George Washington Papers

To George Washington from d’Estaing, 8 January 1784

From d’Estaing

[8 January 1784]

The Count De Estaing has the Honor to submit to His Excellency Gl Washington the four Memorials which have been sent to him since the last Letters He had the honor to address to him on the 25th of December 1783.1

Mr De Choin Colonel of Dragoons

Count De Kergariou Locmaria Captain of the Navy

Count Edwd Dillon, Colonel

Count Castellane Majestres, Captn of the Navy,2 are [not] the only Gentlemen who solicited Count De Estaing to present their demand.

To participate the honor of this association inflames equally all the French Officers; and the motive for which I solicit in favor of the others are mentioned in the list of General Officers under whom they served.3

Translation, DSoC; ALS, DSoC. A transcription of the ALS is in CD-ROM:GW.

Charles-Hector, comte d’Estaing (1729–1794), as vice admiral in the French navy and senior naval officer in American waters during the Revolutionary War transported the first contingent of French land forces to Rhode Island in 1778 and participated in 1779 in the siege of Savannah. He supported the Revolution in France after 1789 and died on the gallows during the Reign of Terror.

1On 25 Dec. 1783, d’Estaing wrote GW two letters, one personal and one official, about the regrettable failure of the Society of the Cincinnati to include in the society the captains in the French navy who had served in American waters while including their counterparts in the French land forces in America, the army colonels. In support of his argument for admitting the ship captains to the society, d’Estaing enclosed in his letters four Mémoires containing the names and an account of the service of (1) all the French navy captains who had served in America, (2) all the French navy captains who had served with d’Estaing in America, (3) the six senior naval officers whom d’Estaing considered most deserving of election to the society, and (4) the senior officers from the French land forces who had served with him at the siege of Savannah in 1779. The officers he named as most deserving were Le Bailli de Suffren (Pierre-André de Suffren Saint Tropez; 1729–1788), M. d’Albert de Rions (Charles-Hector, le comte d’Albert de Rions; 1728–1810), M. le chevalier de Borda (Jean-Charles de Borda; 1733–1799), M. le comte de Rumain (Charles-Marie de Trolong, chevalier du Rumain), M. de Bougainville (Louis-Antoine de Bougainville; 1729–1811), and M. le comte de Béthisy (Jules-Jacques-Eléonore de Béthisy; 1748–1816). At its general meeting in Philadelphia in May 1784, the Society of the Cincinnati confirmed that French naval captains were eligible for election to the French Society of the Cincinnati and decreed that the French society should determine the eligibility of its own members. See the letter from the society, 17 May 1784, in Winthrop Sargent’s Journal, doc. II in General Meeting of the Society of the Cincinnati, 4–18 May 1784.

2These are particularly deserving officers whose names d’Estaing is now adding to those he named on 25 Dec. 1783. See note 1. André-Michel-Victor, marquis de Choin (1744–1829), came to Rhode Island in 1778 as d’Estaing’s aide-de-camp and took part in the siege of Savannah in 1779 before returning to France. Théobald-René, comte de Kergariou-Locmaria (1739–1795), commanded in American waters in 1778 the Belle-Poule, in 1780 the Junon, and thereafter the Sibylle, aboard which in 1783 he was severely wounded. His brother, the admiral Pierre-Joseph, marquis de Kergariou (b. 1736), also served in America during the Revolution. Edward, le comte Dillon (1750–1840), was one of several Dillons of Irish descent who served in America in the “régiment de Dillon” attached to the French fleet. He embarked for America in March 1779 in time to take part in the capture of Grenada, but he returned to France after breaking his arm and so did not participate in the siege of Savannah with his regiment commanded by his cousin Arthur Dillon (1750–1794). Henri-César, marquis de Castellane-Majastre (1733–1789), commanded the Marseillais in de Grasse’s fleet at Yorktown in 1781.

3See note 1. The French text of the last paragraph is: “Le desir de partager l’association enflamme presque également tous Les officiers françois qui se flattent de pouvoir La’meriter, et les motifs des autres officiers qui sollicitent sont compris dans la précédente Liste, ou dans Les Listes des Généraux sous lesquels ils ont servi.” The letter is signed “Estaing.”

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