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From George Washington to Major General John Sullivan, 1 September 1778

To Major General John Sullivan

Head Quarters White plains 1st Septr 1778.

Dear sir.

I have not received any letter from you since the 23d Ulto1 which I attribute to some mishap of the messengers with whom they were sent. I was anxious to learn the determination and designs of the council of officers, that so I might be prepared for eventual measures—The success or misfortune of your army will have great influence in directing the movements and fortune of this.

The disagreement between the army under your command and the fleet has given me very singular uneasiness. The Continent at large is concerned in our cordiality, and it should be kept up by all possible means that are consistent with our honor and policy. First impressions, you know, are generally longest remembered, and will serve to fix in a great degree our national character among the French. In our conduct towards them we should remember that they are a people old in war, very strict in military etiquette, and apt to take fire when others scarcely seem warmed. Permit me to reco⟨mmend⟩ in the most particular manner, ⟨ the ⟩ cultivation of harmony and go⟨od⟩ agreement, and your endeavours to ⟨des⟩troy that ill humour which may ⟨have⟩ got into the officers. It is of the greatest importance, also that the minds of the soldiers and the people should know nothing of the misunderstanding, or if it has reached them that ways may be used to stop its progress and prevent its effects.

I have received from Congress the inclosed by which you will perceive their opinion with regard to keeping secret the protest of the General Officers I need add nothing on this subject.2

I have one thing however more to say—I make no doubt but you will do all in your power to forward the repairs of the french fleet, and in rendering it fit for service, by your recommendations for that purpose to those who can be immediately instrumental. I am Dr Sir your most Obt hble servt

Go: Washington

LS, in James McHenry’s writing, NhHi: Sullivan Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Where the LS is now damaged, the characters in angle brackets have been supplied from an earlier photocopy of the LS in DLC:GW, series 9.

Later this day GW wrote a second letter to Sullivan, which reads: “After closing my letter to you of this date I had the satisfaction of receiving your favor of the 29 ulto dated at the Northern end of Rhode Island, and rejoice with you on the important matters it contains. I have transmitted a copy to Congress and doubt not but it will relieve them from much anxiety, and give them equal pleasure with me on the victory you have obtained” (Df, DLC:GW).

1GW received Sullivan’s letter of 23 Aug. on the morning of 25 August.

2GW was referring to the congressional resolution of 28 Aug. (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 11:848–49).

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