George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 10 November 1780

From Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Newport, November the 10th 1780.


I receive this moment, Your Excellency’s favor of the 4th instant. We have had no news of our Frigate, and that is a good sign.1 Arbuthnot is in Gardner’s bay,2 It is thought, that he prepares to winter there. Yesterday and before yesterday a Ship of the Line and a frigate came to Patrole, and are returned to Judith Point.3 We have entered our houses, The Lodging of the Troops has been made with great quietness and good order.4 Lauzun’s Cavalry set off yesterday to go to Lebanon5 The Chevalier de Chatellus. General Major, The Count de Custine Brigadier, The Marquis de Laval and the Count de Deux Ponts. Colonels have asked my Leave to go and wait on Your Excellency thence to go to Philadelphy. I have given them Leave to go to Your Excellency’s army and If you see no inconvenience arising from it, It belongs to Your Excellency to give them Leave to push to Philadelphy.6 I am very concerned to think what is going to pass in Chesapeak Bay, I beg of your Excellency to give me news of it as often as it will be possible.7 We have here a rumour of the conspiracy of one Mr Ross in Virginia, But I can believe nothing of it, as Your Excellency does not make the least mention of it.8 I am with respect, sir. Your Excellency’s Most obedient 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.

1Rochambeau’s son and aide-de-camp vicomte de Rochambeau had sailed for France (see Rochambeau to GW, 29 Oct., and n.1; see also GW to Rochambeau, 4 Nov., and Rochambeau to GW, 20 Nov.).

2For the presence of Vice Adm. Marriot Arbuthnot’s fleet in Gardiners Bay, N.Y., see GW to Nathanael Greene, 8 Nov., and n.8 to that document.

3Point Judith, at the southeastern tip of South Kingstown (now Narragansett), R.I., juts into Rhode Island Sound about twelve miles southwest of Newport Harbor.

4French captain Berthier wrote in his journal entry for 29 Oct.: “Preparations were made to put the army into winter quarters. Permission has been granted by the state authorities for the French army to take possession of all houses abandoned by the Tories, which the army would repair at its own expense in order to make them habitable for the troops, while the officers would be lodged in private homes” (Brown, American Campaigns of Rochambeau’s Army, 1:236). The French troops entered winter quarters in Newport on 1 Nov. (see the entries for that date 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 , 44, 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 , 74–75; see also Rochambeau to GW, 3 Sept., and n.6 to that document, and 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 , 22–24).

5Brigadier General Lauzun’s command established winter quarters in Connecticut (see Rochambeau to GW, 29 Oct., and n.6 to that document).

6GW subsequently wrote letters of introduction for Major General Chastellux, Brigadier General Custine, and Colonel Laval (see GW to Samuel Huntington, 27 Nov., and the source note to that document; see also GW to Rochambeau, 10 Dec.).

Adam-Philippe, comte de Custine (1740–1793), a career officer in the French army, became a brigadier general in 1780. He arrived with Rochambeau’s army in July 1780 and served until the British surrender at Yorktown, Va., in October 1781. Custine later supported the French Revolution, and political enemies caused his execution.

Anne-Alexandre-Marie-Sulpice-Joseph Montmorency, duc de Laval (1747–1817), became colonel of the Bourbonnais Regiment in 1775. He arrived with Rochambeau’s army in July 1780 and returned to France in 1783. A royalist during the French Revolution, Laval served as lieutenant general during the reign of Louis XVIII.

7A British embarkation had landed at Portsmouth, Va. (see John Mathews to GW, 30 Oct., and n.4 to that document; see also GW to Huntington, 17 Oct., n.2, and Nathanael Greene to GW, 31 Oct., n.4).

8For earlier reports that David Ross had schemed with the British, see Nathaniel Peabody to GW, 25 Oct., postscript, and n.2 to that document.

GW replied to Rochambeau on 16 November.

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