Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from the Baron de Holtzendorff, 10 January 1779

From the Baron de Holtzendorff

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Paris January 10th: 1779./.


Your intention being to Shew to them other Gentlemen, your Collegues, the Papers I had the honour to give you yesterday, may it please you, Sir, to communicate to them also Gnl. Washington’s letter & my Congé I do myself the honour to send you hereby upon the other side of my letter.1

I join also my declaration made to all american officers in the charlestownes news paper, before my leaving your country, concerning the general Essay on the Prussian Tactics I proposed to Gnl. Washington when I found that your officers were in need of learning their metier.2

With very much respectful Sentiments I have the honour to remain Sir Your most obdt. humble Servant3

Baron DE Holtzendorff
Major d’Infanterie au Service de france—
ruë du fbg. St. denis./.

Notation: Baron D’holkendorff Paris 10. Janvier 1779.4

1The papers Holtzendorff gave BF the previous day probably included his memoir dated Dec. 30, 1778, of which only the extract in Arthur Lee’s hand (published above) has survived. The baron also copied and enclosed Washington’s letter to him of Feb. 3, 1778, testifying to his good character and expressing regret that the nature of his post did not afford him a favorable opportunity of displaying his military talents. The congé (leave papers) consist of a copy of a March 16 letter from Horatio Gates giving the former colonel permission to return to France.

2For the proposal to Washington see Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, IX, 92–3. The declaration described the planned essay and announced the author’s intention to complete it and publish it at his own expense after his return to France: S.C. and American General Gaz., May 7, 1778.

3Having had no reply, Holtzendorff wrote again on Jan. 20 explaining that ill-health prevented him from waiting on the minister in person. Would BF please post word as soon as possible regarding the papers Holtzendorff had presented and the small sum of American money which BF had promised him? APS. The baron repeated his request periodically until Dec. 5, when BF finally answered that he had forwarded the papers to Congress, and that he found the baron’s request for money (which now amounted to 6,000 l.t.) “irregular and improper.” Library of Congress.

4On the enclosure.

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