George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 26 January 1781

From Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Newport, January 26th 1781.


This very instant, I receive your Excellency’s Letter of the 9th currtt.1 I have the honor to inform you of the arrival of our two frigates from Boston, together with the Transport L’isle de France, Loaded with various supplies necessary for the fleet. these vessels had put to sea on the 10th, have beaten very severely beaten by three different hard gales, and we were very much concerned about them.2 The Chevalier Destouches appears quite decided to send off in a short time two frigates, 1st to carry arms that are on board a vessel at New London for the State of Virginia, 2d to cruise at the entry of Chesapeak bay and thereby render the communication of the Ennemy with the South more uncertain, I sollicit him to add to the number, one line of battle ship, good Sailor, but he with difficulty can agree to it, I think it is the only service we can in this moment render to the Southern States.3

I wait with much impatience to Learn that the motion of the Pennsylvania Line is intirely quieted,4 and I wish Sincerely that Your Excellency may have an moment of tranquility that may allow you to come to visit this part of your Excellency’s army. I am with respect and personal attachment, Sir, Your Excellency’s Most obedient and 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. GW wrote “recd 3d Feby” on the LS opposite the closing and signed the notation. GW acknowledged this letter when he wrote Rochambeau on 7 Feb., postscript.

2Rochambeau’s aide-de-camp Ludwig von Closen wrote in his journal entry for 25 Jan. that “the Surveillante and the Hermione returned from Boston and escorted the Isle de France, one of our transports” (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 , 55). For problems French ships had experienced sailing from Boston to Newport, see Rochambeau to GW, 20 Jan., and n.2.

3Captain Destouches added the line-of-battle ship to the squadron (see Destouches to GW, 7 Feb.; see also Rochambeau to GW, 12 Feb.).

4Rochambeau had learned about the Pennsylvania line mutiny from Brig. Gen. Henry Knox (see Knox to GW, 7 Feb., and n.3 to that document; see also GW to Rochambeau, and Rochambeau to GW, both 20 Jan.).

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