George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Captain Destouches, 22 February 1781

To Captain Destouches

New Windsor Feby 22d 81


I received two days since the letter which you did me the honor to write me of the 7th instant.1

The desire you express of being useful to these states, evinced by the measure you have adopted to rid the coasts of Virginia of very troublesome and destructive neighbours has a title to our acknowlegements. I hope the ships you have sent will meet with immediate success, but I am rather apprehensive the enemy will be able to secure their vessels under the protection of land-batteries.

The Count De Rochambeau will have communicated to you my propositions.2 The detachment mentioned to him has marched and may arrive at the head of Elk, by the fifth or sixth of next month, to proceed thence by water to the point of operation.3 The information you were pleased to give me that you held the remainder of your fleet ready to protect your expedition in the bay was an inducement for accelerating its motions. If you have it in your power to block up Arnold in the bay, and make such a general disposition with your fleet as will at the same time prevent succours going from this quarter to him, I shall flatter myself that a co-operation by land, will effect the reduction of the corps in Virginia, and the ships will then of course fall into your hands. I am sensible the safe return of the America may make a material difference in your arrangements; but however this may be I wait your determination to regulate my ulterior measures.

If the late important intelligence of the success of Count D’Estaing is confirmed we may flatter ourselves that it will at once lead to a decisive and glorious issue of the war.4 I am impatient to have it in my power to congratulate you on its certainty. With sentiments of perfect consideration and attachment I have the honor to be Sir Your most Obed. servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, enclosed in GW to Rochambeau, 24 Feb., CSmH; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

3For GW’s orders to the commander of the detachment, see his letters to Major General Lafayette of 20 February [1 and 2].

4For the return of the British warship America to the squadron at Gardiners Bay, Long Island, and the false report of of a French naval victory, see Rochambeau to GW, 18 February.

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