George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Corny, 4 December 1780

From Lieutenant Colonel Corny

Newport December 4th 1780

Dear General

The consequences of a dreadfull Cold which I caught Last june have aflicted me with a disorder in my Breast, the progress of which has determined me to request permission to return to france. I desire to recover spedily my health, that I may immediately return to be a Witness of your Excellency’s Glory, and of the services you will render your Country in bruising her chains and cimenting her restored Liberty.1 our Ennemies already confess their exhausting and weakness by the choice of the measures they adopt, measures unworthy a Powerfull nation, and Dignity of a generous people. your Eye pervades their secret Plots, and your wisdom disapoints their Designs. your wonderfult perverance, the distinguished Characteristic of true Courage, after having vanquish’d all obstacles, engaged the attention of both worlds, assured the approbation of Posterity, captivated the esteem of your Ennemies, the admiration of your Allies, the adoration of your fellow Citizens, will command fortune, and crown your Labours, by the success due to such exalted merit.

I am exceedingly happy, my dear General, to have had an opportunity of being an Eye Witness of so much greatness, and so many virtues. I rejoice that I have been able to testify to your Excellency the Zeal with which I am penetrated for your Person, and the cause you defend. I shall be too happy to have gained by trifling services your good will, and to convince my self that great and good men are more indulgent than others; and that they value good intentions. my heart inspires me with a desire of cooperating in your Labours, in your Sight and that of the young hero of our Nation, who is undoubtely destined to create her happiness as he already has her Glory.2

Reckon me Ever in the numbers of your faithfull Soldiers. I shall allways be honored by this title and support it with the Liveliest sentiments of my heart untill my Last breath. I am with great Respect and attachment, Dear General Your Excellency’s Most humble and most Obedient Servant

Ethis De Corny Lt
Colonel of cavalry at service of
the unitted states of the america⟨s⟩

I Beseech your Excellency to present Madame Washington With my Dutifull Respects.

In case your Excellency had any Commands for Dr Franklin or any thing Else to order for france, I shall esteem myself Very happy and more obliged to you, to be honor’d With your Dispatches.3



1In a journal entry dated February 1781, French chief commissary Claude Blanchard described Corny as “a man of intelligence, but intriguing and greedy,” who “was going away because there was nothing for him to do. Nevertheless, his stay in America, short as it has been, has not impaired his fortune” (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 , 87).

2Corny probably refers to Major General Lafayette.

3GW replied to Corny from headquarters at New Windsor on 22 Dec. 1780: “I had, a few days ago, the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 4th Inst. I am sorry that your indisposition obliges you to seek the benefit of your native Air, which I hope will soon reestablish your health.

“I very sensibly feel your warm expressions of esteem, which let me assure you is mutual on my part—I avail myself of the permission you have given to trouble you with a letter to Doctr Franklin and wishing you a safe and pleasant passage, and a happy sight of your family and friends in France” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; GW wrote the nineteen words beginning with “avail” above struck-out draft indicating that he had no “dispatches for Europe”). For the enclosure, see GW to Benjamin Franklin, 20 December.

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