Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Sartine, 22 October 1779

To Sartine

Copy: Library of Congress

Passy Oct. 22. 1779.


The Enclos’d Papers containing much information of the State of the garrison at St. John’s in Newfound land, and of the fortifications there. The Loss of Military Stores by the late great Fire &c &c. I thought it my Duty to communicate them to your Excellency1 as they may be of use if perhaps an attempt against that Place Should be intended.2 They were taken in one of our late Prizes coming from thence.3 And It seems to me not probable that the Loss of Stores can be supplied before next year— With the greatest Respect I am your Excelly.

Mr. De Sartine.

1On May 15, 1779, a storehouse at St. John’s was destroyed by fire. A list of the supplies that had been in it (dated six days later and addressed to the British Board of Ordnance) is among BF’s papers at the APS. So too are more than half a dozen other documents sent from Newfoundland to the Board of Ordnance between March 31 and July 28; BF apparently made for Sartine copies of some or all of them.

2There would have been precedent for such a move: in a surprise attack the French had seized St. Johns in June, 1762, doing more than £1,000,000 damage: G. Lacour-Gayet, La marine militaire de la France sous le règne de Louis XV (2nd ed., Paris, 1910), pp. 388–9.

3Perhaps the Fortune, one of Jones’s prizes.

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