To Comte de Rochambeau
[Preakness, New Jersey, October 15, 1780]
I think I informed you a day or two since of an embarkation; it has not yet sailed1 but is ready waiting for a fair wind; and is supposed to consist of about 3000 men. The Grenadiers and light infantry compose a part of it and there is some cavalry; this denotes an expedition to some part of the Continent, perhaps to establish a post in Virginia, perhaps to make a descent in North Carolina and form a junction with Cornwallis. Much may be said for both. The Marquis knowing I was writing to you, begs me to tell you the report of a debarkation is contradicted, and he requests you will add a line to his European dispatches to this effect. There is an account in the New York paper that President Laurens was taken off Newfoundland the 2d. of Septr.,2 and there is a rumour that Mr. Deane is gone to England.3 This last I hope is false; I am afraid the first is true. Adieu My Dear Sir
Affecty Yr. hum serv
Arnold ’tis said is a good deal caressed by the enemy. I believe it is their policy to avail themselves of his former character, and make their acquisition as important as possible, endeavouring to persuade the world that disgust at our proceedings and a conviction that our affairs were in a desperate situation were his motives. I expect to see him in the English papers the Monk4 of the present day. I think it would be well to counteract this by an authentic deta[i]l of all his villainies little as well as great.
ALS, The Andre deCoppet Collection, Princeton University Library.
1. On October 18, 1780. Washington wrote to Rochambeau: “On the 16th. the fleet containing the embarkation … sailed.… The destination most commonly supposed is a Southern one …” (George Washington Papers, Library of Congress).
2. Henry Laurens, father of John Laurens and former president of the Continental Congress, was en route to Holland to negotiate a loan with the Dutch, when the brigantine Mercury, on which he was a passenger, was captured by the British. He was sent to London and confined in the Tower of London until December 31, 1781.
3. Silas Deane, who had been recalled by Congress in 1778, went to France rather than England in 1780. His official accounts had been questioned, and he returned to France in an effort to adjust them. H’s information, however, was correct in that Deane eventually went over to the British and lived in England after 1783.
4. This is a reference to George Monck (or Monk), first duke of Albemarle. He was an English military leader who in the Civil War supported Oliver and Richard Cromwell until 1660, when he shifted his allegiance and played a key role in the restoration of the Stuarts to the throne.