George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Huntington, 9 December 1780

From Samuel Huntington

Philadelphia December 9. 1780


I do myself the Honor to transmit your Excellency the enclosed Extract of a Letter from Europe—What Reinforcement Great Brittain may be able to send to America, is with us uncertain.1

The partial Successes against Lord Cornwallis and the rising Spirit of the Militia in that Quarter it is to be hoped will much disconcert the British in their intended Operations2—Above all, should we be able to form a respectable Army of regular Troops to the Southward, their Hopes must end in Disappointment.

Should the Intelligence from Holland & Portugal prove true respecting the armed Neutrality, it cannot fail to have a powerful Influence in our Favour.3 I have the Honor to be with every Sentiment of Esteem & regard your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servant

Sam. Huntington

1Huntington enclosed intelligence taken in part from a letter Jonathan Williams, Jr., wrote the Committee for Foreign Affairs from Nantes, France, on 17 Oct.: “I have before given you Notice that your Enemies had determined to make a Strong Push this Fall and next Spring against North Carolina & Virginia, and that on viewing a late Demand from General Clinton, for a reinforcement of 10.000 Men, otherwise he insisted on Leave to come home the King and his Council decided to inform Genl Clinton that his Conduct was in all Points highly approved, and that he should have every Assistance in their Power to send him, and as soon as possible. The Vessel with this reply to Clinton sailed from England the 10th Instant for New York—So far you may rely on to be true.

“Mr Laurens the Minister from Congress to the States of Holland was taken on the Banks of Newfoundland, carried to England and is committed to the Tower of London on Suspicion of high Treason—His material Papers were destroyed, but some Letters of private Correspondence on Mercantile Affairs were taken with Mr Laurens.

“The northern League of Neutrality is acceded to by Holland and Portugal, from which Kingdom the British Ships of War, Privateers & Prizes are now excluded. Ten Ships of the Line are now about sailing from Brest with abt 5.000 Troops, some say to reinforce Monsr Ternay, & others that they are for the West Indies. In Europe the Belligerent Powers are on all Sides busily preparing for another Campaign, and in England Orders are already issued for raising 9 new Regts of Foot and one of Horse to reinforce the British Army in America, since they have little Hope of getting a fresh Supply of Men from Germany. Your spirited Countrymen will no doubt be prepared to repel these Invaders as triumphantly as they have hitherto done those that proceded them” (DLC:GW; see also DNA:PCC, item 90). Congress read the letter from Williams, which contained information on Henry Laurens and Portugal, on 11 Dec. (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 18:1141; see also James Duane to GW, this date).

2Huntington probably alludes to the battles of Kings Mountain and Fishdam Ford in South Carolina (see General Orders, 27 Oct., and n.2, and Huntington to GW, 4 Dec., and n.3 to that document).

3See n.1 above.

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