Newport May 12 1781
your excellency is persuaded I hope, that I cannot forget any word that was dropt from your mouth. I know very well how you labour under the scarcity of provisions, and it was on that account that I was the first to propose that colonel Menonville might be directed your excellency, previous to any aplication to congress. I was sensible that every aplication of that kind should rather [ ] your measure than promote ours. this shall be avoided by the message of the colonel, who shall act only by your directions—he is full of gratitude for your good and kind reception, and of admiration for your person.
as my zeal for your country and my attachment for your excellency knows no limits, I hazard, dear general, a step that may be conceived as a transgression, acting but an under part in the french armie. but I rely on the secrecy of your excellency, as one of his numerous virtues. I determine accordingly to acquaint you with the news that I have got by private letters, which deserve as much confidence as the very dispatches of the [country] the convoy that we expect will carry but a very indifferent reinforcement; and rather recruits than reinforcements but the deficiency in troops is made up by a considerable assistance in money to be aplied only to the support of your armie. a large fleet of 26 ships of the line sailed from brest, march 22, bound for west indies. [ ] ship will seperate from the fleet and make their way to [e]ast indies under commander [ ] 6 ships of the line were ready to sail with [ ], their destination unknown. upon the large fleet seven or eight thousand land forces are embarked, but the greatest part recruit[s] and only one batallion of [ ] of thousand men and the new levies Regiment of [ ] at 1500.
a conferience with your excellency is [on foot]. I will follow the [ ] at [hartford], and I wish that this conferience be more [ ] to the publick wellfare than the last. I should be glad to have some private conversation with your excellency; but we must avoid giving suspicion of a peculiar [impression]. I foresee that your excellency shall [find] a great inclination to march on north river, and a great dislike for advancing any further and particularly beyond the bay. I speak of men that you know. the admiral is a good plain dealing gentleman who shall rise no dificulty.
I entreat your excellency to burn this letter that I write in a hurry and to excuse my bad style. I have the honor to be dear general your most humble and obedient servant
le che. de chastellux
dont you think that newport should be preserved by a small body of french troops assisted by the militia? I think that the last [ ] should not do. this is a point that is to be [ ] at hartford.
DLC: Papers of George Washington.