "make new locks which had been kept in the public magazine in Williamsburg."212 These were the same weapons whose locks had been removed by Dunmore in 1775.213
Less than a week later, Maupin was instructed to receive "no Arms from any of the Manufactories in this State without having a certificate that they had been proved [test-fired] and in case there should be any offered without such Certificate, then proceed to prove them in the usual manner."214
For some time, there had been concern about the safety of 64 the gunpowder stored on the Eastern Shore. There were fears that the British might swoop down and destroy or capture the precious commodity. It was decided, therefore, on 13 December, that all "Publick Powder be transferred from there to the Williamsburg magazine."215 This was also the day that one of Anderson's appeals for more assistants appeared in the Gazette.216 It was similar in tone to ads he had run back in August.
The new year arrived with some misgivings. General Washington's army had scored two brilliant victories over the British at Trenton and Princeton (26 December and 3 January 1777), but this good news was offset by the departure of large numbers of Virginia's Continental Line. Since the contingent of minute men guarding Williamsburg had been discharged as of 10 December 1776, this meant that the capital was practically defenseless.217 There was always the possibility that landing parties from the British warships could ravage the area. The Virginia Gazette reported that two or three ships were operating in the vicinity of Hampton Roads and had captured several prizes.218 The state council had these developments in mind when it issued the following directive announcing that:
... the arrival of three Ships of War, and the march of the Continental Troops from this state to join his Excellency General Washington, make it necessary to call in the Militia of some of the Adjacent Counties for the Protection of the Ports of Hampton, York, and Williamsburg, and as a guard to the Magazines until a sufficient number of new Levies can be brought into service. It is resolved that fifty men from each of the Counties of James City, New Kent, Hanover, and King William to be stationed in this City; that fifty men from each of the Counties of Charles City, Surry, and Sussex, be stationed at Hampton, and that one hundred men from the County of Gloster and fifty men from the County of 65 King and Queen, to be stationed at York.219
In the meantime, Anderson had received orders to clean a large shipment of arms that had been sent down from the Head of Elk.220 This was a hamlet that was strategically situated at the upper portion of Chesapeake Bay. Supplies from Head of Elk could be moved south by water which was much quicker than the land route but more dangerous if British warships were around.221 Some artillery supplies reached Burwell's Ferry in February. Maupin was ordered to pick them up on the 24th and have them "removed to the Public Magazine."222
A number of troops who had drawn supplies from the Magazine were apparently reluctant to part with them. The council sought to prod these laggards into compliance by warning them that if those supplies belonging to the state were not returned, the guilty parties could "depend upon being prosecuted."223
Shortly thereafter, Anderson entered into the following agreement with the government. He promised to work:
... at his shop in Williamsburg on the following terms for six months, and for a longer time unless he shall give the Board [of war] one month's notice of his intention to decline the Business, or they shall give him the same notice of their intention to discontinue him viz, Mr. Anderson is to be allowed fifteen shillings per day for his own wages including Sundays, for the rent of his shop, six setts of Tools, and eight vices for Gunsmith's Business at the rate of ninety pounds per annum, he is to be allowed 1/6 per day for boarding each workman, for his two forges and five apprentices three pounds per month each, and if he is deprived of either of them by accident he is to supply their place with another hand as good; He is to employ other such workmen as the public Business requires on the best terms he can and charge the country with whatever wages he pays.22466
We can see by the quotation cited above that Mr. Anderson was now in charge of a major operation. He and his men were being paid quarterly instead of biannually. Many times they were called upon to work seven days a week. Anderson's forges had become an integral part of Virginia's war effort.
So, work continued on throughout the spring and into summer. Anderson received a shipment of coal early in April and another consignment reached him on 9 May.225
The scarcity of coal continued to bother the armourers. Another shortage, equally as serious, was the lack of bar iron. Anderson stated his need to the council and they replied by authorizing one William Aylett to "send a vessel to Mr. James Hunter at Fredericksburg for four tons of such sized Bars as the said Anderson may want."226 Anderson received his iron later that summer and Aylett was paid £104.7.10 for delivery.227
There were other things that happened in this Summer of the Three Sevens. The British succeeded in capturing Philadelphia in September, and General Washington's army lost the two hard-fought battles of Brandywine and Germantown (11 September and 4 October) to the redcoats.
It was in upstate New York, however, where the decisive encounter took place. On 17 October, barely four months after it had so confidently left Canada with the intention of splitting the colonies in half, the battered and starving remnants of General "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne's army surrendered to the Americans at 67 Saratoga. The entire course of the war changed as a result of this momentous victory. France, still smarting over the loss of Canada to Britain in the Seven Years' War, came out openly on the side of American Independence. Spain, still smarting over the loss of Florida to Britain in the Seven Years' War, did likewise. What had started out as a local conflict between Great Britain and her rebellious American colonies had escalated into a global confrontation.
