George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 8 September 1780

To Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Head Quarters New Bridge Bergen County Septr 8th 1780


The great preparations of General Clinton have hitherto resulted in nothing more than the sailing of a Fleet of about ninety Vessels of different sizes for Europe with a few invalids1—We are however still amused with rumours of an embarkation; but these now go upon a new and more probable ground—a descent upon Virginia—We have just received the most disagreeable advices from General Gates of a defeat of the Army under his command near Cambden in South Carolina the 16th of last month—in whic⟨h the⟩ greatest part of his best Troops were cut off. We have not yet the details.2 This event must h⟨ave the⟩ worst effect upon the affairs of the Southern States—⟨nor⟩ is it easy to say how far its influence may exten⟨d—⟩It is on this account I should not be astonished if ⟨the⟩ Enemy should really make a detachment ⟨of three or⟩ four thousand men to Virginia.3

If convenient to you I have th⟨e honor⟩ to propose the 20th instant for our interview at Hartf⟨ord,⟩ where I hope we shall be able to combine some plan of f⟨u⟩ture operation which events will enable us to execute4 Our plans however can only turn upon possibilities;5 w⟨hich⟩ is the more unfortunate as the affairs of this Country absolutely require activity on whatever side they are viewed—I intend to conceal here the time of the intended interview—I dare say you will think it adviseable to do the same on your part.

I have had the pleasure of receiving last night your letter of the 3d instant. With the truest esteem I am Sir Your most Obedt & huml. Servant

Go: Washington

P.S. I have also received your letter of the 26th & am happy to find my dispatches have all got safe.

The Marquis de la Fayette & the Commandant of Artillery & Engineers will accompany me.6

LS, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, CtY-BR-R; Df, DLC:GW; Rochambeau’s French translation, CtY-BR-R; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 7; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Obscured material on the LS is supplied in angle brackets from the draft.

2See Horatio Gates to GW, 30 Aug., n.1.

5Rochambeau’s translation and the letter-book versions indicate at this point that GW alludes to reinforcements.

6Rochambeau replied to GW on 11 Sept.; see also Rochambeau to GW, 26 Aug. (found at GW to Rochambeau, same date, source note), and 3 September.

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