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Title: Memoirs, Correspondence and Manuscripts of General Lafayette
Author: Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de, 1757-1834
Language: English
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By Lafayette

Published By His Family.

Entered according to the act of Congress, in the year 1837,

by William A. Duer,

In the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York.

Respectfully to collect and scrupulously to arrange the manuscripts of
which an irreparable misfortune has rendered them depositaries, have
been for the Family of General Lafayette the accomplishment of a sacred

To publish those manuscripts without any commentary, and place them,
unaltered, in the hands of the friends of Liberty, is a pious and solemn
homage which his children now offer with confidence to his memory.




It was the desire of the late General Lafayette, that this edition of
his Memoirs and Correspondence should be considered as a legacy of the
American people. His representatives have accordingly pursued a course
which they conceived the best adapted to give effect to his wishes, by
furnishing a separate edition for this country, without any reservation
for their own advantage, beyond the transfer of the copyright as an
indemnity for the expense and risk of publication.

In this edition are inserted some letters which will not appear in the
editions published in Paris and London. They contain details relating to
the American Revolution, and render the present edition more complete,
or, at least, more interesting to Americans. Although written during
the first residence of General Lafayette in America--when he was little
accustomed to write in the English language--the letters in question are
given exactly as they came from his pen--and as well as the others in
the collection written by him in that language are distinguished from
those translated from the French by having the word "Original" prefixed
to them.

It was intended that these letters should have been arranged among those
in the body of the work; in the order of their respective dates; but as
the latter have been stereotyped before the former had been transmitted
to the American editor, this design was rendered impracticable. They
have therefore from necessity been added in a supplemental form with the
marginal notes which seemed requisite for their explanation.

Columbia College, N. Y., July, 1837.



  Notice by the Editors


    Memoirs written by myself, until the year 1780


      A.--Departure for America in 1777

      B.--First Interview between General Washington
          and General Lafayette

      C.--On the Military commands during the Winter of 1778

      D.--Retreat of Barren Hill

      E.--Arrival of the French Fleet

      F.--Dissensions between the French Fleet
          and the American Army

    CORRESPONDENCE--1777, 1778:

      To the Duke d'Ayen. London, March 9, 1777

      To Madame de Lafayette. On board the Victory, May 30

      To Madame de Lafayette. Charlestown, June 19

      To Madame de Lafayette. Petersburg, July 17

      To Madame de Lafayette.--July 23

      To Madame de Lafayette. Philadelphia, Sept. 12

      To Madame de Lafayette.--Oct. 1

      To M. de Vergennes, Minister of Foreign affairs.
          Whitemarsh Camp, Oct. 24

      To Madame de Lafayette. Whitemarsh Camp, Oct. 29, and Nov. 6

      To General Washington. Haddonfeld, Nov. 26

      To the Duke d'Ayen. Camp Gulph, Pennsylvania, Dec. 16

      To General Washington. Camp, Dec. 30

      To General Washington. Head Quarters, Dec. 31

      To General Washington. Valley Forge, Dec. 31

      To Madame de Lafayette. Camp, near Valley Forge, Jan. 6, 1778

      To General Washington

      To Madame de Lafayette. York. Feb 3

      To General Washington. Hermingtown, Feb. 9

      To General Washington. Albany, Feb. 19

      To General Washington.--Feb. 23

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          Head Quarters, March 10

      To Baron de Steuben. Albany, March 12

      Fragment of a Letter to the President of Congress.
          Albany, March 20

      To General Washington. Albany, March 25

      To Madame de Lafayette. Valley Forge Camp,
          in Pennsylvania, April 14

      To Madame de Lafayette. Germantown, April 28

      To General Washington. Valley Forge Camp, May 19

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          Camp, May 17

      To the Marquis de Lafayette. (Instructions.)

      To Madame de Lafayette. Valley Forge Camp, June 16

      To the Marquis de Lafayette. (Instructions.)

      To General Washington. Ice Town, June 26

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          Cranberry, June 26

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          White Plains, July 22

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          Head Quarters, White Plains, July 27

      To General Washington. Providence, Aug. 6

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          White Plains, Aug. 10

      To General Washington. Camp before Newport, Aug. 25

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          White Plains, Sept.

      From General Washington to Major-General Sullivan.
          Head Quarters, White Plains, Sept. 1

      From General Washington to Major-General Greene.
          Head Quarters, White Plains, Sept. 1

      To General Washington. Tyverton, Sept. I

      To General Washington. Camp, near Bristol, Sept. 7

      To the Duke d'Ayen. Bristol, near Rhode Island, Sept. 11

      To Madame de Lafayette. Bristol, near Rhode Island, Sept. 13

      President Laurens to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          Philadelphia, Sept. 13

      Marquis de Lafayette to President Laurens. Camp, Sept. 23

      To General Washington. Warren, Sept. 24

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          Fredericksburg, Sept. 25

      To General Washington. Camp near Warren, Sept. 24

      To General Washington. Boston, Sept. 28

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          Fishkill, Oct. 4

      Marquis de Lafayette to President Laurens.
          Philadelphia, Oct. 13

      President Laurens to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          Philadelphia, Oct. 24

      To General Washington. Philadelphia, Oct. 24

      Lord Carlisle to M. de Lafayette Marquis de Lafayette

      To President Laurens. Philadelphia, Oct. 26

      Fragment of a Letter from the French Minister, M. Gerard,
          to Count de Vergennes.--October

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          Philadelphia, Dec. 29

      From General Washington to General Franklin,
          American Minister in France. Philadelphia, Dec. 28

      To General Washington. Boston, January 5, 1779

      To General Washington. On board the Alliance,
          off Boston, January 11, 1779


    HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF 1779, 1780, and 1781.


      To Count de Vergennes. Paris, February 24, 1779

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          Camp at Middlebrook, March 8

      To M. de Vergennes, Paris, April 1, and April 26

      To the President of Congress. St. Jean de Angeli,
          near Rochefort, June 12

      To General Washington. St. Jean de Angeli,
          near Rochefort harbor, June 12

      To the Count de Vergennes. Havre, July 30

      To M. de Vergennes. Paris, August--

      Dr. Franklin to the Marquis de Lafayette. Fassy, August 24

      To Dr. Franklin. Havre, August 29

      Page From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          West Point, December 30

      To General Washington. Havre, October 7

      To M. de Vergennes. Versailles, Feb. 22, 1780

      To his Excellency General Washington.
          At the entrance of Boston harbor, April 27

      To M. de Vergennes. Waterburg, on the Boston road,
          from the Camp, May 6

      From General Washington. Morris Town, May--

      To the Count de Rochambeau. Philadelphia, May 19

      To General Washington. Camp at Preakness, July 4

      To MM. le Comte de Rochambeau and le Chevalier de Ternay.
          Camp before Dobb's Ferry, August 9

      From Count de Rochambeau to M. de Lafayette. Newport, August 12

      To MM. de Rochambeau and de Ternay. Camp, August 18

      To M. de Rochambeau. Camp, August 18

      From M. de Rochambeau. Newport, August 27

      To the Chevalier de la Luzerne. Robinson House,
          opposite West Point, Sept. 26

      To Madame de Tessé. Camp, on the right side of North River,
          near the Island of New York, October 4

      To General Washington. Light Camp, October 30

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          Head Quarters, October 30

      To General Washington. Light Camp, November 13

      To General Washington, Paramus, November 28

      To his Excellency General Washington. Philadelphia, Dec. 5

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          New Windsor, December 14

      To M. de Vergennes. New Windsor, on the North River,
          January 30, 1781

      To Madame de Lafayette. New Windsor, on the North River,
          February 2

      To General Washington. Elk, March 8

      To General Washington. On board the Dolphin, March 9

      To General Washington. Williamsburg, March 23

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          New Windsor, April 6

      To General Washington. Elk, April 8

      To Colonel Hamilton. Susquehannah Ferry, April 18

      To General Washington. Baltimore, April 18

      To General Washington. Alexandria, April 23

      From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette
          New Windsor, May 4

      From General Washington to Lund Washington.
          New Windsor, April 30

      To General Washington. Camp Wilton, on James River, May 17

      From General Phillips to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          British Camp at Osborn, April 28

      From General Phillips to the Marquis de Lafayette.
          Camp at Osborn, April 29

      To Major General Phillips. American Camp, April 30

      To Major-General Phillips.--May 3

      Note for Captain Emyne.--May 15

      Note from General Arnold to Captain Ragedale

      To General Washington. Richmond, May 24

      To General Washington. Camp, June 28

      Extracts of several Letters to General Washington

      To Madame de Lafayette. Camp, between the branches
          of York River, August 24

      To M. de Vergennes. Camp between the branches
          of York River, August 24

      To M de Maurepas. Camp, between the branches
          of York River, August 24

      To General Washington. Holt's Forge, September 1

      To General Washington. Williamsburg, September 8

      To General Washington. Camp before York, October 16

      To M. de Maurepas. Camp near York, October 20

      To M. de Vergennes. Camp near York, October 20

      To Madame de Lafayette. On board La Ville de Paris,
          Chesapeake Bay, October 22

      The Marquis de Ségur to M. de Lafayette.--Dec. 5

      To General Washington. Alliance, off Boston, December 21


    To General Washington. Robins' Tavern, June 26, 1778

    To General Washington. Cranbarry, June--

    To General Washington.--June 28

    To General Washington. Cranbarry, June 29

    To the Count de Vergennes. St. Jean de Angeli, June, 1779

    To the Count de Vergennes. Havre, July 9

    To the President of Congress. Havre, October 7

    To General Washington. Peekskill, July 20, 1780

    To General Washington. Danbury, July 21

    To General Washington. Hartford, July 22

    To General Washington. Lebanon, July 23

    To General Washington. Newport, July 26

    To General Washington. Newport, July 26

    To General Washington. Newport, July 29

    To General Washington. Newport, July 31

    To General Washington. Newport, August 1

    To General Washington. Elizabethtown, October 27

    To General Washington. Light Camp, October 27

    To General Washington. Philadelphia, December 4

    To General Washington.--December 5

    To General Washington. Philadelphia, December 16

    To General Washington. Philadelphia, March 2, 1781

    To General Washington. Head of Elk, March 7

    To General Washington. Off Turkey Point, March 9

    To General Washington. York, March 15

    To General Washington. Elk, April 10

    To General Washington. Susquehannah Ferry, April 13

    To General Washington. Susquehannah Ferry, April 13

    To General Washington. Susquehannah Ferry, April 14

    To Major-General Greene. Hanover Court House, April 28

    To General Greene. Camp on Pamunkey River, May 3

    To General Washington. Camp near Bottom's Creek, May 4

    To General Washington. Richmond, May 8

    To General Washington. Welton, north side of James River, May 18

    To Colonel Hamilton. Richmond, May 23

    To General Washington. Richmond, May 24

    To General Washington. Camp between Rappanannock
          and North Anna, June 3

    To General Greene. Camp between Rappahannock
          and North Anna, June 3

    To General Greene. Allen's Creek, June 18

    To General Greene. Mr. Tyter's Plantation, June 27

    To General Greene. Ambler's Plantation, July 8

    To General Washington. Mrs. Ruffin's, August 29

    To General Washington. Holt's Forge, September 1

    To General Washington. Camp Williamsburg, September 8

    To General Washington. Williamsburg, September 10

    To General Washington. Camp before York, Sept. 30

    To General Washington.--November 29


    I.--A Summary of the Campaign of 1781, explanatory of the Map

    II.--Letter from M. de Lafayette to M. de Vergennes


Under the title of _Revolution of America_, are comprised eight years of
M. de Lafayette's life, from the commencement of 1771 until the end of
1784. His three voyages to the United States divide those eight years
into three periods: 1777, 1778; 1779-1781; and 1782-1784.~[1]

1st. Circumstantial Memoirs, written for his friends after the peace
of Versailles, and which were to have extended to 1780, open this

2nd. These are continued and completed by two detached relations,
composed between 1800 and 1814; the first, which has no title, and might
be called _Notice of the American Life of General Lafayette_, appears to
have been written for a person intending to publish the history of the
war, or of General Washington; the second is entitled, _Observations on
some portion of American History, by a friend of General Lafayette_.

As these two relations, both written by M. de Lafayette, and which we
designate under the names of Manuscript, No. 1, and manuscript, No. 2,
contain a second, and occasionally a third, account of events already
mentioned in the Memoirs, we have only inserted quotations from them.

3rd. A relation of the campaign in Virginia, in 1781, shall be inserted
in its complete state.

4th. Extracts from the collection of the general's speeches, begun
by him in 1829, will give some details of his third voyage to America

5th. With the account of each particular period that portion of the
correspondence which may relate to it will be inserted. From a great
number of letters, written from America, and addressed either to
France or to America, or from France to America, those only have been
suppressed whose repetitions or details, purely military, would render
them uninteresting to the public.

6th. In the Correspondence, some letters have been inserted from General
Washington, and other contemporaries, and also some historical records,
of which M. de Lafayette had taken copies, or which have been extracted
from various collections published in the United States.


1. M. de Lafayette (Marie-Paul-Joseph-Roch-Yves-Gilbert Motier) born at
Chavaniae, in Auvergne, the 6th of September, 1757; married the 11th
of April, 1774; set out for America the 26th of April, 1777. The other
dates will be mentioned in proper order, with each particular event. All
the notes which are not followed by the name of M. de Lafayette, may be
attributed to the members of his family, sole editors of this work.

       *       *       *       *       *


When, devoted from early youth to the ambition of liberty, I beheld no
limit to the path that I had opened for myself, it appeared to me that
I was sufficiently fulfilling my destiny, and satisfying my glory,
by rushing incessantly forward, and leaving to others the care of
collecting the recollections, as well as the fruits, of my labour.

After having enjoyed an uninterrupted course of good fortune for fifteen
years, I presented myself, with a favourable prospect of success, before
the coalition of kings, and the aristocracy of Europe: I was overthrown
by the simultaneous fury of French jacobinism. My person was then given
up to the vengeance of my natural enemies, and my reputation to the
calumnies of those self-styled patriots who had so lately violated every
sworn and national guarantee. It is well known that the regimen of my
five years' imprisonment was not favourable to literary occupations,
and when, on my deliverance from prison, I was advised to write an
explanation of my conduct, I was disgusted with all works of the
kind, by the numerous memoirs or notices by which so many persons had
trespassed upon the attention of the public. Events had also spoken for
us; and many accusers, and many accusations, had fallen into oblivion.

As soon as I returned to France, my friends requested me to write
memoirs: I found excuses for not doing so in my reluctance to judge
with severity the first jacobin chiefs who have shared since in my
proscription,--the _Girondins_, who have died for those very principles
they had opposed and persecuted in me,--the king and queen, whose
lamentable fate only allows me to pride myself upon some services I
have rendered them,--and the vanquished royalists, who are at present
deprived of fortune, and exposed to every arbitrary measure. I ought to
add, likewise that, happy in my retreat, in the bosom of my family
and occupied with agricultural pursuits, I know not how to purloin one
moment from the enjoyments of my domestic life.

But my friends have renewed their request, and to comply in some degree
with it, I have consented to place in order the few papers that I still
possess and assemble together some relations which have been already
published, and unite, by notes, the whole collection, in which my
children and friends may one day find materials for a less insignificant
work. As to myself, I acknowledge that my indolence in this respect
is owing to the intimate conviction which I feel, that liberty will
ultimately be established in the old as well as in the new world, and
that then the history of our revolutions will put all things and all
persons in their proper places.


1. Although this notice, written a short time after the 18th _Brumaire_,
be anterior to a great number of events, in the midst of which General
Lafayette continued his public life, we have placed it in this part of
the work, as a sort of general introduction to the various materials it







If I were to confound, as is too often done, obstinacy with firmness, I
should blush at beginning these memoirs, after having so long refused
to do so, and at even increasing their apparent egotism by my style,
instead of sheltering myself under cover of the third person; but I will
not yield a half compliance to the request of that tender friendship
which is far more valuable to me than the ephemeral success which
a journal might obtain. It is sufficient for me to know that this
relation, intended for a few friends only, will never extend beyond
their circle: it even possesses two very great advantages over many
celebrated books: these are, that the public not being concerned in
this work it cannot need a preface, and that the dedication of affection
cannot require an epistle.

It would be too poetical to place myself at once in another hemisphere,
and too minute to dwell upon the particulars of my birth, which soon
followed the death of my father at Minden;~[2] of my education in
Auvergne, with tender and revered relations; of my removal, at twelve
years of age to a college at Paris,~[3] where I soon lost my virtuous
mother,~[4] and where the death of her father rendered me rich, although
I had been born, comparatively speaking, poor; of some schoolboy
successes, inspired by the love of glory and somewhat disturbed by that
of liberty; of my entrance into the regiment of the black musketeers,
which only interrupted my studies on review days; and finally, of my
marriage, at the age of sixteen, preceded by a residence at the academy
of Versailles.~[5] I have still less to say relating to my entrance into
the world; to the short favour I enjoyed as constituting one member of
a youthful society; to some promises to the regiment de Noailles; and to
the unfavourable opinion entertained of me owing to my habitual silence
when I did not think the subjects discussing worthy of being canvassed.
The bad effects produced by disguised self-love and an observing
disposition, were not softened by a natural simplicity of manner, which,
without being improper on any great occasion, rendered it impossible for
me to bend to the graces of the court, or to the charms of a supper in
the capital.

You ask me at what period I first experienced my ardent love of liberty
and glory? I recollect no time of my life anterior to my enthusiasm for
anecdotes of glorious deeds, and to my projects of travelling over the
world to acquire fame. At eight years of age, my heart beat when I heard
of a hyena that had done some injury, and caused still more alarm, in
our neighbourhood, and the hope of meeting it was the object of all my
walks. When I arrived at college, nothing ever interrupted my studies,
except my ardent wish of studying without restraint. I never deserved to
be chastised; but, in spite of my usual gentleness, it would have been
dangerous to have attempted to do so; and I recollect with pleasure
that, when I was to described in rhetoric a perfect courser, I
sacrificed the hope of obtaining a premium, and described the one who,
on perceiving the whip, threw down his rider. Republican anecdotes
always delighted me, and when my new connexions wished to obtain for
me a place at court, I did not hesitate displeasing them to preserve my
independence.~[6] I was in that frame of mind when I first learnt the
troubles in America; they only became thoroughly known in Europe in
1776, and the memorable declaration of the 4th of July reached France at
the close of that same year.

After having crowned herself with laurels and enriched herself with
conquests; after having become mistress of all seas; and after having
insulted all nations, England had turned her pride against her own
colonies. North America had long been displeasing to her; she wished
to add new vexations to former injuries, and to destroy the most sacred
privileges. The Americans, attached to the mother country, contented
themselves at first with merely uttering complaints; they only accused
the ministry, and the whole nation rose up against them; they were
termed insolent and rebellious, and at length declared the enemies of
their country: thus did the obstinacy of the king, the violence of the
ministers, and the arrogance of the English nation, oblige thirteen of
their colonies to render themselves independent. Such a glorious cause
had never before attracted the attention of mankind; it was the last
struggle of Liberty; and had she then been vanquished, neither hope nor
asylum would have remained for her. The oppressors and oppressed were to
receive a powerful lesson; the great work was to be accomplished, or the
rights of humanity were to fall beneath its ruin. The destiny of France
and that of her rival were to be decided at the same moment; England
was to lose, with the new states, an important commerce, of which she
derived the sole advantage,--one quarter of her subjects, who were
constantly augmenting by a rapid increase of population, and by
emigration from all parts of Europe,--in a word, more than half of the
most beautiful portion of the British territory. But if she retained
possession of her thirteen colonies, all was ended for our West
Indies, our possessions in Asia and Africa, our maritime commerce, and
consequently our navy and our political existence.

(1776.) When I first learnt the subject of the quarrel, my heart
espoused warmly the cause of liberty, and I thought of nothing but of
adding also the aid of my banner.~[7] Some circumstances, which it would
be needless to relate, had taught me to expect only obstacles in this
case from my own family; I depended, therefore, solely upon myself, and
I ventured to adopt for a device on my arms these words--"_Cur non?_"
that they might equally serve as an encouragement to my-self, and as a
reply to others. Silas Deane was then at Paris; but the ministers feared
to receive him, and his voice was overpowered by the louder accents of
Lord Stormont. He despatched privately to America some old arms, which
were of little use, and some young officers, who did but little
good, the whole directed by M. de Beaumarchais; and when the English
ambassador spoke to our court, it denied having sent any cargoes,
ordered those that were preparing to be discharged, and dismissed from
our ports all American privateers. Whilst wishing to address myself in a
direct manner to Mr. Deane, I became the friend of Kalb, a German in
our employ, who was applying for service with the _insurgents_, (the
expression in use at that time,) and who became my interpreter. He was
the person sent by M. de Choiseul to examine the English colonies; and
on his return he received some money, but never succeeded in obtaining
an audience, so little did that minister in reality think of the
revolution whose retrograde movements some persons have inscribed to
him! When I presented to Mr. Deane my boyish face, (for I was scarcely
nineteen years of age,) I spoke more of my ardour in the cause than
of my experience; but I dwelt much upon the effect my departure would
excite in France, and he signed our mutual agreement. The secrecy with
which this negotiation and my preparations were made appears almost a
miracle; family, friends, ministers; French spies and English spies,
all were kept completely in the dark as to my intentions. Amongst my
discreet confidants, I owe much to M. du Boismartin,~[8] secretary
of the Count de Broglie, and to the Count de Broglie himself, whose
affectionate heart, when all his efforts to turn me from this project
had proved in vain, entered into my views with even paternal tenderness.

Preparations were making to send a vessel to America, when very bad
tidings arrived from thence. New York, Long Island, White Plains, Fort
Washington, and the Jerseys, had seen the American forces successively
destroyed by thirty-three thousand Englishmen or Germans. Three thousand
Americans alone remained in arms, and these were closely pursued
by General Howe. From that moment all the credit of the insurgents
vanished; to obtain a vessel for them was impossible: the envoys
themselves thought it right to express to me their own discouragement,
and persuade me to abandon my project. I called upon Mr. Deane, and I
thanked him for his frankness.

"Until now, sir," said I, "you have only seen my ardour in your cause,
and that may not prove at present wholly useless. I shall purchase a
ship to carry out your officers; we must feel confidence in the future,
and it is especially in the hour of danger that I wish to share your
fortune."~[9] My project was received with approbation; but it was
necessary afterwards to find money, and to purchase and arm a vessel
secretly: all this was accomplished with the greatest despatch.

The period was, however, approaching, which had been long fixed for
my taking a journey to England;~[10] I could not refuse to go without
risking the discovery of my secret, and by consenting to take this
journey I knew I could better conceal my preparations for a greater one.
This last measure was also thought most expedient by MM. Franklin and
Deane; for the doctor himself was then in France; and although I did not
venture to go to his house, for fear of being seen, I corresponded with
him through M. Carmichael, an American less generally known. I arrived
in London with M. de Poix; and I first paid my respects to Bancroft, the
American, and afterwards to his British Majesty. A youth of nineteen may
be, perhaps, too fond of playing a trick upon the king he is going to
fight with,--of dancing at the house of Lord Germaine minister for the
English colonies, and at the house of Lord Rawdon, who had just returned
from New York,--and of seeing at the opera that Clinton, whom he was
afterwards to meet at Monmouth. But whilst I concealed my intentions, I
openly avowed my sentiments; I often defended the Americans; I rejoiced
at their success at Trenton; and my spirit of opposition obtained for
me an invitation to breakfast with Lord Shelbourne. I refused the offers
made me to visit the sea ports, the vessels fitting out against the
_rebels_, and everything that might be construed into an abuse of
confidence. At the end of three weeks, when it became necessary for
me to return home, whilst refusing my uncle,~[11] the ambassador, to
accompany him to court, I confided to him my strong desire to take a
trip to Paris. He proposed saying that I was ill during my absence. I
should not have made use of this stratagem myself, but I did not object
to his doing so.

After having suffered dreadfully in the channel, and being reminded, as
a consolation, how very short the voyage would be, I arrived at M. de
Kalb's house in Paris, concealed myself three days at Chaillot, saw a
few of my friends and some Americans, and set out for Bordeaux, where
I was for some time unexpectedly delayed.~[12] I took advantage of that
delay to send to Paris, from whence the intelligence I received was by
no means encouraging; but as my messenger was followed on his road by
one from the government, I lost not a moment in setting sail, and the
orders of my sovereign were only able to overtake me at Passage, a
Spanish port, at which we stopped on our way. The letters from my
own family were extremely violent, and those from the government were
peremptory. I was forbidden to proceed to the American continent under
the penalty of disobedience; I was enjoined to repair instantly to
Marseilles, and await there further orders. A sufficient number of
commentaries were not wanting upon the consequences of such an anathema,
the laws of the state, and the power and displeasure of the government:
but the grief of his wife, who was pregnant, and the thoughts of his
family and friends, had far more effect upon M. de Lafayette.~[13] As
his vessel could no longer be stopped, he returned to Bordeaux to enter
into a justification of his own conduct; and, in a declaration to M. de
Fumel, he took upon himself all the consequences of his present evasion.
As the court did not deign to relax in its determination, he wrote to M.
de Maurepas that that silence was a tacit consent, and his own departure
took place soon after that joking despatch. After having set out on the
road to Marseilles, he retraced his steps, and, disguised as a courier,
he had almost escaped all danger, when, at Saint Jean de Luz, a young
girl recognised him; but a sign from him silenced her, and her adroit
fidelity turned away all suspicion. It was thus that M. de Lafayette
rejoined his ship, the 26th of April 1777; and on that same day,
after six months anxiety and labour, he set sail for the American

       *       *       *       *       *

(1777.) As soon as M. de Lafayette had recovered from the effects of
sea sickness, he studied the language and trade he was adopting. A heavy
ship, two bad cannons, and some guns, could not have escaped from the
smallest privateer. In his present situation, he resolved rather to blow
up the vessel than to surrender; he concerted measures to achieve this
end with a brave Dutchman named Bedaulx, whose sole alternative, if
taken, would have been the gibbet. The captain insisted upon stopping at
the islands; but government and orders would have been found there, and
he followed a direct course, less from choice than from compulsion.~[15]
At forty leagues from shore, they were met by a small vessel: the
captain turned pale, but the crew were attached to M. de Lafatette, and
the officers were numerous: they made a show of resistance. It turned
out, fortunately, to be an American ship, whom they vainly endeavoured
to keep up with; but scarcely had the former lost sight of M. de
Lafayette's vessel, when it fell in with two English frigates,--and this
is not the only time when the elements seemed bent on opposing M.
de Lafayette, as if with the intention of saving him. After having
encountered for seven weeks various perils and chances, he arrived
at Georgetown, in Carolina. Ascending the river in a canoe, his foot
touched at length the American soil, and he swore that he would
conquer or perish in that cause. Landing at midnight at Major Huger's
house,~[16] he found a vessel sailing for France, which appeared only
waiting for his letters. Several of the officers landed, others remained
on board, and all hastened to proceed to Charleston:

This beautiful city is worthy of its inhabitants and everything there
announced not only comfort but even luxury. Without knowing much of M.
de Lafayette, the generals Howe,~[17] Moultrie, and Gulden, received him
with the utmost kindness and attention. The new works were shown him,
and also that battery which Moultrie afterwards defended so extremely
well, and which the English appear, we must acknowledge, to have seized
the only possible means of destroying. Several adventurers, the
refuse of the islands, endeavoured vainly to unite themselves to M.
de Lafayette, and to infuse into his mind their own feelings and
prejudices. Having procured horses, he set out with six officers for
Philadelphia. His vessel had arrived, but it was no longer protected by
fortune, and on its return home it was lost on the bar of Charlestown To
repair to the congress of the United States, M. de Lafayette rode
nearly nine hundred miles on horseback; before reaching the capital
of Pennsylvania, he was obliged to travel through the two Carolinas,
Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Whilst studying the language and
customs of the inhabitants, he observed also new productions of nature,
and new methods of cultivation: vast forests and immense rivers combine
to give to that country an appearance of youth and majesty. After a
fatiguing journey of one month, he beheld at length that Philadelphia,
so well known in the present day, and whose future grandeur Penn
appeared to designate when he laid the first stone of its foundation.

After having accomplished his noble manoeuvres at Trenton and
Princetown, General Washington had remained in his camp at Middlebrook.
The English, finding themselves frustrated in their first hopes,
combined to make a decisive campaign. Burgoyne was already advancing
with ten thousand men, preceded by his proclamations and his savages.
Ticonderoga, a famous stand of arms, was abandoned by Saint-Clair; he
drew upon himself much public odium by this deed, but he saved the
only corps whom the militia could rally round. Whilst the generals were
busied assembling the militia, the congress recalled them, sent Gates
their place, and used all possible means to support him. At that same
time the great English army, of about eighteen thousand men, had sailed
from New York, and the two Howes were uniting their forces for a secret
enterprise; Rhode Island was occupied by a hostile corps, and General
Clinton who had remained at New York, was there preparing for an
expedition. To be able to withstand many various blows, General
Washington, leaving Putnam on the north river, crossed over the
Delaware, and encamped, with eleven thousand men, within reach of

It was under these circumstances that M. de Lafayette first arrived in
America; but the moment, although important to the common cause, was
peculiarly unfavourable to strangers. The Americans were displeased with
the pretensions, and disgusted with the conduct, of many Frenchmen; the
imprudent selections they had in some cases made, the extreme boldness
of some foreign adventurers, the jealousy of the army, and strong
national prejudices, all contributed to confound disinterested zeal with
private ambition, and talents with quackery. Supported by the promises
which had been given by Mr. Deane, a numerous band of foreigners
besieged the congress; their chief was a clever but very imprudent man,
and although a good officer, his excessive vanity amounted almost
to madness. With M. de Lafayette, Mr. Deane had sent out a fresh
detachment, and every day such crowds arrived, that the congress had
finally adopted the plan of not listening to any stranger. The coldness
with which M. de Lafayette was received, might have been taken as a
dismissal; but, without appearing disconcerted by the manner in
which the deputies addressed him,~[18] he entreated them to return to
congress, and read the following note:--

"After the sacrifices I have made, I have the right to exact two
favours: one is, to serve at my own expense,--the other is, to serve at
first as volunteer."

This style, to which they were so little accustomed, awakened their
attention; the despatches from the envoys were read over, and, in a very
flattering resolution, the rank of major-general was granted to M. de
Lafayette. Amongst the various officers who accompanied him, several
were strangers to him; he was interested, however, for them all, and to
those whose services were not accepted an indemnity for their trouble
was granted. Some months afterwards, M.----- drowned himself in the
Schuylkill, and the loss of that impetuous and imprudent man was perhaps
a fortunate circumstance.

The two Howes having appeared before the capes of the Delaware, General
Washington came to Philadelphia, and M. de Lafayette beheld for the
first time that great man.~[19] Although he was surrounded by officers
and citizens, it was impossible to mistake for a moment his majestic
figure and deportment; nor was he less distinguished by the noble
affability of his manner. M. de Lafayette accompanied him in his
examination of the fortifications. Invited by the General to establish
himself in his house, he looked upon it from that moment as his own:
with this perfect ease and simplicity, was formed the tie that united
two friends, whose confidence and attachment were to be cemented by the
strongest interests of humanity.~[20]

The American army, stationed some miles from Philadelphia, was waiting
until the movements the hostile army should be decided: the General
himself reviewed the troops; M. de Lafayette arrived there the same day.
About eleven thousand men, ill armed, and still worse clothed, presented
a strange spectacle to the eye of the young Frenchman: their clothes
were parti-coloured, and many of them were almost naked; the best clad
wore _hunting shirts_, large grey linen coats which were much used in
Carolina. As to their military tactics, it will be sufficient to say
that, for a regiment ranged in order of battle to move forward on the
right of its line, it was necessary for the left to make a continued
counter march. They were always arranged in two lines, the smallest men
in the first line; no other distinction as to height was ever observed.
In spite of these disadvantages, the soldiers were fine, and the
officers zealous; virtue stood in place of science, and each day added
both to experience and discipline. Lord Stirling, more courageous than
judicious, another general, who was often intoxicated, and Greene, whose
talents were only then known to his immediate friends, commanded
as majors-general. General Knox, who had changed the profession of
bookseller to that of artillery officer, was there also, and had
himself formed other officers, and created an artillery. "We must feel
embarrassed," said General Washington, on his arrival, "to exhibit
ourselves before an officer who has just quitted French troops." "It
is to learn, and not to teach, that I come hither," replied M. de
Lafayette; and that modest tone, which was not common in Europeans,
produced a very good effect.

After having menaced the Delaware, the English fleet again disappeared,
and during some days the Americans amused themselves by making jokes
at its expense. These jokes, however, ceased when it reappeared in
the Chesapeak; and, in order to approach it more closely during the
disembarkation, the patriot army crossed through the town. Their heads
covered with green branches, and marching to the sound of drums and
fifes, these soldiers, in spite of their state of nudity, offered an
agreeable spectacle to the eyes of all the citizens. General Washington
was marching at their head, and M. de Lafayette was by his side. The
army stationed itself upon the heights of Wilmington, and that of the
enemy landed in the Elk river, at the bottom of Chesapeak bay. The very
day they landed, General Washington exposed himself to danger in the
most imprudent manner; after having reconnoitred for a long time the
enemy's position, he was overtaken by a storm during a very dark night,
entered a farm house close to the hostile army, and, from a reluctance
to change his own opinion, remained there with General Greene, M. de
Lafayette, and their aide-de-camp; but when at day break he quitted the
farm, he acknowledged that any one traitor might have caused his ruin.
Some days later, Sullivan's division joined the army, which augmented it
in all to thirteen thousand men. This Major-General Sullivan made a good
beginning, but a bad ending, in an intended surprise on Staten Island.

If, by making too extensive a plan of attack, the English committed a
great error, it must also be acknowledged that the Americans were not
irreproachable in their manner of defence. Burgoyne, leading his army,
with their heads bent upon the ground, into woods from whence he could
not extricate them, dragged on, upon a single road, his numerous cannons
and rich military equipages. Certain of not being attacked from behind,
the Americans could dispute every step they took: this kind of warfare
attracted the militia, and Gates improved each day in strength. Every
tree sheltered a skilful rifleman, and the resources offered by military
tactics, and the talents even of their chiefs, had become useless to
the English. The corps left in New York could, it is true, laugh at the
corps of Putnam, but it was too feeble to succour Burgoyne; and instead
of being able to secure his triumph, its own fate was even dependent
upon his. During that time, Howe was only thinking of Philadelphia, and
it was at the expense of the northern expedition that he was repairing
thither by an enormous circuit. But, on the other side, why were the
English permitted to land so tranquilly? Why was the moment allowed to
pass when their army was divided by the river Elk? Why in the south were
so many false movements and so much hesitation displayed? Because the
Americans had hitherto had combats but not battles; because, instead of
harassing an army and disputing hollows, they were obliged to protect
an open city, and manoeuvre in a plain, close to a hostile army, who,
by attacking them from behind, might completely ruin them. General
Washington, had he followed the advice of the people, would have
enclosed his army in a city, and thus have entrusted to one hazard the
fate of America; but, whilst refusing to commit such an act of folly, he
was obliged to make some sacrifice, and gratify the nation by a battle.
Europe even expected it; and although he had been created a dictator
for six months, the General thought he ought to submit everything to the
orders of congress, and to the deliberations of a council of war.

After having advanced as far as Wilmington, the general had detached a
thousand men under Maxwell, the most ancient brigadier in the army. At
the first march of the English, he was beaten by their advance
guard near Christiana Bridge. During that time the army took but an
indifferent station at Newport; they then removed a little south, waited
two days for the enemy, and, at the moment when these were marching upon
their right wing, a nocturnal council of war decided that the army was
to proceed to the Brandywine. The stream bearing that name covered its
front; the ford called Chad's Ford, placed nearly in the centre, was
defended by batteries. It was in that scarcely examined station that, in
obedience to a letter from congress, the Americans awaited the battle.
The evening of the 10th of September, Howe advanced in two columns,
and, by a very fine movement, the left column (about 8000 men under Lord
Cornwallis, with grenadiers and guards) directed themselves towards
the fords of Birmingham, three miles on our right; the other column
continued its road, and at about nine o'clock in the morning it appeared
on the other side of the stream. The enemy was so near the skirts of the
wood that it was impossible to judge of his force some time was lost in
a mutual cannonading. General Washington walked along his two lines, and
was received with acclamations which seemed to promise him success. The
intelligence that was received of the movements of Cornwallis was both
confused and contradictory; owing to the conformity of name betwixt two
roads that were of equal length and parallel to each other, the best
officers were mistaken in their reports. The only musket shots that had
been fired were from Maxwell, who killed several of the enemy, but was
driven back upon the left of the American army, across a ford by which
he had before advanced. Three thousand militia had been added to the
army, but they were placed in the rear to guard some still more distant
militia, and took no part themselves in the action. Such was the
situation of the troops when they learnt the march of Lord Cornwallis
towards the scarcely known fords of Birmingham: they then detached three
divisions, forming about five thousand men, under the generals Sullivan,
Stirling, and Stephen. M. de Lafayette, as volunteer, had always
accompanied the general. The left wing remaining in a state of
tranquillity, and the right appearing fated to receive all the heavy
blows, he obtained permission to join Sullivan. At his arrival, which
seemed to inspirit the troops, he found that, the enemy having crossed
the ford, the corps of Sullivan had scarcely had time to form itself
on a line in front of a thinly-wooded forest. A few moments after, Lord
Cornwallis formed in the finest order: advancing across the plain, his
first line opened a brisk fire of musketry and artillery; the Americans
returned the fire, and did much injury to the enemy; but their right and
left wings having given way, the generals and several officers joined
the central division, in which were M. de Lafayette and Stirling, and
of which eight hundred men were commanded in a most brilliant manner
by Conway, an Irishman, in the service of France. By separating that
division from its two wings, and advancing through an open plain, in
which they lost many men, the enemy united all their fire upon the
centre: the confusion became extreme; and it was whilst M. de Lafayette
was rallying the troops that a ball passed through his leg;--at that
moment all those remaining on the field gave way. M. de Lafayette was
indebted to Gimat, his aide-de-camp, for the happiness of getting upon
his horse. General Washington arrived from a distance with fresh troops;
M. de Lafayette was preparing to join him, when loss of blood obliged
him to stop and have his wound bandaged; he was even very near being
taken. Fugitives, cannon, and baggage now crowded without order into the
road leading to Chester. The general employed the remaining daylight
in checking the enemy: some regiments behaved extremely well but the
disorder was complete. During that time the ford of Chad was forced, the
cannon taken and the Chester road became the common retreat of the whole
army. In the midst of that dreadful confusion, and during the darkness
of the night, it was impossible to recover; but at Chester, twelve miles
from the field of battle, they met with a bridge which it was necessary
to cross; M. de Lafayette occupied himself in arresting the fugitives;
some degree of order was re-established; the generals and the
commander-in-chief arrived; and he had leisure to have his wound

It was thus, at twenty-six miles from Philadelphia, that the fate of
that town was decided, (11th September, 1777.) The inhabitants had heard
every cannon that was fired there; the two parties, assembled in two
distinct bands in all the squares and public places, had awaited the
event in silence. The last courier at length arrived, and the friends of
Liberty were thrown into consternation. The Americans had lost from 1000
to 1200 men. Howe's army was composed of about 12,000 men; their losses
had been so considerable that their surgeons and those in the country,
were found insufficient, and they requested the American army to supply
them with some for their prisoners. If the enemy had marched to
Derby, the army would have been cut up and destroyed: they lost an
all-important night; and this was perhaps their greatest fault, during a
war in which they committed so many errors.

M. de Lafayette, having been conveyed by water to Philadelphia, was
carefully attended to by the citizens, who were all interested in his
situation and extreme youth. That same evening the congress determined
to quit the city: a vast number of the inhabitants deserted their own
hearths--whole families, abandoning their possessions, and uncertain of
the future, took refuge in the mountains. M. de Lafayette was carried
to Bristol in a boat; he there saw the fugitive congress, who only
assembled again on the other side of the Susquehannah; he was himself
conducted to Bethlehem, a Moravian establishment, where the mild
religion of the brotherhood, the community of fortune, education, and
interests, amongst that large and simple family, formed a striking
contrast to scenes of blood, and the convulsions occasioned by a civil

After the Brandywine defeat, the two armies maneouvered along the banks
of the Schuylkill. General Washington still remained on a height above
the enemy, and completely out of his reach; nor had they again an
opportunity of cutting him off. Waine, an American brigadier, was
detached to observe the English; but, being surprised during the night,
near the White-Horse, by General Grey, he lost there the greatest part
of his corps. At length Howe crossed the Schuylkill at Swede's Ford, and
Lord Cornwallis entered Philadelphia.

In spite of the declaration of independence of the New States,
everything there bore the appearance of a civil war. The names of Whig
and Tory distinguished the republicans and royalists; the English army
was still called the _regular troops_; the British sovereign was always
designated by the name of the king. Provinces, towns, and families were
divided by the violence of party spirit: brothers, officers in the two
opposing armies, meeting by chance in their father's house, have seized
their arms to fight with each other. Whilst, in the rancour of
their pride, the English committed horrible acts of licence and
cruelty,--whilst discipline dragged in her train those venal Germans
who knew only how to kill, burn, and pillage, in the same army were
seen regiments of Americans, who, trampling under foot their brethren,
assisted in enslaving their wasted country. Each canton contained a
still greater number whose sole object was to injure the friends of
liberty, and give information to those of despotism. To these inveterate
Tories must be added the number of those whom fear, private interest, or
religion, rendered adverse to war. If the Presbyterians, the children
of Cromwell and Fairfax, detested royalty, the Lutherans, who had sprung
from it, were divided among themselves: the Quakers hated slaughter, but
served willingly as guides to the royal troops. Insurrections were by
no means uncommon: near the enemy's stations, farmers often shot each
other; robbers were even encouraged. The republican chiefs were exposed
to great dangers when they travelled through the country; it was always
necessary for them to declare that they should pass the night in one
house, then take possession of another, barricade themselves in it,
and only sleep with their arms by their side. In the midst of these
troubles, M. de Lafayette was no longer considered as a stranger; never
was any adoption more complete than his own: and whilst, in the councils
of war, he trembled when he considered that his voice (at twenty years
of age) might decide the fate of two worlds, he was also initiated in
those deliberations in which, by reassuring the Whigs, intimidating the
Tories, supporting an ideal money, and redoubling their firmness in the
hour of adversity, the American chiefs conducted that revolution through
so many obstacles.

Confined to his bed for six weeks, M. de Lafayette suffered from his
wound, but still more severely from his inactivity. The good Moravian
brothers loved him, and deplored his warlike folly. Whilst listening to
their sermons, he planned setting Europe and Asia in a flame. As he was
no longer able to do anything but write, he wrote to the commander of
la Martinique, and proposed to him to make a descent upon the English
islands under American colours. He wrote also to M. de Maurepas, and
offered to conduct some Americans to the Isle of France, concerting
previously with individuals an attack upon the English factories.~[21]
From the particulars which have since become known, that project in
India would have succeeded; but it was rejected at Versailles, where no
answers were yet vouchsafed to M. de Lafayette's letters. Bouillé more
ardent in temper, would have adopted the whole plan, but he could not
act without permission; and these delays led to the period of the war
which M. de Lafayette was so desirous of bringing on.

During his residence at Bethlehem, the English entrenched themselves at
Philadelphia. The two rivers which encompassed the town were united by
a chain of wooden palisades and good redoubts, partly covered by an
inundation. A portion of their army was encamped at Germantown, five
miles in advance of those lines; these were attacked, the 4th of
October, by Washington, and although his left column was retarded by an
absurd precedence of divisions, and misled by a thick fog,--although
the advance guard of the right, under Conway, attacked in front what
it ought to have attacked in flank, the enemy was not less taken by
surprise and beaten, and the general, with his victorious wing, passed
through the whole extent of the enemy's encampment. All things went on
well until then; but a false movement of the left column, and still
more the attack of a stone house which they should have turned, gave
the enemy time to rally. Howe was thinking of a retreat, but Cornwallis
arrived in haste with a reinforcement. The Americans repassed through
the English encampment, and the action ended by a complete defeat. Many
men were lost on both sides. General Agnew, an Englishman, and General
Nash, an American, were killed. The Americans had some dragoons under
Pulaski, the only one of the confederated Poles who had refused to
accept a pardon. He was an intrepid knight, a libertine and devotee,
and a better captain than general; he insisted on being a Pole on
all occasions, and M. de Lafayette, after having contributed to his
reception in the army, often exerted himself to effect a reconciliation
betwixt him and the other officers. Without waiting for his wound to
be closed, M. de Lafayette returned to head-quarters, twenty-five miles
from Philadelphia. The enemy, who had fallen back upon their lines,
attacked Fort Mifflin, upon an island, and Fort Red-Bank, on the left
side of the Delaware. Some _chevaux de frise_, protected by the forts,
and some galleys, stopped the fleet, magazines, and detachments which
had been sent from the Chesapeak. Amongst the skirmishes which took
place betwixt small parties of soldiers, the most remarkable one was
the surprise of a corps of militia at Cevoked-Billet,~[22] in which the
English burnt their wounded prisoners in a barn. Such was the situation
of the south, when news was received of the capitulation of Burgoyne.
That general, when he quitted Canada, had made a diversion on his right;
but Saint Leger had failed in an operation against Fort Schuyler; and he
himself, by advancing towards Albany, appeared to have lost much time.
Gates was constantly adding numerous militia to his continental troops.
All the citizens being armed militia, a signal of alarm assembled them,
or an order of state summoned them to march. But if that crusade were
rather a voluntary one, their residence at the camp was still more
dependent on their own inclination: the discipline was suitable to the
formation of the corps. The continentalists, on the contrary, belonged
to the thirteen states, of which each one supplied some regiments;
the soldiers were either engaged for the war or for three years, which
improper alternative was occasioned by republican jealousy. These
regular troops had military regulations, a severe discipline, and the
officers of each state vied with each other for promotion. Gates,
placed in an entrenched position, in the centre of woods, on the road
to Albany, and with the North river on his right, had assembled sixteen
thousand men; and this invasion of the enemy, by threatening New
England, had served as an instant summons to the brave militia. They had
already proved their strength at Bennington, where Stark had surrounded
and destroyed a detachment belonging to Burgoyne. The enemy, having
arrived within three miles of Gates, and not being able to make
a circuit round him without abandoning their cannon and military
accoutrements, attempted twice to force him; but they had scarcely
commenced their march when Arnold fell upon them with his division, and
in those woods, lined with sharpshooters, it was only possible for them
to reach the entrenchments. Arnold had his leg broken at the second
affair; Lincoln, the other major-general, was wounded also. Four
thousand men, who embarked at New York, had, it is true, ascended the
Hudson. Whilst Vaughan was needlessly burning Esopus, Clinton had taken
all the forts that defended the river. They were but little annoyed by
Putnam, who, in the first breaking out of the troubles, had thrown aside
his plough to bear to the army far more zeal than talent. But still that
diversion was too weak; and by a note which a spy who had been taken
swallowed, but which was recovered by an emetic, it was seen that
Clinton was aware of his own weakness. Burgoyne, abandoned by the
savages, regretting his best soldiers, and Frazer, his best general,
reduced to five thousand men, who were in want of provisions, wished
to retreat; but it was then too late: his communications were no longer
open; and it was at Saratoga, some miles in the rear of his army, that
he signed the celebrated convention. A brilliant troop, covered with
gold, filed out with Burgoyne: they encountered Gates and his officers,
all clothed in plain grey cloth. After a frugal repast, the two generals
beheld the conquered army filing out; and, as a member of parliament
said, "_five thousand men crossed the rebel country to take up their
winter quarters near Boston_." Clinton then redescended to New York,
and the militia returned to their domestic hearths. Gates' chief merit
consisted in his skilful choice of a position; Burgoyne's misfortune was
owing to the nature of the country, which was impracticable and almost
a desert. If the enemies of the former criticised the terms of the
convention, M. de Lafayette loudly proclaimed how glorious he thought
it; but he blamed Gates afterwards for rendering himself independent of
his general, and for retaining the troops which he ought to have sent
him. To obtain them, it was necessary to despatch Hamilton, a young man
of great talents, whose counsels had justly acquired much credit.~[23]

The forts of the Delaware had not yet yielded: that of Red-Bank,
defended by four hundred men, was attacked, sword in hand, by sixteen
hundred Hessians. The work having been reduced by Mauduit, a young
Frenchman, the enemy engaged betwixt the old and new entrenchments. They
were driven back with the loss of seven hundred men and Count Donop,
their chief, whose last words were--"_I die the victim of my own
ambition, and the avarice of my sovereign_." That fort was commanded
by an old and respected colonel, Greene, who, three years after, was
massacred by the English to whom he had surrendered, whilst, covering
him with his own body, an old negro perished heroically by his side.
Fort Mifflin, although attacked by land and water, did not defend itself
less valiantly; the _Augusta_, an English ship of the line, had been
already blown up; a frigate also perished; and Colonel Smith did not
even think of surrendering: but the island being attacked from an
unknown passage, the works were assaulted from the rear, and were
obliged to be evacuated. Lord Cornwallis and five thousand men having
fallen upon the Jerseys, it became also necessary to quit Red-Bank which
the Americans blew up before leaving it: General Greene, crossing the
river at Trenton opposed, with a precisely equal force, the detachment
of Cornwallis.

Although M. de Lafayette's wound was not yet sufficiently closed for him
to put on a boot, he accompanied Greene to Mount Holly; and detaching
himself in order to reconnoitre, he found the enemy, November 25th,
at Gloucester, opposite Philadelphia. The booty they had collected was
crossing the river. To assure himself more fully on this point M. de
Lafayette advanced upon the strip of land called Sandy Point, and for
this imprudence he would have paid dearly if those who had the power
of killing him had not depended too much on those who had the power of
taking him prisoner. After having succeeded in somewhat appeasing the
terror of his guides, he found himself, about four o'clock, two miles
from the English camp, before a post of four hundred Hessians with their
cannon. Having only three hundred and fifty men, most of them militia,
he suddenly attacked the enemy, who gave way before him. Lord Cornwallis
came up with his grenadiers; but, supposing himself to be engaged with
the corps of General Greene, he allowed himself to be driven back to
the neighbourhood of Gloucester, with a loss of about sixty men. Greene
arrived in the night, but would not attack the enemy. Lord Cornwallis
passed over the river, and the American detachment rejoined the army
at its station at Whitemarsh, twelve miles from Philadelphia. It had
occupied, since the last month, some excellent heights; the general's
accurate glance had discerned the situation of the encampment through an
almost impenetrable wood.

The slight success of Gloucester gratified the army, and especially the
militia. The congress resolved, that "it would be extremely agreeable to
them to see the Marquis de Lafayette at the head of a division."~[24] He
quitted, therefore, his situation of volunteer, and succeeded Stephen
in the command of the Virginians. The junction of Cornwallis having been
the work of some hours, and that of Greene requiring several marches,
it is difficult to imagine why Howe gave him time to arrive, and only
proceeded with his army on the 5th of December to Chesnut Hill, three
miles from Whitemarsh. After having felt his way with the right wing,
of which he stood in some awe, he threatened to attack the extreme left;
and that wing, following his own movements, stationed itself on the
declivity of the heights. Some shots were exchanged betwixt the English
light horsemen and the American riflemen, very skilful carabineers, who
inhabit the frontiers of the savage tribes. Not being able to attack
that position, and not wishing to make the circuit of it, Howe
returned, on the fourth day, to Philadelphia. In spite of the northern
reinforcements, the Americans were reduced to nine thousand, and the
advanced season diminished their numbers rapidly. The protection of the
country had cost the army dear. The 15th of December they marched toward
Swedes' Ford, where Lord Cornwallis was accidentally foraging on the
other side of the river. M. de Lafayette, being upon duty, was examining
a position, when his escort and the enemy fired upon each other.
The uncertainty being mutual, Lord Cornwallis and General Washington
suspended their march; the former having retired during the night, the
army crossed over the Schuylkill, and entrenched itself in the station
of Valley-Forge, twenty-two miles from Philadelphia. Having skillfully
erected there, in a few days, a city of wooden huts the army established
itself in its melancholy winter quarters. A small corps was detached to
Wilmington, and fortified itself, under the command of Brigadier-General

Notwithstanding the success in the north, the situation of the Americans
had never been more critical than at the present moment. A paper money,
without out any certain foundation, and unmixed with any specie, was
both counterfeited by the enemy and discredited by their partizans. They
feared to establish taxes, and had still less the power of levying
them. The people, who had risen against the taxation of England, were
astonished at paying still heavier taxes now; and the government was
without any power to enforce them. On the other side, New York and
Philadelphia were overstocked with gold and various merchandizes; the
threatened penalty of death could not stop a communication that was
but too easy. To refuse the payment of taxes, to depreciate the paper
currency, and feed the enemy, was a certain method of attaining wealth;
privations and misery were only experienced by good citizens. Each
proclamation of the English was supported by their seductions, their
riches, and the intrigues of the Tories. Whilst a numerous garrison
lived sumptuously at New York, some hundreds of men, ill-clothed
and ill-fed, wandered upon the shores of the Hudson. The army of
Philadelphia, freshly recruited from Europe, abundantly supplied with
everything they could require, consisted of eighteen thousand men: that
of Valley-Forge was successively reduced to five thousand men; and two
marches on the fine Lancaster road, (on which road also was a chain
of magazines,) by establishing the English in the rear of their right
flank, would have rendered their position untenable; from which,
however, they had no means of retiring. The unfortunate soldiers were
in want of everything; they had no coats, hats, shirts, or shoes; their
feet and legs froze till they became black, and it was often necessary
to amputate them. From want of money, they could neither obtain
provisions nor any means of transport; the colonels were often reduced
to two rations, and sometimes even to one. The army frequently remained
whole days without provisions, and the patient endurance of both
soldiers and officers was a miracle which each moment served to renew.
But the sight of their misery prevented new engagements; it was almost
impossible to levy recruits; it was easy to desert into the interior of
the country. The sacred liberty was not extinguished, it is true, and
the majority of the citizens detested British tyranny; but the triumph
of the north, and the tranquillity of the south, had lulled to sleep
two-thirds of the continent. The remaining part was harassed by two
armies; and, throughout this revolution, the great difficulty was, that,
in order to conceal misfortunes from the enemy, it was necessary
to conceal them from the nation also; that by awakening the one,
information was likewise given to the other; and that fatal blows would
have been struck upon the weakest points before democratic tardiness
could have been roused to support them. It was from this cause that,
during the whole war, the real force of the army was always kept a
profound secret; even congress was not apprised of it, and the generals
were often themselves deceived. General Washington never placed
unlimited confidence in any person, except in M. de Lafayette; because
for him alone, perhaps, confidence sprung from warm affection. As the
situation grew more critical, discipline became more necessary. In
the course of his nocturnal rounds, in the midst of heavy snows, de
Lafayette was obliged to break some negligent officers. He adopted in
every respect the American dress, habits, and food. He wished to be more
simple, frugal, and austere than the Americans themselves. Brought up in
the lap of luxury, he suddenly changed his whole manner of living, and
his constitution bent itself to privation as well as to fatigue. He
always took the liberty of freely writing his ideas to congress; or, in
imitation of the prudence of the general, he gave his opinion to some
members of a corps or state assembly, that, being adopted by them, it
might be brought forward in the deliberations of congress.

In addition to the difficulties which lasted during the whole of the
war, the winter of Valley-Forge recals others still more painful.
At Yorktown, behind the Susquehannah, congress was divided into two
factions, which, in spite of their distinction of south and east, did
not the less occasion a separation between members of the same state.
The deputies substituted their private intrigues for the wishes of the
nation. Several impartial men had retired; several states had but one
representative, and in some cases not even one. Party spirit was so
strong, that three years afterwards congress still felt the effects of
it. Any great event, however, would awaken their patriotism; and when
Burgoyne declared that his treaty had been broken, means were found
to stop the departure of his troops, which everything, even the few
provisions for the transports, had foolishly betrayed. But all these
divisions failed to produce the greatest of calamities--the loss of the
only man capable of conducting the revolution.

