George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to George Clinton, 1 October 1779

To George Clinton

Head Quarters [West Point] Octor 1st 1779

Dr Sir,

I have received your two favors of the 25th and 29th.1 I am obliged to your Excellency for the assurance of all the assistance in the power of this State in case of a co-operation with our allies—The degree of aid which will be necessary for this State cannot well be determined before hand—it will depend on the force of the Enemy and the state of our magazines at the moment. In the former we may every day expect material changes, as the Enemy seem to be employed in making extensive detachments—I can only in general observe, that the operation will in all probability be as prompt as possible and will require the calling out all the resources of the Neighbouring States in a speedy and decisive effort—It therefore remains with Your Excellency to determine what force the State can afford as we may expect the whole will be wanted.

I have the pleasure to inform you that I have received advices of the arrival of Count D’Estaing on the coast of Georgia—A Charles Town Paper of the 8th Septr mentions the arrival of the Viscount De Fontanges at that place, sent express by Count D’Estaing to announce his approach—Mr Mitchell the D.Q.M.G. at Philadelphia who transmits the paper adds that Mr Gerard had received dispatches from the Count himself informing him of his intention to attack the Enemy on the 9th and that in consequence of this intelligence the Minister had deferred his departure a few days in expectation of the event2—This agreeable news gives us to hope the effectual deliverance of the Southern States and perhaps, lessens the proba[bi]lity of the Counts coming this way, but it does not intirely destroy it—We should still be preparing. With the truest respect and esteem I have the honor to be Yr Excellency’s Most Obet, servant

Go: Washington

The letters contained in your Excellency’s of the 25 have been forwarded.3

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, PWacD: Sol Feinstone Collection, on deposit at PPAmP; Df, DLC:GW; copy (extract), N-Ar: George Clinton Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Clinton’s letter to GW of 25 Sept. has not been found.

2Deputy Q.M. Gen. John Mitchell’s letter to GW of 26 Sept. has not been found. GW’s reply to Mitchell, dated 30 Sept. from headquarters at West Point, reads: “I was last evening favoured with yours of the 26th. I am much obliged by the very agreeable intelligence which it contains. I am not without hopes that your next will afford you an opportunity of transmitting an account of the demolition of the British force to the Southward” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). For the failure of the French and American attack on Savannah, Ga., and its consequences, see Planning for an Allied Attack on New York, c.3–7 October.

Francois, Viscount de Fontanges (1740–1822), although only ranking as a major in the French Army, had been appointed the major general of the troops Vice Admiral d’Estaing debarked from his fleet for the allied attack on Savannah. He was seriously wounded during the siege while commanding a legion of mulattos and free blacks from Saint Domingue. Fontanges had entered the French army in January 1756 and served as a junior officer in Germany during the Seven Years War. In January 1780, he was named maréchal de camp of the French troops in Saint Domingue and, in October, was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In 1784 he became a full colonel. He went on to serve as a maréchal de camp in the Spanish Army in 1795 and, by 1814, as a lieutenant general in the French Army.

3These letters have not been identified.

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