(1732-1799) 1st President of the United States (1789-97). Autograph Letter Signed ("G:o Washington") as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, two pages, 13 x 8 inches, Valley Forge, February 10, 1778. With integral address leaf addressed in Washington's hand to "The Hon. Robert Morris Esqr. at Manheim" and docketed in the hand of Robert Morris. In full:
"Your favor of the 19th ulto. by Colo Armand came to my hands a few days ago.--Rest assured my good Sir, that that Gent[lema]n mis-conceives the matter exceedingly if he thinks my conduct towards him is influenced in the smallest degree by motives of resentment, arising from misrepresent[atio]n.
I have ever looked upon him as a spirited officer, and every thing that was in my power to do for him (consistently with the great line of my duty) I have done; but the conduct which Congress unhappily adopted in the early part of this war by giving high rank to foreigners, who enjoyed little or none in their own country, & in many instances of equivocal characters; has put it out of their power without convulsing the whole military system, to employ these people now; for viewing rank relatively, the man who has been a Major for instance, in the French Service finding a Subaltern (there) a field officer in ours, extends his views at once to a Brigade, or at least to a Regiment--and where is either of them to be found? without displacing or disgusting our own officers, whose pretensions would be injured by it, & whose natural interest in, & attachment to the cause of their country, is more to be relied on than superior abilities in capricious foreigners; who are dissatisfied with any rank you can give them, while there is yet higher to obtain.
With respect to the particular case of Colo. Armand, I have only to add, that if it was in my power to serve him, I would, notwithstanding he was influenced to resign in a pet.--The Corps he commanded has long since, been reduced to a mere handful of men (under 50) & you are sensible that it is not in my power to raise any new ones without the authority of Congress.
Mrs. Washington who is now in Camp, desires me to offer her respectful complimts. to Mrs. Morris & yourself, to which be so good as to add those of Dr Sir, yr. most obed. Servt. G:o Washington."
This letter was written four days after France had entered the war as America's ally (on February 6th) but Washington did not get the news until May 1, 1778.
Robert Morris (1734-1806), who would become known as "the financier of the Revolution," was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a member of the Continental Congress. From 1781 to 1784, he would serve as Superintendent of Finance, making him second in power only to Washington. In 1778, he was involved in arranging for financing the purchase of supplies for Washington's troops. While Washington took seriously Morris' request for a promotion for Col. Armand, he couldn't resist expressing his frustrations with the expectations of "capricious foreigners," many of whom had little or no military experience or expertise.
Col. Armand, whose full name was Charles Armand Tuffin, Marquis de la Rouêrie (1751-1793), had entered the Garde de Corps, the Royal household troops of the King of France, as a young man, but was forced to resign after wounding the King's cousin, the Comte de Bourbon-Besset, in a duel. Armand went to America in 1776 and joined the American army with the rank of colonel. George Washington authorized Armand to raise a legion of volunteers and Armand bought a legion of troops that had already been raised by a Swiss major. They became known as Armand's Legion. Their ranks were decimated by disease, desertion and the expiration of enlistments [Washington mentions that Armand had fewer than 50 men in February of 1778]. On June 25, 1778, Armand was promoted to general. Washington authorized him to recruit from among the German POW's being held by the Americans, and after Count Casimir Pulaski was killed at Savannah in 1779, Pulaski's troops were absorbed into Armand's Legion. Armand's men fought in the battles of New York, Monmouth, Short Hills, Brandywine, Whitemarsh, the campaign in Virginia and the siege of Yorktown. On March 26, 1783, Armand was promoted to brigadier general in command of all Continental cavalry. He is considered one of the founders of the American cavalry. After his discharge from the army in November 1783, he returned to France. He remained friends with Washington for the remainder of his life. During the French Revolution, he took up arms against the republicans but his counterrevolutionary forces (the Chouans) were defeated and he became a fugitive and fell ill. The news of the regicide of Louis XVI was more than he could bear and he died at the age of 42.
Estimated Value $80,000 - 100,000,
Goodspeed's, Boston, 1971,