Gates was at Yorktown, where he inspired respect by his manners,
promises, and European acquirements. Amongst the deputies who united
themselves to him, may be numbered the Lees, Virginians, enemies of
Washington, and the two Adams. Mifflin, quarter-master-general, aided
him with his talents and brilliant eloquence. They required a name to
bring forward in the plot, and they selected Conway, who fancied himself
the chief of a party. To praise Gates, with a certain portion of the
continent and the troops, was a pretext for speaking of themselves.
The people attach themselves to prosperous generals, and the
commander-in-chief had been unsuccessful. His own character inspired
respect and affection; but Greene, Hamilton, Knox, his best friends,
were sadly defamed. The Tories fomented these dissensions. The
presidency of the war-office, which had been created for Gates,
restricted the power of the general. This was not the only
inconvenience; a committee from congress arrived at the camp, and the
attack of Philadelphia was daringly proposed. The most shrewd people did
not believe that Gates was the real object of this intrigue. Though a
good officer he had not the power to assert himself. He would have given
place to the famous General Lee, then a prisoner of the English, whose
first care would have been to have made over to them his friends and all

Attached to the general, and still more so to the cause, M. de Lafayette
did not hesitate for a moment; and, in spite of the caresses of one
party, he remained faithful to the other, whose ruin seemed then
impending. He saw and corresponded frequently with the general, and
often discused with him his own private situation, and the effect that
various meliorations in the army might produce. Having sent for his wife
to the camp, the general preserved in his deportment the noble composure
which belongs to a strong and virtuous mind. "I have not sought for this
place," said he to M. de Lafayette; "if I am displeasing to the nation I
will retire; but until then I will oppose all intrigues."

(1778.) The 22nd of January, congress resolved that Canada should be
entered, and the choice fell upon M. de Lafayette. The Generals Conway
and Stark were placed under him. Hoping to intoxicate and govern
so young a commander, the war-office, without consulting the
commander-in-chief, wrote to him to go and await his further
instructions at Albany.~[25] But after having won over by his arguments
the committee which congress had sent to the camp, M. de Lafayette
hastened to Yorktown, and declared there "that he required
circumstantial orders, a statement of the means to be employed, the
certainty of not deceiving the Canadians, an augmentation of generals,
and rank for several Frenchmen, fully impressed," he added, "with the
various duties and advantages they derived from their name; but the
first condition he demanded was, not to be made, like Gates, independent
of General Washington." At Gates' own house he braved the whole party,
and threw them into confusion by making them drink the health of their
general.~[26] In congress he was supported by President Laurens, and
he obtained all that he demanded. His instructions from the war-office
promised that 2500 men should be assembled at Albany, and a large corps
of militia at Coos; that he should have two millions in paper money,
some hard specie, and, all means supplied for crossing lake Champlain
upon the ice, whence, after having burnt the English flotilla, he was to
proceed to Montreal, and act there as circumstances might require.

Repassing then, not without some danger, the Susquehannah, which was
filled with floating masses of ice, M. de Lafayette set out for
Albany, and, in spite of the obstacles offered by ice and snow, rapidly
traversed an extent of four hundred miles. Whilst travelling thus on
horseback, he became thoroughly acquainted with the simplicity and
purity of the inhabitants, their patriarchal mode of life, and their
republican ideas. Devoted to their household cares, the women are
happy, and afford to their husbands the calmest and truest felicity. The
unmarried women alone is love spoken of, and their modesty enhances the
charm of their innocent coquetry. In the chance marriages which take
place in Paris, the fidelity of the wife is often repugnant to the
voice of nature and of reason, one might almost say to the principles
of justice. In America, a girl marries her lover, and it would be like
having two lovers at the same time if she were to break that valid
agreement; because both parties know equally how and in what manner they
are bound to each other. In the bosom of their own families, the men
occupy themselves with their private affairs, or assemble together to
regulate those of the state. They talk politics over their glasses,
and become animated by patriotism rather than strong liquor. Whilst the
children shed tears at the name of Tory, the old men sent up prayers to
Heaven that they might be permitted to see the end of that war. During
his repeated and rapid journeys, M. de Lafayette, mixing with all
classes of society, was not wholly useless to the good cause, to the
interest of the French, and to the party of General Washington.

M. de Lafayette, on arriving at Albany, experienced some
disappointments. Instead of 2500 men, there were not 1200. Stark's
militia had not even received a summons. Clothes, provisions, magazines,
sledges, all were insufficient for that glacial expedition. By making
better preparations and appointing the general earlier, success would
probably have been secured. Several Canadians began to make a movement,
and from that moment they testified great interest in M. de Lafayette;
but two months were requisite to collect all that was necessary, and
towards the middle of March the lakes begin to thaw. M. de Lafayette,
general, at twenty years of age, of a small army, charged with an
important and very difficult operation, authorized by the orders of
congress, animated by the expectations now felt in America, and which,
he knew, would ere long be felt likewise in Europe, had many motives
for becoming adventurous; but, on the other hand, his resources were
slender, the time allowed him was short, the enemy was in a good
position, and Lieutenant-General Carleton was preparing for him another
Saratoga. Forced to take a decisive step immediately, he wrote a calm
letter to congress, and with a heavy sigh abandoned the enterprise. At
the same period, congress, becoming a little less confident, despatched
to him some wavering counsels, which, arriving too late, only served to
compromise the general and justify the government. But the prudence of
M. de Lafayette was at length rewarded by the approbation of congress
and of the nation; and, until the opening of the campaign, he continued
to command that department.~[27] He found there that intrepid Arnold,
who was still detained by his wound, and who since ...... ; he became
intimately acquainted with Schuyler, the predecessor of Gates, in
disgrace as well as Saint-Clair, but who continued useful to the cause
from the superiority of his talents, his importance in that part of the
country, and the confidence he enjoyed in New York, of which state he
was a citizen.

If Canada did not herself send an offensive army, all the savages
were paid and protected by the English party: the Hurons and Iroquois
committed their devastations on that whole frontier. Some baubles or a
barrel of rum were sufficient to make them seize the tomahawk; they then
rushed upon villages, burnt houses, destroyed harvests, massacred all,
without regard to age or sex, and received on their return the price of
each bloody scalp they could exhibit. A young American girl, whom her
lover, an English, was expecting, that their marriage might take place,
was killed by the very savages he had sent to escort her. Two Americans
were actually eaten up by the Senecas, and a colonel of the English army
was a guest at that horrible repast. "It is thus," was often said to the
savages, whilst drinking with them at the councils, "it is thus we must
drink the blood of rebels." M. de Lafayette, conscious that he could not
protect such an immense extent of frontier, prepared quarters in
every direction, and announced the speedy arrival of troops in all the
counties; and this stratagem stopped the depredations of the savages,
who do not usually attack those places in which they expect to find much
resistance. But he kept the Albany troops close together, satisfied them
a little as to payment, provisioned the forts, which had been hitherto
neglected, and arrested a plot of which any particulars have never been
precisely known. He found in George Clinton, governor of the state of
New York, a firm and an enlightened co-operator.

Soon after, Schuyler and Duane, who were charged with the management of
the affairs of the savages, appointed a general assembly at Johnson's
Town, upon the Mohawk river. Recalling to them their former attachment
to the French, M. de Lafayette repaired thither in a sledge to shew
himself in person to those nations whom the English had endeavoured to
prejudice against him. Five hundred men, women, and children, covered
with various coloured paints and feathers, with their ears cut open,
their noses ornamented with rings, and their half-naked bodies marked
with different figures, were present at the councils. Their old men,
whilst smoking, talked politics extremely well. Their object seemed to
be to promote a balance of power; if the intoxication of rum, as that
of ambition in Europe, had not often turned them aside from it. M.
de Lafayette, adopted by them, received the name of _Kayewla_, which
belonged formerly to one of their warriors; and under this name he is
well known to all the savage tribes. Some louis which he distributed
under the form of medals, and some stuffs from the state of New York,
produced but little effect when compared to the presents they had
received from England. A treaty was entered into, which some of them
rigidly observed; and the course of the evil was at least arrested
for the present. The Oneidas and Tuscaroras, the only real friends the
Americans possessed, requested to have a fort; and M. de Lafayette left
them M. de Gouvion, a French officer, whose talents and virtues rendered
him of great value to the cause. Whenever savages were required at the
army, whenever there was any dealings with these tribes, recourse was
always had to the credit of M. de Lafayette, whose _necklaces_ and
_words_ were equally respected.

On his return, he found that the form of a new oath had been
established, which each civil and military officer was to take,
according to his own religious belief. _An acknowledgment of the
independence, liberty, and sovereignty of the United States; an eternal
renunciation of George III., his successors, and heirs, and every King
of England; a promise to defend the said states against the said George
III_.; this was the purport of the oath administered by him to the whole
northern department.~[28] At the approach of spring, M. de Lafayette was
recalled to the south. The affairs of General Washington were already in
a more flourishing condition. Several of the states recommended him
to their deputies; and from only suspecting one of them of being
unfavourable to him, the New York assembly wished to recal one of their
delegates. Congress had been a little recruited, and they were thinking
of recruiting the army. At Valley-Forge, M. de Lafayette found some
difficulty not from the substance, but merely from the form of the oath;
but that difficulty was easily obviated. A short time after, Simeon
Deane arrived with the treaty of commerce between France and the United

By quitting France in so public a manner, M. de Lafayette had served
the cause of the revolution. One portion of society was anxious for his
success and the attention of the other had become, to say the least,
somewhat occupied in the struggle. If a spirit of emulation made
those connected with the court desirous of war, the rest of the nation
supported the young rebel, and followed with interest all his movements;
and it is well known that the rupture that ensued was truly a national
one. Some circumstances relating to his departure having displeased the
court of London, M. de Lafayette omitted nothing that could draw more
closely together the nations whose union he so ardently desired. The
incredible prejudices of the Americans had been, augmented by the
conduct of the first Frenchmen who had joined them. These men gradually
disappeared, and all those who remained were remarkable for talents, or
at least for probity. They became the friends of M. de Lafayette,
who sincerely sought out all the national prejudices of the Americans
against his countrymen for the purpose of overcoming them. Love and
respect for the name of Frenchman animated his letters and speeches, and
he wished the affection that was granted to him individually to become
completely national. On the other side, when writing to Europe, he
denied the reports made by discontented adventurers, by good officers
who were piqued at not having been employed, and by those men who,
serving themselves in the army, wished to be witty or amusing by the
political contrasts they described in their letters. But, without giving
a circumstantial account of what private influence achieved, it is
certain that enthusiasm for the cause, and esteem for its defenders,
had electrified all France, and that the affair of Saratoga decided the
ministerial commotion. Bills of conciliation passed in the English house
of parliament, and five commissioners were sent to offer far more than
have been demanded until then. No longer waiting to see _how things
would turn out_, M. de Maurepas yielded to the public wish, and what his
luminous mind had projected, the more unchanging disposition of M. de
Vergennes put in execution. A treaty was generously entered into with
Franklin, Deane, and Arthur Lee, and that treaty was announced with more
confidence than had been for some time displayed. But the war was not
sufficiently foreseen, or at least sufficient preparations were not
made. The most singular fact is, that at the very period when the firm
resistance of the court of France had guided the conduct of two courts,
America had fallen herself into such a state of weakness, that she was
on the very brink of ruin. The 2nd of May, the army made a bonfire, and
M. de Lafayette, ornamented with a white scarf, proceeded to the spot,
accompanied by all the French. Since the arrival of the conciliatory
bills, he had never ceased writing against the commission, and against
every commissioner. The advances of these men were ill-received by
congress; and, foreseeing a French co-operation, the enemy began to
think of quitting Philadelphia.

General Washington sent two thousand chosen men across the Schuylkill
to collect intelligence. M. de Lafayette, their commander, repaired, the
18th of May, to Barren Hill, eleven miles from the two armies. On a good
elevation, his right resting upon some rocks and the river, on his left
some excellent stone houses and a small wood, his front sustained by
five pieces of cannon, and with roads in his rear, such was the position
of M. de Lafayette. An hundred dragoons whom he was expecting did not
arrive in sufficient time; but he stationed six hundred militia on his
left at Whitemarsh, and their general, Porter, made himself answerable
for those roads. On the evening of the 19th, Howe, who had just been
recalled, and Clinton, who replaced him, sent out a detachment of seven
thousand men, with fourteen pieces of cannon, under General Grant.
Passing behind the inundation, that corps proceeded on the road to
Francfort, and, by a circuitous movement, fell into that of Whitemarsh,
from which the militia had just thought proper to retire. On the morning
of the 20th, M. de Lafayette was conversing with a young lady, who, on
pretence of seeing her relations, to oblige him had consented to go
to Philadelphia, when he was informed that the red dragoons were at
Whitemarsh. It was the uniform of those he was expecting; he had placed
Porter there; he had promised to pay him a visit, and intended that very
evening to carry thither his detachment. But, for greater security, he
examined carefully into the truth of the report; and, ascertaining that
a column was marching on the left, he changed his front, and covered
it with the houses, the wood, and a small churchyard. Scarcely was that
movement ended, when he found himself cut off by Grant on the Swedes'
Ford road in his rear. It was in the presence of the troops that he
first heard the cry that he was surrounded, and he was forced to smile
at the unpleasant intelligence. Several officers, whom he had despatched
to Valley-Forge, declared that they had been unable to find a passage.
Every moment was precious, and M. de Lafayette proceeded on the road of
Matson Ford, to which the enemy was nearer than himself. General
Poor commanded his advance guard; and to him he sent Gimat, his own
confidential aide-de-camp. He placed himself as the rear guard,
and marched on with rapidity, but without precipitation. Grant had
possession of the heights, and M. de Lafayette's road lay immediately
beneath them. His apparent composure deceived his adversary; and
perceiving that he was reconnoitring him, he presented to him, from
among the trees and behind curtains, false heads of columns. The time
that Grant occupied in reconnoitring, and discovering an imaginary
ambuscade, M. de Lafayette employed in regaining the foreground; at
length he passed by Grant's column. He managed to impose likewise on
Grey's column, which followed him; and when the third division, under
Howe and Clinton, reached Barren Hill, the Americans had already passed
over Matson Ford. Forming themselves on the opposite shore, they awaited
the enemy, who dared not attack them. Advancing on the ground, Howe was
astonished at finding only one red line: the generals quarrelled; and
although the commander in chief had invited some ladies to sup with M.
de Lafayette, although the admiral, (Howe's brother,) knowing him to be
surrounded, had prepared a frigate for him, the whole army, (of which
half had made a march of forty miles,) returned, much fatigued, without
having taken a single man. It was then that fifty savages, friends of
the Americans, encountered fifty English dragoons; and the cries of war
on one side, and the appearance of the cavalry on the other, surprised
the parties so much that they both fled, with equal speed. The alarm had
been likewise great at Valley Forge; and the report of three pieces of
cannon that were there fired appeared an additional mystery to Grant.
The aim of the general being attained, the detachment returned to its
quarters, and M. de Lafayette was well received by the general and

An exchange of prisoners had long been talked of, and the cruelty of the
English rendered this measure more necessary. Cooped up in a vessel
at New York, and breathing a most noxious atmosphere, the American
prisoners suffered all that gross insolence could add to famine,
dirt, disease, and complete neglect. Their food was, to say the least,
unwholesome. The officers, often confounded with their soldiers,
appealed to former capitulations and to the right of nations; but they
were only answered by fresh outrages. When one victim sunk beneath such
treatment, "Tis well," was said to the survivors; "there is one
rebel less." Acts of retaliation had been but rarely practised by the
Americans; and the English, like other tyrants, mistook their mildness
and generosity for timidity. Five hundred Americans, in a half-dying
state, had been carried to the sea-shore, where the greatest number of
them soon expired, and the general very properly refused to reckon them
in exchange for his own prisoners of war. Another obstacle to the
cartel was the capture of Lee, who had been taken prisoner in 1776; the
congress insisted on his liberation, and, after much debating on both
sides, he was at length exchanged for General Prescot. Lee, who had been
formerly a colonel in the English service, a general in Poland, and a
fellow-soldier of the Russians and Portuguese, was well acquainted with
all countries, all services, and several languages. His features were
plain, his turn of mind caustic, his feelings ambitious and avaricious,
his temper uncomplying, and his whole appearance singular and
unprepossessing. A temporary fit of generosity had induced him to quit
the English service, and the Americans, at that period, listened to
him as to an oracle. In his heart he detested the general, and felt
a sincere affection for himself alone; but, in 1776, his advice had
undoubtedly saved both the general and the army. He made many advances
to M. de Lafayette, but the one was a violent Englishman, and the other
an enthusiastic Frenchman, and their intimacy was often interrupted
by their differences of opinion. Gates, whose great projects had been
frustrated, was at that time commanding a corps at White Plains, upon
the left side of the Hudson, opposite to the island of New York. Conway
had retired from service, and the place of inspector, which had been
created for him, was given to Steuben, an old Prussian, with moderate
talents, but methodical habits, who organized the army and perfected
their tactics. The congress received at that time some conciliatory
epistles, and the sentiments their answers breathed, like all the other
deliberations of that assembly, were nobly felt, and nobly expressed.
Lord Carlisle was president of the commission, and Lord Howe, Sir Henry
Clinton, Mr. Eden, and Governor Johnstone were its members. The last
named person wrote to some friends, who published his letters.

On the 17th of June, Philadelphia was evacuated. The invalids,
magazines, and heavy ammunition of the British were embarked with
the general; the commissioners of conciliation alone remained behind.
Passing over to Gloucester, the army marched in two columns, each
consisting of seven thousand men, commanded by Clinton and Knyphausen,
towards New York. The army of the United States, which was of nearly
equal force, directed itself from Valley Forge to Coryell's Ferry, and
from thence to King's Town, within a march of the enemy; it was thus
left at the option of the Americans, either to follow on their track, or
to repair to White Plains. In a council held on this subject, Lee very
eloquently endeavoured to prove that it was necessary to erect a bridge
of gold for the enemy; that while on the very point of forming an
alliance with them, every thing ought not to be placed at hazard; that
the English army had never been so excellent and so well disciplined;
he declared himself to be for White Plains: his speech influenced the
opinion of Lord Stirling and of the brigadiers-general. M. de Lafayette,
placed on the other side, spoke late, and asserted that it would be
disgraceful for the chiefs, and humiliating for the troops, to allow
the enemy to traverse the Jerseys tranquilly; that, without running, any
improper risk, the rear guard might be attacked; that it was necessary
to follow the English, manoeuvre with prudence, take advantage of
a temporary separation, and, in short, seize the most favourable
opportunities and situations. This advice was approved by many of the
council, and above all by M. du Portail, chief of the engineers, and
a very distinguished officer. The majority were, however, in favour of
Lee; but M. de Lafayette spoke again to the general on this subject in
the evening, and was seconded by Hamilton, and by Greene, who had been
lately named quarter-master in place of Mifflin. Several of the general
officers changed their opinion; and the troops having already begun
their march, they were halted, in order to form a detachment. When
united, there were 3,000 continentalists and 1,200 militia; the command
fell to the share of Lee, but, by the express desire of the general,
M. de Lafayette succeeded in obtaining it. Everything was going on
extremely well, when Lee changed his mind, and chose to command the
troops himself; having again yielded this point, he re-changed once
more; and as the general wished him to adhere to his first decision--"It
is my fortune and honour," said Lee, to M. de Lafayette, "that I place
in your hands; you are too generous to cause the loss of both!" This
tone succeeded better, and M. de Lafayette promised to ask for him
the next day. The enemy, unfortunately, continued their march; M. de
Lafayette was delayed by want of provisions; and it was not until the
26th, at a quarter to twelve at night, that he could ask for Lee, who
was sent with a detachment of one thousand men to Englishtown, on the
left side of the enemy. The first corps had advanced upon the right; and
M. de Lafayette, by Lee's especial order, joined him at midday, within
reach of the enemy from whom he fortunately succeeded in concealing this
movement. The two columns of the English army had united together at
Monmouth Court-house, from whence they departed on the morning of the
28th. Whilst following them, the Americans marched rapidly through the
woods of Freehold; and at eight o'clock the enemy's rear-guard was still
in the vicinity of the court-house. If Lee had continued the direction
he was then taking, he would have placed himself in an excellent
position, especially as the American army was advancing on the road to
Freehold; but the head of his cohort quitted the wood, into which it
was again forced to retreat by the enemy's cannon. Lee then addressing
himself to M. de Lafayette, told him to cross the plain, and attack the
left flank of the enemy; and whilst this manoeuvre, which exposed them
to the fire of the English artillery, was executing, he sent him an
order to fall back into the village in which he had placed the rest of
the troops. From thence he drew back still farther, and, changing
his attack to a retreat, he exposed himself to be driven back by Lord
Cornwallis, and subsequently by the whole English army, to whom good
space of time had been allowed to form themselves in proper order.

At the first retrograde movement, M. de Lafayette sent information to
the general of what was passing, who, arriving speedily on the spot,
found the troops retreating in confusion. "You know," said Lee, "that
all this was against my advice." The general, sending Lee to the
rear,~[30] himself formed seven or eight hundred men, and stationed
them, with some cannon, upon a chosen spot, and M. de Lafayette
undertook to retard the enemy's march. The English dragoons made their
first charge upon a small morass which sheltered him: the infantry
marched round to attack him on the other side, but he had sufficient
time to retire; and the army had by this time placed itself upon a
height, where he took the command of the second line. A cannonade was
kept up on both sides during the whole day, and two attacks of the enemy
were repulsed. A battery, placed on their left, obliged them to change
their position, and, when they presented their flank, the general
attacked them and forced them to retreat, until darkness interrupted all
operations. The American troops continued to gain ground, and Clinton
retired during the night, leaving behind him more than three hundred
dead and many wounded. The heat was so intense that the soldiers fell
dead without having received a single wound, and the fire of battle soon
became untenable. During this affair which ended so well, although begun
so ill, General Washington appeared to arrest fortune by his glance,
and his presence of mind, valour, and decision of character, were
never displayed to greater advantage than at that moment.~[31] Wayne
distinguished himself; Greene and the brave Stirling led forward the
first line in the ablest manner. From four o'clock in the morning until
night M. de Lafayette was momentarily obliged to change his occupations.
The general and he passed the night lying on the same mantle, talking
over the conduct of Lee, who wrote the next morning a very improper
letter, and was placed under arrest. He was afterwards suspended by a
council of war, quitted the service, and was not regretted by the army.
Clinton having retreated towards the hollows of Shrewsbury, the general
contented himself with the success already gained, and marched towards
White Plains; the second line, under M. de Lafayette forming the right
column. The 4th of July, being the anniversary of the declaration of
independence, was celebrated at Brunswick; and a few days later the army
learnt that the Count d'Estaing was before New York.~[32]

Twelve French vessels, which sailed from Toulon, had been three months
in reaching the Delaware: they arrived three days after the departure of
the English fleet, and, following it to New York, M. d'Estaing anchored
at Sandy-hook, outside the bar. He offered immense sums to be conveyed
across that bar, but the pilots declared that the large vessels drew too
much water, and the French finally agreed to attack Rhode Island, which
the enemy then occupied with a force of 5000 men, who had entrenched
themselves; whilst the state militia, under the command of Sullivan,
were stationed at Providence. M. Girard, a French minister, arrived on
board that squadron; he had been long most anxiously expected by the
Americans, and M. de Lafayette called his delay a proof of confidence.
The last mark of attention with which the court honoured M. de
Lafayette, had been an order to arrest him in the West Indies; he was,
in truth, out of favour in that quarter, and their displeasure had
increased on receiving his letters, which were dictated less by the
prudence of a philosopher than by the enthusiasm of a young lover of
liberty: but although no letters were addressed to him, M. d'Estaing
was not less kind and attentive in his conduct; and 2000 continentalists
having been despatched from White-Plains to Providence, M. de Lafayette,
who had exerted himself to hasten their departure, conducted them
rapidly along the sound, across a smiling country, covered with
villages, in which the evident equality of the population distinctly
proved the democracy of the government. From the apparent prosperity
of each colony, it was easy to judge of the degree of freedom which its
constitution might enjoy.

By forcing the passage between Rhode Island and Connecticut, M.
d'Estaing might easily have carried off as prisoners 1500 Hessians
who were stationed on the latter island; but he yielded to Sullivan's
entreaties, and waited until that general should be in readiness: but
although the troops of M. de Lafayette had traversed 240 miles, he found
on his arrival that no preparations were yet made. He repaired to
the squadron, and was received with the greatest possible attention,
especially by the general; and, as M. de Suffren was placed in front, he
carried back to him an order from M. d'Estaing to attack three frigates,
which, however, were burnt by their own crews. The American army
repaired, on the 8th of August, to Howland's Ferry, during the time that
the squadron was forcing its way between the two islands. General Greene
having joined the army, M. de Lafayette yielded to him the command of
half his corps; each then possessed a wing, of 1000 continentalists and
5000 militia. M. de Lafayette's corps was to receive the addition of
the two battalions of Foix and Hainaut, with some marines. The English,
fearing to be intercepted evacuated the forts on the right of the island
during the night of the 8th, and Sullivan landed with his troops the
next day. M. de Lafayette was expecting the French that afternoon, and
the boats were already under way, when a squadron appeared in sight on
the south of the island, at M. d'Estaing's former anchorage. Lord Howe,
brave even to audacity, having watched the movements of the French
admiral and his fleet, collected a greater number of ships, of which
the sizes were however too unequal; his position, and the southern
wind, would enable him, he thought, to throw succours into Newport where
General Pigot had concentrated his force; but the wind changed during
the night, and the next day M. d'Estaing, within sight of both armies
passed gallantly through the fire of the two batteries whilst the enemy,
cutting their cables, fled, under heavy press of sail. After a chase of
eight hours the two squadrons at length met, and Lord Howe would have
paid dearly for his temerity, had not a violent storm arisen, which
dispersed the ships. By a singular chance, several of Byron's vessels
came up at the same time on their return from Portsmouth, having been
separated at the Azores by a violent gale of wind. The _Languedoc_,
the admiral's ship, deprived of its masts and rudder, and driven by
the tempest to a distance from the other vessels, was attacked by the
_Isis_, of fifty guns, and owed its safety only to the courage and
firmness of M. d'Estaing. At length he succeeded in rallying his
squadron, and, faithful to his engagements, reappeared before Rhode
Island; but as he no longer possessed the superiority of force, he
announced his intention of repairing to Boston, where the _Cesar_ had
taken shelter after a combat. When the storm, which lasted three days,
subsided, the American army drew near Newport. This town was defended
by two lines of redoubts and batteries, surrounded by a wooden palisade,
the two concentrated fronts of which rested on the sea-shore, and were
supported by a ravine that it was necessary to cross. The trench was
opened, the heavy batteries established, and General Greene and M.
de Lafayette were deputed to go on board the French admiral ship,
to endeavour to obtain time, and propose either to make an immediate
attack, or to station vessels in the Providence river. If M. de
Lafayette had felt consternation upon hearing of the dispersion of the
fleet, the conduct of the sailors during the combat, which he learnt
with tears in his eyes, inspired him with the deepest grief. In the
council, where the question was agitated, M. de Brugnon (although five
minutes before he had maintained the contrary) gave his voice in
favour of Boston, and his opinion was unanimously adopted. Before they
separated, the admiral offered his two battalions to M. de Lafayette,
and appeared to feel great pleasure in being thus enabled to secure him
his rank in the French army; but these troops were useful on board, and
were not necessary on the island, and M. de Lafayette would not expose
them to danger for his own private interest. At the departure of the
vessels, there was but one unanimous feeling of regret and indignation.
Their lost time, extinguished hopes, and embarrassed situation, all
served to increase the irritation of the militia, and their discontent
became contagious. The people of Boston already spoke of refusing the
fleet admission into their port; the generals drew up a protestation,
which M. de Lafayette refused to sign. Carried away by an impulse of
passion, Sullivan inserted in an order "that our allies have abandoned
us." His ill humour was encouraged by Hancock, a member of congress,
formerly its president, and who then commanded the militia of
Massachusets stationed on the island. To him M. de Lafayette first
declared his intentions, and then, calling upon Sullivan, he insisted
upon the words used in the order of the morning being retracted in that
of the evening. Some hours after, the general returned his visit, and,
drawing him aside, a very warm altercation took place; but although
totally indifferent to the peril of a duel, Sullivan was neither
indifferent to the loss of the intimacy of M. de Lafayette, nor to the
influence this young Frenchman possessed at head-quarters, and over
congress and the nation; and in the numerous letters which M. de
Lafayette wrote on this occasion, he made ample use of his influence
over those three important powers.

Dr. Cooper, a presbyterian minister, was extremely useful at Boston;
and Hancock himself ended by repairing thither to receive the squadron.
Rather than yield to the public torrent, M. de Lafayette had risked his
own popularity; and in the fear of being guided by private interest,
he had gone to the extreme in the opposite line of conduct. He lived in
complete retirement, in his own military quarter, and was never seen but
at the trench or the council, in which latter place he would not allow
the slightest observation to be made against the French squadron. As
hopes were still entertained of obtaining assistance from the latter, it
was resolved to retreat to the north of the island; and M. de Lafayette
was sent on an embassy to M. d'Estaing. After having travelled all
night, he arrived at the moment when the general and his officers were
entering Boston. A grand repast, given by the town, was followed by a
conference between the council, the admiral, and himself, at which M.
d'Estaing, while he clearly demonstrated the insufficiency of his
naval force, offered to march himself with his troops. Every word was
submitted to M. de Lafayette, and the admiral remarked this deference
without appearing hurt by it. That same day, the 29th August, Sullivan
retreated from his post; and although the discontent which the militia
experienced had diminished the number of his troops, he conducted this
movement, and the attack which it occasioned, with great ability.

The next morning, at the same time that M. de Lafayette was informed of
the event, he learnt also that the two armies were in close contact
at the north of the island, and that Clinton had arrived with a
reinforcement. Traversing then eighty miles in less than eight hours,
he repaired to Howland's Ferry, arriving there just as the army was
re-crossing it. A corps of a thousand men had been left on the island,
surrounded with divisions of the enemy: M. de Lafayette undertook the
charge of them, and succeeded in withdrawing them without losing a
single man. When congress returned thanks to him for his conduct during
this retreat, they likewise expressed their gratitude for his journey to
Boston, at the very period when he might so rationally have expected
an engagement.~[33] Sullivan returned to Providence, and left M. de
Lafayette in the command of the posts around the island: the post of
Bristol, in which his principal corps was placed, was exposed to an
attack by water; he announced this to General Washington, to whom,
Sullivan said, he thought the same idea had also occurred. It was
at this place he learnt the affair of Ouessant, which he expected to
celebrate as an important victory; but the welfare of the squadron
recalled him to Boston, where he felt he could be useful to his
countrymen. The general dissatisfaction was soon appeased; and although
M. de Saint Sauveur had been killed accidentally in a tumult, the French
had nevertheless full cause to acknowledge the kindness and moderation
of the Bostonians. During a walk which he took with the Count d'Estaing,
M. de Lafayette pointed out to him the remains of the army of Burgoyne:
two soldiers of militia, stationed at each wing, alone constituted
its guard. Feeling that his presence was no longer necessary to the
squadron, and believing that it was his duty to return to France, M.
de Lafayette set out to rejoin the principal corps of the army at

During that time, the commissioners had made many addresses and
proclamations. By endeavouring to gain over one member, Johnstone had
displeased the congress, who refused to treat with him. In a public
letter, signed Carlisle, the French nation was taxed with a _perfidy
too universally acknowledged to require any new proof_. With the
effervescence of youth and patriotism, M. de Lafayette seized this
opportunity of opposing the commission; and the first impulse of M.
d'Estaing was to approve of his conduct. A haughty challenge was sent
from head-quarters to Lord Carlisle: the answer was an ill-explained
refusal; and the impetuosity of M. de Lafayette was attended with a
good result, whilst the prudence of the president was ridiculed in every
public paper.~[34]

Soon afterwards, during M. de Lafayette's residence at Philadelphia, the
commission received its death-blow; whilst he was breakfasting with the
members of congress, the different measures proper to be pursued were
frankly and cheerfully discussed. The correspondence which took place
at that time is generally known; the congress remained ever noble; firm,
and faithful to its allies: secretary Thomson, in his last letter to
Sir Henry Clinton, informs him, that "_the congress does not answer
impertinent letters_." To conceal nothing from the people, all the
proposals were invariably printed; but able writers were employed in
pointing out the errors they contained. In that happy country, where
each man understood and attended to public affairs, the newspapers
became powerful instruments to aid the revolution. The same spirit was
also breathed from the pulpit, for the Bible in many places favours
republicanism. M. de Lafayette, having once reproached an Anglican
minister with speaking only of heaven, went to hear him preach the
following Sunday, and the words, _the execrable house of Hanover_,
proved the docility of the minister.

M. de Lafayette addressed a polite letter to the French minister, and
wrote also to the congress, that, "whilst he believed himself free, he
had supported the cause under the American banner; that his country was
now at war, and that his services were first due to her; that he hoped
to return; and that he should always retain his zealous interest for the
United States." The congress not only granted him an unlimited leave of
absence, but added to it the most flattering expressions of gratitude.
It was resolved that a sword, covered with emblems, should be presented
to him, in the name of the United States, by their minister in France;
they wrote to the king; and the _Alliance_, of thirty-six guns, their
finest ship, was chosen to carry him back to Europe. M. de Lafayette
would neither receive from them anything farther, nor allow them to
ask any favour for him at the court of France. But the congress, when
proposing a co-operation in Canada, expressed its wish of seeing the
arrangement of the affair confided to him: this project was afterwards
deferred from the general's not entertaining hopes Of its ultimate
success. But although old prejudices were much softened,--although
the conduct of the admiral and the squadron had excited universal
approbation,--the congress, the general, and, in short, every one,
told M. de Lafayette that, in the whole circuit of the thirteen states,
vessels only were required, and that the appearance of a French corps
would alarm the nation. As M. de Lafayette was obliged to embark at
Boston, he set out again on this journey of four hundred miles; he
hoped, also, that he should be able to take leave of M. d'Estaing, who
had offered to accompany him to the islands; and whose friendship and
misfortunes affected him as deeply as his active genius and patriotic
courage excited his admiration. Heated by fatiguing journeys and over
exertion, and still more by the grief he had experienced at Rhode
Island; and having afterwards laboured hard, drank freely, and passed
several sleepless nights at Philadelphia, M. de Lafayette proceeded on
horseback, in a high state of fever, and during a pelting autumnal rain.
Fetes were given in compliment to him throughout his journey, and
he endeavoured to strengthen himself with wine, tea, and rum: but at
Fishkill, eight miles from head-quarters, he was obliged to yield to
the violence of an inflammatory fever. He was soon reduced to the last
extremity, and the report of his approaching death distressed the army,
by whom he was called _the soldier's friend_, and the whole nation were
unanimous in expressing their good wishes and regrets for _the marquis_,
the name by which he was exclusively designated. From the first moment,
Cockran, director of the hospitals, left all his other occupations to
attend to him alone. General Washington came every day to inquire after
his friend; but, fearing to agitate him, he only conversed with the
physician, and returned home with tearful eyes, and a heart oppressed
with grief.~[35] Suffering acutely from a raging fever and violent
head-ache, M. de Lafayette felt convinced that he was dying, but did
not lose for a moment the clearness of his understanding: having taken
measures to be apprised of the approach of death, he regretted that he
could not hope again to see his country and the dearest objects of his
affection. Far from foreseeing the happy fate that awaited him, he would
willingly have exchanged his future chance of life, in spite of his one
and twenty years, for the certainty of living but for three months,
on the condition of again seeing his friends, and witnessing the happy
termination of the American war. But to the assistance of medical art,
and the assiduous care of Dr. Cockran, nature added the alarming though
salutary remedy of an hemorrhage. At the expiration of three months, M.
de Lafayette's life was no longer in danger: he was at length allowed
to see the general, and think of public affairs. By decyphering a
letter from M. d'Estaing, he learnt that, in spite of twenty-one English
vessels, the squadron had set out for la Martinique. After having
spent some days together, and spoken of their past labours, present
situations, and future projects, General Washington and he took a tender
and painful leave of each other. At the same time that the enemies of
this great man have accused him of insensibility, they have acknowledged
his tenderness for M. de Lafayette; and how is it possible that he
should not have been warmly cherished by his disciple, he who, uniting
all that is good to all that is great, is even more sublime from his
virtues than from his talents? Had he been a common soldier, he would
have been the bravest in the ranks; had he been an obscure citizen, all
his neighbours would have respected him. With a heart and mind equally
correctly formed, he judged both of himself and circumstances with
strict impartiality. Nature, whilst creating him expressly for that
revolution, conferred an honour upon herself; and, to show her work to
the greatest possible advantage, she constituted it in such a peculiar
manner, that each distinct quality would have failed in producing the
end required, had it not been sustained by all the others.

In spite of his extreme debility, M. de Lafayette, accompanied by
his physician, repaired, on horseback, to Boston, where Madeira wine
effectually restored his health. The crew of the _Alliance_ was not
complete, and the council offered to institute a press, but M. de
Lafayette would not consent to this method of obtaining sailors, and it
was at length resolved to make up the required number by embarking
some English deserters, together with some volunteers from among the
prisoners. After he had written to Canada, and sent some necklaces to a
few of the savage tribes, Brice and Nevil, his aides-de-camp, bore his
farewell addresses to the congress, the general, and his friends.
The inhabitants of Boston, who had given him so many proofs of their
kindness and attention, renewed their marks of affection at his
departure; and the _Alliance_ sailed on the 11th of January. A winter
voyage is always boisterous in that latitude; but on approaching the
banks of Newfoundland, the frigate experienced a violent storm: her
main-top mast torn away, injured by a heavy sea, filling with water,
during one long dark night she was in imminent danger; but a still
greater peril awaited her, two hundred leagues from the coast of France.
His British Majesty, encouraging, the mutiny of crews, had issued a
somewhat immoral proclamation, promising them the value of every _rebel_
vessel that they should bring into an English port; which exploit could
only be performed by the massacre of the officers and those who opposed
the mutiny. This proclamation gave rise to a plot which was formed by
the English deserters and volunteers, who had most imprudently been
admitted, in great numbers, on board the ship: not one American or
Frenchman (for some French sailors had been found at Boston, after the
departure of the squadron) took part in this conspiracy. The cry of
_Sail_! was to be raised, and when the passengers and officers came on
deck, four cannon, loaded with canister shot, prepared by the gunner's
mate, were to blow them into atoms. An English serjeant had also
contrived to get possession of some loaded arms. The hour first named
was four in the morning, but was changed to four in the afternoon.
During that interim, the conspirators, deceived by the accent of an
American who had lived a long time in Ireland, and traded on its coast,
disclosed the plot to him, and offered him the command of the frigate:
the worthy man pretended to accept it, and was only able to inform the
captain and M. de Lafayette of the conspiracy one hour before the time
fixed for its execution. They rushed, sword in hand, upon deck, followed
by the other passengers and officers, called upon their own sailors to
assist them, and, seized thirty-one of the culprits, whom they placed
in irons. Many others were accused in the depositions, but it was judged
expedient to appear to rely upon the rest of the crew, although real
confidence was only placed in the French and Americans. Eight days
afterwards, the _Alliance_ entered safely the port of Brest, February,

When I saw the port of Brest receive and salute the banner which
floated on my frigate, I recalled to mind the state of my country and
of America, and my peculiar situation when I quitted France. The
conspirators were merely exchanged as English prisoners, and I only
thought of rejoining my family and friends, of whom I had received no
intelligence during the last eight months. When I repaired to a court
which had hitherto only granted me _lettres de cachet_, M. de Poix made
me acquainted with all the ministers. I was interrogated, complimented,
and exiled, but to the good city of Paris; and the residence of the
Hotel de Noailles was selected, instead of according me the horrors of
the Bastille, which had been at first proposed. Some days afterwards, I
wrote to the king to acknowledge an error of which the termination had
been so fortunate: he permitted me to receive a gentle reprimand in
person; and, when my liberty was restored to me, I was advised to avoid
those places in which the public might consecrate my disobedience by its
approbation. On my arrival, I had the honour of being consulted by all
the ministers, and, what was far better, embraced by all the ladies.
Those embraces lasted but one day; but I retained for a greater length
of time the confidence of the cabinet, and I enjoyed both favour at
the court of Versailles, and popularity at Paris. I was the theme of
conversation in every circle, even after the queen's kind exertions had
obtained for me the regiment of the king's dragoons. Times are widely
changed; but I have retained all that I most valued--popular favour and
the affection of those I love.

Amidst the various tumultuous scenes that occupied my mind, I did not
forget our revolution, of which the ultimate success still appeared
uncertain. Accustomed to see great interests supported by slender
means, I often said to myself that the expense of one _fête_ would have
organized the army of the United States; and to clothe that army I
would willingly, according to the expression of M. de Maurepas, have
unfurnished the palace of Versailles. In the meantime, the principal
object of the quarrel, American independence, and the advantage our
government and reputation would derive from seizing the first favourable
opportunity, did not appear to me sufficiently promoted by those immense
preparations for trifling conquests, and those projects conceived in the
expectation of peace; for no person seriously believed in war, not even
when it was declared, after the _hundredth injury_ had induced Spain to
enter into those co-operations which finally terminated in nothing more
than noisy exercises.


1. Note by M. de Lafayette upon the _Memoirs written by himself and his
American correspondence_.--Many papers relating to the first years of my
public life have been destroyed during the reign of terror. An
imperfect copy of these memoirs has been saved: this ought to have been
re-written; I have preferred copying it precisely as it was originally

Several letters written from America had been copied by my wife for
Dr. Dubrucil, (physician to the king and to _la Charité_, at St.
Germain-en-laza, deceased 1785,) whose friendship was the pride of one
portion of my life, and who has filled the remainder of it with a deep
and tender recollection. Those papers have been preserved; it would be
necessary to suppress some repetitions and insignificant details, but
I have left them almost all untouched, because, whilst forming this
collection, I felt pleasure in recalling the sentiments that had
animated me at various periods of my existence.

The Duke d'Ayen, my father-in-law, was not one of the least hasty and
severe censurers of my departure for America but he restored to me his
favour with all the kindness and sincerity which characterized him: his
affectionate congratulations deeply touched my heart. The same feeling
induces me at the present moment to repeat some details contained in the
letters I addressed to him.

2. Michel-Louis-Christophe-Roch-Gilbert de Motier, Marquis de Lafayette,
colonel of the grenadiers of France, Chevalier de St. Louis, killed at
the battle of Minden before the age of twenty-five.

3. The college du Plessis.

4. Marie-Louise-Julie de la Rivière, died at Paris the 12th of April,
1770, some days before her father Joseph-Yves-Thibauld-Hyacinthe,
Marquis de la Rivière.

5. Previous to the marriage of M. de Lafayette, we have only one letter
written by him at fourteen years of age, the 8th of February, 1772,
which will be read perhaps with some curiosity. It is addressed to his
cousin, Mademoiselle de Chavaniac.

"I have just received, my dear cousin, your letter, and the good account
you give me of my grandmother's health. After that, which was what first
touched my heart, I was much interested by the account of the hunt of
the proprietor of the forests of Lata. I should like very much to know
whether those dogs that neither walk nor bark contributed to the success
of the expedition? The details of that hunt would have amused me very
much; if I had been speaking to you of a new-fashioned cap, I should
have thought it my duty to have described to you its figure and
proportions, with a compass in my hand.

"Our cousin's marriage is broken off; there is another one on
the carpet, but they are obliged to lower their tone exceedingly.
Mademoiselle de Roucherolles, a place with Madame de Bourbon, of a
thousand crowns a-year, and five thousand small livres a-year--that is
the whole amount. You see that this is a very short abridgment of the
other intended matches. My uncle, who came to see me the other day,
consents to the marriage, on condition that the Prince de Condé will
promise one of his regiments of cavalry to the cousin. Madame de
Montboissier thinks this is asking too much, and told M. le Marquis de
Canillic that, in truth, if he were so difficult, her husband would no
longer take any part in his affairs; this offended him and some high
words passed on both sides. The nephew does not care much about the
marriage. He said, there were in his own province far better matches,
which he named, that would not be refused him.

"I thought I had written you word that the Cardinal de Le Roche-Aimon
was abbé de St. Germain. It is said that M. de Briges has the barony
de Mercoeur. M. de la Vauguyon has died, little regretted either by the
court or by the town. The ball of last Thursday is put off to the 15th,
that is to say, for week hence. I dined, the day before yesterday,
Thursday, with M. de la Tour d'Auvergne, who is on a complimentary
footing with M. de Turenne, now Duke de Bouillon. He told us he should
lose perhaps a million from politeness. You will recognise him by that

"Adieu, dear cousin; my respects, if you please, to all the family; M.
de Fayon presents his to you, and I remain your obedient servant,


6. A place in the household of a prince of royal blood. The Marshal
de Noailles wished for this arrangement. To prevent it without openly
opposing the will of those he loved, M. de Lafayette took an opportunity
of displeasing, by a few words, the prince, to whose person they were
desirous of attaching him, and all negotiations on the subject were thus
broken off. We do not believe that since that period a reconciliation
has ever taken place between him and Louis XVIII.

7. In 1828, Mr. Jared Sparks, a distinguished American author, intending
to form a collection of the writings of Washington, which he is at
present publishing at Boston, made a voyage to France to converse
with M. de Lafayette, and consult the archives of foreign affairs. He
obtained from the general many anecdotes, letters, and documents, of
which extracts have enriched his publication. At the close of vol. v.,
he has placed an appendix, containing the account of the departure of M.
de Lafayette from France, and his arrival in America. We doubt not
but that the details of that narration were related, nay, perhaps even
written, by the general himself. We shall therefore quote some extracts
from it without hesitation, which, placed as notes, will completely
elucidate the text of these memoirs.

"In the summer of 1776," says Mr. Sparks, "M. de Lafayette was stationed
on military duty at Metz, being then an officer in the French army. It
happened at this time that the Duke of Gloucester, brother to the King
of England, was at Metz, and a dinner was given to him by the commandant
of that place. Several officers were invited, and among others
Lafayette. Despatches had just been received by the duke from England,
and he made their contents the topic of conversation; they related to
American affairs, the recent declaration of independence, the resistance
of the colonists, and the strong measures adopted by the ministry to
crush the rebellion.

"The details were new to Lafayette; he listened with eagerness to the
conversation, and prolonged it by asking questions of the duke. His
curiosity was deeply excited by what he heard, and the idea of a people
fighting for liberty had a strong influence upon his imagination; the
cause seemed to him just and noble, from the representations of the duke
himself; and before he left the table, the thought came into his head
that he would go to America, and offer his services to a people who were
struggling for freedom and independence. From that hour he could think
of nothing but this chivalrous enterprise. He resolved to return to
Paris and make further inquiries.

"When he arrived in that city, he confided his scheme to two young
friends, Count Segur and Viscount de Noailles, and proposed that they
should join him. They entered with enthusiasm into his views; but as
they were dependent on their families, it was necessary to consult their
parents, who reprobated the plan and refused their consent. The
young men faithfully kept Lafayette's secret: his situation was more
fortunate, as his property was at his own disposal, and he possessed an
annual revenue of nearly two hundred thousand livres.

"He next explained his intentions to the Count de Broglie who told him
that his project was so chimerical, and fraught with so many hazards,
without a prospect of the least advantage, that he could not for a
moment regard it with favor, nor encourage him with any advice which
should prevent him from abandoning it immediately. When Lafayette found
him thus determined, he requested that at least he would not betray him
for he was resolved to go to America. The Count de Broglie assured him
that his confidence was not misplaced; 'But,' said he, 'I have seen your
uncle die in the wars of Italy; I witnessed your father's death at the
battle of Minden; and I will not be accessary to the ruin of the only
remaining branch of the family: He then used all his powers of argument
and persuasion to divert Lafayette from his purpose, but in vain.
Finding his determination unalterable, the Count de Broglie said, as he
could render him no aid, he would introduce him to the Baron de Kalb,
who he knew was seeking an opportunity to go to America, and whose
experience and counsels might be valuable.--(The Writings of George
Washington, vol. v. Appendix, No. 1, p. 445.)

8. M. du Boismartin was the person sent to Bourdeaux to secure the
purchase and equipment of the ship that M. de Lafayette intended for the
United States.--(Sparks, loc. cit.)

9. It is a singular coincidence that, at the same time that General
Washington, who had never left America, reduced to corps of two thousand
men, did not despair of the common cause, the same sentiment was
animating, two thousand leagues from thence, the breast of a youth
of nineteen, who was destined to become one day his intimate friend,
partake with him the vicissitudes and happy termination of that
revolution, and afterwards carry back to another hemisphere the
principles of liberty and equality which formed its basis.

10. With the Prince de Poix. This journey lasted three weeks.

11. The Marquis de Noailles, brother to the Duke d'Aven, and uncle to
Madame de Lafayette.

12. M. de Lafayette learnt, at Bordeaux, that his intended departure was
known at Versailles, and that the order to prevent it had been already
issued. After having taken his ship to the common port of the Passage,
he returned himself to Bordeaux, and wrote to the ministers, to his
family and friends. Amongst the latter was M. de Coigny, to whom he sent
a confidential person, and who bade him entertain no hopes of obtaining
the permission he wished for. Pretending to repair to Marseilles, where
he had received an order to join his father-in-law, who was going into
Italy, he set off in a postchaise with an officer named Mauroy, who
was desirous of going to America. Some leagues from Bordeaux he got
on horseback, disguised as a courier, and rode on before the carriage,
which took the road to Bayonne. They remained two or three hours in
that town, and whilst Mauroy was arranging some necessary affairs, M.
de Lafayette remained lying on some straw in the stable. It was the
postmaster's daughter who recognised the pretended courier Saint Jean
de Luz, from having seen him when returning from the Passage harbour to
Bordeaux. (Sparks, loc. cit.)

13. These memoirs, written until now in the first person, change here to
the third person, in spite of the kind of engagement taken in the first
page to continue them in the former manner. We are ignorant of the cause
of the inconsistency thus offered by the manuscript, which is, however,
completely written in the general's own hand.

14. See, at the end of these memoirs, amongst the various fragments,
fragment A.

15. The court of France despatched orders to the Leeward and Windward
Islands to stop him on his road, because the ship, not being able to
take out papers for North America, was to have stopped in the Spanish
islands. (Manuscript No. 1.) Mr. Sparks relates that M. de Lafayette
declared to the captain that the ship belonged to him, and that if he
offered the slightest resistance, he would take from him the command and
give it to the mate. But as he soon discovered that the real motive of
the captain's resistance was a cargo belonging to him of 8000 dollars,
M. de Lafayette secured to him its full value upon his own private
fortune, and thus succeeded in overcoming all his scruples.
(Washington's writings, loc. cit.)

16. When they landed, says Mr. Sparks, a distant light served to guide
them. As they approached the house from whence it issued, the dogs
barked, and the people took them for a band of marauders landing from an
enemy's ship. They were asked who they were, and what they wanted. Baron
Kalb replied and all suspicions vanished. The next morning the weather
was beautiful. The novelty of all that surrounded him,--the room, the
bed covered with mosquito nets, the black servant who came to ask his
commands, the beauty and foreign aspect of the country which he beheld
from his windows, and which was covered by a rich vegetation,--all
united to produce on M. de Lafayette a magical effect, and excite in him
a variety of inexpressible sensations. (Sparks, appendix.)

17. An American, who must not be confounded with the two brothers of
that name who commanded the one the English army, the other the English

18. When he arrived at Philadelphia, M. de Lafayette delivered his
letters to Mr. Lovell, president of the committee for foreign affairs.
The next day he proceeded to congress: Mr. Lovell came out of the
meeting, and told him there was but little hope of his request being
acceded to. Suspecting that his letters had not been read, M. de
Lafayette wrote the note which will be found in the text. The resolution
of the congress concerning him, deliberated the 31st of July, is
expressed in the following manner: "Seeing that the Marquis de
Lafayette, on account of his great zeal in the cause of liberty in which
the United States are engaged, has quitted his family and country, and
has come to offer his services to the United States, without demanding
either pay or private indemnity, and that he desires to expose his life
in our cause,--resolved, that his services be accepted, and that, on
account of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he shall have
the rank and commission of major-general in the army of the United
States." The real intention of this resolution was to give a rank to M.
de Lafayette, and to leave to General Washington the right and care
of confiding to him a command in unison with that rank. (Letters of
Washington, 2nd part. V, p. 10, 35, and 128, and appendix No. I.)

19. He was presented, for the first time, to Washington, says Mr.
Sparks, at a dinner, at which several members of congress were present.
When they were separating, Washington drew Lafayette aside, expressed
much kindness for him, complimented him upon his zeal and his
sacrifices, and invited him to consider the headquarters as his own
house, adding, with a smile that he could not promise him the luxuries
of a court, but that as he was become an American soldier, he would
doubtless submit cheerfully to the customs and privations of a
republican army. The next day Washington visited the forts of the
Delaware, and invited Lafayette to accompany him. (Sparks, ibid.)

20. See fragment B.

21. From Bethlehem he wrote to M. de Boullé, governor of the Windward
Islands, to propose to him to attack the English islands under American
colours. That general approved of the project, and forwarded it to the
court, who would not, however, accept it. At the same period, M. de
Lafayette, although in disgrace himself at court, wrote to the Count de
Maurepas, to propose to him a still more important enterprise against
the English factories, but also under American colours. The old
minister, from prudential motives, did not adopt this project, but
he spoke publicly in praise of it, and expressed, ever after, a great
partiality for Lafayette. "He will end, one day," said he, smiling, "by
unfurnishing the palace of Versailles to serve the American cause; for
when he has taken anything into his head, it is impossible to resist
him."--(Note by M. de Lafayette.)

22. This name is very illegible in the manuscript.

23. The celebrated Alexander Hamilton, one of the authors of the

24. Journal of Congress, 1st December, 1777.

25. See fragment C, at the end of the Memoirs.

26. After having thus declared himself, he wrote to congress that "he
could only accept the command on condition of remaining subordinate to
General Washington, of being but considered as an officer detached from
him, and of addressing all his letters to him, of which those received
by congress would be but duplicates." These requests, and all the others
he made, were granted. (Manuscript No. 2.)

27. He had the discretion to renounce an expedition which, undertaken
without proper means, would have produced fatal effects upon the whole
northern part of the United States. At Georgetown, the present residence
of congress, some anxiety was experienced, because they feared that M.
de Lafayette had trusted himself upon the lakes in the season of the
year when the ice begins to melt. The counter orders that were sent
him would have arrived too late; and when it became known that he had
himself renounced the expedition, he received the thanks of congress
and of the minister of war, General Gates, who, in spite of the line
of conduct Lafayette had pursued during his quarrel with General
Washington, had always expressed great respect and esteem for him.
(Manuscript No. 1.)

28. It is singular that the oath of renunciation to Great Britain
and her king, which every one employed in the continental service was
obliged to take at that time, should have been administered in one half
of the United States by a Frenchman of twenty years of age. (Manuscript
No. 2.)

29. See, after these Memoirs, fragment D.

30. The two battalions formed to arrest the enemy's march were placed
by General Washington himself. When, after having expressed his own
feelings of dissatisfaction, he wished to give himself time to form
his army on the heights behind the passage, he left there Major-General
Lafayette, Brigadier-General Knox, commanding the artillery, and
some officers of his staff. The colonels were good officers, and the
battalions conducted themselves perfectly well. When the army was ranged
in order of battle, General Greene commanded the right of the first
line, Lord Stirling the left, and Lafayette the second line. (Manuscript
No. 2.)

31. General Washington was never greater in battle than this action. His
presence stopped the retreat; his arrangements secured the victory. His
graceful bearing on horseback, his calm and dignified deportment, which
still retained some trace of the displeasure he had experienced in the
morning, were all calculated to excite the highest degree of enthusiasm.
(Manuscript No. 2.)

