George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Laurens, 7 August 1778

To Henry Laurens

White plains August 7th 1778


Yesterday afternoon I had the Honor to receive your favor of the 30th Ulto.

Major Gibbs is now at Rhode Island. I shall embrace the first safe opportunity to transmit him your Letter and the Commission, with which Congress have been pleased to honor him.1

Since my Letter of the 3d & 4th Instant, I have received no advices from General Sullivan, so that I can give no information of our operations against the Enemy in the Eastern Quarter. I am told the Militia of Massachussets & Connecticut were collecting fast—and proceeding to reinforce him.2

I have the pleasure to acquaint Congress, that Major General Lincoln arrived here yesterday—and that he is happily so far recovered from his wound, as to be able to take his command in the line.

The inclosed paper from NewYork came to hand last night. It contains an account of the fire, which unfortunately broke out in the City on Sunday night—and of the damage which was occasioned by it.3 It also contains the latest advices that I have seen from Britain—and such as appear to be interesting.4 I have the Honor to be with great respect & esteem sir Yr Most Obedt servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The LS is docketed in part, “Read 10”; see 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 , 11:770.

1For Laurens’s letter to Caleb Gibbs of 30 July, announcing Gibbs’s promotion to major, see DNA:PCC, item 13.

2At 10 p.m. on this date, GW wrote a second letter to Laurens that read: “Since I had the honor of addressing you to day, I received Letters from the Count D’Estaing & My Aid Lt Colo. Laurens. These contain the latest advices I have from Rhode Island, & of which I do myself the pleasure of transmitting Copies by this Conveyance” (LS, DNA:PCC, item 152). He enclosed Vice Admiral d’Estaing’s letter to him of 3 Aug. and John Laurens’s letter to him of 4 August.

3The previous Sunday was 2 August. GW probably enclosed Rivington’s Royal Gazette of 5 Aug., which reported that “On Monday morning about one o’clock the city was alarmed by a tremendous fire, which broke out at the House of Mr. Stewart, at Cruger’s dock, and notwithstanding the utmost efforts of the navy, army, and inhabitants, soon consumed all the buildings on the east, south, and west end of said wharf, with every house on the south side of Little Dock Street. … the flames soon communicated to the north side of Little Dock Street, and consumed the whole (five houses excepted) at the west end. The fire … burnt every house to the east of Mr. Isaac Low’s, as far as the old slip, and three opposite the slip. …

“The loss on this melancholy occasion is great, there being no less than 64 dwelling houses, besides stores, consumed.

“There were two small vessels burnt, but we hear of no lives being lost”

4The Royal Gazette of 5 Aug. printed news brought by the Earl of Sandwich packet, which left Falmouth on 9 June and arrived at New York on 2 August. The reports included an account of General Burgoyne’s appearance before the House of Commons on 26 May, rumors of a “new arrangement in administration,” questions in the House of Lords about the detention of the Convention army in America, and the king’s speech to Parliament on 3 June. On the draft, an additional paragraph followed this, which read: “On my arrival at this Camp, the paper Indorsed No. 2 was put into my Hands by a Mr Wheelock. The Gentleman informed me he was Lieutenant Colo. of a Regiment, ordered to be raised last Winter by the Marquiss Fayette for the intended Canada expedition, and on the terms of double pay.” At this point on the LS, Harrison began a new paragraph with the words “On my arrival at this Camp,” but that text was erased.

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