As noted earlier in the chapter, Anderson was a man of some means who owned property in Williamsburg and Yorktown. On 21 July, the Board of War noted:
...that a Commodius dwelling house and outhouses at York Town belonging to Mr James Anderson might be purchased for the Sum of two hundred and forty pounds and that the said Houses would answer all the purposes of an Hospital at that Station and save the Expence of building one at this time.
Ordered that Doctor Matthew Pope be empowered to Contract with the said James Anderson for the purchase of the said House ...228
The armourer did not neglect his other duties, seeing to it that John Wilson and Company were paid £50 for 560 pounds of blistered steel.229 Blistering was a carbonizing process used in raising welts on the metal. The finished product was then turned into such things as frizzens, gun springs, and bayonets.230 Shortly after he received the steel shipment, Anderson was told to deliver 2000 nails to the commanding officer of the "Casewell" galley which formed part of Virginia's small naval flotilla.231 It was important to keep the ships seaworthy because there were more reports of British naval forces operating in the vicinity.68
On 15 August, the officer responsible for the defenses of Williamsburg was ordered to put his men on the alert and to post a lookout at Burwell's Ferry. Gabriel Maupin was told to "cause all the Arms under his care which are unfit for use, to be immediately sorted & set apart for service, and to cause those which are out of Order to be repaired without Delay."232 James Anderson was directed to lend a hand in repairing the public arms.233 A guard force was sent to watch over the supplies at the Magazine. Also, a Captain's Guard was:
... immediately to attend to & assist the Keeper of the Magazine, & the Armourers in assorting & repairing the Arms & Accoutrements for Action - And to take charge of the Cannon now in the Magazine yard, & have them furnished with the necessary Apparatus, & put under the particular Directions of such officers & Men, of the Troops under his command, as he may judge most Capable of serving them to advantage.234
The threat subsided and things went back to normal, but there was a growing realization that the capital was vulnerable in the fact of a really determined offensive by the enemy. More and more people were coming around to the idea that the capital would have to be moved to a safer location and the small community of Richmond appeared to be the best choice. Until the actual move occurred, however, the Public Magazine would continue to serve its function.
On 20 September, the following entry was made in the Public Store Records Day Book. It shows that Anderson's workmen were also provided with a clothing allowance:
James Anderson 235
pr Or Mr Page Dr To Sundries pr Mr Anderson for clothing the Workmen Viz 2 ¾ yds Coating @ 20/ ---------------------------- 2.15. 3 Yds Honleys @ 12/ -------------------------------- 1.16. 3/ yd Cloth @ 3/ ----------------------------------- .18.- 69 14 Yds Oznbrigs @ 3/ ---------------------------- 2. 2. 6 Hs Turst ------------------ 7 ½d -------------- .3.9 3 pr Shoes @ 8/ ---------------------------------- 6 pr Hose @ 5/ ----------------------------------
They were even supplied with bedclothes, blankets, and sheets.236 We have documentary evidence showing that they had housing provided by the government as well.
Anderson was forced to get help anywhere he could. The JCSV shows that the armourer wanted to buy James Sharpley "a Convict Servant who is by Trade a Blacksmith & has five years yet to serve, for fifty pounds."237 Anderson's request as approved by the council who awarded him the necessary funds.
The six month agreement between Anderson and the council back in March expired on 21 September. A new one was not drawn up until 3 December but was made retroactive to September. Under its terms, Anderson was awarded £32 each month for nine men and twenty shillings per diem for himself with the exception of Sundays. The journeymen's wages were to be "as Cheap as Mr Anderson can get them for."238 In addition, he was allowed to draw rations for his men plus a load of wood each week for cooking purposes. Anderson attended the council meeting and accepted its terms.239
The winter of 1777-1778 saw Washington's army suffering incredible hardships at Valley Forge while the British enjoyed the comforts of Philadelphia. It was at Valley Forge, however, in spite of the abominable conditions, that the American army really came into its own, aided in part by the incessant drilling of 70 Baron von Steuben. Their new-found abilities stood them in good stead in the months to come.
George Rogers Clark received permission from the state council to launch his offensive against the British in the Illinois country in January. He drew the bulk of his supplies at Fort Pitt; supplies which, in part, may have been sent from the Magazine in Williamsburg.240
This is a good time to remember that Maupin and Anderson had to tend to private matters in addition to their public duties. Both were family men and both had businesses in Williamsburg. Maupin was the proprietor of the Market Square Tavern next to the Magazine. He was also an active member of the Botetourt Chapter of Free Masons, and it is possible that the Lodge Rooms may have been situated at his house for a number of years.241
The Colonial Williamsburg Research Library has several of Anderson's account books in their microfilm collection. One of these, Ledger B, contains notations for the period 1778-1785 and has 66 pages of entries for the years 1778-1779, including the names of his customers. Gabriel Maupin is listed as one of Anderson's regular patrons.242 Unfortunately, there are comparatively few entries for 1780-1781. This may have been the result of the transferral of the state capital to Richmond in 1779-1780 or the uncertain military situation in Virginia prior to Yorktown.
