To Elizabeth Hamilton
Philadelphia 9th July 1798
I arrived here, My Dear Betsey, on Saturday in good health & not much fatigued. But I was immediately surrounded by a number of persons who engaged me till the hour of the Post had past by; so that I did not write as I intended. I cannot lose the opportunity of today; though I intend certainly to leave this place tomorrow in the Mail stage which arrives on Wednesday Morning. Mean time I command you as you love me to take care of yourself, to keep up your spirits, and to remember always that my happiness is inseparable from yours.
You wil be glad to know that Decatur in one of our vessels of War has captured & brought in a French Privateer of Twelve Guns.1 It gives general satisfaction.
God bless My beloved
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; copy, Columbia University Libraries.
1. On July 9, 1798, the Gazette of the United States, and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser reported: “We have the satisfaction to announce to our readers that the Delaware sloop of war, capt. [Stephen] Decatur (who only went out to sea on Friday [July 6]) on Saturday evening captured a French privateer schooner of 12 guns and 70 men, close in with Egg-Harbour, and last evening the prize was brought to Fort Mifflin. Captain Decatur left his ship at NewCastle, and brought this intelligence to town. Capt. D. after he got to sea on Saturday morning, met with the ship Alexander Hamilton, from New York to Baltimore, the captain of which informed him that he had been plundered by a French privateer, and gave him directions what course he had steered. Capt. D. immediately went in search of her, and soon got in sight of four schooners; but not knowing which was the armed schooner that he had received information of, he thought it best to stand off as if he were a merchantman and alarmed at what might be armed vessels.
“The manœeuvre had the intended effect, for the armed schooner gave her chace, until she discovered the Delaware to be a vessel of force, when she attempted to sheer off and get in land (where she supposed she should be safe, taking the Delaware for an English vessel of war) but she was obliged to surrender after a pretty long chace to the Delaware, and several shot being fired at her. This privateer is a new vessel said to have been built at Baltimore. She sailed from Cape Francois on the 19th of June, and has been on our coast only two days, during which time she has captured the ship Liberty Capt. Vredenberg, which sailed a few days from this port for Liverpool The vessel was sent to the West Indies, and the Captain and Crew of the Liberty were put on board a vessel bound for Boston. This privateer had also taken an English brig.”
On July 10, 1798, the same paper reported: “The name of the French privateer taken by the Delaware is Le Croyable, she was commanded by a Capt. Sylvester, who has been an old Offender against our trade. When he was taken on board the Delaware, he expressed much surprize to Capt. Decatur at being taken by an American Vessel, observing he had a commission from the French Government and wished to know how long France and America had been at war, as he said this was the first time he had heard of it? We are happy to say, that he had not a single American in his crew; they were wholly French, and were yesterday landed at the Fort, where they will be kept under guard until they are otherwise disposed of. The Delaware returns immediately to her cruizing ground.”