Two Mysterious Frenchmen at the Siege of Boston
He brought the news that another Frenchman, “one Dubue, is their [the enemy’s] Chief Engineer, as Gridley cannot Act from his Wound.” Col. Richard Gridley, head of the American artillery regiment, had been wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Various volunteers, including Henry Knox and Rufus Putnam, were filling in.
[ADDENDUM: Continental Army private Nathaniel Ober wrote in his diary on 6 July: “This Day a french man Desarted from us and went to the Regelors.” So that’s confirmation but no additional information.]
a Frenchman, who came here in the character of a gentleman, was detected in stealing. The next day he deserted to the enemy; but he’s of no consequence, being simple, a foolish fellow.
That man might not have been reliable, but on 17 August Kemble stated:
The Capt. of the Man of War that Conveyed the Inhabitants to Salem returned, and brought with him Monsieur Dubuque, a French Man, who had been employed by the Rebels as an Engineer.
I can’t find any mention of this French engineer in American sources, however.
I do have accounts of a couple of minor French noblemen viewing the siege of Boston for a while before sailing to London. (One day I’ll trace their story.) But they weren’t named Dubuque—not that the engineer must have used his real name.
A man named Dubuque owned the Shirley-Eustis house sometime around 1800, but he was said to have come to America as a refugee from the French Revolution, not before. But you never know.
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