To Brigadier General Duportail
Head Quarters Middle Brook 29 March 1779.
I am sorry to find by yours of the 20th that you have met with so many delays and disappointments in the prosecution of your plan for taking a survey of the Delaware.1 Altho’ I am anxious2 to see you in Camp, I shall be very unwilling to recall you while there is the least prospect of your rendering any service; I must therefore desire you to point out to that public Body before which you may have your affair, ⟨the Di⟩sadvantage of your remaining so long in Philada and to request them to enable you to execute your Business immediately, or if that cannot be done in a short time to permit you to return to the Army, where the preparations for the ensuing Campaign call for your attendance.3 I am with great Regard Dear Sir Yr most obt Servt.
Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The text in angle brackets is missing from the mutilated draft and has been taken from the Varick transcript.
1. GW is referring to a letter of 20 March from Duportail in Philadelphia to Alexander Hamilton, written in French, a contemporary translation of which reads: “General Du Portail informs the General that he is delayed by not being furnished with boats and other aids to go on with his business. He applied to the Board of War. The Board of war referred him to Governor Reed—Governor Reed promised to supply him; but after detaining him a considerable time told him he could not do it. He started several difficulties—found fault with the project not being communicated to him; General Du Portail replied in vain, that he had not been instructed & that as a stranger he could [not] hazard any step without instruction; nor could he know what was due to the Different powers.
“He hints that State politics are at the bottom of the whole—He concludes wi[th] saying that He had applied again to the Board of War who informed him Congre[ss] had taken up the business—He waits the result—He hoped Gener⟨al⟩ Reed while in Camp had communicated the matter t⟨o⟩ the General; and that something would ⟨be⟩ done in it” (DLC:GW). For Duportail’s dispute with the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council over the appropriate secrecy for surveys of Philadelphia and the Delaware River intended to assist the construction of fortifications, see Joseph Reed to GW, this date, and n.3 to that document.
2. The word “very” is struck out before “anxious” on the draft manuscript.
3. In a letter of this date written at Philadelphia, Duportail asked council president Joseph Reed for either authorizaton and means to proceed with his surveys or a written refusal that discharged him (see Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 7:272). Reed replied to Duportail on 31 March: “I here inclose you the Resolutions of the Council with Respect to your Business.... I doubt not but you will pay a due Respect to the Wishes of the Council as expressed in the Resolves” (Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 7:279–80). Duportail cordially acknowledged receipt of Reed’s letter and its enclosure on 1 April (see Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 7:280–81). For the enclosed resolutions, see Duportail to GW, 6 April.