On 5 February 1778, Anderson was ordered to deliver 500 pounds of iron to "Robert Gibbons for the use of the Garrison at York."243 The Public Store Record contains other references to 71 Anderson's and Maupin's activities in 1778. They show that Anderson received 2251 pounds of steel on 14 May 244 while they reveal that Captain Joseph Wrenn of the schooner "Defiance" was issued the following items from the Magazine "12 Muskets, 36 flints, 100 2-lb. Ball, 50 Swivels Ball, 6 lb Sheet lead, 2 Dutch Ovens and 50 lb Powder" on 22 June.245
The entries continued in this vein for the rest of the year, and there is nothing extant to show that this daily routine was disrupted. However, the period of comparative calm did not last too much longer. The year 1779 wrought major changes on the lives of Virginians including those who worked at the Public Magazine.
Since the departure of Lord Dunmore's fleet from Chesapeake Bay in the summer of 1776, the Old Dominion had been subjected to little more than nuisance raids by the British along her coastal areas. Her best troops, those of the Continental Line, had been sent North to help General Washington leaving only the local militia to defend the area as best they could. Now, the British, after four years of fruitless endeavors in the North, shifted their attention to the southern theater of the war.
On 10 May 1779, they landed a force of 1800 men at Portsmouth and seized the town without opposition. Units of this force pushed on and occupied such small communities as Gosport and Suffolk:
They sacked and burned all the towns, looted the neighboring plantations, destroyed or carried off 130 vessels and 3,000,hogsheads of tobacco, inflicting a loss estimated at £2,000,000 and sailed away, loaded with plunder without the loss of a single man.24672
Virginia's long Ordeal had begun.
The British incursion into the lower Tidewater made itself felt in other ways. It was finally decided that Williamsburg was too vulnerable to attack and that the capital should be moved to Richmond.247 This meant that all governmental facilities would be transferred to a new location. This was accordingly done throughout the remainder of 1779 and on into 1780.
There was a spurt of activity during the British raid of May. Maupin had two assistants working with him who were dismissed after the crisis had passed. They were paid £16 for their services.248 Work still went on at the Magazine while the actual transferral was taking place. In fact, the Guard House even had some repairs made on it during the spring of 1780,249 but the emphasis had really been shifted to Richmond.
By the end of 1780, the transfer was complete, and we have this last entry from The Calendar of State Papers:
1780. December - Richmond.List of Ordnance Stores sent to Richmond from the Magazine in Wmsburg by Capts Pelton & Jennings - Guns: Bayonets, Pistols - Buck Shott, Musket Ball - Rifles, Halberts, Blunderbusses -250
The war still went on and Virginia reeled under its impact. The British expanded their operations in 1781 laying waste to large areas of the state by midsummer. Richmond was occupied and razed. Many government buildings were among those destroyed along with a great many military stores. It is one of the grim ironies of war that much of this material that had been moved from 73 Williamsburg to Richmond for safekeeping was destroyed anyway.
But, all this happened after the Williamsburg Magazine no longer served as the commonwealth's primary military storehouse. Some supplies were still kept there but only for local troops.
Finally, it ended: at Yorktown. The British marched out of their battered fortifications with fifes playing "The World Turned Upside Down" and swung down the road into history along with their American and French captors.
The Public Magazine had served colony and commonwealth for nearly 65 years. It performed a necessary service from Governor Alexander Spotswood's time down to that of Thomas Jefferson. Many people had worked there in various capacities, some as keeper, some as armourer, and some as guardsmen. They ranged all the way from men of means such as Dr. George Pitt and James Anderson to Richard Vaudin whose sole legacy to us was his will.
In conclusion, I must say that I have come to know and like these men very well. I can only hope that those of you who read this manual feel likewise.
November 1714 - lst George I.
AN ACT FOR ERECTING A MAGAZINE
I. WHEREAS our late soverign lady queen Anne, of her grace and bounty, was pleased to bestow a considerable quantity of arms and ammunition, for the service of this colony, which are in danger to be imbezzled and spoilt, for want of a convenient and proper place to keep them in.
II. Be it therefore enacted, by the Lieut. Governor, Council, and Burgesses, of this present General Assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That as soon as conveniently it may be done, there shall be erected and finished one good substantial house of brick, which shall be called the magazine, at such place as the lieutenant-governor shall think proper: In which magazine, all the arms, gun-powder, and ammunition, now in this colony, belonging to the king, or which shall at any time thereafter be, belonging to his majesty, his heirs or successors, in this colony, may be lodged and kept. For the building and finishing which magazine, there shall be laid out and expended any sum or sums of money, not exceeding two hundred pounds; to be levied and paid out of the monies already appropriated and ordered to be paid out of the said duty, are fully satisfied and paid: And the honourable lieutenant-governor is hereby impowered and desired to order and direct the building the said magazine, and to issue his warrant, from time to time, on the treasurer of this dominion, for the paiment of the money hereby given.
III. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That so soon as the said magazine shall be fit to receive therein the arms and ammunition, it shall and may be lawful for the lieutenant-governor, or the governor or commander in chief of this dominion, for the time being, to constitute and appoint a person to look after and take charge of the magazine, and the ammunition which shall be lodged therein; which person so appointed, shall be called the keeper of the magazine, who shall and receive the yearly salary of twenty pounds: And also to constitute and appoint one other person to take care of, keep clean, and mend the arms which shall be kept in the said magazine; which person shall be called the armourer, who shall have and receive the yearly salary of twenty pounds. Which said salaries of twenty pounds hereby given to the keeper of the magazine, and to the armourer, shall be paid and satisfied yearly, out of the monies arising by the said duty on liquors and slaves, after the monies already appropriated and ordered to be paid out of the said duty, shall be fully satisfied and paid.
IV. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That when, and so soon as there shall be a company enacted and incorporated by charter, or act of assembly, by the name of the Virginia Indian Company, or by any other name, to trade with the Indians tributary to this government, or foreign; such company shall, before they be permitted to use or exercise their said trade, pay to the treasurer of this dominion, the sum of one hundred pounds, in part of such money as shall have been laid out and expended, by the directions of this act, for building and firnishing the said magazine.
An Accompt of Arms & Ammunition belonging to her Majesty_ within the Colony of Virginia [1712 inventory: Italics Added]
Remaining in the several Countys where they were dispersed for the Service of the Militia.
|Musquets||Carabines||Pr. of Pistols||Swords||Cartouche Boxes||Powder Barells||in Ball Pounds|
Most of the Arms are unserviceable and the powder very much decayed.
An Account of the Stores of War belonging to his Majesty within the Colony of Virginia
|Pair of Pistols||134|
|Shott, Musket||4 Tuns|
At the Batteries
|James River - Point Comfort|
|Muscovy Lights||Irons /?/|
|Matchs||Handelan Servers /?/|
|Cartridge Paper||Ladles, Sponges, Worms.|
An Accot. of the Stores of War in the Colony of Virginia Anno. 1728.
|James River||York River||Rappahannock River|
|Point Comfort Battery. - 12||Yorktown. -- 10||Corrotomen. -- 5|
|Tindals Point - 13||Tappahannock.- 3 /?/|
N.B. These are of different sizes from 24 to 6 pounders
James Town.--6 Williamsburgh. 7 but only 2 serviceable & those 3 pounders
Carrotomen 21 pieces of large Cannon wch have lain upwards of 40 years under water but may be raised.
1700 Iron Shott of different sizes for the several Guns above-mentioned
Corn Powder --- 78 Barrells
|Tenant saws||9||Powder horns||2|
|Bills & Poleaxes||17||Lanthorns||2|
There are several other Musquets Carbines and Pistols damaged and unfit for service lying in the Magazine at Williamsburgh.
Carriages such as are used in the Kings Ships, and bound with Iron &c.
|for Cannon of 27 lb ball||5|
|Do - - - - - - - - - -||15|
|Do - - - - - - - - - -||15|
|Do - - - - - - - - - -||10|
Acct of Stores of War at Williamsburg
|Muskets, Bayonets & Cartouch boxes||364|
|Bar's of Powder||59|
|Cases of Ball||50|
|2 Mortors Wt 562 & 326|
The complete report of the Commotion Committee appointed to inspect the contents of the Public Magazine of 5 June 1775, as appears in JHB, 1773-1776, pp. 223-224:
Mr. [Hugh] Mercer reported from the Committee appointed to inspect the Magazine in this City, and inquire into the Stores belonging to the same, that the Committee had inspected the said magazine and inquired into the said Stores accordingly, and had directed him to report the same, as it appeared to them, to the House; and he read the Report in his place, and afterwards delivered it in at the Clerk's Table; where the same was read, and is as followeth, viz .
It appears to your Committee from the Deposition of John Frederick Miller , keeper of the Magazine, that in June last there were there thirty barrels of Gun Powder, containing each about fifty weight, in indifferent order; that, by the Governor's directions, he fitted twenty seven barrels, out of which he made up twenty six Casks and better, the other three he left unfitted; That the President, soon after, sent to the Governor, then on the Frontiers, eight of those he had fitted, three hundred Muskets, Bayonets, Cartouch Boxes, and Carbines, which have never been returned; That one hundred and sixty of the said Muskets were furnished out of the Palace, and soon after replaced out of the Magazine; That the said Miller , by order of the President, also delivered out about fifty stand of Arms to some Gentlemen of this City which have not been returned.
That, about the middle of April last, the said Miller delivered up the Keys of the Magazine to the Governor, and he then left there twenty one barrels and a half of Powder, including the three unfitted, three hundred and forty two new Muskets, lately cleaned, and in complete order, others that wanted but small repairs, and a large number of old Muskets, and uther small Guns, almost useless, and many other Articles, which he could not enumerate.
