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TO MONSIEUR GERARD, MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY FROM HIS MOST CHRISTIAN MAJESTY TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VII (1778-1779).
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TO MONSIEUR GERARD, MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY FROM HIS MOST CHRISTIAN MAJESTY TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
Hd.-Qrs.,Middlebrook, May 1st, 1779.
As you have been pleased to honor me with a communication of His Excellency Count d’Estaing’s intention of returning to this continent, with the squadron under his command, and have desired to know my sentiments of the manner in which this event may be best improved for the interest of the common cause, and what can be done on the part of these States towards that end, I beg leave to offer the following as the definite result of my reflections on this subject, without recapitulating the particular reasons on which it is founded, and which have been already detailed in our several conferences.
I consider it as an essential basis to any extensive combined operations between the Squadron of His most Christian Majesty and the troops of these States, that the former shall possess, and have a good prospect of preserving, a clear superiority over the British naval force in America. In this case, if explicit assurances can be given, that His Excellency Count d’Estaing will proceed with all despatch directly from Martinique to New York, so as to arrive there in all probability before the British fleet under Admiral Byron; with the permission and approbation of Congress, I will engage to relinquish all the present projects of the campaign, and collect our whole force in this quarter, with all the aid which can be derived from the militia of the neighboring States, to coöperate with the Squadron of His Most Christian Majesty for the reduction of the enemy’s Fleet and army at New York, Rhode Island, and their dependencies.
I make this offer from a persuasion, that we should be able to collect a sufficient force to give a reasonable prospect of success to an enterprise decisive in its nature; and I request explicit assurances of a coöperation in the manner proposed, because without them I could not be justified in abandoning measures and engagements, in which the security of these States is deeply concerned, and because a failure would be attended with the most serious mischiefs. If these assurances cannot be given, the plan, which then appears to me most eligible, is this. That His Excellency Count d’Estaing proceed with his squadron immediately to Georgia, where, in conjunction with the American troops, there is every reason to believe he would with great facility capture and destroy the enemy’s fleet and army; which they could only elude in part, and that not without great difficulty, by a precipitate retreat to St. Augustine; and, even in this case, their vessels and stores would inevitably fall. That he next proceed directly from Georgia to New York, where, if he arrives before Admiral Byron, by entering the harbor expeditiously he will be sure of taking or destroying all their fleet in that port. The troops on Staten Island might also, I conceive, be intercepted and taken; the French troops in the fleet landing on one part, and a detachment from our army at another. Successes of this kind might open a new field of action, and lead to other important events. On the arrival of the fleet at the Hook, if a few frigates could be spared to be despatched to Rhode Island, to capture and destroy their vessels and obstruct their retreat, it would answer a very important end.
Either of these plans being pursued, if attended with important successes, so as to disembarrass these States of the whole or the principal part of the enemy’s force now within them, would put it in their power to coöperate with the forces of his most Christian Majesty in prosecuting such offensive enterprises against the enemy elsewhere, as shall be deemed advancive of the honor and interest of the allied powers; which cannot be expected while the immediate internal safety of the States is endangered by formidable fleets and armies, requiring the exertion of all their strength and resources in their own defence.
Having done myself the honor to submit to Your Excellency my ideas of the operations, which may be adopted with the greatest prospect of mutual advantage in the event you have been pleased to suggest, I doubt not, if either of the plans be approved wholly or in part, your answer will enable me to determine with precision the line of conduct, which ought to govern my operations relatively, to the objects they comprehend. I have the honor to be, with the most perfect respect, and the greatest personal esteem, &c.1
[1 ]M. Gerard was now on a visit to the camp, to which place he had come to consult General Washington respecting the operations of Count d’Estaing’s fleet. In consequence of the suggestions of Congress on this subject, M. Gerard had written to Count d’Estaing, then in the West Indies, proposing a combined expedition against Georgia, and such other operations on the American seaboard as circumstances should point out. Count d’Estaing replied, that he expected to be on the coast of Carolina by the end of May, and to proceed thence to the Delaware River. It was his design to attack Halifax, and afterwards Newfoundland, if provisions and a sufficient number of men could be furnished by the United States. M. Gerard consulted the President of Congress and two or three members before he went to camp. The question was frankly discussed by General Washington, but he was satisfied the plan could not succeed. It was impossible for him to spare troops for such an expedition from the small army with which he was obliged to defend the country against the English on one side and the savages on the other. The English had eleven thousand men in New York, and five thousand at Rhode Island. Militia could not be relied on for an enterprise like that meditated against Halifax, and regular troops could not be supplied without abandoning the plan of the campaign and leaving the country exposed.—MS. Letter from M. Gerard to Count Vergennes, May 6th.