On Sept. 24, 2021, DIA received a letter from George Washington, the pride of Mount Vernon, to display in the DIA Museum for the Agency’s 60th anniversary celebration.
Welcomed by DIA Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier and Deputy Director Suzanne White, a representative from the Library of Congress delivered the first in a series of 18 original letters from the George Washington Papers, the largest collection of original George Washington documents in the world. Each letter will be displayed in DIA’s Heritage Gallery at the DIA Museum for three months, rotating out when the next letter arrives.
Dated July 16, 1780, the first displayed letter was written to Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, the Comte de Rochambeau. In it, Washington welcomes the French to America’s revolutionary fight against the British. Scans of the letter are available on the Library of Congress' website.
Each of the 18 letters provided by the Library of Congress were written in July 1780, the turning point in the American Revolution. The collection also contains letters written to George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, and Col. Elias Dayton.
Demonstrating the progression of George Washington’s intelligence campaign, the letters detail reports from the Culper and Mersereau Spy Rings, individual spies throughout the region, and an active scout network.
The letters directly reflect the history of the intelligence mission DIA was charged with upon the Agency’s inception. Carrying on in the footsteps of George Washington, DIA continues to support the warfighter and provide intelligence on foreign militaries to prevent and decisively win wars.
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Head Qtr in New Jersey
July 16th, 1780
I hasten to impart to you the happiness I feel at the welcome news of
your arrivals, and as well in the name of the American army as in my
own name to protect you with an assurance of our warmest sentiments
for allies who have so generously come to our aid. As a citizen of the
United States, and as a old XXXX in the cause of liberty, I thankfully
acknowledge the new matter of friendship from this XXXX Christian
Majesty and I feel grateful for XXX for the flattering confidence he
has been please to honor me with on this occasion.
Among the obligations we are under to your prince, I esteem it one
of the first that he has made have for the command of his troops of a
gentleman whole high reputation and happy union of social qualities
and military abilities promise me every public advantage and private
I beg Sir, you will be the interpreter of my sentiments to the
gentlemen under your command. Be XXXX to assure them, that to the
pleasure I anticipate of an acquaintance with them, I join the warmest
desire to do everything that may be agreeable to under their command,
them and to the soldiering. But in the midst of a war the nature and
difficulties a few which are peculiar and uncommon, I XXXX flatter
XXXX in any war to atone for the sacrifice they have made, but by
giving them such opportunities in the field of glory, as with enables
them to display that gallantry and XXXX latent which we that always be
happy to acknowledge with applause.
The Marquis De La Fayete has been by me desired from time to time to
communicate such intelligence and may such propagations as
circumstances dictate. I think so important immediately to fix our
plan of operation, and with as much secrecy, do possible, that I have
request him to go hopefully to New London where he will probably meet
you. As a General effect I have the greatest confidence in him — as a
friend he is perfectly by acquainted with my sentiments and opinions—
he knows all the circumstances of our army and the country at large,
all the information he gives and all the projections he makes I
entreat you will be confident as coming from me. I request you will
settle all arrangements whatsoever with him and I shall only add, that
I shall exactly conform to the intentions of his most Christian
Majesty as explained in the several papers put into my hand by his
order and signed by his MXXXX.
XXXX me to refer you to the Marquis De La Fayette for more particular
assurances of what I feel on this occasion which I the more readily do
now acknowledge of his peculiar affection and regard for you.
Impatiently waiting for the time when our operation will afford me
the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with you, ______ have the
honor to be with the most perfect consideration and attachment ---
Your most XXXX humble servant.
Papers to Mercereau
July 18th, 1780
Your first request was to know what troops came from the suthern
(south)1 with Sir Henry (Clinton) and the names of the
detachment with him came one brigade of Hessians, the forty second
Brigade, and a detachment of the guards and Simcoes2
(Simcoe’s) Rangers, in all five thousand those joined to the army then
at Elizabethtown under G. Knyphausen3 (General Wilhelm von
Knyphausen) which amounted to near six thousand and then the troops
then doing duty in the city and both islands which did not amount two
thousand the whole added together as near as can be ascertained and
will not amount to thirteen thousand and which is present state of the
army the second thing you mentioned to me – the third thing you
mention is what number of ships and what the enemy really think of
Admiral (Thomas) Graves coming out this is easy answered now he is
hear (here) as you know by my last note to you but has not half the
fleet that it was reported he had the day he arrived his fleet
consists of five sail of the line the London his own ship of ninety
four, the Royal Oak of eighty, two seventy fours and two sixty fours
all copper bottomed.
He has rosed (raised) seven hundred men hear (here) and got them all
on board yesterday under his command which consists of the
(indiscernable) five sixty four Russel De Robust and Renown of fifty,
Romulus and Rainbow forty in all twelve sail and seven of them
copper-bottomed the armed (indiscernable) belonging to him joined him
last night one new ship of thirty guns and copper Also with this fleet
they are laying of (off) and waiting to hear of the French fleet which
is inspected every hour much to be depend on the (success) of this
fleet I have been down myself to see them and I never saw ships in
better order and men more healthy the spirits of the people sum (seem)
much raised since their arrival as I expect to se (see) you my self
(myself) and can give you more satisfaction I shall write no further.
1) Clinton moved north to New York and captured Charleston on 12 May
2) An American Loyalist military unit named after Queen Charlotte.
3) This is General Wilhelm von Knyphausen who commanded the Hessians
that were attached to Clinton’s army. He was in command at New York
while Clinton was engaged in the Charleston Campaign.