George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 29 October 1780

From Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Newport, 29th 8ber 1780


The Frigates and the person you know, set sail yesterday under a very strong North East wind. May Almighty God conduct them, and may they arrive safe at their destination.1 I believe that the English fleet that was before us is returned to Sandy-hook; There is no appearanc[e] of its having got into Gardner’s Bay, because the Ships that were Left there, according to the reports from New London, had set sail, the 26th inst. to Join them.2 A Flag that has brought here the prisoners of a Privateer that Carries Your Excellency’s name that has been taken by the Enemy eight days since, is commanded by the same Lieutenant of Arbuthnot that we had already seen.3 He has told us that Rodney was Labouring at New-york under the V——l. Distemper,4 that he waited for the Cork fleet to have salt provisions, and that he was after that to go back to the Leeward islands.5 The Governor Trumbull is very willing to receive at Lebanon Lauzun’s cavalry, and I expect to make him go there Directly.6 I am with respect Sir Your Excellency’s most obedient and 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. GW replied to Rochambeau on 4 November.

1Rochambeau’s son and aide-de-camp vicomte de Rochambeau sailed for France in the Amazone on 28 October. That vessel and the escorting frigates Surveillante and Hermione narrowly escaped British pursuit (see Rochambeau to GW, 20 Nov.; the entry for 28 Oct. in 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 , 43–44; and Rochambeau, Journal description begins Vicomte de Rochambeau. The War in America: An Unpublished Journal (1780–1783). Published as Rochambeau: Father and Son, 193–285, with Jean-Edmond Weelen, A Life of the Maréchal de Rochambeau. Translated by Lawrence Lee. New York, 1936. description ends , 214; see also Rochambeau to GW, 5 Oct., n.2).

Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau (1755–1813), entered the French army in 1769 as a sub-lieutenant in the royal artillery corps and became mestre de camp en second of the Bourbonnais Regiment in January 1779. He returned


Map 1. Comfortably ensconced at Newport, Brigadier General Lauzun was forced by “scarcity of forage” to remove to “the forests of Connecticut,” which he likened to Siberia, for the winter of 1780–81. (Illustrated by Rick Britton. Copyright Rick Britton 2019)

from a mission to France in May 1781 and distinguished himself at the Battle of Yorktown later that year. Eventually promoted to general, he remained in the French army until mortally wounded at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813.

2Vice Adm. Marriot Arbuthnot’s fleet soon appeared in Gardiners Bay, N.Y. (see William Ledyard to GW, 28 Oct. 1780, found at Rochambeau to GW, 27 Oct., n.2, and Rochambeau to GW, 10 Nov.).

3Lt. Josias Rogers transported prisoners taken from the privateer General Washington (see Christopher Greene to GW, 27 Oct., n.5, and Rochambeau to GW, 6 Sept. and 14 Nov.; see also William Heath to GW, 28 Aug.).

4Rochambeau probably abbreviates “variole,” which is French for smallpox. New York City printer Hugh Gaine wrote in his journal entry for 14 Sept. that British admiral George Rodney was “ill with the Gout” (Ford, Journals of Hugh Gaine description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed. The Journals of Hugh Gaine, Printer. 1902. Reprint. [New York] 1970. description ends , 2:99).

5Rodney’s fleet departed New York for the West Indies on 15 Nov., shortly after the arrival of a British supply fleet that came from Cork, Ireland (see GW to Francisco Rendon, 18 Nov., and Lafayette to GW, 14 Nov., and n.1 to that document).

6Brigadier General Lauzun’s command left Newport on 9 Nov. and proceeded on 12 Nov. from Providence to winter quarters in Lebanon, Conn. (see Rochambeau to GW, 10 Nov., and 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 , 75; see also Rochambeau to GW, 19 Oct., and the entry for 1 Nov. in French captain Berthier’s journal in 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 , 1:236–37). Lauzun later recalled that “scarcity of forage obliged” Rochambeau “to send me to the forests of Connecticut. … As I spoke English I was charged with an infinite number of details, boring in the extreme, but necessary. I did not leave Newport without regrets; I had formed a very pleasant circle of acquaintance there.” He added: “Siberia alone can furnish any idea of Lebanon, which consists of a few huts scattered among vast forests” (Memoirs of the Duc de Lauzun description begins C. K. Scott Moncrieff, trans. Memoirs of the Duc de Lauzun. 1928. Reprint. New York, 1969. description ends , 194).

The Connecticut legislature had considered Rochambeau’s application to Gov. Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., and concluded: “This Legislature being desirous to provide all proper accommodations for our Allies, do upon entire perswasion that regular discipline will be observed by them hereby resolve, that the said Duke of Lawzun’s cavalry may be quartered in the towns of Windham, Lebanon and Colchester, or any of them.” Three men were designated “to provide suitable quarters for the officers and barracks for the men for said legion in all or any of the towns aforesaid” (Conn. Public Records description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894–. description ends , 3:187).

Index Entries