George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Robert Howe, 18 August 1779

To Major General Robert Howe

Hd Qrs West-point 18 Augt 1779.

Dr Sir

As it is probable, that the new minister from France Monsieur De Luzerne, is on his way from Boston to Philadelphia it will be necessary to have him provided with an escort—you will therefore be so good as to give orders for a captain (a geinteel sensible officer) with his proper command of cavalry (not less than 30) to proceed immediately to Fish-kill. The officer will acquaint me with the arrival of his party that I may know where to send him my directions.1 I am &c.


I send one stick of wax our own stock is low. We get it from the quarter Master to whom you may apply.

Df, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Howe apparently assigned Capt. Ezekiel Porter Belden of the Second Light Dragoons to command the escort for Anne-César, Chevalier de La Luzerne, the new French minister plenipotentiary to the United States. On 22 Aug., GW’s aide Tench Tilghman wrote to Belden: “In consequence of your letter of the 21st His Excellency has directed Genl Greene Q.M.G. to give orders to the Deputy at Fishkill to pay you a sum of Money to bear your Expences. His Excellency desires you to draw public forage and provision for your party as often as you have an oppertunity and to keep Vouchers for your expenditures. You are to get Quarters for your Men at Fishkill and there wait the arrival of Monsr La Luzerne” (DLC: GW). Belden’s letter to GW of 21 Aug. has not been found. For GW’s orders to Belden for meeting La Luzerne, see GW to Belden, 5 Sept.; see also GW to Howe, 5 September.

La Luzerne and his party had arrived at Boston on 3 Aug., where they spent the next month. Traveling in an unofficial capacity to Philadelphia, La Luzerne and his party left Boston on 4 Sept. and made their way across Massachusetts and Connecticut. GW received reports on La Luzerne’s progress toward Fishkill, N.Y., and Major General Steuben joined the party in Hartford, Conn. (see GW to John Jay, 11 Sept., and Steuben to Alexander Hamilton, 30 Aug., in Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 2:146–48). For GW’s concerns regarding the route La Luzerne intended to pursue across Connecticut and his intention to meet him at Fishkill, see GW to Ezekiel Belden, 5 Sept., and n.3 to that document. After leaving Hartford, the party traveled through Wethersfield, and, escorted by Belden’s dragoons, they arrived in New Haven on 11 Sept. and departed the next day (Connecticut Journal (New Haven), 15 September 1779). Maj. Gen. William Heath later noted that “The Count Luzerne was highly pleased with the treatment he received in passing through the New England States” (Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs, description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends 230). GW met La Luzerne at Fishkill, N.Y., on 15 Sept. and escorted him to West Point. For La Luzerne’s two-day visit to the American headquarters and his conference with GW during the visit, see Substance of a Conference with La Luzerne, 16 September. After departing West Point, La Luzerne continued his journey through New York and New Jersey escorted by Major General Stirling and Brig. Gen. Henry Knox. For GW’s orders for cavalry detachments to escort La Luzerne on this phase of his trip to Philadelphia, see GW to Belden, 5 Sept., source note. La Luzerne arrived in Trenton, N.J., on 19 Sept. and Philadelphia on 21 September. For a full account of La Luzerne’s visit in Boston and his journey to Philadelphia, written by La Luzerne’s chief secretary, see Chase, Letters of Barbé-Marbois, 65–127. La Luzerne presented his credentials to Congress in November and, after being formally received, entered on his duties (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 15:1238, 1278–84).

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