Versailles 18 July 1778
I receive, Gentlemen, Letters from L'Orient, on the Subject of Differences, which have arisen, between the Commander of the American Frigate the Boston and some Frenchmen who made a part of his Crew, some in the Character of Volunteers, and others in the quality of Sailors. According to what is written to me, upon this Subject, whatever means have been employed to effect a reconciliation, they have not been able to obtain it. And they have been obliged to disembark a Number of twenty Eight, twenty five of whom are volunteers and three Novices. It appears that the discontent of these People was not against the Captain of the Ship, nor against that of the Volunteers, but that it was not the same with the first Lieutenant, and two other Officers, from whom, it appears, they had received very ill Treatment. These are Facts which have come to the Knowledge of the Commissary of the Classes at L'orient, as well as of Monsieur De La Touche de Treville Chef D'Escadre, who being at L'orient on Occasion of the Operations, with which he is charged, went on board the Frigate. This General 167Officer has had, even, personally Subjects of Complaint, which have obliged him to enter into Explanations with the Captain. Moreover, when the People disembarked were put on Shore, the Captain employed himself, in causing to be restored to them, all he could of their property, which during their Absence had been in part pillaged by some of the Crew; but it appears that they experience difficulties about their Pay and Subsistence; that they pretend to have a right to Shares in two Prizes sent into L'orient, but renouncing all Pretentions to two others, which have been sent to America. They pretend that they did not engage themselves at Bourdeaux, but for one Cruise, as their Engagement mentions, but the Captain asserts that it ought not to finish, till after the Arrival of the Vessell at Boston, although this is not explained in the Engagement. It will be convenient, Gentlemen, that you give orders upon this Subject to avoid the Expence to which this Contest will give rise, if it should be carried to the Admiralty. I pray you to signify to me, what you would wish to have done upon this Subject, that I may communicate it to the Commissary of the Classes. This Commissary writes me, that he has offered the Captain of the Frigate, all the facilities, which may depend upon him, for the Inlistment of new Volunteers, to replace the others. I have the honour to be, with a perfect Consideration, Gentlemen, your most humble and most obedient Servant
De Sartine. D.S. M essieurs. Franklin, Lee, et Adams Deputys of the United States of North America.
P.S. Mr. Schweighauser has written me from Nantes, that his Correspondent at Brest, meets with difficulties on the Part of the Admiralty relative to the Sale of the Prizes, made by the Frigate the Ranger. I write to the Officers of the Admiralty, to cause those difficulties to cease, and I give Notice of it to Mr. Schweighauser.