George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 6 September 1780

From Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Newport, Septer 6th 1780


Your Excellency’s favor of the 3d instant, I received to day at 12. o’clock, I must own to Your Excellency that I cannot believe Mr Clinton’s having taken it again in his head to come to attack us, and I can say, without any great presumption, that if he does, he will repent of it. A Truce flag, that has brought here Prisoners, To the Chevalier de Ternay has told to an officer of his ship, whom we can trust, that Mr Arbuthnot had intended, a month ago to come upon us, conjointly with Mr Clinton that he had done and said all that he could to make him come here, but Mr Clinton would not, Upon which, Arbuthnot had sent a Frigate to England to give an account of it, and that there was a misunderstanding now between the two Generals,1 The English fleet has left these shores here, we have not seen them these eight days past. We suppose that they are returned to Sandy-hook about some Expedition,2 I can not make out what to think about that, I cannot flatter myself that the English Ministry has changed its mind, or sistem that they are going to evacuate Newyork to fall upon some of our Islands.3 In all possible cases, I think it is very proper to be informed of their design, and to endeavour to penetrate them.4 I am with respect Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient humble servant

le Cte de Rochambeau

LS, DLC:GW; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 7; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 8; French translation, FrPBN.

1Gen. Henry Clinton had written Lord George Germain on 25 Aug. blaming “the difficulties and clogs the service suffers” on Vice Adm. Marriot Arbuthnot’s lack of “cordial, uniform, and animated cooperation” (Willcox, American Rebellion description begins William B. Willcox, ed. The American Rebellion: Sir Henry Clinton’s Narrative of His Campaigns, 1775–1782, with an Appendix of Original Documents. New Haven, 1954. description ends , 454–55).

2For Arbuthnot’s fleet, see William Heath to GW, 19 Sept., n.2.

3Rochambeau refers to the West Indies.

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