Baptiste Bessac had purchased a load of flax seed that filled the entire ship. It sailed out of Philadelphia for Brest on the westernmost tip of France.
The British men-o-war must have been too busy with outgoing goods headed for America. The ship load of flax seed made it safely to Brest. Baptiste sold the goods to a German merchant who had a customer ready to receive the seed in Dublin.
Business was going quite well in Europe.
Not so in America.
British forces had been camped in the area of New York City. They made a sudden excursion into New Jersey which was defenseless. They ravaged the countryside and plundered the inhabitants. This was not the honorable warfare as the French had practiced it nor as the Americans had expected. The principles of war were turned upside down.
Business and trade in New Jersey ebbed to a trickle. John Bessac needed merchandise for resale. The Continental Army had need of supplies. On the other hand there was not much faith put into the American currencies. The new nation was deeply in debt. The gloom of failure for the citizens of America was starting to weigh heavily. They had pledged “life, fortune and sacred honor” as their collateral for their independence. The British were ready to collect on that debt.
Another French fleet had arrived near the Chesapeake Bay; the mouth of the Susquehanna River. The fleet was in need of provisions. John Bessac purchased what he could with his remaining money and chartered a vessel to deliver the supplies. Unfortunately the pilot of the vessel pulled out of a fog bank only to find himself looking into the canons of an English man-o-war.
The vessel was taken as a prize. The crew and John Bessac were held as prisoners of war.
John Bessac’s calculated risk ended in disaster. John was starting to question this life of international merchandising.