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My dear Marquis,
Your two letters of the 10th came to hand last night. In mine of the 11th, I informed you as fully as it was prudent to do upon paper, that there was at present little or no prospect of an operation in the quarter you seem to wish. The contingencies appeared to me so remote, in the conversations I had with Count De Rochambeau, that I could not justify myself in withdrawing a detachment already so far advanced towards the point in which relief is immediately and absolutely necessary.
To have sent the detachment by water would certainly have been in every respect advantageous ; but, even supposing M. Destouches should consent to spare the number of ships you mention, would it be safe to risk so valuable a body of men, and so unequal a force, in the face of the whole British fleet? We cannot suppose their intelligence so bad, but they would have notice of the embarkation, and take measures to intercept it.
Congress have received information through General Forman, that Sir Henry Clinton means in person to take post upon the Delaware at Newcasde. I have heard of no preparation at New York for an embarkation of that consequence, or of any other, and therefore I do not put much confidence in the report, upon so large a scale. A party may perhaps be going into the Delaware Bay to interrupt the commerce of Philadelphia, and draw supplies from the disaffected near the shores. I expect to hear of some desertions from you in consequence of your move ; but the composition of your troops is good, and, if the officers enter upon the service with alacrity, I have no doubt but the men will soon forget their attachments in this quarter, and follow cheerfully. I am, &c.
- New Windsor
- The Writings of George Washington Being His Correspondence, Addresses, Messages, and Other Papers, Official and Private, Selected and Published from the Original Manuscripts. Vol VIII, Jared Sparks, 1839