News | Sept. 24, 2021

Here comes the general! DIA Museum receives first in series of George Washington Letters

By DIA Public Affairs

“Ladies and gentlemen…the moment you’ve been waiting for…the pride of Mount Vernon…George Washington!” raps Aaron Burr in Lin Manuel Miranda’s hit musical, “Hamilton.”

On September 24, 2021, the Defense Intelligence Agency received a letter from the ”pride of Mount Vernon” himself to display in the DIA Museum in time for the Agency’s upcoming 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 Washington papers in the world.  Each letter will be displayed in DIA’s Heritage Gallery at the DIA Museum in DIA Headquarters for three months, rotating out when the next letter arrives.

Dating back to July 16, 1780, the first letter to be displayed was written to 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 will contain letters written to George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, Jean B. Donatien de Vimeur – Comte de Rochambeau, Col. Elias Dayton, and the Culper Spy Ring, among others.

DIA Chief Historian Greg Elder commented on the significance of the Agency having the opportunity to display part of the collection.

“George Washington was the founder of defense intelligence for the U.S. and these letters are emblematic of the critical role that defense intelligence has played since the inception of our Nation,” he said.

Elder also noted that the arrival and installation of the letter officially concludes the construction of the DIA Museum.

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.

Every three months, a new letter will arrive to be displayed at DIA’s museum. The next letters scheduled to arrive in December and March will detail reports from the Mersereau Family Spy Ring and a report from Col. Elias Dayton. Both letters provide intelligence on the British military, including names of leadership, numbers of troops, armaments, movement and the enemy order of battle.

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.