Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Louis-Pierre Penot Lombart (or Lombard), Chevalier de Laneuville, 16 March 1777

From Louis-Pierre Penot Lombart (or Lombard), Chevalier de Laneuville3

ALS: American Philosophical Society

A Paris ce 16. mars 1777.


The desire of the glorÿ, and of be serviceable to a nation whom defend her libertÿ, is the onlÿ mover wich embolder us and decide mÿ brother and me to go to boston for offer our service to a people whom we have in admiration.

We will not emploÿ bÿ ÿou the waÿ of the protection and recommendation. A man aproved of her nation is not made for to be persuaded through some like means.

27 year of service, the degree of major which I have obtained through the good testimonÿ which have been give of me to minister of the war, Chevalier de St. Louis, nephew of moster Merlet maréchal de camp,4 an Enthusiasme natural for a good cause, some zeal, some good will, some young age some good health are the onlÿ title which I will to improve bÿ you.

We nor demand nor silver, nor advance for go to boston; if I have not the degree of colonel I take the field as volunteer.

It is in these sentiment as I have the honour to be, in there joining these of the muster perfected esteem Moster Votre tres humble et tres obeissant Serviteur


Notation: Leneuville

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Created a chevalier de Saint-Louis the year before. He and his brother, René-Hippolyte Penot Lombart de Noirmont, did leave for America, and landed in South Carolina from a sinking ship the following September without papers or, Laneuville said later, a word of English. (He wrote the present letter, but could have copied a translation.) The two became inspector and deputy inspector general of Gates’ northern army, and in 1778 Laneuville was commissioned brigadier general. He resigned and returned to France in 1779 with Lafayette; his brother remained and rose to be a lieutenant colonel. Lasseray, Les Français, II, 349–58; JCC, XI, 466, 498–500; XII, 1010; Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, XII, 223–4; Laneuville’s memorandum for Bancroft, c. Oct., 1779, APS.

4He and others wrote Washington to recommend Laneuville. Congress, in acknowledging Merlet’s letter, referred to him as the quartermaster general of the French army, which was probably an error arising from an earlier position that he had held. JCC, XI, 499; Etat Militaire de France . . . for 1775, p. 122.

Index Entries