John Bondfield to the Commissioners
Bordeaux 5 Decr 1778
A french Brig belonging to La Rochelle arrived at this port the 2d Instant from Boston, he left that port the 4 November in Company with Adml. D’Estaing with all his fleet reinforced by some American Frigates. The Report circulated in Boston their intent was against Halifax, the Season was far advanct for an attempt of that nature.1 He kept company thirty Six hours, the Fleet steerd N.E., he struck off for France.
A vessel equipt by Messr. Decater freind to Monsr. Rey de Chaumont arrived at Pray.2 His procés verbal contains that he saild from Boston with the Fleet the 4th. Novr., his orders from the Admiral was to keep under his Stern, a Gale of Wind on the 7th. seperated him from the Fleet, not having any rendezvous assi[gned] he stood for France.
A report prevails of Ad. Byrons leaving N York the 2 Novr with 17 Ships 100 Transports having on board 5000 Troops.3 I cannot trace the Source of this advice to bring it to a certainty.
The Boston, Providence, and Ranger Arrived safe at Boston with many prizes eight days before the Brig saild.
I have the Honor to be with due Respect Sirs Your most Obedient Humble Servant
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble. The Commissioners from Congress Passi”; docketed: “Mr Bondfield.” in another hand: “J. Bondfield s Decr 1778.”
1. Estaing’s real destination was Martinique. Here and elsewhere in this paragraph the editors have supplied periods and commas for clarity.
2. Both the friend of Chaumont and the location named by Bondfield remain unidentified.
3. On the same day that Estaing left Boston, Como. William Hotham left New York with eight ships convoying 5,000 troops under Gen. James Grant to Barbados (Mahan, Navies in the War of Amer. Independence description begins Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Major Operations of the Navies in the War of American Independence, Boston, 1913. description ends , p. 100).