[dateline] Amsterdam October 27. 1780
Question 28. Has America gained or lost, by the mutual Capture of ships? How much
is the Benefit or Prejudice of it by Calculation?
America has gained. She took early, from the English ordonnance and Ammunition ships,
and supplied herself in that Way, with those Articles when she had them not, and could
not otherwise obtain them. She has taken in this Way a great Number of British and
German Soldiers. She has taken a vast number of Seamen, who have generally inlisted
on board our Privateers. She has taken great quantities of Provisions, Cloathing,
Arms, and warlike stores. She has taken every Year, more and more Since 1775, and
will probably continue to take more and more every Year while the War lasts. I have
certain Intelligence, that there have been this year carried into Boston and Philadelphia
only, Ninety Nine Vessells in the Months of July and August. On board of these Vessells
there were not less than Eight hundred Seamen, many of the ships were very rich. The
Vessells the English have taken from the Americans were of Small Value—this year they
have been few in Number.
I am not able to give you an exact Calculation. The Quebec ships were worth from thirty
to forty thousand Pounds sterling each and there were two and twenty of them in Number.
Privateering is a great Nursery of Seamen, and if the Americans had not imprudently
Sacrificed Such a Number of their Frigates and Privateers in the Attack and defence
of Places, these alone, would by this Time, well nigh have ruined the British Commerce,
Navy and Army.
I have the Honour to be &c.