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General Washington to the President of Congress



[Read 11th October˙ Referred to Board of War.]

Head-Quarters, Heights of Harlem, October 7, 1776.

SIR: I do myself the honour of transmitting to you a copy of a letter from the Compte d' Emery, Governour-General of the French part of St˙ Domingo, which I received yesterday, and also my answer, which I have enclosed, and left open for the consideration of Congress, wishingthat it may be sealed if they approve of the Sieur De Chambeau' s releasement, and which I think may be attended with many valuable consequences. If Congress concur in sentiment with me, they will be pleased to give direction for his passage by the first opportunity to the French Islands. If they do not, I shall be obliged by your returning my letter.

I have also the pleasure of enclosing a copy of a letter from Monsieur P˙ Penet, which came to hand last night, and which contains intelligence of an agreeable and interesting nature, for which I beg leave to refer you to the copy. The polite manner in which Monsieur Penet has requested to be one of my Aids-de-Camp demands my acknowledgments. As the appointment will not be attended with any expense, and will show a proper regard for his complaisance and the attachment he is pleased to express for the service of the American States, I shall take the liberty of complying with his requisition, and- transmit him a brevet commission, provided the same shall be agreeable to Congress. Their sentiments upon the subject you will be kind enough to favour me with by the first opportunity. The enclosed letter for the Seigneur De Chambeau you will be pleased to forward to him, if he is to be enlarged, after closing it.

Before I conclude I must take the liberty to observe, that I am under no small difficulties on account of the French gentlemen that are here, in consequence of the commissions they have received, having no means to employ them, or to afford them an opportunity of rendering that service they themselves wish to give, or which perhaps is expected by the publick. Their want of our language is an objection to their being joined to any of the regiments here at this time, were there vacancies, and not other obstacles. These considerations induce me to wish that Congress will adopt and point out some particular mode to be observed respecting them. What it should be, they will be best able to determine. But to me it appears that their being here now can be attended with no valuable consequences, and that as the power of appointing officers for the new army is vested in the Conventions, &c, of the several States, it will be necessary for Congress to direct them to be provided for in the regiments to be raised, according to the ranks they would wish them to bear, or I am convinced they will never be taken in, let their merit be what it may; or to form them nto a distinct corps, which may be increased in time. They seem to be genteel, sensible men, and I have no doubt


of their making good officers, as soon as they can learn as much of our language as to make themselves well understood; but unless Congress interfere with their particular direction to the States, they will never be incorporated in any of the regiments to be raised; and without they are, they will be entirely at a loss and in the most irksome situation for something to do, as they now are.

I have the honour to be, sir, your most obedient servant,