George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 24 February 1781

To Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Hd Qrs New Windsor Feby 24th 178[1]1


I am honored with Your Excellency’s letters of the 8th 12th and 18th since mine to you of the 19th.2

The important intelligence you do me the favour to communicate comes so many ways and with so many marks of authenticity that we have the greatest reason to hope it is true. If so, without the interference of other powers of which there seems to be no probability, I think we may regard it as an event decisive of a speedy and glorious termination of the war,3 and that His Britannic Majesty in spite of his last speech will be obliged to receive the law.4

In mine of the 19th I informed you of my ultimate determination respecting the detachment from this army—The inclosed for the Chevalier Des touches (which after perusal I beg you to seal and transmit) communicates its march, the time of its expected arrival at its destination and my present views.5

There are rumours from New York that Sir Henry Clinton has received orders to concenter his force at one point; but as they come through a suspected channel, I give them no credit. Yet if the enemy have received the blow of which our West India accounts speak, this would be a natural consequence.

The flattering distinction paid to the anniversary of my birth day is an honor for which I dare not attempt to express my gratitude. I confide in your Excellency’s sensibility to interpret my feelings for this and for the obliging manner in which you are pleased to announce it.

The measures we have been taking for the expedition to Virginia will delay some time my visit to Rhode Island—I wait to see whether Sir Henry Clinton may form any new projects in consequence. When this is ascertained and the additional precautions we are taking for security here are completed I shall yield to my impatience for testifying personally my attachment to Your Excellency and your army.6 I have the honor to be with all the sentiments of the warmest esteem Yr Excellys Most Obed. & humble s⟨er⟩v.

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 7; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Hamilton inadvertently wrote “1780” on the draft.

2See Rochambeau to GW, 8, 12, and 18 Feb., and GW to Rochambeau, 19 February.

3The reports of French victories in the West Indies proved erroneous (see Rochambeau to GW, 18 Feb., n.1; see also David Humphreys to GW, 21 Feb., and Lafayette’s first letter to GW, 23 Feb.).

4Hamilton wrote and then marked out the following at this point on the draft: “I find by yours of the 12th The Chevalier Des touches had sent a detachment of his fleet to Chesapeak bay.”

In his speech to the assembled houses of Parliament on 2 Nov. 1780, George III had declared: “I am confident you will agree with me in opinion, that we can only secure safe and honourable terms of peace by such powerful and respectable preparations, as shall convince our enemies, that we will not submit to receive law from any Powers whatsoever; and that we are united in a firm resolution to decline no difficulty or hazard, in the defence of our Country, and for the preservation of our essential interests” (Royal Gazette [New York] 3 Feb. 1781).

6Rochambeau replied to GW on 27 February. For GW’s delayed departure for Rhode Island, see his letter to Rochambeau, 2 March.

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