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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 7

This note contained in document ADMS-06-07-02-0011
1. This is probably the first report of Estaing's arrival in America to reach the Commissioners directly from America (see Commissioners to the president of the congress, 11 Sept., below). The news had been eagerly awaited ever since the departure of the fleet of twelve ships of the line and five frigates from Toulon on 13 April because of the expectation that a decisive battle would be fought between Estaing and Adm. Richard Howe. The fleet's slow passage and missed opportunities, however, doomed such hopes. Estaing arrived off the mouth of Delaware Bay—not the Chesapeake—on 8 July, ten days too late to prevent the escape of the British fleet from Delaware Bay to the safety of New York. On 11 July, Estaing arrived off Sandy Hook, but was again unable to join the battle when he determined that the shallowness of the entrance and the strength of the defenses would not permit him to force his way into New York Harbor. On the 29th the fleet arrived off Newport, R.I., where Estaing hoped, in conjunction with an American army, to dislodge the British from the town and harbor. The plan failed because of a lack of coordination between the Franco-American forces and the arrival of Howe's fleet off Point Judith on 9 Aug. The following day the French fleet put to sea in an attempt to close finally with the British, but a storm intervened and so damaged Estaing's ships that he was obliged to go to Boston for repairs, arriving there on the 28th. In November, his repairs completed, Estaing sailed for the West Indies, thus ending, without decision, the first major French challenge to British supremacy in American waters (Allen, Naval Hist. of the Amer. Revolution, 1:327–333; Mahan, Navies in the War of Amer. Independence, p. 63–78; Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 122–123). For JA's concern at receiving no information on Estaing's fleet, see vol. 5:xxviii, note 43, and references there.
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.