Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Major General Nathanael Greene, [7 October 1779]

To Major General Nathanael Greene

[West Point, October 7, 1779]

Dr. General.

It is determined that General Du Portail and myself should go to Count D Estaing.1 We proceed to New Windsor this afternoon and set out from thence before light tomorrow. Four horses will be necessary to accomodate us, as I am dismounted & General Du Portail is loth to wear out his own horses in the journey. Will you be so good as to send me an order on the person at New Windsor who provides horses for you—

I am Yr Most hum serv

Alex Hamilton   Aide De Camp

General Greene Q M G

ALS, Library of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.

1Washington hoped that D’Estaing, following his attack on Savannah, would sail northward and make possible a joint operation by the French and American forces. But D’Estaing, instead, sailed back to the West Indies. At the time of this letter, however, Washington did not know D’Estaing’s plans, and on October 7, 1779, he wrote to the French admiral:

“I have had the honor of a visit from His Excellency Monsieur Gerard. In the conversation we had relative to a cooperation with the fleet and troops under your command, he expressed his doubts of its being possible for you to continue such a length of time as may be essential to the success of the undertaking, and which alone could justify me in going into those extensive preparations absolutely necessary on our part. I have therefore appointed Brigadier General Du Portail and Col Hamilton to wait upon Your Excellency as speedily as possible and explain to you fully my ideas of the proposed cooperation; the means we shall be able to employ; the obstacles we shall have to encounter on our side; the plans which it may be proper to pursue and the measures which are taking and may be taken by the enemy to counteract them. This will enable your Excellency to determine what you can with propriety undertake. I shall only add that if your Excellency will engage to cooperate with your whole naval and land force against the enemy’s fleet and army at New York ’till the winter is so far advanced that the ice will make it impracticable to remain with yr. fleet any longer in the port, I will bring Twenty five thousand effective men into the field and will exert all the resources of the country in a vigorous and decided cooperation” (George Washington Papers, Library of Congress).

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