Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Lafayette, 10 November 1779

To Lafayette

Copy: Library of Congress

Passy, Nov. 10. 1779.

Dear Sir,

My Answer to the Questions, contain’d in the Letter You have honour’d me with,3 must be very short. I can only Say, that I know nothing before [about] the Order you mention, and I now know nothing of the Reasons.— I can therefore give no Opinion having no Materials on which to form it.

A Vessel from North America arrived at Cadiz reports that Count d’Estaing’s fleet arrived off the Capes of Virginia the 14th of September; since which Date we hear nothing of him; and this account seems not very certain.4

American News there is none,— but what we see in the English Papers. They talk of Clinton’s going with a Strong force to Charlestown.5 But possibly D’Estaign’s arrival may prevent that and I hope much good from his Visit to our Coasts. There are four Strokes for him to make, New York Rhodeisland, halifax, and Newfoundland,— if he is really gone there: But perhaps he went to Jamaica.6

Gen. Prevost has certainly desired to be recalled, He Complains much of having been neglected; and not furnished with the Reinforcements, and other Aids and Necessaries that he had required, and that had been promised to him.7 We are in the Way of filling England with discontented Generals and Admirals.

Many many Thanks for your kindness to my Grandson. And may God’s Blessings ever attend you.— With the sincerest Esteem and Affection, I am, Dear Sir, Your most obedient and most humble servant


Mr. Marquis de lafayette.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Above, Nov. 9.

4This news appeared in the Nov. 16 issue of the Courier de l’Europe (VI [1779], 313), where the date of the arrival is given as Sept. 15.

5Clinton had been weighing the idea, but not until December did he make the decision to do so: William B. Willcox, ed., The American Rebellion: Sir Henry Clinton’s Narrative of His Campaigns, 1775–1782 … (New Haven, 1954), pp. 151–3; Willcox, Portrait of a General, pp. 294–5. The Nov. 1 issue of the London General Advertiser, and Morning Intelligencer printed a prediction that Charleston and Boston would be attacked.

6As was reported in the Nov. 3 issue of the General Advertiser.

7Gen. Augustine Prevost’s intended replacement, Gen. George Garth, was captured by the French while he was en route to Savannah. Prevost organized the defense which repelled d’Estaing’s Oct. 9 attack on the city; after the French abandoned their siege Prevost returned to England: Willcox, American Rebellion, pp. 149–50; Mark Mayo Boatner III, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution (New York, 1966), pp. 411, 889, 982–8.

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