George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Jay, 23 September 1779

To John Jay

head Quarters west point. septbr 23. 1779.


Lieut. Colo. Fleury having communicated to me his desire of Returning to france & on some matters interesting to himself. I have thought proper to give him this letter to testify to Congress the high opinion I entertain of his conduct & services.

the marks of their aprobation which he has Received on former occasions (specialy for the interesting part he bore in the defence of fort miflin) have been amply justified by his subsequent behaviour. he has signalised himself in more than one instance since, & in the assault of Stoney point he was the first who mounted the enemys works & struck the british flag with his own hand.

It is but justice to him to declare that in the many Stations in which he has been employed he has Rendered important services & had acquited himself in every Respect as an officer of distinguished merit, whose talents, Real activity, & bravery alike entitle him to the most particular notice.

He has intimated to me his desire to obtain a furlough for the winter. I do not doubt but Congress will be disposed to begrant him every indulgence, which Can be shown whith propriety to an officer who will be useful if he Comes back, & whose Return would give me pleasure.1 I have the honor. &c.

Go Washington.

Copy, in Fleury’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW (dated 25 July); Varick transcript, DLC:GW (dated 25 July). The copy is prefaced, “Copy of general Washington’s Letter to Congress,” and it has a note appended that is signed by Lieutenant Colonel Fleury and dated at Philadelphia on 3 Oct.: “I have the honour to send to you general Washington’s Letter, which I beg, you would place into the Records of Congress.” The draft is dated 25 July, but GW had apparently agreed with Fleury that the letter would not be delivered until Fleury actually took his leave from the army. GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton had written to Jay on 25 July that Fleury, who was then going to Philadelphia “to make some arrangements” with the French Minister, “brings you a very handsome letter from the General to Congress which however he will not deliver ’till he is finally determined to go. This letter you will perceive, from the moderation and caution with which the General usually expresses himself, means a good deal and is a more flattering testimony of Fleury’s merit than any foreigner who has yet left this country has received” (Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 2:110). After meeting with Conrad-Alexandre Gérard in late July, Fleury postponed his plans to return to France (see Gérard to GW, 29 July).

1Fleury had arrived at GW’s headquarters this day; GW had also given Fleury a certificate of service to carry back to France (see GW to La Luzerne, this date; see also La Luzerne to GW, 21 Sept.). Fleury took his leave of GW on 25 Oct. (see La Luzerne to GW, this date, n.3).

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