George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General John Sullivan, 4 August 1778

To Major General John Sullivan

Head Quarters White plains 4th Augt 1778

Dear Sir

I was, last Evening, favd with yours of the 1st instant, which releived me from the greatest anxiety, as so much longer than the usual time of passage had elapsed, since the Count D’Estaing left the Hook. I am very happy to hear your presages of a good understanding between the Count and yourself in respect to command. I wish you had mentioned how many of the Enemy’s ships of War were in the harbour, and what stations they took upon the arrival of the French Fleet. If their situation should be such, that there is no possibility of their escape, I would have you inquire of the Count, whether it would be improper, or inconsistent with the Rules of War, to warn them not to destroy them upon their peril. You will just suggest this matter, in a transient way, and let the Count act as he thinks prudent.

You must suppose that I shall be most anxious to hear as often as possible from you, and I therefore beg you will keep me constantly advised of your operations. Even if nothing material should happen in the course of a day or two, just to hear that all is well will be a relief to me.

If you gain any more certain accounts of the strength of the Enemy, than what were mentioned in your last, be pleased to transmit them to me. If we can come at an exact knowledge of the detatchment at Rhode Island, we can form a truer judgment of the numbers remaining at New York.

I must beg your care of the inclosed for the Count D’Estaing, to whom be pleased to present my most respectful Compliments and good Wishes. Be pleased also to deliver the letters inclosed for Colo. Laurens and Capt. Gibbs.1 I am Dear Sir Your most obt & humble Servt

Go: Washington

P.S. The most certain way of calculating the Enemy’s strength, is first to ascertain the number of Regiments, and then endeavour to find out the number of M⟨en⟩ in them by examin⟨ing⟩ deserters and oth⟨ers.⟩

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NhHi: Sullivan Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The characters in angle brackets are supplied from the draft.

1See GW to Maj. Caleb Gibbs, this date. GW called Gibbs a captain because he had not yet received notice of Gibbs’s promotion on 29 July. The enclosures for Lt. Col. John Laurens and Vice Admiral d’Estaing have not been identified.

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