George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 27 October 1780

From Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Newport, 8ber 27th 1780


I have the honour to send to Your Excellency a draught of our position that is pretty well taken of.1 The English fleet comes again to day to see us, We Can see thirteen Square sails, at anchor between Block-island and Point Judith. I think that they Will get into Gardner’s bay, by the first North wind.2 Our Admiral Waits only for a fresh North-East wind to send of the Person that you know.3 The Weather is exceeding fine, and it pains me much for that very reason.4 I am With respect sir, Your Excellency’s Most obedient most 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.

1The letter-book versions indicate that Rochambeau refers to a fine military map, presumably of French positions in Rhode Island; the map has not been identified, but see Rice and Brown, American Campaigns of Rochambeau’s Army description begins Howard C. Rice, Jr., and Anne S. K. Brown, eds. The American Campaigns of Rochambeau’s Army, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783. 2 vols. Princeton, N.J., 1972. description ends , 2:125–27.

2Lt. Col. William Ledyard wrote GW from New London, Conn., at 8:00 P.M. on 28 Oct.: “This Morning Appeared of this Harbour (Standing into Gardiners Bay) a Fleet of Ships—but the weather being very thick, was not able to count More than ten Sail, though I was informd by a Boatman that Arrived here, that he counted last evening to the South Eastward of Fishers Island thirteen Sail which appeard to be large Ships, by the Appearence of these Ships & the Signal Guns they have fired Suppose it to be Arburthnots Fleet returnd again—Should have Sent my Boat for the purpose of reconitering them this day if the weather had been proper—Shall write his Excellency General Rochambeau as Soon as I can get the Necessary information of their Numbers & Strength and if any thing Material will inform Your Excellency” (ALS, DLC:GW; Ledyard wrote “⅌ Express” on the cover; GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman docketed the letter: “from Mr shaw”). Rochambeau mentioned “reports from New London” when he wrote GW on 29 Oct. (DLC:GW).

Nathaniel Shaw wrote GW from New London on Monday, 30 Oct.: “last Thursday Thirteen Sail of Brittish Ships (by their Appearence) are of the line, were discoverd Standing in for Block Island, on Satturday, it look’t like for a Storm and they all Came in to Gardners Bay, where they now are att Ancher, when any further movement is made I will Inform you of it” (ALS, DLC:GW). Shaw subsequently reported the fleet still in Gardiners Bay, N.Y. (see his letter to GW, 23 Nov., DLC:GW).

3Rochambeau likely refers to his son and aide-de-camp, vicomte de Rochambeau (see Rochambeau to GW, 5 Oct., n.2).

4GW acknowledged this letter when he wrote Rochambeau on 4 Nov. (CtY-BR-R).

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