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George Washington to Governor.
Head Quarters 10th Augst 1782
Your Excellency will permit me to introduce to your particular Notice & Attention M Gen' D Choissey, who will have the Honor to present this Letter — As an officer old in Command, & eminent for his Service, he has the Honor to be placed at the head of the Troops destined for the Expedition proposed by the Marquis de Vandreuil against Penobscot, provided that Enterprise should be attempted — Any Civilities which your Excellency shall be pleased to shew him, will be no more than his Merits demand — and will be most gratefully accepted by Your Excellencys | Most obedient & | Most humble Servant
George Washington to Gov. Hancock.
Head Quarters 10th Augst 1782
Your Excellency will be informed by B Gen! DeChoisey, who does me the Honor to be the Bearer of this, that the Marquis De Vandreuil, with a fleet of his most Christian Majesty's Ships of War, may be soon expected in the Harbour of Boston.- By a Correspondence which has passed between the Marquis & the Count de Rochambeau (a Copy of which
the french Admiral has it in Contemplation to strike a Coup de Maine upon the port of Penobscot, while his ships are to continue in your neighbourhood; requesting the Opinion of the Count upon the practicability of the Enterprise — It appears also from the same Correspondence, that the french General has given a partial, yet pretty plain disapprobation of the Attempt; and has referred him to my Opinion on the subject; which the Count de Rochambeau, in his Letter to me, particularly requests me to communicate to the Marquis on his Arrival – However desirable the Object may be, to dispossess the Enemy from that troublesome post, yet under present Circumstances, & with present prospects, I have not judged the Attempt to be desireable; and have given the french Admiral my opinion decidedly against it.— My particular Sentiments & Reasons on the Subject, will be conveyed to you in the Copy of my Letter to the Marquis, which I do myself the Honor to inclose to your Excellency, for your own Observation, & that of the Executive of your State.
- If notwithstanding my Sentiments & present Appearance, other & more favorable Circumstances should turn up; or prospects should so alter, as to make the Attempt appear practicable in the Judgment of the french Admiral and General de Choisey as also in the Opinion of your Excellency & your Executive, I have no Doubt but that your State will afford every Assistance in the most expeditious manner, in Men, Artillery Military Stores &° that may be found necessary to carry the Operation into effect — The Distance of the Army from Boston, with other Circumstances, will render it impossible to give any timely Aid from this Quarter T I have the Honor to be Your Excellencys | Most Obedient and most humble Servant |
G:o Washington His Excellency Governor Hancock.
George Washington to Marquis De Vandreuil.
Head Quarters, Newburgh Aug 10th 1782
I have the honor to address you, at the particular request and in consequence of a Letter, which I have just received from His Excellency the Count de Rochambeau, inclosing to me the Copy of a Correspondence between him & you relative to the operations of the Fleet under your Command on the Coasts of N. America ;- Wherein you mention to him, a wish, that while your Fleet should remain in the Neighbourhood of Boston, you might be enabled to make a stroke at the Enemy's Post of Penobscot; - and in the discussion of which point, the Count de Rochambeau has referred you to my opinion upon that Enterprise. While I applaud Sir! the generous disposition declared in your Excellency's Intentions for our assistance; Candor requires me to be very explicit upon the subject,—I am obliged therefore to say, that it is my decided opinion, that considering the Hazards that will attend the Enterprise, the object is by no means equal to the Risque that will attend the attempt. Among many reasons, which influence my mind in forming this Opinion, the great & very principal one, appears from Your Excellency's Letter to Count de Rochambeau, where you mention to him, that you expect immediately to be followed into these Seas by a Superior British Fleet.— Admitting this event to take place, and that your Fleet Should have proceeded to Penobscot, (which is near One hundred Leagues from Boston, the only secure Harbour which you will find upon all those Eastern shores,) and Lies almost at the bottom of a deep Bay;- it appears to me that Your Excellency's Fleet will be placed in the greatest Hazard of being totally destroyed ;- for in that situation they will be compleatly imbayed; and a brisk S Westerly Wind, which will be most favorable for the British Fleet from N York, & which would bring them into the Bay in a short time, would be directly opposed to your Escape:--- so that was your Excellency to receive the earliest Intelligence of the Enemy's Fleet leaving N. York, under such circumstances, yet you could not avail yourself of the Information,— and at the same time, would be placed in a position where no Harbour or Fortification could give your Excellency any protection or shelter. Was this argument of Danger to His Most Christian Majesty's Ships, not sufficient to govern Your Excellency's mind,-1 could mention, that the time that must be imployed on this attempt, will probably be much greater than you seem to apprehend ;- A Month is as short as I should estimate, taking together all the necessary preparations & little cross events that must probably interpose; for I have not an idea of the object being attained by a Coup de Main,
- as I am lately informed by good intelligences that the Fort is the most regularly constructed & best finished of any in America, is well situated, and Garrysoned by the 74th Reg', consisting of 800 Men ;- which will require a regular Seige, to be conducted by cautious approaches, with a considerable addition of Men to the number of Troops which are on board your Excellency's Fleet, with their necessary Cannon & Mortars, Stores &c, the whole of which in all probability, was the Seige to be undertaken, & the Fleet obliged to make a sudden departure, must all be sacrificed; as their retreat by Land (as has been heretofore experienced) would be almost totally impossible and impracticable; to be effected thro' a Country which is as yet, a mere Wilderness, of large extent & difficult passage. Even supposing the best, that the attempt should succeed & the object be gained, I am much in doubt, whether without a superior Naval Force to be maintained on these Coasts, we should be able to retain the post, as it would ever be subject to a renewed attempt from the Enemy, in case we should keep up a Garrison there ;-— or in case of evacuation they might at any time, repossess the post, & continue the same annoyance, that they now give us. | Under these considerations (without giving you any further trouble) it is my decided opinion, that the object in contemplation is not of importance, sufficient to justify the hazzards & risques, which must probably be encountered in the attempt to obtain it. [ While I offer you this opinion Sir! I beg your Excellency will esteem it as coming from a Heart not only candid in its Sentiments, but at the same time penetrated with a sense of the highest gratitude to your Excellency for the noble offer of your assistance, which it is our misfortune, that under present circumstances, we are not able to avail ourselves of. After giving Your Excellency the foregoing opinion, upon the present appearances,— I have only to add,
— that in case circumstances should turn up so differently to our present Ideas, that you should, with the advice of Gen' de Choisey, think the attempt practicable, I can only refer you to the State of Massachusetts, for such aid in Men, Cannon, Mortars, & Stores, as you shall judge necessary; it being the only practicable mode in which I can cooperate with Your Excellency's designs,-- and this Recommendation shall be most cheerfully given. | The Cheval" de la Luzerne has requested me to establish a regular Chain of communication between my Head Quarters & Boston, for the purpose of giving the earliest Intelligence of every minute circumstance that may occur respecting the arrival or operations of the British Fleet at New York; and for the purpose of free intercourse with you or any other circumstance that may turn up.-- You may depend, Sir, that this establishment shall be immediately formed, —& that every service I can possibly render Your Excellency, in this or any other way in my power, shall be most cheerfully afforded. (I have the Honor to be &c | Signed I
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