Providence Feby 4th 1781
With due Submission to your Excellencys Superior Judgment, I now take the Liberty to Mention a Matter which appears to me to bid fair for great Advantages to the United States in General, tho it may be otherwise to this State in perticular, from the late Disaster of the Culloden* one of the Enemys 74 Gun Ships and the Dismastment of One more of the Ships of the Line at Gardners Bay, the French Fleet at Newport is at Least Equal if not Superior to the Enemys’, and tho I am Fully Sensible of the Advantage Arising to this State in perticular from the Fleet and Army of our Allys being posted at Newport, yet as the Good of the Whole Union Ought to govern in every Breast, and as it appears to me from every Circumstance that the Enemy have much greater Expectations of Success in weakning if not breaking some of the Southern and most Material Links of the Chain, then they Can have in Any part of New England, Theirfore Would it not be best, if our Allies do not think proper to Attack the Enemys Fleet in the Sound (as the Dismasted Ship may then be of equil Service with aney Other) to Sail Immediately, either with or without the Armey as Your Excellency May Direct for Virginia, by which means the Infamous Arnold with all the Enemys Fleet and Armey may fall in to our Hands, and that State Rescued from their present Distresses, it appears Clear to me that the Genl Advantage to the whole would Encourage the Fleet and Army of our Allies to go to the Southern States, but its a Doubt to me Whether a Genl Embarcation of the Troops at Newport Can be Effected in Time to arive at Verginia before the Enemys Fleet will get Intelligence of their Movements & Come out of the Bay[.] But I think the Prospect is Very great of takg the whole of the Enemy at Verginia provided the Fleet Only would Sail for that pu[rpose] from Newport Immediately or as Soone as possable after Your Comma[nd].
These Suggestions are from my own mind and to One only [of] whome no man on Earth has a greater Esteem and Respect than my S[elf] I therefore beg they may be received with the Same Cordiallity wi[th] which they are paid. I am with every Sentiment of Respect and Reverence, Dr Sr Your Obedient and Invariable Friend—
DLC: Papers of George Washington.