George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 30 September 1780

From Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Newport, Septer 30th 1780 4‘o’clock P.M.

sir,

I receive just now, your Excellency’s Letter of the 26th instt, and am exceeding happy to hear of your safe arrival to your army, in good health.

I am uncertain whether I am to be sorrowful, or whether I should not Congratulate Your Excellency upon the Discovery of that horrid plot of Arnold’s. Whoever, this plainly shews that the Divine Providence is favorable to Us and to our Cause, which I have more than once experienced since the opening of this Campaign.1

The Gentille, a French frigate is just now arrived She Left France at the end of June, arrived at Martinico, the 30th August, to the Cape Francois on the 9th Septer which she left to come here on the 13th to carry here Mr De Choisy, a French Brigadier of great merit, and nine officers belonging to the several Regiments that are here.2 She brings old Letters, and the Newest I have from the Minister are from the beginning of May.3 The Party that Mr De Guichen has taken, is confirmated to me by the Comm[a]nding officer at S. Domingo. It is thought that he is gone without an order from his Court, pretending the bad state of his fleet, and specially his health being much out of order. I am not in the Least Doubt but what he will be much improved, and it seems very certain that that was what brought Rodney here, in this Country.4 The Spaniards have not yet given over their project of attempting some thing. The two thousand men under the orders of Mr De st Simon are at the Cape waiting for their orders As well as the squadron of 9. men of war under Mr De Monteil, which has taken an English frigate.5 I am with respect sir, Your Excellency’s Most obedient humble servant

le Cte de Rochambeau

P.S. General heath will set off Monday or Tuesday, to Wait on Your Excellency’s orders.6

I sent here inclosed to Your Excellency a Letter I have received from Mr De St Simon.7

LS, DLC:GW; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 7; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 8. GW replied to Rochambeau on 10 October.

1See Document IX with The Discovery of Major General Benedict Arnold’s Treachery, 25 Sept.–24 Nov., editorial note. For Rochambeau’s later reflections on this event, see Rochambeau, Memoirs description begins M. W. E. Wright, ed. and trans. Memoirs of the Marshal Count de Rochambeau. Relative to the War of Independence of the United States. Paris, 1838. description ends , 20–22; see also Whitridge, Rochambeau description begins Arnold Whitridge. Rochambeau. New York, 1965. description ends , 107–10.

2For similar accounts, 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 , 42, and Balch, Blanchard Journal, 67–68.

Claude-Gabriel, marquis de Choisy (1723–1800), entered the French army in 1741 and through distinguished service reached “mestre de camp in the fourth regiment of chasseurs in 1779” (Balch, French in America description begins Thomas Balch. The French in America during the War of Independence of the United States, 1777–1783. Translated by Thomas Willing Balch, Edwin Swift Balch, and Elise Willing Balch. 2 vols. Philadelphia, 1891–95. description ends , 2:80–82). He resigned his rank to join the French forces in the United States and served in Rhode Island before participating gallantly in the final stages of the Yorktown campaign, which earned him promotion to maréchal de camp. Choisy became a lieutenant general in the French army in 1791 and retired in 1793.

3Rochambeau refers to French minister La Luzerne.

5Saint-Simon-Montbleru, Claude-Anne de Rouvroy, marquis de (1740–1819), attended military school at Strasburg, rose rapidly to colonel in the French army, and served in the West Indies before fighting the British at Yorktown in 1781. He left France in 1790 to join royalist forces gathered in Spain, where he eventually settled and was made a duke (see Balch, French in America description begins Thomas Balch. The French in America during the War of Independence of the United States, 1777–1783. Translated by Thomas Willing Balch, Edwin Swift Balch, and Elise Willing Balch. 2 vols. Philadelphia, 1891–95. description ends , 2:222–23).

Monteil, Frangois-Aymar, comte de (1725–1787), entered the French navy in 1741 and attained the rank of lieutenant general in 1783. He replaced Rear Admiral Guichen as commander in the West Indies in 1780, collaborated with the Spanish expedition against Pensacola, and then participated in the important Battle of Chesapeake Capes on 5 Sept. 1781 that allowed the successful allied siege of the British forces at Yorktown.

6The next Monday was 2 October. GW had ordered Maj. Gen. William Heath to join his army (see Document VI with The Discovery of Major General Benedict Arnold’s Treachery, 25 Sept.–24 Nov., editorial note).

7The enclosure from French brigadier general Saint-Simon-Montbleru to Rochambeau was written in French from Cap Français on 6 September. He praised Spanish troops in the West Indies, complained about sickness among his men, and detailed the naval forces French rear admiral Guichen left behind after departing for Europe (DLC:GW; see also Rochambeau, Memoirs description begins M. W. E. Wright, ed. and trans. Memoirs of the Marshal Count de Rochambeau. Relative to the War of Independence of the United States. Paris, 1838. description ends , 16–17).

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