George Washington Papers

To George Washington from François-Jean de Beauvoir, marquis de Chastellux, 9 June 1781

Newport June 9 1781

dear general

I am very sorry to see that the resolve of our board of war did not appear to your eyes under a favourable light; but I cannot forbear complaining to your excellency with all the feelings of attachment and duty, that you could entertain the least suspicion upon the meaning of a step to which I gave my vote. the Mention made of unanimity could have recalled to your memory, that there was in that board a man who was incapable of consenting to any measure which could cross your orders, nay your very wishes. I regrett that the hurry in which Duke Delauzun set out prevented me to write to your excellency, but as he is my friend and well intentioned, I thought he might express my opinion better than a letter. I did not participate to those that he bore to your excellency, it may be that they failed in this explanation of our motive; but it is indeed very unhappy, if a measure proposed by the bravest and ablest officer of our navy, and supported by the true friend, both of your excellency and of america, bore the appearance of a deviation from the disposition made by your excellency. We thought that the removal of the fleet was an evil attending a good and necessary operation, and we were persuaded to please your excellency by endeavouring to prevent that evil, and going beyond your expectation in preserving the fleet in the situation where, according to the opinion of its officers, it is now capable of conspiring to the execution of your plan. I wish sincerely that in the coalition of allyed forces no other mistake might take place, for I pledge my faith and my honor that it was dictated by an impulsion of mere zeal, this zeal did not subside at all in the new board of war, when it was intimated to them that your excellency saw some danger in the present station of the fleet, it was unanimously answered that danger was the lot of war, and ought to be counterballanced by the advantages of which it is productive, they thought that after your excellency had made his will Known about the destination of the land forces under your command, you was no more answerable for their fate, indeed their disposition occasioned an application for 500 militia more, but your excellency may observe that upon that point, there was no unanimity. I need not to say more upon that article, but I shall conclude this letter by entreating your excellency to place some confidence in my zeal and candour, and to be persuaded that i should rather exceed, if it were possible, than be backward in testifying my attachment to america and her great protector. I am with the most sincere respect dear general your most humble and obedient Servant

le ch. de Chastellux

I think that the news lately arrived from west indies will make your excellency perfectly easy about the station of our fleet.

We learn just now, that the convoy is arrived safe at Marblehead, the alliance took a frigate of 22 guns and made several valuable prizes, esteemed one million of livre. the marquis de lafayette is wanting having quitted the Alliance in a very bad squall.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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