George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Nathanael Greene, 1 September 1778

To Major General Nathanael Greene

Head Quarters White plains 1st Sepr 1778

Dear Sir

I have had the pleasure of receiving your several letters, the last of which was of the 22d Augt.1 I have not now time to take notice of the several arguments that were made use of, for and against the Counts quitting the Harbour of Newport and sailing for Boston. Right or wrong, it will probably disappoint our sanguine expectations of success, and what I esteem a still worse consequence, I fear it will sow the seeds of dissention and distrust between us and our new allies, except the most prudent measures are taken to suppress the feuds and jealousies that have already arisen. I depend much upon your temper and influence to conciliate that animosity which I plainly perceive, by a letter from the Marquis, subsists between the American Officers and the French in our service.2 This you may depend will extend itself to the Count and the officers and men of his whole Fleet, should they return to Rhode Island, except upon their arrival there, they find a reconciliation has taken place. The Marquis speaks kindly of a letter from you to him upon this subject.3 He will therefore take any advice coming from you, in a friendly light, and if he can be pacified, the other French Gentlemen will of course be satisfied as they look up to him as their Head. The Marquis grounds his complaint upon a general order of the 24 Augt the latter part of which is certainly very impolitic4 and upon the universal clamor that prevailed against the french Nation. I beg you will take every measure to keep the protest entered into by the General Officers, from being made public. The Congress, sensible of the ill consequences that will flow from the World’s knowing of our differences, have passed a resolve to that purpose5—Upon the whole, my dear Sir, you can conceive my meaning better than I can express it, and I therefore fully depend upon your exerting yourself to heal all private animosities between our principal Officers and the french, and to prevent all illiberal expressions and reflections that may fall from the Army at large—6 I have this moment recd a letter from Genl Sullivan of the 29th Augt in which he barely informs me of an Action upon that day in which he says we had the better but does not mention particulars. I am &c.

Df, in the writing of Tench Tilghman, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1The letters that Greene had written to GW from his departure for Rhode Island through 22 Aug. have not been found.

3At this point Tilghman wrote and crossed out, “You will therefore be a proper person, to go into the matter fully with him, and to point out the innumerable dangers that will arise.”

4At this point Tilghman wrote for insertion, “and upon an ungenerous mode of acting and speaking,” but he crossed that phrase out. The remainder of this sentence was written in the left margin and marked for placement here.

5For Congress’s resolution of 28 Aug., 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.

6At this point Tilghman wrote but crossed out, “I have heard nothing from Rhode Island, but by report, since the 23d Augt. this leaves me in a most anxious state of uncertainty, and entirely at a loss how to form any plans.”

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