George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 25 September 1780

From Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Newport, September 25th 1780


With the greatest impatience, I wait till I hear from Your Excellency, I hope that your army will have seen you returned in Good health.1

At my return here, I found that our fleet had been Warmly alarmed at Sir George Rodney’s arrival; which has produced good effects in making them add to their precautions in fortifying the Islands and considerably bettering the batteries on them,2 But one thing displeases me Lest Your Excellency should find fault with it, and it is that General Heath has been desired to countermand General Green’s3 regiment which was only at Greenwich, that it might take its former Station in this Island, which covers a Landing place very practicable; about 3. miles on the right of the place where the fleet is imbossed;4 with all these means, Our sea captains5 are quiet, and seem now to have the greatest trust in their position. I beg of your Excellency to write me if you approve of that regiment’s staying here till We see where the Enemy intends to go.

I am very much afraid lest, We be again absolutely obliged to act on the defensive part till next spring. I am Led in that opinion by the following extract of a Letter I Have found here, coming from The Commanding officer at St Domingo. “The Day before Mr De Guichen’s departure for Europa, an American Ship arrived here, who told that you was blocked up by superior forces; I brought him a board the Admiral and did all my endeavours to persuade to him that nothing would finish his glorious campaign so well, as to come to deliver you. he set sail The next Day without telling me what he would do, or what he intended to do.”6 Your Excellency may well believe that I keep this Intelligence very secret. I am with respect, Sir, Your Excellency’s Most obedient humble servant

le Cte de Rochambeau

P.S. Mr De Guichen has Left nine men of War at St Domingo.7

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

2For these French preparations, see Acomb, Closen Journal description begins Evelyn M. Acomb, ed. The Revolutionary Journal of Baron Ludwig von Closen, 1780–1783. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1958. description ends , 41; Balch, Blanchard Journal description begins Thomas Balch, ed. The Journal of Claude Blanchard, Commissary of the French Auxiliary Army Sent to the United States during the American Revolution. 1780–1783. Translated from a French Manuscript, by William Duane. Albany, 1876. description ends , 66–67; Chastellux, Travels in North America description begins Marquis de Chastellux. Travels in North America in the Years 1780, 1781 and 1782. Translated and edited by Howard C. Rice, Jr. 2 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1963. description ends , 1:64–65; and Green, Campaigns in America description begins Samuel Abbott Green, ed. My Campaigns in America: A Journal Kept by Count William de Deux-Ponts, 1780–81. Boston, 1868. description ends , 95–96.

3“Colonel” is correctly written in the letter-book versions for Christopher Greene’s rank.

4The letter-book versions render this word as “embossée,” French for a moored vessel. With the French fleet in Newport Harbor, Rochambeau apparently wanted Greene’s regiment posted at Sachuest Beach in Middletown, Rhode Island.

5The letter-book versions render the preceding two words as “marins” (sailors).

6The letter has not been identified but was presumably from Brigadier General Saint-Simon Montbléru.

7This sentence concludes the letter-book versions but is not positioned as a postscript.

GW replied to Rochambeau on 10 October.

Index Entries