From Alexandre de Gubian
Marseilles 13th June 1785
I take the liberty of giving you an account of my Services, for to beg of Your Excellence to Grant me, what my Companions have obtain’d; Having been embarked aboard the King’s Ship, the Scipion, In the Army of Mr the Compte de Grasse, Whilst we were in the Chessapeak, That General gave me charge of the Correspondence, with the Camp, by the Back River, & I Continued in that Situation, all the time of the Siege. After the Capitulation of York; I had the Honour of carrying you, with a Boat of the Back River, aboard the Ville de Paris, with Monsr de Rochambeau, the Marquiss de la fayette, Mr Laurence, the Comte Chatus, & the Comte De la Valle.1
I have been Sufficiently happy, to have Saved from the Hands of Our Ennemy’s, a Brigantine of your Nation, Bound to Port au Prince, during the time I Commanded an advice Boat of the Kings, The St Louis Station’d at St Dominique Destined to Conduct the Ships of your Nation, Spanish & French, from the Cape, or Mole of St Nicolas, to Port au Prince. If I Could be Sufficiently happy, Great Genl that these little Services, could make me obtain of you the Honourable Cross of St Singnatus, It would be adding those Marks of Distinguish’d Honour, of a Good Officer, of which you have been, the True Pattern.2 I am with the most Profound Respect—My General Your Very Humble & Very Obedt Servant—
Alexander De Gubian
formerly Lieutenant of Marselle Frigatte
Translation, DLC:GW; ALS, in French, DLC:GW.
Gubian may have been the lieutenant de frégate aboard Le Scipion in de Grasse’s squadron listed as “Gubriant” (Les combattants français de la guerre américaine, 1778–1783 [Paris, 1903], 112).
1. In an entry in his diary for 21 Oct. 1781, two days after Cornwallis’s capitulation, GW wrote: “Set out for the Fleet to pay my respects, & offer my thanks to the Admiral” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 3:433).
2. GW responded in these terms from Mount Vernon on 20 Nov.: “I have had the honor to receive your favor of the 13th of June from Marseilles. If the right of admitting Members into the order, or Society of the Cincinnati rested with me, I should be happy in adding to its number a gentleman of your merit. But as this is not the case, & as a Society is established in France, at the head of which the Counts de Estaing & Rochambeau are placed—to examine the pretentions of gentlemen of your nation—I beg leave to refer you to it, where I am persuaded your services & merits will have the weight they deserve” (LB, DLC:GW).