Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Bondfield, 22 June 1779

From John Bondfield

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Bordeaux 22 June 1779


The Union of the two Fleets which took effect at Currona the 13 Instant leaves no longer in doubt the resolutions of Spain, it is said the Spanish Fleet saild from Cadiz the 11th Inst. Letters of the 9th from Cadiz say they only waited a fair Wind. Letters from Madrid say they are at Sea.3

A Vessel of 28 Guns is arrived at Bilboa from America but we are without the Name of the ship or the place she saild from on her passage she took four prizes two with provisions that she sent to America the other two with Salt wch. she destroy’d they have many Prissoners. Captain Jones in his new Ship has convoyd into this port many coasting Vessels he has besides his Ship two Frigates in Concert I expect we shall soon hear of his feats he has on board they tel me Eleven hundred Men which certainly are not intended to be inactive.4

The Buckskin saild yesterday for Mary Land. The pilot Boat William, with the General Mercer Cap Robinson will sail on Saturday for Philadelphia they will convey inteligence of the junction of the Fleets. I [coud?] wish before they sail to see some publick Act to transmit of the event. I have the honor to be with due respect Sr your very hhb Servant

John Bondfield

His Excellency B. Franklin Passi

Addressed: His Excellency B Franklin / plenipotenre. des Etats Unies / a / Paris—

Notations in different hands: Bourdeaux / J. Bondfield. Bordeaux 22. juin 1779.5

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3The recently expanded plans for the invasion of England now called for 30,000 troops from St. Malo and Le Havre to capture first the Isle of Wight and then Portsmouth. Before they could sail, however, a Franco-Spanish covering fleet would have to reach the English Channel from its rendezvous point at Cape Finisterre. Twenty-eight French ships of the line had sailed from Brest on June 3 for the rendezvous. Eight Spanish and two French ships of the line from La Coruña joined them off Finisterre at the beginning of July, but the main Spanish contingent of thirty-two of the line lay becalmed at Cadiz from June 4 until June 22. Beset by contrary winds, it took another month to reach the rendezvous; only then could the huge combined fleet sail for the Channel: Dull, French Navy, pp. 147–54, 362–3; W.M. James, The British Navy in Adversity: a Study of the War of American Independence (London and New York, 1926), pp. 170–7. For a full account of the campaign see Patterson, The Other Armada.

4An abbreviated French translation of the first two paragraphs of the present letter is among BF’s intelligence reports (National Archives). For Jones’s cruise see our annotation of his June 18 letter.

5In addition to these notations there are various numbers and calculations on the address page (such as the division of 25,000,000 by 24), having no apparent connection with this letter.

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