George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Laurens, 9 August 1778

To Henry Laurens

White plains August 9th 1778


At 10 OClock last night the Inclosed Letter came to hand from General Sullivan with one addressed to myself, a Copy of which I do myself the honor of transmitting.1 The Enemy seem determined that none of their Ships of War shall fall into the Count D’Estaings hands.

Yesterday I received a Letter from Genl Maxwell dated at 9 OClock A.M. on the 7th at Elizabeth Town, containing the following paragraph. “I have to inform your Excellency that early yesterday morning Lord Howe sailed out of the Hook with his whole fleet of Armed Vessels. They were out of sight in the afternoon and were supposed to be going for Rhode Island—No troops or Transports supposed to be with them.” His Letter also had the following Nota bene—“no British fleet arrived yet that we can hear of.”2 General Maxwell’s information respecting Lord Howe’s sailing from the Hook was stated in such pointed and positive terms, that I thought it my duty to communicate it to Count D’Estaing, and accordingly I dispatched an Express with it, in a very little time after I was advised on the subject, subjoining a copy of this Nota bene.3 I have the Honor to be &c.

Go: Washington

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 14 Aug. ( 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 , 11:787).

1GW sent a copy of Maj. Gen. John Sullivan’s letter to him of 6 August. No manuscript of the enclosed letter from Sullivan, presumably to Laurens and of 6 Aug., has been identified. The text of Sullivan to Laurens, 6 Aug., printed in Moore, Materials for History description begins Frank Moore. Materials for History, Printed from Original Manuscripts, with Notes and Illustrations. New York, 1861. description ends , 116, is identical to Sullivan’s letter to GW of that date.

2The quoted letter has not been found.

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