To Vice Admiral d’Estaing
Head Quarters near White plains July 22. 1778. 1 oClock P.M.
I this moment received the Letter which you did me the honor of writing by Lt Colo. Hamilton.1 I cannot forbear regretting that the brilliant enterprize which you at first meditated, was frustrated by Physical imposibilities—but hope that something equally worthy of the greatness of your sentiments is still in reserve for you. Upon the report made me by Lt Colo. Laurens of the depth of Water at Sandy hook, and the draught of your Ships of the line, I thought that no time was to be lost in marching a reinforcement to Genl Sullivan, that he might be in a situation for a vigorous co-operation—I am happy to find that we coincided so exactly in the importance of this expedition. Mr Laurens, who will have the honor of delivering you this, will inform you of my opinion relative to the stationing a ship of the line in the sound—as well as of other particulars, which I have communicated to him2—I shall not therefore employ your attention farther than to assure you, that you have inspired me with the same sentiments for you, which you are so good as to entertain for me; and that it will be my greatest happiness to contribute to the service of our Great ally, in pursuing our common enemy—and to the glory of an officer, who has on every account so just a claim to it, as the Count d’Estaing.
The amiable manners and agreable conversation of Major Chouin, would of themselves, entitle him to my esteem—if he had not the best of titles in your recommendation and I beg you to be assured, that nothing on my part shall be wanting to render his stay in Camp agreable. At the same time permit me to add, that your great civilities and politeness to my aids cannot but increase my regard while they serve to give me additional ideas of your worth.
I have now only to offer my sincerest wishes for your success in this and every enterprize; and the assurances of the perfect respect and esteem, with which I have the honor to be Sir Yr Most Obedt & Most Hle servt
LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, FrPNA: Marine, B4, I46; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
2. GW’s undated memorandum to Lt. Col. John Laurens reads: “Colo. Laurens will suggest to his Excellency Count de Estaign the advantages which would more than probably result from a French Ship of sufficient force getting into the Sound, as far up as the lyons tongue, or somewhere thereabouts—A Measure of this kind would clear that channel of the British armd Vesls which now infest it, and cover the Passage, & landing of a party of Men which might be sent to long Island for the purposes of removing the Cattle out of the way of the enemy, destroying their Horses &ca—& would afford supplies of Fresh Provisions to the Fleet, vegetables & other comforts.
“The Vessels belonging to the Harbours of Connecticut, would presently take off the fat Cattle & other stock⟨, if⟩ the British Cruizers were driven from the communication between the Island and the Main.
“How far the enterprize upon Rhode Island is compatible with a watch of the Fleet in the Harbour of New York is left to the Admirals superier judgment—But, as an imbarkation of the Army at that place cannot happen without notice being had of it, nor an evacuation of the harbour after it is begun in less than 48 hours, it is submitted whether a capitol stroke might not be aimed at that Fleet upon its departure from the hook.
“The enterprize upon Rhode Island might be followed by an attempt upon Hallifax; which, if fortunate, would be a deadly stroke to G. Britain; as it is the only Dock on the Continent in which Ships of large Force can Careen. and Moreover abounds in Naval & Military Stores of all kinds” (ADS, DLC:GW).