WASHINGTON, George. Document signed (''G:o Washington''), Philadelphia, December 1783. 1 page, folio, neatly backed, small losses along horizontal folds affecting a few words. WITH A NEARLY INTACT PERSONAL SEAL OF WASHINGTON in red wax (Washington's familiar crest of stars and bars), at top.
WASHINGTON, George. Document signed ("G:o Washington"), Philadelphia, December 1783. 1 page, folio, neatly backed, small losses along horizontal folds affecting a few words. WITH A NEARLY INTACT PERSONAL SEAL OF WASHINGTON in red wax (Washington's familiar crest of stars and bars), at top.
WASHINGTON HAILS AN OFFICER FOR "GREAT BRAVERY AND PROPRIETY BEFORE THE ENEMY"
An unusual document that highlights an important chapter in the story of Franco-American cooperation during the Revolutionary War. Washington certifies that John Sharp served with "Major Ottendorff's independent Corps until May 1778, when he was transferred to the Legion commanded by Brig. General Armand and in January 1778 he was promoted to the rank of Captain in that Corps. From the testimony of the General under whom he immediately served, it appears that Captain Sharp has behaved himself with great bravery and propriety before the Enemy and on every other occasion has conducted himself as an active and good officer."
The units with which Sharp served were among the more intriguing of the War. They were led by French soldiers of fortune who joined the American cause well before the formal alliance with Paris. They fought at Short Hills, Brandywine, endured Valley Forge, and saw action in South Carolina and Yorktown--where they stormed the British redoubt--and won the undying admiration of Washington. Armand, who was the Marquis of Tuffin before coming to America (where he assumed the more republican nom de guerre of "Armand"), requested a testimonial from Washington as part of his plans to return to France and rehabilitate his reputation. He had fled in 1776 after shooting the King's cousin in a duel. Washington obliged with a warm tribute for the Frenchman on 15 December 1783 (see Fitzpatrick, 27:274-276): "...I must not forget the very handsome partizan stroke you made in West Chester, where...you surprised a Major and some men of the enemy, in quarters, a considerable distance within their Pickets...I was particularly obliged to you, for your very spirited behaviour...at the head of the Column [in] the attack and storm of the redoubt at Yorktown..." Presumably Sharp received his testimonial (written the following day) because he intended to join Armand in France. During the French Revolution Armand fought on the Royalist side, accompanied (according to Chateaubriand) by "an American major [named Schaffner] and with a monkey seated on the croup of his horse" (Boatner, 1128).