From John Grizzage Frazer
Bordeaux [France] Jany 15th 1779
Inclosed I have wrote you all the News of this Country til now; Except the distruction of the greatest part of a British Fleet which sailed from Portsmouth the 31st Ulto and it is said they were bound to the Continent of America, which I do not believe but be it as it will, the greatest part of them were lost, and drove on shore upon the coast of France, on the night of the last Day, of the old year, they had soldiers on board, provision &c. we have certain accounts of between 40 and 50 Sail of Transports, a Ship of the Line, One Frigate, and a 20 Gun Ship, being lost—18 of the Transports drove on shore upon this coast & there were upwards of One Thousand soldiers saved from them.1
It is generally thought Admiral Kepple will fall a Victim to the British Ministry If he does, there will be a civil war in England, as he has many powerfull Friends, and all the best people of England on his side—a little time now will soon determine it2—I have the Honour to be, with the greatest respect, Sir, Your Excellency’s Most obedient And most humble Servt
John G. Frazer
P.S. I sent you by a Vessell bound to Alexandria, 5 Cases of best Bordeaux claret.3
ALS, DLC:GW. Frazer addressed the cover to GW “ Monsieur Livingston Esqr.” Musco Livingston, a Jamaican who previously had served as second lieutenant of the Continental navy frigate Boston, was at this time captain of the American privateer Governor Livingston, which the American commissioners in Paris had engaged to carry military supplies and other public goods to the United States. Delayed in sailing, the Governor Livingston did not leave France until May, by which time John Gale had replaced Livingston as captain. How and when this letter reached GW is not clear, but it is possible that it was one of the four letters for America that Livingston gave to John Adams on 17 June, the day that Adams sailed for Boston from Lorient, France (see Livingston to Adams, 17 June, in Papers of John Adams description begins Robert J. Taylor et al., eds. Papers of John Adams. 17 vols. to date. Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1977—. description ends , 8:95). Livingston and Frazer returned to America together in the summer of 1780 (see Franklin Papers description begins William B. Willcox et al., eds. The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. 40 vols. to date. New Haven, 1959—. description ends , 32:9, n.4).
1. The British convoy that had assembled in the English Channel on 31 Dec. apparently was not severely damaged by this storm as was reported in the French press (see Papers of John Adams description begins Robert J. Taylor et al., eds. Papers of John Adams. 17 vols. to date. Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1977—. description ends , 7:352–53, n.1).
2. A dispute between Vice Adm. Hugh Palliser, a member of the Board of Admiralty, and Adm. Augustus Keppel over Keppel’s conduct at the Battle of Ushant led to the court-martial of both officers. Both were acquitted, but only Keppel was acquitted with honor (see Frazer to GW, 5 Jan., and n.2).