George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Captain Destouches, 27 February 1781

To Captain Destouches

Head Quarters New Windsor Feby 27. 81


I had the honor of writing to you the 26th—Your letter of the 24th is this moment delivered to me.1 The Count De Rochambeau has also transmitted me the copy of yours to him2 announcing the return of your ships from Chesapeak bay after having captured the Romulus made a number of prisoners and destroyed some transports.3 I receive the news of this success with the greatest pleasure and am happy to learn at the same time that you are preparing for a second visit to the bay, to assist the operations of the detachment I have sent.4 I have repeated my orders to the Marquis Dela Fayette who commands it to prosecute his march to the head of Elk.5 Permit me to observe that to give success to the expedition, it will be not only necessary to protect the passage of the troops to the point of operation, but to block up the bay afterwards to prevent the retreat of the enemy or succour going to them.

In my letter to the Count De Rochambeau, which accompanied my last to you, I informed him of an incursion of the enemy in Cape fear river North Carolina.6 This corps can only be protected by some light frigates, from the nature of the navigation. If any thing could be attempted there, without interfering with the project of Chesapeak bay, it might be very useful to the state of North Carolina pressed in different quarters by superior forces.

I assure myself that I shall have the earliest advice of your subsequent arrangements as mine depend upon them. I have the honor to be with very great esteem and attachment Sir Yr most Obedient & humble servant

Go: Washington

P.S. By advices from New York I am informed that a detachment of five or 600 Men was preparing for an embarkation—designed, it was said, to reinforce the Corps under Arnold—that the Iris and some other Vessel were to go as Convoy—and that two or three Expresses had been sent from New York to Gardners bay upon receiving the acct of the French Squadron’s appearing in Chesapeak bay.7 Yrs

Go: W——n

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, NjMoHP; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The postscript, in GW’s handwriting, appears only on the LS.

2On the draft, which is also in Hamilton’s writing, the words “dated the evening of that day” are struck out at this point.

3See Rochambeau to GW, 24 Feb., postscript, and n.3.

4For the orders for the detachment, see GW to Lafayette, 20 Feb., both letters [1 and 2].

6See GW to Rochambeau and to Destouches, both 26 February.

7For this intelligence report, see William Stephens Smith to GW, 25 Feb., and n.1 to that document.

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