George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 5 October 1780

From Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Newport, Octr 5th 1780


In our Last conference, Your Excellency asked me and took a note of the Artillery of the Army; I thought you would have proposed to me the asking our Government the Double of the Artillery of Siege, to undertake that of New york. As your Excellency appeared satisfied with it, I dared not make any questions about the Artillery of Our Allies, and I thought it was sufficient, to stand in room of what we wanted. But after a conversation I have had with the Ch. de La Luzerne, our chief Engineer having demonstrated to me that 60. Guns of Siege at Least would be necessary to undertake two attacks upon New y⟨or⟩k, and We having only 20. not to reckon the fi⟨eld⟩ pieces, 12. pounders, that are too short to be em⟨plo⟩yed in the Embrasures, I think there can be no gre⟨at⟩ risk in asking as many Guns of siege and morta⟨rs⟩ as we have already.1 I beg of your Excellency to give me an answer directly, and to tell me, if it be necessary to ask for more, in regard to the means that you have in your possession. The person you know, will set off on the 15th inst., and the Ch. De Ternay proposes making all his frigates go out.2 The Ennemy is always riding on his anchors at Gardner’s Island with a great many Sick a board, and thinking it very tiresome; The reinforcement that Adm. rodney sent them makes their fleet to be 13. men of War strong, besides the 50. Guns ships. The arrival of our Frigate has brought here a cruizer, who stayed two Days, and that We have not seen Yesterday.3 I am with respect Sir, Your Excellency’s Most obedient, most humble servant

le Cte de Rochambeau

I make bold to beg of your Excellency to Send to Philadelphy with the Greatest speed the inclosed Letter from the Ch. de La Luzerne to Mr Price4 All our sea officers think that Mr De Guichen cannot be returned to France without a positive order; they believe ⟨tha⟩t he is gone to Cadix, from where he w⟨ill⟩ send the 13. french men of War that are ⟨to⟩ come to occupy his place in these countrie⟨s⟩ and that with his fleet joined to the Sp⟨a⟩nish Squadron now at Cadi⟨x⟩ he will go to deliver the french fleet whic⟨h⟩ is blocked up in Brest by Adm. Geary.5

LS, DLC:GW; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 7; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 8. The LS reached GW in the late evening on 11 Oct. (see GW to Rochambeau, 12 Oct.).

1Rochambeau had met French minister La Luzerne at Newport following discussions with GW at Hartford (see Document I with The Hartford Conference, 20–22 Sept., editorial note, and Greene to GW, 23 Sept., n.4).

2Rochambeau presumably refers to his son and aide-de-camp, vicomte de Rochambeau, who sailed for France on 28 Oct. “to explain to the ministers our wants and those of our allies. It had been settled at the conference at Hartford, that he should proceed thither with the particulars and result of our interview, together with a memoir, containing the full account of the additional troops, vessels, and specie which we were in need of” (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 , 25–26).

3For the French frigate Gentille, see Rochambeau to GW, 30 September.

4This sentence is not in the letter-book versions. The letter from La Luzerne to James Price has not been identified. Price later dined with La Luzerne in Philadelphia (see 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 , 1:173–74).

5For the British blockade at Brest, France, see GW to James Bowdoin, 28 Aug., n.2.

Francis Geary (c.1710–1796) became a British naval captain in 1742 and served during the French and Indian War as a commodore. Promoted to admiral in 1759, he resigned for health reasons in summer 1780.

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