Papers of John Adams, volume 11

To the Duc de La Vauguyon

From “Boston”

From John Bondfield, 6 April 1781 Bondfield, John JA From John Bondfield, 6 April 1781 Bondfield, John Adams, John
From John Bondfield
Sir Bordeaux 6 April 1781

Letters from Cadiz inform us of the arrival of a Vessel at that port from Baltimore she left the Bay the 16 february. The Capt. reports more than we can well Credit, that Arnold had made great distruction in the circuit he had taken which had rouzed the Virginians that a Body of Six Thousand Men had got betwixt him and his Shiping and they were in dayly expectation of his being Burgoign'd. The Americans had gaind a considerable advantage over the Enemy in So. Carolina, and that the affairs in general were in a flurishing State the New Emissions were Current without depreciation and the Royal Interest every where declined. The Ann and Luzern saild from Lorient the 27th. as did the Alliance and the Marquis de la fayet, the 29th. The safe arrival of the two last ships will give great satisfaction to the States the Marquis de la fayet having on Board all the Clothing provided by J. Williams consisting of eight Thousand Suits made up 250and cloth to make up 4000 more a quantity greatly short of that mentiond by Genl. Sulivan in his intercepted Letter which if it containd what realy the States expect so great a difficientcy will be a provoking disapointment.1

We flatterd ourselves Holland would have created a divertion in the North Seas we do not find a single Ship yet at Sea. Letters from Madrid of the 30th. mention the appearance of the Spanish Fleet off Cadiz. Spain has not force to oppose to the Fleet under Darby who will enter Gibraltar without Oppossien. The french Fleet from Brest Saild the 23 of course only a day After the English Fleet left Silly2 a rencontre of them Fleets is not improbable.3 With respect I have the Honor to be Sir your very hbb Serv

John Bondfield

RC (Adams Papers).


John Sullivan's letter of 15 Nov. 1780 to Meshech Weare was intercepted and subsequently printed in London newspapers (from Edmund Jenings, 5 Feb., and note 3, above). Sullivan complained that the army was “almost Naked” because of the unaccountable failure to send uniforms purchased in France for 49,000 troops (Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates , 16:339).

The Marquis de Lafayette, a French ship purchased by Leray de Chaumont in 1780 and then chartered by Jonathan Williams, was to transport approximately 500 tons of clothing and military supplies to America. Although it sailed with the Alliance, the Marquis de Lafayette became separated from the frigate on 29 April and four days later the British frigate Endymion captured it after a three-hour battle. For a detailed history of the Marquis de Lafayette and Benjamin Franklin's efforts to send the supplies purchased in France to the U.S., see Claude A. Lopez, “Benjamin Franklin, Lafayette, and the Lafayette,” Amer. Philos. Soc., Procs. , 108 (1964):181–223.


The Isles of Scilly.


Bondfield's hopes for an engagement between Grasse and Darby were not fulfilled. The French fleet sailed from Brest on 22 March, at which time Darby was still waiting off the Irish coast for the victualers to join him from the depot at Cork. Darby's fleet reached Gibraltar on 12 April and, although the supply ships unloaded under fire, accomplished the relief with relative ease because the Spanish fleet elected to remain in Cádiz (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence , p. 222–225; Mackesy, War for America , p. 388–389).