George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 19 February 1781

To Lieutenant General Rochambeau

New Windsor 19th Feby 1781


I have the honor to congratulate Your Excellency on the safe arrival of the Viscount De Rochambeau at the Court of Versailles. My authority is derived from the President of Congress who in a letter of the 14th instant writes me thus:

“By letters just come to hand from Mr Carmichael at Madrid, I am informed that the son of Count De Rochambeau is safe arrived in France”—I hope every thing pleasing will follow this agreeable event.1

Since the date of mine of the 15th2 I have not been honored with a letter from Your Excellency, nor have I heard whether the whole or a part of the squadron of Monsr Des-touches has left Rhode Island for the bay of Chæsapeak. The destruction of the corps3 under the command of Arnold is of such immense importance to the welfare of the Southern states, that I have resolved to attempt it,4 with the detachment I now send in connjunction with the Militia, even if it should not be convenient to Your Excellency to detach a part of your force; provided Mr Des-touches is able to protect our operations by such a disposition of his fleet as will giv⟨e⟩ us the command of the bay, and prevent succour being sent from New York.5 By a letter I have just received from Major General The Baron De Steuben who commands in Virginia, it appears we may expect every thing from the temper of the Militia, of which Militia are capable;6 but an additional regular force to that I am sending would no doubt make the success much more prompt and certain. If Mr Destouches should send any ships into the bay on the principles of a cooperation, it will be necessary that a light frigate should come up to the head of Elk to protect the passage of the troops across the bay.

I impatiently wait to be favoured with Your Excellencys answer on these points.7 With the truest respect and esteem I am Yr Excellencys Most Obedt servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, CtY-BR:R; ADf, DLC:GW; Rochambeau’s French translation, CtY-BR:R; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 7; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Hamilton also wrote a portion of the draft.

3GW wrote “detachmt” on his draft. Hamilton marked out that word and wrote “corps” above the line.

4GW’s writing ends after this word on the draft.

5For the orders to the commander of this detachment, see GW to Lafayette, 20 Feb. (both letters [1 and 2]). See also GW to the Officer Commanding the French Naval Forces in Chesapeake Bay, 20 February.

7Rochambeau replied to GW on 24 Feb.; see also Rochambeau to GW, 20 and 25 February.

Index Entries