Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 4 February 1779

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Nantes Feb. 4. 1779.—

Dear & hond Sir.

The last Post from Cherbourg brought me the inclosed Packet under a blank Cover with Mr Morris’s Name on the Back.— As the Cover was marked Collonie I imagine it has been laying sometime in the West Indies and therefore contains nothing new, but should there be anything interesting which can be communicated with propriety, please to desire Billy to give me a Line.—1 A Brig arrived a few Days since at L’orient from Edington [Edenton], the Capt reports that Byron died of an Inflamation in his Stomach—that the Troops were embarking at New York—that Genl Washington with the grand Army was moving to the Northward—and that Genl Green with a considerable Detachment was sent to the Southard: This Brig left N Carolina about the middle of December.2

I am ever with the greatest Respect Your dutiful and affectionate Kinsman

Jona. Williams J

Doctor Franklin

Notations: Jona. Williams Nantes / Feby 4 1779

1The packet has not been found.

2News from the same ship was reported in a St. Malo intelligence report of Jan. 31: above, p. 104. Byron was still alive; the embarkations at New York were the expeditions which attacked Savannah and St. Lucia. The news about Greene was false. The report about the northward movement of Washington’s army probably was based on the flurry of activity engendered by the possibility the expeditionary force might attack Boston: see Freeman, Washington, V, 82–3, and our annotation of BF’s Dec. 4 letter to Chaumont. Washington’s army entered winter quarters in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut in November: Freeman, Washington, V, 87.

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