George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Comte d’Ennery, 4 August 1776

From Comte d’Ennery

St: Domingo 4th Augt 1776


Although I have not the Honor to be known to your Excellency, I hope you will be good enough to release a French Officer, who like an inconsiderate Man, was taken in Canada, serving in the English Army against your Troops. I entreat you to set him at Liberty and suffer him to embark in some Vessel bound to the French Colonies, from whence he may get a Passage to France and rejoin his Regiment. He is called the Sieur D’Chambeau and is an Officer in a Regiment of Infantry in the Service of his Crown.1

Altho’ this Officer has fallen into an Error, by taking part in a Quarrel, in which he ought by all Means to have been a Neuter, either considered as an Officer of France or a Canadian, I could not, seeing he had wrote to me, refuse to use my Interest with your Excellency, to suffer him, by an Act of Generosity, to regain his Liberty and join his Regiment in Europe. I hope your Excellency will not think my demand impertinent, and that you will pay regard to it.2 I took the earliest Opportunity to assure you that I esteem myself happy in having it in my Power to prove the high Esteem with which your Reputation has inspired me. I have the honour to be with the greatest Respect yr Excellency’s most hble and most obt Servt

Compte D’Emery
Govr Genl of the French part of St: Domingo

Translation, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, enclosed in GW to Hancock, 7 Oct. 1776, DNA:PCC, item 152; ALS, in French, CSmH; copy of translation, DNA:PCC, item 169.

Victor-Thérèse Charpentier, comte d’Ennery (1731–1776), was governor general of Saint-Domingue from sometime in 1775 until his death on 12 Sept. 1776. A lieutenant general in the army, he also held the titles of inspector of infantry and director general of fortifications, artillery, and militia in all of the colonies. Both Tilghman and Robert Hanson Harrison misconstrued the governor general’s name as “Emery” (see Harrison’s docket of the ALS, GW to Ennery, 7 Oct. 1776, DLC:GW, and GW to Hancock, 7 Oct. 1776, DNA:PCC, item 152).

1In the ALS this officer’s name is given as “le S. dechambault.” Chambault had been captured at St. Jean on 3 Nov. 1775, and at this time he was among the prisoners being held at Bristol, Pa. (see the Return of French Officers Taken Prisoner at St. Johns, 3 Nov. 1775, DLC:GW, and JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:744).

2For GW’s favorable response to this request, see his reply to the comte d’Ennery of 7 Oct. 1776 in DLC:GW and his letter to Hancock of that date in DNA:PCC, item 152.

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