From Jonathan Nesbitt
ALS: American Philosophical Society
L’Orient Janry: 3d: 1780 [i.e., 1781]4
Several Packets of Letters for your Excellency, which I receiv’d by the Ships Luzerne, & Anne,5 both arrived here the first instant were immediately put into the Post office, but I fear too late for the Post, and suppose you will receive them at same time with this Letter.— No doubt your Letters contain the freshest intelligence; I shall not therefore trouble you with what mine contain.— The defeat of Colonel Ferguson has in a great measure frustrated the Enemys designs against Virginia, but they were in Possession of Portsmouth & it was feared would Winter there.—
I receiv’d by each of the above Vessells, a Journal of the Proceedings of Congress from 1st: Janry: 1778 to 1st: Janry: 1779, adress’d to your Excellency, which I did not think proper to forward pr: the Post, and shall keep them untill a private conveyance offers, or untill I receive your Excellencys orders.
I remain with the greatest Respect Sir Your most Obedient humble Servt:
His Excellency Benjn: Franklin Esqr.
Addressed: His Excellency / Benjn: Franklin Esqr
Notation: Jana. Nesbitt. L’Orient 3 Jan 81
4. The year is based on the events described here, Ferguson’s defeat at Kings Mountain and Leslie’s capture of Portsmouth, Va., for which see Lafayette to BF, Nov. 19. BF apparently received the packets Nesbitt mentions on Jan. 10; see the entry of that date in his journal (above, Dec. 18).
5. The former was Thomas Bell’s Chevalier de La Luzerne, the latter a Pennsylvania ship, James Josiah, master: Claghorn, Naval Officers, pp. 21, 171; Charles Henry Lincoln, comp., Naval Records of the American Revolution 1775–1788 (Washington, D.C., 1906), pp. 226, 253. Bell and Josiah had been asked by the committee for foreign affairs to carry letters, gazettes, and books to BF and others: Smith, Letters, XVI, 283. They sailed from Philadelphia: JW to WTF, Jan. 4 (APS).