It further appears to the Committee , from the Depositions of the said Miller , and John Dixon , Esquire, Mayor of this City, that there were in the Magazine (soon after the Powder was said to be taken away) with his Excellency, who there mentioned, that he had taken away fifteen barrels of Powder; They then saw eight Barrels, which they understood was Powder; one being opened, appeared to be a dust of Powder; and at the same time, they observed that the cleaned Muskets were without Locks; and the said Miller says his Excellency rebuked him for taking notice of that Circumstance, and the said Dixon said he observed some Persons had been in the Magazine the over Night, as he saw many arms lying in the Yard of it; and his Excellency then told him, he had ordered the the Powder to be buried in the Magazine Yard, for though it was but Dust, yet as he understood some Persons went in the Magazine for Arms in the Night, with a light, they might set fire to the Powder and injure the Magazine.
Your Committee farther Report, that before they proceeded to examine any Witnesses they waited on his Excellency, to request that he would be pleased to direct the Keeper of the Magazine to give them access thereto, and, having received the Keys three days after their first application, they immediately proceeded to inspect the Magazine, and found therein nineteen Halberts, one hundred and fifty seven Trading Guns in pretty good order, but very indifferent in kind, fifty one Pewter Basons, eight Camp Kettles, one hundred and eight new Muskets without Locks, about five hundred and twenty seven old Muskets, the barrels very rusty, and the Locks almost useless, twelve hundred Cartouch Boxes, fifteen hundred Cutlasses with Scabbards, one hundred and seventy Pistol Holsters, one hundred and fifty old Pistols, or thereabouts, with and without Locks, fifty Mallets, two bundles of match Rope, two hundred Cantines, thirty five small Swords in bad order, one Tent and Tent Poles, one Hogshead of Powder Horns, one hundred and twenty seven Bayonets, one hundred Knapsacks in the Smiths Shop, and that part of the Magazine called the Armory, also one half Barrel of Dust and rotten Powder, one half barrel and a quarter of unsifted Powder, tolerably good, in the Powder Room, that has no communication with the Armory, also five half Barrels of loose Powder buried in a Hole in the Magazine yard, the top of which, (in quantity about two half barrels) was totally destroyed by the late Rains, the rest very damp, but quite sound; this, his Excellency acknowledged to your Committee, was buried there by his orders, The deficiency, this Committee suppose, is owing to the fifteen half barrels which Captain Collins moved from the Magazine, as acknowledged in the Governor's Message to this House.
And your Committee farther report, that the Morning before they entered upon this business, some Persons unknown, had broke into the Magazine and taken out Arms, part of which, upon the application of some of the Members of this House, and other Gentlemen, were restored; and finding the Respect paid by the People to the Members of this House, your Committee thought it most likely, to prevent other depredations, to request some Gentlemen of the Town to guard the Magazine, till applications could be made to his Excellency for leave of access thereto, which your Committee immediately did, informing his Lordship of the Steps they had taken therein, which he did not object to.
That the Doors and Windows of the Magazine now want Repairs, which having been done, your Committee are of opinion that it will be sufficiently secure, it never having proved otherwise since its first erection, now sixty years past, until since the Powder was taken by order of the Governor aforementioned.
Your Committee also proceeded to enquire what Arms and Ammunition had been from time to time, deposited in the Magazine, and the disbursements thereof, but could obtain no certain Information respecting the same; the late Keeper being out of the Colony and his Predecessor dead; Nor can your Committee find, altho' they have examined several persons most likely to be acquainted with such Facts, and applied personally to his Majesty's Receiver General for that purpose, that any powder had been lodged in the Magazine from on board the Rippon , Man of War, or any other of his Majesty's Ships.
Ordered , that the said Report do lie upon the Table to be perused by the Members of the House.
|Henry Cary:||?-1726||Salathiel Quinie:||1713-1714|
|John Frederick Miller:||1774-1775|
|Gabriel Maupin:2||1775-1781||James Anderson:3||1766-1781|
A LIST OF GUARDSMEN STATIONED AT THE MAGAZINE
(N.B. RICHARD VAUDIN WAS A GUARDSMAN AT THE MAGAZINE WHO DIED IN THE SUMMER OF 1762.)
