Chevalier de St. Jean letter to Vicomte d'Arrot, 1783 January 1

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Chevalier de St. Jean letter to Vicomte d'Arrot, 1783 January 1



Chevalier de St. Jean explains the actions of the French squadron up to and including the action of December 6, 1782 which resulted in the loss of the Solitaire to the English. The Chevalier has no knowledge concerning the Nimphe and Triton were part of the squadron.


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On board the Resolve, the 1st January 1783


Permit me to have recourse to you in order to make up for the deficiency, if it is possible, of the instructions which circumstances render insufficient.

Mr le Marquis de Bouillé dispatched a division composed of the Solitaire, the Triton, the Nimphe, the Resolve, and the Expidi who left all together the 23 November in order to go cruise to windward of Barbados. Part of this division was bound in the last days of December to make a route for Tobago, to take there the news from Mr. le Marquis de Bouillé which he was obliged to address to the corvette the Martinique, standing off of Saint Gilles Point, Tobago Island. The Nimphe and the Resolve which were the two frigates of the division destined to come to Tobago were bound then to reascend to windward in order to carry the instructions and the ideas which they would have received from the corvette the Martinique. The hazards of war disturbed these arrangements. The 6 December, our division being sixty leagues to windward of Barbados found itself at dawn almost under the noses of eight English vessels coming from Europe. Each of us sheered off so as to separate the enemy forces in order that all not be taken; the Solitaire and the Expidi were joined. The rest escaped. As early as the same night having opened my separation packet, I concluded that this event must not divert the measures which Mr le Marquis de Bouillé had taken, in order to send the important information which the Nimph and I would be bound to carry, after having received them from the corvette, the Martinique. I immediately returned to our cruise, which made the first volume of our mission. At the time indicated the 25 December I sailed to deliver myself here: I have neither found the corvette Martinique, nor another ship which is able to entreat it. If you have knowledge of the orders, and the dispositions of Mr le Marquis de Bouillé relative to the landing of your island, I request you to pass them to me; you will place me in a postition to fulfill his wishes and to be useful to the good of the service. It was said in my separation packet that I would sail to Martinique at the twentieth of this month.

Since the confrontation which we had the sixth with these eight English vessels. I have no longer had any news from the Nimphe and the Triton. I presume they returned to Martinique.

If you have information that there are some French frigates to windward of Tobago, I request you likewise to want to inform me of it.

Your most humble and most obedient servant
The Chev. de Saint Jean

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“Chevalier de St. Jean letter to Vicomte d'Arrot, 1783 January 1,” Special Collections, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, accessed February 9, 2023,

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