George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Vice Admiral d’Estaing, 13 October 1778

To Vice Admiral d’Estaing

Head Quarters Fredericksburg 13th October 1778


Inclosed I have the honor to send your Excellency the British account of the late engagement between the two Fleets respectively under the command of Monsieur D’orvilliers and Admiral Keppel, contained in a letter,1 published by authority, which I have just received from New york.2 The insipid terms of this letter—the frivolous pretext assigned for not renewing the engagement—the damage confessed to have been received—the considerable number of killed and wounded announced to the public in the shape of an official report, which from the customary practice cannot be suspected of exaggeration, and the acknowledged necessity of returning immediately into port—are circumstances that prove at least, the enemy have had no great cause of triumph in this affair.

The departure of the English Fleet from New york mentioned in my last is positively contradicted. They were certainly at the Hook the 9th instant.3 The current of intelligence still continues to indicate the intention of sending a detachment to the West Indies. ’Tis said from ten to fifteen Regiments.4 An apprehension of this event occasions numerous desertions among their troops, who have an extreme reluctance to a voyage into that Climate. No alteration has taken place in the apparent preparations for an evacuation. With the warmest Respect and Esteem I have the honor to be Your Excellencys Most obedient Servant

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, FrPNA, Fonds de la Marine, ser. 4, vol. 146, f. 287; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1At this place in the text, the draft includes the words: “from the latter.”

2GW enclosed a printed copy of Adm. Augustus Keppel’s letter to Admiralty secretary Philip Stevens of 30 July 1778 concerning the Battle of Ushant on 27 July, which had been published in an extraordinary edition of the London Gazette on 2 Aug. 1778 by authority of the Admiralty Office (see GW to Henry Laurens, 14 Oct.). This document also was published in the New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury for 12 Oct. and the Royal Gazette (New York) for 14 October. The handwritten copy of the document that GW enclosed in his letter to Henry Laurens of 14 Oct. is in DNA:PCC, item 152. For other accounts of the Battle of Ushant, see William Heath to GW, 21 Sept., and Lafayette to GW, 21 Sept., and note 4 to that document.

3GW is referring to his letter to d’Estaing of 5 Oct. and apparently to the intelligence contained in Richard Howell’s letter to him of 9 October.

4Maj. Gen. James Grant’s West Indies expedition, which consisted of ten British regiments, sailed from Sandy Hook on 3 November.

Index Entries