George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 21 June 1776

To John Hancock

Head Quarters June 21st 1776

Sir,

This will be delivered you by the Chevalier de Kermorvan, and Monsieur de Vermonet—they are French Gentlemen just arrived in this Place, who have made Application to me, to be received into the Continental Service—They bring Letters to Dr Franklin and some other Gentlemen of the Congress—I suppose it will better appear from these Letters, than from any Information I can give, whether it will be proper to employ them in the Capacity they are desirous of.1 I am Sir with the greatest Esteem your most obedient Servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Contee Hanson’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, DLC: Hancock Papers. Congress read this letter on 26 June (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 , 5:480). The LS is docketed in part: “27th Read before B[oard] of War & refd for farther Consideration.”

1These volunteers were Gilles Jean Marie de Barazer de Kermorvan (1740–1817) and Jean Arthur Marie de Vermonet (b. 1750). Kermorvan, who had been a lieutenant in the French army during the Seven Years War and a brevet colonel of engineers in the Turkish army during the Russo-Turkish War, brought letters of recommendation dated 24 Mar. 1776 from Jacques Barbeu-Duborg to Franklin and Benjamin Rush (Willcox, Franklin Papers description begins William B. Willcox et al., eds. The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. 40 vols. to date. New Haven, 1959—. description ends , 22:390–91). Horatio Gates also gave him a letter of introduction to Franklin. Kermorvan, Gates wrote Franklin on 23 June, “left Old France the Sixth of April, and arrived about Fourteen days ago at Stonington [Conn.] by the Way of Cape François; he desires me acquaint you that his Views are truly patriotic, and that he neither Seeks reward, or Honour, but as he shall Merit” (ibid., 490–91). On 28 June Congress asked the Pennsylvania committee of safety to employ Kermorvan in laying out defensive works on the Delaware River, and on 15 July Congress appointed him a Continental engineer with the rank of lieutenant colonel (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 , 5:490, 565). Assigned initially to the flying camp in New Jersey, Kermorvan later joined Daniel Morgan’s rifle regiment and served with it in the northern department during 1777 (Horatio Gates’s certification, 28 Feb. 1778, DNA:PCC, item 41). Congress dismissed Kermorvan in February 1778 after receiving a letter from him in which he threatened to resign if he was not promoted to brigadier general (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 , 10:138–39; Kermorvan to Congress, 9 Feb. 1778, DNA:PCC, item 78). Kermorvan returned to France where in 1780 he was brevetted a captain in the French army. He resigned his commission in 1811.

Vermonet, who previously had been a lieutenant in the French army, was brevetted a captain by Congress on 29 July 1776 and became a brevet major on 18 Sept. 1776 (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 , 5:614, 781). He was subsequently sent to the northern department (see GW to Horatio Gates, 31 Aug. 1776, NHi: Gates Papers).

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