Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Samuel Wharton, 21 June 1779

From Samuel Wharton

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Hotel de Rome Monday Morning Jun 21/79

Dear Sir

I send you the News Paper. The Spanish Declaration was not made on Tuesday, But I have a Letter, which says, That it was to be deliver’d on Wednesday. They write from London, That the New York Mail brings Advice,—of General Clinton’s detaching three thousand Men upon an Expedition (to sail the 8th of May) and That Genrl Washington supposing it to be to Virginia on a desolating Plan, and to make a favorable Diversion for Prevost,—had apprizd the Governor of that State, of it.5 It seems, The Frigate which convoyed the seven Transports towards Georgia, and which with Them are carried into Salem,—had Twenty six Thousand Pounds sterling worth of Indian Goods on Board.6 A seasonable and important Supply for the use of the States, and at the Rate, The Indians were accustomed to be supplied by the Traders,—would be equal to above One hundred thousand Pounds worth. Mr. Craig,7 a faithful American, writes Mr. Ross, The Truth of this Capture may be depended on. If your Excellency had any News yesterday in your Letter, I should be much obliged to Billy, To favor me with the important Parts of it.

In great Truth, I am, with the utmost Respect, Dear Sir yr. Excellency’s most obedient & humble Servant

S. Wharton

Please to turn over

One of my Friends writes me as follows.

“Our Grand Fleet will fall down to St. Helens to morrow, with Orders to put to Sea the first fair Wind; It consists of 29 Ships of the Line, 8 Frigates, five Fire ships, and two Cutters. It will probably be reinforced with three or four More Ships of the Line.”8

I cannot conceive, That the English have such a Fleet at Portsmouth, except They include Darby’s Squadron, which I do not find by the News paper, was returned from convoying Arbuthnot.9

His Excellency Benjamin Franklin Esqr. &c &c &c—

Notation: S. Wharton Paris 21. juin 1779.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5For the British raid on Virginia see our annotation of Digges’s June 11 letter. We find no record of Washington’s having written Gov. Patrick Henry, but for his reaction see Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, XV, 90–2, 150–1, and Jefferson Papers, II, 265.

6The convoy captured by the Warren, Queen of France, and Ranger; see Gordon’s May 5 letter.

7Possibly the Philadelphia merchant John Craig (XXVI, 260n), who had been with Ross in Nantes.

8On June 16 the main British fleet of thirty ships of the line sailed from its anchorage at St. Helens, Isle of Wight: Patterson, The Other Armada, pp. 107, 168.

9Vice-Admiral George Darby, the second in command of the British fleet, had taken a detachment of ten ships of the line to escort Adm. Arbuthnot and his convoy clear of the coast; Darby had returned to port on June 10; see our annotation of BF’s May 26 letter to the committee for foreign affairs and Patterson, The Other Armada, pp. 104–5.

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