32. See, after these Memoirs, the fragment E.

33. See fragment F.

34. The following was written by M. de Lafayette twenty years after
the presumed date of the memoirs:--"Lord Carlisle refused,--and he was
right. The challenge, however, excited some jokes against the commission
and its president, which, whether well or ill founded, are always
disadvantageous to those who become their objects."--(Manuscript No.
1.) "Lord Carlisle was right: but the challenge appearing the result of
chivalric patriotism, party spirit took advantage of the circumstance,
and the feeling which had inspired this irregular step was generally
approved."--(Manuscript No. 2.)

35. General Washington--who, when Lafayette was wounded at Brandywine,
said to the surgeon, "_Take care of him as if he were my son, for I love
him the same_"--expressed for him, during this illness, the most tender
and paternal anxiety.--(Manuscript No. 1.)




1. We have already mentioned these manuscripts. The one we term
_Manuscript No. 1_, consists of a rapid sketch of the American life
of General Lafayette; the other one, or _Manuscript 2_, is entitled,
_Observations on some portion of the American History, by a Friend of
General Lafayette_. Both appear to have been written about the period of
the empire. Fragment A is drawn from the Manuscript No. 2.

       *       *       *       *       *



The histories of the American war and revolution are, generally
speaking, very favourable to M. de Lafayette; the life of Washington, by
Mr. Marshall, is especially so. There is one phrase, however, (page
410 of the third volume of the London edition,) which requires
some explanation. "_He left France ostensibly in opposition to his
sovereign_." This circumstance is treated in a more lucid and exact
manner in the following works:--_The History, etc., by William Gordon,
D.D._, vol. ii., pages 499 and 500. _London_, 1788.--_The History of the
American Revolution, by Dr. Ramsay_, vol. ii., page 11. _Philadelphia_,

The importance of this step was increased by a peculiar circumstance.
The preparations for the purchase and equipment of the vessel had
delayed Lafayette's departure until the period which had been long
previously fixed upon for an excursion of some weeks into England; this
enabled him to conceal his departure; the American commissioners were
well pleased to take advantage of this accident. Lafayette refused the
proposals which were made him in London to visit the ports, or to do
anything which could be construed into an abuse of confidence. He
did not conceal his partiality for the American insurgents; but he
endeavoured to profit by the parade with which, from political motives,
the king and his ministry received at that period all persons coming
from the court of France, and the attention which was paid them. The
Marquis de Noailles, the ambassador, was his uncle. Lafayette felt no
scruple in compromising the diplomatic character of this representation
of the King of France, so that the _maximum_ of the favourable effect
that his departure could produce was obtained in England.

The same result took place in France. It would be difficult at
this period to imagine into what a state of political and military
insignificance the nation and government had been reduced during the
war of seven years, and, above all, after the partition of Poland. The
French ministry had personally, at that period, the reputation of great
circumspection; the few indirect relations it permitted itself to hold
with the agents of the insurgent colonies were only managed through
the medium of unacknowledged agents, and were discovered the moment
the ambassador pretended to become acquainted with them, or that
the Americans could have drawn any advantage from them. Amongst the
departures on which the ministers were kind enough to close their eyes,
there were only four engineers for whom this toleration was in truth
a secret mission.~[1] One word from Lord Stormont was sufficient to
procure the detention, discharge, and sometimes imprisonment of the
Americans admitted into our ports: their liberty or property was only
restored to them surreptitiously, and as if escaping from the vigilance
of a superior.

Amidst this labyrinth of precautions, feebleness, and denials, the
effect may be conceived that was produced at Versailles by the bold step
taken by a youth of distinguished birth and fortune, allied to one of
the first families of the court, by whom the King of England and his
ministers would fancy themselves braved and even laughed at, and whose
departure would leave no doubt as to the connivance of the ambassador
and government of France. The displeasure of the rulers was roused
to the highest pitch: a portion of Lafayette's family shared in this
displeasure. He had secretly traversed France. Having met near Paris
with Carmichael, secretary of the American agents, he had urged the
immediate departure of his vessel from Bordeaux, preferring to complete
the necessary arrangements at the Spanish port of Passage. He returned
himself to Bordeaux, in the hope of obtaining a consent which he
considered would be useful to his cause. The return of his courier
having informed him that they would not condescend to give an answer to
such an indiscreet request, he hastened to quit France himself in the
disguise of a courier, and lost no time in setting sail.

The government, to appease as far as possible, the English ambassador,
despatched two light vessels to the Leeward and Windward Islands to stop
Lafayette. At that period, the French navigators did not risk steering
straight towards the American continent; they first repaired to the
West Indies, and, taking out papers for France, they ranged as close as
possible to the American coast, and endeavoured to seize a favourable
moment or pretext to steal into a harbour. Lafayette's vessel had
followed the common course of all expeditions; but its youthful owner,
who had several officers with him, and had won the affection of the
crew, obliged the captain to take a straightforward direction. A lucky
gale of wind drove off the frigates that had been cruising on the
preceding day before Georgetown, and he sailed into that port, having
been protected by fate against the various obstacles which had been
opposed to his enterprise.

But whilst the French government thus seconded the views of the English
government, the departure of young Lafayette produced, in Paris, in the
commercial towns, in all societies, and even at court, a sensation that
was very favourable to the American cause. The enthusiasm it excited was
in a great measure owing to the state of political stagnation into which
the country had so long been plunged, the resentment excited by
the arrogance of England, her commissioner at Dunkirk, her naval
pretensions, and the love inherent in all mankind of bold and
extraordinary deeds, especially when they are in defiance of the
powerful, and to protect the weak in their struggle for liberty. To
these peculiar circumstances may be imputed the increased interest and
attention, the strong national feeling, and the constantly augmenting
force of public opinion to which the French government at length
yielded, when, in its treaties with the United States, it formed
engagements with them, and commenced a war with England, which were both
equally opposed to its real character and inclination.


1: MM. de de Gouvion, Duportail, Laradiére, and Laumoy.



The appearance of the two brothers Howe before the capes of the Delaware
had given rise to the supposition that it was upon that side they
intended to land. General Washington repaired with his army towards the
neighbourhood of Philadelphia. That army had been recruiting during the
winter. Washington went to Philadelphia to attend a public dinner given
in honour of him. It was then Lafayette was introduced to him. This
young foreigner had travelled by land over the southern states, and had
made a direct application to the congress, requesting to serve at first
as volunteer, and to serve at his own expense. The members were much
struck with two requests differing so widely from those of several other
officers, and of one in particular, an officer of artillery, who had
made great pretensions on his arrival, and had soon afterwards drowned
himself in the Schuylkill. The rank of major-general (the highest in
the American army) was given to Lafayette. Washington received the young
volunteer in the most friendly manner, and invited him to reside in his
house as a member of his military family, which offer Lafayette accepted
with the same frankness with which it was made.

He remained there until he was appointed to the command of a division.
The court of France had required that the American envoys should write
to America to prevent Lafayette from being employed in their army. They
did not hasten to despatch that letter, and, when its contents became
known, the popularity of Lafayette was so great that it could not
produce any effect. It is thus evident, that from the first moment of
his embracing the American cause every obstacle was thrown in his way;
all of which, however, he encountered and surmounted. (Manuscript No.



Amongst the various means employed to deprive the general-in-chief of
his friends, attempts were made to awaken the ambition of Lafayette, who
already enjoyed much popularity in the army and in the country, and who
besides appeared to the enemies of Washington, from his relations with
Europe, one of the men whom it was most important to draw into their
party. They fancied they should gain him over by offering him the
government of the north, which Gates had just quitted, and by the hope
of an expedition into Canada. General Washington received a packet
from the minister of war, enclosing a commission for Lafayette as an
independent commander-in-chief, with an order to repair to the congress
to receive instructions. The general placed it in his hands, without
allowing himself any observation on the subject. Lafayette immediately
declared to three commissioners of congress, who happened to be at that
moment in the camp, "that he would never accept any command independent
of the general, and that the title of his aide-de-camp appeared to
him preferable to any other that could be offered him." When General
Washington received the order of congress, he only said to his young
friend, whilst placing the letter in his hand, "I prefer its being for
you rather than for any other person."

The military commands, during the winter of 1777-1778, were distributed
in the following manner:--General Washington assembled in some huts at
Valley-Forge what was termed the principal army, reduced at that time
to four or five thousand half-clothed men. General Mac-Dougal had the
direction of a station at Peekskill. Lafayette commanded what was called
the northern army, that is to say, a handful of men; his head-quarters
were at Albany. The enemy made a few incursions, but of slight
importance; and by the exercise of great vigilance, and a judicious
choice of stations, the winter passed away tranquilly. Lafayette had
under his orders two general officers, who had been engaged in the
service of France, namely, General Kalb, a German by birth, who came
over in the same vessel with himself; and General Conway, an Irishman,
who had been a major in a regiment of that nation, also in the service
of France. Besides the four engineers who have been before named,
and these two officers, we must also mention, amongst the foreigners
employed in the service of the United States, Pulaski, a Polish
nobleman, who had taken a conspicuous part in the confederation of his
own country, and who, after the success of the Russians, had arrived
in America with letters of introduction to the congress, General
Washington, and General Lafayette; Kosciuszko, his countryman, who was
a colonel of engineers in America, and who afterwards acted such a grand
and noble part during the last revolutions in Poland; Ternant, by birth
a Frenchman, who has served the United States, Holland, and France
with great ability; La Colombe, aide-de-camp to Lafayette, who has been
subsequently so usefully employed in the French revolution; the Marquis
de la Royerie, whom disappointed love brought to the United States, and
who has since taken part in the counter-revolution; Gimat, aide-de-camp
to Lafayette, who has since had the command in the French islands;
Fleury, who distinguished himself in the defence of Fort Mifflin, and
in the attack of the fort of West-Point, and who afterwards died a
field-marshal in France; Mauduit-Duplessis, an extremely brave officer
of artillery, who has since taken part against the French revolution,
and was massacred at Saint Domingo; Touzard, an officer of artillery,
who lost his arm at Rhode Island, where he was acting as aide-de-camp
to Lafayette; Major Lenfant, employed as engineer; Baron Steuben, a
Prussian officer, a good tactician, who arrived at the commencement of
1778, and was of essential service in disciplining the American troops.
These officers, and several others, obtained employment in America. The
greatest number, however, of those who presented themselves were refused
service, and returned to France, with some few exceptions, to bear
thither their own prejudices against the Americans. Some of those
who remained appear to have written home likewise in the same spirit.
General Washington therefore observes very justly in one of his letters,
that Lafayette, in his correspondence, by destroying the unfavourable
impressions that were given of the Americans, and seeking, on the
contrary, to excite the feelings of the French in their favour, rendered
a new and very important service to their cause. (Manuscript No. 1.)



As the English army was preparing to evacuate Philadelphia, Lafayette
was sent, with a detachment of two thousand chosen men, and five pieces
of cannon, to a station half-way betwixt that city and Valley-Forge;
this was Barren-hill. A corps of militia under General Porter had been
placed on Lafayette's left wing; but he retired farther back, and
the English took advantage of that movement to surround Lafayette's
detachment. General Grant, with seven thousand men and fourteen pieces
of cannon, was behind him, and nearer than himself to the only ford by
which it was possible for him to pass the Schuylkill. General Grey, with
two thousand men, arrived on his left at Barren-hill church; whilst the
remainder of the English army, under the command of Generals Clinton and
Howe, prepared to attack him in front. It is said that Admiral Lord Howe
joined the army as a volunteer. The English generals felt so certain
of the capture of Lafayette, that they sent to Philadelphia several
invitations to a _féte_, at which they said Lafayette would be present.
If he had not, in truth, manoeuvred rather better than they did, the
whole corps must inevitably have been lost. Alarm-guns were fired by
the army; General Washington felt additional anxiety from the fact that,
those troops being the flower of his army, their defeat would, he
knew, have discouraged the rest. Lafayette instantly formed his plan of
operation: he threw some troops into the churchyard, to check those of
General Grey. He made a false attack upon General Grant, 'shewing him
the heads of columns; and whilst the latter halted, and formed his
troops to receive him, he caused his detachment to file off. By these
manoeuvres he gained the ford, and passed it in presence of the enemy,
without losing a single man. Two English lines met, and were on the
point of attacking each other, for there was no longer anything between
them; the Americans had been for some time in safety at the other side
of the Schuylkill. The English then returned to Philadelphia, much
fatigued and ashamed, and were laughed at for their ill success.
(Manuscript No. 1.)



The treaty with France became known a short time before the opening
of the campaign. The national enthusiasm for the Americans had much
increased, but the ministry was afraid of war. Necker, in particular,
did all he could to prevent the court of France from espousing the
American cause, which may serve as an answer to the accusations of
revolutionary ardour that were made against him by the aristocrats in
France. Maurepas was very timid, but the news of the taking of Burgoyne
inspired him with some courage. The Count de Vergennes flattered himself
that he should succeed in avoiding war. The court of France shewed
little sincerity in its proceedings with England. The treaty was at
length concluded. Dr. Franklin, Silas Deane, and John Adams, accompanied
by many other Americans then in Paris, were presented to the King and
royal family. They repaired afterwards to the young Madame de Lafayette,
who was at Versailles, wishing to testify by that public act how much
they thought themselves indebted to Lafayette for the happy direction
which their affairs had taken. The news of the treaty excited a great
sensation in America, and, above all, in the army. Lafayette had long
since returned from his command in the north to the head-quarters
of General Washington. The manifesto of the French government to the
British cabinet contained this expression: "The Americans having become
independent by their declaration of such a day." "That," said Lafayette,
smiling, "is a principle of national sovereignty which shall one day be
recalled to them." The French revolution, and the part which he took in
it, have doubly verified this prediction. (Manuscript No. 1.)

Mr. Marshall's work contains a curious dissertation upon the declaration
of war between France and England, and gives also the extract of a
memorial of M. Turgot, which it would be interesting to verify. It would
then be seen what opinions were supported at that time, concerning
the colonies in general, and the quarrel with the English colonies in
particular, by one of the most liberal and enlightened men in regard to
political and commercial questions. The idea that the queen supported
the war party is not correct; her social tastes were rather of the
Anglomania kind; her politics were completely Austrian, and the court of
Vienna did not wish that France should have any pretext for refusing
to fulfil the conditions of the treaty made with it, which were soon
afterwards exacted; but the queen, like a true woman of the world,
followed the impulse given by Paris, the commercial towns, and the

Dr. Ramsay alludes to the happiness which Lafayette must have
experienced when, upon learning the happy news of the French alliance,
he, with tears of joy, embraced his illustrious general. Several persons
present have since recollected that when the message of the court of
Versailles to that of London was read aloud, with all the justifications
which dwelt upon the right of the American nation to give themselves a
government, Lafayette exclaimed,--"That is a great truth which we will
recall to them at home." (Manuscript No. 2.)



The history of Dr. Gordon, that of Ramsay, and of Mr. Marshall, give a
detailed account of the arrival of Count d'Estaing at the entrance of
the Delaware, his arrival at Sandyhook, and the expedition against Rhode
Island. Lafayette conducted thither, from White Plains, two thousand men
of the continental troops. He made that journey (two hundred and forty
miles) very rapidly, and arrived before the remainder of the troops
under Sullivan were in readiness. It is to be lamented that the latter
general persuaded Count d'Estaing to await the cooperation of the
Americans, whilst, had he encouraged him to force the passage between,
Rhode Island and Cannanicut Island, he would have had time, at the first
moment of his arrival, to have captured fifteen hundred Hessians who
were upon the last-mentioned island. On the other hand, M. d'Estaing
was wrong in being displeased with General Sullivan for effecting his
passage and taking possession of the forts on the north of the island,
as soon as he learnt that they had been abandoned by the enemy, and
without having concerted any plan of operations with the admiral.
Everything, however, went on extremely well. The Americans had twelve
thousand men upon the island; their right was composed of the half of
the continentalists brought by Lafayette from White Plains, and of five
thousand militia, and was under the command of General Greene; the left
consisted also of five thousand militia, with the other half of the
continentalists, and was commanded by M. de Lafayette. On the 8th
of August the American army proceeded to Howland's ferry, whilst the
squadron forced the passage. The English set fire to three of their own
frigates; they had six frigates, and several other vessels, burnt
during this expedition. In the afternoon of the day that Sullivan's army
landed, they were expecting the battalions of Foix and Hainaut, and the
marines, which were to have joined Lafayette's corps, when Admiral Howe
suddenly hove in sight, and took possession of the anchorage that
Count d'Estaing had quitted, in order to force his passage between the
islands. The French sailors feared that the enemy, would take advantage
of their situation, enclosed as they were between the islands, or that
some reinforcements would at least be thrown upon the southern part
of the island; but the wind having changed during the night, Count
d'Estaing sailed out gallantly through the fire of the English
batteries, and Lord Howe, cutting his cables, fled before him. This
skilful admiral would have paid dearly for his bold manoeuvre, if the
storm had not come most opportunely to his aid.

Mr. Marshall, who had the letters of Washington and Lafayette before
him, states the manner in which Lafayette, on the one side, exposed
himself, without reserve, to the loss of his popularity, and on the
other, zealously exerted himself in defending the honour of the French
from the accusations that the dissatisfaction of the Americans had
universally excited, especially at Rhode Island and Boston, against the
officers of the squadron; and also to prevent that dissatisfaction
from breaking into open disputes. Sullivan, the senior of the three
majors-general, was commander-in-chief. It was after an explanation with
Lafayette, his friend and comrade, that he softened, by a subsequent
order of the day, the expressions which he had imprudently used in the
one preceding. General Greene, a man of superior merit, contributed
much to the reconciliation. The ex-president, Hancock, who had at first
loudly expressed his displeasure, consented to repair to Boston to
endeavour to calm the public mind, and to obtain provisions for the
squadron. The popularity of Lafayette was usefully employed during his
short visit to that town. The congress, and General Washington also,
thought that this quarrel could not he too speedily appeased; but they
were at a distance, and a proper mixture of firmness and persuasion was
required from the first moment. Such a perfect understanding, however,
was now established, that it was not even disturbed by the unfortunate
event which, some time afterwards, cost M. de Saint Sauveur his life.
Much was also due to Dr. Cooper, a distinguished minister of the
Presbyterian church. (Manuscript No. 2.)




London, March 9,1777.

You will be astonished, my dear father, at the news I am on the point
of giving you: it has cost me far more than I can express not to consult
you. My respect and affection for you, as well as my great confidence in
you, must convince you of the truth of this assertion; but my word was
given, and you would not have esteemed me had I broken it; the step I
am now taking will at least prove to you, I hope, the goodness of
my intentions. I have found a peculiar opportunity of distinguishing
myself, and of learning a soldier's trade: I am a general officer in the
army of the United States of America. The frankness of my conduct, and
my zeal in their service, have completely won their confidence. I have
done, on my side, all I could do for them, and their interest will ever
be dearer to me than my own. In short, my dear father, I am at this
moment in London, anxiously awaiting letters from my friends; upon
receiving them, I shall set off from hence, and, without stopping at
Paris, I shall embark in a vessel that I have myself purchased and
chartered. My travelling companions are the Baron de Kalb, a
very distinguished officer, brigadier in the King's service, and
major-general, as well as myself, in the United States' army; and some
other excellent officers, who have kindly consented to share the chances
of my fate. I rejoice at having found such a glorious opportunity of
occupying myself, and of acquiring knowledge. I am conscious that I am
making an immense sacrifice, and that to quit my family, my friends,
and you, my dearest father, costs me more than it could do any other
person,--because I love you all far more tenderly than any other person
ever loved his friends. But this voyage will not be a very long one; we
see every day far longer journeys taken for amusement only; and I hope
also to return more worthy of all those who are kind enough to regret
my absence. Adieu, my dear father, I hope I shall soon see you again.
Retain your affection for me; I ardently desire to merit it--nay, I
do merit it already, from my warm affection towards you, and from the
respect that, during the remainder of his life, will be felt for you by,

Your affectionate son,


I have arrived, for one moment, at Paris, my dear father, and have only
time to bid you again farewell. I intended writing to my uncle~[2] and
to Madame de Lusignem, but I am in such haste that I must request you to
present to them my respectful regards.


1. Jean Paul Francois de Noailles, Duke d'Ayen, afterwards Duke de
Noailles, died a member of the House of Peers, in 1824, and was, as is
well known, father-in-law to M. de Lafayette, who had been, we may say,
brought up in the hotel de Noailles, and who looked upon all his wife's
family as his own. It was at that time divided into two branches. The
Marshal de Noailles, governor of Roussillon, and captain of the guards
of the Scotch company, was the head of the eldest branch. He bad four
children: the Duke d'Ayen, the Marquis de Noailles, and Mesdames de
Tesse and de Lesparre. The Duke d'Ayen, a general officer, captain of
the guards in reversion, married Henriette Anne Louise Daguesseau, by
whom he had daughters only. The eldest, who died in 1794, on the
same scaffold as her mother, had married her cousin, the Viscount de
Noailles. The second, Marie Adrienne Françoise,--born the 2nd November,
1759, died the 24th December, 1807,--was Madame de Lafayette. The
three others, unmarried at the time this letter was written, married
afterwards MM. de Thésan, de Montagu, and de Grammont.

The head of the younger branch of the familv of Noailles was the Marshal
de Mouchy, brother of the Marshal de Noailles, whose children were, the
Prince de Poix, who died peer of France, and captain of the guards
under the restoration; the Duchess de Duras; and the same Viscount de
Noailles, member of the constituent assembly, who died of his wounds in
the expedition to St. Domingo, in 1802.

2. M. de Lusignem, an uncle by marriage of M. de Lafayette.


On board the _Victory_, May 30th, 1777.

I am writing to you from a great distance, my dearest love, and, in
addition to this painful circumstance, I feel also the still more
dreadful uncertainty of the time in which I may receive any news of
you. I hope, however, soon to have a letter from you; and, amongst the
various reasons which render me so desirous of a speedy arrival, this is
the one which excites in me the greatest degree of impatience. How many
fears and anxieties enhance the keen anguish I feel at being separated
from all that I love most fondly in the world! How have you borne my
second departure? have you loved me less? have you pardoned me? have
you reflected that, at all events, I must equally have been parted from
you,--wandering about in Italy,~[1] dragging on an inglorious life,
surrounded by the persons most opposed to my projects, and to my manner
of thinking? All these reflections did not prevent my experiencing the
most bitter grief when the moment arrived for quitting my native shore.
Your sorrow, that of my friends, Henrietta,~[2] all rushed upon my
thoughts, and my heart was torn by a thousand painful feelings. I could
not at that instant find any excuse for my own conduct. If you could
know all that I have suffered, and the melancholy days that I have
passed, whilst thus flying from all that I love best in the World! Must
I join to this affliction the grief of hearing that you do not pardon
me? I should, in truth, my love, be too unhappy. But I am not speaking
to you of myself and of my health, and I well know that these details
will deeply interest you.

Since writing my last letter, I have been confined to the most dreary
of all regions: the sea is so melancholy, that we mutually, I believe,
sadden each other. I ought to have landed by this time, but the winds
have been most provokingly contrary; I shall not arrive at Charlestown
for eight or ten days. It will be a great pleasure to me to land, as I
am expecting to do, in that city. When I am once on shore, I shall hope
each day to receive news from France; I shall learn so many interesting,
things, both concerning the new country I am seeking, and, above all,
that home which I have quitted with so much regret! Provided I only
learn that you are in good health, that you still love me, and that a
certain number of my friends entertain the same feelings towards me, I
can become a perfect philosopher with respect to all the rest,--whatever
it may be, or whatever land it may concern. But if my heart be attacked
in its most vulnerable part, if you were to love me less, I should feel,
in truth, too miserable. But I need not fear this--need I, my dearest
love? I was very ill during the first part of my voyage, and I might
have enjoyed the pleasure of an ill-natured person, that of knowing
that I had many fellow sufferers. I treated myself according to my
own judgment, and recovered sooner than the other passengers; I am now
nearly the same as if I were on shore. I am certain that, on my arrival,
I shall be in a perfect state of health, and continue so for a
long time. Do not fancy that I shall incur any real dangers by the
occupations I am undertaking. The post of general officer has always
been considered like a commission for immortality. The service will be
very different from the one I must have performed if I had been, for
example, a colonel in the French army. My attendance will only be
required in the council. Ask the opinion of all general officers,--and
these are very numerous, because, having once attained that height, they
are no longer exposed to any hazards, and do not therefore yield their
places to inferior officers, as is the case in other situations. To
prove that I do not wish to deceive you, I will acknowledge that we are
at this moment exposed to some danger, from the risk of being attacked
by English vessels, and that my ship is not of sufficient force for
defence. But when I have once landed, I shall be in perfect safety. You
see that I tell you everything, my dearest love; confide therefore in
me, and do not, I conjure you, give way to idle fears. I will not write
you a journal of my voyage: days succeed each other, and, what is
worse, resemble each other. Always sky, always water, and the next day
a repetition of the same thing. In truth, those who write volumes upon a
sea voyage must be incessant babblers; for my part, I have had contrary
winds, as well as other people; I have made a long voyage, like other
people; I have encountered storms; I have seen vessels, and they were
far more interesting for me than for any other person: well! I have not
observed one single event worth the trouble of relating, or that has not
been described by many other persons.

Let us speak of more important things: of yourself, of dear Henriette,
and of her brother or sister. Henriette is so delightful, that she has
made me in love with little girls. To whichever sex our new infant may
belong, I shall receive it with unbounded joy. Lose not a moment in
hastening my happiness by apprising me of its birth. I know not if it be
because I am twice a father, but my parental feelings are stronger than
they ever were. Mr. Deane, and my friend Carmichael, will forward your
letters, and will, I am sure, neglect nothing to promote my happiness
as soon as possible. Write, and even send me a confidential person,
it would give me such pleasure to question any one who has seen you:
Landrin, for example; in short, whom you please. You do not know the
warmth and extent of my affection, if you fancy that you may neglect
anything relating to yourself. You will be, at first, a long time
without hearing from me; but when I am once established you will
receive letters constantly, and of a very recent date. There is no great
difference of time between letters from America and letters from Sicily.
I own that Sicily weighs heavily on my heart. I fancied myself near
seeing you again! But let me break off at the word Sicily. Adieu, my
dearest love; I shall write to you from Charlestown, and write to you
also before I arrive there. Good night, for the present.

7th June.

I am still floating on this dreary plain, the most wearisome of all
human habitations. To console myself a little, I think of you and of
my friends: I think of the pleasure of seeing you again. How delightful
will be the moment of my arrival! I shall hasten to surprise and embrace
you. I shall perhaps find you with your children. To think, only, of
that happy moment, is an inexpressible pleasure to me; do not fancy that
it is distant; although the time of my absence will appear, I own, very
long to me, yet we shall meet sooner than you can expect. Without being
able myself to fix the day or the month of our reunion, without being
aware even of the cause of our absence, the exile prescribed by the Duke
d'Ayen, until the month of January, appeared to me so immeasurably long,
that I certainly shall not inflict upon myself one of equal length. You
must acknowledge, my love, that the occupation and situation I shall
have are very different from those that were intended for me during that
useless journey. Whilst defending the liberty I adore, I shall enjoy
perfect freedom myself: I but offer my service to that interesting
republic from motives of the purest kind, unmixed with ambition or
private views; her happiness and my glory are my only incentives to the
task. I hope that, for my sake, you will become a good American, for
that feeling is worthy of every noble heart. The happiness of America is
intimately connected with the happiness of all mankind; she will
become the safe and respected asylum of virtue, integrity, toleration,
equality, and tranquil happiness.

We have occasionally some slight alarms, but, with a little skill
and good luck, I am certain of reaching the port in safety. I am more
pleased with this prospect, because I feel that I am becoming, every
day, extremely reasonable. You know that the viscount~[3] has the habit
of repeating, that "_travelling forms young men_;" if he said this but
once every morning and once every evening, in truth it would not be too
much, for I am constantly more strongly impressed with the justice of
the observation. I know not where the poor viscount is at this present
moment, nor the prince,~[4] nor all my other friends. This state of
uncertainty is a very painful one. Whenever you chance to meet any
one whom I love, tell him a thousand and ten thousand things from me.
Embrace tenderly my three sisters, and tell them that they must remember
me, and love me; present my compliments to Mademoiselle Marin;~[5] I
recommend, also, poor Abbé Fayon to your care. As to the Marshal de
Noailles, tell him that I do not write to him, for fear of tiring him,
and because I should have nothing to announce to him but my arrival;
that I am expecting his commissions for trees or plants, or whatever
else he may desire, and that I should wish my exactness in fulfilling
his wishes to be a proof of my affection for him. Present, also, my
respects to the Duchess de la Trémoïlle,~[6] and tell her that I make
the same offer to her as to the Marshal de Noailles, either for herself
or her daughter-in-law, who has such a beautiful garden. Tell my old
friend Desplaus,~[7] also, that I am well. As to my aunts, Madame d'Ayen
and the viscountess, I am myself writing to them.

These are my little commissions, my love; I have also written to Sicily.
We have seen, to-day, several kinds of birds, which announce that we are
not far from shore. The hope of arriving is very sweet, for a ship life
is a most wearisome one. My health, fortunately, allows me to occupy
myself a little; I divide my time between military books and English
books. I have made some progress in this language, which will become
very necessary to me. Adieu; night obliges me to discontinue my letter,
as I forbade some days ago, any candles being used in my vessel: see how
prudent I have become! Once more, adieu; if my fingers be at all guided
by my heart, it is not necessary to see clearly to tell you that I love
you, and that I shall love you all my life.

15th June--At Major Hughes's.~[8]

I have arrived, my dearest love, in perfect health, at the house of
an American officer; and, by the most fortunate chance in the world, a
French vessel is on the point of sailing; conceive how happy I am. I
am going this evening to Charlestown, from whence I will write to you.
There is no important news. The campaign is opened, but there is no
fighting, or at least, very little. The manners in this part of the
world are simple, polite, and worthy in every respect of the country
in which the noble name of liberty is constantly repeated. I intended
writing to Madame d'Ayen, but I find it is impossible. Adieu, adieu,
my love. From Charlestown I shall repair, by land, to Philadelphia, to
rejoin the army. Is it not true that you will always love me?


1. At the moment when M. de Lafayette's project of departure was taking
place, he had been desired to join the Duke d'Ayen, and Madame de Tessé,
his sister, who were setting out for Italy and Sicily.

2. The first-born of M. de Lafayette, which died during his voyage. (See
letter 16th June, 1778.)

3. The Viscount de Noailles, brother-in-law to M. de Lafayette.

4. The Prince de Poix, son of the Marshal de Mouchy, and consequently
uncle, according to the mode of Bretagne, to Madame de Lafayette.

5. Mademoiselle Marin was governess to Mesdemoiselles de Noailles; and
the Abbé Fayon was tutor to M. de Lafayette.

6. Madame de Lafayette, author of the _Princess de Clever_, had only one
daughter, who became Madame de la Tremoille, and heiress to the property
of the Lafayette family; and who cheerfully consented to restore to her
cousins, who inhabited the province, those estates which a love of their
family might make them wish to conserve to the heritors of the name of
Lafayette. Since that period, the members of that branch, of which M. de
Lafayette was the last scion, have constantly kept up feelings, not only
of relationship, but of friendship, with the family of la Tremoille.

7. An old valet de chambre.

8. The father of him who so generously devoted himself to save Lafayette
from the prisons of Olmutz--(Note of M. de Lafayette.)


June 19th, 1777, Charlestown.

If my last letter, my dearest love, written five or six days ago, was
closed hastily, I hope at least that the American captain, whom I then
believed to be a French one, will remit it to you as soon as possible.
That letter announced to you that I had landed safely in this country,
after having suffered a little from sea-sickness during the first weeks
of my voyage; that I was staying with a very kind officer, in whose
house I was received upon my arrival; that I had been nearly two months
at sea, and was anxious to continue my journey immediately; that letter
spoke of everything which interests my heart most deeply, of my regret
at having quitted you, of your pregnancy, and of our dear children; it
told you, also, that I was in perfect health. I repeat this extract from
it, because the English may very possibly amuse themselves by seizing it
on its way. I place, however, so much confidence in my lucky star, that
I hope it will reach you safely. That same star has protected me to the
astonishment of every person; you may, therefore, trust a little to it
in future, my love, and let this conviction tranquillize your fears. I
landed after having sailed for several days along a coast swarming with
hostile vessels. On my arrival here every one told me that my ship must
undoubtedly be taken, because two English frigates had blockaded the
harbour. I even sent, both by land and sea, orders to the captain to
put the men on shore, and burn the vessel, if he had still the power of
doing so. Well! by a most extraordinary piece of good fortune, a sudden
gale of wind having blown away the frigates for a short time, my vessel
arrived at noon-day, without having encountered friend or foe. At
Charlestown I have met with General Howe, a general officer, now engaged
in service. The governor of the state is expected this evening from the
country. All the persons with whom I wished to be acquainted have
shewn me the greatest attention and politeness (not European politeness
merely); I can only feel gratitude for the reception I have met
with, although I have not yet thought proper to enter into any detail
respecting my future prospects and arrangements. I wish to see the
congress first. I hope to set out in two days for Philadelphia, which
is a land journey of more than two hundred and fifty leagues. We shall
divide into small parties; I have already purchased horses and light
carriages for this purpose. There are some French and American vessels
at present here, who are to sail out of the harbour in company to-morrow
morning, taking advantage of a moment when the frigates are out of
sight: they are numerous and armed, and have promised me to defend
themselves stoutly against the small privateers they will undoubtedly
meet with. I shall distribute my letters amongst the different ships, in
case any accident should happen to either one of them.

I shall now speak to you, my love, about the country and its
inhabitants, who are as agreeable as my enthusiasm had led me to
imagine. Simplicity of manner, kindness of heart, love of country and of
liberty, and a delightful state of equality, are met with universally.
The richest and the poorest man are completely on a level; and although
there are some immense fortunes in this country, I may challenge any one
to point out the slightest difference in their respective manner towards
each other. I first saw and judged of a country life at Major Hughes's
house: I am at present in the city, where everything somewhat resembles
the English customs, except that you find more simplicity here than you
would do in England. Charlestown is one of the best built, handsomest,
and most agreeable cities that I have ever seen. The American women are
very pretty, and have great simplicity of character; and the extreme
neatness of their appearance is truly delightful: cleanliness is
everywhere even more studiously attended to here than in England. What
gives me most pleasure is to see how completely the citizens are all
brethren of one family. In America there are none poor, and none even
that can be called peasants. Each citizen has some property, and all
citizens have the same rights as the richest individual, or landed
proprietor, in the country. The inns are very different from those of
Europe; the host and hostess sit at table with you, and do the honours
of a comfortable meal; and when you depart, you pay your bill without
being obliged to tax it. If you should dislike going to inns, you may
always find country houses in which you will be received, as a good
American, with the same attention that you might expect in a friend's
house in Europe.

My own reception has been most peculiarly agreeable. To have been merely
my travelling companion, suffices to secure the kindest welcome. I have
just passed five hours at a large dinner given in compliment to me by
an individual of this town. Generals Howe and Moultrie, and several
officers of my suite, were present. We drank each other's health, and
endeavoured to talk English, which I am beginning to speak a little. I
shall pay a visit to-morrow, with these gentlemen, to the governor of
the state, and make the last arrangements for my departure. The next
day, the commanding officers here will take me to see the town and its
environs, and I shall then set out to join the army. I must close and
send my letter immediately, because the vessel goes to-night to the
entrance of the harbour, and sails to-morrow at five o'clock. As all the
ships are exposed to some risk, I shall divide my letters amongst them.
I write to M M. de Coigny, de Poix, de Noailles, de Ségur, and to Madame
d'Ayen.~[1] If either of these should not receive my letter, be so kind
as to mention this circumstance.

From the agreeable life I lead in this country, from the sympathy which
makes me feel as much at ease with the inhabitants as if I had known
them for twenty years, the similarity between their manner of thinking
and of my own, my love of glory and of liberty, you might imagine that I
am very happy: but you are not with me, my dearest love; my friends
are not with me; and there is no happiness for me when far from you and
them. I often ask you if you still love, but I put that question still
more often to myself and my heart ever answers, yes: I trust that heart
does not deceive me. I am inexpressibly anxious to hear from you; I hope
to find some letters at Philadelphia. My only fear is that the privateer
which was to bring them to me should have been captured on her
way. Although I can easily imagine that I have excited the especial
displeasure of the English, by taking the liberty of coming hither in
spite of them, and landing before their very face, yet I must confess
that we shall be even more than on a par if they succeed in catching
that vessel, the object of my fondest hopes, by which I am expecting to
receive your letters. I entreat you to send me both long and frequent
letters. You are not sufficiently conscious of the joy with which I
shall receive them. Embrace, most tenderly, my Henriette: may I add,
embrace our children? The father of those poor children is a wanderer,
but he is, nevertheless, a good honest man,--a good father, warmly
attached to his family, and a good husband also, for he loves his wife
most tenderly. Present my compliments to your friends and to mine; may
I not say _our_ friends? with the permission of the Countess Auguste and
Madame de Fronsac.~[2] By _my friends_, you know that I mean my own dear
circle, formerly of the court, and which afterwards became the society
of _the wooden sword_;~[3] we republicans like it the better for the
change. This letter will be given you by a French captain, who, I think,
will deliver it into your own hands; but I must confide to you that I
have an agreeable anticipation for to-morrow, which is to write to you
by an American, who will sail on the same day, but at a later hour.
Adieu, then, my dearest love; I must leave off for want of time and
paper; and if I do not repeat ten thousand times that I love you, it is
not from want of affection, but from my having the vanity to hope that
I have already convinced you of it. The night is far advanced, the heat
intense, and I am devoured by gnats; but the best countries, as you
perceive, have their inconveniences. Adieu, my love, adieu.


1. The Viscount de Coigny, son of the last marshal of that name, was the
intimate friend of M. de Lafayette in his youth. He died young, perhaps
even during this voyage.--(See the letters of January the 6th, and
February 13th, 1778.) The Count de Ségur, who had married the sister
of the Duchess d'Ayen, and who was, therefore, the uncle of M. de
Lafayette, continued, to the last, his friend--(See the memoirs
published before his death, which occurred in 1830.)

2. The Countess Auguste d'Aremberg, the wife of Count de Lamark, the
friend of Mirabeau, and the Duchess de Fronsac, daughter-in-law to the
Marshal de Richelieu.

3. A society of young men, who first assembled at Versailles, and
afterwards at an inn at Paris.--(Note by M. de Lafayette.)


Petersburg, July 17th, 1777.

I am very happy, my dearest love, if the word happiness can truly be
applied to me, whilst I am separated from all I love; there is a vessel
on the point of sailing for France, and I am enabled to tell you, before
setting out for Philadelphia, that I love you, my dearest life, and that
you may be perfectly tranquil respecting my health. I bore the fatigue
of the journey without suffering from it; although the land expedition
was long and wearisome, yet the confinement of my melancholy ship was
far more so. I am now eight days' journey from Philadelphia, in the
beautiful state of Virginia. All fatigue is over, and I fear that my
martial labours will be very light, if it be true that General Howe has
left New York, to go I know not whither. But all the accounts I receive
are so uncertain, that I cannot form any fixed opinion until I reach my
destination; from thence, my love, I shall write you a long letter. You
must already have received four letters from me, if they have not fallen
into the hands of the English. I have received no news of you, and
my impatience to arrive at Philadelphia to hear, from you cannot be
compared to any other earthly feeling. Conceive the state of my mind,
after having passed such an immense length of time without, having
received a line from any friend! I hope all this will soon end, for I
cannot live in such a state of uncertainty. I have undertaken a task
which is, in truth, beyond my power, for my heart was not formed for so
much suffering.

You must have learnt the particulars of the commencement of my journey:
you know that I set out in a brilliant manner in a carriage, and I must
now tell you that we are all on horseback,--having broken the carriage,
according to my usual praiseworthy custom,--and I hope soon to write to
you that we have arrived on foot. The journey is somewhat fatiguing;
but although several of my comrades have suffered a great deal, I have
scarcely myself been conscious of fatigue. The captain who takes charge
of this letter will, perhaps, pay you a visit; I beg you in that case to
receive him with great kindness.

I scarcely dare think of the time of your confinement, and yet I think
of it every moment of the day. I cannot dwell upon it without the most
dreadful anxiety. I am, indeed, unfortunate, at being so distant from
you; even if you did not love me, you ought to pity me; but you do love
me, and we shall mutually render each other happy. This little note will
be short in comparison to the volumes I have already sent you, but you
shall receive another letter in a few days from me.

The farther I advance to the north, the better pleased am I with the
country and inhabitants. There is no attention or kindness that I do not
receive, although many scarcely know who I am. But I will write all this
to you more in detail from Philadelphia. I have only time to intreat
you, my dearest love, not to forget an unhappy man, who pays most dearly
for the error he committed in parting from you, and who never felt
before how tenderly he loved you.

My respectful compliments to Madame d'Ayen, and my affectionate regards
to my sisters. Tell M. de Coigny and M. de Poix that I am in good
health, in case some letters should miscarry which I shall send by
another opportunity, by which I shall also send a line to you, although
I do not consider it so secure as this one.


July 23rd, 1777.

I am always meeting, my dearest love, with opportunities of sending
letters; I have this time only a quarter of an hour to give you. The
vessel is on the point of sailing, and I can only announce to you my
safe arrival at Annapolis, forty leagues from Philadelphia. I can tell
you nothing of the town, for, as I alighted from my horse, I armed
myself with a little weapon dipt in invisible ink. You must already have
received five letters from me, unless King George should have received
some of them. The last one was despatched three days since; in it I
announced to you that my health was perfectly good, and had not been
even impaired by my anxiety to arrive at Philadelphia. I have received
bad news here; Ticonderoga, the strongest American post, has been forced
by the enemy; this is very unfortunate, and we must endeavour to repair
the evil. Our troops have taken, in retaliation, an English general
officer, near New York. I am each day more miserable from having quitted
you, my dearest love; I hope to receive news of you at Philadelphia,
and this hope adds much to the impatience I feel to arrive in that city.
Adieu, my life; I am in such haste that I know not what I write, but I
do know that I love you more tenderly than ever; that the pain of this
separation were necessary to convince me how very dear you are to me,
and that I would give at this moment half my existence for the pleasure
of embracing you again, and telling you with my own lips how well I love
you. My respects to Madame d'Ayen, my compliments to the viscountess, my
sisters, and all my friends: to you only have I time to write. O! if you
knew how much I sigh to see you, how much I suffer at being separated
from you, and all that my heart has been called on to endure, you
would think me somewhat worthy of your love! I have left no space for
Henriette; may I say for my children? Give them a hundred thousand
embraces; I shall most heartily share them with you.


Philadelphia, September 12th, 1777.

I write you a line, my dearest love, by some French officers, my
friends, who embarked with me, but, not having received any appointment
in the American army, are returning to France. I must begin by telling
you that I am perfectly well, because I must end by telling you that we
fought seriously last night, and that we were not the strongest on the
field of battle. Our Americans, after having stood their ground for
some time, ended at length by being routed: whilst endeavouring to rally
them, the English honoured me with a musket ball, which slightly wounded
me in the leg,--but it is a trifle, my dearest love; the ball touched
neither bone nor nerve, and I have escaped with the obligation of lying
on my back for some time, which puts me much out of humour. I hope that
you will feel no anxiety; this event ought, on the contrary, rather to
reassure you, since I am incapacitated from appearing on the field for
some time: I have resolved to take great care of myself; be convinced
of this, my love. This affair, will, I fear, be attended with bad
consequences for America. We will endeavour, if possible, to repair the
evil. You must have received many letters from me, unless the English be
equally ill-disposed towards my epistles as towards my legs. I have
not yet received one letter, and I am most impatient to hear from you.
Adieu; I am forbidden to write longer. For several days I have not had
time to sleep. Our retreat, and my journey hither, took up the whole of
last night; I am perfectly well taken care of in this place. Tell all my
friends that I am in good health. My tender respects to Madame d'Ayen.
A thousand compliments to the viscountess and my sisters. The officers
will soon set out. They will see you; what pleasure! Good night, my
dearest life! I love you better than ever.


October 1st, 1777.

I wrote to you, my dearest love, the 12th of September; the twelfth was
the day after the eleventh, and I have a little tale to relate to you
concerning that eleventh day. To render my action more meritorious, I
might tell you that prudent reflections induced me to remain for some
weeks in my bed, safe sheltered from all danger; but I must acknowledge
that I was encouraged to take this measure by a slight wound, which
I met with I know not how, for I did not, in truth, expose myself to
peril. It was the first conflict at which I had been present; so you see
how very rare engagements are. It will be the last of this campaign,
or, in all probability, at least, the last great battle; and if anything
should occur, you see that I could not myself be present.

You may, therefore, my love, feel perfectly secure. I have much pleasure
in thus reassuring you. While I am desiring you not to be alarmed on
my account, I repeat to myself that you love me; and this little
conversation with my own heart is inexpressibly delightful to me, for I
love you more tenderly than I have ever done before.

My first occupation was to write to you the day after that affair: I
told you that it was a mere trifle, and I was right; all I fear is that
you should not have received my letter. As General Howe is giving, in
the meantime, rather pompous details of his American exploits to the
king his master, if he should write word that I am wounded, he may also
write word that I am killed, which would not cost him anything; but I
hope that my friends, and you especially, will not give faith to the
reports of those persons who last year dared to publish that General
Washington, and all the general officers of his army, being in a boat
together, had been upset, and every individual drowned. But let us speak
about the wound: it is only a flesh-wound, and has neither touched bone
nor nerve. The surgeons are astonished at the rapidity with which
it heals; they are in an ecstasy of joy each time they dress it, and
pretend it is the finest thing in the world: for my part, I think it
most disagreeable, painful, and wearisome; but tastes often differ: if
a man, however, wished to be wounded for his amusement only, he should
come and examine how I have been struck, that he might be struck
precisely in the same manner. This, my dearest love, is what I pompously
style my wound, to give myself airs, and render myself interesting.

I must now give you your lesson, as wife of an American general officer.
They will say to you, "They have been beaten:" you must answer,--"That
is true; but when two armies of _equal number_ meet in the field, old
soldiers have naturally the advantage over new ones; they have, besides,
had the pleasure of killing a great many of the enemy, many more than
they have lost." They will afterwards add: "All that is very well; but
Philadelphia is taken, the capital of America, the rampart of liberty!"
You must politely answer, "You are all great fools! Philadelphia is
a poor forlorn town, exposed on every side, whose harbour was already
closed; though the residence of congress lent it, I know not why, some
degree of celebrity. This is the famous city which, be it added, we
will, sooner or later, make them yield back to us." If they continue to
persecute you with questions, you may send them about their business in
terms which the Viscount de Noailles will teach you, for I cannot lose
time by talking to you of politics.

I have delayed writing your letter till the last, in the hope of
receiving one from you, answering it, and giving you the latest
intelligence of my health; but I am told, if I do not send immediately
to congress, twenty-five leagues from hence, my captain will have set
out, and I shall lose the opportunity of writing to you. This is the
cause of my scrawl being more unintelligible than usual; however, if I
were to send you anything but a hurried scrawl, I ought, in that case,
to beg your pardon, from the singularity of the case. Recollect, my
dearest love, that I have only once heard of you, from Count Pulaski. I
am much provoked, and am very miserable. Imagine how dreadful it is to
be far from all I love, in this state of suspense and almost despair; it
is impossible to support it; and I feel, at the same time, that I do not
deserve to be pitied. Why was I so obstinately bent on coming hither ?
I have been well punished for my error; my affections are too strongly
rooted for me to be able to perform such deeds. I hope you pity me;
if you knew all I suffer, especially at this moment, when everything
concerning you is so deeply interesting! I cannot, without shuddering,
think of this. I am told that a parcel has arrived from France; I have
despatched expresses on every road and in every corner; I have sent an
officer to congress; I am expecting him every day, and you may conceive
with what feelings of intense anxiety. My surgeon is also very anxious
for his arrival, for this suspense keeps my blood in a state of
effervescence, and he would fain require that it should flow calmly. O,
my dearest life, if I receive good news from you, and all I love,--if
those delightful letters arrive to-day, how happy I shall be!--but with
what agitation, also, I shall open them!

Be perfectly at ease about my wound; all the faculty in America are
engaged in my service. I have a friend, who has spoken to them in such
a manner that I am certain of being well attended to; that friend is
General Washington. This excellent man, whose talents and virtues I
admired, and whom I have learnt to revere as I know him better, has now
become my intimate friend: his affectionate interest in me instantly won
my heart. I am established in his house, and we live together like
two attached brothers, with mutual confidence and cordiality. This
friendship renders me as happy as I can possibly be in this country.
When he sent his best surgeon to me, he told him to take charge of me as
if I were his son, because he loved me with the same affection. Having
heard that I wished to rejoin the army too soon, he wrote me a letter
full of tenderness, in which he requested me to attend to the perfect
restoration of my health. I give you these details, my dearest love,
that you may feel quite certain of the care that is taken of me. Amongst
the French officers, who have all expressed the warmest interest for me,
M. de Gimat, my aide-de-camp, has followed me about like my shadow, both
before and since the battle, and has given me every possible proof of
attachment. You may thus feel quite secure on this account, both for the
present and for the future.

All the foreigners who are in the army,--for I do not speak only of
those who have not been employed, and who, on their return to
France, will naturally give an unjust account of America, because the
discontented, anxious to revenge their fancied injuries, cannot be
impartial,--all the foreigners, I say, who have been employed here are
dissatisfied, complain, detest others, and are themselves detested: they
do not understand why I am the only stranger beloved in America, and
I cannot understand why they are so much hated. In the midst of the
disputes and dissensions common to all armies, especially when there
are officers of various nations, I, for my part, who am an easy and a
good-tempered man, am so fortunate as to be loved by all parties,
both foreigners and Americans: I love them all--I hope I deserve their
esteem; and we are perfectly satisfied the one with the other. I am
at present in the solitude of Bethlehem, which the Abbé Raynal has
described so minutely. This establishment is a very interesting one; the
fraternity lead an agreeable and a very tranquil life: we will talk over
all this on my return; and I intend to weary those I love, yourself, of
course, in the first place, by the relation of my adventures, for you
know that I was always a great prattler. You must become a prattler
also, my love, and say many things for me to Henriette--my poor little
Henriette! embrace her a thousand times--talk of me to her, but do
not tell her all I deserve to suffer; my punishment will be, not to
be recognised by her on my arrival; that is the penance Henriette
will impose on me. Has she a brother or a sister?--the choice is quite
indifferent to me, provided I have a second time the pleasure of being a
father, and that I may soon learn that circumstance. If I should have
a son, I will tell him to examine his own heart carefully; and if that
heart should be a tender one, if he should have a wife whom he loves as
I love you, in that case I shall advise him not to give way to
feelings of enthusiasm, which would separate him from the object of his
affection, for that affection will afterwards give rise to a thousand
dreadful fears.

I am writing, by a different opportunity, to various persons, and also
to yourself. I think this letter will arrive first; if this vessel
should accidentally arrive, and the other one be lost, I have given
the viscount a list of the letters I have addressed to him. I forgot to
mention my aunts;~[1] give them news of me as soon as this reaches you.
I have made no _duplicata_ for you, because I write to you by every
opportunity. Give news of me, also, to M. Margelay,~[2] the Abbe Fayon,
and Desplaces.

A thousand tender regards to my sisters; I permit them to despise me as
an infamous deserter--but they must also love me at the same time. My
respects to Madame la Comtesse Auguste, and Madame de Fronsac. If my
grandfather's letters should not reach him, present to him my respectful
and affectionate regards. Adieu, adieu, my dearest life; continue to
love me, for I love you most tenderly.

Present my compliments to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Deane; I wished to write
to them, but cannot find time.


1. Madame de Chavaniac and Madame de Motier, sisters of General
Lafayette's father.

2. An ancient officer, to whom M. de Lafayette was confided, on leaving
college, as to a governor.



Whitemarsh Camp, October 24, 1777.

SIR,--You were formerly annoyed, much against my wish, by the part you
were called upon to take in my first projects; you will, perhaps, also
feel annoyed by the attention I take the liberty of requesting you to
give to the objects I have at present in view. They may appear to you as
little worthy as the first of occupying your valuable time; but in this
case, as in the previous one, my good intentions (even should they be
ill-directed) may serve as my apology. My age might also, perhaps, have
been one, formerly; I only request now that it may not prevent you from
taking into consideration whether my opinions be rational.

I do not permit myself to examine what succour the glorious cause we are
defending in America may have received; but my love for my own country
makes me observe, with pleasure, under how many points of view the
vexations of the family of England may be advantageous to her. There is,
above all, one project which, in every case, and _at all events_, would
present, I think, rational hopes of attaining any useful end, in exact
proportion to the means employed in its execution; I allude to an
expedition of greater or less importance against the East Indies; and
I should fear to injure the cause by proposing myself to take charge of

Without pretending to the art of prophecy in relation to present events,
but convinced in the sincerity of my heart that to injure England would
be serving (shall I say revenging?) my country, I believe that this
idea would powerfully excite the energy of each individual bearing the
honourable name of Frenchman. I came hither without permission; I have
obtained no approbation but that which may be implied by silence;
I might also undertake another little voyage without having been
authorized by government: if the success be uncertain, I should have
the advantage of exposing only myself to danger,--and what should,
therefore, prevent my being enterprising? If I could but succeed in the
slightest degree, a flame kindled on the least important establishment
of England, even if part of my own fortune were to be consumed also,
would satisfy my heart by awakening hopes for a more propitious hour.

Guided by the slight knowledge which my ignorance has been able to
obtain, I shall now state in what manner, Sir, I would undertake this
enterprise. An American patent, to render my movements regular, the
trifling succours by which it might be sustained, the assistance I might
obtain at the French islands, the speculations of some merchants, the
voluntary aid of a few of my fellow comrades,--such are the feeble
resources which would enable me to land peacefully on the Isle of
France. I should there find, I believe, privateers ready to assist me,
and men to accompany me in sufficient numbers to lie in wait for the
vessels returning from China, which would offer me a fresh supply of
force, sufficient perhaps to enable me to fall upon one or two of their
factories, and destroy them before they could be protected. With an aid,
which I dare scarcely hope would be granted me, and, above all,
with talents which I am far from having yet acquired, might not some
advantage be taken of the jealousy of the different nabobs, the hatred
of the Mahrattas, the venality of the sepoys, and the effeminacy of the
English? Might not the crowd of Frenchmen dispersed at present on that
coast be employed with advantage in the cause? As to myself personally,
in any case, the fear of compromising my own country would prevent my
acknowledging the pride I feel in being her son, even as the nobility
in some provinces occasionally lay aside their marks of distinction to
reassume them at a later period.

Although by no means blind as to the imprudence of the step, I would
have hazarded this enterprise alone, if the fear of injuring the
interests I wish to serve, by not sufficiently understanding them, or
of proving a detriment to some better-concerted expedition, had not
arrested my intended movements; for I have the vanity to believe that a
project of this kind may one day be executed on a grander scale, and by
far abler hands, than mine. Even now it might be executed in a manner
that would, I think, insure success, if I could hope to receive from the
government, not an order, not succours, not mere indifference,--but
I know scarcely what, which I can find no language to express with
sufficient delicacy.

In this case, an order from the king, should he deign to restore me
for some time to my friends and family, without prohibiting my return
hither, would give me a hint to prepare myself with American continental
commissions; some preparations and instructions from France might also
precede that pretended return, and conduct me straight to the East
Indies: the silence which was formerly perhaps an error, would then
become a sacred duty, and would serve to conceal my true destination,
and above all the sort of approbation it might receive.

