The Commissioners to Daniel McNeill
Passy Octr. 27. 17781
We received yours of the 12 Instant relative to your Prisoners. Just at the same Time, was published here the Kings Reglement, on the subject of Prizes and Prisoners, of which We inclose you a Copy. We imagined, this must have arrived with you at L’Orient, so as to make any particular order from the minister unnecessary, for We Supposed from the 7th and 15 Article, that General orders had been given to all the Ports for the Reception of Prisoners to be secured by the Kings officers, and maintained at the Charge of the United States.2 But as Mr. Moylan informs Us, in his Letter of the 213 that the Difficulty you were under by their refusing to receive them still remains, we Shall directly apply to M. de Sartine and endeavour to obtain the particular order you desire. In the mean Time We wish you to secure them carefully as an Exchange We hope is on the Point of being effected, and it is to your Honour that you will be the Means of delivering from their painfull Captivity, so many of your brave Countrymen. If the general orders are not yet arrived, and you are about to sail; you may assure the officers that if they will take Charge of the Prisoners We shall defray the Expence.
We think you are in the right in resolving to have a regular Decision about the affair of your Prize. We wish you good success in your Cruise and are &c.
LbC (Adams Papers).
1. This letter was enclosed, unsealed, in a letter of the same date to James Moylan, in which the Commissioners asked him to take care of McNeill’s prisoners if Schweighauser’s agent, Puchelberg, would not (LbC, Adams Papers).
2. Art. 15 provided that the King would issue orders for the security and maintenance of prisoners turned over to the proper officials in French ports in accordance with Art. 7. Although the Commissioners state below that they would apply to Sartine on the matter, no letter on that subject has been found, and it was not until his letter to the Commissioners of 22 Dec. (below) that Sartine agreed to issue the necessary regulations. For the regulations, which had gone into effect on 27 Sept., see Sartine to the Commissioners, 29 July, and references there (vol. 6:334, calendar entry; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 2:673, 685–687).
3. In his letter of 21 Oct., Moylan had reported that McNeill would be forced to free his prisoners unless some provision was made for their security and maintenance before he departed the following week. In the same letter Moylan noted the arrival of Capt. Thomas Bell from Philadelphia with dispatches (PPAmP: Franklin Papers).