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1
Kalb, Johann, "Baron de Kalb"
Estimate
15,00020,000
LOT SOLD. 33,400 USD
JUMP TO LOT
1
Kalb, Johann, "Baron de Kalb"
Estimate
15,00020,000
LOT SOLD. 33,400 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Presidential and Other American Manuscripts from the Dr. Robert Small Trust

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Kalb, Johann, "Baron de Kalb"

Autograph letter signed ("Baron de Kalb"), 3 pages (9 3/8 x 7 3/8 in.; 238 x 188 mm), Lancaster (Pennsylvania), 6 November 1777, to an unnamed addressee, offering military news to an English friend; two light spots on final blank page.


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Catalogue Note

With the winter at Valley Forge approaching, Baron de Kalb reports on the employment of French officers, Lafayette's wound and the events after the Battle of Brandywine, including the effect in Philadelphia of General Howe's intention of forcing Quakers to take up arms in the British cause: "the warmest Tories are quite tired of the English and wish for Washington's army once more." 

Kalb (1721-1780), having been introduced to Lafayette by the Count de Broglie, accompanied the Marquis to America with the hope of joining the Continental Army, as did many other French officers. All were received with some coldness upon arrival in September of 1777, but Kalb was soon distinguished with the rank of Major General. He was at Valley Forge for most of the winter of 1777-1778. He died from wounds received leading an heroic counter-attack at the Battle of Camden (16 August 1780).

After offering his excuses for not writing, and repeating two points made in his last letter (of 11 October), Kalb writes: "... the Marquis's [Lafayette] wound is quite well, he is in the army actually [i.e. now], his aides de camp are Major Brice & Major Gimot, he expects to have Mr. De Vrigny a commission in the horse ... these are all the Gentlemen remaining here, the others of our Company are going home. I much regret Col.Valfort would not stay after he was dismissed, Congress would have complied with my request on his account, but he chose to go home, his health being much impaired."

He has come to Lancaster to shop for provisions and he intends to "set out tomorrow to take the Command of the Division Congress and General Washington promised me." Next he surveys some recent events: "You had the disagreeable news of the Battle of Brandywine near Wilmington, of the loss of Philadelphia and the fight near Germantown, what happened since, atones for these losses so surprisingly that every body must see the hand of Providence favouring these States, repeated successes in the North against G[enera]l Burgoyne, and at last the Surrender of himself and his whole army, as you will see by the two inclosed papers (the written one I should be glad you would communicate to the Count de Broglie). The repulse on the 23 October at Ford Red Bank on Delaware River, with a considerable loss on the Ennemie's [sic] side Colonel Donop, several officers and 80 men taken prisoners (the Hessian colonel died since of his wounds), two English men of war, the Augusta of 64 guns and a frigate of 22 blown up in the River, and this instant we have the confirmation of an Expedition from the northern states and troops on Rhode Island where they took 800 prisoners, 24 pieces of Artillery and an immense quantity of salt."

He comments on news of General Howe's activities in Philadelphia:  "It is reported that General Howe, at the news of Burgoyne being taken, has ordered to all inhabitants of Philadelphia to take the oath of allegiance to Great Britain, to bear arms wether [sic] quakers or not, and all hands to be employed in fortifying the city. I am of [the] opinion that all his endeavours will be in vain to keep this Port if he cannot possess himself of the forts of Red Bank and Miflin and bring part of the fleet up close to the key ... we hear that for their irregular behaviour and plundering they lose most of their friends, and that the warmest Tories are quite tired of the English and wish for Washington's army once more."

Presidential and Other American Manuscripts from the Dr. Robert Small Trust

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New York