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    "We are too, too much dependent on the Chapter of Accidents: But we are not, severely, worse off than in the fall of 76..."

    James Lovell Autograph Letter Signed "James Lovell". 4pp. 5.75" x 7". (Philadelphia), November 17, 1779; commenting on the failure of the Penobscot Expedition and the general overall failure of Franco-American cooperation in the first full year of the alliance.

    In part: "... I must be honest with you in owning the Extremity of Chagrin, at the Fruitlessness of the Counts (D'Estaing) Visit to this Continent. In Imagination I had settled myself & my Family up the Bay of Funday (sic) in Consequence of his Reduction of Halifax & the thence inevitable Emancipation of all Nova Scotia. I admire your prudent Manner of speaking both in Regard to him and the people you are among. It seems the latter are in a pet(?) with Folks this Way, and, in Return for imagined Neglect wholly omit to give us the least Information till after we have been for Weeks the Dupes of every lying Travailler (sic), I mean as to good Tidings, for the bad had not reached us till Majr. Clarkson was here with yr. Letters. I have nothing to return you that can exhilarate. But it (is) hoped that the Enemy are not in Condition to get any considerable advantage this Winter notwithstanding our ill Plight as to Men money & Cloathing. We are too, too much dependent on the Chapter of Accidents: But we are not, severely, worse off than in the fall of 76..."

    The Compte d'Estaing had already presided over two spectacular disappointments: Newport in 1778 and Savannah in 1779: losses that dampened American optimism that French power would bring a swift victory. The Penobscot Expedition, launched in July 1779, was perhaps the worst naval defeat of the Revolutionary War. If the operation had been successful, Halifax and all of Nova Scotia would have been the next target. The naval facilities at Halifax were the only base in North America able to repair warships. Without Halifax, British ships would need to sail to Europe for repairs, effectively taking them out of service for many months, crippling their ability to dominate American waters.

    Both leaves laid into a larger sheet, usual folds, else fine condition.

    More Information:

    James Lovell (1737 - 1814) American educator, Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress, and Signer of the Articles of Confederation.

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