George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Vice Admiral d’Estaing, 25 October 1778

To Vice Admiral d’Estaing

Head Quarters Fredericksburgh October 25th 1778


The certain intelligence of a large number of troops having embarked at New York—the sailing of a considerable fleet, at the moment their departure was expected—and the general purport of the accounts received at the same time—left me no room to doubt, that the fleet, which went out of the Hook the 19th and 20th instant, contained the detachment, of the embarkation of which, I had been advised. In the full persuation of this fact, my letter of the 22d to your Excellency was written; but from more recent information, through various channels, bearing every mark of authenticity—I am to conclude, the supposition has been ill-founded. The abovementioned fleet appears in reality to have carried away, no other troops, than invalids, and the officers of the corps lately reduced. The troops which had embarked still remained in the harbour, the day before yesterday. They are said to consist of ten or twelve British regiments and six of the new-levies.1

This fleet was probably composed principally of homeward-bound victuallers—with some merchantment2 and other vessels, which chose to take the protection of a convoy. The accounts still agree, that they were accompanied by fourteen, or fifteen sail of the line and some frigates. I have the honor to be With the warmest esteem and most perfect consideration Yr Excellys Most Obedt servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, FrPNA, Fonds de la Marine, ser. 4, vol. 146, f. 306; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW forwarded this letter with his letter to William Heath of this date (see Heath to GW, 30 Oct. [first letter]).

1This intelligence apparently was contained in the unfound letters that Israel Putnam and Stirling had written to GW on 24 Oct. (see GW to Putnam and to Stirling, both this date). Admiral Byron’s fleet, which was seeking to intercept d’Estaing’s fleet off the Massachusetts coast, and the fleet of transports bound for England had sailed together from Sandy Hook on 18 or 19 Oct. (see Richard Howell to GW, 9 Oct., and note 3 to that document). Maj. Gen. James Grant’s West Indies expedition, which consisted of ten British regiments, embarked between 25 and 28 Oct. and sailed from Sandy Hook on 3 November. Expeditions to East and West Florida also sailed in November.

2Hamilton spelled this word this way on both the LS and draft manuscripts.

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