George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Lieutenant Colonel Caleb North, 12 February 1779

To Lieutenant Colonel Caleb North

Head Quarters [Middlebrook] 12th Feby 1779


I have received your letter of yesterdays date respecting the French Snow Mary retaken from the Enemy1—The Subject of an Ally in these cases is entitled to the equal privileges with a fellow Citizen—And his property recovered in this way is to be preserved and restored—to him or his representatives—a reasonable allowance being made to the Recaptors for Salvage.2

The Conduct to be observed by you therefore is to secure whatever you can of the Cargo, Rigging &ca—taking an inventory of the whole—to deposit in a place of safety—such articles as will sustain no injury in store—and cause the perishable Commodities to be disposed of to the best advantage.

Transmit an account of the whole with the name of the Owners &ca that the French Consul at Philadelphia may be notified and take order in the matte⟨r.⟩3

Your success in baffling the Enemys Attempt to destroy the Snow justifies the dispositions made for that purpose—and your Conduct claims my thanks—As the nature of the Service you⟨r⟩ detachment is employed in, requires frequent relief—I have directed the Adjutant Genl—to order a party to reli⟨eve⟩ you. I am Sir &c.

Df, in John Laurens’s writing, DLC:GW; copy, PHi; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1North’s letter to GW of 11 Feb. has not been found.

2For the general American obligations regarding the recovery of French vessels, see articles 7 and 18 of the treaty of amity and commerce with France that had been signed on 6 Feb. 1778 and ratified by Congress on 4 May 1778 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 11:426, 433).

3The French consul at Philadelphia was Jean Holker. For the sale of this vessel, which the French called the Marion and whose name the Americans rendered in English as Mary, see Holker to GW, 6 March.

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