|One||Check Oznabrig Shirt 1 Strip'd Linnen Wascoat||...||7.6|
|6||Pewter Plates 7/6. 1 Pewter dish 3/||...||10.6|
|6||Pewter Spoons 1/. 1 Broad axe 2/6||...||3.6|
|1||Tin Pepper box 1 Wine glass 1 Teapot 1 Can||...||1.|
|2||Iron Potts and Hooks 7/6 - 1 Earthen Pan 8d||...||8.2|
|15||Quart Bottles 2/6. 1 Water piggin 6d||...||3.2|
|4||Rush bottom Chaiars 5/ .. 3 Boxes 7/6||...||12.6|
|1||Small Looking Glass 1 Frying Pan 2/6. 1 Bed and Bolster||...||3. 2.6|
|1||Bedstead Matt and Bedcord 6/. 1 Rug and 1 Oznabrigs Shirt 12/6||...||10.6|
|3||Blankets 2 of 1 Cloth Coat 2 Waist coats and breeches 2 of||...||2 .|
|1||Square Table 1/ - 1 small potrack and Sundries 2/6. 1 Tea Kettle 5/||...||8.6|
In Obedience to York Court we find the above sum of nine pounds ten shillings and ten pence is the Appraisement of Richard Vaudin Estate July 5th 1762
Ballance due to Richard Vaudin from the Country as a Guard to the Magazine to be added to the above is eight pounds five shillings two pence makes the whole.
[Dr. George] Pitt
p. 4 Thos Harris Armourer
Dr pr Comty Safety
|To||general Acct for|
|2||Blankets @ ll/ -----------||£ 1. 3. -|
|2||shirts (check) @ 14/3 ----||1. 8. 6|
|1||pr Shoes -----------------||7. 6|
|1||pr Stockings -------------||2. 6|
JOURNAL OF THE COUNCIL OF VIRGINIA (hereafter cited as JCV) Vol. II., p. 410.
February 10, 1776Ordered a Warrant to James Anderson for £119.2.10 1/2 the ballance on account for Smiths Work settled by the Commissioners
Ibid., p. 459, appendix Wednesday 20th March 1776
Present. The Members for the preceeding Day.
Articles of Agreement between James Anderson Blacksmith & the Committee on behalf of the public, were Signed & acknowledged by the said James Anderson and Edmond Pendleton Esquire President, and ordered to be recorded.
Williamsburg Public Store Records
p. 174 PUBLICK ARMORY
July 5, 1777
Augt 18 To Cash paid W Aylett for Iron delivd Mr Anderson --- [£] 104.7.10
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book October 1775-April 1779
July 14, 1777
GENL ACCT COMMONWEALTH Dr To Cash paid Jas Anderson for 3 Juggs Linseed Oil 3 Juggs @ 3/ ------------------------- [Not extended] 9 Gall 3 qts @ 12/6 ------------------- [Not extended]
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Journal 1776-Aug. 1777
p. 240 Williamsburg July 16th 1777 Public Armory To Cash paid John Wilson & Co for 560 lb blistered Steel, delivd --- 50.-.-
James Anderson pr Rect
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book October 12, 1775-October 1776
August 30, 1777 Williamsburg
PUBLICK ARMORY Dr To 1 Box Sheet Tin deliv'd Some time ago to Mr Anderson for Making Kettles &c Delvd James Anderson
Ibid., Vol. 7
Day Book begun 25th August 1777
Sept. 20, 1777
PUBLICK ARMORY pr Or Mr Page Dr To Sundries pr Mr Anderson for Clothing the Workmen Viz 2 ¾ yds Coating @ 20/ ---------------------------- 2.15.- 3 Yds Honleys @ 12/ -------------------------------- 1.16.- 3/ yd Cloth @ 3/ ----------------------------------- .18.- 14 Yds Oznbrigs @ 3/ ------------------------------- 2. 2.- 6 Hs Turst ---------------- 7 ½ d ------------------- .3. 9 3 pr Shoes @ 8/ ----------------------------------- 6 pr Hose @ 5/ ------------------------------------ James Anderson
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book begun 26th August 1777, Vol. 7
October 28, 1777
PUBLICK ARMORY Dr To 6 Dutch blanketts @ 30 Yds linen for beds & sheets @ 6/ Deliver'd James Anderson
JCV, Vol. II
October 28, 1777...
His Excellency the Governor, with the Advice of the Council, issued a War, upon the Treasurer in favor of James Anderson for fifty pounds upon Account as Public Armourer.
JCV, Vol. II p. 39.
December 3, 1777...
The Governor & Council this day agreed to allow Mr James Anderson (Blacksmith) thirty two pounds per month for Nine Hands, & twenty shillings per Diem (Sundays excluded) for himself; and at the rate of Ninety pounds per Annum for his Shop & Tools for Six Months to Commence from the 21st Septr last. Mr Anderson is to be allowed Rations for himself & Workmen--a Load of Wood per Week or as much as is necessary to cook for the Workmen. The Wages of the Journeymen are to be as Cheap as Mr Anderson can get them for. Mr Anderson attended in Council & accepted of the above Terms.
Ibid., p. 48.
December 17, 1777...
Warrant for fifty pounds to James Anderson upon Account as Public Armourer.
Ibid., p. 79.
February 5, 1778The Lieutenant Governor with the Advice of the Council, gave Orders to James Anderson (Public Blacksmith) to deliver 500 lbs Iron to Robert Gibbons for the use of the Garrison at York.
