George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 8 December 1780

From Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Newport Xbr [December] 8th 1780


I have received from the Commanding officer at St Domingo, a Letter in cyphers whereof I send you the translation The Expedition against Pensacola by this time is made, whether with success or not. I do not believe that it is probable that rodney should have set sail to go that way, I should rather think that he is gone to the Leeward Islands.1 It is very unlucky that the Spaniards be so much attacked by sickness, and that they have made at Havannah such a Little Squadron go out.2 I am arrived from my Voyage, very much Satisfied with New London, Windham and the 3. Norwich, where Eight battalions can be very militarily put, when they arrive from France: Governor Trumbull was at Hartford, and I have desired the Duke of Lauzun to communicate to him the desire I would have that the Troops that I hope for, from France this winter, should be quartered in these different places if your Excellency approves of that disposition.3 I am with respect Sir Your Excellency’s Most obedient and most humble servant

le Cte de Rochambeau

I beg of you to forward the Inclosed Letters to Philadelphy.4

LS, DLC:GW; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 7; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 8. Only the LS includes the postscript. GW replied to Rochambeau on 23 December.

1British admiral George Rodney had sailed to St. Lucia in the Windward Islands, where he remained for some weeks after his arrival. A storm had scattered Rodney’s fleet and damaged several ships (see Rodney to Philip Stephens, 10 Dec., in Rodney of the White Squadron description begins Letter-books and Order-Book of George, Lord Rodney, Admiral of the White Squadron, 1780–1782. 2 vols. New York, 1932. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 65–66. description ends , 1:90–94; see also Rochambeau to GW, 29 Oct., n.5).

2The enclosed undated “Copy of a Letter from the Commanding officer at St. Domingo,” likely Brigadier General Saint-Simon-Montbléru, provided intelligence about Rear Admiral Monteil’s French fleet operating in the West Indies, reported hurricane damage to Saint Domingue, and related that Spanish commodore José Solano had sailed “from Havannah the 10th of September with seven men of War and four Frigates for an expedition against Pensacola,” despite sickness being prevalent. The enclosure concludes: “Mr De Guichen not being arrived on the 1st Octr I fancy, you don’t expect him any more. When he went away, Every thing seemed to show the greatest desire of going to France” (DLC:GW; filed under November 1780; see also Francisco Rendon to GW, 30 Sept., n.2). Brigadier General Reynaud may have written the original letter on 25 Oct. (see Rochambeau to Reynaud, 10 Dec., DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 7).

3The letter-book copy does not include the conditional clause that concludes this sentence. The anticipated French reinforcements never came to the United States (see Rochambeau to GW, 1 Dec., and n.3).

Rochambeau wrote Connecticut governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., from Newport on 1 Jan. 1781 to indicate that “one in whom I could trust,” presumably Brigadier General Lauzun, would act in his behalf regarding the placement of French troops in Connecticut (Trumbull Papers description begins The Trumbull Papers. 4 vols. Boston, 1885-1902. In Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th ser., vols. 9–10; 7th ser., vols. 2–3. description ends , 3:177–79, quote on 177).

4The enclosures have not been identified.

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