Adams Papers

Bidé de Chavagnes to John Adams: A Translation, 24 January 1781

Bidé de Chavagnes to John Adams: A Translation

[ante 24 January 1781]

My dear sir

Captain Chavagnes is very flattered by the honor of your acquaintance and promises to you the most sincere sentiments in reiterating the interest he has in your health and that of your dear children and Mr. Dana, and wishes you all the happiness you deserve. I would like it very much if, after having seen you work so fruitfully for your country, which could not be in better hands, I could return you to Boston, close to your amiable family. But having lost everything with Mr. Sartine and not having the honor to know Mr. de Castries, I fear being employed only as first lieutenant on the vessels.1 However, my rank, my service, and a brother killed in battle enables me to hope to command a third rate ship of the line2 or a frigate of 18 pounders if they are built to oppose the forces of our common enemies, who took our frigates of 12 pounders. After having been in Ferrol for a month, where I was asked for news about you, I went to Cádiz where, in the Comte d’Estaing’s fleet, I arrived very tired and very angry that in nearly four months at sea we did not take a single British ship. I would very much like to see Madame Chavagnes and attend to my affairs. I do not know if I can do this. I will ask the Marquis de Castries. I would like also to go to Paris where I would be honored to see you, but in the service one can not do all that one wants. I learned with pleasure upon my arrival that the Dutch have declared themselves against our common enemies, which could bring an advantageous peace for you to bring back to your dear country. These are the wishes I have for you, and that you and your dear children are enjoying good health. Keep in touch and be well persuaded of the sincere and respectful attachment with which I have the honor to be, my dear sir, your very humble and very obedient servant,

Bidé de chavagnes
capne. des vaux. du roy de france

Mr. de Goesbriant is happier than I am. He is in Boston.3

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “C. Chavagne. recd ansd 24 Jan. 1781.” JA’s reply of 24 Jan. has not been found.

1Gabriel de Sartine’s replacement as naval minister by the Marquis de Castries in Oct. 1780 left Chavagnes with no source of patronage (vol. 10:311).

2This was a ship of the line of 70 to 84 guns.

3Chevalier de Göesbriand, formerly of La Sensible, was serving as second lieutenant on L’Actionnaire, a 64-gun ship of the line, part of Grasse’s fleet in the West Indies (vol. 9:41; Les Combattants français de la guerre américaine, 1778–1783, Paris, 1903; repr., Washington, 1905, p. 204).

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