Williamsburg Public Store Records
February 7, 1778
PUBLICK ARMORY pr Mr James Anderson Dr To 1 Large Spike Gimlet No 14 @ 2/6 ------------ £ -. 2.6 To 2 Ditto ditto No 11 @ 1/5 ------------ -. 2.10
JCV, Vol. II
May 4, 1778A Warrant was issued for fifty pounds payable to James Anderson upon Account as Public Armourer. ...
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book Jan. 7, 1778-May 30, 1778, Vol. 10
May 14, 1778 Williamsburg
PUBLICK ARMOURY Dr for 90 Barrs of German Steel deld Mr Jas Anderson to 8 Faggetts Steel by Thos Pitt Recd : by James Anderson
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Ledger January 1778-November 30, 1778
p. 52 PUBLICK ARMORY
May 14 To 2251 lb of Steel deld Mr James Anderson @ £21.16 pr---490.14.4 ¼
JCV, Vol. II
p. 151. June 20, 1778
A Warrant was issued by the Governor with the Advice of the Council, for fifty pounds payable to Mr James Anderson upon account as Public Armourer.
Ibid., vol. II
August 22, 1778...
A Warrant for fifty pounds payable to Mr James Anderson upon Account as public Armourer.
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book June 1, 1778-Nov. 13, 1778, Vol. 11
PUBLICK STORE WMS BURG
August 26, 1778 Williamsburg
Publick Armourer Dr To 39 panes of horn for makg Lanthorns -------------
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book June 1, 1778-Nov. 13, Vol. 11
Sept. 3, 1778Deld Mr James Anderson Seventy one Tons of Lead brot from Mr Holts; being part of four Tons manufacd by Mr Holt from a quantity of pigs send him from on board the Brigg Northhampton --------------- 600.0.0
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Journal Sept. 14, 1778-Nov. 30, 1779. #45
p. 1 Sept 14, 1778 Williamsburg Publick Armoury
To Cash paid Colo Turner Southall 300 Bushels of Coal deld Mr Anderson :4/ -------------- 60.0.0
Journal Sept. 14, 1778-Nov. 30, 1779, #45
Williamsburg October 10th 1778...
To Sundry Old Wrappers for Approns for the Smith's at work in Mr Anderson Shop -------------------- £ 2. 8.-
JCV, Vol. II
October 21, 1778A Warrant was issued for two hundred pounds payable to James Anderson upon Account as Public Armourer.
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book June 1, 1778-Nov. 13, 1778 Oct. 24, 1778 Williamsburg
PUBLICK ARMOURY pr Ord Govr Dr To Sunds deld John Gregory a File Smith at work in MrAndersons Shop --- 3.9.6
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Journal October 27, 1778
p. 47 Publick Armoury
Dr To 7 Large Spike Gimblets @ 5/3 ------------ ¾ .15.9 6 Do Do @ 1/2 ------------ 7.6 3 Gimblets @ 6/ ------------- 1.6 1 Grindstone ---------------------------- 12.- pr James Anderson £ 1.16.9
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Journal Sept. 14, 1778-Nov. 30, 1779 #45
Nov. 11, 1778
Williamsburg Publick Armoury Dr Cash paid for Candles for the use of the Publick Blacksmithsmith Shop --- 13.-.-
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book June 1, 1778-Nov. 13, 1778
November 13, 1778
½ Box Candles ------------------ £ 13.-.- for the use of the Shop
recd by James Anderson
Journal Sept. 14, 1778-Nov. 30, 1779 #45
Nov. 16, 1778
p. 66 Publick Armory
Dr To Cash paid Mr James Anderson for 15 pr hinges bot of Geo. Reid for his Shop --- 6.0.0.
JCV, Vol. II
p. 230. December 5, 1778
A Warrant was issued upon the Treasurer for One hundred pounds payable to Mr James Anderson upon Account as Armourer & Smith for the public.
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book Jan. 14, 1779 Williamsburg
Jan. 11, 1779 Williamsburg
PUBLICK ARMORY Dr To 1 Box Sheet Tin @ 150/4 Blankets @ 30/ for the use of the Boys employ'd in the Nail Business 8 in number Recd by James Anderson
Day Book Jan. 14, 1779 Williamsburg
Jan. 21, 1779 [James Anderson paid 15/ 3d for clothing for apprentice boys.]
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book Jan. 14, 1779 Williamsburg Feb. 22, 1779 PUBLICK ARMOURY
To 5 Quire paper @ 7/ to repare the windows of the House rented of Mrs Hay 12/lb F ----------- 1.18.3
Recd by James Anderson
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Journal Sept. 14, 1778-Nov. 30, 1779, #45
March 5, 1779 Williamsburg
Publick Armoury pr verb. ord Govr Dr To 4 Blankets @ 73/ ---------------------- £ 14.12.0 To 36 Yds brown Linen @ 7/6 -------------- 13.10.- £ 28. 2.-
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book April 10, 1779-June 20, 1780
March 25, 1779
PUBLICK ARMOURY Dr To 10 Yards thick Ducks for the Bellows to cover their joints Recd by James Anderson
JCV, Vol. II
p. 251 March 26, 1779
Wart to Mr James Anderson £300 on acct as per Armorer.
