George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 20 July 1781]

20th. Count de Rochambeau having called upon me, in the name of Count de Barras, for a definitive plan of Campaign, that he might communicate it to the Count de Grasse1—I could not but acknowledge, that the uncertainties under which we labour—the few Men who have joined (either as recruits for the Continental Battns. or Militia) & the ignorance in which I am kept by some of the States on whom I mostly depended—especially Massachusetts from whose Govr. I have not received a line since I addressed him from Weathersfd. the 23d. of May last—rendered it impracticable for me to do more than to prepare, first, for the enterprize against New York as agreed to at Weathersfield2 and secondly for the relief of the Southern States if after all my efforts, & earnest application to these States it should be found at the arrivl. of Count de Grasse that I had neither men, nor means adequate to the first object. To give this opinion I was further induced from the uncertainty with respect to the time of the arrival of the French Fleet & whether Land Troops would come in it or not as had been earnestly requested by me & inforced by the Minister of France.

The uncertainty of sufficient aids, of Men & Means from the States to whom application had been made, and the discouraging prospects before me of having my requisitions complied with—added to an unwillingness to incur any expence that could be avoided induced me to desire Genl. Knox to suspend the Transport of the heavy Cannon & Stores from Philadelphia lest we should have them to carry back again or be encumbd. with them in the field.

1See entry for 25 June 1781. Rochambeau had written to GW 19 July, relaying Barras’s request and inviting GW to confer with him (DLC:GW). On the same day the commanders met at Dobbs Ferry and Rochambeau posed a series of questions concerning plans for the coming campaign. GW replied that in case the comte de Grasse should delay in joining the American and French forces in the North or should bring few land troops with him, the allies should leave a garrison at West Point and a small force in the New York area and march the remainder of their troops to Virginia for a late summer or early fall campaign. “But should the Fleet arrive in Season, not be limited to a short Stay; should be able to force the Harbour of N York, and in addition to all these, should find the British Force in a divided State, I am of Opinion that the Enterprize against N York & its Dependencies shou’d be our primary Object” (DLC:GW). See also DONIOL description begins Henri Doniol. Histoire de la Participation de la France à l’établissement des États-Unis d’Amérique: Correspondance Diplomatique et Documents. 5 vols. Paris, 1886–92. description ends , 5:514–16.

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