George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, 5 May 1782

Head Quarters Newburgh May 5th 1782


Your Excellency’s favor of the 20th of Apl by Baron Closen arrived at my Quarters last Evening.

If the Enemy ever had an intention to evacuate Charles Town, that Idea, I believe is now given up—Great revolutions in the British Councils have lately taken place—the particulars which are brought by the March Packet, will be conveyed to you by the inclosed New York Gazette which I send for your perusal—General Robertson who has for some time been governor of New York is lately appointed Commander in Chief in America—this information I have from his own Letter.

Port Mahon of the whole Island of Minorca is certainly surrender’d to his Catholic Majestys Arms. this event is declared in N. York but I am possessed of but few particulars of the Capitulation.

My most cordial Congratulations attend your Excellency and the Officers of your Army upon the favors which you inform me have with so much Justice been conferred by his most Christian Majesty—Be assured Sir I shall ever feel the most sensible interest and pleasure in every Event which bestows Honor or Emolument on such deserving Characters—The favorable mention which the King is pleased to make of me demand my warmest & most particular acknowledgements—this Honor done me will form an additional Tie to that indelible Gratitude which binds me to the Person & Interests of his majesty.

Convinced that the Works at New Port would be of no use to us and they might be of infinite importance to the enemy, should they have an intention to establish a post there, from a bare apprehension of such an event I have requested the governor of Rhode Island to have them levelled, pointing him at the same time to the necessity of preserving and maintaining butt’s hill if possible.

The plans for the campaign depend so entirely upon the succour which will be sent by his most Christian Majesty, that I can do nothing more than form opinion on certain hipothesis. If we should have a naval superiority and a force sufficient to attempt New York and you have not a secure mean of transporting your troops by water for their greater ease to the head of Elk, the rout you propose for their march by land, is, I am persuaded the best that can be. It is to be feared that the maneuver your Excellency proposes will hardly have its intended effect, as it will be performed in so short a time as to give no time for its operation, before the deception you propose would be disclosed.

If your march should take place before our intended interview, the time of its commencement must be determined absolutely by your Excellency in consequence of the advices you shall receive from your Court, and knowing the Epocha at which the succour may be expected on that Coast; to delay it beyond this point would waste the campaign and to commence it earlier would disclose our plan and prepare the enemy for our approach.

Every attention consistent with my means has been bestowed upon the boats and I hope to be tolerably provided with them.

I shall by this Opportunity communicate your request for militia to governor Harrison. I persuade myself that knowing how expensive the militia are and with what difficulty they are drawn out, you will be as moderate as possible in your requisition and that you will Leave nothing to their protection which can well be avoided.

With the greatest Esteem and personal attachment I have the honor to be Sir Your Excellencys Most Obedient & very humble servt

Go: Washington

P.S. My letter to Governor Harrison is herein enclosed, under a flying Seal to your Excellency’s care—to be sent when you see cause.


The portions in square brackets are Rochambeau’s translations of code.

DLC: Rochambeau Papers.

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