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I have received the letter, which your Excellency has done me the honor to write, the 6th of this month, on the subject of the American frigates which may join the squadron of the King of France.
When I shall be equal in force to the enemy, or perhaps superior, and when there shall be any maritime operation corresponding with that which you have premeditated, and which Monsieur the Marquis de Lafayette has imparted to me, those frigates will certainly be very useful to me ; but, till then, I think they might be employed most usefully in a cruise to intercept the vessels which go from Charleston to New York. I believe that Admiral Arbuthnot has, in this place here, all his strong frigates.
I propose to your Excellency to have escorted, by those frigates, to the ports of Boston, a vessel loaded with flour by Monsieur Holker for the squadron of the King of France, and which is at present in the Delaware. It would be necessary, in this case, that they take their route a little large, that they may not fall too near this place, the frigates of Arhuthnotbeins: able to extend their cruises to the Shoals of Nantucket. This Admiral sent me, yesterday morning, a [flag], in order to transmit me some letters from French prisoners, at this very moment at New York. He is anchored at the easternmost point of Long Island. I had sent a vessel, some hours before, to propose to him an exchange.
If you do not want the sloop Saratoga, and this vessel is a good sailer, your Excellency could despatch her to St. Domingo. The Marquis De Lafayette would send, by this opportunity, the letter which I had transmitted to him for the Count de Guichen, and which ought to be translated into ciphers by the Chevalier De La Luzerne. I require, conformably to the orders of the King, a reenforcement of some ships from this French Commander. If these arrive by the end of September, I could transport your army to Long Island the beginning of October, and finally decide the fate of America this year. I send to the Chevalier De La Luzerne the signals of recognizance which have been previously addressed to me by the Council of Admiralty at Boston, and which I have adopted. It is necessary that there should be uniformity in those on the whole coast, to avoid confusion. I am, with respect and sincere attachment. Sir,
Your most humble and most obedient servant.
- Chevalier de Ternay
- Correspondence of the American Revolution; Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Volume III., Jared Sparks, 1853