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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4

This note contained in document ADMS-04-04-02-0159
2. See JA's reply, 14 Nov., below. The { 238 } Cicero did not sail from Bilbao until about 10 Dec.; see Isaac Smith to JA, 23 Jan. 1782, below, and note 1 there.
Jackson does not mention here an adventure of his with CA in the passage between La Coruña and Bilbao, which accounted in good part for their detainment so long in Spain and Spanish waters. This is related in colorful detail by John Trumbull in his Autobiography, ed. Sizer, 1953, p. 78–79. Trumbull reports that, on finding the Cicero at La Coruña readying to sail for Bilbao and then for America, he, Jackson, CA, and some other passengers from the South Carolina
“endeavored to get a passage to Bilboa, on board of this ship, and were permitted to go on board of their prize, a fine British Lisbon packet. The usual time required to run from Corunna to Bilboa was two or three days. We were again unfortunate; the wind being east, dead a-head, we were twenty one days in making the passage, and, as if Jonas himself had been among us, at the end of eighteen days, we fell in with a little fleet of Spanish coasters and fishermen, running to the westward before the wind, who told us that when off the bar of Bilboa, they had seen a ship and two brigs, which they believed to be British cruisers, and cautioned us to keep a good look-out. Capt. Hill of the Cicero, immediately hailed his prize, a ship of sixteen guns, which was also in company, and directed them to keep close to him, and prepare to meet an enemy. At sunset we saw what appeared to be the force described, and about midnight found we were within hail. The Cicero ran close alongside of the ship, and hailed her in English—no answer; in French—no answer. The men, who were at their guns, impatient of delay, did not wait for orders, but poured in their broadside; the hostile squadron (as we supposed them) separated, and made all sail in different directions, when a boat from the large ship came alongside with her captain, a Spaniard, who informed us that they were Spanish vessels from St. Sebastians, bound to the West Indies—that his ship was very much cut in her rigging, but happily, no lives lost. He had mistaken us for British vessels, and was delighted to find his mistake. We apologized for ours, offered assistance, &c. and we parted most amicably. Soon after, we entered the river of Bilboa, and ran up to Porto Galette. The disabled ship with her comrades put into Corunna, where it was found that one of our nine pound shot had wounded the mainmast of our antagonist so severely, that it was necessary to take it (the mast) out, and put in a new one. This was not the work of a day, and her consorts were detained until their flag ship was ready. In the mean time, we had almost completed taking in our cargo at Bilboa, when a messenger from Madrid arrived, with orders to unhang the rudders of all American ships in the port, until the bill for repairs of the wounded ship, demurrage of her consorts, &c. &c., was paid. We were thus detained in Bilboa until the 10th of December, and even then had to encounter one more vexation and delay.”
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.