Such, Sir, are the ideas that, duly impressed with a sense of my
incapacity and youth, I presume to submit to your better judgment, and,
if you should think favourably of them, to the various modifications to
which you may conceive them liable; I am certain, at least, that they
cannot be deemed ridiculous, because they are inspired by a laudable
motive--the love of my country. I only ask for the honour of serving her
under other colours, and I rejoice at seeing her interest united to that
of the republicans for whom I am combating; earnestly hoping, however,
that I shall soon be allowed to fight under the French banner. A
commission of grenadier in the king's army would, in that case, be more
agreeable to me than the highest rank in a foreign army.

I reproach myself too much, Sir, for thus offering you my undigested
ideas regarding Asia, to heighten my offence by presumptuously tracing
a plan of America, embellished with my own reflections, which you do
not require, and have not asked for: the zeal which led me hither, and,
above all, the friendship which unites me to the general-in-chief, would
render me liable to the accusation of partiality, from which feeling I
flatter myself I am wholly free. I reserve till my return the honour of
mentioning to you the names of those officers of merit whom the love of
their profession has led to this continent. All those who are French,
Sir, have a right to feel confidence in you. It is on this ground that
I claim your indulgence; I have a second claim upon it from the respect
with which I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your very humble and obedient servant,


If this letter should weary you, Sir, the manner in which it will reach
you may be deemed perhaps but too secure. I entrust it to M. de Valfort,
captain of the regiment of Aunis, with the commission of colonel in our
islands, whom his talents, reputation, and researches, have rendered
useful in this country, and whom the wishes of General Washington
would have detained here, if his health had not rendered it absolutely
necessary for him to return to France. I shall here await your orders,
(which cannot, without difficulty, enter an American harbour,) or I
shall go myself to receive them, as future circumstances may render
proper; for, since my arrival, I have not received one order which could
regulate my movements.


The Camp near Whitemarsh, Oct. 29th, 1777.

I send you an open letter, my dearest love, in the person of M. de
Valfort, my friend, whom I entreat you to receive as such. He will tell
you at length everything concerning me; but I must tell you myself how
well I love you. I have too much pleasure in experiencing this sentiment
not to have also pleasure in repeating it to you a thousand times, if
that were possible. I have no resource left me, my love, but to write
and write again, without even hoping that my letters will ever reach
you, and I endeavour to console myself, by the pleasure of conversing
with you, for the disappointment and anguish of not receiving one single
line from France. It is impossible to describe to you how completely my
heart is torn by anxiety and fear; nor should I wish to express all I
feel, even if it were in my power to do so; for I would not disturb,
by any painful impressions, the happiest moments of my exile--those in
which I can speak to you of my tenderness. But do you, at least, pity
me? Do you comprehend all that I endure? If I could only know at this
moment where you are, and what you are doing! but in the course of time
I shall learn all this, for I am not separated from you in reality, as
if I were dead. I am expecting your letters with an impatience, from
which nothing can for an instant divert my thoughts: every one tells
me they must soon arrive; but can I rely on this? Neglect not one
opportunity of writing to me, if my happiness be still dear to you.
Repeat to me that you love me: the less I merit your affection, the
more necessary to me are your consoling assurances of it. You must have
received so many accounts of my slight wound, that all repetitions on
the subject would be useless; and if you ever believed it was anything
serious, M. de Valfort can undeceive you. In a very short time I shall
not even be lame.

Is it not dreadful, my love, to reflect that it is by the public,
by English papers, by our enemy's gazettes, that I should receive
intelligence concerning you? In an unimportant article relating to my
arrival here, they ended by speaking of yourself, your situation, and
approaching confinement; that source of all my fears, agitations, hopes,
and joy. How happy I should feel if I could learn that I had become a
second time a father, that you are in good health, that my two children
and their mother are likely to constitute the felicity of my future
life! This country is delightful for the growth of filial and paternal
love: these feelings may even be termed passions, and give rise to the
most assiduous and unremitting care. The news of your confinement will
be received with joy by the whole army, and above all by its commander.

I shall find my poor little Henriette very amusing on my return. I hope
she will deliver a long sermon of reproof, and that she will speak to me
with all the frankness of friendship; for my daughter will be always,
I trust, my most intimate friend; I will only be a father in affection,
and paternal love shall unite in my heart with friendship. Embrace her,
my love,--may I say embrace _them?_--for me! But I will not dwell upon
all I suffer from this painful uncertainty. I know that you share all
the sorrows of my heart, and I will not afflict you. I wrote by the
last opportunity to Madame d'Ayen; since my wound I have written to
everybody; but those letters have perhaps been lost. It is not my fault;
I wish to return a little evil to those wicked letter-stealers when they
are on land, but on the sea I have only the consolation of the weak,
that of cursing heartily those of whom I cannot be revenged. A thousand
tender respects to your mother; my kind regards to your sisters. Do not
forget my compliments to the Marshal de Noailles, and to your paternal
and maternal relations. I have received four foolish lines from the
Marshal de Mouchy, who does not say one word of you; I swore at him
in every language. Adieu, my love, adieu; ask questions of my good,
excellent friend, M. de Valfort, for my paper is coming to a close. It
is dreadful to be reduced to hold no communication but by letter with a
person whom one loves as I love you, and as I shall ever love you, until
I draw my latest breath.

I have not missed a single opportunity, not even the most indirect one,
without writing to you. Do the same also on your side, my dearest life,
if you love me; but I should indeed be unfeeling and ungrateful if I
were to doubt your love.


Camp of Whitemarsh, November 6th, 1777.

You will perhaps receive this letter, my dearest love, at the expiration
of five or six years, for I am writing to you by an accidental
opportunity, in which I do not place great trust. See what a circuit
my letter must make. An officer in the army will carry it to Fort Pitt,
three hundred miles in the interior of the continent; it will then
embark on the great Ohio river, and traverse regions inhabited only by
savages; having reached New Orleans, a small vessel will transport it to
the Spanish islands; a ship of that nation--God knows when!--will carry
it with her on her return to Europe. But it will even then be very
distant from you; and it is only after having been soiled by the dirty
hands of all the Spanish post-masters that it will be allowed to pass
the Pyrenees. It may very possibly be unsealed and resealed five or six
times before it be finally placed in your hands; but it will prove to
you that I neglect no opportunity, not even the most indirect one, of
sending you news of myself, and of repeating how well I love you. It is,
however, for my own satisfaction only that I delight to tell you so at
present; I hope that I shall have the pleasure of throwing this letter
in the fire when it arrives, for be it understood I shall be there also,
and my presence will render this piece of paper very insignificant. The
idea is most soothing to my heart, and I indulge it with rapture. How
enchanting to think of the moments when we shall be together! but how
painful also to recollect that my joy is only caused by an illusion,
and that I am separated from the reality of my happiness by two thousand
leagues, an immense ocean, and villanous English vessels! Those wretched
vessels make me very unhappy. One letter, one letter only, have I yet
received from you, my love; the others have been lost or taken, and are
probably at the bottom of the sea. I must consider our enemy the cause
of this dreadful loss; for I am certain you do not neglect to write to
me from every port, and by all the despatches sent by Dr. Franklin and
Mr. Deane. And yet some ships arrived; I have sent couriers to every
corner of the continent; but all my hopes have been frustrated. Perhaps
you have not been properly informed. I entreat you, my love, to inquire
carefully in what manner you may best send your letters. It is so
dreadful for me to be deprived of them, and I am so unhappy at being
separated from all I love! I am guilty, it is true, of having caused
my own calamity; but you would pity me if you knew all that my heart

But why tell you news in a letter destined to travel about the world
for years, which will reach you perhaps in shreds, and will represent
antiquity personified? My other despatches must have informed you of
the various events of the campaign. The battle of Brandywine, in which
I most skilfully lost a small part of my leg; the taking possession of
Philadelphia, which will by no means, however, be attended with the ill
consequences which have been expected in Europe; the attack of a post
at Germantown, at which I was not present, from having received a recent
wound, and which did not prove successful; the surrender of General
Burgoyne, with five thousand men--that same Burgoyne who wished to
devour us all, last spring, but who finds himself this autumn the
prisoner of war of our northern army; and finally, our present
situation, stationed immediately opposite each other, at four leagues
distance, and General Howe established at Philadelphia, making great
exertion to take certain forts, and having already lost in the attempt
one large and one small vessel. You are now quite as well informed on
the subject as if you were general-in-chief of either army. I need only
at this moment add, that the wound of the 11th of September, of which
I have spoken to you a thousand times, is almost completely healed,
although I am still a little lame, but that in a few days there will
scarcely remain any traces of this accident. All these details will be
given you very circumstantially by my friend Mr. de Valfort, to whom I
have given a letter for you, and on whose accounts you may implicitly
rely. I have just learnt that he has sailed, not, as I expected, in a
packet, but in a good frigate of thirty-five guns: it would be unlucky
indeed if he were taken. From his lips, and the epistle which I confided
to him five or six days ago, you will learn all that your affection for
me may make you wish to know. I wish you also knew the precise day of my
return, and I am most impatient to fix that day myself, and to be able
to say to you, in the joy of my heart,--upon such a day I set out to
rejoin you, and obtain all earthly happiness.

A little gentleman, in a blue coat, with lemon-coloured facings and
a white waistcoat, a German, coming hither to solicit an employment,
(which he will not obtain,) and speaking wretched French, told me that
he quitted Europe in the month of August: he talked to me of politics
and of the ministry; he upset all Europe generally, and every court
individually; but he knew not a word of what was most interesting to my
heart. I examined him in every way; I mentioned fifty names to him; his
answer was always, _"Me not know them noblemen_."

I will not weary you with a long account of the state of my finances.
The accident which occurred to my vessel was a source of vexation to
me, because that vessel would have been useful to me in the present
settlement of my affairs; but it is no longer in being, and I should
reproach myself with having sent it back, had I not been obliged to make
its return a clause in my engagements, on account of my minority.~[1]
Everything here is incredibly dear. We feel the consolation of
the malevolent in thinking that the scarcity is still greater in
Philadelphia. In time of war, we become reconciled to all we may
ourselves endure by making our enemies suffer ten times more. We have
here an abundance of provisions, and we learn with pleasure that our
English neighbours are not so fortunate.

Do not think at present of being uneasy on my account; all the hard
blows are over, and there can be, at most, but some little miniature
strokes, which cannot concern me; I am not less secure in this camp than
I should be were I in the centre of Paris. If every possible advantage
to be attained by serving here; if the friendship of the army in gross
and in detail; if a tender union with the most respectable and admirable
of men, General Washington, sustained by mutual confidence; if the
affection of those Americans by whom I wish to be beloved; if all this
were sufficient to constitute my happiness, I should indeed have
nothing to desire. But my heart is far from being tranquil. You would
compassionate me, if you knew how much that heart suffers, and how well
it loves you!

The present season of the year makes me hope to receive some letters.
What may they announce to me? what may I hope? O, my dearest love, how
cruel it is to endure this painful anxiety, under circumstances which
are so all-important to my happiness! Have I two children? have I
another infant to share my tender affection with my dearest Henriette?
Embrace my dear little girl a thousand times for me; embrace them both
tenderly, my dearest life. I trust they will know one day how well I
love them.

A thousand respectful compliments to Madame d'Ayen; a thousand tender
ones to the viscountess and my sisters; to my friends a million of kind
regards; remember me to every one. Adieu! take care of your own health;
give me circumstantial details of all things; believe that I love you
more than ever, that you are the first object of my affection, and the
surest guarantee of my felicity. The sentiments so deeply engraven on
a heart which belongs to you alone, shall remain, whilst that heart
continues to vibrate. Will you, too, always love me, my dearest life? I
dare believe it, and that we shall mutually render each other happy by
an affection equally tender and eternal. Adieu, adieu! how delightful
would it be to embrace you at this moment, and say to you with my own
lips, I love thee better than I have ever loved, and I shall love thee
for the remainder of my life.


1. It will be seen by the memoirs that that vessel was wrecked on the
bar of Charlestown.



Haddonfield, the 26th November, 1777.

Dear General,--I went down to this place since the day before yesterday,
in order to be acquainted of all the roads and grounds around the enemy.
I heard at my arrival that their main body was between Great and
Little Timber Creek since the same evening. Yesterday morning, in
reconnoitering about, I have been told that they were very busy in
crossing the Delaware. I saw them myself in their boats, and sent that
intelligence to General Greene as soon as possible, as every other thing
I heard of. But I want to acquaint your excellency of a little event
of last evening, which, though not very considerable in itself, will
certainly please you, on account of the bravery and alacrity a small
party of ours shewed on that occasion. After having spent the most part
of the day to make myself well acquainted with the certainty of their
motions, I came pretty late into the Gloucester road, between the two
creeks. I had ten light-horse with Mr. Lindsey, almost a hundred and
fifty riflemen, under Colonel Buttler, and two piquets of the militia,
commanded by Colonels Hite and Ellis: my whole body was not three
hundred. Colonel Armand, Colonel Laumoy, the chevaliers Duplessis and
Gimat, were the Frenchmen who went with me. A scout of my men, with
whom was Mr. Duplessis, to see how near were the first piquets from
Gloucester, found at two miles and a half of it a strong post of three
hundred and fifty Hessians with field-pieces, (what number I did
know, by the unanimous deposition of their prisoners,) and engaged
immediately. As my little reconnoitering party was all in fine spirits,
I supported them. We pushed the Hessians more than an half mile from the
place where was their main body, and we made them run very fast: British
reinforcements came twice to them, but, very far from recovering their
ground, they went always back. The darkness of the night prevented us
then to push that advantage, and, after standing upon the ground we
had got, I ordered them to return very slow to Haddonfield. The enemy,
knowing perhaps by our drums that we were not so near, came again to
fire at us; but the brave Major Moriss, with a part of his riflemen,
sent them back, and pushed them very fast. I understand that they have
had between twenty-five and thirty wounded, at least that number killed,
among whom I am certain, is an officer; some say more, and the prisoners
told me they have lost the commandant of that body; we got yet, this
day, fourteen prisoners. I sent you the most moderate account I had from
themselves. We left one single man killed, a lieutenant of militia,
and only five of ours were wounded. Such is the account of our little
entertainment, which is indeed much too long for the matter, but I take
the greatest pleasure to let you know that the conduct of our soldiers
is above all praises: I never saw men so merry, so spirited, so desirous
to go on to the enemy, whatever forces they could have, as that small
party was in this little fight. I found the riflemen above even their
reputation, and the militia above all expectations I could have: I
returned to them my very sincere thanks this morning. I wish that this
little success of ours may please you, though a very trifling one, I
find it very interesting on account of the behaviour of our soldiers.

Some time after I came back, General Varnum arrived here; General Greene
is, too, in this place since this morning; he engaged me to give you
myself the account of the little advantage of that small part of the
troops under his command. I have nothing more to say to your excellency
about our business on this side, because he is writing himself: I should
have been very glad, if circumstances had permitted me, to be useful
to him upon a greater scale. As he is obliged to march slow in order to
attend his troops, and as I am here only a volunteer, I will have the
honour to wait upon your excellency as soon as possible, and I'll set
out to-day: it will be a great pleasure for me to find myself again with

With the most tender affection and highest respect I have the honour to


I must tell, too, that the riflemen had been the whole day running
before my horse, without eating or taking any rest.

I have just now a certain assurance that two British officers, besides
those I spoke you of, have died this morning of their wounds in an
house; this, and some other circumstances, let me believe that their
lost may be greater than I told to your excellency.


1. All the letters addressed to General Washington, as well as to
other Americans, were written in English. Since the death of General
Washington, his family have returned to General Lafayette the original
letters he had addressed to him, and these are now in our possession.
The originals of Washington's letters were almost all lost in the French
revolution; but M. de Lafayette, during his last journey to the United
States, had a great number of them copied from minutes preserved by
Washington himself: they have been inserted in the collection we have so
frequently quoted from, published by Mr. Sparks.


Camp Gulph, Pennsylvania, Dec. 16th, 1777.

This letter, if it ever reaches you, will find you at least in France;
some hazards are averted by this circumstance, but I must not indulge in
many hopes. I never write a letter for Europe without deploring before
hand the fate most probably awaiting it, and I labour, undoubtedly, more
for Lord Howe than for any of my friends. The bad season is fortunately
drawing near; the English ships will be obliged to quit their confounded
cruising stations; I may then receive letters, and forward them from
hence with some degree of security; this will make me very happy, and
will prevent my wearying you by a repetition of events which I wish you
to be acquainted with, but which I do not wish to remind you of each
time I write. I am very anxious for the account of your journey. I
depend principally on Madame de Lafayette for its details; she well
knows how interesting they will be to me. The Marshall de Noailles tells
me, in general terms, that the letters he receives from Italy assure him
the travellers are all in good health. From him I have also learnt the
confinement of Madame Lafayette; he does not speak of it as if it were
the happiest of all possible circumstances; but my anxiety was too keen
to be able to make any distinction of sex; and by kindly writing to me,
and giving me an account of the event, he rendered me far, far
happier than he imagined, when he announced to me that I had only a
daughter.~[1] The Rue de St. Honoré has now for ever lost its credit,
whilst the other Hotel de Noailles has acquired new lustre by the birth
of Adrian.~[2] It is truly an ill-proceeding on my part to throw that
disgrace on a family from whom I have received so much kindness. You
must now be freezing on the high roads of France; those of Pennsylvania
are also very cold, and I endeavour vainly to persuade myself that
the difference of latitude betwixt this and Paris ought to give us,
comparatively speaking, a delightful winter: I am even told that it will
be more severe. We are destined to pass it in huts, twenty miles from
Philadelphia, that we may protect the country, be enabled to take
advantage of every favourable opportunity, and also have the power of
instructing the troops by keeping them together. It would, perhaps,
have been better to have entered quietly into real winter quarters;
but political reasons induced General Washington to adopt this half-way

I wish I had sufficient skill to give you a satisfactory account of
the military events passing in this country; but, in addition to my own
incapacity, reasons, of which you will understand the weight, prevent
my hazarding in a letter, exposed to the capture of the English fleet,
a relation which might explain many things, if I had the happiness of
conversing with you in person. I will, however, endeavour to repeat to
you, once more, the most important events that have occurred during this
campaign. My gazette, which will be more valuable from not containing my
own remarks, must be preferable to the gazettes of Europe; because
the man who sees with his own eyes, even if he should not see quite
correctly, must always merit more attention than the man who has seen
nothing. As to the gazettes which the English shower upon us, they
appear to me only fit to amuse chairmen over their mugs of ale; and even
these men must have indulged in liberal potations, not to perceive the
falsehoods they contain. It seems to me that the project of the English
ministry was to cut in a line that part of America which extends from
the bay of Chesapeak to Ticonderoga. General Howe was ordered to repair
to Philadelphia by the Elk river; Burgoyne to descend to Albany, and
Clinton to ascend from New York by the North river: the three generals
might in this manner have joined hands; they would have received, or
pretended to receive, the submission of the alleged conquered provinces;
we should only have retained for our winter quarters the interior of the
country, and have depended solely for our resources on the four southern
states. An attack on Charlestown may also, perhaps, have been intended:
in the opinion of the cabinet of the King of England, America was thus
almost conquered. Providence fortunately permitted some alterations
to take place in the execution of this finely-conceived project--to
exercise, probably, for some time, the constancy of the British nation.

When I arrived at the army, in the month of August, I was much
astonished at not finding any enemies. After having made some marches
into Jersey, where nothing occurred, General Howe embarked at New York.
We were encamped, and expecting their descent, on the Chester side,
when we learnt that they were at the mouth of the Elk river. General
Washington marched to meet them, and after having taken up several
stations, resolved to wait their arrival upon some excellent heights
on the Brandywine stream. The 11th of September the English marched
to attack us; but whilst they were amusing us with their cannon, and
several movements in front, they suddenly detached the greater part of
their troops, the choicest men of their army, with the grenadiers, under
the command of General Howe, and Lord Cornwallis, to pass a ford four
miles distant on our right. As soon as General Washington became aware
of this movement, he detached his whole right wing to march towards
them. Some unfounded reports, which had all the appearance of truth, and
which contradicted the first accounts received, arrested for a length
of time the progress of that wing, and when it arrived, the enemy had
already crossed the ford. Thus it became necessary to engage in an open
field with an army superior in numbers to our own. After having for some
time sustained a very brisk fire, though many were killed on the side of
the English, the Americans were obliged to give way. A portion of them
was rallied and brought back: it was then that I received my wound. In
a word, to cut the matter short, everything went on badly on both sides,
and General Washington was defeated--because he could not gain the
first general battle which had been fought during the war. The army
reassembled at Chester; but having been carried to a distance from it, I
have not been able to follow its different movements. General Howe took
advantage of the disorder which a tremendous rain had occasioned in
our army to pass the Schuylkill; he repaired to Philadelphia, to
take possession of it, and stationed himself between that town and
Germantown. General Washington attacked him on the 4th of October;
and we may assert that our general beat theirs, although their troops
defeated ours, since he surprised him, and even drove back the English
for some time; but their experience proved again triumphant over our
unpractised officers and soldiers. Some time before this event, an
American brigadier, placed in detachment on the other side of the river,
had been attacked at night in his camp, and had lost some of his men.
These are the only important events which took place on our side during
the six weeks that I was absent from the camp, whilst obliged to keep
my bed from my unclosed wound: at that time we received good news of
General Burgoyne. When I first rejoined the army, whilst General Howe
was on the water, I learnt that Ticonderoga had been precipitately
abandoned by the Americans, leaving there several cannons and a quantity
of ammunition. This success inflamed the pride of General Burgoyne,
and he issued a pompous proclamation, for which he has since paid very
dearly. His first act was to send a detachment, which was repulsed; he
was not, however, discouraged, but marched on, through immense forests,
in a country which contained but a single road. General Gates had under
his orders fifteen or sixteen thousand men, who distressed the enemy by
firing upon them from behind the trees. Whether conqueror or conquered,
General Burgoyne's force became gradually weakened, and every quarter
of a league cost him many men. At length, surrounded on all sides, and
perishing with hunger, he was obliged to enter into a convention, in
virtue of which he was conducted by the New England militia into that
same state of Massachusets in which it had been asserted in London he
was to take up his winter quarters. From thence he is to be conveyed,
with whatever troops he may have remaining, to England, at the expense
of the king his master. Ticonderoga has been since evacuated by the

General Clinton, who had set out rather late from New York, after having
taken and destroyed Fort Montgomery, on the north river, endeavoured to
reach the rear of Gates; but, hearing of the convention, he returned on
the same road by which he had advanced. If he had been more rapid in his
march, the affairs of General Gates would not have ended so fortunately.

When my wound permitted me, after the space of six weeks, to rejoin the
army, I found it stationed fifteen miles from Philadelphia; our northern
reinforcements had arrived; General Howe was much incommoded by two
forts, one on the Jersey side, the other on the little Island of Mud,
that you will find on your map, below the Schuylkill. These two forts
defended the chevaux de frise of the Delaware; they held out for a long
time, against all the efforts of the English troops, both by sea and
land. Two young Frenchmen, who were acting there as engineers, acquired
much glory by their conduct; MM. de Fleury, of the regiment of Rouergue,
and Mauduit Duplessis, who had also at the same time the command of
the artillery: he is an artillery officer in France. Some Hessians,
commanded by Count Donop, attacked the fort in which Mauduit was
stationed, and were repulsed with considerable loss. Count Donop was
taken and received a mortal wound. These forts, after having made a
vigorous resistance, were at length evacuated. Lord Cornwallis then
passed into Jersey with five thousand men. The same number of our troops
was stationed there, under one of our major-generals. As I was only
a volunteer, I went to reconnoitre the ground, and having met,
accidentally, with a detachment near the enemy's post, the good conduct
of my soldiers rendered an imprudent attack justifiable. We were told
that his lordship had been wounded. He then again re-crossed the river,
and we also did the same. Some days afterwards our army assembled at
Whitemarsh, thirteen miles from Philadelphia. The whole army of General
Howe advanced to attack us: but having examined our position on every
side, they judged it more prudent to retire during the night, after four
days of apparent hesitation. We then executed the project of crossing
over on this side of the Schuylkill, and after having been delayed on
the opposite side, from finding on this shore a part of the enemy's
army, (although they only fired a few cannon balls at us,) they left us
a free passage the next day, and we shall all repair unto our huts for
the winter.

Whilst remaining there, the American army will endeavour to clothe
itself, because it is almost in a state of nudity,--to form itself,
because it requires instruction,--and to recruit itself, because it is
feeble; but the thirteen states are going to rouse themselves and send
us some men. My division will, I trust, be one of the strongest, and I
will exert myself to make it one of the best. The actual situation of
the enemy is by no means an unpleasant one; the army of Burgoyne is fed
at the expense of the republic, and the few men they may obtain back,
for many will be lost upon the road, will immediately be replaced by
other troops; Clinton is quite at ease in New York, with a numerous
garrison; General Howe is paying court to the belles of Philadelphia.
The liberty the English take of stealing and pillaging from friends
as well as foes, places them completely at their ease. Their ships at
present sail up to the town, not, however, without some danger, for,
without counting the ship of sixty-four guns and the frigate which were
burnt before the forts, and without counting all those that I trust the
ice will destroy, several are lost every day on the difficult passage
they are obliged to undertake.

The loss of Philadelphia is far from being so important as it is
conceived to be in Europe. If the differences of circumstances, of
countries, and of proportion between the two armies, were not duly
considered, the success of General Gates would appear surprising when
compared to the events that have occurred with us,--taking into account
the superiority of General Washington over General Gates. Our General is
a man formed, in truth, for this revolution, which could not have been
accomplished without him. I see him more intimately than any other man,
and I see that he is worthy of the adoration of his country. His tender
friendship for me, and his complete confidence in me, relating to all
military and political subjects, great as well as small, enable me
to judge of all the interests he has to conciliate, and all the
difficulties he has to conquer. I admire each day more fully the
excellence of his character, and the kindness of his heart. Some
foreigners are displeased at not having been employed, (although it did
not depend on him to employ them)--others, whose ambitious projects he
would not serve,--and some intriguing, jealous men, have endeavoured to
injure his reputation; but his name will be revered in every age, by
all true lovers of liberty and humanity; and although I may appear to be
eulogising my friend, I believe that the part he makes me act, gives me
the right of avowing publicly how much I admire and respect him. There
are many interesting things that I cannot write, but will one day relate
to you, on which I entreat you to suspend your judgment, and which will
redouble your esteem for him.

America is most impatiently expecting us to declare for her, and France
will one day, I hope, determine to humble the pride of England. This
hope, and the measures which America appears determined to pursue, give
me great hopes for the glorious establishment of her independence. We
are not, I confess, so strong as I expected, but we are strong enough to
fight; we shall do so, I trust, with some degree of success; and, with
the assistance of France, we shall gain, with costs, the cause that
I cherish, because it is the cause of justice,--because it honors
humanity,--because it is important to my country,--and because my
American friends, and myself, are deeply engaged in it. The approaching
campaign will be an interesting one. It is said that the English are
sending us some Hanoverians; some time ago they threatened us with, what
was far worse, the arrival of some Russians. A slight menace from France
would lessen the number of these reinforcements. The more I see of the
English, the more thoroughly convinced I am, that it is necessary to
speak to them in a loud tone.

After having wearied you with public affairs, you must not expect
to escape without being wearied also with my private affairs. It is
impossible to be more agreeably situated than I am in a foreign country.
I have only feelings of pleasure to express, and I have each day more
reason to be satisfied with the conduct of the congress towards me,
although my military occupations have allowed me to become personally
acquainted with but few of its members. Those I do know have especially
loaded me with marks of kindness and attention. The new president, Mr.
Laurens, one of the most respectable men of America, is my particular
friend. As to the army, I have had the happiness of obtaining the
friendship of every individual; not one opportunity is lost of giving
me proofs of it. I passed the whole summer without accepting a division,
which you know had been my previous intention; I passed all that time at
General Washington's house, where I felt as if I were with a friend of
twenty years' standing. Since my return from Jersey, he has desired me
to choose, amongst several brigades, the division which may please me
best; but I have chosen one entirely composed of Virginians. It is weak
in point of numbers at present, just in proportion, however, to the
weakness of the whole army, and almost in a state of nakedness; but I
am promised cloth, of which I shall make clothes, and recruits, of which
soldiers must be made, about the same period; but, unfortunately, the
last is the most difficult task, even for more skilful men than me. The
task I am performing here, if I had acquired sufficient experience to
perform it well, would improve exceedingly my future knowledge. The
major-general replaces the lieutenant-general, and the field-marshal, in
their most important functions, and I should have the power of employing
to advantage, both my talents and experience, if Providence and my
extreme youth allowed me to boast of possessing either. I read, I study,
I examine, I listen, I reflect, and the result of all is the endeavour
at forming an opinion, into which I infuse as much common sense as
possible. I will not talk much, for fear of saying foolish things; I
will still less risk acting much, for fear of doing foolish things;
for I am not disposed to abuse the confidence which the Americans have
kindly placed in me. Such is the plan of conduct which I have followed
until now, and which I shall continue to follow; but when some ideas
occur to me, which I believe may become useful when properly rectified,
I hasten to impart them to a great judge, who is good enough to say that
he is pleased with them. On the other hand, when my heart tells me that
a favourable opportunity offers, I cannot refuse myself the pleasure
of participating in the peril, but I do not think that the vanity of
success ought to make us risk the safety of an army, or of any portion
of it, which may not be formed or calculated for the offensive. If I
could make an axiom, with the certainty of not saying a foolish thing,
I should venture to add that, whatever may be our force, we must content
ourselves with a completely defensive plan, with the exception, however,
of the moment when we may be forced to action, because I think I have
perceived that the English troops are more astonished by a brisk attack
than by a firm resistance.

This letter will be given you by the celebrated Adams, whose name must
undoubtedly be known to you. As I have never allowed myself to quit the
army, I have not been able to see him. He wished that I should give him
letters of introduction to France, especially to yourself. May I hope
that you will have the goodness of receiving him kindly, and even of
giving him some information respecting the present state of affairs. I
fancied you would not be sorry to converse with a man whose merit is so
universally acknowledged. He desires ardently to succeed in obtaining
the esteem of our nation. One of his friends himself told me so.


1. Madame Charles de Latour-Maubourg.

2. A son of the Viscount de Noailles, who was the son of Marshal de
Mouchy, and married the eldest daughter of the Duke d'Ayen.



Camp, 30th December, 1777.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I went yesterday morning to head-quarters with an
intention of speaking to your excellency, but you were too busy, and I
shall lay down in this letter what I wished to say.

I don't need to tell you that I am sorry for all that has happened
for some time past. It is a necessary dependence of my most tender and
respectful friendship for you, which affection is as true and candid
as the other sentiments of my heart, and much stronger than so new an
acquaintance seems to admit; but another reason, to be concerned in the
present circumstances, is my ardent and perhaps enthusiastic wishes for
the happiness and liberty of this country. I see plainly that America
can defend herself if proper measures are taken, and now I begin to fear
lest she should be lost by herself and her own sons.

When I was in Europe I thought that here almost every man was a lover of
liberty, and would rather die free than live a slave. You can conceive
my astonishment when I saw that toryism was as openly professed
as whiggism itself: however, at that time I believed that all good
Americans were united together; that the confidence of congress in you
was unbounded. Then I entertained the certitude that America would be
independent in case she should not lose you. Take away, for an instant,
that modest diffidence of yourself, (which, pardon my freedom, my dear
General, is sometimes too great, and I wish you could know, as well as
myself, what difference there is between you and any other man,) you
would see very plainly that if you were lost for America, there is no
body who could keep the army and the revolution for six months. There
are open dissensions in congress, parties who hate one another as much
as the common enemy; stupid men, who, without knowing a single word
about war, undertake to judge you, to make ridiculous comparisons;
they are infatuated with Gates, without thinking of the different
circumstances, and believe that attacking is the only thing necessary to
conquer. Those ideas are entertained in their minds by some jealous men,
and perhaps secret friends to the British Government, who want to push
you in a moment of ill humour to some rash enterprise upon the lines,
or against a much stronger army. I should not take the liberty of
mentioning these particulars to you if I did not receive a letter about
this matter, from a young good-natured gentleman at York, whom Conway
has ruined by his cunning, bad advice, but who entertains the greatest
respect for you.

I have been surprised at first, to see the few establishments of this
board of war, to see the difference made between northern and southern
departments, to see resolves from congress about military operations;
but the promotion of Conway is beyond all my expectations. I should
be glad to have new major-generals, because, as I know, you take some
interest in my happiness and reputation it is, perhaps, an occasion for
your excellency to give me more agreeable commands in some interesting
instances. On the other hand, General Conway says he is entirely a man
to be disposed of by me. He calls himself my soldier, and the reason
of such behaviour to me is, that he wishes to be well spoken of at the
French court, and his protector, the Marquis de Castries, is an intimate
acquaintance of mine; but since the letter of Lord Stirling I inquired
in his character. I found that he was an ambitious and dangerous man.
He has done all in his power, by cunning manoeuvres, to take off my
confidence and affection for you. His desire was to engage me to leave
this country. Now I see all the general officers of the army against
congress; such disputes, if known by the enemy, would be attended with
the worst consequences. I am very sorry whenever I perceive troubles
raised among the defenders of the same cause, but my concern is much
greater when I find officers coming from France, officers of some
character in my country, to whom any fault of that kind may be imputed.
The reason of my fondness for Conway was his being by all means a very
brave and very good officer. However, that talent for manoeuvres, and
which seems so extraordinary to congress, is not so very difficult a
matter for any man of common sense who applies himself to it. I must pay
to General Portail, and some French officers, who came to speak me, the
justice to say, that I found them as I could wish upon this occasion;
for it has made a great noise among many in the army. I wish, indeed,
those matters could be soon pacified. I wish your excellency could let
them know how necessary you are to them, and engage them at the same
time to keep peace, and simulate love among themselves till the
moment when those little disputes shall not be attended with such
inconveniences. It would be, too, a great pity that slavery, dishonour,
ruin, and unhappiness of a whole world, should issue from some trifling
differences between a few men.

You will find, perhaps, this letter very useless, and even inopportune;
but I was desirous of having a pretty, long conversation with you upon
the present circumstances, to explain you what I think of this matter.
As a proper opportunity for it did not occur, I took the liberty of
laying down some of my ideas in this letter, because it is for my
satisfaction to be convinced that you, my dear general, who have been
indulgent enough to permit me to look on you as upon a friend, should
know the confession of my sentiments in a matter which I consider as a
very important one. I have the warmest love for my country and for
every good Frenchman; their success fills my heart with joy; but, sir,
besides, Conway is an Irishman, I want countrymen, who deserve, in every
point, to do honour to their country. That gentleman had engaged me by
entertaining my head with ideas of glory and shining projects, and I
must confess, to my shame, that it is a too certain way of deceiving me.

I wished to join to the few theories about war I can have, and the
few dispositions nature gave, perhaps, to me, the experience of thirty
campaigns, in hope that I should be able to be the more useful in the
present circumstances. My desire of deserving your satisfaction is
stronger than ever, and everywhere you will employ me you can be certain
of my trying every exertion in my power to succeed. I am now fixed to
your fate, and I shall follow it and sustain it as well by my sword as
by all means in my power. You will pardon my importunity in favour of
the sentiment which dictated it. Youth and friendship make me, perhaps,
too warm, but I feel the greatest concern at all that has happened for
some time since.

With the most tender and profound respect, I have the honour to be, &c.


1. This letter was occasioned by the momentary success of an intrigue,
known in American history under the name of Conway's cabal. Conway,
who wished to oppose Gates to Washington, had written to the former a
letter, in which he attacked the general-in-chief. An aide-de-camp of
Lord Stirling gained knowledge of that letter, and communicated its
contents to Washington, who entered immediately into an explanation with
Conway, in consequence of which the latter sent in his resignation,
and announced the intention of re-entering the service of France.
The resignation was not accepted by congress, and Conway was, on
the contrary, named inspector-general of the army, with the rank of
major-general, and the formation of the war office in relation to the
mercenary troops. We see, by a letter from General Washington, that
M. de Lafayette was the only person to whom he shewed General Conway's
letter, transmitted by Lord Stirling's aide-de-camp.--(Letter to Horatio
Gates, of the 4th of January, 1778, written from Washington. V. 1st,
Appendix No. 6.)



Head-quarters, December 31st, 1777.

MY DEAR MARQUIS,--Your favour of yesterday conveyed to me fresh proof of
that friendship and attachment, which I have happily experienced since
the first of our acquaintance, and for which I entertain sentiments of
the purest affection. It will ever constitute part of my happiness to
know that I stand well in your opinion; because I am satisfied that you
can have no views to answer by throwing out false colours, and that you
possess a mind too exalted to condescend to low arts and intrigues to
acquire a reputation. Happy, thrice happy, would it have been for this
army and the cause we are embarked in, if the same generous spirit had
pervaded all the actors in it. But one gentleman, whose name you have
mentioned, had, I am confident, far different views; his ambition and
great desire of being puffed off, as one of the first officers of the
age, could only be equalled by the means which he used to obtain them.
But finding that I was determined not to go beyond the line of my
duty to indulge him in the first--nor to exceed the strictest rules of
propriety to gratify him in the second--he became my inveterate enemy;
and he has, I am persuaded, practised every art to do me an injury, even
at the expense of reprobating a measure that did not succeed, that he
himself advised to. How far he may have accomplished his ends, I know
not; and except for considerations of a public nature, I care not; for,
it is well known, that neither ambitious nor lucrative motives, led me
to accept my present appointments, in the discharge of which, I have
endeavoured to observe one steady and uniform system of conduct, which I
shall invariably pursue, while I have the honour to command, regardless
of the tongue of slander, or the powers of detraction. The fatal
tendency of disunion is so obvious, that I have, in earnest terms,
exhorted such officers as have expressed their dissatisfaction at
General Conway's promotion, to be cool and dispassionate in their
decision about the matter; and I have hopes that they will not suffer
any hasty determination to injure the service. At the same time, it must
be acknowledged, that officers' feelings upon these occasions are not to
be restrained, although you may control their actions.

The other observations contained in your letter have too much truth in
them; and, it is much to be lamented, that things are not now as they
formerly were. But we must not, in so great a contest, expect to meet
with nothing but sunshine. I have no doubt that everything happens for
the best, that we shall triumph over all our misfortunes, and, in the
end, be happy; when, my dear marquis, if you will give me your company
in Virginia, we will laugh at our past difficulties and the folly of
others; and I will endeavour, by every civility in my power, to shew
you how much, and how sincerely, I am your affectionate and obedient



Valley Forge, December 31st, 1777.

My Dear General,--I should have much reproached myself the liberty I
took of writing to your excellency, if I had believed it could engage
you in the trouble of answering that letter. But now, as you have
written it, I must tell you that I received this favour with the
greatest satisfaction and pleasure. Every assurance and proof of your
affection fills my heart with joy, because that sentiment of yours is
extremely dear and precious to me. A tender and respectful attachment
for you, and an invariable frankness, will be found in my mind as you
know me better; but, after those merits, I must tell you, that very few
others are to be found. I never wished so heartily to be entrusted by
nature with an immensity of talents than on this occasion; I could be
then of some use to your glory and happiness, as well as to my own.

What man do not join the pure ambition of glory with this other
ambitious of advancement, rank, and fortune? As an ardent lover of
laurels, I cannot bear the idea that so noble a sentiment should be
mixed with any low one. In your preaching moderation to the brigadiers
upon such an occasion, I am not surprised to recognise your virtuous
character. As I hope my warm interest is known to your excellency, I
dare entertain the idea that you will be so indulgent as to let me know
everything concerning you, whenever you will not be under the law of
secrecy or particular circumstances.

With the most tender and affectionate friendship--with the most profound
respect--I have the honour to be, &c.


Camp, near Valley-Forge, January 6th, 1778.

What a date, my dearest love, and from what a region I am now writing,
in the month of January! It is in a camp, in the centre of woods,
fifteen hundred leagues from you, that I find myself enclosed in the
midst of winter. It is not very long since we were only separated from
the enemy by a small river; we are at present stationed seven leagues
from them, and it is on this spot that the American army will pass the
whole winter, in small barracks, which are scarcely more cheerful than
dungeons. I know not whether it will be agreeable to General Howe to
visit our new city, in which case we would endeavour to receive him
with all due honour. The bearer of this letter will describe to you
the pleasant residence which I choose in preference to the happiness
of being with you, with all my friends, in the midst of all possible
enjoyments; in truth, my love, do you not believe that powerful reasons
are requisite to induce a person to make such a sacrifice? Everything
combined to urge me to depart,--honour alone told me to remain; and when
you learn in detail the circumstances in which I am placed, those in
which the army, my friend, its commander, and the whole American cause
were placed, you will not only forgive me, but you will excuse, and I
may almost venture to say, applaud me. What a pleasure I shall feel in
explaining to you myself all the reasons of my conduct, and, in asking,
whilst embracing you, a pardon, which I am very certain I shall then
obtain! But do not condemn me before hearing my defence. In addition to
the reasons I have given you, there is one other reason which I would
not relate to every one, because it might appear like affecting airs of
ridiculous importance. My presence is more necessary at this moment to
the American cause, than you can possibly conceive; many foreigners,
who have been refused employment, or whose ambitious views have been
frustrated, have raised up some powerful cabals; they have endeavoured,
by every sort of artifice, to make me discontented with this revolution,
and with him who is its chief; they have spread as widely as they
could, the report that I was quitting the continent. The English have
proclaimed also, loudly, the same intention on my side. I cannot in
conscience appear to justify the malice of these people. If I were to
depart, many Frenchmen who are useful here would follow my example.
General Washington would feel very unhappy if I were to speak of
quitting him; his confidence in me is greater than I dare acknowledge,
on account of my youth. In the place he occupies, he is liable to be
surrounded by flatterers or secret enemies; he finds in me a secure
friend, in whose bosom he may always confide his most secret thoughts,
and who will always speak the truth. Not one day passes without his
holding long conversations with me, writing me long letters, and he has
the kindness to consult me on the most important matters. A peculiar
circumstance is occurring at this moment which renders my presence of
some use to him: this is not the time to speak of my departure. I
am also at present engaged in an interesting correspondence with the
president of congress. The desire to debase England, to promote the
advantage of my own country, and the happiness of humanity, which is
strongly interested in the existence of one perfectly free nation,
all induces me not to depart at the moment when my absence might prove
injurious to the cause I have embraced. The General, also, after a
slight success in Jersey, requested me, with the unanimous consent of
congress, to accept a division in the army, and to form it according to
my own judgment, as well as my feeble resources might permit; I ought
not to have replied to such a mark of confidence, by asking what were
his commissions for Europe. These are some of the reasons, which I
confide to you, with an injunction of secrecy. I will repeat to you many
more in person, which I dare not hazard in a letter. This letter will
be given you by a good Frenchman, who has come a hundred miles to ask me
for my commissions. I wrote to you a few days ago by the celebrated
Mr. Adams; he will facilitate your sending me letters. You must have
received those I sent you as soon as I heard of your confinement. How
very happy that event has rendered me, my dearest love! I delight in
speaking of it in all my letters, because I delight in occupying myself
with it at every moment of my life! What a pleasure it will give me to
embrace my two poor little girls, and make them request their mother to
forgive me! You do not believe me so hard hearted, and at the same time
so ridiculous, as to suppose that the sex of our new infant can have
diminished in any degree my joy at its birth. Our age is not so far
advanced, that we may not expect to have another child, without a
miracle from Heaven. The next one must absolutely be a boy. However, if
it be on account of the name that we are to regret not having a son, I
declare that I have formed the project of living long enough to bear it
many years myself, before I yield it to any other person. I am indebted
to the Marshal de Noailles for the joyful news. I am anxiously expecting
a letter from you. I received the other day one from Desplaces, who
mentioned having sent a preceding one; but the caprice of the winds,
without speaking of English ships, often deranges the order of my
correspondence. I was for some days very uneasy about the Viscount de
Coigny, who, some of my letters announced, was in a precarious state
of health. But that letter from Desplaces, who told me all were well,
without mentioning the viscount's name, has quite reassured me. I have
also received some other letters which do not speak of his health. When
you write, I entreat you to send me many details of all the people whom
I love, and even of all my acquaintance. It is very extraordinary that I
have not heard of Madame de Fronsac's confinement. Say a thousand
tender and respectful things from me to her, as well as to the Countess
Auguste. If those ladies do not enter into the reasons which force me
to remain here, they must indeed think me a most absurd being, more
especially as they have opportunities of seeing clearly what a charming
wife I am separated from; but even that may prove to them what powerful
motives must guide my conduct. Several general officers have brought
their wives to the camp; I envy them--not their wives--but the happiness
they enjoy in being able to see them. General Washington has also
resolved to send for his wife. As to the English, they have received a
reinforcement of three hundred young ladies from New York; and we have
captured a vessel filled with chaste officers' wives, who had come to
rejoin their husbands: they were in great fear of being kept for the
American army.

You will learn by the bearer of this letter that my health is very good,
that my wound is healed, and that the change of country has produced
no effect upon me. Do you not think that, at my return, we shall be
old enough to establish ourselves in our own house, live there happily
together, receive our friends, institute a delightful state of freedom,
and read foreign newspapers, without feeling any curiosity to judge by
ourselves of what may pass in foreign countries? I enjoy thus building,
in France, castles of felicity and pleasure: you always share them with
me, my dearest love, and when we are once united, nothing shall again
separate us, or prevent our experiencing together, and through each
other, the joy of mutual affection, and the sweetest and most tranquil
happiness. Adieu, my love; I only wish this project could be executed
on this present day. Would it not be agreeable to you also? Present
my tender respects to Madame d'Ayen: embrace a thousand times the
viscountess and my sisters. Adieu, adieu; continue to love me, and
forget not for a moment the unhappy exile who thinks incessantly of thee
with renewed ardour and tenderness.



DEAR GENERAL,--I shall make use, in this particular instance, of the
liberty you gave me, of telling freely every idea of mine which could
strike me as not being useless to a better order of things.

There were two gentlemen, same rank, same duty to perform, and same
neglect of it, who have been arrested the same day by me. As I went
in the night around the picquets, I found them in fault, and I gave an
account of it the next day to your excellency. You answered, that I was
much in wrong not to have had them relieved and arrested immediately.
I objected that it was then very late for such a changement, and that
I did not know which was the rule in this army, but that the gentlemen
should be arrested in that very moment. The last answer of your
excellency has been, "they are to have a court-martial, and you must
give notice of it to the adjutant-general." Therefore, Major Nevil made
two letters in order to arrest them, _one for having been surprised in
his post_, and the other, for the same cause, _and allowing his sentries
to have fires, which he could see in standing before the picquet_. I
give you my word of honour, that there was not any exaggeration.

Now I see in the orders, the less guilty punished in a manner much too
severe indeed, and dismissed from the service, (it is among all the
delicate minds deprived of his honour,) when he was only to be
severely reprimanded and kept for some time under arrest. But it can be
attributed to a very severe discipline.

What must I think of the same court, when they unanimously acquit (it is
to say that my accusation is not true) the officer who joins to the same
fault, entirely the same this, of allowing his sentries to have fire in
his own sight; for in every service _being surprised_ or being found in
the middle of his picquet without any challenging or stopping sentry,
as Major Nevil, riding before me, found him, is entirely the same thing;
and Major Nevil, riding before me, when I was busy to make a sentry pull
off his fire, can swear that such was the case with that officer--he can
do more than swearing, for he can give his word of honour, and I think
that idea _honour_ is the same in every country.

But the _préjugés_ are not the same thing; for giving publicly the best
of such a dispute (for here it becomes a trial for both parties) to an
officer of the last military stage against one of the first, should
be looked on as an affront to the rank, and acquitting a man, whom one
other man accuses, looked upon as an affront to the person. It is the
same in Poland, for Count de Pulaski was much affronted at the decision
of a court-martial entirely acquitting Colonel Molens. However, as I
know the English customs, I am nothing else but surprised to see such a
partiality in a court-martial.

Your excellency will certainly approve my not arresting any officer for
being brought before a court-martial for any neglect of duty; but when
they will be robbers or cowards, or when they will assassinate--in all,
when they will deserve being cashiered or put to death.

Give me leave to tell your excellency how I am adverse to
court-martials. I know it is the English custom, and I believe it is a
very bad one. It comes from their love of lawyers, speakers, and of that
black apparatus of sentences and judgments; but such is not the American
temper, and I think this new army must pick up the good institutions,
and leave the bad ones wherever they may be. In France, an officer
is arrested by his superior, who gives notice of it to the commanding
officer, and then he is punished enough in being deprived of going out
of his room in time of peace--of going his duty in time of war. Nobody
knows of it but his comrades. When the fault is greater, he is confined
in a common room for prisoner officers, and this is much more shameful.
Notice of it is immediately given to the general officer who commands
there. That goes, too, to the king's minister, who is to be replaced
here by the commander-in-chief; in time of war, it goes to the

Soldiers are punished the same, or next day, by order of proper
officers, and the right of punishing is proportionate to their ranks.

But when both officers and soldiers have done something which deserves
a more severe punishment; when their honour, or their life, or
their liberty for more than a very short time, is concerned, then a
court-martial meets, and the sentence is known. How will you let an
unhappy soldier be confined several weeks with men who are to be hanged,
with spies, with the most horrid sort of people, and in the same time
be lost for the duty, when they deserve only some lashes. There is no
proportion in the punishments.

How is it possible to carry a gentleman before a parcel of dreadful
judges, at the same place where an officer of the same rank has been
just now cashiered, for a trifling neglect of his duty; for, I suppose,
speaking to his next neighbour, in a manoeuvre for going into a house
to speak to a pretty girl, when the army is on its march, and a thousand
other things? How is it possible to bring to the certainty of being
cashiered or dishonoured, a young lad who has made a considerable fault
because he had a light head, a too great vivacity, when that young man
would be, perhaps, in some years, the best officer of the army, if he
had been friendly reprimanded and arrested for some time, without any

The law is always severe; and brings with it an eternal shameful mark.
When the judges are partial, as on this occasion, it is much worse,
because they have the same inconvenience as law itself.

In court-martial, men are judged by their inferiors. How it is averse
to discipline, I don't want to say. The publication exposes men to
be despised by the least soldier. When men have been before a
court-martial, they should be or acquitted or dismissed. What do you
think can be produced by the half condemnation of a general officer?
What necessity for all the soldiers, all the officers, to know that
_General Maxwell has been prevented from doing his duty by his being
drunk?_ Where is the man who will not laugh at him, if he is told
by him, _you are a drunkard;_ and is it right to ridiculize a man,
respectable by his rank, because he drank two or three gills of rum?

These are my reasons against courts-martial, when there is not some
considerable fault to punish. According to my affair, I am sorry in
seeing the less guilty being _the only one punished_. However, I shall
send to courts-martial but for such crimes that there will be for the
judges no way of indulgence and partiality.

With the most tender respect, I am, &c.


York, February 3rd, 1778.

I shall never have any cause to reproach myself, my dearest love, with
having allowed an opportunity to pass without writing to you, and I
have found one by M. du Bouchet, who has the happiness of embarking for
France. You must have already received several letters in which I speak
of the birth of our new infant, and of the pleasure this joyful event
has given me. If I thought that you could imagine the happiness I feel
at this event had been at all diminished because our Anastasia is only
a daughter, I should be so much displeased with you, that I should but
love you a very little for a few moments. O, my love! what an enchanting
pleasure it will be for me to embrace you all; what a consolation to be
able to weep with my other friends for the dear friend whom I have lost!

I will not give you a long account of the proofs of confidence with
which I have been honoured by America. Suffice it to say that Canada is
oppressed by the English; the whole of that immense country is in the
power of the enemy, who are there in possession of troops, forts, and a
fleet. I am to repair thither with the title of General of the Northern
Army, at the head of three thousand men, to see if no evil can be done
to the English in that country. The idea of rendering the whole of New
France free, and of delivering her from a heavy yoke, is too glorious
for me to allow myself to dwell upon it. My army would, in that case,
increase at an immense rate, and would be increased also by the French.
I am undertaking a most difficult task, above all taking into account
the few resources I possess. As to those my own merit offers, they are
very trifling in comparison to the importance of the place; nor can
a man of twenty be fit to command an army, charged with the numerous
details to which a general must attend, and having under his direct
orders a vast extent of country.

The number of the troops I shall command would appear, I own, trifling
in Europe, but it is considerable for America. What gives me most
pleasure in all this is, that, under any circumstances, I shall be now
sooner able to rejoin you. How delightful it will be to hurry through my
affairs with the English there above! I am just setting out for Albany,
and from thence to another place, nearly a hundred and fifty leagues
from hence, where my labours will commence. I shall go part of the way
on sledges; having once reached that spot, I shall have only ice to
tread upon.

I do not write to any of my friends by this opportunity. I have an
immense deal of business to do; there is an infinite number of military
and political affairs to arrange; there are so many things to repair,
so many new obstacles to remove, that I should require, in truth, forty
years' experience, and very superior talents, to be able to conquer all
the difficulties I meet with. I will, at least, do the best I can, and
if I only succeed in occupying the enemy's attention in the north,
even if I do them no other injury, it would be rendering an important
service, and my little army would not be wholly useless. Be so kind
as to tell the prince~[1] that his youthful captain, although now a
general-in-chief, has not acquired more knowledge than he possessed at
Polygone, and that he knows not how, unless chance or his good angel
should direct him, to justify the confidence which has been placed in
him. A thousand tender respects to Madame d'Ayen. A thousand assurances
of my tender affection to the viscountess and all my sisters. Do not
forget me to your father, Madame de Tessé, and the Marshal de Noailles.
Adieu, adieu, my dearest love; embrace our dear children; I embrace a
million of times their beloved mother. When shall I find myself again
within her arms?


1. The Prince de Poix, colonel of the regiment de Noailles, in which M.
de Lafayette was captain.



Hemingtown, the 9th February, 1778.

Dear General,--I cannot let go my guide without taking this opportunity
of writing to your excellency, though I have not yet public business
to speak of. I go on very slowly; sometimes drenched by rain, sometimes
covered by snow, and not entertaining many handsome thoughts about the
projected incursion into Canada; if successes were to be had, it would
surprise me in a most agreeable manner by that very reason that I don't
expect any shining ones. Lake Champlain is too cold for producing the
least bit of laurel, and if I am not starved I shall be as proud as if I
had gained three battles.

Mr. Duer had given to me a rendezvous at a tavern, but nobody was to be
found there. I fancy that he will be with Mr. Conway sooner than he
has told me; they will perhaps conquer Canada before my arrival, and I
expect to meet them at the governor's house in Quebec.

Could I believe, for one single instant, that this pompous command _of
a northern army_ will let your excellency forget a little us absent
friends, then, I would send the project to the place it comes from.
But I dare hope that you will remember me sometimes. I wish you, very
heartily, the greatest public and private happiness and successes. It is
a very melancholy idea for me that I cannot follow your fortunes as near
your person as I could wish; but my heart will take, very sincerely, its
part of everything which can happen to you, and I am already thinking of
the agreeable moment when I may come down to assure your excellency of
the most tender affection and highest respect. I have the honour to be,



Albany, the 19th February, 1778.

Dear General,--Why am I so far from you and what business had the board
of war to hurry me through the ice and snow without knowing what I
should do, neither what they were doing themselves? You have thought,
perhaps, that their project would be attended with some difficulty, that
some means had been neglected, that I could not obtain all the success
and the immensity of laurels which they had promised to me; but I defy
your excellency to conceive any idea of what I have seen since I left
the place where I was quiet and near my friends, to run myself through
all the blunders of madness or treachery (God knows what). Let me begin
the journal of my fine and glorious campaign.

According to Lord Stirling's advice, I went by Corich-ferry to Ringo's
tavern, where Mr. Duer had given me a rendezvous; but there no Duer was
to be found, and they did never hear from him.

From thence I proceeded by the State of New York, and had the pleasure
of seeing the friends of America, as warm in their love for the
commander-in-chief as his best friend could wish. I spoke to Governor
Clinton, and was much satisfied with that gentleman. At length I met
Albany, the 17th, though I was not expected before the 25th. General
Conway had been here only three days before me, and I must confess I
found him very active and looking as if he had good intentions; but we
know a great deal upon that subject. His first word has been that the
expedition is quite impossible. I was at first very diffident of this
report, but have found that he was right. Such is, at least, the idea I
can form of this ill-concerted operation within these two days.

