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To Benjamin Franklin from Michaël Kôváts de Fabricÿ, 13 January 1777: résumé

From Michaël Kôváts de Fabricÿ7

ALS: American Philosophical Society

<Bordeaux, January 13, 1777, in Latin: I am Hungarian, trained in the Prussian army, where I rose from the ranks by merit and valor to be chief officer of the Guards. I have come here on my own to offer my services to Congress. Through the help of M. Fadeville, a merchant of this city and a supporter of the American cause, I have secured a passage with Captain Whippy; I beg you to send me a passport and recommendation to Congress. Companions are joining me here, and you will serve our common cause by expediting, through M. Fadeville, their passage as well.8Because I am not yet fluent in English or French, I must write in German or Latin.>

Michaël Kôváts DE Fabricÿ.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7A member of the Hungarian nobility who served Maria Theresa in the War of the Austrian Succession, entered the Prussian service, and fought in the Seven Years’ War until his resignation in 1761. After a visit to Poland he returned to Austria, was tried for treason and acquitted, and settled again in Hungary until 1776, when he left for Bordeaux by way of Leipzig. He sailed on the Catharina of Darmouth on Feb. 25, 1777: Fadeville to Hancock, May 8, 1777, National Archives. In May Congress accepted his services; in April, 1778, he was appointed a colonel in Pulaski’s Legion, helped organize and train the cavalry, and was killed in action before Charleston on May 11, 1779. László Eszenyi, Faithful unto Death: the Life and Heroic Death of Michael Kovats de Fabricy . . . (Washington, D.C., 1975), which contains the full text and translation of this letter.

8Fadeville sent Kôváts’ letter to some one, probably Silas Deane, for delivery to BF. In a covering letter of Jan. 14 he praised the Hungarian as a soldier and a man, explained that the companions were two or three officers who had served with Kôváts in the Prussian army, and asked what to do if they arrived after his departure. APS.

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