George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 14 November 1780

From Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Newport 9ber 14, 1780


The Marquis de La Fayette has wrote to the Viscount de Noailles, his Brother-in-Law, and shows the Greatest desire to see him. I find his Demand so just, that tho’ I have given Leave to several of Our Colonels to go and wait on Your Excellency, I have added likewise the Viscount de Noailles, and the Marquis De Damas,1 If Your Excellency does not find a moment to come and see this part of your Army, I am afraid that the whole of it will desert, so great is their desire to see their General, I beg you will be persuaded of the Extreme desire I would have to receive you here, If you can find an opportunity.2 The Ch. de Ternay has sent back to Day Mr roger Arbuthnot’s Lieutenant, who was here for the 2d time as a Truce flag, he had kept him pretty close confined in his vessel, for three weeks, to weaken a Little his desire of making us a third visit,3 he sends Likewise a Flag to New-york to carry there some Ladies.4 I Am with respect sir Your Excellency’s Most obedient and most humble servant

Le Cte de Rochambeau

1Joseph-François-Louis-Charles-César, comte de Damas d’Antigny (1758–1829), became a captain in the French army in 1778 and an aide-de-camp to Rochambeau in 1780. Damas was promoted to colonel in April 1781 and fought in the campaign leading to the British surrender at Yorktown, Va., in October. He served as a royalist general during the French Revolution.

Louis-Marie, vicomte de Noailles (1756–1804), married Lafayette’s sister-in-law in 1773. He served as lieutenant colonel of the Soissonnais Regiment in Rochambeau’s army, distinguished himself during the Yorktown campaign, and rose to brigadier general in the French army after the war. Noailles became disenchanted with the French Revolution and went to Philadelphia (see GW to Alexander Hamilton, 5 May 1793, in Papers, Presidential Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 19 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends 12:515–16). He returned to French service in the early nineteenth century and died opposing British forces in the West Indies.

Major General Lafayette had written Noailles from camp near Cranetown, N.J., on 3 Nov. 1780 to encourage a visit. “I shall introduce you to a friend [GW] who, as a result, will be delighted to become yours” (Lafayette Papers description begins Stanley J. Idzerda et al., eds. Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776–1790. 5 vols. Ithaca, N.Y., 1977-83. description ends , 3:217). Lafayette again wrote Noailles on 4 Nov. to explain that he could discuss military matters better in person. “I really believe I shall go to spend my winter in the South. One of my reasons for wanting to talk is that I am always afraid of seeing these confounded letters fall into enemy hands. Let me know when you will come. I imagine Charlus and Damas and perhaps the Chevalier de Chastellux will accompany you” (Lafayette Papers description begins Stanley J. Idzerda et al., eds. Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776–1790. 5 vols. Ithaca, N.Y., 1977-83. description ends , 3:217, 219; see also GW to William Heath, 13 Nov., and n.1).

For several French officers who visited GW, see GW to Samuel Huntington, 27 Nov., and the source note to that document.

2GW did not visit Rochambeau in Newport until 6–13 March 1781 (see the entries for 2–6, 8, and 13 March 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 , 61–64; see also GW to Huntington, 11 March, DNA:PCC, item 152).

3Josias Rogers (1755–1795), born in England, served as an informal assistant for several British naval officers in North American waters before the war. Patriot forces captured him in 1776, but he escaped and returned to duty in 1777. Rogers became a midshipman in the British navy and rose to lieutenant in October 1778. Vice Adm. Marriot Arbuthnot named him commander of the sloop General Monk, formerly the patriot privateer General Washington, in December 1780. Captured again in April 1782, Rogers was exchanged and returned to England. A final promotion made him captain in February 1787. See William Gilpin, Memoirs of Josias Rogers, Esq. … (London, 1808).

For the first time Rogers came to Newport with a flag, see Rochambeau to GW, 6 Sept.; see also Rochambeau to GW, 29 Oct., and n.3.

4The ladies and French flag ship have not been identified.

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