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Journal Sept. 14, 1778--Nov. 30, 1779, #45 p. 250 April 9, 1779
Publick Armoury pr Mr Anderson Dr To 5 pairs Shoes for 5 Negroes employ'd in the Publick Blacksmiths Shop @ 25/ -----
Day Book April 10, 1779--June 20, 1780
April 26, 1779
PUBLICK ARMOURER Dr To 2 Boxes of Tin, one not quite full @ ------- Recd by James Anderson
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book April 10, 1779--June 20, 1780
PUBLICK ARMOURY pr Ord Govr April 26, 1779 Dr To 48 Yds baize @ 10 Yds do for approns for the Negroes hired by the Publick ------- 36.-.- Recd by James Anderson
May 5, 1779
Publick Armoury pr ord honble D Jamieson Dr To Sundng for 5 Boys Samuel Dun, Thos Stroud, Thos Haney Jno Martin, Sam Bryan, imployed in making Nails, pr Vol: ord Mr Jameson To 85 Yds Oznabrigs @ /6 1 lb Thread @ 18/ 10 doz buttons ----------------------- 10.3.6 pr James Anderson
Williamsburg Public Stores Records
Day Book April 10, 1779-June 20, 1780
May 10, 1779Deld Mr James Anderson 16 [lb] Candles for the use of the Publick Armoury -------------------------------- 2.8.-
May 12, 1779 Dr Deld 3 lb Candles for Armourers --------------- l.16.-
May 18, 1779"James Bryan in shop with J.A."
Ibid. PUBLICK ARMOURY ord B.W.
Aug. 11, 1779
[checks, linen, thread, "for Sheets for the Workmen] drilling for beds, bolsters &c ------------------ 91.16.6
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Cash Book July 1, 1779-June 22, 1780
Mr James Anderson for his Apprents Augt 19th 1779 Dr 24 3/4 Yds blue Cloth @ 50/ ------------------- 12. 7. 6[St] 25 doz butts 14/ 4 Scanes chrd 3 -------------- 0.15. 0 22 pr Country Shoes @ 8/ 22 pr hose @ 5/ ------ 14. 6. 0 22 Wd Shirts @ 12/6 Yds Check 2/3 ------------- 17. 9. 0
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book July 1, 1779- July 12, 1780
p. 33 Sept. 2, 1779
Publick Armoury pr Ord Bd of War Dr To 6 dressed Calf Skins @ 135/5d ------------- £ 40.12.6 for 6 Aprons for the Pub Smith pr Mr Anderson
Ibid. Sept. 8, 1779 Wmsburg
Publick Armoury ord B.W. Dr 15 x Cut Saw files @ 9/4d 9 hand saw do @ 6/4d 12 Dressed Calf Skins for aprons ---------- 135.5.- pr James Anderson
Sept. 11, 1779 Dr Publick Armoury pr Mr. Anderson for 3 Tons Nail rods Case & Iventy ------- 3243.16.5 deld the 7th
Sept. 14, 1779PUBLICK ARMOURY pr James Ands
for 1986 Sheets Tin pr Inventory @ 1/ ---------- [not extended]
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Cash Book July 1, 1779-June 22, 1780
p. 31 Sept. 15, 1779 Dr James Anderson 25 lb bro Sugar @ 20/ ---------- 25. 0. 0 1 doz knives & forks ----------- 4. 3. 4
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book July 1, 1779-July 12, 1780
p. 40 Publick Armoury
Sept. 15, 1779 Dr To 1986 Sheets Tin Inventory @ 1/ ------------ £993.-.-
Day Book April 10, 1779-June 20, 1780
Sept. 20, 1779 Williamsburg Dr PUBLICK ARMOURY Ord. Bd of War 6 Baskets contq 72 bottles Oil @ 36/ ------------ 129.12.0 306 lb Wire @ 90/ --------------------- 1377.-.- 20 lb Sheet Lead @ 40/ ----------------------- 40.10.- £ 1547. 2.-
Williamsburg Public Store Records Roll 1
Cash Book July 1, 1779-June 22, 1780
p. 35 Oct. 2, 1779
James Anderson Genl ord. Council
25 lb Coffee @ 17/6d ------------------------ 21.17.6
Williamsburg Public Store Records
Day Book April 10, 1779-June 20, 1780
Novr 4, 1779 Williamsburg
Publick Armoury pr Mrs Hay Dr To Cash paid for 9 Months rent of a House to repair & Clean the Publick Arms by Mr Andersons people ----- 45.-.-
Ibid. Novr 4, 1779
SAME AS ABOVE
Nov. 5, 1779 Publick Armoury Dr To 1 Ton of Nail rods pr Thos Powell £1087.4.- pr James Anderson
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