George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Laurens, 25 August 1778

To Henry Laurens

Head Qrs White plains Augt 25th 1778


Inclosed you will be pleased to receive a Copy of a Letter of the 23d Instant from General Sullivan, which came to hand about half after three OClock this morning, with the several papers to which it refers, Copies of which are also transmitted.1 By these Congress will perceive, our prospects are much changed with respect to the operations against Rhode Island, and that the issue, as things are now circumstanced, whether we look to a continuation of the Siege—to an immediate attack or a Retreat, must be attended with great difficulty and risk. I trust the wisest measures will be pursued & I will hope for the best. I have the Honor to be with the greatest respect & esteem sir Yr Most Obedt sert

Go: Washington

P.S. Genl Sullivan I think, must be under a mistake, as to the amount of the relief, which the Enemy had attempted to give from York. I have used every possible means to obtain information from time to time on this head, and I never could learn, either from Deserters or others who had been in the City, that any Troops had embarked, since the reinforcement sent up the sound long ago, except some drafts to act in the fleet as Marines.2

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 28 Aug. and responded with resolutions (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 , 11:848–49).

1The enclosed copies of Maj. Gen. John Sullivan’s letter and “the several papers” are in DNA:PCC, item 152.

2For discussion of the “reinforcement sent up the sound long ago,” see Sullivan to GW, 20 July, and note 1 to that document.

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