Wilmington Novembr. 26th 1754
I wrote fully to yr. Lordship upon my arrival in Virginia what had occurrd until my setting out for this Province which was Sent with Mr. Dinwiddies Letters; and about Ten days ago I wrote a long Letter to the Board of Trade, of all I had done, or could Learn, of the Affairs of the Province until that Time, dated from New Bern, by a Ship which was ready to sail from Ocacoc bound for Liverpool, to which I beg leave to referr, on the 15th (I Set out to view the Southern part of the Country, near the Sea Coast, and the several Navagable Rivers, and to view the Fort lately erected on Cape Fear River, 8 miles below Brunswic; to observe its Situation and to give directions how the £2000 lately given to finish it should be laid out, where I had a Meeting with the Commrs. appointed to finish it, and have given the Necessary directions to proceed upon it, and to provide the Materials to make it defensible and capable of protecting our own Ships, and preventing any Enemy from coming up the River, to destroy our Shipping and Settlements, as happend last war. A Plan of the Fort I enclose with this to yr. Lordship: The Fort you may observe is very small, but large enough to defend the Lower Battery which is made almost a Fleur de l'Eau and is proposed to Contain 14, 18 pounders, 12 in Front, where the Channell is not 500 yards wide, and 2 upon the Flank, which will command the Ships which go up an come down the River; which with 16 9 pounders, to be mounted upon the curtain, and the Two Flanks and faces of the Bastions, which Front the River, and the Channel going up the River, we think will be sufficient for the defense of the River against any ships of force, which can get over the Bar, and 30 Swivel guns with Musquatoons fixd in the Same manner, will be Sufficient to defend the Curtains and Bastions lying towards the Land; at present the Rampart and Parapet is faced only with Strong Pine Trees Cut into large Planks, 6 Inches thick, sloping inwards, to support the Rampart, and the Parapet, which is raised no higher than the guns, without embrazures; and there are only 5 6 pounders; and 4, 2 Pounders, old honeycombd Ship guns, in the Fort. There is a gard House built in the Fort, which can contain an officer and 12 or 14 men with Arms and Stores; we have given orders to face the Curtain and two Bastions fronting the River, with a Wall which is to be made of a Ciment of oyster Shells, lime and Sand, which upon tryal here, has been found to grow as hard as a Rock, much Stronger and more durable than a Brick Wall and to raise the Parapet higher with Embrazures, and to perfect the lower Battery and make a Sally Port, thro' the Curtain into the Fort, the Ciment wall to be built without the other, and as it is raisd, to take up the Timber, and ram the Earth behind the Wall. The other part of the Fort may continue for some time so that we shall only finish the Fosse and make a Palisade upon the Counterscarp, as it can't contain a Garrison to defend a Coverd way; and therefore Shall only make only a Glacis, and clean all the Ground within gun shot of the Fort we have also given directions to add to the House and make it as big again to Contain 30 men with the officer, gunner, &c. and to make a Magazine barel port in one of the Land Bastions, and to make a gate and drawbridge, and sink a well, and if any money remains, or a further Supply be granted, we shall finish the Rest of the walls in the Same manner.)
The River at Cape Fear is an Exceeding fine River 15 feet water on the bar at ordinary Tides, navigable to Wilmington, and near 20 miles higher upon the Northwest for large Ships, except one small shallow which may be deepned where they take out part of their landing, and the North East Branch navigable Several Miles above it, for larger vessells, and the main branch navigable for Parriaguas and Flats for about 150 miles from Wilmington, which is 30 miles above the Bar. There are above 100 vessells annually enterd in this River, which are increasing, there were 16 in the River when I went down; at present there are 70 Families in Wilmington, which is improving. They have built a good County House or Town House; and have raised a large brick Church which is ready for the Roof. Brunswic contains 20 families and the Planters about being opulent, they are building a large Brick Church 76 feet long, by 56 wide, which they have raised this Season So as to Cover the Windows; and have a House ready for the Parson, and a Glebe of 300 Acres; These Towns being seated close to the River are upon a loose sand, but with a clay bottom at Some depth, and have verey good Springs. The Lands, which are dug at some distance from the River, are much the Same with other Lands near the Sea Coasts; the Marshes along the River and Creeks very Rich, but the high lands generally Pine Barren, which are no ways Equal to the Lands in the Back Settlements, yet when all the good Lands are taken up, these are by no means to be despised.
I Have Seen the Master of the Sloop Dinbibin, who has undertaken the making an exact chart of the Sea Coast, and do believe he will perform it very well. He has shown me a specimen of what he has already done, has made an exact chart of a very fine safe harbour at Cape Lookout, which has never yet been laid down, or has been known by any of the Kings Ships, and others landing on this Coast; altho it had been discoverd by the Span[ish] Privateers at the latter end of the last War, and is now used by our whale fishers in the winter; a draught of which I hope to send to yr. Lordships as soon as he has connected Cape Lookout with Core Sound, at Tops[ail Inlet], where is also a fine harbour. This new Harbour is as safe as a Mill Pond, without any Bar, landlockd from all winds. So that in the greatest Storm, upon Knowing the Latitude any ship may get in safe. The Road is safe, where any Ship may ride in 6 or 7 Fathom, only open to a Southwest wind; and the Harbour within, it above half; a Mile over, with a fathom close in to the beach, where they may ride routinely landlockd from wind to 3 or 4 fathom water.
There has been £1500 Currency appropriated to Erect a Fort at topsail inlet, near Beaufort. But Since this Harbour is found out it may be of more Service to have a Fort erected at Cape Lookout, as well to protect our ships in time of war; as to prevent Privateers from sheltering there, and intercepting our Ships; I shall endeavour to view both places as soon as I have leisure after the Assembly, and the Season will permit it.
I had prepard a Memorial when I was in London to give in to his Majesty in Council for a Supply of Artillery and ordnance stores for the Fort at Cape Fear; But as I was not sufficiently acquainted with the condition of the fort yr. Lordship thought it proper to deferr it, until I Should arrive here, and view it. If it be therefore agreable to your Lordship and the Board of Trade that the Application Should be new madee <since> we dont know whether we are near the eve of an American War; yr. Lordship will be pleasd to mention it to Mr. Pownel, and Mr. Abercrombie our Agent may prepare it and give it in my Name, for the number and size of the guns as above mentiond, with Stores and gunpowder in proportion in case his Majesty has not already orderd the gunpowder for the use of the Province. I wrote for in my last, to the Board, and at the Same time a gunner and <illegible> in case we get the Stores and the Independant Company, which I applyd for, and which is absolutely necessary here for his Majestys service; and the safety of the Colony in expectation of which I shall endeavour to get a Fund from the Assembly to erect a Fort upon our western Frontiers, at, or beyond, the mountains, to protect our back settlements, and Indian Allies.
Dunbibbin tells me there are no great variety of Shells near Cape Lookout and has promisd to collect some for yr. Lordship.
I am with all Imigenable Respect My Lord yr. Lordships
Most obedient &
Most Humble Servant.
Letter from Arthur Dobbs Esqr. Govr of North Carolina to Lord Halifax relative to the present State of that Colony, with an Acct. of the State of the Fort built at Cape Fear & inclosing.
Received April 18,
Read 23d. 1755.