1779, American revolution, American Society, Atlantic Ocean, Baptiste Bessac, Bay of Biscay, Bordeaux, Caribbean, Central America, Continental Congress, Count d'estaing, Declaration of Independence, Delaware Bay, Diplomatic Meeting, dye wood, East River, George Clymer, Gulf of Mexico, John Bessac, Letters of marque, molasses, New York, Philadelphia, Prison Ship, Prisoners of Brittan, Prisoners of War, privateering, rum, South Sea, sugar
The privateer “Letter Of Marque”, who was ready for her dangerous mission, sailed out of the Port of Bordeaux in the early summer months of 1779.
There was, surprisingly, little action in the Bay of Biscay. The destination for the “Letter of Marque” was the West Indies. Her intentions were to sail both the Atlantic Ocean and the “South Sea” which was becoming known as the “Caribbean.” The Gulf of Mexico was quite calm aside from the privateering action.
The Marque took two prizes consisting of rum, sugar, molasses and dye woods which were rare except for in Central America. The ship was loaded to the point where it was best to head for port. She entered the Delaware Bay and sailed up to Philadelphia.
There, the prize was exchanged for money which was divided between the ship owners, the officers and the crew. John and Baptiste deposited their money with Clymer & Sons, a reputable ship builder and banker.
Money had been set aside for repairs and refitting of The Marque. As soon as that task was complete she sailed once more, in search of a prize.
A British sloop-of-war outmaneuvered The Marque. The sloop fired a majority of its eighteen guns and The Marque lost the battle. Three men were killed and several wounded. The Marque was captured and held by the British. Likewise, Baptiste and John Bessac also came to the same fate.
The British had a prison ship docked in the East River of New York. Baptiste, John, the officers and crew were imprisoned within this ship. Diplomatic efforts were made between the British and the French. An exchange of British for French prisoners was made. John and Baptiste Bessac headed to Philadelphia to retrieve their money from Clymer.
The gentleman handed over their money and the two brothers traveled to Jersey City across the Hudson from New York. Once there, they intended to start merchant and commercial businesses.
Connections had to be established. A light ship of shallow draft was chartered with the intent of visiting the French Fleet laying off the coast. The chartered ship was sufficient enough to avoid the heavy British men-o-war that remained hovering off the coast. The British were attempting to strangle the American uprising by starving it of needed goods.
The Bessac brothers met with Count d’Estaing who commanded the fleet. Arrangements were made for newly shipped goods to be delivered to Jersey City. These good would be sold and distributed by the Bessacs.
It was a very lucrative business and the brothers did quite well for themselves. John, cutting a masculine figure about town, rapidly commanded the English language. He was graced with the polished manners of a well-bred Frenchman and soon became a known figure within the best of American society.
Another chapter of John Bessac’s life was in full bloom.