General Schuyler, General Lincoln, General Arnold, had written, before
my arrival, to General Conway, in the most expressive terms, that, in
our present circumstances, there was no possibility to begin, now, an
enterprise into Canada. Hay, deputy quarter-master-general; Cuyler,
deputy commissary-general; Mearsin, deputy clothier-general, in what
they call the northern department, are entirely of the same opinion.
Colonel Hazen, who has been appointed to a place which interferes with
the three others above mentioned, was the most desirous of going there.
The reasons of such an order I think I may attribute to other motives.
The same Hazen confesses we are not strong enough to think of the
expedition in this moment. As to the troops, they are disgusted, and (if
you except some Hazen's Canadians) reluctant, to the utmost degree,
to begin a winter incursion in a so cold country. I have consulted
everybody, and everybody answers me that it would be madness to
undertake this operation.

I have been deceived by the board of war; they have, by the strongest
expressions, promised to me one thousand, and (what is more to be
depended upon) they have assured to me in writing, _two thou-sand and
five hundred combatants, at a low estimate_. Now, Sir, I do not believe
I can find, _in all_, twelve hundred fit for duty, and most part of
those very men are naked, even for a summer's campaign. I was to find
General Stark with a large body, and indeed General Gates had told to
me, _General Stark will have burnt the fleet before your arrival_. Well,
the first letter I receive in Albany is from General Stark, who wishes
to know _what number of men, from whence, for what time, for what
rendezvous, I desire him to raise_. Colonel Biveld, who was to rise
too, would have done something _had he received money_. One asks, what
encouragement his people will have, the other has no clothes; not one
of them has received a dollar of what was due to them. I have applied
to every body, I have begged at every door I could these two days, and
I see that I could do something were the expedition to be begun in five
weeks. But you know we have not an hour to lose, and indeed it is now
rather too late, had we every thing in readiness.

There is a spirit of dissatisfaction prevailing among the soldiers, and
even the officers, which is owing to their not being paid for some time
since. This department is much indebted, and as near as I can ascertain,
for so short a time, I have already discovered near eight hundred
thousand dollars due to the continental troops, some militia, the
quartermaster's department, &c. &c. &c. It was with four hundred
thousand dollars, only the half of which is arrived to day, that I was
to undertake the operation, and satisfy the men under my commands. I
send to congress the account of those debts. Some clothes, by Colonel
Hazen's activity, are arrived from Boston, but not enough by far, and
the greatest part is cut off.

We have had intelligence from a deserter, who makes the enemy stronger
than I thought. There is no such thing _as straw on board the vessels to
burn them_. I have sent to congress a full account of the matter; I hope
it will open their eyes. What they will resolve upon I do not know,
but I think I must wait here for their answer. I have inclosed to the
president, copies of the most important letters I had received. It would
be tedious for your excellency, were I to undertake the minutest detail
of everything; it will be sufficient to say that the want of men,
clothes, money, and the want of time, deprives me of all hopes as to
this excursion. If it may begin again in the month of June, by the east,
I cannot venture to assure; but for the present moment such is the idea
I conceive of the famous incursion, as far as I may be informed, in a so
short time.

Your excellency may judge that I am very distressed by this
disappointment. My being appointed to the command of the expedition is
known through the continent, it will be soon known in Europe, as I have
been desired, by members of congress, to write to my friends; my being
at the head of an army, people will be in great expectations, and what
shall I answer?

I am afraid it will reflect on my reputation, and I shall be laughed at.
My fears upon that subject are so strong, that I would choose to become
again only a volunteer, unless congress offers the means of mending this
ugly business by some glorious operation; but I am very far from giving
to them the least notice upon that matter. General Arnold seems very
fond of a diversion against New York, and he is too sick to take the
field before four or five months. I should be happy if something
was proposed to me in that way, but I will never ask, nor even seem
desirous, of anything directly from congress; for you, dear general, I
know very well, that you will do everything to procure me the only thing
I am ambitious of--glory.

I think your excellency will approve of my staying here till further
orders, and of my taking the liberty of sending my despatches to
congress by a very quick occasion, without going through the hands of
my general; but I was desirous to acquaint them early of my disagreeable
and ridiculous situation.

With the greatest affection and respect, I have the honour to be, &c.



The 23rd February, 1778.

DEAR GENERAL,--I have an opportunity of writing to your excellency
which I will not miss by any means, even should I be afraid of becoming
tedious and troublesome; but if they have sent me far from you, I don't
know for what purpose, at least I must make some little use of my pen,
to prevent all communication from being cut off between your excellency
and myself. I have written lately to you my distressing, ridiculous,
foolish, and, indeed, nameless situation. I am sent, with a great noise,
at the head of an army for doing great things; the whole continent,
France and Europe herself, and what is the worse, the British army, are
in great expectations. How far they will be deceived, how far we shall
be ridiculed, you may judge by the candid account you have got of the
state of our affairs.

There are things, I dare say, in which I am deceived--a certain colonel
is not here for nothing: one other gentleman became very popular before
I went to this place; Arnold himself is very fond of him. Every part on
which I turn to look I am sure a cloud is drawn before my eyes; however,
there are points I cannot be deceived upon. The want of money, the
dissatisfaction among the soldiers, the disinclination of every one
(except the Canadians, who mean to stay at home) for this expedition,
are as conspicuous as possible; however, I am sure I will become very
ridiculous, and laughed at. _My expedition_ will be as famous as the
_secret expedition_ against Rhode Island. I confess, my dear general,
that I find myself of very quick feelings whenever my reputation and
glory are concerned in anything. It is very hard indeed that such a part
of my happiness, without which I cannot live, should depend upon schemes
which I never knew of but when there was no time to put them into
execution. I assure you, my most dear and respected friend, that I am
more unhappy than I ever was.

My desire of doing something was such, that I have thought of doing
it by surprise with a detachment, but it seems to me rash and quite
impossible. I should be very happy if you were here to give me some
advice; but I have nobody to consult with. They have sent to me more
than twenty French officers; I do not know what to do with them; I beg
you will acquaint me the line of conduct you advise me to follow on
every point. I am at a loss how to act, and indeed I do not know what I
am here for myself. However, as being the eldest officer, (after General
Arnold has desired me to take the command,) I think it is my duty to
mind the business of this part of America as well as I can. General
Gates holds yet the title and power of commander-in-chief of the
Northern department; but, as two hundred thousand dollars are arrived,
I have taken upon myself to pay the most necessary part of the debts we
are involved in. I am about sending provisions to Fort Schuyller: I will
go to see the fort. I will try to get some clothes for the troops, to
buy some articles for the next campaign. I have directed some money
to be borrowed upon my credit to satisfy the troops, who are much
discontented. In all, I endeavour to do for the best, though I have no
particular authority or instructions; and I will come as near as I can
to General Gates's intentions, but I want much to get an answer to my

I fancy (between us) that the actual scheme is to have me out of this
part of the continent, and General Conway in chief, under the immediate
direction of General Gates. How they will bring it up I do not know, but
you may be sure something of that kind will appear. You are nearer than
myself, and every honest man in congress is your friend; therefore you
may foresee and prevent, if possible, the evil a hundred times better
than I can: I would only give that idea to your excellency.

After having written in Europe (by the desire of the members of
congress) so many fine things about my commanding an army, I shall be
ashamed if nothing can be done by me in that way. I am told General
Putnam is recalled; but your excellency knows better than I do what
would be convenient, therefore I don't want to mind these things myself.

Will you be so good as to present my respects to your lady. With the
most tender affection and highest respect, I have the honour to be,




Head Quarters, 10th March, 1778.

MY DEAR MARQUIS,--I have had the pleasure of receiving your two favours
of the 19th and 23rd of February, and hasten to dispel those fears
respecting your reputation, which are excited only by an uncommon degree
of sensibility. You seem to apprehend that censure, proportioned to the
disappointed expectations of the world, will fall on you in consequence
of the failure of the Canadian expedition. But, in the first place, it
will be no disadvantage to you to have it known in Europe that you
had received so manifest a proof of the good opinion and confidence of
congress as an important detached command; and I am persuaded that every
one will applaud your prudence in renouncing a project, in pursuing
which you would vainly have attempted physical impossibilities; indeed,
unless you can be chargeable with the invariable effects of natural
causes, and be arraigned for not suspending the course of the seasons,
to accommodate your march over the lake, the most prompt to slander can
have nothing to found blame upon.

However sensibly your ardour for glory may make you feel this
disappointment, you may be assured that your character stands as fair
as ever it did, and that no new enterprise is necessary to wipe off this
imaginary stain. The expedition which you hint at I think unadvisable in
our present circumstances. Anything in the way of a formal attack, which
would necessarily be announced to the enemy by preparatory measures,
would not be likely to succeed. If a stroke is meditated in that
quarter, it must be effected by troops stationed at a proper distance
for availing themselves of the first favourable opportunity offered by
the enemy, and success would principally depend upon the suddenness
of the attempt. This, therefore, must rather be the effect of time and
chance than premeditation. You undoubtedly have determined judiciously
in waiting the further orders of congress. Whether they allow me the
pleasure of seeing you shortly, or destine you to a longer absence, you
may assure yourself of the sincere good wishes of,

Dear Sir, &c.

P. S. Your directing payment of such debts as appear to be most pressing
is certainly right. There is not money enough to answer every demand;
and I wish your supplies of clothing had been better. Your ordering
a large supply of provisions into Fort Schuyler was a very judicious
measure, and I thank you for it.



Albany, March 12th.

Permit me to express my satisfaction at your having seen General
Washington. No enemies to that great man can be found except among the
enemies to his country; nor is it possible for any man of a noble spirit
to refrain from loving the excellent qualities of his heart. I think I
know him as well as any person, and such is the idea which I have formed
of him; his honesty, his frankness, his sensibility, his virtue, to the
full extent in which this word can be understood, are above all praise.
It is not for me to judge of his military talents; but, according to my
imperfect knowledge of these matters, his advice in council has always
appeared to me the best, although his modesty prevents him sometimes
from sustaining it; and his predictions have generally been fulfilled.
I am the more happy in giving you this opinion of my friend with all
the sincerity which I feel, because some persons may perhaps attempt to
deceive you on this point.



Albany, 20th March, 1778.

... His Excellency General Washington will, I believe, mention to
congress that, at the request of the commissioners of Indian affairs, I
send Colonel Gouvion, and have given proper directions for the building
of a small fort, which they and myself have thought very necessary to
be granted to the Oneydas. The love of the French blood, mixed with the
love of some French _Louis d'or_, have engaged those Indians to promise
they would come with me.~[1]

As I am very certain the Congress of the United States will not propose
anything to me but consistent with my feelings and the sentiment
I flatter myself to have obtained from them, I can assure them, by
advance, that any post they will give, any disposition they will make,
with such manners, will be cheerfully received and complied to by me
with acknowledgment. However, I will beg leave to say, that any command,
whatever honourable it may be, where I would not be so near the danger
or occasions of doing something, I shall always look upon as not suited
to me.

I never mentioned to congress a long letter I have written, four months
ago, to France, about a project for the East Indies, to which I expect
the answer. Was I to succeed in my expectation, it would bring, soon,
that so much desired French war, in spite of some peaceful men, and
be of some use to the noble cause of freedom, without bringing the
continent in any expense.

With the greatest respect, I have the honour to be, &c.


1. M. de Lafayette, during this journey, some curious relations with
the Indian, in a letter of the 27th of February, to General Washington,
which, being void of interest in other respects, has been suppressed.
It appears that he was solicited by General Schuyler to be present at a
numerous meeting of Indians, convoked for a treaty. The traces of those
communications will be found further.



Albany, 25th March, 1778.

Dear General,--How happy I have been in receiving your excellency's
favour of the tenth present; I hope you will be convinced by the
knowledge of my tender affection for you. I am very sensible of that
goodness which tries to dissipate my fears about that ridiculous
Canadian expedition. At the present time we know which was the aim
of the honourable board, and for which project three or four men have
rushed the country into a great expense, and risked the reputation
of our arms, and the life of many hundred men, had the general, your
deceived friend, been as rash and foolish as they seem to have expected.
O, American freedom, what shall become of you if you are in such hands?

I have received a letter from the board and a resolve of congress,~[1]
by which you are directed to recall me and the Baron de Kalb, whose
presence is deemed absolutely necessary to your army. I believe this of
General Conway is _absolutely necessary_ to Albany, and he has received
orders to stay there, which I have no objection to, as nothing, perhaps,
will be done in this quarter but some disputes of Indians and tories.
However, you know I have wrote to congress, and as soon as their leave
will come, I shall let Conway have the command of these few regiments,
and I shall immediately join my respectable friend; but till I have
received instructions for leaving that place from yourself, I shall
stay, as powerful commander-in-chief, as if congress had never resolved
my presence absolutely necessary for the great army.

Since your last letter, I have given up the idea of New York, and
my only desire is to join you. The only favour I have asked of your
commissioners in France, has been, not to be under any orders but those
of General Washington. I seem to have had an anticipation of our future
friendship, and what I have done out of esteem and respect for your
excellency's name and reputation, I should do now out of mere love
for General Washington himself. I am glad to hear General Greene is
quarter-master-general; it is very interesting to have there an honest
man and a friend of yours. But I feel the greatest pain not to hear
anything about reinforcements. What can you do with a handful of
men,--and my poor division, whom I was so desirous of instructing,
clothing, managing myself in the winter, whom, I was told, I should
find six thousand strong at the opening of the campaign? Don't your
excellency think that I could recruit a little in General Greene's
division now that he is quarter-master-general? By that promotion I find
myself very proud to be the third officer of your army.

With the utmost respect and affection, I have the honour to be, &c.


1. That congress entertain a high sense of his prudence, activity, and
zeal, and that they are fully persuaded nothing has or would have been
wanting on his part, or on the part of his officers who accompanied him,
to give the expedition the utmost possible effect.--(Secret Journal,
March 2.)


Valley Forge Camp, in Pennsylvania, April 14th, 1778.

If thirty opportunities were to present themselves at once, my dearest
love, you may rest assured that I would write thirty letters; and that,
if you do not receive any news from me, I have nothing, at least, to
reproach myself with. This letter will be accompanied by others, saying
nearly the same things, and having nearly the same date; but accidents
are unfortunately very common, and by this means, some letters may reach
you safely. Respecting your own, my love, I prefer accusing fate, the
waves, Lord Howe, and the devil, to suspecting you for one moment of
negligence. I am convinced that you will not allow a single opportunity
to escape of writing to me; but I should feel, if possible, still more
so, if I could only hope that you knew the degree of happiness your
letters give me. I love you more ardently than ever, and repeated
assurances of your affection are absolutely necessary to my repose, and
to that species of felicity which I can enjoy whilst separated from all
I love most fondly--if, however, the word _felicity_ can be applied to
my melancholy, exiled state. Endeavour to afford me some consolation,
and neglect no opportunity of writing to me. Millions of ages have
elapsed since I have received a line from any one. This complete
ignorance of the situation of all those who are most dear to me, is,
indeed, a dreadful calamity: I have, however, some reason to believe
that it cannot last for ever; the scene will soon become interesting;
France must take some decisive part, and vessels will then arrive with
letters. I can give you no news at present; we are all in a state of
repose, and are waiting with impatience for the opening campaign to
awaken us from our stupor. In my other letters, I mentioned my journey
to Albany, and my visit to an assembly of savages. I am expecting some
good Iroquois who have promised to rejoin me here. Either after, or
before receiving this letter, Madame d'Ayen, the viscountess, and
my grandfather,~[1] will receive letters by an opportunity which, I
believe, is more secure than the one I am now writing by; I have written
a longer letter to you also at the same time. I write an immense number
of epistles; God grant that they may arrive! Present my affectionate
respects to your mother, and my grandfather; embrace a thousand times
the viscountess and my sisters; recall me to the remembrance of the
Countess Auguste, Madame de Fronsac, and all your and my friends.
Embrace a thousand times our dearest family. When shall I be able to
assure you, my dearest life, that I love you better than any other
person in the world, and that I shall love you as long as I live? Adieu;
I only look upon this letter as a note.

Present my respects to the Marshal de Noailles, and tell him that I
have sent him some trees from Albany; but I will send him others also at
various times, that I may feel certain of his receiving a few of them.
When you present my compliments to my acquaintance, do not forget the
Chevalier de Chastellux.


1. The Count de la Riviere, (Charles-Ives-Thibault), lieutenant-captain
of the black musketeers, was grandfather of the mother of M. de
Lafayette of whom he had been appointed guardian.


Germantown, April 28th, 1778.

I write to you, my dearest love, by a very strange opportunity, since it
is an English officer who has taken charge of my letter. But your
wonder will cease, when you hear that that officer is my friend
Fitz-Patrick.~[1] He is returning to England, and I could not resist my
wish of embracing him before his departure. It was the first time we had
met unarmed in America, and that manner of meeting suits us both much
better than the hostile appearance which we had, until now, thought
proper to affect. It is long since I have received any news from France,
and I am very impatiently expecting letters. Write frequently, my love,
I need the consolation of hearing often from you during this painful
separation. There is no important news; neither would it be proper for
Mr. Fitz-Patrick to carry political news from a hand at present
engaged in fighting with his army. I am in perfect health; my wound is
completely healed, but my heart is far from being tranquil, for I am
far from all those I love; and my anxiety about them, as well as my
impatience to behold them, increase every hour. Say a thousand things
for me to all my friends; present my respects to Madame d'Ayen, and to
the Marshal de Noailles. Embrace, above all, our children, my dearest
love, and be convinced yourself that every moment that separates me from
you and them appears to me an age. Adieu; I must quit you, for the hour
is far advanced, and to-morrow will not be an idle day. Adieu, Adieu!


1. M. de Lafayette had become very intimate with him in England: he is
the same General Fitz-Patrick, who made two famous motions in the House
of Commons; the one March 17th, 1794, for the prisoners of Magdebourg,
and the other, December 16th, 1796, for the prisoners of Olmutz.



Valley Forge Camp, the 19th May, 1778.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Agreeable to your excellency's orders, I have taken
the oath of the gentlemen officers in General Woodford's brigade, and
their certificates have been sent to the adjutant-general's office. Give
me leave, now, to present you with some observations delivered to me
by many officers in that brigade, who desire me to submit them to your
perusal. I know, sir, (besides I am not of their opinion in the fact
itself) that I should not accept for you the objections those gentlemen
could have had, as a body, to any order from congress; but I confess the
desire of being agreeable to them, of giving them any mark of friendship
and affection which is in my power and acknowledging the kind sentiments
they honour me with, have been my first and dearest considerations.
Besides that, be pleased to consider that they began by obeying orders,
and want only to let their beloved general know which were the reasons
of their being rather reluctant (as far as reluctance may comply with
their duty and honour) to an oath, the meaning and spirit of which
was, I believe, misunderstood by them. I may add, sir, with a perfect
conviction, that there is not one among them but would be thrice happy
were occasions offered to them of distinguishing yet, by new exertions,
their love for their country, their zeal for their duty as officers,
their consideration for the civil superior power, and their love for
your excellency.

With the greatest respect and most tender affection, I have the honour
to be, &c.



Camp, 17th May, 1778.

DEAR SIR,--I received yesterday your favour of the 15th instant,
enclosing a paper subscribed by sundry officers of General Woodford's
brigade, setting forth the reasons for not taking the oath of
abjuration, allegiance, and office; and I thank you much for the
cautious delicacy used in communicating the matter to me. As every
oath should be a free act of the mind, founded on the conviction of its
propriety, I would not wish, in any instance, that there should be the
least degree of compulsion exercised; nor to interpose my opinion, in
order to induce any to make it of whom it is required. The gentlemen,
therefore, who signed the paper, will use their own discretion in
the matter, and swear, or not swear, as their conscience and feelings

At the same time, I cannot but consider it as a circumstance of some
singularity, that the scruples against the oath should be peculiar to
the officers of one brigade, and so very extensive. The oath in itself
is not new. It is substantially the same with that required in all
governments, and, therefore, does not imply any indignity; and it
is perfectly consistent with the professions, actions, and implied
engagements of every officer. The objection founded on the supposed
unsettled rank of the officers, is of no validity, rank being only
mentioned as a further designation of the party swearing; nor can it be
seriously thought that the oath is either intended to prevent, or can
prevent, their being promoted, or their resignation.

The fourth objection, stated by the gentlemen, serves as a key to
their scruples; and I would willingly persuade myself, that their
own reflections will point out to them the impropriety of the whole
proceeding, and not suffer them to be betrayed in future into a similar
conduct. I have a regard for them all, and cannot but regret that they
were ever engaged in the measure. I am certain they will regret it
themselves;--sure I am that they ought. I am, my dear marquis, your
affectionate friend and servant.



SIR,--The detachment under your command, with which you will immediately
march towards the enemy's lines, is designed to answer the following
purposes; namely, to be a security to this camp, and a cover to the
country, between the Delaware and the Schuylkill, to interrupt the
communication with Philadelphia, to obstruct the incursions of the
enemy's parties, and to obtain intelligence of their motions and
designs. This last is a matter of very interesting moment, and ought to
claim your particular attention. You will endeavour to procure trusty
and intelligent spies, who will advise you faithfully of whatever may
be passing in the city, and you will, without delay, communicate to me
every piece of material information you obtain. A variety of concurring
accounts make it probable that the enemy are preparing to evacuate
Philadelphia; this is a point of the utmost importance to ascertain,
and, if possible, the place of their future destination. Should you
be able to gain certain intelligence of the time of their intended
embarkation, so that you may be able to take advantage of it, and fall
upon the rear of the enemy in the act of withdrawing, it will be a very
desirable event; but this will be a matter of no small difficulty, and
will require the greatest caution and prudence in the execution. Any
deception or precipitation may be attended with the most disastrous
consequences. You will remember that your detachment is a very valuable
one, and that any accident happening to it would be a severe blow, to
this army; you will, therefore, use every possible precaution for its
security, and to guard against a surprise. No attempt should be made,
nor anything risked, without the greatest prospect of success, and
with every reasonable advantage on your side. I shall not point out any
precise position to you, but shall leave it to your discretion to take
such posts occasionally, as shall appear to you best adapted to the
purposes of your detachment. In general, I would observe, that a
stationary post is unadvisable, as it gives the enemy an opportunity of
knowing your situation, and concerting plans successfully against you.
In case of any offensive movement against this army, you will keep
yourself in such a state as to have an easy communication with it, and,
at the same time, harass the enemy's advance.

Our parties of horse and foot, between the rivers, are to be under your
command, and to form part of your detachment. As great complaints have
been made of the disorderly conduct of the parties which have been
sent towards the enemy's lines, it is expected that you will be very
attentive in preventing abuses of the like nature, and will inquire how
far complaints already made are founded in justice.

Given under my hand, at head quarters, this 18th May, 1778.


1. This instruction has been inserted as the one which M. de Lafayette
received to repair, as a detached body, betwixt the Delaware and
Schuylkill. It was after this movement that he made the retreat of
Barren Hill, which was praised by General Washington. (See the Memoirs,
in Mr. Spark's collection, the letter Of Washington, May 24th, 1778.)


Valley Forge Camp, June 16, 1778.

Chance has furnished me, my dearest love, with a very uncertain
opportunity of writing to you, but, such as it is, I shall take
advantage of it, for I cannot resist the wish of saying a few words to
you. You must have received many letters from me lately, if my writing
unceasingly, at least, may justify this hope. Several vessels have
sailed, all laden with my letters. My expressions of heartfelt grief
must even have added to your distress. What a dreadful thing is absence!
I never experienced before all the horrors of separation. My own deep
sorrow is aggravated by the feeling that I am not able to share and
sympathize in your anguish. The length of time that elapsed before I
heard of this event had also increased my misery. Consider, my love, how
dreadful it must be to weep for what I have lost, and tremble for what
remains. The distance between Europe and America appears to me more
enormous than ever. The loss of our poor child is almost constantly in
my thoughts: this sad news followed immediately that of the treaty; and
whilst my heart was torn by grief, I was obliged to receive and take
part in expressions of public joy. I learnt, at the same time, the loss
of our little Adrien, for I always considered that child as my own, and
I regretted him as I should have done a son. I have written twice to the
viscount and viscountess, to express to them my deep regret, and I hope
my letters will reach them safely. I am writing only to you at present,
because I neither know when the vessel sails, nor when she will arrive,
and I am told that a packet will soon set out which will probably reach
Europe first.

I received letters from M. de Cambrai and M. Carmichael. The first one
will be employed, I hope, in an advantageous and agreeable manner; the
second, whom I am expecting with great impatience, has not yet arrived
at the army: how delighted I shall be to see him, and talk to him about
you!--he will come to the camp as soon as possible. We are expecting
every day news from Europe; they will be deeply interesting, especially
to me, who offer up such earnest prayers for the success and glory of my
country. The King of Prussia, it is said, has entered into Bohemia, and
has forgotten to declare war. If a conflict were to take place between
France and England, I should prefer our being left completely to
ourselves, and that the rest of Europe should content herself with
looking on; we should, in that case, have a glorious war, and our
successes would be of a kind to please and gratify the nation.

If the unfortunate news had reached me sooner, I should have set out
immediately to rejoin you; but the account of the treaty, which we
received the first of May, prevented my leaving this country. The
opening campaign does not allow me to retire. I have always been
perfectly convinced that by serving the cause of humanity, and that
of America, I serve also the interest of France. Another motive for
remaining longer is, that the commissioners have arrived, and that I am
well pleased to be within reach of the negotiations. To be useful in any
way to my country will always be agreeable to me. I do not understand
why a minister plenipotentiary, or something of that kind, has not been
already sent to America; I am most anxious to see one, provided always
it may not be myself, for I am but little disposed to quit the military
career to enter into the diplomatic corps.

There is no news here; the only topic of conversation is the news from
Europe, and to that many idle tales are always prefixed: there has been
little action on either side; the only important affair was the one
which fell to my share the 20th of last month, and there was not any
blood shed even there.

General Washington had entrusted me to conduct a detachment of two
thousand four hundred chosen men to the vicinity of Philadelphia. It
would be too long to explain to you the cause, but it will suffice to
tell you, that, in spite of all my precautions, I could not prevent the
hostile army from making a nocturnal march, and I found myself the next
morning with part of the army in front, and seven thousand men in my
rear. These gentlemen were so obliging as to take measures for sending
to New York those who should not be killed; but they were so kind, also,
as to permit us to retire quietly, without doing us any injury. We had
about six or seven killed or wounded, and they twenty-five or thirty,
which did not make them amends for a march, in which one part of the
army had been obliged to make forty miles.

Some days afterwards, our situation having altered, I returned to the
camp, and no events of importance have occurred since. We are expecting
the evacuation of Philadelphia, which must, we fancy, soon take place.
I have been told that on the 10th of April they were thinking of
negotiating rather than of fighting, and that England was becoming each
day more humble.

If this letter ever reaches you, my dearest love, present my respects to
the Duke d'Ayen, the Marshal de Noailles, and Madame de Tessé, to whom
I have written by every vessel, although she accuses me of having
neglected her, which my heart is incapable of doing. I have also written
to Madame d'Ayen by the two last ships, and by several previous ones.
Embrace a thousand times the dear viscountess, and tell her how well
I love her. A thousand tender regards to my sisters; a thousand
affectionate ones to the viscount, M. de Poix, to Coigny,~[1] Segur, his
brother, Etienne,~[2] and all my other friends. Embrace, a million of
times, our little Anastasia;--alas! she alone remains to us! I feel that
she has engrossed the affection that was once divided between my two
children: take great care of her. Adieu; I know not when this may reach
you, and I even doubt its ever reaching you.


1. Probably the Marquis de Coigny.

2. The Count Etienne de Durfort, now peer of France.



Sir,--You are immediately to proceed with the detachment commanded by
General Poor, and form a junction, as expeditiously as possible,
with that under the command of General Scott. You are to use the most
effectual means for gaining the enemy's left flank and rear, and giving
them every degree of annoyance. All continental parties that are
already on the lines, will be under your command, and you will take such
measures, in concert with General Dickinson, as will cause the enemy the
greatest impediment and loss in their march. For these purposes you will
attack them, as occasion may require, by detachment, and if a proper
opening could be given, by operating against them with the whole force
of your command. You will naturally take such precautions as will secure
you against surprise, and maintain your communications with this army.

Given at Kingston, this 25th day of June, 1778.



Ice Town, 26th June, 1778, at a quarter after seven.

Dear General,--I hope you have received my letter from Cranberry, where
I acquaint you that I am going to Ice Town, though we are short of
provisions. When I got there, I was sorry to hear that Mr. Hamilton,
who had been riding all the night, had not been able to find anybody
who could give him certain intelligence; but by a party who came back,
I hear the enemy are in motion, and their rear about one mile off the
place they had occupied last night, which is seven or eight miles from
here. I immediately put Generals Maxwell and Wayne's brigades in
motion, and I will fall lower down, with General Scott's, with Jackson's
regiment, and some militia. I should be very happy if we could attack
them before they halt, for I have no notion of taking one other moment
but this of the march. If I cannot overtake them, we could lay at some
distance, and attack tomorrow morning, provided they don't escape in the
night, which I much fear, as our intelligences are not the best ones. I
have sent some parties out, and I will get some more light by them.

I fancy your excellency will move down with the army, and if we are at a
convenient distance from you, I have nothing to fear in striking a blow
if opportunity is offered. I believe that, in our present strength,
_provided they do not escape_, we may do something.

General Forman says that, on account of the nature of the country, it
is impossible for me to be turned by the right or left, but that I shall
not quite depend upon.

An officer just from the lines confirms the account of the enemy moving.
An intelligence from General Dickinson says that they hear a very heavy
fire in the front of the enemy's column. I apprehend it is Morgan, who
had not received my letter, but it will have the good effect of stopping
them, and if we attack, he may begin again.

Sir, I want to repeat you in writing what I have told to you, which is,
that if you believe it, or if it is believed necessary or useful to the
good of the service and the honour of General Lee, to send him down with
a couple of thousand men, or any greater force; I will cheerfully obey
and serve him, not only out of duty, but out of what I owe to that
gentleman's character.

I hope to receive, soon, your orders as to what I am to do this day or
to-morrow, to know where you are and what you intend, and would be very
happy to furnish you with the opportunity of completing some little
advantage of ours.


The road I understand the enemy are moving by, is the straight road to



Cranberry, 26th June, 1778.

My Dear Marquis,--General Lee's uneasiness, on accouut of yesterday's
transaction, rather increasing than abating, and your politeness in
wishing to ease him of it, have induced me to detach him from this
army with a part of it, to reinforce, or at least cover, the several
detachments at present under your command. At the same time, that I felt
for General Lee's distress of mind, I have had an eye to your wishes and
the delicacy of your situation; and have, therefore, obtained a promise
from him, that when he gives you notice of his approach and command, he
will request you to prosecute any plan you may have already concerted
for the purpose of attacking, or otherwise annoying the enemy; this is
the only expedient I could think of to answer the views of both. General
Lee seems satisfied with the measure, and I wish it may prove agreeable
to you, as I am, with the warmest wishes for your honour and glory, and
with the sincerest esteem and affection, yours, &c.~[1]


1. The combination offered by M. de Lafayette, and desired by General
Washington, did not prove successful. In spite of the happy issue of
the battle of Monmouth, the results were not such as might have been
expected, on account of the conduct of General Lee, who was summoned
before a court martial, and condemned to be suspended for one year. (See
on this subject the Memoirs of the Life of Washington, by Marshall, and
the Appendix No. 8, of the 5th vol. of the Letters of Washington.)



White Plains, 22nd July, 1778.

Sir,--You are to have the immediate command of that detachment from
this army, which consists of Glover's and Varnum's brigades, and the
detachment under the command of Colonel Henry Jackson. You are to
march them, with all convenient expedition, and by the best routes, to
Providence, in the state of Rhode Island. When there, you are to subject
yourself to the orders of Major-General Sullivan, who will have the
command of the expedition against Newport, and the British and other
troops in their pay, on that and the Islands adjacent.

If, on your march, you should receive certain intelligence of the
evacuation of Rhode Island, by the enemy, you are immediately to counter
march for this place, giving me the earliest advice thereof. Having the
most perfect reliance on your activity and zeal, and wishing you all
the success, honour, and glory, that your heart can wish, I am, with the
most perfect regard, yours, &c.


1. Order for the expedition of Rhode Island.



Head Quarters, White Plains, 27th July, 1778.

DEAR MARQUIS,--This will be delivered to you by Major-General Greene,
whose thorough knowledge of Rhode Island, of which he is a native, and
the influence he will have with the people, put it in his power to be
particularly useful in the expedition against that place, as well in
providing necessaries for carrying it on, as in assisting to form and
execute a plan of operations proper for the occasion. The honour and
interest of the common cause are so deeply concerned in the success of
this enterprise, that it appears to me of the greatest importance to
omit no step which may conduce to it; and General Greene, on several
accounts, will be able to render very essential service.

These considerations have determined me to send him on the expedition,
in which, as he could not with propriety act, nor be equally useful
merely in his official capacity as quartermaster-general, I have
concluded to give him a command in the troops to be employed in the
descent. I have, therefore, directed General Sullivan to throw all
the American troops, both continental, state, and militia, into two
divisions, making an equal distribution of each, to be under the
immediate command of General Greene and yourself. The continental troops
being divided in this manner, with the militia, will serve to give them
confidence, and probably make them act better than they would alone.
Though this arrangement will diminish the number of continental troops
under you, yet this diminution will be more than compensated by the
addition of militia; and I persuade myself your command will not be less
agreeable, or less honourable, from this change in the disposition. I
am, with great esteem and affection, dear marquis, your most obedient



Providence, 6th August, 1778.

DEAR GENERAL,--I have received your excellency's favour by General
Greene, and have been much pleased with the arrival of a gentleman who,
not only on account of his merit, and the justness of his views, but
also by his knowledge of the country, and his popularity in this state,
may be very serviceable to the expedition. I willingly part with the
half of my detachment, though I had a great dependence upon them, as
you find it convenient to the good of the service. Any thing, my dear
General, you will order, or even wish, shall always be infinitely
agreeable to me, and I will always feel happy in doing any thing which
may please you, or forward the public good. I am of the same opinion as
your excellency, that dividing our continental troops among the militia,
will have a better effect than if we were to keep them together in one

You will receive, by General Sullivan, an account of his dispositions,
preparations, &c.; I, therefore, have nothing to add, but that I have
been on board of the Admiral~[1] the day before yesterday. I saw among
the fleet an ardour and a desire of doing something, which would
soon turn into impatience, if we don't give them a speedy occasion of
fighting. The officers cannot contain their soldiers and sailors, who
are complaining that they have been these four months running after
the British, without getting at them; but I hope they will be soon

The Count d'Estaing was very glad of my arrival, as he could open freely
his mind to me. He expressed the greatest anxiety on account of his
wants of every kind, provisions, water, &c.; he hopes the taking of
Rhode Island will enable him to get some of the two above mentioned
articles. The admiral wants me to join the French troops to these I
command, as soon as possible. I confess I feel very happy to think of
my co-operating with them, and, had I contrived in my mind an agreeable
dream, I could not have wished a more pleasing event than my joining my
countrymen with my brothers of America, under my command, and the
same standards. When I left Europe, I was very far from hoping such an
agreeable turn of our business in the American glorious revolution.

Though I have no account, neither observations, to give to your
excellency, as I am here _a man of war of the third rate_, I will, after
the expedition, scribble some lines to you, and join to the account of
General Sullivan, the assurance that I have all my limbs, and that I am,
with the most tender affection, and entire confidence, yours, with high


1. Admiral d'Estaing. It was the 8th July that the French fleet appeared
at the entrance of the Delaware. It was at this period stationed before
Newport, below the passage, betwixt Rhode Island and Long Island.



White Plains, 10th August, 1778.

My Dear Marquis,--Your favour of the 6th instant, which came to my hands
yesterday, afforded a fresh proof of the noble principles on which you
act, and has a just claim to my sincere and hearty thanks. The common
cause, of which you have been a zealous supporter, would, I knew, be
benefitted by General Greene's presence at Rhode Island, as he is a
native of that state, has an interest with the people, and a thorough
knowledge of the country, and, therefore, I accepted his proffered
services; but I was a little uneasy, lest you should conceive that it
was intended to lessen your command. General Greene did not incline to
act in a detached part of the army, merely as quartermaster-general;
nor was it to be expected. It became necessary, therefore, to give him
a detached command, and consequently to divide the continental troops.
Your cheerful acquiescence in the measure, after being appointed to the
command of the brigades which marched from this army, obviated every
difficulty, and gave me singular pleasure.

I am very happy to find that the standards of France and America are
likely to be united under your command, at Rhode Island. I am persuaded,
that the supporters of each will be emulous to acquire honour, and
promote your glory upon this occasion. The courier to Count d'Estaing
is waiting. I have only time, therefore, to assure you, that, with most
perfect esteem, and exalted regard, I have the honour to be, my dear
marquis, your obedient and affectionate servant.



Camp before Newport, 25th August, 1778.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I had expected in answering your first letter that
something interesting would have happened that I might communicate to
your excellency. Every day was going to terminate our uncertainties;
nay, every day was going to bring the hope of a success which I did
promise myself to acquaint you of. Such was the reason of my deferring
what my duty and inclination did urge me to do much sooner. I am now
indebted for two favours of yours, which I beg leave to offer here my
thanks for. The first letter reached me in the time we expected to hear
again from the French fleet; the second I have just received. My reason
for not writing the same day the French fleet went to Boston was, that
I did not choose to trouble your friendship with the sentiments of an
afflicted, injured heart, and injured by that very people I came from
so far to love and support. Don't be surprised, my dear general; the
generosity of your honest mind would be offended at the shocking sight I
have under my eyes.

So far am I from a critical disposition that I will not give you the
journal of our operations, neither of several instances during our
staying here, which, however, might occupy some room in this letter. I
will not even say to you, how contracted was the French fleet when they
wanted to come in at their arrival; which, according to the report of
the advertors, would have had the greatest effect. How surprised was the
admiral, when, after a formal and agreed convention, one hour after the
American general had given a new written assurance, our troops made the
landing a day before it was expected. How mortified the French officers
were to find out that there was not a gun left in these very forts
to whose protection they were recommended. All these things, and many
others, I would not take notice of, if they were not at this moment the
supposed ground upon which, it is said, that the Count d'Estaing is gone
on to Boston. Believe me, my dear sir, upon my honour, the admirals,
though a little astonished by some instances of conduct on our part, did
consider them in the same light as you and myself would have done,
and if he is gone off, it is because he thought himself obliged by

Let us consider, my dear general, the motions of that fleet since it
was proposed by the Count d'Estaing himself, and granted by the king
in behalf of the United States. I will not go so far up as to remember
other instances of the affection the French nation have for the
Americans. The news of that fleet have occasioned the evacuation of
Philadelphia. Its arrival has opened all the harbours, secured all the
coasts, obliged the British navy to be together. Six of those frigates,
two of them I have seen, sufficient for terrifying all the trading
people of the two Carolinas, are taken or burnt. The Count d'Estaing
went to offer battle, and act as a check to the British navy for a long
time. At New York, it was agreed he should go to Rhode Island, and there
he went. They prevented him from going in at first; afterwards, he was
desired to come in, and so he did. The same day we landed without his
knowledge; an English fleet appears in sight. His being divided
into three parts by _our directions_, for, though he is a
_lieutenant-general_, he never availed himself of that title, made him
uneasy about his situation. But finding the next morning that the wind
was northerly, being also convinced that it was his duty to prevent
any reinforcement at Newport, he goes out under the hottest fire of the
British land batteries, he puts the British navy to flight, and pursues
them, and they were all in his hands when that horrid storm arrives to
ruin all our hopes. Both fleets are divided, scattered; the Caesar, a 74
gun ship, is lost; the Marseillais, of the same size, loses her masts,
and after that accident is obliged to send back an enemy's ship of 64;
the Languedoç having lost her masts, unable to be governed and make any
motions, separated from the others, is attacked by a ship of the line
against which she could only bring six guns.

When the storm was over, they met again in a shattered condition, and
the Caesar was not to be found. All the captains represented to their
general that, after a so long navigation, in such a want of victuals,
water, &c., which they had not been yet supplied with, after the
intelligence given by General Sullivan that there was a British fleet
coming, they should go to Boston; but the Count d'Estaing had promised
to come here again, and so he did at all events. The news of his arrival
and situation came by the _Senegal_, a frigate taken from the enemy.
General Greene and myself went on board. The count expressed to me not
so much as to the envoy from General Sullivan, than as to his friend,
the unhappy circumstances he was in. Bound by express orders from the
King to go to Boston in case of an accident or a superior fleet, engaged
by the common sentiment of all the officers, _even of some American
pilots_, that he would ruin all his squadron in deferring his going to
Boston, he called a new council of war, and finding every body of the
same opinion, he did not think himself justifiable in staying here any
longer, and took leave of me with true affliction not being able to
assist America for some days, which has been rewarded with the most
horrid ungratefulness; but no matter. I am only speaking of facts. The
count said to me these last words: after many months of sufferings, my
men will rest some days; I will man my ships, and, if I am assisted in
getting masts, &c., three weeks after my arrival I shall go out again,
and then we shall fight for the glory of the French name, and the
interests of America.

The day _the count_ went off, the general American officers drew a
protestation, which, as _I had been very strangely called there_, I
refused to sign, but I wrote a letter to the admiral. The protestation
and the letter did not arrive in time.

Now, my dear general, I am going to hurt your generous feelings by an
imperfect picture of what I am forced to see. Forgive me for it; it is
not to the commander-in-chief, it is to my most dearest friend, General
Washington, that I am speaking. I want to lament with him the ungenerous
sentiments I have been forced to see in many American breasts.

Could you believe, that forgetting any national obligation, forgetting
what they were owing to that same fleet, what they were yet to expect
from them, and instead of resenting their accidents as these, of allies
and brothers, the people turned mad at their departure, and wishing them
all the evils in the world, did treat them as a generous one would be
ashamed to treat the most inveterate enemies. You cannot have any idea
of the horrors which were to be heard in that occasion. Many leaders
themselves finding they were disappointed, abandoned their minds to
illiberality and ungratefulness. Frenchmen of the highest character have
been exposed to the most disagreeable circumstances, and yet, myself,
the friend of America--the friend of General Washington. I am more
upon a warlike footing in the American lines, than when I come near the
British lines at Newport.

Such is, my dear general, the true state of matters. I am sure it will
infinitely displease and hurt your feelings. I am also sure you will
approve the part I have taken in it, which was to stay much at home with
all the French gentlemen who are here, and declare, at the same time,
that anything thrown before me against my nation I would take as the
most particular affront.

Inclosed I send you the general orders of the 24th, upon which I thought
I was obliged to pay a visit to General Sullivan, who has agreed to
alter them in the following manner. Remember, my dear general, that I
don't speak to the commander-in-chief, but to my friend, that I am far
from complaining of anybody. I have no complaints at all to make you
against any one; but I lament with you that I have had an occasion of
seeing so ungenerous sentiments in American hearts.

I will tell you the true reason. The leaders of the expedition are, most
of them, ashamed to return after having spoken of their Rhode Island
success in proud terms before their family, their friends, their
internal enemies. The others, regardless of the expense France has been
put to by that fleet, of the tedious, tiresome voyage, which so many men
have had for their service, though they are angry that the fleet takes
three weeks, upon the whole campaign, to refit themselves, they cannot
bear the idea of being brought to a small expense, to the loss of a
little time, to the fatigue of staying some few days more in a camp at
some few miles off their houses; for I am very far from looking upon
the expedition as having miscarried, and there I see even a certainty of

If, as soon as the fleet is repaired, which (in case they are treated
as one is in a country one is not at war with,) would be done in three
weeks from this time, the Count d'Estaing was to come around, the
expedition seems to offer a very good prospect. If the enemy evacuates
New York, we have the whole continental army, if not, we might perhaps
have some more men, what number, however, I cannot pretend to judge. All
that I know is, that I shall be very happy to see the fleet cooperating
with General Washington himself.

I think I shall be forced, by the board of general officers, to go soon
to Boston. That I will do as soon as required, though with reluctance,
for I do not believe that _our position on this part of the island is
without danger_; but my principle is to do everything which is thought
good for the service. I have very often rode express to the fleet, to
the frigates, and that, I assure you, with the greatest pleasure; on the
other hand, I may perhaps be useful to the fleet. Perhaps, too, it will
be in the power of the count to do something which might satisfy them.
I wish, my dear general, you could know as well as myself, how desirous
the Count d'Estaing is to forward the public good, to help your success,
and to serve the cause of America.

I earnestly beg you will recommend to the several chief persons of
Boston to do everything they can to put the French fleet in a situation
for sailing soon. Give me leave to add, that I wish many people, by
the declaration of your sentiments in that affair, could learn how to
regulate theirs, and blush at the sight of your generosity.

You will find my letter immense. I began it one day and finished it the
next, as my time was swallowed up by those eternal councils of war.
I shall have the pleasure of writing you from Boston. I am afraid the
Count d'Estaing will have felt to the quick the behaviour of the people
on this occasion. You cannot conceive how distressed he was to be
prevented from serving this country for some time. I do assure you his
circumstances were very critical and distressing.

For my part, my sentiments are known to the world. My tender affection
for General Washington is added to them; therefore I want no apologies
for writing upon what has afflicted me both as an American and as a

I am much obliged to you for the care you are so kind as to take of
that poor horse of mine; had he not found such a good stable as this
at headquarters, he would have cut a pitiful figure at the end of his
travels, and I should have been too happy if there had remained so much
of the horse as the bones, the skin, and the four shoes.

Farewell, my dear general; whenever I quit you, I meet with some
disappointment and misfortune. I did not need it to desire seeing you as
much as possible. With the most tender affection and high regard, I have
the honour to be, &c.

Dear General,--I must add to my letter, that I have received one from
General Greene, very different, from the expressions I have to complain
of, he seems there very sensible of what I feel. I am very happy when
placed in a situation to do justice to any one.


1. The circumstances which gave rise to this letter are mentioned in the
memoirs. The following details will still further explain them:--

When the storm had dispersed his fleet, M. de Estaing wrote a very
remarkable letter to General Sullivan, in which he explained to him the
impossibility of remaining in sight of Rhode Island without danger,
and without disobeying the precise orders of the king. He expressed his
regret that the landing of the Americans in the island, which had
been effected one day before the day agreed upon, should not have been
protected by the vessels; and he rejected strongly the imputation of
having blamed him under these circumstances for having operated
so early, and with only two thousand men. To his great regret, his
situation obliged him to answer the proposal of a combined attack, by a
refusal. This answer excited much dissatisfaction amongst the Americans.
Their officers signed a protestation, which appears to have been
considered by some of them as the means of seconding the secret
inclination of the admiral by forcing him to fight. The report was
spread, in truth, that a cabal in the naval force alone obliged him to
make a retreat, from a feeling of jealousy of the glory which he might
have acquired, as he had belonged formerly to the land forces.
This protestation was carried to him by Colonel Laurens; after a
recapitulation of all the arguments which might be used against the
departure of the fleet, it terminated by the solemn declaration that
that measure was _derogatory to the honour of France_, contrary to the
intentions of his V. C. Majesty, and to the interests of the American
nation, &c. When this protestation was submitted to congress, they
immediately ordered that it should be kept secret, and that M. Gérard
should be informed of this order, which General Washington was charged
with executing by every means in his power.

General Sullivan issued the following order at the same time:--

"It having been supposed, by some persons, that by the orders of
the 21st instant, the commander-in-chief meant to insinuate that the
departure of the French fleet was owing to a fixed determination not to
assist in the present enterprise, and that, as the general did not wish
to give the least colour to ungenerous and illiberal minds to make such
an unfair interpretation, he thinks it necessary to say, that as he
could not possibly be acquainted with the orders of the French admiral,
he could not determine whether the removal of the fleet was absolutely
necessary or not; and, therefore, did not mean to censure an act which
those orders might render absolutely necessary." These details, borrowed
from the edition of the writings of Washington, will explain some
passages of this letter, and the sense of the following letters.



White Plains, September 1778.

MY DEAR MARQUIS,--I have been honoured with your favour of the 25th
ultimo by Monsieur Pontgibaud, and I wish my time, which at present is
taken up by a committee at congress, would permit me to go fully into
the contents of it; this, however, it is not in my power to do; but in
one word let me say, I feel everything that hurts the sensibility of a
gentleman, and consequently, upon the present occasion, I feel for you
and for our good and great allies the French. I feel myself hurt, also,
at every illiberal and unthinking reflection which may have been cast
upon the Count d'Estaing, or the conduct of the fleet under his command;
and, lastly, I feel for my country. Let me entreat you, therefore, my
dear marquis, to take no exception at unmeaning expressions, uttered,
perhaps, without consideration, and in the first transport of
disappointed hope. Every body, sir, who reasons, will acknowledge the
advantages which we have derived from the French fleet, and the zeal
of the commander of it; but, in a free and republican government, you
cannot restrain the voice of the multitude; every man will speak as he
thinks, or, more properly, without thinking, and consequently will judge
at effects without attending to the causes. The censures which have been
levelled at the officers of the French fleet would, more than probably,
have fallen in a much higher degree upon a fleet of our own if we had
one in the same situation. It is the nature of man to be displeased with
everything that disappoints a favourite hope or flattering project; and
it is the folly of too many of them to condemn without investigating

Let me beseech you, therefore, my good sir, to afford a healing hand
to the wound that, unintentionally, has been made. America esteems your
virtues and your services, and admires the principles upon which you
act; your countrymen, in our army, look up to you as their patron; the
count and his officers consider you as a man high in rank, and high in
estimation here and also in France; and I, your friend, have no doubt
but you will use your utmost endeavours to restore harmony, that the
honour, the glory, and mutual interest of the two nations maybe promoted
and cemented in the firmest manner. I would say more on the subject, but
am restrained for the want of time, and therefore shall only add, that
with every sentiment of esteem and regard, I am, my dear marquis, &c.



Head Quarters, White Plains, 1st September, 1778.

Dear Sir,--The disagreement between the army under your command and the
fleet, has given me very singular uneasiness: the continent at large is
concerned in our cordiality, and it should be kept up, by all possible
means, consistent with our honour and policy. First impressions, you
know, are generally longest remembered, and will serve to fix, in a
great degree, our national character among the French. In our conduct
towards them we should remember that they are people old in war,
very strict in military etiquette, and apt to take fire, where others
scarcely seem warmed. Permit me to recommend, in the most particular
manner, the cultivation of harmony and good agreement, and your
endeavours to destroy that ill-humour which may have got into the
officers. It is of the greatest importance, also, that the soldiers and
the people should know nothing of the misunderstanding, or, if it has
reached them, that ways may be used to stop its progress and prevent its

I have received from congress the enclosed, by which you will perceive
their opinion with regard to keeping secret the protest of the general
officers: I need add nothing on this head. I have one thing, however,
more to say: I make no doubt but you will do all in your power to
forward the repair of the count's fleet, and render it fit for service,
by your recommendations for that purpose to those who can be immediately

I am, dear Sir, &c.



Head-quarters, White Plains, 1st September, 1778.

DEAR SIR,--I have had the pleasure of receiving your several letters,
the last of which was of the 22nd of August. I have not now time to
take notice of the arguments that were made use of for and against the
count's quitting the harbour of Newport and sailing for Boston: right or
wrong, it will probably disappoint our sanguine expectations of success;
and, what I esteem a still worse consequence, I fear it will sow the
seeds of dissension and distrust between us and our new allies, unless
the most prudent measures are taken to suppress the feuds and jealousies
that have already arisen. I depend much upon your aid and influence to
conciliate that animosity which I plainly perceive, by a letter from the
marquis, subsists between the American officers and the French in our
service; this, you may depend, will extend itself to the count, and to
the officers and men of his whole fleet, should they return to Rhode
Island, unless, upon their arrival there, they find a reconciliation has
taken place. The marquis speaks kindly of a letter from you to him on
the subject; he will therefore take any advice coming from you in a
friendly light; and, if he can be pacified, the other French gentlemen
will of course be satisfied, as they look up to him as their head.
The marquis grounds his complaint upon a general order of the 24th of
August, the latter part of which is certainly very impolitic, especially
considering the universal clamour that prevailed against the French

I beg you will take every measure to keep the protest entered into by
the general officers from being made public. The congress, sensible
of the ill consequences that will flow from the world's knowing our
differences, have passed a resolve to that purpose. Upon the whole, my
dear sir, you can conceive my meaning better than I can express it; and
I therefore fully depend upon your exerting yourself to heal all private
animosities between our principal officers and the French, and to
prevent all illiberal expressions and reflections that may fall from the
army at large.

I have this moment received a letter from General Sullivan of the 29th
of August, in which he barely informs me of an action upon that day, in
which he says we had the better, but does not mention particulars.

I am, &c.



Tyvertown, 1st September, 1778.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--That there has been an action fought where I
could have been, and where I was not, is a thing which will seem as
extraordinary to you as it seems so to myself. After along journey and
a longer stay from home, (I mean from head-quarters,) the only
satisfactory day I have, finds me in the middle of a town. There I
had been sent, pushed, hurried, by the board of general officers, and
principally by Generals Sullivan and Greene, who thought I should be of
great use to the common cause, and to whom I foretold the disagreeable
event which would happen to me; I felt, on that occasion, the impression
of that bad star which, some days ago, has influenced the French
undertakings, and which, I hope, will soon be removed. People say that
I don't want an action; but if it is not necessary to my reputation as a
tolerable private soldier, it would at least add to my satisfaction
and pleasure. However, I was happy enough to arrive before the second
retreat: it was not attended with such trouble and danger as it would
have been had not the enemy been so sleepy, I was thus once more
deprived of my fighting expectations.

From what I have heard from sensible and _candid_ French gentlemen,
the action does great honour to General Sullivan: he retreated in good
order; he opposed, very properly, every effort of the enemy; he never
sent troops but well supported, and displayed great coolness during the
whole day. The evacuation I have seen extremely well performed, and _my
private opinion_ is, that if both events are satisfactory to us, they
are very shameful to the British generals and troops; they had, indeed,
so many fine chances to cut us to pieces; but they are very good people.

Now, my dear general, I must give you an account of that journey for
which I have paid so dear. The Count d'Estaing arrived the day before
in Boston. I found him much displeased at a protest of which you have
heard, and many other circumstances which I have reported to you: I did
what I could on the occasion; but I must do the admiral the justice
to say that it has not at all diminished his warm desire of serving
America. We waited together on the council, General Heath, General
Hancock, and were very well satisfied with them; the last one
distinguished himself very much by his zeal on the occasion. Some people
in Boston were rather dissatisfied; but when they saw the behaviour of
the council, Generals Heath and Hancock, they, I hope, will do the
same; I, therefore, fear nothing but delays. The marts are very far off,
provisions difficult to be provided. The Count d'Estaing was ready
to come with his land forces and put himself under General Sullivan's
orders, though dissatisfied with the latter; but our new circumstances
will alter that design.

I beg you will pardon me once more, my dear general, for having
troubled and afflicted you with the account of what I had seen after
the departure of the French fleet. My confidence in you is such, that
I could not feel so warmly upon this point without communicating it
to your excellency. I have now the pleasure to inform you that the
discontent does not appear so great. The French hospital is arrived
at Boston, though under difficulties, which, however, I think I have
diminished a good deal by sending part of my family, with orders to some
persons, and entreaties to others, to give them all the assistance in
their power. Now, everything will be right provided the Count d'Estaing
is enabled to sail soon. Every exertion, I think, ought to be employed
for that purpose in all the several parts of the continent: marts,
biscuit, water, and provisions are his wants. I long to see that we have
again the command, or at least an equal force, upon the American seas.

