Spruce Beer

Vice Admiral Samuel Graves to Philip Stephens

Preston Boston Sept. 22. 1775

I inclose also an account of Provisions belonging to the Contractor in Store at Boston for the use of the Fleet. But it must be remembered that we have no relicance on that Scheme of baking Bread this Winter at Boston. Wood is and will be too scarce and dear, it is now from six to eight Dollars a Cord; and I really do not believe it will possible for the Agent to bake either Loaves or Biscuit, whatever he may think. It will be difficult to provide Fuel to brew Spruce Beer for the Squadry may depend upon having both here and in Halifax.

Being on the Subject of provisions it is indispensably become my Duty to represent to their Lordships that the custom of supplying New England Rum to his Majesty's Ships is in my humble opinion highly prejudicial to the State. The use of it destroys the Health and Faculties of the People and debilitates them surprizinzly [sic]. The Seamen always continue healthy and active when drinking spruce Beer; but in a few days after New England Rum is served, altough mixed with four or five Waters, the Hospital is crouded with sick, and those on board are pallid, weak, and incapable of doing half their Duty. I appeal to the Captains of the Squadron that this is always the Consequence of their Crews having New England Rum. It is indeed …

Graves's Conduct, Vol. I, pp 130-132 [BM].

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

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