Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Silas Deane, 24 December 1779

From Silas Deane

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Wms.Burg Virginia. 24th. Decr. 1779

Dear Sir.

I am now waiting here for a Passage for France9 and hope to embark in Two or Three Weeks in the Fendant, a Twenty four Gun Ship commanded by the Marquiss De Vaudreuil, by way of Martinico.1 Your Daughter and Family were in good health, when I left Philadelphia.— We are now alarmed here with Accounts from New York of an Invasion of this, and the other Southern States, this Winter, & that an Embarkation has actually taken place for that purpose, & may be, soon expected to arrive;2 should this be the case, I shall be detained beyond what I proposed, or expected, but I rely much on The Season of the Year to obstruct their designs in this Way, for We are not in the Southern States so well prepared to oppose them, as I wish We were; The command of this Bay by Sea will give them many Advantages, but I rely much on the severity of the Weather to prevent their Attempt. I beg You will do me the honor to present my most sincere Respects to Monsr. Chaumont, Monsr Grand & Freinds, & to beleive Me ever with the greatest Attachment Dear sir Your most Obedient & Very Humle. Servt.

Silas Deane

I pray You to forward the inclosed to Dr. Bancroft—

His Excellency Benja. Franklin Esqr.

Notation: S. Deane 24 Dec. 1779

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Six weeks earlier, ex-Commissioner to France Deane had announced to the president of Congress his intention to return to Europe. He was unable to sail, however, until the following summer: Deane Papers, IV, 110–11, 167, 175.

1The Fendant was actually a 74–gun ship of the line. She was commanded by Louis-Philippe Rigaud, marquis de Vaudreuil (1724–1802). After participating in d’Estaing’s unsuccessful attack on Savannah she was sent to the Chesapeake. She spent Nov. 20 to Jan. 25 at Yorktown, Va., before returning to Martinique: France, Ministère des affaires étrangères, Les Combattants français de la guerre américaine 1778–1783 (Paris, 1903), p. 76.

2A fleet of 90 transports began its departure from New York on Christmas day. After rendezvousing at Savannah, its 8,700 troops intended to attack Charleston: John A. Tilley, The British Navy and the American Revolution (Columbia, S.C., 1987), p. 173.

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