Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Dumas, 22 October 1779

From Dumas

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Amst. 22 Oct. 1779.


Les Extraits ci-joints7 vous donneront une idée de ce que nous faisons ici, & de l’état où est notre Escadre.

Je suis très-content de la maniere d’agir de Mr. De Neufville dans cette affaire.

Il n’y a pas de résolution prise encore sur la réponse que l’on donnera au Mémoire de Mr. D’York. Mais il y a une autre, à ce que l’on vient de me dire, qui embrouille plus que jamais l’affaire des convois illimités, & qui a engagé Amsterdam & Harlem a protester de nouveau.8

J’espere qu’à la fin de la Semaine prochaine notre Escadre sera entierement réparée, & en état de remettre en mer.

Je suis avec le plus respectueux attachement, Monsieur Votre très-humble & très obéissant serviteur


Vous aurez bien la bonté, Monsieur, de communiquer tout cela à Mr. De Chaumont.
Passy à S. Exc. Mr. Franklin &c.

Addressed: His Excellency / B. Franklin, Esqr., Min. Plenip. / of the United States / Passy./.

Notation: Dumas. Oct. 22. 1779

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Dumas enclosed extracts from the following letters, which we summarize:

Capt. Cottineau of the Pallas to Dumas, Texel, Oct. 14. This afternoon I responded to distress signals from the Serapis by trying to send my ship’s boat, loaded with sailors and soldiers, but was prevented by the wind and tide. Lt. Stack of the Serapis arrived and used the boat to pursue a number of his ship’s crewmen who had seized a Dutch boot. We pursued them to shore and Mr. Stack ran after them. I feared we would be compromised so I tried to recall my boat and that of the Countess of Scarborough, but he persisted. Fifteen of the deserters have been retaken, five were drowned, one had his arm shattered by a bullet, and five are at large. They are Frenchmen, aged 22 to 30, who now are en route to Amsterdam. Will it not be possible to arrest and return them? (For Stack’s account of the incident see Bradford, Jones Papers, reel 10, no. 2046).

Duc de la Vauguyon to Dumas, Oct. 18. By firing on the deserters Jones has committed an imprudence which can have very harmful consequences. I hope you and de Neufville will do all you can with the commandant of the roadstead and the Admiralty. Consult with the local authorities about reclaiming the deserters and follow their advice exactly. Inform me of the effect this very ill-considered act of Jones has caused. It has exerted a very bad effect here, capable of doing him infinite harm. If he did not give the order himself, I believe he should punish very severely the person responsible.

La Vauguyon to Dumas, Oct. 20. I am surprised not to have received a response from you.

Dumas to La Vauguyon, morning of Oct. 21. De Neufville has shown no lack of sagacity or zeal. Last evening the deserters were apprehended without incident. I believe they will be returned under guard this evening. I have written to find out what is happening at the Texel.

Dumas to La Vauguyon, evening of Oct. 21. A minor formality will delay the return of the deserters until tomorrow or the day after. You can be tranquil about what happened at the Texel. Far from complaining about our people, the commandant of the roadstead is very content with them.

Jones to Dumas, Oct. 21. We have moved the squadron into a safe harbor. The affair of the deserters has been misrepresented. They were recaptured while they were swimming, except for five of them, who were not pursued. The commandant of the roadstead, given a report, was perfectly satisfied, and even thanked the officers for the delicacy of their proceeding. (The full letter is reproduced in Bradford, Jones Papers, reel 4, no. 802.)

8On Oct. 25 the States General responded to Yorke’s memoir by confirming the Admiralty’s decision not to hand over Jones’s squadron to the British; see Dumas to BF of that date. La Vauguyon, encouraged by recent developments, believed the Dutch would offer convoy protection for naval stores: Fauchille, Diplomatie française, pp. 172–3.

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