By your letters to General Sullivan, I apprehend that there is some
general move in the British army, and that your excellency is going to
send us reinforcements. God grant you may send us as many as with the
militia will make a larger army, that you might command them yourself. I
long, my dear general, to be again with you, and to have the pleasure
of co-operating with the French fleet, under your immediate orders,
this will be the greatest I can feel; I am sure everything will then be
right. The Count d'Estaing (if Rhode Island is again to be taken, which
I ardently wish,) would be extremely happy to take it in conjunction
with General Washington, and it would remove the other inconveniences. I
am now entrusted, by General Sullivan, with the care of Warren, Bristol,
and the eastern shore. I am to defend a country with very few troops who
are not able to defend more than a single point. I cannot answer that
the enemy won't go and do what they please, for I am not able to prevent
them, only with a part of their army, and yet this part must not land
far from me; but I answer, that if they come with equal or not very
superior forces to those I may collect, we shall flog them pretty well;
at least, I hope so. My situation seems to be uncertain, for we expect
to hear soon from your excellency. You know Mr. Touzard, a gentleman of
my family--he met with a terrible accident in the last action; running
before all the others, to take a piece of cannon in the midst of the
enemy, with the greatest excess of bravery, he was immediately covered
with their shots, had his horse killed, and his right arm shattered to
pieces. He was happy enough not to fall into their hands: his life is
not despaired of. Congress was going to send him a commission of major.

Give me joy, my dear general, I intend to have your picture, and Mr.
Hancock has promised me a copy of that he has in Boston. He gave one
to Count d'Estaing, and I never saw a man so glad at possessing his
sweetheart's picture, as the admiral was to receive yours.

In expecting, with the greatest impatience, to hear from your excellency
as to what are to be the general plans, and your private movements, I
have the honour to be, with the highest respect, the warmest and most
endless affection, dear general, &c.



Camp, near Bristol, the 7th September, 1778.

My Dear General,--I cannot let M. de la Neuville go to head-quarters
without recalling to your excellency's memory an inhabitant of the
eastern Rhode Island, those who long much to be again reunited to you,
and conceive now great hopes, from Sir Henry Clinton's movement to New
York, that you will come to oppose him in person. I think if we meet
to oppose the enemy in this quarter, that more troops are absolutely
necessary, for we are not able to do anything in our scattered
situation. I confess I am myself very uneasy in this quarter, and
fear that these people will put it in their heads to take some of our
batteries, &c., which, if properly attacked, it will be difficult to
prevent. I am upon a little advance of land, where, in case of an alarm,
a long stay might be very dangerous; but we will do the best.

I am told that the enemy is going to evacuate New York. My policy leads
me to believe that some troops will be sent to Halifax, to the West
Indies, and to Canada; that Canada, I apprehend, will be your occupation
next winter and spring. This idea, my dear general, alters a plan I had
to make a voyage home some months hence, however, as long as you fight
I want to fight along with you, and I much desire to see your excellency
in Quebec next summer.

With the most tender affection and highest respect, I have the honour to
be, &c.


Bristol, near Rhode Island, September 11th, 1778,

I have already endeavoured to describe to you some part of the pleasure
your last letter gave me; but I cannot write again without repeating my
assurance of the delight I derived from its perusal. I have blessed, a
thousand times, the vessel that brought that letter, and the favourable
winds that blew it, to the American shore. The kindness and affection
you express have sunk deeply into a heart which is fully sensible of
all their value. Your partiality has far over-rated my slight merit; but
your approbation is so precious to me, my desire of obtaining it is so
very strong, that I experience the same pleasure as if I were conscious
of meriting your good opinion. I love you too well not to be enchanted
and overjoyed when I receive any proof of your affection. You may
find many persons more worthy of it, but I may take the liberty of
challenging you to find one human being who either values it more
highly, or is more desirous of obtaining it. I place full reliance on
your kindness, and even if I were unhappy enough to fall under your
displeasure, I hope I should not forfeit your affection. I think I may
promise that that last misfortune shall never occur through any fault of
mine, and I wish I could feel as certain of never erring from my head as
from my heart. The goodness of my friends imposes a weight of obligation
upon me. My greatest pleasure will be to hear you say, whilst I embrace
you, that you do not disapprove of my conduct, and that you retain for
me that friendship which renders me so happy. It is impossible for me to
describe to you the joy your letter, and the kind feeling which dictated
it, have inspired me with. How delighted I shall be to thank you for
it, and to find myself again in your society! If you should ever amuse
yourself by looking at the American campaigns, or following them on your
maps, I shall ask permission to insert a small river or a mountain:
this would give me an opportunity of describing to you the little I have
seen, of confiding to you my own trifling ideas, and of endeavouring so
to combine them as to render them more military: for there is so great
a difference between what I behold here, and those large, fine,
well-organised armies of Germany, that, in truth, when I recur from them
to our American armies, I scarcely dare say that we are making war. If
the French war should terminate before that of the rest of Europe, and
you were disposed to see how things were going on, and permitted me to
accompany you, I should feel perfectly happy; in the meantime, I have
great pleasure in thinking that I shall pass some mornings with you at
your own house, and I promise myself as much improvement as amusement
from conversing with you, if you are so kind as to grant me some portion
of your time.

I received, with heartfelt gratitude, the advice you gave me to remain
here during this campaign; it was inspired by true friendship and a
thorough knowledge of my interest: such is the species of advice we give
to those we really love, and this idea has rendered it still dearer
to me. I will be guided by it in proportion as events may follow the
direction you appear to have expected. A change of circumstances renders
a change of conduct sometimes necessary. I had intended, as soon as war
was declared, to range myself under the French banner: I was induced to
take this resolution from the fear that the ambition of obtaining higher
rank, or the wish of retaining the one I actually enjoy, should appear
to be my only motives for remaining here. Such unworthy sentiments have
never found entrance into my heart. But your letter, advising me to
remain, and assuring me there would be no land campaign, induced me
to change my determination, and I now rejoice that I have done so.
The arrival of the French fleet upon this coast, has offered me the
agreeable prospect of acting in concert with it, and of being a happy
spectator of the glory of the French banner. Although the elements,
until now, have declared themselves against us, I have not lost the
sanguine hopes of the future, which the great talents of M. d'Estaing
have inspired us with. You will be astonished to hear that the English
still retain all their posts, and have contented themselves with
merely evacuating Philadelphia. I expected, and General Washington also
expected, to see them abandon everything for Canada, Halifax, and their
islands; but these gentlemen are apparently in no great haste. The
fleet, it is true, may hitherto have rendered such a division of their
troops rather difficult; but now that it is removed to Boston, they
might easily begin to make a move: they appear to me, instead of moving
off, to intend fighting a little in this part of the country. I thought
I ought to consult M. d'Estaing, and even M. Gérard on this subject.
Both agreed that I was right to remain, and even said, that my presence
here would not prove wholly useless to my own country. That I might have
nothing to reproach myself with, I wrote to M. de Montbarrey a short
letter, which apprised him of my being still in existence, and of the
resolution I had taken not to return to France in the midst of this

The kind manner in which you received the gazette which John Adams
conveyed to you, induced me to send you a second, which must have made
you acquainted with the few events that have taken place during
this campaign. The visit that the English army designed to pay to a
detachment which I commanded the 28th of May, and which escaped their
hands owing to their own dilatory movements; the arrival of the treaty,
subsequently that of the commissioners, the letter they addressed to
congress, the firm answer they received, the evacuation of Philadelphia,
and the retreat of General Clinton through Jersey, are the only articles
worthy of attention. I have also described to you in what manner we
followed the English army, and how General Lee, after my detachment
had joined him, allowed himself to be beaten. The arrival of General
Washington arrested the disorder, and determined the victory on our
side. It is the battle, or rather affair, of Monmouth. General Lee has
since been suspended for a year by a council of war, for his conduct on
this occasion.

I must now relate to you what has occurred since the arrival of the
fleet, which has experienced contrary winds ever since it sailed; after
a voyage of three months it reached the Delaware, which the English
had then quitted; from thence it proceeded to Sandyhook, the same place
General Clinton sailed from after the check he encountered at Monmouth.
Our army repaired to White Plains, that former battle-field of the
Americans. M. d'Estaing blockaded New York, and we were thus neighbours
of the English both by land and sea. Lord Howe, enclosed in the harbour,
and separated from our fleet only by the Sandy-hook bar, did not accept
the combat which the French admiral ardently desired, and offered him
for several days. A noble project was conceived--that of entering into
the harbour; but our ships drew too much water, and the English seventy
fours could not enter with their guns. Some pilots gave no hopes on this
subject; but, when we examined the case more narrowly, all agreed as to
its impossibility, and soundings proved the truth of the latter opinion;
we were therefore obliged to have recourse to other measures.

General Washington, wishing to make a diversion on Rhode Island, ordered
General Sullivan, who commanded in that state, to assemble his troops.
The fleet stationed itself in the channel which leads to Newport, and
I was ordered to conduct a detachment of the great army to General
Sullivan, who is my senior in command. After many delays, which were
very annoying to the fleet, and many circumstances, which it would be
too long to relate, all our preparations were made, and we landed on
the island with twelve thousand men, many of them militia, of whom I
commanded one half upon the left side. M. d'Estaing had entered the
channel the day before, in spite of the English batteries. General Pigot
had enclosed himself in the respectable fortifications of Newport. The
evening of our arrival, the English fleet appeared before the channel
with all the vessels that Lord Howe had been able to collect, and a
reinforcement of four thousand men for the enemy, who had already from
five to six thousand men.

A north wind blew most fortunately for us the next day, and the French
fleet passing gallantly under a sharp fire from the batteries, to which
they replied with broadside shot, prepared themselves to accept the
conflict which Lord Howe was apparently proposing to them. The English
admiral suddenly cut his cables, and fled at full sail, warmly pursued
by all our vessels, with the admiral at their head. This spectacle
was given during the finest weather possible, and within sight of the
English, and American armies. I never felt so proud as on that day.

The next day, when the victory was on the point of being completed, and
the guns of the _Languedoc_ were directed towards the English fleet, at
the most glorious moment for the French navy, a sudden gale, followed
by a dreadful storm, separated and dispersed the French vessels, Howe's
vessels, and those of Biron, which, by a singular accident, had just
arrived there. The _Languedoc_ and the _Marseillais_ were dismasted, and
the _Cesar_ was afterwards unheard of for some time. To find the English
fleet was impossible. M. d'Estaing returned to Rhode Island, remained
there two days, to ascertain whether General Sullivan wished to retire,
and then entered the Boston harbour. During these various cruises, the
fleet took or burnt six English frigates, and a large number of vessels,
of which several were armed; they also cleared the coast and opened the
harbours. Their commander appeared to me to have been formed for great
exploits; his talents, which all men must acknowledge, the qualities of
his heart, his love of discipline and of the honour of his country, and
his indefatigable activity, excite my admiration, and make me consider
him, as a man created for great actions.

As to ourselves, we remained some time at Rhode Island, and spent
several days firing cannon shot at each other, which produced no
great result on either side; but General Clinton having led himself a
reinforcement of five thousand men, and a part of our militia having
returned to their own homes, we thought of retiring; the harbour was no
longer blockaded, and the English were resuming their naval advantage.
Our retreat at that period was preceded by a trifling skirmish, at which
I was not present, having repaired to Boston respecting an affair which
I dare not write for fear of accidents. I returned in great haste, as
you may imagine, and, after my arrival, we completed the evacuation of
the Island. As the English were gone out, we were such near neighbours,
that our picquets touched each other; they allowed us, however, to
re-embark without perceiving it, and this want of activity appeared to
me more fortunate, as they would have incommoded me exceedingly had they
attacked the rear.

I am at present on the continent, and have the command of the troops
stationed nearest Rhode Island; General Sullivan is at Providence; M.
d'Estaing is taking in, at Providence, masts and provisions; General
Washington is at White Plains, with three brigades, stationed some miles
in advance on that side, in case of need. As to the English, they occupy
New York and the adjacent Islands, and are better defended by their
vessels than by their troops. They possess the same number of troops at
Rhode Island that they did formerly, and General Grey, at the head of
about five thousand men, marches along the coast, with the intention
of burning the towns and ransoming the small Islands. It is thought,
however, that the scene will soon become more animated; there are
great movements in New York; Lord Howe has gone out with all his fleet,
strengthened with the greatest part of Biron's squadron; M. d'Estaing
has taken possession of the harbour, and has established some formidable
batteries. On the other side, Mr. Grey may form and execute more serious
projects; he is at present in my neighbourhood, and I am obliged to
keep myself still more on the alert, because the stations which I occupy
extend from Seconnet Point, which you may see on the map, to Bristol. I
hope all this will soon end, for we are now in a very tiresome state of

I am becoming extremely prolix, but I perceive that I have forgotten
dates, and two lines more or less will not add much to your fatigue.
The evacuation of Philadelphia took place the 18th June; the affair of
Monmouth the 28th; we arrived on Rhode Island, I think, the 10th
August, and evacuated it the 30th of the same month: my gazette is now

An accident has occurred on this Island which has affected me deeply.
Several French officers, in the service of America, have the kindness
to pass much of their time with me, especially when I am engaged firing
musket balls. M. Touzard, an artillery officer in the regiment of _La
Fère_, has been, during the last months, one of my constant associates.
Finding a good opportunity on the Island of snatching a piece of cannon
from the enemy, he threw himself in the midst of them, with the greatest
gallantry and courage; but his temerity drew upon himself a hot fire
from the enemy, which killed his horse, and carried away his right arm.
His action has been admired, even by the English; it would be indeed
unfortunate if distance should prevent its being known in France; I
could not refrain from giving an account of it to M. de Montbarrey,
although I have not any right to do so; but I am very anxious to be of
use to this brave officer. If any opportunity offers of serving him,
I recommend him earnestly to your love of noble actions. I confide my
letters to M. d'Estaing, who will send them to France. If you should
have the kindness to write to me, and any packet ships be sent out to
the fleet, I beg you to take advantage of them. The admiration I feel
for him who commands it, and my firm conviction that he will not let
an opportunity escape of performing glorious deeds, will always make
me desirous of being employed in unison with him; and the friendship of
General Washington gives me the assurance that I need not even make such
a request; I often also receive letters from M. d'Estaing, and he will
send me yours as soon as he receives them. You must feel how impossible
it is for me to ascertain when I can return to you. I shall be guided
entirely by circumstances. My great object in wishing to return was
the idea of a descent upon England. I should consider myself as almost
dishonoured if I were not present at such a moment. I should feel so
much regret and shame, that I should be tempted to drown or hang myself,
according to the English mode. My greatest happiness would be to drive
them from this country, and then to repair to England, serving under
your command. This is a very delightful project; God grant it may be
realized! It is the one which would be most peculiarly agreeable to
me. I entreat you to send me your advice as soon as possible; if I but
receive it in time, it shall regulate my conduct. Adieu, I dare not
begin another page; I beg you to accept the assurance of my tender
respect, and of all the sentiments that I shall ever feel for you during
the remainder of my life.

I shall add this soiled bit of paper, which might have suited Harpagon
himself, to my long epistle, to tell you that I am become very
reasonable as relates to expenses. Now that I have my own establishment,
I shall spend still less, and I really act very prudently, when you
consider the exorbitant price of every thing, principally with paper

I shall write by another opportunity, perhaps a more speedy one, to
Madame de Tessé. I entreat you to present her with my tender respects.
If M. de Tessé, M. de Mun, M. de Neiailly, M. Senac~[1] retain a kind
remembrance of me, deign to present my compliments to them. If M. de
Comte le Broglie does not receive news from this country, as he has
always expressed great interest in me, be so good as to give him an
account of our proceedings when you see him.

May I flatter myself that I still possess your good opinion? I should
not doubt it, if I could but convince you how much I value it; I will do
everything in my power to deserve it, and I should be miserable if you
doubted for an instant how very deeply this feeling is engraven in my
breast. If I have ever erred in the path I am pursuing, forgive the
illusions of my head in favour of the good intentions and rectitude
of my heart, which is filled with feelings of the deepest, gratitude,
affection, and respect for you; and these it will ever retain, in all
countries, and under all circumstances, until my latest breath.



1. M. de Tesse, first squire to the Queen, had married Mademoiselle de
Noailles, daughter of the Marshal, and aunt to Madame de Lafayette; M.
de Neuilly was attached, under the Marshal's orders, to the stables of
the Queen; M. de Mun, father to M. de Mun, peer of France, was intimate
with the whole family; M. Senac de Meilhan has been named comptroller


Bristol, near Rhode Island, Sept. 13th, 1778.

If any thing could lessen my pleasure in writing to you, my dearest
love, it would be the painful idea that I am writing to you from a
corner of America, and that all I love is two thousand leagues from me.
But I have reason to hope that the actual state of things cannot subsist
for any length of time, and that the moment appointed for our meeting
is not very far removed. War, which so often causes separation, must
reunite us; it even secures my return by bringing French vessels here,
and the fear of being taken will soon completely vanish; we shall be at
least two to play at the game, and if the English attempt to interrupt
my course, we shall be able to answer them. How delightful it would
be for me to congratulate myself upon having heard from you; but that
happiness has not been granted me. Your last letter arrived at the same
time as the fleet; since that very distant day, since two months, I have
been expecting letters, and none have reached me. It is true that
the admiral, and the King's minister, have not been better treated
by fortune; it is true that several vessels are expected, one in
particular, every day: this gives me hope; and it is upon hope, that
void and meagre food, that I must even subsist. Do not leave me in such
a painful state of uncertainty, and although I do not expect to be here
to receive an answer to the letter I am now writing, yet I entreat you
to send me a very long one immediately, as if I were only waiting for
your letter to depart; when you read this, therefore, call instantly for
pen and ink, and write to me by every opportunity that you love me, and
that you will be glad to see me again, not but that I am well convinced
of this; my affection does not permit me to make use of any compliments
with you, and there would be more vanity in telling you that I doubt
your love, than in assuring you that I depend fully upon it, and for the
remainder of my life. But every repetition of this truth always gives me
pleasure. The feeling itself is so dear to me, and is so very necessary
to my happiness, that I cannot but rejoice in your sweet expressions of
it. It is not my reason (for I do not doubt your love) but my heart that
you delight by repeating a thousand times what gives me more pleasure,
if possible, each time you utter it. O, when shall I be with you, my
love; when shall I embrace you a hundred times?

I flattered myself that the declaration of war would recall me
immediately to France: independent of the ties which draw my heart
towards those most dear to me, the love of my country, and my wish
to serve her, are powerful motives for my return. I feared even that
people, who did not know me, might imagine that ambition, a taste for
the command I am entrusted with, and the confidence with which I am
honoured, would induce me to remain here some time longer. I own that I
felt some satisfaction in making these sacrifices to my country, and in
quitting everything to fly to her assistance, without saying one word
about the service I was giving up. This would have been a source of the
purest gratification to me, and I had resolved to set out the moment the
news of war arrived. You shall now learn what has delayed me, and I may
venture to say you will approve of my conduct.

The news was brought by a French fleet, who came to co-operate with
the American troops; new operations were just commencing; it was in the
midst of a campaign; this was not a moment to quit the army. I was also
assured, from good authority, that nothing would take place this year in
France, and that I lost, therefore, nothing by remaining here. I ran the
risk, on the contrary, of passing the whole autumn in a vessel, and with
a strong desire to fight everywhere, to fight in truth nowhere, I was
flattered in this country with the hope of undertaking some enterprise
in concert with M. d'Estaing; and persons like himself charged with the
affairs of France, told me my quitting America would be prejudicial, and
my remaining in it useful, to my country. I was forced to sacrifice my
delightful hopes, and delay the execution of my most agreeable projects.
But at length the happy moment of rejoining you will arrive, and next
winter will see me united to all I love best in the world.

You will hear so much said about war, naval combats, projected
expeditions, and military operations, made and to be made, in America,
that I will spare you the ennui of a gazette. I have, besides, related
to you the few events that have taken place since the commencement of
the campaign. I have been so fortunate as to be constantly employed, and
I have never made an unlucky encounter with balls or bullets, to arrest
me in my path. It is now more than a year since I dragged about, at
Brandywine, a leg that had been somewhat rudely handled, but since that
time it has quite recovered, and my left leg is now almost as strong as
the other one. This is the only scratch I have received, or ever shall
receive, I can safely promise you, my love. I had a presentiment that
I should be wounded at the first affair, and I have now a presentiment
that I shall not be wounded again. I wrote to you after our success at
Monmouth, and I scrawled my letter almost on the field of battle, and
still surrounded with slashed faces. Since that period, the only events
that have taken place, are the arrival and operations of the French
fleet, joined to our enterprise on Rhode Island. I have sent a full
detail of them to your father. Half the Americans say that I am
passionately fond of my country, and the other half say that since the
arrival of the French ships, I have become mad, and that I neither eat,
nor drink, nor sleep, but according to the winds that blow. Betwixt
ourselves, they are a little in the right; I never felt so strongly
what may be called national pride. Conceive the joy I experienced on
beholding the whole English fleet flying full sail before ours, in
presence of the English and American armies, stationed upon Rhode
Island. M. d'Estaing having unfortunately lost some masts, has been
obliged to put into the Boston harbour. He is a man whose talents,
genius, and great qualities of the heart I admire as much as I love his
virtues, patriotism, and agreeable manners. He has experienced every
possible difficulty; he has not been able to do all he wished to do; but
he appears to me a man formed to advance the interests of such a nation
as ours. Whatever may be the private feeling of friendship that unites
me to him, I separate all partiality from the high opinion I entertain
of our admiral. The Americans place great confidence in him, and the
English fear him. As to the Rhode Island expedition, I shall content
myself with saying that General Washington was not there, and that he
sent me to conduct a reinforcement to the commanding officer, my senior
in service. We exchanged, for several days, some cannon balls, which
did no great harm on either side, and General Clinton having brought
succours to his party, we evacuated the island, not without danger, but
without any accident. We are all in a state of inaction, from which we
shall soon awaken.

Whilst we were on the Island, an officer, who has passed the winter with
me, named Touzard, of the regiment of _La Fère_, seeing an opportunity
of snatching a piece of cannon from the enemy, threw himself amongst
them with the utmost bravery. This action attracted the fire of his
antagonists, which killed his horse, and carried off part of his right
arm, which has since been amputated. If he were in France, such an
action, followed by such an accident, would have been the means of
his receiving the cross of St. Louis and a pension. I should feel the
greatest pleasure if, through you and my friends, I could obtain for him
any recompence.

I entreat you to present my respectful and affectionate compliments to
the Marshal de Noailles; he must have received the trees I sent him. I
will take advantage of the month of September, the most favourable
time, to send him a still larger quantity. Do not forget me to Madame
la Maréchale de Noailles; embrace my sisters a thousand and a thousand
times. If you see the Chevalier de Chastellux, present to him my
compliments and assurances of affection.

But what shall I say to you, my love? What expressions can my tenderness
find sufficiently strong for our dear Anastasia? You will find them but
in your own heart, and in mine, which is equally open to you. Cover her
with kisses; teach her to love me by loving you. We are so completely
united, that it is impossible to love one without loving also the other.
That poor little child must supply all we have lost; she has two places
to occupy in my heart, and this heavy task our misfortune has imposed
on her. I love her most fondly, and the misery of trembling for her life
does not prevent my feeling for her the warmest affection. Adieu; when
shall I be permitted to see thee, to part from thee no more; to make
thy happiness as thou makest mine, and kneel before thee to implore thy
pardon. Adieu, adieu; we shall not be very long divided.


Philadelphia, 13th September, 1777.

Sir,--I am sensible of a particular degree of pleasure in executing the
order of congress, signified in their act of the 9th instant, which will
be enclosed with this, expressing the sentiments of the representatives
of the United States of America, of your high merit on the late
expedition against Rhode Island. You will do congress justice, Sir, in
receiving the present acknowledgment as a tribute of the respect and
gratitude of a free people. I have the honour to be, with very great
respect and esteem, Sir, your obedient and most humble servant,



1. This letter, as well as all those that follow to that of the 11th of
January, 1779, with the exception of the letter to Lord Carlisle, was
written originally in English.


Resolved:--The president is charged with writing to the Marquis de
Lafayette; that congress conceives that the sacrifice he made of his
personal feelings, when, for the interest of the United States, he
repaired to Boston, at the moment when the opportunity of acquiring
glory on the field of battle could present itself; his military zeal
in returning to Rhode Island, when the greatest part of the army had
quitted it, and his measures to secure a retreat, have a right to this
present expression of the approbation of congress.

September 9th, 1778.


Camp, 23rd September, 1778.

Sir,--I have just received your favour of the 13th instant, acquainting
me with the honour congress have been pleased to confer on me by their
most gracious resolve. Whatever pride such an approbation may justly
give me, I am not less affected by the feelings of gratefulness, and the
satisfaction of thinking my endeavours were ever looked on as useful to
a cause, in which my heart is so deeply interested. Be so good, Sir,
as to present to congress my plain and hearty thanks, with a frank
assurance of a candid attachment, the only one worth being offered to
the representatives of a free people. The moment I heard of America, I
loved her; the moment I knew she was fighting for freedom, I burnt with
a desire of bleeding for her; and the moment I shall be able to serve
her at any time, or in any part of the world, will be the happiest one
of my life. I never so much wished for occasions of deserving those
obliging sentiments with which I am honoured by these states and their
representatives, and that flattering confidence they have been pleased
to put in me, has filled my heart with the warmest acknowledgments and
eternal affection.

I am, &c.,




Warren, 24th September, 1778.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I am to acknowledge the reception of your late favour.
Your excellency's sentiments were already known to me, and my heart had
anticipated your answer. I, however, confess it gave me a new pleasure
when I received it. My love for you is such, my dear general, that I
should enjoy it better, if possible, in a private sentimental light than
in a political one. Nothing makes me happier than to see a conformity
of sentiments between you and me, upon any matter whatsoever; and the
opinion of your heart is so precious to me, that I will ever expect
it to fix mine. I don't know how to make out a fine expression of my
sentiments, my most respected friend; but you know, I hope, my heart,
and I beg you will read in it.

Agreeably to your advices and my own feelings, I made every effort that
I could for preventing any bad measures being taken on either side;
which conduct I also closely kept in the late affair of Boston
concerning M. de St. Sauveur. I wished to have been of some use on both
occasions, and I hope we have pretty well succeeded. The Count d'Estaing
is entirely ours; so, at least, I apprehend by his confidential letters
to me; and it affords me great pleasure. I have found by him an occasion
of writing to France; and you will better conceive than I may describe,
how I have acted on the occasion. I thought the best way of speaking
of those internal affairs was not to speak of them, or at least very
indifferently, so as to give any such report which might arrive as
groundless and insignificant. I daresay my scheme will have the desired
effect, and nothing will be thought of it in France. I thought it would
be well to let the admiral know that you do not lay any blame upon him,
and that you entertained the sentiments any honest Frenchman might wish
upon this matter.

Agreeably to a very useful article of a letter to General Sullivan, I
have removed my station from Bristol, and am in a safer place, behind
Warren, The few spies I have been able to procure upon the island seem
rather to think of an evacuation than of any enterprise; but, you know,
New York is the fountain-head. I long much, my dear general, to be again
with you; our separation has been long enough, and I am here as inactive
as anywhere else. My wish, and that you will easily conceive, had been
to co-operate with the French fleet; I don't know now what they will do.
The admiral has written to me upon many plans, and does not seem well
fixed on any scheme: he burns with the desire of striking a blow, and is
not yet determined how to accomplish it. He wrote me that he wanted to
see me, but I cannot leave my post, lest something might happen: it has
already cost dear enough to me. However, if you give me leave, I'll
ask this of General Sullivan, and will do what I think best for both

I have heard of a _pistolade_ between two gentlemen, which lasted
very long without much effect; it looks like our too much spoken of
_cannonade_ at Newport, while _the siege_ was continued. I have not yet
been able to find out what your excellency desires me to inquire into,
on account of the French queen:~[1] but the people of the navy are
too remote from Versailles to have any knowledge of it, and the
Count d'Estaing himself has not any intimacy with her. I'll get that
intelligence from a better source, and _more agreeable to your feelings
on the matter_, in order that you may do what you think fit to be done
if the report is true.

I beg, my dear general, when you write to your lady, that you would
present my respects to her; and I beg also the liberty to make here a
thousand compliments to your family. With the highest respect and most
tender friendship, I have the honour to be, dear general.


1. Several ladies had lately come out from New York, who reported that
a vessel had been captured and brought to that city, in which was
contained a present from the Queen of France to Mrs. Washington, as "an
elegant testimonial of her approbation of the general's conduct," and
that it had been sold at auction for the benefit of the captors. This
intelligence was so confidently affirmed from such a respectable source,
that General Washington had requested the Marquis de Lafayette to
make inquiry as to the truth of it through the medium of Madame de
Lafayette.--_Writings of Washington_, vol. vi p. 74.



Fredericksburg, 25th September, 1778.

MY DEAR MARQUIS,--The sentiments of affection and attachment, which
breathe so conspicuously in all your letters to me, are at once
pleasing and honourable, and afford me abundant cause to rejoice at the
happiness of my acquaintance with you. Your love of liberty, the just
sense you entertain of this valuable blessing, and your noble and
disinterested exertions in the cause of it, added to the innate goodness
of your heart, conspire to render you dear to me; and I think myself
happy in being linked with you in bonds of the strictest friendship.

The ardent zeal which you have displayed during the whole course of the
campaign to the eastward, and your endeavours to cherish harmony among
the officers of the allied powers, and to dispel those unfavourable
impressions which had begun to take place in the minds of the
unthinking, from misfortunes, which the utmost stretch of human
foresight could not avert, deserved, and now receives, my particular and
warmest thanks. I am sorry for Monsieur Touzard's loss of an arm in the
action on Rhode Island; and offer my thanks to him, through you, for his
gallant behaviour on that day.

Could I have conceived that my picture had been an object of your
wishes, or in the smallest degree worthy of your attention, I should,
while M. Peale was in the camp at Valley Forge, have got him to take the
best portrait of me he could, and presented it to you; but I really
had not so good an opinion of my own worth, as to suppose that such a
compliment would not have been considered as a greater instance of
my vanity, than means of your gratification; and therefore, when you
requested me to sit to Monsieur Lanfang, I thought it was only to obtain
the outlines and a few shades of my features, to have some prints struck

If you have entertained thoughts, my dear marquis, of paying a visit to
your court, to your lady, and to your friends this winter, but waver on
account of an expedition into Canada, friendship induces me to tell
you, that I do not conceive that the prospect of such an operation is
so favourable at this time, as to cause you to change your views. Many
circumstances and events must conspire to render an enterprise of this
kind practicable and advisable. The enemy, in the first place, must
either withdraw wholly, or in part, from their present posts, to leave
us at liberty to detach largely from this army. In the next place,
if considerable reinforcements should be thrown into that country,
a winter's expedition would become impracticable, on account of the
difficulties which would attend the march of a large body of men,
with the necessary apparatus, provisions, forage, and stores, at
that inclement season. In a word, the chances are so much against the
undertaking, that they ought not to induce you to lay aside your other
purpose, in the prosecution of which you shall have every aid, and carry
with you every honourable testimony of my regard and entire approbation
of your conduct, that you can wish. But it is a compliment, which is
due, so am I persuaded you would not wish to dispense with the form of
signifying your desires to congress on the subject of your voyage and

I come now, in a more especial manner, to acknowledge the receipt of
your obliging favour of the 21st, by Major Dubois, and to thank you for
the important intelligence therein contained.

I do most cordially congratulate you on the glorious defeat of the
British squadron under Admiral Keppel, an event which reflects the
highest honour on the good conduct and bravery of Monsieur d'Orrilliers
and the officers of the fleet under his command; at the same time that
it is to be considered, I hope, as the happy presage, of a fortunate
and glorious war to his most Christian Majesty. A confirmation of
the account I shall impatiently wait and devoutly wish for. If the
Spaniards, under this favourable beginning, would unite their fleet to
that of France, together they would soon humble the pride of haughty
Britain, and no long suffer her to reign sovereign of the seas, and
claim the privilege of giving laws to the main.

You have my free consent to make the Count d'Estaing a visit, and may
signify my entire approbation of it to General Sullivan, who, I am glad
to find, has moved you out of a _cul de sac_. It was my advice to him
long ago, to have no detachments in that situation, let particular
places be ever so much unguarded and exposed from the want of troops.
Immediately upon my removal from White Plains to this ground, the enemy
threw a body of troops into the Jerseys; but for what purpose, unless
to make a grand forage, I have not been able yet to learn. They advanced
some troops at the same time from their lines at Kingsbridge towards
our old encampment at the plains, stripping the inhabitants not only of
their provisions and forage, but even the clothes on their backs, and
without discrimination.

The information, my dear marquis, which I begged the favour of you to
obtain, was not, I am persuaded, to be had through the channel of the
officers of the French fleet, but by application to your fair lady,
to whom I should be happy in an opportunity of paying my homage in
Virginia, when the war is ended, if she could be prevailed upon to quit,
for a few months, the gaieties and splendour of a court, for the rural
amusements of a humble cottage.

I shall not fail to inform Mrs. Washington of your polite attention to
her. The gentlemen of my family are sensible of the honour you do them
by your kind inquiries, and join with me in a tender of best regards;
and none can offer them with more sincerity and affection than I do.
With every sentiment you can wish, I am, my dear marquis, &c.



Camp, near Warren, 24th September, 1778.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I am going to consult your excellency upon a point in
which I not only want your leave and opinion, as the commander-in-chief,
but also your candid advice, as the man whom I have the happiness to
call my friend. In an address from the British commissaries to congress,
the first after _Johnstone_ was excluded, they speak in the most
disrespectful terms of my nation and country. The whole is undersigned
by them, and more particularly by the president, Lord Carlisle. I am the
first French officer, in rank, of the American army; I am not unknown to
the British, and if somebody must take notice of such expressions,
that advantage does, I believe, belong to me. Don't you think, my dear
general, that I should do well to write a letter ont he subject to
Lord Carlisle, wherein I should notice his expressions conveyed in an
unfriendly manner? I have mentioned something of this design to the
Count d'Estaing, but wish entirely to fix my opinion by yours, which I
instantly beg, as soon as you may find it convenient.

As everyting is perfectly quiet, and General Sullivan is persuaded that
I may, with all safety, go to Boston, I am going to undertake a short
journey towards that place. The admiral has several times expressed a
desire of conversing with me; he has also thrown out some wishes that
something might be done towards securing Boston, but it seems he always
refers to a conversation for further explanation. My stay will be short,
as I don't like towns in time of war, when I may be about a camp. If
your excellency answers me immediately, I may soon receive your letter.

I want much to see you, my dear general, and consult you about many
points, part of them are respecting myself. If you approve of my writing
to Lord Carlisle, it would be a reason for coming near you for a short
time, in case the gentleman is displeased with my mission.

With the most perfect respect, confidence, and affection, I have the
honour to be, &c.


1. In the preceding session, the English parliament had passed
bills called conciliatory, and in the month of June, conciliatory
commissioners had presented themselves to negotiate an arrangement.
These were, Lord Carlisle, Governor George Johnstone, and William Eden.
Dr. Adam Ferguson, professor of moral philosophy at the University of
Edinburgh, was secretary of the commission. They addressed a letter to
Mr. Laurens which was to be communicated to congress. To that letter
were joined private letters from Mr. Johnstone to several members of the
assembly, whom he endeavoured to seduce by exciting interested hopes.
The letters were given up to the congress, who declared "_that it was
incompatible with their own honour to hold any sort of correspondence or
relation with the said George Johnstone_."--(See the Letters of General
Washington, vol. v., p. 397, and vol. vi., p. 31; and the _History of
the American Revolution_, by David Ramsay, vol. ii., chap. 16.)


I expected, until the present moment, my lord, to have only affairs to
settle with your generals, and I hoped to see them at the head only of
the armies which are respectively confided to us; your letter to the
Congress of the United States, the insulting phrase to my country, which
you yourself have signed, could alone bring me into direct communication
with you. I do not, my lord, deign to refute your assertion, but I do
wish to punish it. It is to you, as chief of the commission, that I now
appeal, to give me a reparation as public as has been the offence, and
as shall be the denial which arises from it; nor would that denial
have been so long delayed if the letters had reached me sooner. As I am
obliged to absent myself for some days, I hope to find your answer on
my return. M. de Gimat, a French officer, will make all the arrangements
for me which may be agreeable to you; I doubt not but that General
Clinton, for the honour of his countryman, will consent to the measure I
propose. As to myself, my lord, I shall consider all measures good, if,
to the glory of being a Frenchman, I can add that of proving to one of
your nation that my nation can never be attacked with impunity.



1. This letter was written in French.



Boston, 28th September, 1778.

DEAR GENERAL,--The news I have got from France, the reflections I
have made by myself, and those which have been suggested to me by many
people, particularly by the admiral, increases more than ever the desire
I had of seeing again your excellency. I want to communicate to you my
sentiments, and take your opinion upon my present circumstances--I look
upon this as of high moment to my private interests. On the other
hand, I have some ideas, and some intelligence in reference to public
interests, which I am very desirous of disclosing to your excellency. I
am sure, my dear general, that your sentiments upon my private concerns
are such, that you will have no objection to my spending some hours with

The moment at which the fleet will be ready is not very far, and I think
it of importance to have settled my affair with you before that time. I
am going to write to General Sullivan on the subject, and if he has
no objection, I'll go immediately to head-quarters; but should he
make difficulties, I beg you will send me that leave. I intend to ride
express, in order that I may have time enough. You may think, my dear
general, that I don't ask, what I never asked in my life--a leave to
quit the post I am sent to--without strong reasons for it; but the
letters I have received from home make me very anxious to see you.

With the most tender affection and highest respect, &c.


1. In spite of the obstacles which had arrested M. de Lafayette at the
commencement of the projected northern campaign, he had embraced with
ardour the idea of a diversion which was to be operated in Canada, with
the combined forces of France and America; and it was partly to converse
on this plan with Washington, and later with the cabinet of Versailles,
that he insisted upon having a conference with the general-in-chief, and
returning to France before the winter. He was even summoned to explain
himself on this subject with a committee from the congress, who adopted
the plan in principle, but decided that General Washington should be
first consulted. The latter expressed his objections in a public letter
addressed to the congress, and in a private letter addressed to Laurens,
(14th November, 1778.) It was long before the final decision of congress
became known. M. de Lafayette was still ignorant of it when he embarked
for Europe. The 29th December, only, a letter was addressed to him from
President John Jay, who was charged by congress to express to him that
the difficulties of execution--the want of men and materials, and,
above all, the exhausted state of the finances, did not permit the
accomplishment of this project; that if, however, France would first
enter into it, the United States would make every effort to second
her. But France, from various motives, did not shew herself disposed to
snatch Canada from the English. (See the Correspondence of Washington,
vol. vi., and his Life by Marshal, vol. iii)



Fishkill, 4th October, 1778.

MY DEAR MARQUIS,--I have had the pleasure of receiving, by the hands of
Monsieur de la Colombe, your favour of the 28th ultimo, accompanied
by one of the 24th, which he overtook somewhere on the road. The leave
requested in the former, I am as much interested to grant, as to refuse
my approbation of the challenge proposed in the latter. The generous
spirit of chivalry, exploded by the rest of the world, finds a refuge,
my dear friend, in the sensibility of your nation only. But it is in
vain to cherish it, unless you can find antagonists to support it;
and, however well adapted it might have been to the times in which it
existed, in our days, it is to be feared, that your opponent, sheltering
himself behind modern opinions, and under his present public character
of commissioner, would turn a virtue of such ancient date into ridicule.
Besides, supposing his lordship accepted your terms, experience has
proved that chance is often as much concerned in deciding these matters
as bravery, and always more than the justice of the cause. I would not,
therefore, have your life, by the remotest possibility, exposed, when
it may be reserved for so many greater occasions. His excellency, the
admiral, I flatter myself, will be in sentiment with me; and, as soon as
he can spare you, will send you to head-quarters, where I anticipate the
pleasure of seeing you.

Having written very fully to you a few days ago, and put the letter
under cover to General Sullivan, I have nothing to add at this time, but
to assure you that, with the most perfect regard--I am, dear sir, &c.



Philadelphia, 13th October, 1778.

SIR,--Whatever care I should take not to employ the precious time at
congress in private considerations, I beg leave to lay before them my
present circumstances, with that confidence which naturally springs from
affection and gratitude. The sentiments which bind me to my country, can
never be more properly spoken of than in the presence of men who have
done so much for their own. As long as I thought I could dispose of
myself, I made it my pride and pleasure to fight under American colours,
in defence of a cause, which I dare more particularly call ours,
because I had the good fortune to bleed for it. Now, sir, that France
is involved in a war, I am urged by a sense of duty, as well as by
patriotic love, to present myself before the king, to know in what
manner he may judge proper to employ my services. The most agreeable of
all will be such as may enable me always to serve the common cause among
those whose friendship I have the happiness to obtain, and whose fortune
I have had the honour to follow in less smiling times. That reason, and
others, which I leave to the feelings of congress, engage me to beg from
them the liberty of going home for the next winter.

As long as there were any hopes of an active campaign, I did not think
of leaving the field. Now that I see a very peaceable and undisturbed
moment, I take this opportunity of waiting on congress. In case my
request is granted, I shall so manage my departure as to be certain
before going off that the campaign is really over. Inclosed you will
find a letter from his excellency General Washington, where he expresses
his assent to my getting leave of absence. I dare flatter myself, that
I shall be looked upon as a soldier on furlough, who most heartily
wants to join again his colours, and his most esteemed and beloved
fellow-soldiers. In case it is thought that I can be in any way useful
to the service of America, when I shall find myself among my countrymen,
and in case any exertion of mine is deemed serviceable, I hope, sir,
I shall always be considered as a man who is deeply interested in the
welfare of the United States, and who has the most perfect affection,
regard, and confidence for representatives. With the highest regard, I
have the honour to be, &c.




Philadelphia, 24th October, 1778.

SIR,--I had the honour of presenting to congress your letter, soliciting
leave of absence, and I am directed by the house to express their thanks
for your zeal in promoting that just cause in which they are engaged,
and for the disinterested services you have rendered to the United
States of America. In testimony of the high esteem and affection in
which you are held by the good people of these states, as well as in
acknowledgment of your gallantry and military talents, displayed on
many signal occasions, their representatives in congress assembled have
ordered an elegant sword to be presented to you by the American minister
at the court of Versailles.

Enclosed within the present cover will be found an act of congress,
of the 21st instant, authorizing these declarations, and granting a
furlough for your return to France, to be extended at your own pleasure.
I pray God to bless and protect you, Sir; to conduct you in safety
to the presence of your prince, and to the re-enjoyment of your noble
family and friends. I have the honour to be, with the highest respect,
and with the most sincere affection, Sir, your most obedient and most
humble servant,


1778. In Congress, October 21st.--Resolved, That the Marquis de
Lafayette, major-general in the service of the United States, have
leave to go to France, and that he return at such time as shall be most
convenient to him.

Resolved, That the president write a letter to the Marquis de Lafayette,
returning him the thanks of congress for that disinterested zeal which
led him to America, and for the services he has rendered to the United
States by the exertion of his courage and abilities on many signal

Resolved, That the minister plenipotentiary of the United States of
America at the court of Versailles be directed to cause an elegant
sword, with proper devices, to be made, and presented in the name of the
United States to the Marquis de Lafayette.

October 22nd.--Resolved, That the following letter of recommendation of
the Marquis de Lafayette be written to the King of France:--

To our great, faithful, and beloved friend and ally, Louis the
Sixteenth, king of France and Navarre:--

The Marquis de Lafayette having obtained our leave to return to his
native country, we could not suffer him to depart without testifying our
deep sense of his zeal, courage, and attachment. We have advanced him to
the rank of major-general in our armies, which, as well by his prudent
as spirited conduct, he has manifestly merited. We recommend this young
nobleman to your majesty's notice, as one whom we know to be wise in
council, gallant in the field, and patient under the hardships of
war. His devotion to his sovereign has led him in all things to demean
himself as an American, acquiring thereby the confidence of these United
States, your good and faithful friends and allies, and the affection of
their citizens. We pray God to keep your majesty in his holy protection.

Done at Philadelphia, the 22nd day of October, 1778, by the congress of
the United States of North America, your good friends and allies.




Philadelphia, the 24th of October, 1778.

My Dear General,--You will be surprised to hear that I am yet in this
city, and that I could never get out this time. My own business was
immediately done, and I received from congress all possible marks of
kindness and affection; but public affairs do not go on quite so fast,
and I am detained for the expedition of projects, instructions, and
many papers which I am to carry with me. The zeal for the common cause
prevents my leaving this place before I am dismissed. However, I will
certainly set out to-morrow afternoon at farthest.

Congress have been pleased to grant me an undetermined furlough by the
most polite and honourable resolves, to which they have added a letter
for the king in my behalf. I will shew the whole to your excellency as
soon as I have the pleasure to see you; and as I hope to arrive two days
after this letter, I think it is useless to trouble you with copies.

I have received an answer from Lord Carlisle, in which he conceals
himself behind his dignity, and, by a prudent foresight, he objects to
entering into any explanation in any change of situation.

There is a plan going on which I think you will approve. The idea was
not suggested by me, and I acted in the affair a passive part. I will
speak to your excellency of it more at length, and with more freedom,
at our first interview. May I hope, my dear general, that you will order
the enclosed letters to be sent immediately to Boston, as some of them
contain orders for a frigate to put herself in readiness.

With the highest respect and most tender affection, I have the honour to


Sir,--I have received your letter by M. de Gimat; I own it appears to
me difficult to make a serious answer to it; the only one that can be
expected from me in my capacity of commissioner of the king, and which
is one you should have foreseen, is, that I look upon myself, and
shall always look upon myself, as not obliged to be responsible to
any individual for my public conduct and mode of expression. I am
only responsible to my king and country. In respect to the opinions or
expressions contained in one of the public documents published by the
authority of the commission to which I have the honour of belonging,
unless they should be publicly retracted, you may feel certain that,
whatever change may take place in my situation, I shall never be
disposed to give any account of them, still less to disown them
privately. I must recall to you that the insult you allude to as
occurring in the correspondence between the king's commissioners and
the congress is not of a private nature. I think, therefore, that all
national disputes will be best decided when Admiral Biron and Count
d'Estaing shall have met.



Philadelphia, 26th October, 1778.

SIR,--I have received your excellency's obliging letter, enclosing the
several resolutions congress have honoured me with, and the leave of
absence they have been pleased to grant. Nothing can make me happier
than the reflection that my services have met with their approbation;
the glorious testimonial of confidence and satisfaction repeatedly
bestowed on me by the representatives of America, though superior to
my merit, cannot exceed the grateful sentiments they have excited.
I consider the noble present offered to me in the name of the United
States as the most flattering honour; it is my most fervent desire soon
to employ that sword in their service against the common enemy of my
country, and of their faithful and beloved allies.

That liberty, safety, wealth, and concord may ever extend to the United
States, is the ardent wish of a heart glowing with a devoted zeal and
unbounded love, and the highest regard and the most sincere affection
for their representatives. Be pleased, Sir, to present my thanks
to them, and to accept, yourself, the assurance of my respectful
attachment. I have the honour to be, with profound veneration, your
excellency's most obedient servant,



October, 1778. --I ought not to terminate this long despatch, without
rendering to the wisdom and dexterity of the Marquis de Lafayette, in
the part he has taken in these discussions, the justice which is due
to his merits. He has given most salutary counsels, authorized by his
friendship and experience. The Americans have strongly solicited his
return with the troops which the king may send. He has replied with a
due sensibility, but with an entire resignation to the will of the king.
I cannot forbear saying, that the conduct, equally prudent, courageous,
and amiable, of the Marquis de Lafayette, has made him the idol of
the congress, the army, and the people of America. A high opinion is
entertained of his military talents. You know how little I am inclined
to adulation; but I should be wanting in justice, if I did not transmit
to you these testimonials, which are here in the mouth of the whole



Philadelphia, 29th December, 1778.

MY DEAR MARQUIS,--This will be accompanied by a letter from congress,
which will inform you, that a certain expedition, after a full
consideration of all circumstances, has been laid aside. I am sorry,
however, for the delay it has occasioned you, by remaining so long

I am persuaded, my dear marquis, that there is no need of fresh proofs
to convince you either of my affection for you personally, or of the
high opinion I entertain of your military talents and merits. Yet,
as you are on the point of returning to your native country, I cannot
forbear indulging my friendship, by adding to the honourable testimonies
you have received from congress, the enclosed letter from myself to our
minister at your court. I have therein endeavoured to give him an idea
of the value this country sets upon you; and the interest I take in your
happiness cannot but make me desire you may be equally dear to your own.
Adieu, my dear marquis; my best wishes will ever attend you. May you
have a safe and agreeable passage, and a happy meeting with your lady
and friends. I ate, &c.



Philadelphia, 28th December, 1788

SIR,--The Marquis de Lafayette, having served with distinction as
major-general in the army of the United States for two campaigns, has
been determined, by the prospect of a European war, to return to his
native country. It is with pleasure that I embrace the opportunity
of introducing to your personal acquaintance a gentleman, whose merit
cannot have left him unknown to you by reputation. The generous motives
which first induced him to cross the Atlantic; the tribute which he paid
to gallantry at the Brandywine; his success in Jersey, before he had
recovered from his wound, in an affair where he commanded militia
against British grenadiers; the brilliant retreat, by which he eluded
a combined manoeuvre of the British forces in the last campaign; his
services in the enterprise against Rhode Island; are such proofs of his
zeal, military order, and talents, as have endeared him to America, and
must greatly recommend him to his prince.

Coming with so many titles to claim your esteem, it were needless, for
any other purpose than to indulge my own feelings, to add, that I have a
very particular friendship for him; and that, whatever services you may
have it in your power to render him, will confer an obligation on one
who has the honour to be--with the greatest esteem, regard, and respect,
sir, &c.



Boston, 5th January, 1779.

DEAR GENERAL,--In my difficult situation, at such a distance from you,
I am obliged to take a determination by myself, which, I hope, will meet
with your approbation. You remember, that in making full allowance for
deliberations, the answer from congress was to reach me before the 15th
of last month, and I have long since waited without even hearing from
them. Nay, many gentlemen from Philadelphia assure me, congress believe
that I am gone long ago. Though my affairs call me home, private
interests would, however, induce me to wait for your excellency's
letters, for the decision of congress about an exchange in case I should
be taken, and for the last determinations concerning the plans of the
next campaign.

But I think the importance of the despatches I am the bearer of; the
uncertainty and improbability of receiving any others here; my giving
intelligence at Versailles may be for the advantage of both nations; the
inconvenience of detaining the fine frigate, on board which I return,
and the danger of losing all the men, who desert very fast, are reasons
so important as oblige me not to delay any longer. I am the more of that
opinion from congress having resolved to send about this time three fast
sailing vessels to France, and the marine committee having promised me
to give the despatches to such officers as I would recommend; it is
a very good way of forwarding their letters, and sending such as your
excellency may be pleased to write me. I beg you will send copies of
them by the several vessels.

To hear from you, my most respected friend, will be the greatest
happiness I can feel. The longer the letters you write, the more blessed
with satisfaction I shall think myself. I hope you will not refuse me
that pleasure as often as you can. I hope you will ever preserve that
affection which I return by the tenderest sentiments.

How happy, my dear general, I should be to come next spring,
principally, as it might yet be proposed, I need not to say. Your first
letter will let me know what I am to depend upon on that head, and,
I flatter myself, the first from me will confirm to you that I am at
liberty, and that most certainly I intend to come next campaign.

My health is now in the best condition, and I would not remember I ever
was sick, were it not for the marks of friendship you gave me on
that occasion. My good doctor has attended me with his usual care and
tenderness. He will see me on board and then return to head-quarters;
but the charge of your friend was intrusted to him till I was on board
the frigate. I have met with the most kind hospitality in this city,
and, drinking water excepted, the doctor has done everything he could to
live happy; he dances and sings at the assemblies most charmingly.

The gentlemen who, I hope, will go to France, have orders to go to
head-quarters; and I flatter myself, my dear general, that you will
write me by them. I beg you will let the bearer of this, Captain la
Colombe, know that I recommend him to your excellency for the commission
of major.

Be so kind, my dear general, as to present my best respects to your
lady and the gentlemen of your family. I hope you will quietly enjoy the
pleasure of being with Mrs. Washington, without any disturbance from
the enemy, till I join you again; I also hope you will approve of my
sailing, which, indeed, was urged by necessity, after waiting so long.

Farewell, my most beloved general; it is not without emotion, I bid you
this last adieu, before so long a separation. Don't forget an absent
friend, and believe me for ever and ever, with the highest respect and
tenderest affection.

On board the _Alliance_, 10th January, 1779.

I open again my letter, my dear general, to let you know that I am not
yet gone, but if the wind proves fair, I shall sail to-morrow. Nothing
from Philadelphia; nothing from head-quarters. So that everybody, as
well as myself, is of opinion that I should be wrong to wait any longer.
I hope I am right, and I hope to hear soon from you. Adieu, my dear, and
for ever beloved friend,--adieu!



On board the _Alliance_, off Boston, 11th Jan., 1779

The sails are just going to be hoisted, my dear general, and I have but
time to take my last leave of you. I may now be certain that congress
did not intend to send anything more by me. The navy board and Mr.
Nevil write me this very morning from Boston, that the North River is
passable; that a gentleman from camp says, he did not hear of anything
like an express for me. All agree for certain that congress think I am
gone, and that the sooner I go the better.

Farewell, my dear general; I hope your French friend will ever be dear
to you; I hope I shall soon see you again, and tell you myself with what
emotion I now leave the coast you inhabit, and with what affection and
respect I am for ever, my dear general, your respectful and sincere


HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF 1779, 1780, & 1781.~[1]

Lafayette, who quitted France as a rebel and fugitive, returned there
triumphant and in favour. He was scarcely punished by a week's arrest
for his disobedience to the King, and that was only after he had had a
conversation with the first minister, Maurepas. Lafayette found himself
the connecting link between the United States and France; he enjoyed the
confidence of both countries and both governments. His favour at court
and in society was employed in serving the cause of the Americans, in
destroying the false impressions that were endeavoured to be raised
against them, and in obtaining for them succours of every kind. He
experienced, however, many difficulties; the friends of the Austrian
alliance saw, with displeasure, that that war would cause the refusal of
the forty thousand auxiliaries stipulated by the treaty of Vienna;
the French ministry already feared the too great aggrandisement of the
United States, and decidedly refused the conquest of Canada, on pretence
that before a fourteenth state was added to those that had already
declared themselves independent, it was necessary first to deliver the
thirteen from the yoke of the English. M. Neckar feared everything that
could either increase the expense of the war or prolong it. Maurepas
himself, who had been reluctantly led into it, was completely weary of
it; he hoped to obtain peace by making an attempt on England. Lafayette,
taking advantage of this idea, had organized an expedition, in which
the celebrated Paul Jones was to command the marines, and of which the
object was to transport a body of troops, bearing the American banner,
upon the coast of England, and levy contributions to supply the
Americans with the money that could not be drawn from the treasury of
France. Liverpool and some other towns would have been justly punished
for the part they had taken in the vexations exercised against the
colonies, to whom they were indebted for their prosperity; but the
economy and timidity of the French ministers made this undertaking fail.
Lafayette, despairing of the success of the Canada expedition, took a
step that was undoubtedly a bold one, but which was quite justified by
the issue. He had been enjoined not to ask for French auxiliary troops
for the United States, because the popular feeling of jealousy against
foreigners, and especially against Frenchmen, not only rendered the
congress itself averse to this project, but made them believe it would
excite general anxiety and discontent. Lafayette foresaw that before the
succour could be ready, the United States would feel its necessity, and
that it might arrive, as did actually occur, in a decisive moment for
the safety of the cause. He took, therefore, upon himself, not being
able to obtain troops for Canada, to solicit, in the name of the
congress, what he had been positively forbidden to ask, a succour of
auxiliary troops sent to a port of the United States, and he made choice
of that of Rhode Island which, having been evacuated by the English, and
being in an Island suitable for defence, was more likely than any other
to obviate all kinds of difficulties. He obtained the promise of six
thousand men, but four thousand only were afterwards sent, under Count
Rochambeau: however trifling that number might appear, Lafayette
knew that, by employing young officers of the court, and drawing the
attention of the French upon that little corps, the ministers would
sooner or later be obliged to render it of use by obtaining a decided
naval superiority upon the American coast, which was Lafayette's
principal object, and which it was very difficult to obtain, owing to
other plans of operation; in fact, that naval superiority was never
established until 1781, and then lasted but for a few weeks: events
have since proved how right Lafayette was to speak every day of its
necessity. The corps which had been granted were not in readiness to
sail until the beginning of the year 1780. Lafayette in the meantime was
employed in the staff of the army which was preparing for a descent on
England, under the orders of the Marshal de Vaux. It was then that
Dr. Franklin's grandson presented him officially with the sword that
congress had decreed to him. Upon that sword were represented Monmouth,
Barren Hill, Gloucester, and Rhode Island; America, delivered from her
chains, was offering a branch of laurel to a youthful warrior; the same
warrior was represented inflicting a mortal wound upon the British lion.
Franklin had placed in another part an ingenious device for America; it
was a crescent, with these words: _Crescam ut prosim_; on the other side
was the device, _Cur non?_ which the youth himself had adopted when he
first set out for America.

