<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0014

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Committee of Secret Correspondence
Recipient: Larkin Hammond

Sir

You are to proceed with all the dispatch in your power with the Schooner
Jenifer under your command to Nantes in France; on your arrival there,
you are to apply to Mr. Thomas Morris if he should be at that port, if
he should not, your application must be to Messrs Pliarne, Penet &
Co. who will furnish you with the necessary cash for your journey to
Paris, for which place you must set out immediately and deliver your
dispatches to Messrs. Deane, Franklin, & Lee, and wait their
orders; when they discharge you, you are to return with the utmost
diligence to America, & put into the most convenient port to the
Southward of the Delaware.1 We think
Chincoteague, or some other on the back of the Eastern Shore, the most
likely for avoiding men of War and would therefore have you attempt
getting into one of those ports; when arrived you must leave the
schooner under the command of your mate, and bring the dispatches
yourself to Congress, wherever it may be Sitting.

You are before you set out for Paris, to consult with Mr. Morris, or the
above Gentlemen, whether your vessel will not be most likely to escape
the enemy by sending her to some other port to meet you on your return;
if this should be their opinion, you are to give orders to your mate
accordingly. You are also to deliver your pig iron to the order of
those Gentlemen, and take from them such a quantity of military stores
as will ballast your vessel. The Safe delivery of the dispatches, with
which you are entrusted, & the obtaining answers to them, are
matters of such immense consequence to the continent that We cannot too
strongly recommend to you the avoiding all vessels, that you may see,
either outward bound or on your return. You are also to avoid as much
as possible, falling in with the Headlands & Islands, as it is most
usual for Men of War to cruize off such places.

The Dispatches will be delivered to you in a Box, which you must put into a
bag with two shots, that in case of falling in with an enemy, from
which you cannot escape, you may be prepared to sink them which on Such
an event’s happening, we earnestly insist on your doing. We wish you a
good voyage and safe return and are,

Yr. Most Humble Servts,
B. Harrison
R.H. Lee

P.S. When you arrive at Nantes, enquire and get directions from the
Gentlemen there to whom you are recommended, for cash to carry you to
Paris, where Dr. Franklin, Mr. Deane, and Mr. Arthur Lee lodge in
Paris, and above all things take care not to let it be known at Nantes
from whence you came, your business, or where you are going except to
the above Gentlemen.

Notes:

File copy, Papers of Continental Congress, item 79, U.S. National Archives
and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

1 Larkin Hammond, a captain in the Maryland navy, sailed from Baltimore in
the Jenifer on January 9 and delivered his dispatches to Silas Deane
on March 14 1777. See Morgan, Naval Documents, 7:189, 633n; and NYHS
Collections 20 (1887): 23.