George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Board of Admiralty, 14 August 1780

From the Board of Admiralty

Admiralty Office Philadelphia August 14th 1780


We have been favoured with your Excellencys letter dated the 16th instant1—In Answer thereto, we beg leave to inform you that the Continental Armed ship Saratoga Captain John Young2 went down the River yesterday, in Order to convoy the Honble Henry Laurens in the Mercury Packet a few leagues to Sea, then to return within the Capes3—but should the Trumbull & Dean Frigates be arrived at the Capes (which is hourly expected) before her sailing, then Captain Young is directed to join these frigates, and to deliver our Orders to James Nicholson Esq. Senior Captain,4 who is directed to cruize along the Coast with the three Ships, so as to endeavour to fall in with the Second Division of the French Squadron, and to give the Commanding Officer intelligence of the situation of the enemys fleet, to return to the Capes in fourteen Days, and there wait for further Orders. Captain Young hath a letter from the Minister of France to the commanding Officer of the second Division.5 I am your Excellencys Most Obedient Hble servant

Fra: Lewis by order.

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, Miscellaneous Papers, Marine Committee Letter Book.

1The person who penned the LS undoubtedly meant to write “6th instant.”

2John Young (d. 1781), of Pennsylvania, received a commission as a captain in the Continental navy in October 1776 and took command of the 10-gun sloop Independence. After that ship was wrecked in May 1778, Young became captain of the 18-gun sloop Saratoga in August 1779. In 1781 the Saratoga was lost at sea with all hands.

3Henry Laurens was sailing to Europe as an agent and commissioner of Congress (see John Laurens to GW, 14 Feb., n.3).

4From 1778 to 1783, James Nicholson (c.1737–1804) was the senior captain of the Continental navy. A native of Chestertown, Md., Nicholson received a commission as a captain in the Continental navy in June 1776. In January 1778, he commanded the 28-gun frigate Virginia, which ran aground and was taken by British warships in Chesapeake Bay two months later. Nicholson, but not his crew, evaded capture. Nicholson next took command of the 28-gun frigate Trumbull in September 1779. For Nicholson’s accounts of the Trumbull’s engagements with the British privateer Watt during a cruise in May and June 1780 and with the British frigates Iris and General Monk in August 1781, the latter of which resulted in the Trumbull’s capture, see Allen, Naval History description begins Gardner W. Allen. A Naval History of the American Revolution. 2 vols. Boston, 1913. description ends , 2:499–503, 557–58. In the later 1780s, Nicholson settled in New York City. In 1789, he unsuccessfully applied for appointment as naval officer or surveyor of customs for the city’s port (see Nicholson to GW, 6 July 1789, in Papers, Presidential Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 19 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends 3:129–30). During his first presidential term, Thomas Jefferson gave Nicholson an appointment as commissioner of loans for New York.

5French minister La Luzerne’s letter has not been identified, but see La Luzerne to GW, 11 August.

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