Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Alexander Gillon, 4 October 1781

From Alexander Gillon

ALS: American Philosophical Society; copy:8 Massachusetts Historical Society

Corunna 4 Octr 1781

Your Excellency knows so well all my Occurrences in Holland, particularly my Contract with Lieutt. Colonell Laurens, that I need say but little about Major Jackson, whom I early acquainted that on the Troops coming on board I found there was but little room left.9 Ships were Chartered, and I got out to Sea as soon as I was ready. Cruizing Eighteen days on a dangerous Coast, without a Pilot, waiting for them: when by the dangers we escaped, particularly the violent Gale of the 20th & 21st of August, my Officers repeatedly applied to me by Letters, to quit that dangerous Coast, ere all our Provisions were expended, which was done after a variety of attempts to get the Ships out. Contrary Winds frustrated our Intent of getting Home as soon as possible, and by a Council held, we deemed it best to push into any Port in France or Spain, to procure a Supply of Provisions,1 which we could readily have had here, and every other aid: had not Lieut: Colonell Searle, and Captain Jackson, acted more the parts of disappointed Violent Men, than of Americans: by trying to Retard the Ship. The residue of the Bills Accepted by Your Excellency, I did not receive till the 19th August at Night, Some of which I now offered here as payment for Provisions, deeming them the State’s property: but Captain Jackson has decry’d their Validity, wherefore, I must dispose of the Articles Onboard, of the State of South Carolina’s: And am now getting ready, so as to Sail for the first Harbour in one of The United States of North America, I can get, to be ready to Answer to those, who only have authority to examine my Conduct. I shall, ere I depart, trouble your Excellency with a clear Account of this Violent Youth’s Rash & Imprudent Conduct, also of Lieutenant Colonell Searle of the Militia, his distress of mind on his being disapointed in not succeeding in aiding Capt: Jackson, And in dread of his £2000 Sterling of Goods on board here accompanying him to France instead of America.—

Till Your Excellency receives my full advices of my Situation, I am sure you will not encourage any measure that can prejudice a Ship, in the service of The State of South Carolina, And under whose Banner She now rides Here. In the Name & behalf of The State of South Carolina, I then crave Your Excellency’s suspension of opinion in this curious business. My Officers & Men, tho’ somewhat agitated by those Gentlemen, are restored to their former subordination. Thus all is going on well.

With every Respect I have the Honour to be Your Excellency’s most obedient & hble Servt.

A. Gillon
Come of the Navy
of the State of So Carolina

I did not Reply to your Excellency’s Letter of the   2 because I found the Money was still in possession of Messrs. Fizeaux Grand & Co

His Exy. B Franklin Esqe Passe

Addressed: francia / His Excellency / Benjamin Franklin Esqre / Minister Plenipotentiary / from the United States of No America / at the Court of Versailles / Passé

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Apparently prepared by Mumford for JA.

9In a Sept. 30-Oct. 4 letter to John Jay, Gillon claimed there were 550 men aboard the South Carolina, including 300 soldiers for service in South Carolina (the Volontaires de Luxembourg). APS.

1Gillon told Jay in the letter cited above that when his frigate reached La Coruña there was no bread left and only twenty-three barrels of flour and a few casks of salt beef and salt pork.

2Blank in the manuscript. The missing date is June 28; the letter is above.

Index Entries