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My dear Marquis,
I have received your letters of the 26th and 30th ultimo and 1st instant. I cannot learn that any troops have yet arrived at New York from Virginia. A fleet of twenty sail came in last Saturday with troops, but they are said to be Hessian recruits from Europe. The Concorde frigate has arrived at Newport from Count de Gitisse. He was to leave St. Domingo the 3d of this month, with a fleet of between twenty- five and twenty-nine sail of the line, and a considerable body of land forces. His destination is immediately for the Chesapeake ; so that he will either be there by the time this reaches you, or you may look for him every moment. Under these circumstances, whether the enemy remain in full force, or whether they have only a detachment left, you will immediately take such a position as will best enable you to prevent their sudden retreat through North Carolina, which I presume they will attempt the instant they perceive so formidable an armament. Should General Wayne, with the troops destined for South Carolina, still remain in the neighbourhood of James River, and should the enemy have made no detachment to the southward, you will detain those troops until you hear from me again, and inform General Greene of the cause of their delay. If Wayne should have marched, and should have gained any considerable distance, I would not have him halted.
You shall hear further from me as soon as I have concerted plans and formed dispositions for sending a reinforcement from hence. In the mean time, I have only to recommend a continuation of that prudence and good conduct, which you have manifested through the whole of your campaign. You will be particularly careful to conceal the expected arrival of the Count; because, if the enemy are not apprized of it, they will stay on board their transports in the Bay, which will be the luckiest circumstance in the world. You will take measures for opening a communication with Count de Grasse the moment he arrives, and will concert measures with him for making the best use of your joint forces until you receive aid from this quarter. I would not wish you to call out a large body of militia upon this occasion, but rather keep those you have compact and ready for service. I am, &c.
- Dobbs Ferry
- 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