From Vice Admiral d’Estaing
At sea the 8th July 1778
I have the honor of imparting to Your Excelly the arrival of the King’s fleet; charged by his Majesty with the glorious task of giving his allies the United States of America the most striking proofs of his affection. Nothing will be wanting to my happiness if I can succeed in it; it is augmented by the consideration of concerting my operations with a General such as Your Excellency. The talents and great actions of General Washington have insured him in the eyes of all Europe, the title, truly sublime of deliverer of America. Accept Sir, the homage that every man—that every military man owes you; and be not displeased, that I solicit, even in the first moment of intercourse, with military and maritime frankness, a friendship so flattering as yours. I will try to render myself worthy of it by my respectful devotion for your country; it is prescribed to me by orders, and my heart inspires it.
I have the honor of rendering accot to Congress of the letter I write to Your Excellency.1 Mr Dr Chouin, Major of infantry in the King’s service has orders to present you this—I pray you to grant the most extensive confidence to all this officer shall tell you on my part. He is a near relation to Mr Sartine.2 This Minister has been long since known for his attachment to the common cause. ’Tis less the desire of pleasing a statesman, honored with the confidence ⟨of the⟩ King which has determined me to send you Mr Chouin, than an opinion of his military knowlege—the clearness of his ideas and the precision with which he will communicate mine. I beseech you to grant him your kindness. I have the honor to be with respect Sir Yr Excellency’s Most humble & most Obedient servant
Translation, DLC:GW; LS (in French), DLC:GW; Df (in French), FrPNA: Marine, B4, I46; copy (in French), FrPNA: Marine, B4, I46; copy (extract in French), FrPBN. Robert Hanson Harrison docketed the LS, in part, “recd 17. ansd the 17. a Duplicate copey recd before.” The duplicate enclosed with d’Estaing’s letter of 13 July was received on 14 July.
1. D’Estaing’s letter of this date to President of Congress Henry Laurens told him: “I have the Honour to write to General Washington and shall send successively to his Camp Two Officers with offers to combine my movements with his” ( Laurens Papers description begins Philip M. Hamer et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Laurens. 16 vols. Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003. description ends , 14:6).
2. Although appointed a major in 1776, André-Michel-Victor, marquis de Choin (Chouin; 1744–1829), had been employed in the French marine ministry before becoming d’Estaing’s aide-de-camp and in October 1778 the maréchal général des logis for his troops. Antoine-Raymond-Gualbert-Gabriel de Sartine (1729–1801), a former head of the Paris police, was appointed the French minister of marine and the colonies in 1774. He remained in office until 1780. At this point the extract in the French archives includes a phrase omitted from the LS: “ministre du Roy chargé du département de la Marine.”