George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Rear Admiral Ternay, 10 August 1780

From Rear Admiral Ternay

the 10th August 1780


I have received the Letter which Your Excellency has done me the honor to write the 6th of this month, on the subject of the American Frigates which may join the Squadron of the King of France.

When I shall be equal in force to the Enemy or perhaps superior and when there shall be any maritime operation corresponding with that which You have premeditated and which Monsr the Marquiss de la Fayette has imparted to me,1 these Frigates will certainly be very useful to me, but till then I think they might be employed more usefully in a cruise to intercept the Vessels which go from Charles Town to New York. I believe that Admiral Arbuthnot has in this place here all his Strong frigates.

I propose to Your Excellency, to have escorted by these Frigates to the ports of Boston, a Vessel loaded with flour by Monsr Holker for the Squadron of the King of France, & which is at present in the Delaware; It would be necessary in this case that they take their route a little large that they may not fall too near this place, the Frigates of arbuthnot being able to extend their cruises to the shoals of Nantucket. This Admiral sent me yesterday morning a [[ ]]2 in order to transmit me some Letters from French prisoners at this very moment at New York. He is anchored at the Eastermost point of Long Island. I had sent a Vessel some hours before to propose to him an exchange.

If You do not want the sloop Saratoga and this Vessel is a good sailor, Your Excellency could dispatch her to St Domingo. The Marquiss de la Fayette wou⟨ld⟩ send by this opportunity the Letter which I have transmitted to him for Monsr the Count de Guichen—and which ought to be tran[s]lated into Cyphers by Monsr the Chevalr de la Luzerne.3 I require conformably to the Orders of the King, a reinforcement of some Ships from this French Commander. If these arrive by the end of September, I could transport Your Army to Long Island the beginning of October and finally decide the fate of America this year. I send to Monsieur the Chevalier de la Luzerne the Signals of recognisance which have been previously addressed to me by the Council of Admiralty at Boston and which I have adopted.4 It is necessary that there should be uniformity in these on the whole Coast to avoid confusion.5 I am with respect & sincere Attach⟨ment⟩ Sir Your Most Hble & Most Obedient servant

The Chevalier de Ternay

Translation, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; ALS (in French), DLC:GW.

1For Major General Lafayette’s conversation with Ternay, see Lafayette to GW, 31 July.

2On the ALS, this word, which is missing from the translation, is “canot,” or boat.

3In his letter to GW of 31 July, Lafayette stated that he intended to ask Ternay to write a letter to Rear Admiral Guichen. Ternay’s letter to Guichen has not been identified

4This letter to French minister La Luzerne has not been identified.

5GW replied to Ternay on 16 August.

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