Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE CHEVALIER DE LA LUZERNE. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IX (1780-1782)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO THE CHEVALIER DE LA LUZERNE. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. IX (1780-1782) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. IX (1780-1782).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO THE CHEVALIER DE LA LUZERNE.
Newburg, April 28, 1782.
I receive with much gratitude the remembrances and compliments of the principal officers of the French army in Virginia, and thank your Excellency for the trouble of being the bearer of them to me, and the letter from Count de Rochambeau.
With equal sensibility and pleasure I received and do now acknowledge my obligations to your Excellency for the communications from your Court; which tho not decisive, are nevertheless important. The late instance of their generous aid, hinted at by your Excellency and particularized by Mr. Morris, is one among a variety of important considerations, which ought to bind America to France in Bonds of indelible friendship and gratitude, never, I hope, to be sundered.1 Induced by that entire confidence, which I repose in your Excellency, and a full conviction that a nation, which combines her force with ours for purposes of all others most interesting to humanity, ought not to be deficient of any information I can give to point objects to means, that an accordance of them may be inseparable, I shall without hesitation give you the state of our present force, and my ideas of the increase of it by recruits, from the best view of it which lyes before me.
It can scarcely be necessary to inform yr. Excellency that our military establishment for the present year consists of 4 Regiments of Artillery, 4 Legionary and two partisan corps, and 50 Regiments of Infantry, besides the Corps of Invalids; or that Congress have called in pointed terms upon each State to compleat its Regiments to the establishment, the aggregate of which, if complied with, would amount to 34,308 men, exclusive of commissioned officers, sergeants, and music, Hazen’s Regiment, and the corps of Invalids. Of this force, one Legionary Corps, two regmts. of artillery, and 22 of Infantry, besides Hazen’s Regt. and the Invalids, compose the northern army. But as Hazen’s regiment is fostered by no State, discouraged from recruiting by all, and without funds, if the case was otherwise it must soon dwindle to nothing, (being now very weak).
The present totality of the Rank and File, exclusive of sergeants, of these Regimts. which compose the northern army, amounts to 9,146. From this number the Sick, men in different branches of the staff department, and such as are employed on other extra duties, (which the peculiarity of our circumstances compels me to furnish from ye army,) being deducted, will reduce the efficient operating force of these corps to 7,553 Rank and file; and I should be uncandid if I was not to acknowledge, that I do not expect it will be increased by recruits in the course of the campaign to more than 10,000 fit for Duty in the Field. This, Sir, in my opinion, will be the full amount of the established Regts. of the States East of Pensylvania. To ascertain the number of Militia, which may be assembled for occasional offensive operations, is more than I can do. The general opinion is, that there will be no want of militia for any enterprise we can have in view. Be this as it may, this one thing is certain, that this class of men are not only slow in their movements, but, undertaking to judge also of the propriety of them, in point of am’nt will wait till the necessity for it strikes them; which, in most cases, is as injurious to the Service as inability or want of inclination; disappointment being the consequence of delay. This observation I could not refrain making, because, in all combined operations, especially those which may depend upon the Season or a limited period for their execution it is of the utmost importance to be known.
The enclosed return, wch. is a copy of the last State of the force under the orders of Majr-Genl. Greene (wch has come to my hands,) will give your Excellency every information in my power respecting the State and condition of that army; which was to be augmented by the Partisan Corps of Colo. Armand, consisting of about 200 horse and foot. Independent of those, there are two small regts. at Fort Pitt, one from ye State of Pensylva., the other from Virga., which are included in the general establishmt. of the army; but no partr. return is here given of them.
What measures are adopted by the States of Georgia and No. and So. Carolina to recruit their battalions, I know not. Virginia marched abt. 400 men the latter end of Feby. for the southern army, and by an act of the Legislature passed at their last Session, resolved to raise more; but in what forwardness they are, or what is to be expected from the act, I am equally uninformed. Maryland and Pensylvania depend upon voluntary enlistments, and are proceeding very slow in the business of recruiting, especially the latter. It is impossible for me, therefore, to say to what number that army will be increased.
This, Sir, is an accurate state of the force we have at present, and my expectation of what it may be, independent of militia.
The enemy’s Force, from the best information I have been able to obtain of it, may stand thus. At New York, Regulars, includg. their established corps of provincials, Rank and File, nine thousand; militia of the city, Refugees, and Indept. Companies, 4,000; sailors and marines, accordg. to the No. of ships, whch. may be in the harbr., and this being uncertn., no numbr. is given now in N. Y. 13,000; Charleston abt. 3,300; Savannah abt. 700. In Canada, including British, German, and Established Provinls., 5,000; Penobscot abt. 500; Halifax and its dependencies, uncertain, but say 3,500; In all, 26,000.
The above estimate, so far as it respects New York, Charleston, and Savannah, is I believe to be depended upon. The force of Canada by some accts. is more, by others less, than 5,000. The regular British and German Troops in that country cannot exceed 4,000; but, in addition to these, are the corps of Sir John Johnson and others, which I am told have been considerably increased by the disaffected of this and other States, who have fled to Canada. But it is to be observed, that this force, be it what it may, is employed in the occupation of posts between Quebec and Michilimackinac, and on Lake Champlain, through an extent of not less than 7 or 800 miles, and that all these Posts are dependent upon the former for provision and supplies of every kind. I am less certain of the Enemy’s force in Nova Scotia than elsewhere. The number here given is not from recent intelligence, and may be erroneous, as their garrisons are weakened or strengthened according to circumstances. Cumberland, Windsor, Annapolis, and St. John’s River, &c. are posts dependent on Halifax, and included in the 3,500 men here mentioned.
If this state of matters be satisfactory to your Excellency, or useful in the formation of any plans against the common Enemy, I shall be very happy in having given it.
Permit me now, Sir, to express the high sense I have of the honor you have done me in communicating the favorable opinion entertained of my conduct by the Court and nation of France, and to acknowledge my obligation to those officers, who have inspired these Sentiments. To stand well in the eyes of a nation, which. I view as one of the first in the world, and in the opinion of a monarch, whom I consider as the supporter of the rights of humanity, and to whom I am personally indebted for the command he has been pleased to honor me with, is highly flattering to my vanity, at the same time it has a first claim to all my gratitude.1 It is unnecessary, I hope, to add fresh assurances of the respect and esteem, with which I have the honor to be, &c.
[1 ]Alluding to a loan of six millions of livres, which, after hearing of the capitulation at Yorktown, the King of France had resolved to make to the United States within the coming year; although, previously to that event, M. de la Luzerne had been instructed to inform Congress in positive terms, that no more money could be expected from France. It was thought expedient not to make this intelligence public for a time, lest it should diminish the efforts of the people in providing for the continuance of the war.
[1 ]From M. de la Luzerne’s Letter.—“I cannot deny myself the pleasure of informing you of the sentiments, with which the reports of the French officers on their return to Versailles, inspired the court and nation towards your Excellency. Their testimony can add nothing to the universal opinion respecting the great services, which you have rendered to your country; but, to the esteem and admiration of the French, will henceforth be added a sentiment of affection and attachment, which is a just return for the attentions our officers have received from you, and for the progress they have made in their profession by serving under your orders.”—April 18th.