George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, 13 June 1781

Head Quarters New Windsor 13th June 1781


I am honored by your Excellency’s favors of the 9th and 10th instants, and with their very interesting communications, which you may be assured will be kept perfectly secret. I flatter myself that the whole Convoy will arrive in safety at some of the Eastern ports, as I believe all the British Ships are cruising off the Hook.

The Count de Barras has furnished me with the result of the second Council of War. I have so high a respect for the opinions of the Gentlemen who composed it, that I should have been satisfied had they barely mentioned their adherence to their former determination, but the new arguments which have been introduced in favor of the detention of the fleet at Rhode island leave me no room to doubt of the propriety of the measure.

I am so fully convinced that your Excellency will make no unnecessary delay in your march, that I have only reason to repeat my former request, that it may be commenced as soon as circumstances will admit.

My last accounts from the Marquis de la Fayette were of the 3d of June. The British Army, in very considerable force, were then between Richmond and Fredericksburg, their destination was uncertain, but from their superiority, they were at full liberty to go wherever they pleased. The inclosed Copy of a letter from the president of Congress to me will give your Excellency the latest intelligence from South Carolina.

Your requisitions to the count grasse go to every thing I could wish. You cannot, in my opinion, too strongly urge the necessity of bringing a body of troops with him, more especially, as I am very dubious whether our force can be drawn together by the time he proposes to be here. Now 4000 or 5000 men in addition to what we shall certainly have by that time, would, almost beyond a doubt, enable us with the Assistance of the fleet to carry our object. It is to be regretted that the Count’s stay upon this coast will be limited. That consideration is an additional reason for wishing a force equal to giving a speedy determination to the operation.

Your Excellency will be pleased to recollect that N. York was looked upon by us as the only practicable object under present circumstances; but should we be able to secure naval superiority we may perhaps find others more practicable and equally advisable. If the frigate should not have sailed I wish you to explain this matter to Count Grasse, as, if I understand you, you have in your communication to him, confined our views to N. York alone. And instead of advising him to run immediately into chesapeak, will it not be best to leave him to judge from the information he may from time to time receive of the situation of the enemys fleet upon this coast, which will be the most advantagious quarter for him to make his appearance in. In the letter which was written to the Minister from Wethersfield, in which he was requested to urge the Count to come this way with his Whole fleet, Sandy hook was mentioned as the most desireable point. Because by coming suddenly there he would certainly block up any fleet which might be within and he would even have a very good chance of forcing the entrance before dispositions could be made to oppose him. Should the British 193 fleet not be there, he could follow them to Chesapeak which is always accessible to a superior force. I have the Honor to be with the highest Esteem and personal attachment Your Excellency’s Most obt Servt

Go: Washington

Words in square brackets are translations of code.

Privately owned.

Index Entries