George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General William Heath, 19 August 1780

From Major General William Heath

NewPort August 19th 1780

Dear General

Since I had the honor to address your Excellency under this days date, the British Fleet have appeared off this place to the number of Sixteen or eighteen Sail.1

A Gentleman has just arrived here from Salem, who brings an account of the arrival of the Continental Ship Alliance at Boston, and many other particulars of news.2 He has also brought a Boston News Paper of the 17th instant, which I have obtained and sent to General Count Rochambeau who I apprehend will forward it by the Express to your Excellency.3 A Fleet of 12 Sail of French men of war were blocck’d up in the harbour of Brest by the English Fleet. A large French and Spanish Fleet were at Cadiz.4 Nineteen Sail of the Quebec Fleet taken by our Privateers, had arrived in Massachusetts with most valuable Cargoes.5 I have the honor to be with the greatest Respect Your Excellencys Most Obedt Servt

W. Heath

LS, DLC:GW; ADfS, MHi: Heath Papers.

1British vice admiral Marriot Arbuthnot, wrongly believing that the French squadron was on the verge of sailing from Newport, got his fleet under way from Gardiners Bay, N.Y., on 18 Aug. and took station off Newport to watch the French.

2For another report of the arrival of the Alliance, see James Bowdoin to GW, 17 August.

4For more on these naval operations in Europe, see Dull, French Navy description begins Jonathan R. Dull. The French Navy and American Independence: A Study of Arms and Diplomacy, 1774-1787. Princeton, 1975. description ends , 192–93.

5For the attack on this fleet, see Heath to GW, 13 Aug., n.5.

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