When 18 days out, off the Western Island, on the 3d of November, 1777, after a terrible gale of wind which had subsided, at 4 o'clock P.M. , a squall struck the ship - she was put before it under the foresail, when they shipped two seas in quick succession, which knocked her down, and she sunk immediately - it being supposed the weather guns broke loose. Jacques soon found himself swimming , and for near an hour without any thing to assist him. At length, one of the gang way ladders, with a man upon one end of it, floated near him; Jacques took hold of the other end, and directly a wave turned the ladder over end for end and threw them both off; on coming up he again took hold, but his companion was lost. In about two hours another man appeared and got on, and they two kept hold all night and the next day; towards evening, his companion said he could hold out no longer and quit his hold and sunk. His name was William Wallace, an Irishman. He had become insane a little before, and said, "Jacques, I see you have got a knife to kill me, but put it up and I won't say any thing about it;" and soon after he fell off and disappeared. - While two of them were on the ladder, a hog came and rested his snout upon it, and remained some time. While they were on the ladder, a vessel passed near them; Jacques called to them, but the wind prevented their hearing, and he was disappointed of that opportunity. Jacques continued on the ladder all that night and all the next day till late in the afternoon - having been in the water forty-eight hours, when a French snow from Cape Francois, bound to Bordeaux, came near, and he called out help! They answered in a lively manner "Oui! Oui!" and hove to, and sent a boat and took him on board. - He was so exhausted that he could not stand; but was treated with kind attention and in a few days was able to lend a hand, which he did. In about three weeks, they arrived at Bordeaux. The Governor soon heard of his extraordinary story and sent for him; and on learning the particulars was much affected and recommended his getting a brief to collect money, and offered to assist him; but Jacques declined: reflecting that he was a free-born American - was young and hearty, and able to get an independent living; and would not consent to beg in a foreign land. He wrote to Dr. Franklin, acquainting him of the fate of the Reprisal, and soon received an answer with the needful supply - and in a short time got a passage home in a Baltimore schooner, which arrived at Edenton, in North Carolina. - From there he traveled to Yorktown in Pennsylvania, where Congress was then sitting, (the British troops having possession of Philadelphia.) He arrived late in the afternoon, after they had adjourned for the day. He however went to the President, and said, "he had come to give an account of the unhappy end of the ship Reprisal." The President looked at him and asked "are you that remarkable man?" - (for Congress had received the account from Dr. Franklin.) He said he was; and related his narrative, and was told to come again in the morning. He did so; and the President told him to go to the Board of War, - "and if they won't right you, come to me and we will." He went to the Board of War, where he was well received; they reckoned up his wages (for two years and more,) amounting to between two or three hundred dollars, continental money - and gave him an order on their Paymaster, Joseph Read, then at Bordentown, in New Jersey. He went there and received payment, and went to his family in Narragansett. After remaining there ten days, he heard that the ship Providence, Com. Whipple, of thirty guns and 270 men, was fitting out at Providence, bound to France. He went and entered on board of her on the 13th day of April, 1778. They went out through the Narragansett passage, in which lay a 50 gun ship and a frigate, as guard ship. It was a dark night; the frigate got under way; both vessels fired at the Providence, and she at them. The frigate was so much damaged that she could not follow them, and they got clear. They went to Painbeuff, in France, and thence to Brest; and then sailed for Boston, where he was discharged; and went to Narragansett and remained with his family one year. He then enlisted in Col. Green's R.I. regiment, of which Col. Onley was Lieutenant Colonel, and marched to join the regiment lying at Cromproud, in York State. An officer and 24 men, were drafted from it to form a select corps of Light Infantry, formed under Col. Scammel. Jacques was in this detachment, they embarked at Peekskill, and passed down on the west side of the Hudson, and landed in the evening at Phillip's house 5 miles above Kings' Bridge; marched that night to a position [rest of line missing] day break were attacked by the Yagers and other Hessian troops. After a smart skirmish their enemies fled. The battalion remained drawn up on the edge of a marsh, on the further side of which to the west, there were bushed two hundred yards in front. Jacques observed a smoke rise from a bush, and at that instant he received a ball in his breast, which went through his body and was afterwards cut out under the shoulder blade. An officer, seeing he was wounded, directed him to retire; he placed his musket against a fence, at their backs, got over and walked up the road, and in a short time met General Washington with some officers. The General asked him if he was wounded, he said he was he then told him to walk on slowly, and he would soon meet wagons coming down for the wounded." He got into one, and was finally carried to the hospital at Robinson's farm, in the Highlands, and thence removed in the fall to New Windsor. He was wounded on the 3d July, 1784, and was not fit for duty till Christmas following, when he joined the regiment at Philadelphia, after the fall of Lord Cornwallis. They lay there that winter, and in the spring marched to Verplank's Point, where they continued that summer and went into winter quarters at Saratoga. In June following, 1783, those enlisted for the duration of the war, were discharged - those for three years remained till Christmas, and were then discharged. In February 1782, while lying at Saratoga, a detachment of the R.I. regiment under Capt. Holden, joined an expedition under Capt Willet, of New York, against Fort Oswego. Jacques was among them; - they assembled at Fort Herkimer, on the Mohawk, to the number of 500 men - marched thro' a wilderness, and proceeded in sleighs the length of the Oneida Lake, 36 miles. At 8 miles from the Fort they made scaling ladders, intending at day break to storm the Fort; but their guide, an Oneida Indian, called Capt. John, either by mistake or design, conducted them wrong. They wandered in the woods, and were discovered. The garrison was alarmed and on their guard, - and being too numerous to be overcome, except by surprise, which was now frustrated the party was obliged to retire. They were pursued, and many of the sleigh drivers having deserted with their sleighs, they were reduced to great straights, and suffered extremely from the weather, many being frozen, and some lost their toes, feet, &c. They however all reached the inhabited country. At the close of the war, Jacques rejoined his family, and remained in Narragansett till the year 1800, when he removed to Ferrisburgh, in Vermont, where he is now living. He has a pension from the United States of $8 per month. His wife is industrious and prudent; and they have a daughter living who is also industrious, and contributes to their comfort. They live in a house which he built on a farm belonging to one of his sons-in-law, a thriving farmer - and they appear to live comfortably. Jacques has become blind within two or three years, and is a good deal bent with age, but in other respects healthy; is quick of apprehension, intelligent, and his memory good. It does not appear that his habits were ever intemperate. - He was a hard worker - but rather a loose and careless manager of his affairs, and therefore never made much advance in acquiring property. He was tall, very athletic, and has undoubtedly been a first rate man in hardihood, both of mind and body. He carried with him to Vermont two sons, now rather past middle age, but still stout laborers, and have been distinguished boxers."
The writer, is a resident of Ferrisburgh, in 1827 and '28, made several visits to this remarkable man, and drew from him this narrative of his life and adventures. He was interested and gratified in these interviews - by conversing with a man who had lived so long, and suffered so much in the service of his country; and though always in a humble station, from which he never appeared to aim at rising, yet it was obvious there was a latent sentiment of warm feeling for his country always at hand, and ready to be roused into action, on every occasion. And he was well qualified to render service, in the humble stations of a soldier and sailor - faithful to those engagements - and seemed never to have been troubled with any doubts of their propriety.
The P A L L A D I U M Weekly Advertiser, Wednesday, January 13, 1836 Vol. I No. 29.