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Letter from the 4th Earl of Abingdon to the 2nd Earl Harcourt on the American War of Independence

[Fol. 73r]

My dear Lord

Permit me to express my obligations to you for the manner in which you accepted the venison I took the Liberty to send you. I had not sent it if I had not respected your character, and esteemed your truly to be admired Conduct. In your Acceptance of it therefore the favour was conferred on me. Not so with the great Duke. But me thinks I wou’d not quit a Right though he were the great King. My Bucks I wou’d have, and there is no better claim than that of Prescription which your Lordship has. When Right is with us we have only to face such men, and their coward Hearts fail them.

You ask what is to become of us? Read the following Account I have just received from London, and then give the Answer to your own Question. “An Express, with three officers, Sir John Rockley, Colonel Paterson, and Major Crew is just arrived from New York. The News terrible, though not more than your [fol. 73v] Lordship knows I had anticipated. Clinton in his march from Philadelphia through the Jerseys to New York exceedingly harrassed, and at length attacked in his Rear, where the Conflict was bloody, and the victory with the Americans: several hundreds slain. Colonel Monckton killed, Colonel Trelawney & many other field officers. The Remainder of the Army got into New York. But here commences the dismal Tale. On their Arrival they found Lord Howe with all his Fleet compleatly blocked up by D’Estaings squadron. Washington with thirty thousand men investing New York, and but ten Weeks Provision left in the Town. The Admiral and General have sent for succours from this Country, and say that if they are not speedily relieved they must be forced to surrender Prisoners of War, both Navy and Army consisting of Twenty thousand seamen and as many souldiers. This Country you know can send them no succours. The Tragedy is drawing to a Conclusion. I can assure it to you for a Fact that Monsieur De Sartine has pledged [fol. 74r] himself to the French Court to land forty thousand men in England in the Course of this summer. The Brest Fleet consisting of 38 ships of the Line is at Sea. The News of the Day is that Admiral Keppell and Sir Hugh Palliser have fought a Duel, but I doubt the Truth of this.” Such is my Account, and which I leave With you for your Reflections upon. Lady Abingdon Unites with me in Respect to you & Lady Harcourt, &I remain my dear Lord with the greatest Regard

Your’s sincerely
Abingdon

Rycot, Wednesday morning, 1778

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Letter from the 4th Earl of Abingdon to the 2nd Earl Harcourt on the American War of Independence

Author
Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon
Date
1778
Medium
Manuscript

In this letter, the Earl of Abingdon reports a "dismal tale" of British forces blockaded in New York by George Washington and the French fleet. Expecting no help from home, Abingdon conveys his informant's prediction that "the Tragedy is drawing to a conclusion." Abingdon was an outspoken opponent of the war against the American colonies.

Transcript

[Fol. 73r]

My dear Lord

Permit me to express my obligations to you for the manner in which you accepted the venison I took the Liberty to send you. I had not sent it if I had not respected your character, and esteemed your truly to be admired Conduct. In your Acceptance of it therefore the favour was conferred on me. Not so with the great Duke. But me thinks I wou’d not quit a Right though he were the great King. My Bucks I wou’d have, and there is no better claim than that of Prescription which your Lordship has. When Right is with us we have only to face such men, and their coward Hearts fail them.

You ask what is to become of us? Read the following Account I have just received from London, and then give the Answer to your own Question. “An Express, with three officers, Sir John Rockley, Colonel Paterson, and Major Crew is just arrived from New York. The News terrible, though not more than your [fol. 73v] Lordship knows I had anticipated. Clinton in his march from Philadelphia through the Jerseys to New York exceedingly harrassed, and at length attacked in his Rear, where the Conflict was bloody, and the victory with the Americans: several hundreds slain. Colonel Monckton killed, Colonel Trelawney & many other field officers. The Remainder of the Army got into New York. But here commences the dismal Tale. On their Arrival they found Lord Howe with all his Fleet compleatly blocked up by D’Estaings squadron. Washington with thirty thousand men investing New York, and but ten Weeks Provision left in the Town. The Admiral and General have sent for succours from this Country, and say that if they are not speedily relieved they must be forced to surrender Prisoners of War, both Navy and Army consisting of Twenty thousand seamen and as many souldiers. This Country you know can send them no succours. The Tragedy is drawing to a Conclusion. I can assure it to you for a Fact that Monsieur De Sartine has pledged [fol. 74r] himself to the French Court to land forty thousand men in England in the Course of this summer. The Brest Fleet consisting of 38 ships of the Line is at Sea. The News of the Day is that Admiral Keppell and Sir Hugh Palliser have fought a Duel, but I doubt the Truth of this.” Such is my Account, and which I leave With you for your Reflections upon. Lady Abingdon Unites with me in Respect to you & Lady Harcourt, &I remain my dear Lord with the greatest Regard

Your’s sincerely
Abingdon

Rycot, Wednesday morning, 1778

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