From William Vernon Sr.
Boston 2nd. Octr. 1778
The preceeding is copy of my last, of the 26th. May,1 being without any of your favors,2 which I promised my self the happiness of receiving before this date, and of the pleasure of hearing that my Son, was Placed with some Gentleman of business, where he might acquire a competent knowledge of business and such other accomplishments, as wou’d make him a useful member of society.
I shall not take up your Time, in giving you the American news, the Public News Papers, transmited will give you every transaction. We have to regret the Loss of the brave Capt. Chew, commander of the Brigantine Resistance, who was Kill’d in an action, with a Twenty Gun Ship, near Barbadoes,3 and also of that worthy Commander of the Brigantine Genl. Gates, Capt. Skimmer who fell engaging a Letter of Mark Ship, in the first of the Action; his Leiutenant fought the Brigantine and brought the Prize into this Port, which proved of no great Value, being Loaded with Fish from Newfd. Land.4
The Brigantine Resistance was given to Capt. Bourk who was sent out to look for the French Fleet under the Command of Count de Estaing, as far as Cape-Cod only unhappily fell in with the British Squadron the Third day, was taken. The Warren and Raleigh are both out, the Dean will sail in a few days. The Ship Alliance built at Salisbury is given to Capt. Peter Landais, she is in the Road near half Man’d, esteemed the finest Frigate ever built in America, I think the Commander a sensible modest Worthy deserving Gentleman.5 I have given you a short detail of what hath turn’d up in the Naval department since my last, except some few captures the Continental Ships have made. The Prize taken by the Boston, under the care of Mr. Welch, had she arrived safe wou’d have been of more Value, then all that have got in, unfortunatly she was retaken in sight of the Land in this Bay.6
I am extreemly impatient of a Line from you, which I hope, shall soon have the pleasure of receiving.
I am with the greatest sincerity Dr sr Yr. Obedt. Servt.
Tripl (Adams Papers). No recipient’s copy or duplicate of this letter has been found. The triplicate was an enclosure in a duplicate of Vernon’s letter of 22 Oct. (below, see descriptive note). Occupying the first page and a half of the MS, it was followed by the duplicate of the letter of 22 Oct., which was in turn followed by a brief covering letter dated 22 Oct.
3. Samuel Chew and one of his lieutenants were killed on 4 March in a battle with a British privateer (Allen, Naval Hist. of the Amer. Revolution description begins Gardner Weld Allen, A Naval History of the American Revolution, Boston and New York, 1913; 2 vols. description ends , p. 314).
4. John Skimmer was killed on 3 Aug., in the midst of a seven-hour battle with the brigantine Montague (Dict. Amer. Fighting Ships description begins U.S. Navy Department, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Washington, 1959–. description ends , 3:42; Mass. Soldiers and Sailors description begins Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, Boston, 1896–1908; 17 vols. description ends ).
5. Pierre Landais, a French naval officer, arrived in America in Dec. 1777 with a Continental commission from Silas Deane. Landais and the Alliance sailed for France on 14 Jan. 1779, carrying Lafayette and the official notification of Franklin’s appointment as minister to France. Landais later showed an unfitness for command and in Jan. 1781 was court-martialed and dismissed from the navy (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; 20 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ). In the spring of 1779, as he waited at Brest with the intention of returning to America on the Alliance, JA met Landais and recorded his unfavorable impressions of the man in his Diary (Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:368–369, 372–373, 375).
6. For JA’s account of his part in the capture of the Martha on 11 March, see JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:285–287;4:24–25. The vessel was recaptured shortly thereafter by the British frigate Rainbow (K. G. Davies, ed., Documents of the American Revolution, 1777–1783, Shannon and Dublin, 21 vols., 1972–1981, 13:337).