Lafayette, at the end of the campaign, renewed his efforts to obtain
the fulfilment of the hopes which had been given him; he succeeded in
gaining pecuniary succours, which were placed at the disposal of
General Washington, for it was upon that general that reposed the
whole confidence of the government, and the hopes of the French nation.
Clothing for the army had been promised also, but that remained behind
with the two thousand men which were to have completed the corps of
Rochambeau; and Admiral Ternay, instead of bringing, as he ought to have
done, a stronger naval force than the enemy had brought, set sail
for Rhode Island with seven vessels. This expedition was kept very
secret;~[2] Lafayette had preceded it on board the French frigate the
_Hermione_; he arrived at Boston before the Americans and English had
the least knowledge of that auxiliary reinforcement.

(1780.) The arrival of Lafayette at Boston produced the liveliest
sensation, which was entirely owing to his own popularity, for no one
yet knew what he had obtained for the United States. Every person ran to
the shore; he was received with the loudest acclamations, and carried
in triumph to the house of Governor Hancock, from whence he set out for
head-quarters. Washington learnt, with great emotion, of the arrival of
his young friend. It was observed that on receiving the despatch which
announced to him this event, his eyes filled with tears of joy, and
those who are acquainted with the disposition of Washington, will
consider this as a certain proof of a truly paternal love. Lafayette
was welcomed with the greatest joy by the army; he was beloved both
by officers and soldiers, and felt the sincerest affection for them
in return. After the first pleasure of their meeting was over, General
Washington and he retired into a private room to talk over the present
state of affairs. The situation of the army was a very bad one; it was
in want of money, and it was become almost impossible to raise recruits;
in short, some event was necessary to restore the energy of the
different states, and give the army an opportunity of displaying its
vigour. It was then that Lafayette announced to the commander-in-chief
what had been done, and the succours which might soon be expected to
arrive. General Washington felt the importance of this good news, and
considered it as deciding the successful issue of their affairs. All
the necessary preparations were made: the secret was well kept, although
steps were obliged to be taken for the arrival of the troops, who landed
safely at Rhode Island, and who, in spite of their long inaction, formed
a necessary and powerful force to oppose to the English army.

During the campaign of 1780, the French corps remained at Rhode Island.
After the defeat of Gates, Greene went to command in Carolina; Arnold
was placed at West Point; the principal army, under the immediate orders
of Washington, had for its front guard the light infantry of Lafayette,
to which was joined the corps of the excellent partisan, Colonel Lee.
This is the proper time to speak of that light infantry. The American
troops had no grenadiers; their _chasseurs_, or riflemen, formed
a distinct regiment, under the orders of the colonel, since
Brigadier-General Morgan, and had been taken, not from different corps,
but from parts of the country on the frontiers of the savage tribes,
and from amongst men whose mode of life, and skill in firing their long
carabines, rendered them peculiarly useful in that service. But the
regiments of the line supplied some chosen men, whose officers were
also all picked men, and who formed a select band of about two thousand,
under the orders of Lafayette. The mutual attachment of that corps and
its head had become even a proverb in America. As a traveller brings
from distant countries presents to his family and friends, he had
brought from France the value of a large sum of money in ornaments
for the soldiers, swords for the officers and under officers, and
banners~[3] for the battalions. This troop of chosen men, well exercised
and disciplined, although badly clothed, were easily recognised by
their red and black plumes, and had an excellent and a very pleasing
appearance. But, except the few things which M. de Lafayette himself
supplied, none of the things France had promised to send arrived: the
money she lent proved, however, of essential service to the army.

During that year, a conference took place at Hartford, in Connecticut,
between the French generals and General Washington, accompanied by
General Lafayette and General Knox; they resolved to send the American
Colonel Laurens, charged to solicit new succours, and above all, a
superiority of force in the navy. On their return from this conference,
the conspiracy of Arnold was discovered. General Washington would still
have found that general in his quarters; if chance, or rather the desire
of showing Lafayette the fort of West Point, constructed during his
absence, had not induced him to repair thither before proceeding to
Robinson's house, in which General Arnold then resided.~[4]

It is impossible to express too much respect or too deep regret for
Major André. The fourteen general officers who had the painful task of
Historians have rendered a detailed account of the treachery of Arnold.
When, at his own request, the command of West Point was confided to him,
he urged General Washington to inform him what means of information
he possessed at New York. He made the same request to Lafayette, who
accidentally had several upon his own account, and to the other officers
who commanded near the enemy's lines. All these generals fortunately
considered themselves bound by the promise of secrecy they had made,
especially as several of the correspondents acted from a feeling of
patriotism only. If Arnold had succeeded in discovering them,
those unfortunate persons would have been ruined, and all means of
communication cut off.

Arnold was very near receiving the letter of Lieutenant-Colonel Jameson
in the presence of the commander-in-chief: he had turned aside, with
Lafayette and Knox, to look at a redoubt; Hamilton pronouncing his
sentence, the commander-in-chief, and the whole American army; were
filled with sentiments of admiration and compassion for him. The conduct
of the English in a preceding circumstance had been far from, being
similar. Captain Hale, of Connecticut, a distinguished young man,
beloved by his family and friends, had been taken on Long Island, under
circumstances of the same kind as those that occasioned the death of
Major André; but, instead of being treated with the like respect, to
which Major André himself bore testimony, Captain Hale was insulted to
the last moment of his life. "This is a fine death for a soldier!" said
one of the English officers who were surrounding the cart of execution.
"Sir," replied Hale lifting up his cap, "there is no death which would
not be rendered noble in such a glorious cause." He calmly replaced
his cap, and the fatal cart moving on, he died with the most perfect

During the winter, there was a revolt in the Pennsylvanian line.
Lafayette was at Philadelphia; the congress, and the executive power of
the state, knowing his influence over the troops, induced him to proceed
thither with General Saint Clair. They were received by the troops with
marked respect, and they listened to their complaints, which were but
too well grounded. General Wayne was in the midst of them, and had
undertaken a negotiation in concert with the state of Pennsylvania.
Lafayette had only, therefore, to repair to head quarters. The
discontent of the Pennsylvanians was appeased by the measures of
conciliation which had been already begun; but the same kind of
revolt in a Jersey brigade was suppressed with more vigour by the
general-in-chief, who, setting out with some battalions of Lafayette's
light infantry, brought the mutineers to reason, and the generals,
no longer restrained by the interference of the civil authority,
re-established immediately that military discipline which was on the
point of being lost.~[6]

(1781.) General Arnold was at Portsmouth in Virginia; Washington formed
the project of combining with the French to attack him, and take the
garrison. Lafayette set out from the head quarters with twelve hundred
of the light infantry; he pretended to make an attack on Staten Island,
and marching rapidly by Philadelphia to Head-of-Elk, he embarked with
his men in some small boats, and arrived safely at Annapolis. He set out
from thence in a canoe, with some officers, and, in spite of the English
frigates that were stationed in the bay, he repaired to Williamsburg,
to assemble the militia, whilst his detachment was still waiting for
the escort which the French were to send him. Lafayette had already
blockaded Portsmouth, and driven back the enemy's picquets, when the
issue of the combat between Admiral Arbuthnot and M. Destouches, the
commander of the French squadron, left the English complete masters
of the Chesapeake. Lafayette could only then return to Annapolis, to
re-conduct his detachment to the camp. He found himself blockaded by
small English frigates, which were much too considerable in point of
force for his boats; but having placed cannon on some merchant ships,
and embarked troops in them, he, by that manoeuvre, made the English
frigates retreat, and taking advantage of a favourable wind, he reached
with his men the Head-of-Elk, where he received some very important
despatches from General Washington: The enemy's plan of campaign was
just at that time become known: Virginia was to be its object. General
Phillips had left New York with a corps of troops to reinforce Arnold.
The general wrote to Lafayette to go to the succour of Virginia.
The task was not an easy one; the men whom he commanded had engaged
themselves for a short expedition: they belonged to the northern states,
which still retained strong prejudices as to the unhealthiness of the
southern states; they had neither shirts nor shoes. Some Baltimore
merchants lent Lafayette, on his bill, two thousand guineas, which
sufficed to buy some linen. The ladies of Baltimore, whom he met with at
a ball given in his honour when he passed through the town, undertook
to make the shirts themselves. The young men of the same city formed
themselves into a company of volunteer dragoons. His corps were
beginning to desert. Lafayette issued an order, declaring that he was
setting out for a difficult and dangerous expedition; that he hoped that
the soldiers would not abandon him, but that whoever wished to go away
might do so instantly; and he sent away two soldiers who had just
been punished for some serious offences. From that hour all desertions
ceased, and not one man would leave him: this feeling was so strong,
that an under officer, who was prevented by a diseased leg from
following the detachment, hired, at his own expense, a cart, rather than
separate from it. This anecdote is honourable to the American troops,
and deserves to become publicly known.

Lafayette had conceived that the capital of Virginia would be the
principal object of the enemy's attack. Richmond was filled with
magazines; its pillage would have proved fatal to the cause. Lafayette
marched thither with such rapidity, that when General Phillips, arriving
before Richmond, learnt that Lafayette had arrived there the night
before, he would not believe it. Having ascertained, however, the truth
of the report, he dared not attack the heights of Richmond. Lafayette
had a convoy to send to the southern states; he reconnoitred Petersburg
carefully. This threatened attack assembled the English, and whilst the
removing of cannon, and other preparations for an assault, amused them,
the convoy was sent off rapidly with the munition and clothes which
General Greene required. After the death of General Phillips, who died
that same day, Arnold wrote, by a flag of truce, to Lafayette, who
refused to receive his letter. He sent for the English officer, and,
with many expressions of respect for the British army, told him that he
could not consent to hold any correspondence with its present general.
This refusal gave great pleasure to General Washington and the public,
and placed Arnold in an awkward situation with his own army.

Lord Cornwallis, on entering Virginia by Carolina, got rid of all his
equipage, and did the same also respecting the heavy baggage of the army
under his orders. Lafayette placed himself under the same regimen, and,
during the whole of that campaign, the two armies slept without any
shelter, and only carried absolute necessaries with them. Upon that
active and decisive conflict the issue of the war was to depend; for
if the English, who bore all the force of the campaign on that point,
became masters of Virginia, not only the army of Lafayette, but also
that of Greene, who drew from thence all his resources,--and not only
Virginia, but all the states south of the Chesapeake, would inevitably
be lost. Thus the letters of the commander-in-chief, whilst telling
Lafayette that he did not deceive himself as to the difficulties of the
undertaking, merely requested him to prolong as much as possible the
defence of the state. The result was far more successful than any person
had dared to hope, at a period when all eyes and all thoughts were
directed towards that one decisive point.

The military scene in Virginia was soon to become more interesting.
General Greene had marched to the right, to attack the posts of South
Carolina, whilst Lord Cornwallis was in North Carolina. Cornwallis
allowed him to depart, and, marching also to the right, burnt his
own equipage and tents, to be enabled to remove more easily; he then
advanced rapidly towards Petersburg, and made Virginia the principal
seat of war. General Washington wrote to Lafayette that he could
send him no other reinforcement than eight hundred of the mutinous
Pennsylvanians, who had been formed again into a corps on the side of
Lancaster. Lord Cornwallis had obtained, and generally by the aid of
negroes, the best horses in Virginia. His Tarleton front guard, mounted
on race horses, stopped, like birds of prey, all they met with. The
active corps of Cornwallis was composed of more than four thousand
men, of which eight hundred were supplied with horses. The command was
divided in the following manner: General Rochambeau remained at Rhode
Island with his French corps; Washington commanded in person the
American troops before New York; he summoned, some time after, the corps
of Rochambeau to join him. That French lieutenant-general was under his
orders the same as the American major-generals, for when Lafayette
asked for the succour of troops, he took care to stipulate, in the most
positive manner, that it was to be placed entirely under Washington's
orders. The Americans were to have the right side; the American officer,
when rank and age were equal, was to command the French officer.
Lafayette had wished to give the rising republic all the advantages
and all the consequence of the greatest and longest established powers.
Washington had sent, the preceding year, General Greene to command in
the southern states; Virginia was nominally comprised in that command,
and had not yet become the theatre of war, but the distance between
the operations of Carolina and those of Virginia was so great, and the
communications were so difficult, that it was impossible for Greene
to direct what was passing in Virginia. Lafayette took, therefore, the
chief command, corresponding in a direct manner with General Washington,
and occasionally with the congress. But he wished that Greene should
retain his title of supremacy, and he only sent to the head quarters
copies of General Greene's letters, who was his intimate friend, in the
same way that both he and Greene had always been on the most intimate
footing with General Washington. During the whole of this campaign
the most perfect harmony always subsisted between the generals, and
contributed much to the success of the enterprise.

Lafayette, after having saved the magazines of Richmond, hastened to
have them evacuated; he had taken his station at Osborn, and wrote to
General Washington that he would remain there, as long as his weakest
point, which was the left, should not be threatened with an attack. Lord
Cornwallis did not fail soon to perceive the weakness of that point, and
Lafayette retreated with his little corps, which, including recruits and
the militia, did not exceed two thousand five hundred men. The richest
young men of Virginia and Maryland had come to join him as volunteer
dragoons, and from their intelligence, as well as from the superiority
of their horses, they had been of essential service to him. The
Americans retreated in such a manner that the front guard of the enemy
arrived on the spot just as they had quitted it, and, without running
any risk themselves, they retarded as much as possible its progress.
Wayne was advancing with the reinforcement of Pennsylvanians. Lafayette
made all his calculations so as to be able to effect a junction with
that corps, without being prevented from covering the military magazines
of the southern states, which were at the foot of the mountains on the
height of Fluvana. But the Pennsylvanians had delayed their movements,
and Lafayette was thus obliged to make a choice. He went to rejoin his
reinforcement at Raccoon-Ford, and hastened, by forced marches, to
come into contact with Lord Cornwallis, who had had time to make one
detachment at Charlottesville, and another at the James River Fork.
The first had dispersed the Virginian assembly; the second had done
no material injury; but the principal blow was to be struck: Lord
Cornwallis was established in a good position, within one march of the
magazines, when Lafayette arrived close to him on a road leading towards
those magazines. It was necessary for him to pass before the English
army, presenting them his flank, and exposing himself to a certain
defeat: he fortunately found out a shorter road which had remained for a
long time undiscovered, which he repaired during the night; and the next
day, to the great surprise of the English general, he was established
in an impregnable station, between the English and the magazines, whose
loss must have occasioned that of the whole southern army, of whom they
were the sole resource; for there was a road behind the mountains
that the English never intercepted, and by which the wants of General
Greene's army were supplied. Lord Cornwallis, when he commenced the
pursuit of Lafayette, had written a letter, which was intercepted, in
which he made use of this expression: _The boy cannot escape me_. He
flattered himself with terminating, by that one blow, the war in the
whole southern part of the United States, for it would have been easy
for him afterwards to take possession of Baltimore, and march towards
Philadelphia. He beheld in this manner the failure of the principal part
of his plan, and retreated towards Richmond, whilst Lafayette, who had
been joined in his new station by a corps of riflemen, as well as by
some militia, received notice beforehand to proceed forward on a certain
day, and followed, step by step, the English general, without, however,
risking an engagement with a force so superior to his own. His corps
gradually increased. Lord Cornwallis thought proper to evacuate
Richmond; Lafayette followed him, and ordered Colonel Butler to attack
his rear guard near Williamsburg. Some manoeuvre took place on that
side, of which the principal object on Lafayette's part was, to convince
Lord Cornwallis that his force was more considerable than it was in
reality. The English evacuated Williamsburg, and passed over James River
to James Island. A warm action took place between the English army and
the advance guard, whom Lafayette had ordered to the attack whilst they
were crossing the river. Lord Cornwallis had stationed the first troops
on the other side, to give the appearance as if the greatest number
of the troops had already passed over the river. Although all were
unanimous in asserting that this was the case, Lafayette himself
suspected the deception, and quitted his detachment to make observations
upon a tongue of land, from whence he could more easily view the passage
of the enemy. During that time, a piece of cannon, exposed, doubtless,
intentionally, tempted General Wayne, a brave and very enterprising

Lafayette found, on his return, the advance guard engaged in action
with a very superior force; he withdrew it, however (after a short but
extremely warm conflict), in good order, and without receiving a check.
The report was spread that he had had a horse killed under him, but it
was merely the one that was led by his side.~[7]

The English army pursued its route to Portsmouth; it then returned by
water to take its station at Yorktown and Gloucester, upon the York
River. A garrison still remained at Portsmouth. Lafayette made some
demonstrations of attack, and that garrison united itself to the body of
the army at Yorktown.

Lafayette was extremely desirous that the English army should unite at
that very spot. Such had been the aim of all his movements, ever since
a slight increase of force had permitted him to think of any other thing
than of retiring without being destroyed and of saving the magazines.
He knew that a French fleet was to arrive from the islands upon the
American coast. His principal object had been to force Lord Cornwallis
to withdraw towards the sea-shore, and then entangle him in such a
manner in the rivers, that there should remain no possibility of a
retreat. The English, on the contrary, fancied themselves in a very
good position, as they were possessors of a sea-port by which they could
receive succours from New York, and communicate with the different
parts of the coast. An accidental, but a very fortunate circumstance,
increased their security. Whilst Lafayette, full of hope, was writing to
General Washington that he foresaw he could push Lord Cornwallis into a
situation in which it would be easy for him, with some assistance from
the navy, to cut off his retreat, the general, who had always thought
that Lafayette would be very fortunate if he could save Virginia without
being cut up himself, spoke to him of his project of attack against New
York, granting him permission to come and take part in it, if he wished
it, but representing how useful it was to the Virginian army that he
should remain at its head. The two letters passed each other; the one
written by Lafayette arrived safely, and Washington prepared beforehand
to take advantage of the situation of Lord Cornwallis. Gen. Washington's
letter was intercepted, and the English, upon seeing that confidential
communication, never doubted for a moment but the real intention of the
Americans was to attack New York: their own security at Yorktown was
therefore complete.~[8]

The Count de Grasse, however, arrived with a naval force, and three
thousand troops~[9] for the land service. He was met at the landing
place of Cape Henry by Colonel Gimat, a Frenchman by birth, commander of
the American battalion, who was charged with despatches from Lafayette;
which explained fully to the admiral his own military position, and that
of the enemy, and conjured him to sail immediately into the Chesapeake;
to drive the frigates into the James River, that the passage might be
kept clear; to blockade the York River; to send two vessels above the
position of Lord Cornwallis, before the batteries on the water-side,
at Yorktown and Gloucester could be put in a proper state. The Count de
Grasse adhered to these proposals, with the exception of not forcing the
batteries with two vessels, which manoeuvre would have made the blockade
of Cornwallis by the land troops still more easy of achievement. The
Marquis de St. Simon landed with three thousand men at James Island.
Lafayette assembled a small corps in the county of Gloucester, led,
himself, the American forces on Williamsburg, where he was met by the
corps of the Marquis de St. Simon, who came to range themselves under
his orders, so that Lord Cornwallis found himself suddenly, as if by
enchantment, blockaded both by sea and land. The combined army, under
the orders of Lafayette, was placed in an excellent situation at
Williamsburg. It was impossible to arrive there except by two difficult
and well-defended passages. Lord Cornwallis presented himself before
them in the hope of escaping, by making a forcible attack; but having
ascertained the impossibility of forcing them, he only occupied himself
with finishing speedily the fortifications of Yorktown; his hopes,
however, declined, when the Count de Grasse, having only left the ships
necessary for the blockade, and having gone out of the harbour to attack
Admiral Graves, forced the English to retire, and returned to his former
station in the bay. The French admiral was, however, impatient to return
to the islands; he wished that Yorktown should be taken by force of
arms. The Marquis de St. Simon was of the same opinion; they both
represented strongly to Lafayette that it was just, after such a long,
fatiguing, and fortunate campaign, that the glory of making Cornwallis
lay down his arms should belong to him who had reduced him to that
situation. The admiral offered to send to the attack not only the
garrisons from the ships, but all the sailors he should ask for.
Lafayette was deaf to this proposal, and answered, that General
Washington and the corps of General Rochambeau would soon arrive, and
that it was far better to hasten their movements than act without them;
and, by making a murderous attack, shed a great deal of blood from a
feeling of vanity and a selfish love of glory; that they were certain,
after the arrival of the succours, of taking the hostile army by a
regular attack, and thus spare the lives of the soldiers; which a good
general ought always to respect as much as possible, especially in a
country where it was so difficult to obtain others to replace those who
fell. General Washington and Count Rochambeau were the first to arrive;
they were soon followed by their troops; but, at the same moment,
the Admiral de Grasse wrote word that he was obliged to return to
the islands. The whole expedition seemed on the point of failing, and
General Washington begged Lafayette to go on board the admiral's ship in
the bay, and endeavour to persuade him to change his mind: he succeeded,
and the siege of Yorktown was begun. The Count de Rochambeau commanded
the French, including the corps of St. Simon; the Americans were divided
in two parts; one, under Major-general Lincoln, who had come from the
north with some troops; the other, under General Lafayette, who had been
joined by two more battalions of light infantry, under the orders of
Colonel Hamilton. It became necessary to attack two redoubts. One
of these attacks was confided to the Baron de Viomenil, the other to
General Lafayette. The former had expressed, in a somewhat boasting
manner, the idea he had of the superiority of the French in an attack
of that kind; Lafayette, a little offended, answered, "We are but young
soldiers, and we have but one sort of tactic on such occasions, which
is, to discharge our muskets, and push on straight with our bayonets."
He led on the American troops, of whom he gave the command to Colonel
Hamilton, with the Colonels Laurens and Gimat under him. The American
troops took the redoubt with the bayonet. As the firing was still
continued on the French side, Lafayette sent an aide-de-camp to the
Baron de Viomenil, to ask whether he did not require some succour from
the Americans;~[10] but the French were not long in taking possession
also of the other redoubt, and that success decided soon after the
capitulation of Lord Cornwallis, (19th October, 1781.) Nor must the
mention of an action be omitted here which was honourable to the
humanity of the Americans. The English had disgraced themselves
several times, and again recently at New London, by the murder of some
imprisoned garrisons. The detachment of Colonel Hamilton did not for an
instant make an ill use of their victory; as soon as the enemy deposed
their arms, they no longer received the slightest injury. Colonel
Hamilton distinguished himself very much in that attack.~[11]

Lord Cornwallis had demanded, in the capitulation, the permission
of marching out with drums beating and colours flying; the Count de
Rochambeau and the French officers were of opinion that this request
ought to be granted; the American generals did not oppose this idea;
Lafayette, recollecting that the same enemy had required General
Lincoln, at the capitulation of Charlestown, to furl the American
colours and not to play an English march, insisted strongly on using
the same measures with them in retaliation, and obtained that these
two precise conditions should be inserted in the capitulation. Lord
Cornwallis did not himself file out with the detachment. The Generals,
Washington, Rochambeau, and Lafayette, sent to present him their
compliments by their aides-de-camp. He retained Lafayette's
aide-de-camp, young George Washington, and told him that having made
this long campaign against General Lafayette, he wished, from the value
he annexed to that general's esteem, to give him a private account of
the motives which had obliged him to surrender. He told him several
things which have since been found in his discussion with General
Clinton. Lafayette went the next day to see him. "I know," said Lord
Cornwallis, "your humanity towards prisoners, and I recommend my poor
army to you." This recommendation was made in a tone which implied that
in Lafayette alone he felt real confidence, and placed but little in
the Americans. Lafayette therefore replied, "You know, my lord, that
the Americans have always been humane towards imprisoned armies;" in
allusion to the taking of General Burgoyne at Saratoga.~[12] The English
army was in fact treated with every possible mark of attention.

Although the French troops held in every respect the place of auxiliary
troops, yet the Americans always yielded them every preference in
their power relating to food or any other comfort. It is a singular
circumstance that when the troops of the~[13] the young general,
although a Frenchman, took upon himself to order that no flour should
be delivered to the American troops until the French had received their
full provision for three days. The Americans had therefore seldom any
thing but the flour of Indian corn. He gave the horses of the gentlemen
of that country to the French hussars, and the superior officers
themselves were obliged to give up theirs: yet not one murmur escaped
as to that preference, which the Americans felt ought to be shewn to
foreigners who came from such a distance to fight in their cause.~[14]

The news of the capture of Yorktown was carried to France by a French
frigate, who made the voyage in eighteen days. The English were thrown
into consternation at that news, which occasioned the downfall of the
ministry of Lord North. It was felt in London, as in the rest of all
Europe, that the decisive check the English had received, had completely
settled the final issue of the conflict, and from that period nothing
was thought of but to acknowledge the independence of the United States
on favourable terms for Great Britain.

Generals Washington and Lafayette wished to take advantage of the
superiority of the Count de Grasse in order to attack Charlestown, and
the English who remained in the southern states. Lafayette was to take
his light infantry, as well as the corps of St. Simon, and land on the
Charlestown side, to co-operate with General Greene, who still commanded
in Carolina. It is evident that this project would have been successful.
It has since become known that Lord Cornwallis, when he saw Lafayette
enter into a canoe to go on board the fleet of the Count de Grasse,
said to some English officers, "He is going to decide the loss of
Charlestown." But the admiral refused obstinately to make any operation
upon the coast of North America.~[15]

General Lafayette afterwards repaired to congress. To him, who was then
but four-and-twenty, the happy issue of that campaign was as flattering
a success as it had been decisive to the American cause. He received
the instructions of congress, in relation to the affairs of the United
States in Europe; and embarked at Boston in the frigate _the Alliance_.
He reached France in twenty-three days. The reception he met with, and
the credit he enjoyed both at court and in society were constantly and
usefully employed in the service of the cause he had embraced.


1. These Memoirs are extracted from the American Biography of M. de
Lafayette, written by himself, which we have designated under the name
of Manuscript, No. 1. We have completed them by extracts of Manuscript,
No. 2, which contains observations on the historians of America.

2. It was settled that that corps of six thousand men, commanded by
Lieutenant-General Rochambeau, was to be completely under the orders of
the American commander-in-chief, and was only to form a division of
his army. The order of service was regulated in such a manner that the
French were only to be looked upon as auxiliaries, keeping the left of
the American troops, and the command belonging, when there was equality,
of rank and age, to the American officers. In a word, the advantages to
be derived by the government, the general, and the American soldiers,
were stipulated beforehand in such a manner as to prevent all future
discussions. (Manuscript, No. 2.)

3. Upon one of these banners a cannon was painted, with this device:
_Ultima ratio_, suppressing the word _regum_, which is used in Europe;
upon another, a crown of laurel united to a civic crown, with the
device--_No other_. And thus with the other emblems.--(Note de M. de

4. West Point, a fort on a tongue of land which advances upon the
Hudson, and governs its whole navigation, is such an important position
that it is called by an historian the Gibraltar of America. Arnold had
been entrusted with its command, and his treachery, if it had proved
successful, and been even attended with no other result but that of
yielding up this fort to the enemy, would have inflicted a deadly wound
upon the cause of the United States. He had entered, during eighteen
months, into a secret relation with Sir Henry Clinton, who confided
the whole charge of that affair to an aide-de-camp, Major André. Arnold
failed at an appointment for the first interview with André the 11th
September, at Dobb's Ferry. A second one was proposed on board the sloop
of war the _Vulture_, which Clinton sent for that purpose, on the 16th,
to Teller's Point, about fifteen or twenty miles below West Point.
General Washington, who was repairing, with M. de Lafayette, to the
Hartford conference, crossed the Hudson the 18th, and saw Arnold, who
shewed him a letter from Colonel Robinson, on board the _Vulture_, which
stated that that officer requested a rendezvous with him to converse
upon some private affairs. Washington told him to refuse the rendezvous.
Arnold then made arrangements for a private interview. Major André
quitted New York, came on board the sloop, and from thence proceeded,
with a false passport, to Long Clove, where he saw Arnold, the night of
the 21st. They separated the next morning. André, on his return to New
York, was taken at Tarry Town, by three of the militia, and conducted to
the post of North Castle, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Jameson, who
gave notice of this event, on the 23d, to his superior officer, General
Arnold. The latter received the letter on the 25th, the same day on
which he expected General Washington on his return from Hartford. He
fled immediately; a few minutes after the general-in-chief arrived, and
he received, only four hours later, the despatches which apprised him
of the plot--(Washington's, Writings, vol. vii. Appendix No. 7.) and
Mac-Henry, lieutenant-colonels, the one aid-de-camp to Washington, the
other to Lafayette, had gone on before to request Mrs. Arnold not to
wait breakfast for them. They were still there, and Arnold with them,
when he received the note: he turned pale, retired to his own room, and
sent for his wife, who fainted. In that state he left her, without any
one perceiving it: he did not return into the drawing room, but got
upon his aide-de-camp's horse, which was ready saddled at the door, and
desiring him to inform the general that he would wait for him at West
Point, hurried to the bank of the river, got into his canoe, and was
rowed to the _Vulture_. The general, when he learnt on his arrival that
Arnold was at West Point, fancied that he had gone to prepare for his
reception there, and without entering into the house, stepped into a
boat with the two generals who accompanied him. When they arrived at the
opposite shore, they were astonished at finding they were not expected:
the mystery was only explained on their return, because the despatches
of Lieutenant-Colonel Jameson had arrived in the interim.

An historian has spoken of the generosity with which Mrs. Arnold was
treated. It is, in truth, highly honourable to the American character
that, during the first effervescence of indignation against her husband,
she was able to go to Philadelphia, take her effects, and proceed with
a flag of truce to New York, without meeting with the slightest insult.
The same historian (Mr. Marshall) might have added that, the very
evening of Arnold's evasion, the general, having received from him a
very insolent letter, dated on board the _Vulture_, ordered one of his
aides-de-camp to tell Mrs. Arnold, who was in an agony of terror, that
he had done everything he could to seize her husband, but that, not
having been able to do so, he felt pleasure in informing her that her
husband was safe.~[5]

5. General Arnold is the only American officer who ever thought of
making use of his command to increase the fortune. The disinterestedness
of those soldiers, during a period of revolution, which facilitates
abuses, forms a singular contrast with the reproach of avidity that
other governments, who have not shown the same moderation themselves,
have thought proper to make against the citizens of the United States.
The generals and American officers have almost all of them fought at
their own expense; the affairs of many of them have been ruined by their
absence. Those who had professions lost the power of exercising them.
It has been proved, by accounts exacted in France during times of
terror and proscription, that Lafayette had spent in the service of the
American revolution, independent of his income, more than seven hundred
thousand francs of his capital. The conduct of Washington was even
more simple, and according to our opinion, more praiseworthy: he would
neither accept the profit of emolument, nor the pride of sacrifice;
he was paid for all necessary expenses, and, without increasing his
fortune, only lessened it, from the injury it unavoidably received from
his absence. Whilst all the American officers conducted themselves with
the most patriotic disinterestedness, and all the pretensions of the
army were satisfied with the compensation of seven years pay, we can
only quote the single example of the traitor Arnold, who endeavoured to
draw the slightest pecuniary advantage from circumstances. Some grants
of lands have been made by the southern states to Generals Greene and
Wayne, and Colonel Washington, but only since the revolution. The shares
of the Potomac, given also since the revolution to General Washington,
were left by him in his will for the foundation of a college: in a word,
we may affirm, that delicacy and disinterestedness have been universal
in the American army. (Note of M. de Lafayette.)

6. The writings of that period give an account of the revolt of the
soldiers of Pennsvlvania; the complaints of most of them were well
founded. When General Saint Clair, Lafayette, and Laurens, repairing
from Philadelphia to head quarters, stopped at Princetown, as they had
been desired to do by the council of state of Pennsylvania, they found a
negotiation begun by General Wayne, and Colonels Stewart and Butler, who
were all three much beloved by the Pennsylvanian soldiers; committees
arrived from the congress and state, to arrange the affair, not in
a military, but in a civil manner: they remained but a few hours at
Princetown, and the business was soon settled in the same manner in
which it was commenced. But when the soldiers of the Jersey line wished
to imitate the revolt of the Pennsylvanians, General Washington stifled
it in its birth by vigorous measures. But it should be added that the
sufferings and disappointments of that brave and virtuous army were
sufficient to weary the patience of any human being: the conduct of
the continental troops, during the revolution, has been, in truth, most

7. Mr. Marshall relates the affair of Jamestown. There were no militia
present, except the riflemen, who were placed in advance in the wood.
They threw down successively three commandants of the advance post,
placed there by Cornwallis, that what was passing behind might not be
seen. This obstinacy in covering the position excited the suspicion of
Lafayette, in spite of the unanimous opinion that a rear guard was alone
remaining there. As soon as he saw, from the projecting tongue of land,
that those who had crossed over were placed in such a manner as to
appear numerous, he returned with all possible haste; but General Wayne
had yielded to the temptation. He fortunately perceived his error,
and being a good and brave officer, came forward with much gallantry;
fortunately, also, Lafayette had only placed the Pennsylvanians in
advance, and had left the light infantry in a situation to offer them
some assistance. The first half of his continental troops retired upon
the other half, and the whole were placed in such a manner that Lord
Cornwallis feared an ambuscade, and the more so, observes Mr. Marshall,
as he had always been deceived as to the real force of Lafayette's
army.--(Manuscript, No. 2.)

8. James Moody rendered an ill service to those who employed him, by
seizing the letter-bag in the Jerseys. Among the letters, those in which
General Washington informed Lafayette of the project respecting New
York, contained friendly and confidential communications, written in
the General's own hand, which could not leave the slightest doubt in
any person's mind: they may be found in the publications of the Generals
Clinton and Cornwallis, which contain also Lafayette's intercepted
letters. But the enemy did not take those in which General Lafayette
gave an account to General Washington of his manoeuvres, of his hopes,
and of all that determined the commander-in-chief to adopt the project
on Virginia, nor Washington's answers to that effect; so that when
the combined troops made their first march towards the south, General
Clinton still remained deceived, owing to the singular chance of the
capture of the letter-bag by Moody.--(Manuscript, No. 2.)

9. The entreaties of Count de Rochambeau contributed much towards
persuading the Count de Grasse to bring his whole fleet, to land there
the three thousand two hundred men, who joined, on their arrival, the
army of Lafayette, and to repair immediately to Cape Henry, in Virginia.
This is one more obligation which the common cause of the allies owes to
General Rochambeau, who, from his talents, experience, moderation, and
his subordination to the general-in-chief, respect for the civil power,
and maintenance of discipline, proved that the King of France had made
an excellent choice for the command of the auxiliary corps sent to the
United States. (Note of M. de Lafayette.)

10. The French were much struck on this occasion by the extreme coolness
of one of the officers whom Lafayette sent to the Baron de Viomenil,
from a secret feeling of pleasure, perhaps, in marking how much the
present comparison stood in favour of the American troops. However this
might be, Major Barber received a contusion in his side, but would
not allow his wound to be dressed until he had executed his
commission.--(Manuscript, No. 2.)

11. The humanity of the American soldiers in that assault has been
attested by all historians. The following letter must be quoted:--


_New York, August_ 10, 1802.

Sir,--Finding that a story, long since propagated, under circumstances
which it was expected would soon consign it to oblivion, (and by which
I have been complimented at the expense of Generals Washington and
Lafayette,) has of late been revived, and has acquired a degree of
importance by being repeated in different publications, as well in
Europe as America, it becomes a duty to counteract its currency and
influence by an explicit disavowal.

The story imports, in substance, that General Lafayette, with the
approbation or connivance of General Washington, ordered me, as the
officer who was to command the attack on a British redoubt, in the
course of the siege of Yorktown, to put to death all those of the enemy
who should happen to be taken in the redoubt, and that, through motives
of humanity, I forbore to execute the order.

Positively, and unequivocally, I declare, that no such order or similar
order, was ever by me received, or understood to have been given, nor
any intimation or hint resembling it.

It is needless to enter into an explanation of some occurrences on the
occasion alluded to, which may be conjectured to have given rise to the
calumny. It is enough to say, that they were entirely disconnected with
any act of either of the generals who have been accused.

With esteem, I am, sir, your most obedient servant,


The circumstance alluded to in this letter has been related in the Life
of Hamilton, published by his son. A short time before the taking
of Yorktown, a Colonel Scammell, surprised by the English whilst
reconnoitring, had been taken prisoner and dangerously wounded. When the
redoubt was taken, and Colonel Campbell, who commanded, advanced to give
himself up, a captain, who had served under Scammell, seized a bayonet,
and was on the point of striking him; Hamilton turned aside the blow,
and Campbell exclaimed, "I place myself under your protection," and was
made prisoner by Laurens. (The Life of A. Hamilton, vol. i., chap. 14.)

12. Lord Cornwallis affected being indisposed, in order that he might
not march out at the head of his troops: they passed between two rows
of the American and French army, commanded by General O'Hara, and
surrendered their arms at the order of General Lincoln. Each of the
generals, Washington, Rochambeau, and Lafayette, sent as aide-de-camp
to offer their compliments to Lord Cornwallis. He retained Lafayette's
aide-de-camp, Major Washington, the nephew of General Washington, to
tell him how anxious he was that the general against whom he had made
this campaign should be convinced that he only surrendered from the
impossibility of defending himself any longer. The American, French, and
English generals visited each other, and everything passed with every
possible mark of attention, especially towards Lord Cornwallis, one
of the most estimable men of England, who was considered their best
general. O'Hara having said one day, at table, to the French generals,
affecting not to wish to be overheard by Lafayette, that he considered
it as fortunate not to have been taken by the Americans alone, "General
O'Hara, probably," replied Lafayette, "does not like repetitions." He
had, in, fact, been taken with Burgoyne, and has since been taken for
the third time at Toulon.--(Manuscript, No. 2.)

13. Marqius de St. Simon joined those of Lafayette.

14. See at the end of the volume a precise account of this whole
campaign in Virginia, edited by M. de Lafayette--(Part, No. 1.)

15. General Lafayette was to have taken two thousand Americans and
St. Simon's corps, who, landing near Charlestown, on the sea side, and
co-operating with the troops of General Greene, would have secured the
capture of the capital of Carolina, and of all the English who were
remaining south of New York. Lowering their demands, they then requested
that Lafayette should take the five thousand men who were at Wilmington,
and who were so much struck by the dangers they had encountered, that
they did not retain that post. At length, they contented themselves with
asking the admiral to conduct General Wayne and his detachment, which
were sent to reinforce Greene's army. He would not do so. It has also
since become known, that when Lafayette, returning from his last visit
to the admiral, landed at Yorktown, Lord Cornwallis, who was still
there, said to his officers, "I lay a bet that he has been making
arrangements for our ruin at Charlestown." The English acknowledged that
the expedition could not fail; but the Count de Grasse did not think he
ought to lose more time upon the North American coast, before returning
to the defence of the West Indies.--(Manuscript, No. 2.)




Paris, 24th February, 1779.

SIR,--A desire to render an exact obedience to the orders of the king,
impels me to take the liberty of importuning you to let me know what is
my duty. The prohibition which the Marshal de Noailles has put upon
me, makes no exception as to one, whom I do not think, nevertheless,
I should be forbidden to visit. Dr. Franklin was to have met me at
Versailles this morning, if I had been there, to communicate to me some
affairs of importance, as he said. I have informed him of the cause
that detained me at Paris; but I did not think I ought to refuse an
interview, which might not be wholly useless to the king's interests. He
is coming to-morrow morning, and I trust you will add to your kindnesses
that of directing me how to conduct myself in this matter.

Suffer me, sir, to inform you that I have heard many persons speak of an
expedition, somewhat resembling the one proposed by congress. I flatter
myself I am too well known by you to have it suspected of me, that any
tie of kindred or friendship could make me forget the profound secrecy
which is due to affairs of state. I have added to nature some acquired
skill in this particular. My sole reason for mentioning the subject,
therefore, is to add, that the indiscretion of some of the members of
congress, and the number of officers returning from America, will always
spread rumours, which it will be impossible to suppress. Truth cannot
remain hidden but by being buried in a mass of false reports. Hence,
caution is necessary in order to preserve our secrets from all the
inconveniences to which they are subject in America, both from the form
of the government and from the character of some of those at the head of
affairs. I have the honour to be, with profound respect, &c.


1. During this period of three years, we do not find, as in the
preceding years, a great number of family letters and those of
friendship. We have inserted all those we have been able to discover.
In amends, more than two hundred political, diplomatic, or military
letters, are in our hands. We do not publish a third of them, although
there are few that would not be interesting to the historian of the
American revolution. We again repeat, that all the letters to Americans,
or from Americans, were written originally in English.



Camp, at Middlebrook, 8th March, 1779.

My Dear Marquis,--I am mortified exceedingly, that my letter from
Philadelphia, with the several enclosures, did not reach Boston before
your departure, from that port. It was written as soon as congress had
come to a decision upon the several matters, which became the subject of
the president's letter to you, and was committed for conveyance to the
messenger, who was charged with his despatches to that place.

Monsieur la Colombe did me the honour of delivering to me your favours,
and will probably be the bearer of my thanks for the affectionate manner
in which you have expressed your sentiments in your last adieu, than
which nothing can be more flattering and pleasing; nor is there anything
more wished for by me, than opportunities of giving substantial proofs
of the sincerity of my attachment and affection.

Nothing of importance has happened since you left us, except the enemy's
invasion at Georgia, and possession of its capital; which, though it
may add something to their supplies, on the score of provisions, will
contribute very little to the brilliancy of their arms, for, like the
defenceless island of St. Lucia, it only required the appearance of
force to effect the conquest of it, as the whole militia of the state
did not exceed twelve hundred men, and many of them disaffected. General
Lincoln is assembling a force to dispossess them, and my only fear is,
that he will precipitate the attempt before he is fully prepared for the
execution. In New York and at Rhode Island, the enemy continued quiet
till the 25th ultimo, when an attempt was made by them to surprise
the post at Elizabethtown; but failing therein, and finding themselves
closely pressed, and in danger from detachments advancing towards them
from this army, they retreated precipitately through a marsh, waist-deep
in mud, after abandoning all their plunder; but not before they had,
according to their wonted custom, set fire to two or three houses.
The regiment of Anspach, and some other troops, are brought from Rhode
Island to New York.

We are happy in the repeated assurances and proofs of the friendship
of our great and good ally, whom we hope and trust, ere this, may be
congratulated on the birth of a prince, and on the joy which the
nation must derive from an instance of royal felicity. We also flatter
ourselves, that before this period the kings of Spain and the two
Sicilies may be greeted as allies of the United States; and we are not a
little pleased to find, from good authority, that the solicitations and
offers of the Court of Great Britain to the Empress of Russia have been
rejected; nor are we to be displeased, that overtures from the city of
Amsterdam, for entering into a commercial connexion with us, have been
made in such open and pointed terms. Such favourable sentiments, in so
many powerful princes and states, cannot but be considered in a very
honourable, interesting, and pleasing point of view, by all those who
have struggled with difficulties and misfortunes to maintain the rights,
and secure the liberties, of their country. But, notwithstanding these
flattering appearances, the British King and his ministers continue to
threaten us with war and desolation. A few months, however, must decide
whether these or peace is to take place. For both we will prepare; and,
should the former be continued, I shall not despair of sharing fresh
toils and dangers with you in America; but if the latter succeeds, I can
entertain little hopes, that the rural amusements of an infant world, or
the contracted stage of an American theatre, can withdraw your attention
and services from the gaieties of a court, and the active part you will
more than probably be called upon to share in the administration of your
government. The soldier will then be transformed into the statesman,
and your employment in this new walk of life will afford you no time to
revisit this continent, or think of friends who lament your absence.

The American troops are again in huts; but in a more agreeable and
fertile country, than they were in last winter at Valley Forge; and they
are better clad and more healthy, than they have ever been since the
formation of the army. Mrs. Washington is now with me, and makes a
cordial tender of her regards to you; and if those of strangers can be
offered with propriety, and will be acceptable, we respectively wish to
have them conveyed to your amiable lady. We hope and trust, that your
passage has been short, agreeable, and safe, and that you are as happy
as the smiles of a gracious Prince, beloved wife, warm friends, and high
expectations, can make you. I have now complied with your request in
writing you a long letter, and I shall only add, that, with the purest
sentiments of attachment, and the warmest friendship and regard, I am,
my dear Marquis, your most affectionate and obliged, &c.

P. S. Harrison and Meade are in Virginia. All the other officers of my
staff unite most cordially in offering you their sincere compliments.

10th March, 1779.--I have this moment received the letters which were
in the hands of Major Nevill, accompanying yours of the 7th and 11th of
January. The Major himself has not yet arrived at head quarters, being,
as I am told, very sick. I must again thank you, my dear friend, for the
numerous sentiments of affection which breathe so conspicuously in your
last farewell, and to assure you that I shall always retain a warm and
grateful remembrance of it. Major Nevill shall have my consent to repair
to France, if his health permits it, and if the sanction of congress can
be obtained, to whom all applications of officers for leave to go out of
the United States are referred.


1. We believe this letter never reached M. de Lafayette.


Paris, April 1st, 1779.

Sir,--From what M. de Sartine said to me, I requested M. de Chaumont
yesterday to send for Captain Jones, and although the place of his
present residence be unknown, our messenger will do all that can be done
to bring him immediately to us. I gave him an urgent letter for Jones,
and as Dr. Franklin was not at home, I left one also for him, in which
I expressed our desire to see the captain, rather as if to consult him,
than as if we had formed any definite project. The time I passed with M.
de Chaumont enabled me to discover what I shall now have the honour of
relating to you.~[1]

The armament of the _Bonhomme Richard_ (the vessel of fifty guns)
goes on as slowly as possible. The refusal to supply what is wanted,
especially guns, from the king's magazines, will retard the expedition
for a whole month, because it will be the same for all the other ships.
The only way to obviate this delay, would be to charge one man with the
whole armament, and to send him to the ports with orders to get all that
was necessary.

I have discovered that Jones had a little plan for an enterprise formed
under the direction of M. Garnier, and in which M. de Chaumont has taken
part. The manner in which M. de Sartine brought him to us, was by making
M. de Chaumont a half confidant, (the most dangerous of all things,
because it gives information without binding to secrecy,) and I think
it would be now better to communicate the secret of the armament without
betraying that of the expedition, and desire him to employ all his
activity in completing it. The other person need not, in that case, take
any part in it, and according to the orders received from M. de Sartine,
it appeared to me, from what M. de Chaumont said, that the _Bonhomme
Richard_, and other vessels, if required, might be in readiness before
the expiration of three weeks.

I intend to have the honour of paying my respects to you after dinner on
Saturday. If you approve of my idea, M. de Chaumont, or any other person
you may prefer, might be summoned at the same time; for by the
ordinary method this business will never be achieved. I hope that,
in, consequence of my aversion to delays in military affairs, you will
pardon the importunity which my confidence in you has inspired, in
favour of a project of which you feel the importance.

I have the honour to be, with the most sincere respect and affection,

Permit me to confide to you, also, under the same secrecy, my fears that
orders have not yet been sent to all the ports.


1. In the previous recital a few words have been said relating to this
armament. Two frigates, bearing the American colours, were to have
been placed under the orders of Paul Jones, and M. de Lafayette was to
command the small army intended to descend unexpectedly upon the
western coast of England, and to ransack Bristol, Liverpool, and other
commercial towns, for the advantage of the American finances. But
this expedition was soon considered below the position in which M. de
Lafayette was placed, and was abandoned for the plan of a descent on
England, which was to be executed by the combined forces of France and
Spain. The slowness of the latter power occasioned, at a later period,
the failure of the project; and the only result it produced was Paul
Jones's expedition, and the conflict between the _Bonhomme Richard_
and the _Serapis_. See farther on the first letters to congress and to
Washington. In a collection of Franklin's private letters, there is also
found a letter relating to this affair, and the note written by M.
de Lafayette to Paul Jones when the expedition was abandoned. (_A
Collection of the Familiar Letters and Miscellaneous Papers_ of B.
Franklin, Boston, 1833. Washington's writings, Vol. vi., Appendix viii.)


Paris, April 26th, 1779.

Sir,--Allow me the honour of proposing to you a plan, the success
of which, uncertain as it now is, will depend perhaps upon your
approbation. As your means of attack or defence depend on our maritime
force, would it not be doing a service to the common cause to increase
for a time that of our allies? To purchase vessels would be too
expensive for a nation so destitute of money; it would answer all
purposes to hire them, and would enable, us to make such diversions, or
to undertake such operations, as might be deemed necessary.

Do you not think, sir, if the King of Sweden would lend to America four
ships of the line, with the half of their crews, and the United States
would engage to return them within a year upon certain conditions, that
the step would be advantageous for us? The vessels might come to us
under the Swedish flag. France need not be implicated at all. We could
supply them in part, provide them with officers in blue, and send them
out under the American flag. It would only be necessary to know, whether
France would engage to be responsible for the sum requisite for the
hire, and would help to complete the equipment. Even if the first part
should meet with obstacles, the government might pledge itself only in
case it should exceed my fortune.

I have not as yet spoken to Dr. Franklin about the scheme, but I have
sounded the Swedish ambassador on the subject, much to my satisfaction;
he asked me for a letter, directed to him, which might be sent to
his king; and since I saw that this important project might result in
something advantageous, I was constrained to confide it to you, and ask
your opinion. The Swedish ambassador states that the vessels may be here
in two months and a half; consequently, including the rest of the fleet,
the whole might be at sea in the month of August; and arrive at Rhode
Island, Bermuda, or somewhere else in America, in the month of October,
which would be a good season.

It will be necessary for Dr. Franklin to send a trustworthy man, or,
what would be better, for you to send one, upon whom he might depend.
The proposed engagement requires some promise, and especially some
hopes, of commerce, that would diminish the expense which must be
incurred. Inform me, sir, I pray you, whether this little romantic
scheme offers any difficulties, and whether I am to prosecute or resign
my proposition.

I am, &c.

If, whilst we are arranging the negotiation with Sweden, the
contributions of England should yield us anything, I might then recal to
your attention a favourite project of mine.



St. Jean d'Angely, near Rochfort, June 12, 1779.

Sir,--How happy I shall think myself whenever a safe opportunity of
writing to congress is offered, I cannot in any way better express than
in reminding them of that unbounded affection and gratitude which I
shall ever feel for them. So deeply are those sentiments engraven on
my heart, that I every day lament the distance which separates me from
them, and that nothing was ever so warmly and passionately wished for,
as to return again to that country of which I shall ever consider myself
as a citizen; there is no pleasure to be enjoyed which could equal this,
of finding myself among that free and liberal nation, by whose affection
and confidence I am so highly honoured; to fight again with those
brother soldiers of mine to whom I am so much indebted. But congress
knows that former plans have been altered by themselves, that others
have been thought impossible, as they were asked too late in the

I will therefore make use of the leave of absence they were pleased to
grant me, and serve the common cause among my countrymen, their allies,
until happy circumstances may conduct me to the American shores, in such
a way as would make that return more useful to the United States. The
affairs of America I shall ever look upon as any first business whilst I
am in Europe. Any confidence from the king and ministers, any popularity
I may have among my own countrymen, any means in my power, shall be, to
the best of my skill, and till the end of my life, exerted in behalf of
an interest I have so much at heart. What I have hitherto done or said
relating to America, I think needless to mention, as my ardent zeal for
her is, I hope, well known to congress; but I wish to let them know
that if, in my proposals, and in my repeated urgent representation for
getting ships, money, and support of any kind, I have not always found
the ministry so much in earnest as I was myself, they only opposed to me
_natural fears_ of inconveniences which might arise to both countries,
or the conviction that such a thing was impossible for the present;
but I never could question their good will towards America. If congress
believe that my influence may serve them, in any way, I beg they will
direct such orders to me, that I may the more certainly and properly
employ the knowledge I have of this court and country for obtaining a
success in which my heart is so much interested.

His excellency, Doctor Franklin, will, no doubt, inform you, sir, of
the situation of Europe, and the respective state of our affairs. The
Chevalier de la Luzerne will also add thereto the intelligence which
will be intrusted to him at the time of his departure. By the doctor
you will learn what has been said or thought on account of finances.
Germany, Prussia, Turkey, and Russia, have made such a peace as the
French have desired. All the northern kingdoms, the Dutch themselves,
seem rather disgusted with English pride and vexations; they put
themselves in a situation to protect their trade of every kind with
France. Irish intelligence you will be fully and particularly acquainted
of. What concerns Spain will also be laid before you; so that I have
nothing to add but to tell you that our affairs seem going very fast
towards a speedy and honourable end. England is now making her last
effort, and I hope that a great stroke will, before long, abate their
fantastic, swollen appearance, and shew the narrow bounds of their
actual power.

Since we have taken Senegal I don't know of any military event which
I can mention. There has been a privateering expedition against Jersey
Island, which has been stopped by the difficulty of getting ashore. That
little attempt, made by some few private volunteers, England honoured
with the name of a public French expedition, and very unwisely employed
there Admiral Arbuthnot, which will interpose a great delay to his
reported departure. Congress will hear of an expedition against our
friends of Liverpool and other parts of the English coast; to show
there French troops under American colours, which on account of raising
contributions, my concern for American finances had at length brought
into my head. But the plan was afterwards reduced to so small a scale
that they thought the command would not suit me, and the expedition
itself has been delayed until more important operations take place.
There I hope to be employed, and if anything important should be the
matter, I shall, as a faithful American officer, give an accurate
account thereof to congress and General Washington.

The so flattering affection which congress and the American nation are
pleased to honour me with, makes me very desirous of letting them know,
if I dare speak so friendly, how I enjoyed my private situation. Happy,
in the sight of my friends and family, after I was, by your attentive
goodness, safely brought again to my native shore, I met there with such
an honourable reception, with such kind sentiments, as by far exceeded
any wishes I durst have conceived; I am indebted for that inexpressible
satisfaction which the good will of my countrymen towards me affords to
my heart, to their ardent love for America, to the cause of freedom and
its defenders, their new allies, and to the idea they entertain that
I have had the happiness to serve the United States. To these motives,
sir, and to the letter congress was pleased to write on my account, I
owe the many favours the king has conferred upon me; there was no time
lost in appointing me to the command of his own regiment of dragoons,
and every thing he could have done, every thing I could have wished, I
have received on account of your kind recommendations.

I have been some days in this small town, near Rochefort harbour, where
I have joined the king's regiment, and where other troops are stationed
which I for the moment command; but I hope to leave this place before
long, in order to play a more active part and come nearer the common
enemy. Before my departure from Paris I sent to the minister of foreign
affairs, (who, by the bye; is one of our best friends,) intelligence
concerning a loan in Holland, which I want France to make or answer for
in behalf of America; but I have not yet heard any thing on that head.
M. le Chevalier de la Luzerne will give you more explicit and fresher
news, as he is particularly ordered to do so, and he sets out directly
from Versailles. That new minister plenipotentiary I beg leave to
recommend most earnestly to congress, not only as a public man, but also
as a private gentleman. From the acquaintance I have made with him, I
conceive he is a sensible, modest, well-meaning man; a man truly worthy
of enjoying the spectacle of American freedom. I hope that by his good
qualities and his talents, he will obtain both public confidence and
private friendship.

