George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Brown, 4 February 1781

From John Brown

Providence Feby 4th 1781

Dr Sr

With due Submission to your Excellencys Superior Judgment, I now take the Liberty to Mention a Matter which Appears to me to bid fair for great Advantages to the United States in General, tho it may be Otherwise to this State in perticular. from the late Disaster of the Culloden1 one of the Enemys 74 Gun Ships and the Dismastment of One more of the Ships of the Line at Gardners Bay,2 the French Fleet at Newport is at Least Equal if not Superior to the Enemys, and tho I am Fully Sensible of the Advantage Arising to this State in perticular from the Fleet and Army of our Allys being posted at Newport, Yet as the Good of the Whole Union Ought to govern in every Breast, and as it appears to me from every Circumstance that the Enemy have much greater Expectations of Success in weakning if not breaking Some of the Southern and most Material Links of the Chain, then they Can have in Any part of New England, Theirfore Would it not be best, if our Allies do not think proper to Attack the Enemys Fleet in the Sound (as the Dismasted Ship may then be of equil Service with Any Other) to Sail Immediately, either with or without the Armey as Your Exellency May Direct for Virginia, by which Means the Infamous Arnold with all the Enemys Fleet and Armey may fall in to our Hands, and that State Rescued from their present Distresses,3 it Appears Clear to me that the Genl Advantage to the whole would Encourage the Fleet and Army of our Allies to go to the Southern States, but its a Doubt to me Whither a Genl Embarcation of the Troops at Newport Can be Effected in Time to Arive at Verginia before the Enemys Fleet will get Intelligence of their Movements & Come out of the Bay: But I think the Prospect is Very great of takg the whole of the Enemy at Verginia provided the Fleet Only would Sail for that purpose from Newport Immediately or as Soone as possable, after Your Command.

These Suggestions are from my own mind and to One only of whome no man on Earth has a greater Esteem and Respect than my Self, I therefore beg they may be received with the Same Cordiallity with which they are pen’d. I am with every Sentiment of Respect and Reverence Dr Sr Your Obedient and Invariable Friend

John Brown

ALS, DLC:GW. No reply from GW to Brown has been found.

1After this word, Brown inserted an asterisk for a note at the bottom of the page: “This Ship took my Ship Genl Washington Mountg 20 Six pound Cannon & owned all by My Self, She was when tacon going 13 Nots and no Other of Admiral Arbuthnots Fleet Could Sail as fast as the Genl washington. This Among the maney Capital Losses I have Sustaind in the Course of the present War was the most Mortyfying, She being a Very beautifull, Valuable and Favorite Ship with a Striking of the Person whose Name She bore affixed to her Head.” For the capture of the privateer General Washington, see Christopher Greene to GW, 27 Oct. 1780, n.5; see also William Heath to GW, 28 August.

3For British brigadier general Benedict Arnold’s expedition, see Steuben to GW, 8 Jan., and n.1 to that document.

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