George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Laurens, 4–5 September 1778

To Henry Laurens

Head Qrs White plains Septr 4th[–5] 1778


I have been duly honored with your favors of the 28th, and that of the 30th Ulto with the several Inclosures, to which they refer.1

Congress may rely, that I will use every possible means in my power to conciliate any differences that may have arisen, in consequence of the Count D’Estaings going to Boston—and to prevent a publication of the protest upon the occasion. Several days before the receipt of the Resolution, I had written to the Eastward; urging the necessity of harmony—and the expediency of affording the Admiral every assistance to refit his Ships. This I repeated after the Resolution came to hand2—and I have also taken opportunities to request all the General Officers here, to place the matter in the most favorable point of view, whenever they hear it mentioned.

The Five Hundred Guineas, which Congress were pleased to order,3 came safe to hand—and shall be appropriated to the purposes they intended, and as the exigency of the service may require. For want of supplies of this sort, we have been very deficient in intelligence, in many important and interesting points. In some cases, no consideration in paper money has been found sufficient to effect, even, an engagement to procure it; and where it has been otherwise, the terms of service, on account of the depreciation, have been high—if not exorbitant.

The designs of the Enemy, as to their future movements, remain yet entirely unfolded; but the expectation of their leaving the Continent is daily decreasing. The hurricane season seems opposed to their going to the West Indies—and the passage to Europe in a little time will become more and more dangerous. Besides these, there is another circumstance of some weight, if true, to induce a belief that they mean to stay. It appears by the papers, that part of the Regiments lately raised in Britain, are ordered to Hallifax.4 If the troops here were intended to be recalled, it would seem, that some of them would be sent to reinforce that Garrison, sooner than troops from England or Scotland; and hence I think it may be presumed, that another Campaign will take place in America, especially if Administration are disappointed in their expectations from the commission. Where the theatre of War may be, must be a matter of conjecture, but as it is an acknowledged fact, that an Army acting in the Eastern States must derive flour for it’s support, from those more Western, I submit to Congress the expediency, and in my opinion the necessity, of establishing without loss of time, Magazines of this Article at convenient places, removed from the Sound, in Connecticut & Massachussets. I am the more induced to wish an early consideration of this point, as by a sudden move of the Army, should events make it necessary, the departments of Commissary & Quarter Master would be greatly distressed. Nor would such Magazines, I should immagine, be attended with any considerable loss, though the Army should not operate in that Quarter, as the flour would answer occasionally for our Shipping and the surplus might, in all probability, be otherwise readily disposed of.5

I take the liberty of transmitting to Congress, a Memorial I received from the Reverend Mr Tetard. From the certificates annexed to it, he appears to be a Man of great merit—and from every account he has suffered in the extreme, in the present contest. His attachment—services and misfortunes seem to give him a claim to a generous notice; but according to the now establishment of the Army, it is not in my power to make any provision for him. I therefore recommend his case to the attention and consideration of Congress.6

6 OClock P.M. I this minute received a Letter from General Sullivan, of which the Inclosure, No. 2, is a Copy.7 I shall be exceedingly happy, if a perfect reconciliation has taken place between him and the Count and all the Officers. His Letter will shew some of the reasons that led to the protest and that it was the hope of our Officers, that it would have operated as a justification to the Admiral, to return against the sentiments of his Council, especially as it coincided, as it is said, with his own inclination. I had these reasons from another hand, when the protest first came.8

Septr 5. I was duly honored yesterday evening, with your favor of the 31st Ulto—Though it is not expressed in the Resolution of that date, that any other bounty is to be given to the Men who engage for three years or during the War, than Twenty Dollars, I shall take it for granted they are to receive the usual allowances of Cloathing & Land. There are several Continental Troops, whose time of service will expire at the end of the fall or during the Winter. I shall consider these within the meaning and operation of the Resolve, though they are not mentioned—and shall direct every necessary measure to be taken to reinlist them. From the exorbitant State—Town and Substitute bounties, I am very doubtful whether Twenty Dollars will be found sufficient to engage so great a proportion either of the Draughts or Continentals, as was at first apprehended. Our failure in the enterprize against Rhode Island will have it’s weight and every day, from the approach of the fall and Winter, will add new difficulties. As it is a work of the most essential importance, I will order it to be begun, the instant the Money arrives; and lest on experiment, the sum should prove too small, I would submit it to Congress, whether it will not be expedient to pass another Resolve, authorising a further bounty of Ten Dollars, to be used as circumstances may make it necessary. This can remain a secret, and will not be carried into execution, but in case of evident necessity. I feel very much interested upon the occasion, and have submitted this mode, that there may not be the least possible delay in attempting to engage the men, under a second expedient, if the first should not succeed.9 The Articles of Cloathing and blankets should also employ the utmost attention to provide them. We are now in great want, particularly of the latter, there not being less than [ ] actually wanted at this moment.10 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect & esteem sir Yr Most Obedt servt

Go: Washington

P.S. The return of Blankets has not come in and therefore I cannot ascertain the deficiency by this conveyance.

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, ScHi: Henry Laurens Papers; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 8 Sept. (see 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 , 12:889).

1GW was acknowledging Laurens’s two public letters of 28 August.

2See GW to John Sullivan, 28 Aug. and 1 Sept. (first letter). For the protest to d’Estaing, see Sullivan to GW, 23 Aug., n.2; for Congress’s resolution on that subject, see 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 , 11:848–49.

3For the order of 29 Aug., see ibid., 11:851.

4The Royal Gazette (New York) of 19 Aug., for example, carried a report of “23 transports, having Major-General Tryon’s [70th Regiment of Foot], and two Highland regiments, in all 3000 Men,” bound for Halifax.

5On 8 Sept., Congress referred this suggestion to a committee formed earlier that day to consider letters discussing military supplies and impending shortages of flour and wheat ( 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 , 12:889).

6John Peter Têtard (1722–1787), who had earlier served as a minister for the French Protestant Church at Charleston, S.C., and the Fordham Manor Reformed Dutch Church in New York, was operating a boarding school at his residence near King’s Bridge, N.Y., when he was appointed in July 1775 to serve as French interpreter for Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler and as a chaplain of New York troops. In November 1776 Têtard was appointed chaplain to the 4th New York Regiment, and he remained on the rolls of that regiment until August 1778, although he was not with the unit after September 1777, being on furlough and absent sick. In April 1782 Têtard was appointed clerk to Secretary for Foreign Affairs Robert R. Livingston, a post he held until Livingston’s resignation in June 1783. He was subsequently appointed professor of French language at Columbia College in May 1784. Têtard’s memorial has not been identified, but he evidently asked for financial assistance, citing his services with the American army in Canada and the damage done by the British army to his property at King’s Bridge (see Robert R. Livingston to president of Congress, 2 Dec. 1782, DNA:PCC, item 79, and Têtard’s memorial to Congress of 8 May 1783, DNA:PCC, item 42). Congress referred the memorial to a committee consisting of William Duer, John Harvie, and James Lovell (ibid., 12:891), but no record of subsequent action has been found.

7The enclosed copy of Maj. Gen. John Sullivan’s letter to GW of 3 Sept. is with this letter in DNA:PCC, item 152.

9Congress passed a resolve to this effect on 8 Sept. (ibid., 12:889–90).

10Congress referred this issue to the Board of War, which was directed “to make use of the most vigorous exertions for transporting to camp the ready made cloathing stored in the eastern states” and for “procuring and forwarding” the blankets “necessary to make up the deficiency” (ibid., 12:891).

Index Entries