George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Charles Barbier de La Serre, 5 November 1792

From Charles Barbier de La Serre

Baltimore, 5 Nov. 1792. Seeks employment in the U.S. military service, having decided to leave his native France. He cites his attendance at the French military school at Douaï, his eight years of experience in the French artillery, and his knowledge of fortification and the moving of convoys. Although he has forgotten the English that he once knew, he says that he will strenuously apply himself to relearning the language.1

ALS (in French), DLC:GW.

1French artillery captain Nicolas-Marie-Charles Barbier de La Serre (1767–1841) fled France in 1789 and spent several years as a political refugee in the United States before returning to France to resume his military career in Napoleon’s army. He later developed a system of silent military communication, known as écriture nocturne (night writing), which used a combination of raised dots to represent the sounds of the French language and influenced the alphabet for the blind designed by Louis Braille.

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