George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Brigadier General Duportail and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton, 2 November 1779

To Brigadier General Duportail and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton

Head Quarters West point 2d Novemr 1779.


Since mine of yesterday I have received another letter from my confidential correspondent in New York dated the 29th ulto.1 He informs me that the 57th Regt Rawdons Corps and the Artillery mentioned in his last,2 were to sail on that day for Hallifax, and with them all the heavy ships of War except the Europa. The Daphne Frigate, with Sir George Collier and Colo. Stewart on board, was to sail for England the same day—He says the pilots reported that it was now difficult to bring a Vessel into the Hook on account of the Hulks sunk there (By this it would seem that some of them still remained upon the Shoals)—He says the transports mentioned in his last, as taking on Water and Ballast, only carried it down to the Ships at the Hook—The Rainbow of 40 Guns had arrived from Hallifax. He informs me of no other circumstances that materially relate to affairs at New York.

He says a packet arrived from England on the 23d October. The accounts brought by her seemed to alarm the tories very much. It was reported that the Ardent of 64 Guns had been taken and the English fleet chased into Portsmouth by the combined Fleet, which remained off that place several days. He mentions these matters as current reports, and adds, that a fleet of Victuallers were to sail from Cork the latter end of Septemr and another of Store Ships and Merchantmen from Spithead about the same time. I am with great Regard Gentlemen Your most obt Servt

Go: Washington

The capture of the Ardent is confirmed by a New York paper of the 28th ulto.3

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC: Alexander Hamilton Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1See Samuel Culper, Jr., to John Bolton, 29 Oct., and the notes to that document, printed as an enclosure to Benjamin Tallmadge to GW, 1 November.

2See Culper, Jr., to Tallmadge, 21 Oct., found at GW’s instructions to Tallmadge, 17 Oct., source note.

3GW enclosed this letter with one of this date that he wrote John Mitchell in Philadelphia. That letter reads: “Be pleased to give the inclosed to Genl du portail and Colo. Hamilton the speediest conveyance to those Gentlemen” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

The Royal American Gazette (New York) for 28 Oct. printed an item under the dateline London, 26 Aug.: “Letters were received yesterday at the Admiralty from Capt. Boteller, late commander of his Majesty’s ship the Ardent, of which the following are authentic particulars: That on the appearance of the French and Spanish fleets off Plymouth, they having hoisted English colours, were taken by the Captain for the English fleet, who having received orders to join Sir Charles Hardy, made sail towards them; Captain Boteller soon perceived his mistake having almost immediately as he discoverd his error, received a broadside from a French ship of 74 guns; this he most gallantly fought and was endeavouring to effect his escape, when two other ships of the same force bore down, and engaged him likewise; notwithstanding this unequal contest, like a brave Briton, he would not strike his colours till such time as he found his ship unable to keep above water; as soon as he struck he made his situation known to the enemy, who instantly hoisted out their boats, by which means himself and the gallant remains of a brave crew were saved; for in a few minutes afterwards the Ardent went to the bottom.” The 64-gun Ardent was captured, but not sunk, on 17 August. The British recaptured the ship in April 1782.

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