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Letter from Bayard and Co. to the French Merchants, respecting the purchase of Gunpowder



Philadelphia, January 18, 1775.

GENTLEMEN: We wrote you the 28th of April last, and enclosed the account of sales of your last adventure, at the same time ordered Captain James Johnston, of our snow Dickenson, to remit you the balance, (one hundred and seventy-four pounds, eleven shillings and four pence sterling,) which, by his account, we find he did do from Bristol, since which we have not had the pleasure of a line from you.

This serves to hand you invoice and bills of lading of a valuable cargo of flour, spermaceti candles, and beeswax, shipped on board our snow Dickenson, to your address, which we wish safe to your hands. We would have this cargo immediately sold, and the net proceeds laid out in fifteen tons of gunpowder; or, if gunpowder is not to be had, as much saltpetre, with a portion of fifteen pounds of sulphur to each hundred weight of saltpetre, as will be sufficient to make that quantity of gunpowder; and one thousand five hundred stand of arms, fitted with bayonets and steel ramrods; and one thousand bolts of Russia duck or canvass, and as much more of these articles as the net proceeds of this cargo will purchase. If any of the aforesaid articles cannot be got as aforesaid, the money directed to be paid out of that article, we would have laid out in good ticklenburghs or osnaburghs, or vitzeys, or, failing, the returns to be made in gold or silver. This cargo we have shipped you for account of the Continental Congress of the thirteen United Colonies of America, and the order of the returns is what they have directed; and, we make no doubt, you will use your best endeavours to complete it in every article. The ready and cheerful assistance afforded us by many of your merchants, both from the West-Indies and Europe, demands our grateful acknowledgments, and encourages our applying to you for still further supplies, to enable us to oppose the arbitrary and tyrannical proceedings of the Court of Great Britain against us. Should it be in your power to complete the whole of our order, we


must request you will be very particular in sending the best of each article that is to be had, and that you will give the vessel all possible despatch, so as to be on our coast as early as possible in the Spring. Our former experience of your punctuality and despatch of business, has induced us to recommend this consignment to your house; and we have liberty to inform you, should this voyage succeed to our wishes, we shall have it in our power to wait on you with more important consignments. We request you would conduct this business with as much secrecy as possible, as we have been informed the Court of Great Britain have spies in most of your principal seaport towns, whose business it is to find out American vessels, and learn their cargoes and destination, the time of their sailing, &c˙, which they transmit to England, in order to have them watched and taken.

We shall anxiously wait the event of this voyage, and, in the mean time remain, with the greatest respect, gentlemen, your most obedient, humble servants,


Messrs˙ Montandouin and Frere, Merchants in Nantes.