George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General John Sullivan, 18 November 1778

From Major General John Sullivan

Providence [R.I.] Novemr 18th 1778

My Dear General

I am Just Returnd from the western Shore. I find Byron has Eleven Ships of the Line Strung along in the Channel a 74 has Lately come in Dis Masted There are a number of other Ships nearer in toward the Town which I Suppose to be Frigates & transports.1 Every Account Seems to Speak an Evacuation Though not So Sudden as I once thought—the Dismasting his 74 will I think Detain them Some time I have nothing further worth your Excellys attention. I have the honor to be with the highest Respect & Esteem Dear General your Excellenceys Most obedt & very Humble Servt

Jno. Sullivan

P.S: Since writing the above, have recievd information that the French Fleet has capturd a 64 Gun Ship and sent her into Portsmouth—From the Channel of Conveyance I believe the Report.2


1Admiral John Byron’s fleet, which entered Providence harbor on 13 Nov., consisted of the ships Princess Royal, Royal Oak, Grafton, Conqueror, Fame, Trident, Raisonable, Albion, Sultan, Cornwall, and Renown (Mackenzie Diary description begins Diary of Frederick Mackenzie Giving a Daily Narrative of His Military Service as an Officer of the Regiment of Royal Welch Fusiliers during the Years 1775–1781 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1930. description ends , 2:419). For the dismasted British ships, see Stirling to GW, 17 Nov., and n.1 to that document.

2The postscript is in a different handwriting. The Norwich Packet (Conn.) of 23 Nov. reported that a 90-gun had been captured by the French and brought into Portsmouth, N.H., but it was only a rumor.

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