George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Jay, 16 August 1779

To John Jay

West-point Augt 16th 79

Dear Sir,

I beg you to accept my thanks for your obliging letter of the 10th transmitting an extract from Mr Bingham’s. The intelligence it gives is infinitely interesting, and I hope will be followed by events of still more decisive importance.1 The conduct of England in respecting the mediation of Spain is more strongly tinctured with insanity than any thing she has done in the course of the Contest, unless she be sure of very powerful aid from some of the Northern States. This seems to be the only rational solution, that can be given to her obstinacy.

I inclose you a letter from General Wayne, a part of the contents of which he communicated to me concerning some Officers of his Corps whom he omitted in his former report.2 As this omission has given dissatisfaction; and as the gentle[me]n concerned are very deserving I shall be happy if Congress should think it proper to publish Genl Waynes letter, which I doubt not will effectually remove it. I take the liberty of mentioning this to your Excellency that if you see no impropriety in the publication, you may give it your aid.3 With the greatest esteem & regard I have the honor to be Dr Sir Yr Most obedt and Obliged Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, ICHi; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW wrote the dateline of the draft; the remainder of the draft is in Alexander Hamilton’s writing.

1GW may have been alluding to his hopeful expectation that French vice admiral d’Estaing would bring his fleet to Georgia and then to New York for a combined campaign with GW’s main army—a plan that GW had discussed in late April and early May with the French minister Conrad-Alexandre Gérard (see GW to Gérard, 1 May, and the notes to that document).

2Anthony Wayne’s letter to John Jay, dated 10 Aug. at West Point, reads: “Your very polite favor of the 17th [27th] ultimo with the extract of an act of Congress, I have just now Recd—the Honorable manner in which that Respectable body have been pleased to express their approbation of my conduct in the enterprize on Stoney Point, must be very flattering to a young Soldier, but whilst I experience every sensation arrising from a Conciousness of having used my best endeavours to carry the Orders of my General into execution, I feel much hurt that I did not in my letter to him of the 17th July, mention (among other brave & Worthy Officers) the names of Lieut. Colo. Sherman, Majors, Hull, Murphy & Posey, whose good Conduct & Intrepidity justly entitled them to that Attention.

“permit me therefore thro’ your Excellency to do them that Justice now which the state of my Wound diverted me from in the first Instance, & whilst I pay this tribute to real Merit—I must not omit Major Noirmont de Laneuville a French Gentleman who (in the Character of a volunteer) step’t amongst the first for Glory.

“I will only beg leave to add that every Officer & Soldier belonging to the Light Corps discover’d a Zeal & Intrepidity that did, & ever will secure Success” (DNA: PCC, item 161).

3Jay had the letter read in Congress on 23 Aug., and Congress referred the letter to the Committee of Intelligence for publication (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 14:989 and Jay to GW, 25 Aug.). The letter did remove much of the officers’ dissatisfaction (see the letters in Wayne to GW, 30 Aug., n.1).

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