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Gates, Horatio (1728-1806) to Silas Talbot

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.02297 Author/Creator: Gates, Horatio (1728-1806) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Manuscript document Date: 17 July 1783 Pagination: 2 p. : docket ; 29.7 x 19.3 cm.

This is a copy of a certificate sent to Captain Talbot by Major General Gates. Says when he was in command of the troops in the Eastern Department in 1779, there were many small British cruisers harrasing American shipping from Long Island to Nantucket. To stop them, Gates says he had a large galley and a sloop named "Argo" fitted for battle. The "Argo" had 12 6-pound guns and was given to the command of Rhode Islander Silas Talbot, "that intrepid & enterprising officer." Goes on to say he "was eminently useful & greatly assisted in driving the enemy from our coast and relieving our wants by opening a safer Passage to our supplies by water." Says in his first cruise he took 6 British privateers. Afterwards he was sent with dispatches for the French fleet, which was on its way to America, and he took 5 more prizes.

Talbot was a successful officer in both the army and navy during the Revolution. After the war, Talbot settled in Johnstown, New York, the county seat of Fulton County, where he purchased the former manor house and estate of Sir William Johnson, founder of Johnstown. He was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1792 and 1793 and served in the federal House of Representatives from 1793 to 1795. On 5 June 1794, President Washington chose him third in a list of six captains of the newly established United States Navy. Before the end of his term in Congress, he was ordered to superintend the construction of the frigate President at New York. In 1797, Talbot also supervised the building of the USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides," at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, Massachusetts. He served as commander of the vessel from 1799 unitl his retirement from the Navy in 1801, sailing it to the West Indies where he protected American commerce from French privateers during the Quasi-War. He commanded the Santo Domingo Station in 1799 and 1800 and was commended by the Secretary of the Navy for protecting American commerce and for laying the foundation of a permanent trade with that country. It is said that Talbot was wounded 13 times and carried 5 bullets in his body.

A Copy of a Certificate from Major General
Gates dated Philadelphia July 17th 1783

In the spring of the year 1779 when I had the honour of commanding a part of the Federal Forces of the united States of America in the Eastern department, a great number of small British Cruizers infested our coast. They were so closely stationed from Long Island to Nantucket, that our trade and supplies were totally intercepted, & the Forces under my command greatly Distressed by the enemy's Captures, whereupon Congress Directed me to arm vessels for the protection of our coast
To that effect I armed a large Galley & a Sloop named the Argo, mounting Twelve six Pounders, to the command of which I appointed Silas Talbot Esqr. of the State of Rhode Island. that intrepid & enterprizing officer was eminently useful & greatly assisted in driving the enemy from our coast and relieving our wants by opening a safer Passage to our supplies by water In the course of his first cruise he took Six British privateers the smallest of which mounted Twelve Guns; and our Troops were partly subsisted by the prizes he sent us: on the first (of augt. same) [2] year the French Fleet being expected on our coast I ordered him to cruise in quest of it, to deliver some dispatches to its Admiral, & I gave Captn. Talbot a discretionary power to make prizes of all British Vessels he might think proper to attack: On that cruise he captured Five valuable merchantmen Bound to Newyork and chiefly loaded with provision.
The United States having received one half of [the] Captures, were greatly benefitted by his success which besides the pecuniary advantages it procured them and the immediate Relief it gave our Troops, likewise put upwards if Three Hundred British prisoners into our hands.

In testimony whereof I deliver this
Certificate to Captain Silas Talbot -
Given under m y hand at
Philadelphia this seventeenth
day of July in the year 1783
Horatio Gates
Major General

A Copy of a Certificate
From Major General
Gates To
Silas Talbot

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