George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Vice Admiral d’Estaing, 17 July 1778

To Vice Admiral d’Estaing

Camp at Haverstraw Bay [N.Y.] July 17: 1778.


I had the honor of receiving the night of the 14th Instant, your very obliging and interesting letter of the 13th dated off Sandy Hook, with a duplicate of another, dated the 8th at Sea.

The arrival of a fleet, belonging to his most Christian majesty on our coast, is an event that makes me truly happy; and permit me to observe, that the pleasure I feel on the occasion is greatly increased, by the command being placed in a Gentleman of such distinguished talents, experience and reputation as the Count D’Estaing. I am fully persuaded that every possible exertion will be made by you to accomplish the important purposes of your destination, and you may have the firmest reliance, that my most strenuous efforts shall accompany you in any measure, which may be found eligible.

I esteem myself highly honored by the desire you express, with a frankness which must always be pleasing, of possessing a place in my friendship; At the same time allow me to assure you, that I shall consider myself peculiarly happy, if I can but improve the prepossessions you are pleased to entertain in my favour, into a cordial and lasting amity.

On the first notice of your arrival, and previous to the receipt of your Letter, I wrote to you by Lt Colo. Laurens one of my Aides De Camp’s whom I charged to explain to you such further particulars, as were not contained in my letter, which might be necessary for your information;1 and to whom it was my wish you should confide your situation and views, so far as might be proper for my direction in any measures of concert or cooperation, which may be thought advancive of the common cause. Maj. De Chouin who arrived this day at my Quarters, has given me a very full and satisfactory explanation, on this head, and in return I have freely communicated to him my ideas of every matter interesting to our mutual operations. Those, I doubt not, he will convey to you, with that perspicuity and intelligence, which he possesses in a manner, that amply justifies the confidence you have reposed in him. You would have heard from me sooner in answer to your letter; but I have been waiting for Mr Chouins arrival to acquaint me with your circumstances and intentions, and, at the same time, have been employed in collecting information with respect to several particulars, the knowledge of which was essential to the formation of our plans. The difficulty of doing justice by letter to matters of such variety and importance as those, which now engage our deliberation, has induced me to send Lt Colo. Hamilton another of my Aids to you, in whom I place entire confidence. He will be able to make you perfectly acquainted with my sentiments, and to satisfy any inquiries you may think proper to propose; and I would wish you to consider the information he delivers as coming from my self.

Colo. Hamilton is accompanied by Lt Colo. Fleuri, a Gentleman of your nation, who has distinguished himself by his zeal and gallantry, in the present war with England. He has also with him four Captains of Vessels, whom, I hope, you will find very useful, from their knowledge of the Coast and harbours, and two persons, who have acted a considerable time in the capacity of pilots and in whose skill, expertness & fidelity from the recommendations I have had, I believe you may place great dependence.2 I am still endeavouring to provide others of this description, who shall be dispatched to you, as fast as they can be found. With the most ardent desire for your Success and with the greatest respect & esteem I have the Honor to be Sir Yr Most Obedt & most Hble servt

Go: Washington

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy (extract), FrPBN; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The copy in DNA:PCC, item 152, which is in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, was enclosed with GW’s second letter to Henry Laurens of 22 July. The extract corresponds to the second paragraph of the draft.

2Among those accompanying Alexander Hamilton was Jonathan Lawrence, whose journal of his experiences is at RPJCB. He records that the pilots set out on 18 July, arrived at Black Point, N.J., on 19 July, and went on board d’Estaing’s flagship, the Languedoc, on the morning of 20 July.

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