George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Paul-François-Jean-Nicolas, comte de Barras, 3 August 1781

Head Quarters Dobbs’s Ferry 3d Augt 1781.


I have been honored with your Excellency’s favr of the 25th ulto. The Count de Rochambeau communicated to me the contents of your letter to him of the same date.

It having been proposed through, and strongly urged by, the Minister of France, that the Count de Grasse should come immediately to sandy Hook, I should conceive, if your Excellency has received no official account to the contrary, that that will be the first point at which he will touch. In consequence of this opinion I have lodged dispatches for him with General Forman of the Militia of Monmouth on the Coast of New Jersey not far from sandy Hook, a Gentleman in whom the utmost confidence may be placed. In these I have given the Count information of our position—strength and prospects—as also of the probable force and divided situation of the enemy; and did not fail to express my fervent Wishes that his early arrival might keep them so, or intercept them in endeavouring to form a junction. The important consequences which would result from either of these events taking place are too obvious to need illustration. I have also, from a full persuasion that Count de Grasse will first make his appearance off sandy Hook, written to Capt. Dobbs one of our most experienced pilots, and have desired him to repair with as many more as he can obtain to a secure place contiguous to the Hook, that they may be ready to go on board the Fleet the moment they are assured it is that of our Ally. Should my expectations be answered, I shall make no delay in communicating the agreeable intelligence to your Excellency.

The information received a few days ago by a Deserter, that Troops had arrived at New York from Virginia was premature. subsequent accounts not only contradict it, but add, that they are not expected before the 15th of this Month—In the interval, the Harbour of New York remains in a manner open and defenceless—Fortunate beyond expression would it be could advantage be taken of the opportunity to possess it. I have the honor to be &c.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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