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Crane, John (1744-1805) to John Sullivan

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03232 Author/Creator: Crane, John (1744-1805) Place Written: Newport, Rhode Island Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 23 August 1778 Pagination: 2 p. : address : docket ; 34 x 22 cm.

Summary of Content: Expresses surprise at the news that "Count D'Estaing has abandoned us in the present Enterprise." At Sullivan's request gives his opinion on the situation, saying he feels the siege of Newport is not worth continuing without the French fleet, since he expects British reinforcements soon. Instead suggests an immediate attack, for which he details his strategy. Opposes a retreat but in case "the General Council be of a different opinion" he lays out a plan for retreat as well. General Sullivan posed this question to a number of officers. In GLC04845 he writes William Whipple and asks his opinion on whether the Americans should continue the siege, attack immediately, or retreat. Also asks Whipple to explain his answer, as Crane has. The French and Americans had planed to mount a joint assault on the British at Newport. When many of the French ships were damaged in a storm their commanded Vice Admiral d'Estaing was forced to move his fleet to Boston for repairs, taking his 4,000 French troops with him. Sullivan was furious at d'Estaing, and was forced to quickly abandon the siege against his desires.

Background Information: John Crane was a colonel in the Third Artillery under Henry Knox, and later rose as high as brevet brigadier-general.
John Sullivan served as an major general during the Revolution ...and also served in the Continental Congress and as the President of New Hampshire.
Jean Baptiste Charles Henri Hector, Comte d'Estaing, was a French Vice Admiral sent with twelve battleships and fourteen frigates to assist the colonies during the American Revolution. Also known as the Marquis de Saillans.
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Full Transcript: "…I have this moment received your Letter Informing me that Count D'Estaing has abandoned us in the present Enterprise. I am so much surprised that I am hardly able to ...give my opinion [sic], But as it is your Request My Dear Sir, must say I am against carring [sic] on the Seige by regular approaches and hazard the Enemies being reinforced, for I am of opinion [sic] as soon as the militia are assured of the fleet are gone they will be uneasy and be discouraged from proceeding any further. And should the Siege continue (and the Enemy be reinforced) till the time their ingagements [sic] are out your Honour knows by experance [sic] they will not continue one moment Longer. But the probability is, as the wind is so fair and enemy so near that they will be reinforced within a few days."
"With respect to making an immediate attack I am heartily in favour of it. And am of opinion [sic] it may be put in Execution, by making a front on the Left of their lines, and landing a body of troops below the beach for the real attack, at the Same time throwing a column over in the Senter [sic] [inserted: on] [struck: of] the right of Bannisters [sic] hill to cooperate [sic] and join the body landed below the beach and make a lodgement [sic] on the hill to the right of the enemies encampment - Altho I am against a retreat yet should the Genl. Council be of a different opinion [sic] and we be reduced to that disagreeable necessity, I am of opinion [sic] it ought to be done [2] immediately by fortifying the two heights at the North End of the Island the posts we first encamped on after our Landing, as that ground appears to me to be best constructed for [struck: that] the purpose…"

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People: Crane, John, 1744-1805
Sullivan, John, 1740-1795
Estaing, Charles Henri, comte d', 1729-1794

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Revolutionary WarGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyFranceMilitary HistoryNavyMaritimeBattleRevolutionary War GeneralExtreme WeatherContinental Army

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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