Feb 04, 2016 - Sale 2404

Sale 2404 - Lot 34

Price Realized: $ 812
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,200 - $ 1,800
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION--1782.) Henderson, John. Letter written aboard the privateer South Carolina on the day before her capture. Autograph Letter Signed as "Jno. Henderson" to Stacy Potts. 4 folio pages, 13 x 8 inches, on one folding sheet; minor wear, two short early tape repairs. (MRS) Off Reedy Island, DE, 19 December 1782

Additional Details

The privateer South Carolina was built in France as a frigate named Indien, and was chartered for American service in 1780 under the ownership of the Duke of Luxembourg. The ship helped capture several vessels before being bottled up in the Delaware River near Philadelphia for much of 1782. Though the bulk of the fighting had finished by this point, the British still maintained a blockade of American ports. The South Carolina attempted to break out on 20 December, in conjunction with other vessels, but after a long chase it surrendered, with the capture of hundreds of men.
This letter was written the day before the capture by John Henderson, a lieutenant of the ship's marines, who had previously served as captain in a Pennsylvania regiment. Henderson wrote: "We have now the pleasing expectation of seeing the ocean before eight & forty hours at farthest where I hope we shall do something more to advantage than can be expected in the land service. . . . I am very well satisfied with my situation on board one of the finest and best found ships in the world. . . . Here I have brought a number of good young men who look up to me as their guardian and whose parents expect of me, not only the care of an officer, but likewise that of a friend. The corps of officers are very agreeable and I can have no pretence of leaving the captain (who is one of the worthiest characters)." He also discusses the difficulty of navigating such a large vessel down the Delaware. Another letter from Henderson to Potts, written as a captive three weeks later, is at Harvard University.