George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Brigadier General Henry Knox, 12 November 1779

To Brigadier General Henry Knox

Head Quarters West point 12th Novr 1779.

Dear Sir

From present appearances, and the Season of the Year, there is little reason to beleive, that a cooperation, with the French Admiral, can possibly take place.1 In consequence of this opinion, and to avoid as much as possible a further increase of expence, I have to request you to suspend such of your arrangements as were designed for this purpose, and which, unless this event were to take place, will be unnecessary.2 I reckon among these, particularly, the Business on which Colo. Stevens has been ordered.3 In your measures on this subject, which I wish to be immediate, although you stop the preparations, you will do it in such a manner as to preserve the Idea for which they were undertaken4—I need not observe to you the expediency of preserving appearances till the determination of Congress is known, to whom I have written on the subject5—I am Dear Sir Yr most o[bedien]t Servt

Go: Washington

Genl Greene desires that the person who goes to Colo. Stevens may call upon him.

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, PWacD: Sol Feinstone Collection, on deposit at PPAmP; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The cover of the LS is addressed to Knox at New Windsor, New York.

1GW is alluding to his intention to attack the British in and around New York City after rendezvousing with a French fleet under Vice Admiral d’Estaing (see Planning for an Allied Attack on New York, c.3–7 Oct., editorial note).

2For similar instructions, see GW to Duportail and Alexander Hamilton, 11 November.

3The assignment given Lt. Col. Ebenezer Stevens has not been identified.

4Knox wrote Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene from West Point on 13 Nov. that GW wanted to stop readying “fire ships at New London” without suggesting that plans had ended for “the affair” against New York (Greene Papers, description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends 5:58). For the fireships, see Nehemiah Hubbard to Greene, 4 Nov., and Greene to Hubbard, 12 Nov., in Greene Papers, description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends 5:15, 51; see also GW to Duportail and Hamilton, 18 October.

5GW is referring to his letter to Samuel Huntington of 14 November. GW did not abandon preparations for combined operations until he received official notice from Congress (see Huntington to GW, 10 Nov., and GW to Huntington, 20 Nov.).

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