George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Laurens, 14 October 1778

To Henry Laurens

Head Qrs near Fredericksburg Octor 14: 1778


Since I had the Honor of addressing you on the 6th Instant, by favor of the Marquiss Fayette, I received your Letter of the 2d with it’s Inclosure.

I do myself the honor of transmitting you an Account of the Engagement, between the French and British Fleets on the 27th of July, as published by the British Admiralty Board; I received a printed Copy of it last night from New-York, which I have forwarded to His Excellency Count D’Estaing. It is evident from Admiral Keppel’s own relation of the affair, that he was pretty severely handled—notwithstanding he affects in the conclusion to mention that he wished extremely for an Opportunity to renew the Combat, the next day.1

We are still in great suspence, as to the operations and designs of the Enemy—though every practicable measure has been used—and is pursuing to come at them. By late and direct accounts, it would seem, that some Troops at least, are certainly going from New York. A few days I think, must open their conduct decisively.

I have had the misfortune to hear, that the Rawleigh frigate has become a prize to Two British Ships of War—after a long and very gallant resistance. Captn Barry finding, that the Frigate would fall into the Enemy’s hands—ran her a shore on Seal Island, to which he escaped in Boats with about Eighty of his Hands and from thence to the Main. It is said he took measures for blowing her up—but was defeated in his purpose, by the perfidy of an Under Officer—who concealed himself and remained on Board.2 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 docket on the LS indicates that Congress read this letter on 20 Oct. and “Ordered [it] to lie on the table” (see also 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 , 12:1025).

1The enclosed copy of Adm. Augustus Keppel’s letter to Philip Stephens of 30 July 1778, concerning the Battle of Ushant on 27 July, is in DNA:PCC, item 152. For the printed copy of that letter, which GW had enclosed in his letter to Admiral d’Estaing of 13 Oct., see note 2 to that document. 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.

2For other accounts of the capture of the Continental frigate Raleigh, commanded by Capt. John Barry, off the Maine coast on 26 Sept., see John Sullivan to GW, 6 Oct., and note 1 to that document; see also Ritchie, “New York Diary,” description begins Carson I. A. Ritchie, ed. “A New York Diary [British army officer’s journal] of the Revolutionary War.” New-York Historical Society Quarterly 50 (1966): 221–80, 401–46. description ends 280, and Baurmeister, Revolution in America description begins Carl Leopold Baurmeister. Revolution in America: Confidential Letters and Journals, 1776–1784, of Adjutant General Major Baurmeister of the Hessian Forces. Translated and annotated by Bernhard A. Uhlendorf. New Brunswick, N.J., 1957. description ends , 223.

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