George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant General Rochambeau, 24 February 1781

From Lieutenant General Rochambeau

Newport February 24th 1781


I received a few hours ago, Your Excellency’s Letter of the 19th instant. It has caused me a great deal of Surprize that you had not then received two, which I had wrote to your Excellency on the 8th and 12th inst. the first, after the Last resolution taken by Mr Destouches and the other after the Departure of a line of battle ship and two frigates for Chesapeak Bay. As It has not been in my power, by reason of a severe gale that blew this morning, to go aboard of the Admiral, I sent your Letter to Mr Destouches, and herein is his answer inclosed.1 Twelve days are expired, since I proposed to him my giving orders for the Grenadiers and Chasseurs to be ready to march, and to make, at least, all the necessary demonstrations to hold in respect the Enemies in Gardner’s bay; in his answer to me he agrees to it, and in consequence, I am going to order them to hold themselves in readiness to imbark. I cannot be too thankfull for the attention which Your Excellency has Shewn to give me the News of my son’s arrival. I own I was very uneasy since a month, about his fate and these news give me a great pleasure. The Intelligences forwarded by the Letter confirming all the great preparations making at Brest, demand absolutely that I should have a conference with your Excellency about our future operations. I wish sincerely that you would come and visit this part of your army; that desires very much your presence and that all our particulars plans with the Navy, were settled under the Direction of your Excellency. I am with respect and personal attachment, Sir, Your Excellency’s most humble & most obedient Servant

le comte de rochambeau

I just now received by the Western post your Excellency’s Letters of the 7th and 14th instant, which post, it seems marches but very slowly.2

a 9 h: du Soir

l’eveillé rentre dans l’instant, Cy joint le raport de Sa Campagne, un vaisseau de 50 canons pris et 500 prisonniers 8 transports pris ou brulés.3

LS, DLC:GW; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 7; LB, in French, DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 8. The letter-book copy in DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 8, has a different postscript that reads: “J’ai L’honneur De joindre ici une copie d’une Lettre que je reçois dans L’instant de Mr le Chr Destouches” (see n.3 below). The letter-book copy in DLC: Rochambeau Papers, vol. 7, has no postscript. GW replied to Rochambeau on 27 Feb.; see also GW to Lafayette, same date.

1Rochambeau refers to GW’s letter to him of 19 Feb.; Captain Destouches wrote GW in response to the naval aspects of that letter (see Destouches to GW, this date; see also Rochambeau to GW, 8 and 12 Feb.).

2See GW to Rochambeau, 7 and 14 February.

3The Éveillé was the flagship of Captain de Tilly’s squadron that Destouches had sent to Chesapeake Bay. The copy of the report from Destouches to Rochambeau, dated 24 Feb. at 8:00 P.M., reads: “Mr De Tilly arrives just now with his division, and the romulus a 50. gun ship, but carriyng only 44. 4. other prizes have been sent to York-Town by Mr De Tilly, very Little worth, 4. more have been burnt, we have a great number of Prisoners. But Arnold is in Elizabeth river with the Charon, a 44; and 2. frigates of 32 guns. No Pilot would undertake to steer the Eveillé into this river. the frigate the Surveillante which had approached nearest to it, ran a ground et staid there for 24. hours, and was got off, by unloading her of her guns, and water.

This to the general, under Secret. The romulus draws Less water than the Eveillé and will serve to chace the Privateers out of that river. I am going to occupy myself about its Armament. I will tell you no more to-night not to make you wait” (DLC:GW; see also Destouches to GW, 25 Feb.).

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