Wherever the interests of beloved friends are seriously concerned,
candid and warm affection knows not how to calculate, and throws away
all considerations. I will frankly tell you, sir, that nothing can more
effectually hurt our interests, consequence, and reputation, in Europe,
than to hear of disputes or divisions between the whigs. Nothing could
urge my touching upon this delicate matter but the unhappy experience of
every day on that head, since I can hear, myself, what is said on this
side of the Atlantic, and the arguments I have to combat with.

Let me, sir, finish this long letter, by begging you will present once
more to the congress of the United States, the tribute of an unbounded
zeal and affection, of the highest respect and most sincere gratitude,
with which I shall be animated, till the last moment of my life.

With the most, &c.


1. This relates to the project of an expedition to Canada, and other
plans of the same kind.



St. Jean d'Angély, near Rochefort harbour, June 12,1779.

My Dear General,--Here is at length a safe opportunity of writing to
you, and I may tell you what sincere concern I feel at our separation.
There never was a friend, my dear general, so much, so tenderly beloved,
as I love and respect you: happy in our union, in the pleasure of living
near to you, in the pleasing satisfaction of partaking every sentiment
of your heart, every event of your life, I have taken such a habit of
being inseparable from you, that I cannot now accustom myself to your
absence, and I am more and more afflicted at that enormous distance
which keeps me so far from my dearest friend. I am the more concerned
at this particular time, my dear general, as I think the campaign is
opened, you are in the field, and I ardently wish I might be near you;
and, if possible, contribute to your success and glory. Forgive me
for what I am going to say, but I cannot help reminding you that a
commander-in-chief should never expose himself too much; that in case
General Washington was killed, nay, even seriously wounded, there is no
officer in the army who could fill his place, every battle would most
certainly be lost, and the American army, the American cause itself,
would, perhaps, be entirely ruined.

Inclosed I send your excellency a copy of my letter to congress, in
which you will find such intelligence as I was able to give them. The
Chevalier de la Luzerne intends going to congress by passing through
head quarters. I promised I would introduce him to your excellency,
and I have requested him to let you know of any news he may have been
entrusted with. Such a conversation will better acquaint you than the
longest letter. The ministry told me they would let him know the true
state of affairs before his departure. By what you will hear, my dear
general, you will see that our affairs take a good turn, and I hope
England will receive a good stroke before the end of the campaign.
Besides the good dispositions of Spain, Ireland is a good deal tired
of English tyranny. I, _in confidence_, tell you that the scheme of my
heart would be to make her as free and independent as America. I have
formed some private relations there. God grant that we may succeed,
and the era of freedom at length arrive for the happiness of mankind.
I shall know more about Ireland in a few weeks, and then I will
immediately communicate with your excellency. As to congress, my dear
general, it is too numerous a body for one safely to unbosom oneself, as
with one's best friend.

In referring you to M. le Chevalier de la Luzerne, for what concerns
the public news of this time, the present situation of affairs, and the
designs of our ministry, I will only speak to your excellency about that
great article, money. It gave me much trouble, and I insisted upon it so
much, that the director of finances looks upon me as a devil. France has
met great expenses lately; those Spaniards will not give their dollars
easily. However, Dr. Franklin has got some money to pay the bills of
congress, and I hope I shall determine them to greater sacrifices.
Serving America, my dear general, is to my heart an inexpressible

There is another point for which you should employ all your influence
and popularity. For God's sake prevent their loudly disputing together.
Nothing hurts so much the interest and reputation of America, as to hear
of their intestine quarrels. On the other hand there are two parties in
France: MM. Adams and Lee on one part, Doctor Franklin and his friends
on the other. So great is the concern which these divisions give me,
that I cannot wait on these, gentlemen as much as I could wish, for fear
of occasioning disputes and bringing them to a greater collision. That,
my dear general, I intrust to your friendship, but I could not help
touching upon that string in my letter to congress. Since I left
America, my dear General, not a single line has arrived from you;~[1]
this I attribute to winds, accidents, and deficiency of opportunities
for I dare flatter myself General Washington would not lose that of
making his friend happy. In the name of that very friendship, my dear
general, never miss any opportunity of letting me know how you do. I
cannot express to you how uneasy I feel on account of your health, and
the dangers you are, perhaps at this moment, exposing yourself to. These
you may possibly laugh at, and call womanlike considerations; but so,
my dear friend, I feel, and I never could conceal the sentiments of my

I don't know what has become of Colonel Nevill and the Chevalier de
la Colombe. I beg you will make some inquiries respecting them, and do
every thing in your power for their speedy exchange, in case they have
been taken. Inclosed I send you a small note for Mr. Nevill. Give me
leave to recommend to your excellency our new plenipotentiary minister,
who seems to me extremely well calculated for deserving general esteem
and affection.

I know, my dear general, you wish to hear something about my private
affairs: these I give an account of to congress, and shall only add that
I am here as happy as possible. My family, my friends, my countrymen,
made me such a reception, and shewed me every day such an affection,
as I should not have dared to hope. I have been for some days in this
place, where there is the king's own regiment of dragoons, which I
command, and some regiments of infantry, which are, for the present,
under my orders; but I hope soon to begin a more active life, and in
consequence thereof my return to Paris is, I believe, very near at hand;
from thence I shall get employed in whatever may be done against the
common enemy. What I wish, my dear general, what would make me the
happiest of men, is to join again American colours, or to put under your
orders a division of four or five thousand countrymen of mine. In case
any such co-operation or private expedition should be desired, I think
(if peace is not settled this winter) that an _early_ demand might be
complied with for the next campaign.

Our ministry is rather slow in their operations, and have a great
propensity for peace, provided it be an honourable one, so that I think
America must shew herself in good earnest for war till such conditions
are obtained. American independence is a certain, undoubted point, but I
wish to see that independence acknowledged with advantageous conditions.
This, my dear general, is between us; as for what concerns the good will
of the king, of the ministers, of the public, towards America, I, an
American citizen, am fully satisfied with it; and I am sure the alliance
and friendship between both nations will be established in such a way as
will last for ever.

Be so kind, my dear general, as to present my best respects to your
lady, and tell her how happy I should feel to present them myself to her
at her own house. I have a wife, my dear general, who is in love with
you, and her affection for you seems to me to be so well justified that
I cannot oppose myself to that sentiment of hers. She begs you will
receive her compliments and make them acceptable to Mrs. Washington.
I hope, my dear general, you will come to see us in Europe, and most
certainly I give you my word that if I am not happy enough to be sent to
America before the peace, I shall by all means go there as soon as I can
escape. I must not forget to tell you, my dear friend, that I have the
hope of being soon once more a father.

All Europe wants to see you so much, my dear general, that you cannot
refuse them that pleasure. I have boldly affirmed that you will pay me a
visit after the peace is settled, so that if you deny me, you will hurt
your friend's reputation throughout the world.

I beg you will present my best compliments to your family, and remind
them of my tender affection for them all. Be so kind, also, to present
my compliments to the general officers, to all the officers of the army,
to every one, from the first major-general to the last soldier.

I most earnestly entreat you, my dear general, to let me hear from you.
Write me how you do, how things are going on. The minutest detail
will be infinitely interesting to me. Don't forget anything concerning
yourself, and be certain that any little event or observation concerning
you, however trifling it may appear, will have my warmest attention and
interest. Adieu, my dear general, I cannot lay down the pen, and I enjoy
the greatest pleasure in scribbling you this long letter. Don't forget
me, my dear general; be ever as affectionate to me as you have been;
these sentiments I deserve from the ardent ones which fill my heart.
With the highest respect, with the most sincere and tender friendship
that ever human heart has felt, I have the honour to be, &c.

For God's sake write me frequent and long letters, and speak chiefly
about yourself and your private circumstances.

St. Jean, d'Angély, 13th June, 1779.

I Have just received, my dear general, an express from court, with
orders to repair immediately to Versailles. There I am to meet M. le
Comte de Vaux, Lieutenant-General, who is appointed to, the command of
the troops intended for an expedition. In that army I shall be employed
in the capacity of aide-maréchal-général des logis, which is, in our
service, a very important and agreeable place; so that I shall serve in
the most pleasing manner, and shall be in a situation to know everything
and to render services. The necessity of setting off immediately
prevents my writing to General Greene, to the gentlemen of your family,
and other friends of mine in the army, whom I beg to accept my excuses
on account of this order, which I did not expect so soon. Everything
that happens you shall most certainly be acquainted of by me, and I will
for the moment finish my letter in assuring your excellency again of my
profound respect and tenderest friendship. Farewell, my dear general,
and let our mutual affection last for ever.


1. This conjecture was a just one: by the correspondence of General
Washington, who kept copies of all his letters, we perceive that he
often wrote to M. de Lafayette, whose letters, on the contrary, during
this voyage, consist but of two, because we have been able to find only
those that arrived in America.


Havre, 30th July, 1779.

Sir,--I have received the letter which you have had the goodness to
write to me, and in which you promise me another after having read to M.
de Maurepas the paper which I addressed to you.~[1] It is shewing me a
great favour to employ, in answering me, a part of your time, which is
so precious; and I remain in eager expectation of your second letter.
Being convinced that there is no time to lose in adopting the measures
which I propose, my love for my country makes me feel an impatience,
which I fear may pass for importunity; but you will excuse a fault
arising from a feeling which is dear to every good citizen.

The Prince de Montbarrey will give you, with regard to Havre, all the
information you may desire. You are certainly right in saying that my
blood is in fermentation. We hear nothing of M. d'Orvilliers. Some say
that he has gone to the Azores, to intercept the West Indian fleet,
and to join M. d'Estaing, who was to return here, as I was informed by
yourself and M. de Sartine; others affirm that he has gone to America.

The reasoning of the latter does not bring me over to their opinion; and
it is very probable that if our fleet had been sent, as they suppose, I
should not now be in Normandy. Be that as it may, you know, I hope that
any arrangement, and any station, will satisfy me, and that I do not
claim promotion, or assistance, or any mark of favour whatsoever. If
M. d'Orvilliers, or a detachment, is now in the independent states of
America, and my presence there can be in any way more serviceable than
here, I shall be very willing to go over in an American frigate, which
I will take on my own authority; and with the very natural pretext of
rejoining the army in which I served, I will go and endeavour to use my
influence for the advantage of my country. Several persons say, also,
that Spanish dollars have been sent to the Americans; I earnestly hope
it is so, as my last advices shew the necessity for them.

If the project, for want of sufficient means, should not be adopted this
year, I deem it my duty to submit to you a proposition which would in a
great measure accomplish the same object.

While waiting until next year to commence combined operations with a
squadron, why might you not send to Boston three thousand, or even two
thousand men, with three hundred dragoons, who should be joined in the
spring by ships of war and a reinforcement of troops? This detachment
could be sent by two fifty gun ships, using one of the India Company's
ships for a transport, or Spanish vessels, if you prefer them. To avoid
expense, let them sail in company with the ships destined for the West
Indies, with the escort of the merchantmen, with the _Bonhomme Richard_,
and all the frigates at Lorient. These troops will be left in America
until the next campaign, and I will now mention what would be the
result of such a measure; it being well understood that the convoy would
proceed to the West Indies, or to any other destination, after having
landed the detachment. First, we should raise by our presence the value
of their paper money, an important point for French commerce; secondly,
we should be at hand to obtain information, and might take such
preliminary steps as would conduce, eventually, to our obtaining
possession of Halifax; thirdly, such a detachment would inspire, the
American army with new vigour, would powerfully support an attack for
retaking the forts on the north river, and would lead the Americans to
such undertakings as circumstances might render advisable.

You have told me to give you all my ideas. It is my duty to submit
to you this last one, which, as it seems to me, is not liable to any
objection. At first, I was afraid of expressing my opinion so strongly
as I was inclined to do, lest I should be suspected of peculiar motives
and predilections; but, now that people must know me better, and that
you have my entire confidence, I speak more freely, and I solemnly
affirm, upon my honour, that if half my fortune were spent in sending
succours of troops to the Americans, I should believe that, in so doing,
I rendered to my country a service more important than would be to me
this sacrifice.

You will say, perhaps, that it will be difficult to find subsistence for
the troops during the winter; but in paying in specie, we should obtain
provisions very cheap, and the additional number of mouths would be very
small in comparison to the population of the country.

Permit me, sir, to offer you the assurance of my attachment.


1. This letter, in the form of a memorial, and containing the plan of an
expedition to America, has been placed at the end of the volume.--(See
Appendix 2.)


Paris, Monday morning, August, 1779.

It is not, sir, to the king's minister that I am now writing, but my
confidence in your kindness makes me hope that I am addressing a man
whom I may safely call my friend, to whom I am merely giving an account
of all that is most interesting to me. You may confer a great obligation
upon me, (and render one perhaps to the public,) by employing in a
less useless manner the few talents a soldier may possess, who has been
hitherto rather fortunate in war, and who supplies his want of knowledge
by the purest ardour in the cause.

I have seen the Comte de Maurepas, and I told him what I have the honour
of communicating to you; he would not agree to the projects in question,
and was doubtless right, although my own opinion remains unchanged; but
he thinks that I, who was one of the first to speak of the expedition
with fifteen hundred or two thousand men, must now command six hundred
hussars, and that this change would be injurious to me. He, perhaps,
imagined, as some others have done, from kindness towards me, that
such a command would be beneath me. I ought not, besides, he added, to
exchange a certainty for an uncertainty.

To this I answer, in the first place, that from the extreme kindness of
the public towards me, nothing (I mean in relation to what passes in my
own heart) can ever be injurious to me; that my setting out with only
six hundred men would have been attributed to its real motive, and
therefore pardoned. In the second place, to suspect me of entering into
a calculation with my country, and of despising any means whatever of
serving her, would either prove a want of discernment or of memory; and
to the last objection, I reply, that the expedition of which I spoke to
you yesterday, is quite as certain as my own.

If the troops had remained in a state of inactivity, it would have
been very natural if my ardour had induced me to adopt the trade of a
corsair; nay, it would have been natural if I had set out in an armed
boat; but when an opportunity offers for employing on a grander scale
the talents of a man who has never exercised a soldier's trade but on
a wide field, it would be unfortunate for him to lose the power of
distinguishing himself, and rendering, perhaps, some important services
to his own country; and it would be injudicious in the government not
to put to the test that reputation which has been gained in foreign

May I, sir, speak to you with frankness? What is most proper for
me, would be an advance guard of grenadiers and _chasseurs_, and a
detachment of the king's dragoons, making in all, from fifteen hundred
to two thousand men, to raise me above the line, and give me the
power of action. There are not many lieutenants-general, still fewer
field-marshals, and no brigadiers, who have had such important commands
confided to them as chance has given me. I also know the English, and
they know me--two important considerations during a war. The command I
wished for has even been given to a colonel.

It is said that M. de Maillebois, M. de Voyer, and M. de Melfort,
will be employed; I know then first and last of these gentlemen; M. de
Melfort is a field-marshal, and although I have exercised that trade
myself, I should be well pleased to be under his orders. I wish to be
chosen in the report of the army, not of the court; I do not belong to
the court, still less am I a courtier; and I beg the king's ministers to
look upon me as having belonged to a corps of the guards.

The Count de Maurepas only replied to me, perhaps, to divert my
attention from some projects which are known unto me; I shall see him
again on Wednesday morning, and my fate will then be decided. You would
give me, sir, a great proof of friendship, by paying him a visit
either to-night or to-morrow morning, and communicating to him the same
sentiments you expressed to me yesterday. It is more important that you
should see him at that time, because, if I hear from Lorient that the
vessels are in readiness, I know not how to dissemble, and I must demand
my farewell audience. The little expedition will then be given to some
lieutenant-colonel, who may never have looked with the eye of a general,
who may not possess great talents, but who, if he be brave and prudent,
will lead the six hundred men as well as M. de Turenne could do if he
were to return to life. The detachment of dragoons might then be
kept back, the more so, as when reduced to fifty it would only become
ridiculous; and the major, who takes charge of the detail, would
likewise attend to the detail of my advance guard, in which I place
great dependence.

I acknowledge to you, that I feel no dependence on M. de Montbarry,
and I even wish, that my affairs could be arranged by you and M. de
Maurepas. I know, sir, that I am asking for a proof of friendship which
must give you some trouble, but I request it because I depend fully upon
that friendship.

Pardon this scrawl, Sir; pardon my importunity; and pardon the liberty I
take in assuring you so simply of my attachment and respect.



Passy, 24th August, 1779.

Sir,--The congress, sensible of your merit towards the United States,
but unable adequately to reward it, determined to present you with a
sword, as a small mark of their grateful acknowledgment: they directed
it to be ornamented with suitable devices. Some of the principal actions
of the war, in which you distinguished yourself by your bravery and
conduct, are therefore represented upon it. These, with a few emblematic
figures, all admirably well executed, make its principal value. By
the help of the exquisite artists of France, I find it easy to express
everything but the sense we have of your worth, and our obligations
to you for this, figures, and even words, are found insufficient. I,
therefore, only add that, with the most perfect esteem, I have the
honour to be,


P.S. My grandson goes to Havre with the sword, and will have the honour
of presenting it to you.



Havre, 29th August, 1779,

Sir,--Whatever expectations might have been raised from the sense of
past favours, the goodness of the United States to me has ever been
such, that on every occasion it far surpasses any idea I could have
conceived. A new proof of that flattering truth I find in the noble
present, which congress has been pleased to honour me with, and which is
offered in such a manner by your excellency as will exceed everything,
but the feelings of an unbounded gratitude.

In some of the devices I cannot help finding too honourable a reward
for those slight services which, in concert with my fellow soldiers,
and under the god-like American hero's orders, I had the good fortune
to render. The sight of those actions, where I was a witness of American
bravery and patriotic spirit, I shall ever enjoy with that pleasure
which becomes a heart glowing with love for the nation, and the most
ardent zeal for its glory and happiness. Assurances of gratitude, which
I beg leave to present to your excellency, are much too inadequate to my
feelings, and nothing but such sentiments can properly acknowledge your
kindness towards me. The polite manner in which Mr. Franklin was pleased
to deliver that inestimable sword, lays me under great obligations to
him, and demands my particular thanks.

With the most perfect respect, I have the honour to be, &c.



West Point, 30th Sept., 1779.

MY DEAR MARQUIS,--A few days ago, I wrote a letter in much haste; since
that, I have been honoured with the company of Chevalier de la Luzerne,
and by him was favoured with your obliging letter of the 12th of June,
which filled me with equal pleasure and surprise; the latter at hearing
that you had not received one of the many letters I had written to you
since you left the American shore. It gave me infinite pleasure to hear
from your sovereign, and of the joy which your safe arrival in France
had diffused among your friends. I had no doubt that this would be the
case; to hear it from yourself adds pleasure to the account; and here,
my dear friend, let me congratulate you on your new, honourable, and
pleasing appointment in the army commanded by the Count de Vaux, which
I shall accompany with an assurance that none can do it with more warmth
of affection, or sincere joy, than myself. Your forward zeal in the
cause of liberty; your singular attachment to this infant world; your
ardent and persevering efforts, not only in America, but since your
return to France, to serve the United States; your polite attention to
Americans, and your strict and uniform friendship for me, have ripened
the first impressions of esteem and attachment which I imbibed for you
into such perfect love and gratitude, as neither time nor absence can
impair. This will warrant my assuring you that, whether in the
character of an officer at the head of a corps of gallant Frenchmen,
if circumstances should require this; whether as a major-general,
commanding a division of the American army; or whether, after our swords
and spears have given place to the ploughshare and pruning-hook, I see
you as a private gentleman, a friend and companion, I shall welcome
you with all the warmth of friendship to Columbia's shores; and, in
the latter case, to my rural cottage, where homely fare and a cordial
reception shall be substituted for delicacies and costly living. This,
from past experience, I know you can submit to; and if the lovely
partner of your happiness will consent to participate with us in such
rural entertainment and amusements, I can undertake, in behalf of Mrs.
Washington, that she will do everything in her power to make Virginia
agreeable to the Marchioness. My inclination and endeavours to do this
cannot be doubted, when I assure you that I love everybody that is dear
to you, and, consequently, participate in the pleasure you feel in the
prospect of again becoming a parent; and do most sincerely congratulate
you and your lady on this fresh pledge she is about to give you of her

I thank you for the trouble you have taken, and your polite attention,
in favouring me with a copy of your letter to congress; and feel, as I
am persuaded they must do, the force of such ardent zeal as you therein
express for the interest of this country. The propriety of the hint
you have given them must carry conviction, and, I trust, will have a
salutary effect; though there is not, I believe, the same occasion for
the admonition now that there was several months ago. Many late changes
have taken place in that honourable body, which have removed, in a very
great degree, if not wholly, the discordant spirit which, it is said,
prevailed in the winter, and I hope measures will also be taken to
remove those unhappy and improper differences which have extended
themselves elsewhere, to the prejudice of our affairs in Europe.

I have a great pleasure in the visit which the Chevalier de la Luzerne
and Monsieur Marbois did me the honour to make at this camp; concerning
both of whom I have imbibed the most favourable impressions, and I thank
you for the honourable mention you made of me to them. The chevalier,
till he had announced himself to congress, did not choose to be received
in his public character; if he had, except paying him military honours,
it was not my intention to depart from that plain and simple manner of
living which accords with the real interest and policy of men struggling
under every difficulty for the attainment of the most inestimable
blessing of life, _liberty_. The chevalier was polite enough to approve
my principle, and condescended to appear pleased with our Spartan
living. In a word, he made us all exceedingly happy by his affability
and good humour, while he remained in camp.

You are pleased, my dear marquis, to express an earnest desire of seeing
me in France, after the establishment of our independency, and do me the
honour to add, that you are not singular in your request. Let me
entreat you to be persuaded, that, to meet you anywhere, after the
final accomplishment of so glorious an event, would contribute to my
happiness; and that to visit a country to whose generous aid we stand
so much indebted, would be an additional pleasure; but remember, my good
friend, that I am unacquainted with your language, that I am too far
advanced in years to acquire a knowledge of it, and that, to converse
through the medium of an interpreter, upon common occasions, especially
with the ladies, must appear so extremely awkward, insipid, and uncouth,
that I can scarcely bear it in idea. I will, therefore, hold myself
disengaged for the present; but when I see you in Virginia, we will talk
of this matter, and fix our plans.

The declaration of Spain in favour of France has given universal joy to
every Whig; while the poor Tory droops like a withering flower under a
declining sun. We are anxiously expecting to hear of great and important
events on your side of the Atlantic; at present, the imagination is left
in the wide field of conjecture, our eyes one moment are turned to an
invasion of England, then of Ireland, Minorea, Gibraltar; in a word,
we hope everything, but know not what to expect, or where to fix. The
glorious success of Count d'Estaing in the West Indies, at the same
time that it adds dominion to France, and fresh lustre to her arms, is
a source of new and unexpected misfortune to our _tender and generous
parent_, and must serve to convince her of the folly of quitting the
substance in pursuit of a shadow; and, as there is no experience equal
to that which is bought, I trust she will have a superabundance of this
kind of knowledge, and be convinced, as I hope all the world and every
tyrant in it will be, that the best and only safe road to honour, glory,
and true dignity, is _justice_.

We have such repeated advice of Count d'Estaing's being in these seas,
that, though I have no official information of the event, I cannot help
giving entire credit to the report, and looking for his arrival every
moment, and I am preparing accordingly; the enemy at New York also
expect it; and, to guard against the consequences, as much as it is
in their power to do, are repairing and strengthening all the old
fortifications, and adding new ones in the vicinity of the city. Their
fears, however, do not retard an embarkation which was making, and
generally believed to be for the West Indies or Charlsetown: it still
goes forward; and, by my intelligence, it will consist of a pretty
large detachment. About fourteen days ago, one British regiment (the
forty-fourth completed) and three Hessian regiments were embarked, and
are gone, as is supposed, to Halifax. The operations of the enemy this
campaign have been confined to the establishment of works of defence,
taking a post at King's Ferry, and burning the defenceless towns of
New Haven, Fairfield, and Norwalk, on the Sound, within reach of their
shipping, where little else was, or could be, opposed to them, than the
cries of distressed women and helpless children; but these were offered
in vain. Since these notable exploits, they have never stepped out of
their works or beyond their lines. How a conduct of this kind is to
effect the conquest of America, the wisdom of a North, a Germain, or
a Sandwich can best decide, it is too deep and refined for the
comprehension of common understandings and the general run of

Mrs. Washington, who set out for Virginia when we took the field in
June, has often, in her letters to me, inquired if I had heard from you,
and will be much pleased at hearing that you are well and happy. In her
name, as she is not here, I thank you for your polite attention to
her, and shall speak her sense of the honour conferred on her by the
Marchioness. When I look back to the length of this letter, I have not
the courage to give it a careful reading for the purpose of correction:
you must, therefore, receive it with all its imperfections, accompanied
with this assurance, that, though there may be many inaccuracies in
the letter, there is not a single defect in the friendship of, my dear
Marquis, yours, &c.



Havre, 7th October, 1779.

My dear general--From those happy ties of friendship by which you were
pleased to unite yourself with me, from the promises you so tenderly
made me when we parted at Fishkill, gave me such expectations of hearing
often from you, that complaints ought to be permitted to my affectionate
heart. Not a line from you, my dear, general, has yet arrived into my
hands, and though several ships from America, several despatches from
congress or the French minister, are safely brought to France, my ardent
hopes of getting at length a letter from General Washington have ever
been unhappily disappointed: I cannot in any way account for that bad
luck, and when I remember that in those little separations where I
was but some days from you, the most friendly letters, the most minute
account of your circumstances, were kindly written to me, I am convinced
you have not neglected and almost forgotten me for so long a time. I
have, therefore, to complain of fortune, of some mistake or neglect in
acquainting you that there was an opportunity, of anything; indeed,
but what could injure the sense I have of your affection for me. Let me
beseech you, my dear general, by that mutual, tender, and experienced
friendship in which, I have put an immense portion of my happiness, to
be very exact in inquiring for occasions, and never to miss those which
may convey to me letters that I shall be so much pleased to receive.

Inclosed I send to your excellency the copy of my letters to congress,
which, in concert with Mr. Franklin's longer despatches, will give you
a sketch of European intelligence. Contrary winds have much delayed an
expedition which I think should have been undertaken much sooner: the
kings of France and Spain seem desirous of carrying it on before the
winter; it may be, however, deferred till next spring, and the siege of
Gibraltar would be the only land expedition for the present campaign. In
a few weeks time, when West India successes may be compared to those
in Europe, my gazettes and predictions will have a greater degree of
certainty, but one must not be a conjuror to see that England is in such
a way that one may defy her to get up again, and that a happy peace,
blessed with American independence, will, in this or the ensuing
campaign, be the certain effect of the present war.

As my private circumstances are somewhat interesting to your friendship,
I will tell you, my dear general, that since my last letter I have
hardly quitted this place, where head-quarters had been fixed. I was to
disembark with the grenadiers forming the vanguard, and am, therefore,
one of the first who will land on the English shore. The king's own
regiment of dragoons, which he gave me on my return, was to embark at
Brest, and join us a few days after the landing. From Count d'Estaing's
expedition on the American coasts, the nation raises great expectations,
and very impatiently waits for intelligence. How unhappy I am to find
myself so far from you on such an occasion you will easily conceive. The
impression of sorrow such a thought gives me cannot be alleviated but by
the sense I have that the general opinion of the turn warlike operations
will take this campaign, the ties of my duty towards my own country,
where my services had been employed for the expedition against England,
and the hope I entertained of being here more useful to the United
States, had not left me the choice of the part I should take for this
campaign. I hope, my dear sir, you will agree in opinion with me.

Whatever may be Count d'Estaing's success in America, it will bring on
new projects and operations. My ideas I laid before your excellency at
Fishkill; but permit me to tell you again how earnestly I wish to join
you. Nothing could make me so delighted as the happiness of finishing
the war under your orders. That, I think, if asked by you, will be
granted to congress and your excellency. But be certain, my dear
general, that in any situation, in any case, let me act as a French or
as an American officer, my first wish, my first pleasure, will be to
serve again with you. However happy I am in France, however well treated
by my country and king, I have taken such a habit of being with you, I
am tied to you, to America, to my fellow soldiers by such an affection,
that the moment when I shall sail for your country will be one of the
most wished for and the happiest in my life.

From an American newspaper I find that a certain English intelligence
had been propagated through the United States, that, at the head of
fifteen hundred officers or non-commissioned officers, I was going to
embark for America, and that, with soldiers of your army embodied under
them, I wanted to teach military discipline throughout the _American
army_. However remote I am from thinking of teaching my own masters, and
however distant from such views was that command in France, whose end
you very well know, I could not help taking it as a reflection on the
_American army_. The English troops may remember that on some particular
occasions I have not had to lament the want of discipline and spirit
in the troops which I had the honour to command. Whilst we have but
the same British army to fight with, we need not be looking out for any
other improvement than the same qualities which have often enabled my
fellow American soldiers to give, instead of receiving, pretty good
lessons to an enemy, whose justly-reputed courage added a new reputation
to American bravery and military conduct.

The above article, my dear general, I beg you will have _printed in the
several newspapers_.

As there is but a little time to write before the sailing of the vessel,
I cannot call to mind all the friends I have in the army, unless your
excellency is pleased to make them a thousand compliments from one
who heartily loves them, and whose first wish is to be again in their

I congratulate you, my dear general, on the spirited expedition of Stony
Point,~[2] and am glad it has added, a new lustre to our arms.

Be so kind, my dear friend, as to present my best respects to your lady.
Mine begs leave to be kindly remembered to you and to her. Thousand
assurances of friendship wait from me on your family.

Oh! my dear general, how happy I should be to embrace you again!

With such affection as is above all expressions any language may
furnish, I have the honour to be, very respectfully, &c.


1. To this letter was joined a long letter to the president of congress,
which contained nearly the same things, expressed in a different manner.

2. A brilliant exploit of General Wayne, who, on the 15th of July,
took by assault the fort of Stony Point, and forced five hundred and
fifty-four English to capitulate.


Versailles, February 2d, 1780.

You approved, sir, of my putting down in writing, before conversing with
you upon the subject of the expedition, some of the measures necessary
to be taken in either of the following cases: first, if I should command
the French detachment; and secondly, if I should resume an American

I must begin by observing that this commission is not only a military
and political, but also a social affair: and from the circumstances
under which I am now placed, I assure you, on my honour, that I believe
the first measure would be most favourable to the public service, and
the interest of France as regards her allies.

As I must immediately begin my preparations, I should wish to be
informed of the decision in sufficient time to select some officers of
proper age, experience, and talents, with whom I can become acquainted
before I take charge of the corps; and on this account it is necessary
to arrange matters immediately with the Prince de Montbarrey. Two old
experienced lieutenant-colonels should command the infantry under me:
in distant expeditions, it is necessary that officers should suit each
other, and I am particularly fond of old officers.

In regard to myself, sir, I ask for nothing,--and as during the course
of a war I may hope to acquire rank, you might either give me one of
those commissions of M. de Sartine, which are only of use in America,
or one that would not prevent my seniors from resuming afterwards their
rank, or else letters of service, to enable me simply to command in the
capacity of an American general officer.

There are three methods of concealing the real aim of the expedition:
1st, to set out together for Lorient, under pretence of taking an
island, and operating in Carolina in the autumn;--2nd, to pretend to
send troops to M. de Bouillé; there need be no commander, and I
should have the title of _maréchal-des-logis;_--3d, for me to set out
immediately with the grenadiers and dragoons for America, and that the
four battalions, commanded by the two ancient officers, should join me
at Rhode Island.

If I should have the command, you may act with perfect security, because
the Americans know me too well to feel the slightest anxiety. I will
bind myself, if it be desired, to ask for neither rank nor titles, and,
to put the ministry quite at their ease, I will even promise to refuse
them should they be offered me.

In the second case, sir, it would be necessary to prevent, beforehand,
in America, the bad effects that the arrival of another commander would
excite: that I am not to lead that detachment is the last idea that
could ever occur in that country; I will say, therefore, that for myself
I prefer having an American division.

I must be in the secret to prepare the various measures, and inform
General Washington of the transaction. A secret with which I was not
acquainted would appear very suspicious at Philadelphia.

Three merchant frigates and a transport ship would be procured at
Lorient. We have, it is said, an American crew; the fifteen thousand
suits of clothes, and fifteen thousand guns, &c. might be embarked; at
the end of the month it would be necessary to set out for the continent.

On arriving at a port, I should endeavour to commence my operations with
General Washington; I should take a division in the army, and, with M.
de la Luzerne's aid, prepare everything for the arrival of the French.
To increase the number of my division,--to serve as an example to
them,--to change the ideas entertained respecting us,--and to shew
in what perfect good intelligence French and Americans may live
together,--I should request to take with me, at once, a battalion of six
hundred grenadiers, three hundred dragoons, and one hundred hussars.

Two or three officers, whom I should bring back with me, must obtain the
same rank in France which they had in America, and I should say that I
have refused that rank myself from motives which are purely social. This
attention is necessary to flatter the self-love of the Americans. We may
stop at Bermuda on our way, and establish there the party for liberty.

I shall set out on Wednesday for Nantes, where the clothes are making;
I shall also attend to the selection of the arms; I shall see the king's
regiment at Angers, to form a detachment from it; I shall repair to
Lorient to hasten the arrangement of the frigates, and to see the
battalion of grenadiers; I shall only be here the 20th, and as my
departure must be public, I shall take leave the 25th, in an American
uniform, and if the wind be favourable, I shall sail the 1st of March.

As it is physically impossible that a detachment commanded by a
foreigner should amalgamate together well, I believe it would be
necessary to increase it by a battalion, which would raise the number to
about three thousand six hundred, and the grenadiers would remain more
particularly attached to me during the campaign.

If that little corps be given to an old field-marshal, we should
certainly displease all the American chiefs. Gates, Sullivan, and
Saint Clair, would not like to be under the orders of others, and their
opinion in the council would be opposed to combined expeditions. I
think it necessary, very necessary, to select a brigadier, and name him
field-marshal, which he would look upon as a promotion. The corps must
consider itself as a division of our army; its commander must abjure all
pretensions, think himself an American major-general, and execute, in
all respects, the orders of General Washington. The naval commander may
have more power placed in his hands.

Conclusion. 1st, I think it would be best to give me the corps.--2d,
If it be not given to me, I must instantly set out with the powers I
demand. In either case, it is, unfortunately, necessary to reveal to me
the secret, and set me immediately to work.

I shall have the honour, sir, of paying my respects to you during the


1. This letter contains the basis of the plan which was finally adopted.
We have been obliged to retrench several letters which relate to
projects analogous to those presented at various periods by M. de
Lafayette. It was at length determined to send an auxiliary corps even
stronger than he had hoped to obtain. As to himself, he was to precede
it to America, whither he repaired with political instructions from
the French cabinet, and to resume a command in the army of the United
States. His instructions are dated the 5th of March; his departure took
place the 19th.



At the entrance of Boston harbour, April 27, 1780.

Here I am, my dear general, and, in the midst of the joy I feel in
finding myself again one of your loving soldiers, I take but the time to
tell you that I came from France on board a frigate which the king
gave me for my passage. I have affairs of the utmost importance which
I should at first communicate to you alone. In case my letter finds you
anywhere this side of Philadelphia, I beg you will wait for me, and do
assure you a great public good may be derived from it.

To-morrow we go up to the town, and the day after I shall set off in my
usual way to joined my beloved and respected friend and general.

Adieu, my dear general; you will easily know the hand of your young

My compliments to the family.


1. The second of the measures discussed in the preceding letter was the
one preferred, and M. de Lafayette embarked alone at the island of Aix.


Waterburg, on the Boston road,

From the Camp, May 6th, 1780.

I have already had the honour of writing to you, sir, and of announcing
to you the news of my arrival; but I place so much confidence in the
kindness you express for me, that I do not hesitate to repeat the
contents of my former letter. It was the 28th of April, after a voyage
of thirty-eight days, and after having experienced both calms and
contrary winds, that the _Hermione_ entered the Boston harbour. I
cannot sufficiently express my admiration of the frigate herself, and my
gratitude to her commanding officers.

I can neither give you any certain information, sir, nor promise you any
degree of accuracy respecting numbers and dates. General Washington can
alone inform me of the truth; but this does appear to me certain;--

Our army is not numerous; the eastern states are occupied in recruiting
it. Paper has been regulated by congress at forty for one: these are
very high taxes, and they hope to be able to raise the finances a
little, which are in a very low state; but, at present, I cannot give
you any settled ideas upon this point.

The scarcity of horses, their price, and the want of provisions, have
very much increased during my absence; but I assure you, sir, that, in a
moral point of view, I continue to see a most favourable prospect for my
American friends.

General Clinton has besieged Charlestown, and as he has eight or ten
thousand men, and the report is spread that his vessels have crossed
the bar, it is impossible not to fear for that place, unless Spanish or
French vessels should come from the islands to its succour. Some troops
from the army of General Washington have proceeded thither.

New York has only six or seven thousand garrisoned men; such is, at
least, the public report, and I do not believe that the hostile forces
are much more numerous at present. They say, at Boston, that there are
only four thousand men; but I repeat, sir, that my gazettes cannot be at
all accurate at present.

The English have but few vessels at Charlestown; at most they have only,
I think, one or two at New York. It is said here, and every one seems
to believe it, that if some French forces were to arrive at this moment,
they might strike some decisive blows.

Be pleased, sir, to accept the assurance of the warm and respectful
affection with which I have the honour to be, &c.

P.S. Some American officers, just come from New York, assure me that
a frigate has, arrived with important despatches from the English
government. Don Juan de Miralles, who has been long established at
Philadelphia, and who knows M. d'Aranda, died at Morristown; he was
buried with much honour.



Morristown, May, 1783.

My dear Marquis,--Your welcome favour of the 27th of April came to
my hands yesterday. I received it with all the joy that the sincerest
friendship would dictate, and with that impatience which an ardent
desire to see you could not fail to inspire. I am sorry I do not know
your route through the State of New York, that I might with certainty
send a small party of horse, all I have at this place, to meet and
escort you safely through the Tory settlements, between this place and
the North River. At all events, Major Gibbs will go as far as Compton,
where the roads unite, to meet you and will proceed from thence, as
circumstances may direct, either towards King's Ferry or New Windsor.
I most sincerely congratulate you on your safe arrival in America, and
shall embrace you with all the warmth of an affectionate friend, when
you come to head-quarters, where a bed is prepared for you. Adieu till
we meet. Yours, &c.~[1]


1. General Washington expressed, in several letters, the pleasure he
felt at M. de Lafayette's return. (See his letters of the 13th and 14th
of May.) The 16th of May, the congress declared, by a public resolution,
that "they consider his return as a fresh proof of the disinterested
zeal and persevering attachment which have justly recommended him to the
public confidence and applause, and that they receive with pleasure
a tender of the further services of so gallant and meritorious an
officer."--(Journal of Congress, May 20th.)

It was afterwards resolved that the commander-in-chief, after having
received the communications M. de Lafayette had to make to him, was to
take the proper measures which were most likely to forward the success
of the plan they had in view. The communications related to the expected
arrival of a French squadron and land forces. The plan in contemplation
was to make some attacks, especially on New York.


Philadelphia, 19th May, 1780.

Sir,--This letter will be handed to you by M. de Galvan, a French
officer in the service of the United States, and you may receive with
confidence the various accounts which he will have the honour to give
you. I have appointed him to await your arrival at Cape Henry, and you
will see that my instructions to this officer are in conformity with
those which I have received from the Count de Vergennes.~[1]

I reached Boston on the 26th of April. On the morning of the 10th of
May, I was at head-quarters, and after passing four days with General
Washington, I went to meet the Chevalier de la Luzerne. The military
preparations and the political measures which it was necessary for us
to attend to, have delayed M. de Galvan up to the present moment. I now
hasten to despatch him to his destination, and shall keep him informed
of whatever news may be interesting to you, continuing to add the ideas
of the general, with regard to the best means of improving present

Immediately upon my arrival, confidential persons were sent out to
procure plans and details upon the different points which become
interesting for the operations of this campaign. As to other matters,
the Chevalier de la Luzerne has had the goodness to enable me, as far as
possible, to fulfil my instructions, and he has taken the first measures
requisite to procure a supply of food and other necessaries for the
land and naval forces. Although the scarcity of all things is infinitely
greater than when I left America, the precautions taken before-hand by
the Chevalier de la Luzerne, and the measures we are now taking here,
render it certain that the French will not be in want, either of flour
or of fresh meat.

I will now give you a summary of the present situation of the enemy
on the continent. I shall say nothing of Canada, or Halifax, or the
Penobscot, from whence we are expecting news, and which, for the moment,
are not of essential importance. Rhode Island is in our possession; you
can enter it in full security; letters, signals, and pilots will await
you there, agreeably to my instructions. Your magazines, your sick, and
all your unnecessary baggage, can go up the Providence by water; I shall
soon send to Rhode Island more particular information on this point.

The enemy have, at the present moment, seven thousand men of their best
troops employed at the siege of Charlestown; they have also some ships
of the line without the harbour; one vessel of fifty guns, two frigates
of forty-four, and several smaller vessels. According to news from
New York, Charlestown still held out on the 3rd of this month. On the
Islands of New York, Long Island, and Staten Island, the forces of the
enemy consisted of eight thousand regular troops, a few militia, upon
which they place no dependence, and a small number of royalists, very
contemptible in all respects. They have only one ship of seventy-four
guns, and some frigates. The American army is in three divisions; one
guards the fort of West Point and keeps open the North River; another
is in South Carolina; and the third, which is the largest, is in the
Jerseys, under the immediate command of General Washington. This last
division, not very numerous at present, will be increased in a few days;
and for that reason, I shall defer till another letter giving you a more
exact account of its situation.

Your voyage is known at New York. Advices were immediately sent on to
Charlestown, recalling either the troops, or at least the ships of war.
They are erecting fortifications on the Island, and preparing vessels
loaded with stones to obstruct the passage; in a word, if it be true
that the present divided state of the English forces seems to insure
their destruction, and to promise us the conquest of New York, it is
equally true that, at the moment of your arrival, if by good fortune
things remain in their present state, we shall have no time to lose in
taking advantage of those favourable circumstances.

At the same time that I here execute the orders of my general, and
communicate to you the sentiments of my friend, permit me to assure you
of the strong desire of our army to do whatever may please you, and how
much we shall all endeavour to merit the friendship and the esteem of
troops, whose assistance at the present moment is so essential to us.
You will find amongst us a great deal of good will, a great deal of
sincerity, and above all, a great desire to be agreeable to you.

I send a duplicate of this letter to the Chevalier de Ternay, and I
shall send the same to Point Judith and Seaconnet; so that in case you
should make land at Rhode Island, you may at once sail for Sandy Hook.
The next letter which I shall have the honour to write to you, will be
dated at headquarters. The confidence of General Washington, which M.
de Galvan has deserved, and the means which he has of fulfilling his
instructions, all assure me that you will be satisfied with our choice.
I have the honour to be, &c.


1. The instructions given to M. de Lafayette by the minister of foreign
affairs, (5th March, 1780), were, that, to prevent any mistake or delay,
he was to place, both on Rhode Island and on Cape Henry (the mouth of
the Chesapeake), a French officer, to await the arrival of the French
squadron, which was to land at one of those two points, and to give it
all the information it might require on its arrival. This letter was
consequently given to M. de Galvan, and he repaired to Cape Henry, but
vainly expected those frigates: they landed at Rhode Island, they left
Brest the 2nd of May, under the orders of the Chevalier de Ternay, and
appeared before Newport the 10th of July. This letter was delivered
afterwards to M. de Rochambeau, as well as several others, which want of
space and interest do not allow us to insert.



Camp at Preakness, July 4th, 1780.

You know, my dear general, that I am very anxious to see the army well
clothed for this campaign; the importance of such a measure is on every
account obvious, and from the knowledge I have of the auxiliary troops
that are coming, I can so well demonstrate its necessity that I shall
for the present but attend to the means of executing it.

In the space of six months (we know from experience) the coats of our
soldiers begin to be worn out, so that there is no great inconvenience
in giving some new clothes to the draftsmen, and after they shall be
discharged, the number of the remaining soldiers will not much exceed
six or seven thousand men; as those very men will have been completely
clothed by the middle of July, I think I make full allowance for them by
keeping in store the seven thousand unmade suits that have been shipped
by Mr. Ross.

If more are wanted in the course of next summer, I engage to go over to
France and bring back ten thousand complete suits properly conveyed.

Excluding wagoners, servants, and all such people who do not want to be
uniformly clothed, we may calculate the continental army to consist of
fourteen thousand men in the field. There may be found in the army
four thousand coats and waistcoats which are not absolutely bad, four
thousand stocks or cravats, and one thousand pretty good hats.

We may get from the stores fifteen thousand overalls, ten thousand pairs
of shoes, three thousand round hats, and some few shirts.

There are also six or seven hundred coats of every colour, to which
may be added about three or four hundred of the same kind, and some
indifferent hats found in the army, &c.

A small quantity of buff and red cloth to be bought for the facings of
the Pennsylvanian and Jersey lines.

The four thousand good hats in the stores or in the army to be cut
round, or cocked in the form of caps, but to be in an uniform manner.

All the articles now in the possession of the clothier-general, to be
immediately ordered to North River, and, if necessary, wagons should be
pressed for their speedy transportation.

I will write a letter to the Chevalier de Ternay, wherein I will desire
him to send to the most convenient place the clothing which has been put
under his convoy.

We shall then have ten thousand new coats and waistcoats, and four
thousand old ones, the whole of an uniform ground, ten thousand new
hats and stocks, and four thousand old ones, five and twenty thousand
overalls, more than twenty thousand shirts, and thirty thousand pairs of

Each soldier enlisted for the war, let them even be ten thousand,
shall have, if you choose, a new complete suit, one hat, one stock, two
shirts, two pairs of overalls, and two pairs of shoes.

Each draftsman, if he has not the same, will at least receive a decent
uniform coat, one stock, one hat, one pair of overalls, and two pairs of
shoes; he will not certainly come out but well provided with shirts.

By the above mentioned arrangement, there remain about a thousand coats
of every colour, a thousand hats, which are not absolutely bad, and two
thousand pairs of shoes; these I propose to give to such men as will not
appear under arms in the field, and, if necessary, some hunting-shirts
may be added to the said clothing.

The dragoons are generally better clothed than the infantry, and we
might very easily complete their coats or stable-jackets, as each
different regiment could adopt a different colour.

As soon as the French clothing comes, I wish the whole army to be
clothed at once, in observing to give the round hats to some particular
brigades, for the sake of uniformity, and to turn up the facings
according to the plan agreed.

There will be then no excuse for the officers who, out of neglect,
should suffer their men to lose a single article, and the most strict
orders may be given for that purpose.

The French arms that are coming might be put in the hands of soldiers
enlisted for the war.

I wish that there was a distinction of one woollen epaulette for the
corporal, and two for the serjeant.

As to the feathers, (become a distinction of ranks,) I wish such as have
been pointed out might be forbidden to other officers, and for the light
division I shall beg the leave of wearing a black and red feather, which
I have imported for the purpose.

These ideas, my dear general, are not given to you as a great stroke of
genius, but I heartily wish something of the kind may be thought proper.


Camp, before Dobb's Ferry, Aug. 9, 1780.

Gentlemen,--I arrived two days ago at head quarters, and in consequence
of the mission I was charged with, my first care was to render an
account of our conversations; but the most minute details of them are so
important, and the fate of America, and the glory of France, depend so
completely upon the result of our combinations here, that, in order to
feel more certain of having perfectly understood your meaning, I will
submit to you a summary of our conversations, and entreat you to write
me word immediately whether I have rightly understood your meaning.
Before quitting Rhode Island, gentlemen, I should have taken this
precaution, if General Washington's march against New York had not
obliged me to join my division, at the very moment when, from our
further arrangements, you most required some information.

1st. I have described to you the actual situation of America, the
exhausted state in which I found her, and the momentary efforts she
had made, which could only have been produced by the hope of being
delivered, by one decisive blow, from the tyranny of the English.

I told you those efforts were so enormous, when we consider the state of
our finances, and the failure of all our resources, that I do not expect
to see them renewed during another campaign. I added that on the 1st of
November we should no longer have any militia, that the 1st of January
one half of our continental army would be disbanded, and I took the
liberty of saying, in my own name, that I thought it necessary, as a
political measure, to enter into action this campaign; and this I had
ascertained also to be the case, by sounding, on my journey, the wishes
of the people.

2nd. I confirmed what I have already had the honour of writing to you
respecting the continental troops, and the militia whom we are to have
with us. I told you that by counting the enemies in New York at fourteen
thousand men, of which ten thousand are regulars, and four thousand very
bad militia, I thought their numbers were somewhat exaggerated, and that
it was necessary to begin by deducting the sailors employed by Admiral
Arbuthnot. As to the fortifications, I said that the American troops
would take charge of New York, and that the fort of Brooklyn (upon which
you might operate in concert with a division of our troops) is merely an
earthen work of four bastions, with a ditch and a shed, containing from
a thousand to fifteen hundred men, and having in front another smaller
work, which cannot contain more than a hundred men. I added that nothing
could prevent a regular approach upon Brooklyn, and that that post is
the key of New York.

3rd. I explained to you General Washington's plan, and told you that
the moment you began your march, he would repair to Morrisania, where, I
again repeat, he would establish batteries that would close the passage
of Hell's Gate, and secure the one from the continent to Long Island, so
as to have nothing to fear from the enemy's ships. Whilst awaiting your
arrival, gentlemen, our army would entrench itself at Morrisania, or,
if possible, on the Island of New York, and would place itself in
a situation to detach a corps of troops, as soon as you shall have
approached us, either by coming by land to Westchester, and passing
afterwards under favour of our batteries, or by repairing by sea to
Wistown, or any other bay in that neighbourhood. General Washington
would furnish a sufficient corps of Americans, and fifteen large cannon,
to co-operate with your troops, and he believes that with these forces,
and united with artillery, the point of Brooklyn might soon be taken,
and consequently the town of New York.

4th. I represented to you that Long Island was a rich country, which,
even alter the destruction effected by the English, still possesses
some resources; that we might feel certain of being joined there by the
militia of the island; and, in short, that with the assistance of our
Morrisanian under-batteries, and still more with a battery on the Island
of New York, we should assure the communication between Long Island and
the continent. From these various circumstances, my own private opinion
would decidedly be to commence our action, if the fleet could be placed
in security, before we possessed any superiority of naval force.

5th. I strongly insisted upon the necessity of taking possession, as
soon as possible, of the New York harbour. I requested M. de Ternay
to examine that point with the pilots I gave him, and by the immense
advantages of that measure I hoped that, either with the aid of land
forces on the side of Sandy Hook, or merely by the superiority of his
own naval force, he would be enabled to accomplish the object we had
feared his attempting when we expected him with Admiral Graves.

6th. When proposing to you to send your magazines to Providence, I told
you that Rhode Island was completely useless to the Americans, but very
important for the succours arriving from France, in case, however, no
army should be necessary to preserve it; that if the English were to
commit the fault of taking it, a superior fleet, aided by forces from
the continent, would always have the power of retaking it.

7th. I ended by having the honour of telling you, gentlemen, that in
order to operate upon New York it would be necessary not to commence
later than the first days of September; and, after this explanation,
I said that General Washington, feeling the most perfect confidence
in you, was very desirous of having your opinion upon the subject, and
would only undertake what might appear to you most advantageous.

This, gentlemen, is what I had the honour of saying to you, and this is
what you did me the honour to reply to:--

1st. That the succour sent to the United States was anything rather than
trifling; that the second division was to set out a short time after
you, and, that it might justly be expected every instant; that it would
consist at least of two thousand five hundred, and, in all probability,
of a still greater number of troops; that it was to be sent by three
ships, but that, according to all appearances, a larger number of
vessels would be granted; that the only reason which could prevent its
arriving before the 1st of September, would be the impossibility of a
junction between the French and Spanish fleets, and that, in the latter
case, it would arrive, at farthest, by the end of autumn, and would then
be a great deal stronger; that M. de Guichen has been apprised of
our projects, and has received the order to facilitate them; that,
consequently, the Chevalier de Ternay has written to him for the five
promised vessels; and that, from all these circumstances, you hoped to
be able to act before the end of the campaign, but did not doubt, at
least, having the power of furnishing us with very superior forces for
this winter, and for the next campaign.

2nd. The project of attacking Brooklyn was extremely agreeable to you,
and appeared to you the most proper measure for the reduction of New
York; but you think that we ought to have upon that Island a force at
least equal to that which the enemy may offer us, and you added that by
leaving a counterfeit at New York, they may fall on the corps of Long
Island, with nearly their whole army, which contingency, you will
perceive, had been already provided for by Washington's arrangements.

3rd. You appeared to me doubtful whether it would be possible to stop
the enemy at the passage of Morrisania, but on this point I can give you
no decisive information. The idea of repairing by land to Westchester
appeared less agreeable to you than that of going by sea into a bay of
Long Island. As to the landing, the Count de Rochambeau looks upon it as
a very long operation, and, from his own experience on the subject, he
believes that it would require nearly three weeks to land an army, with
all its accoutrements, for a campaign and siege. You desired to have
every possible information concerning Brooklyn, in order to be able to
make calculations accordingly for the artillery and engineer service.
You appeared to me to consider a naval superiority as necessary, even
at the commencement of the campaign; but it is true that this idea may
partly proceed from your doubts relating to the communication concerning

5th. The Chevalier de Ternay conceives it would be difficult to take
possession of New York harbour, and hopes to accomplish the same object
by the situation in which he has placed his cruisers. He does not think
that his seventy-fours can enter, but from the difference of opinion
which I ventured to express, as to the importance at least of occupying
the harbour, he told me he would again attend to this project. As to his
manner of protecting the disembarkation, it would be to cruise in the
Sound, and his frigates, and one or two vessels, would enter into the
bay at the place where the troops should land.

6th. Rhode Island appears to you a very important point to preserve; but
if M. de Ternay should have the superiority, you think, as we do, that
it would be unnecessary to leave a garrison there during the attack
of New York. The Count de Rochambeau desired me to assure General
Washington that, in every case, upon receiving an order, he would
instantly repair to that spot which the commander-in-chief should
appoint. I told him, also, that the French generals wished that it were
possible to have an interview with him.

At the termination of our conversation, we decided upon the following
measures, of which I consequently gave an account to General Washington.

1st. You have written to France to urge the speedy arrival and
augmentation of the promised succours. You have already asked for the
five vessels of M. de Guichen, and I have also taken charge of another
letter, which repeats the same request, and which will pass through the
hands of the Chevalier de la Luzerne.

2d. As soon as you receive news of the arrival either of the second
division or of the ships from the West Indies, you will immediately
despatch a messenger to General Washington; and, whilst our army is
marching towards Westchester, and your own making preparation for
embarkation, M. de Ternay will endeavour to effect his junction.

3d. If the French fleet should be equal to that of the enemy, it will
immediately enter into a contest for superiority; if it should be
superior, it will take the French troops instantly on board, and carry
them towards the bay intended for their landing.

4th. A spot shall be chosen from whence the ships may protect the
operation, and which will also afford to the troops first landed a
position well sheltered by the fire from the ships, and behind which
the remainder of the troops may join them; or by advancing with all the
landed troops, the right and left wings may be so placed as to cover the
last of the disembarkation. The spot selected shall be situated in
such a manner that the corps of the American army intended for this
particular expedition, may arrive and land at the very moment of the
landing of the Count de Rochambeau, and that their general may be able
to co-operate instantly with the French general.

5th. According to the number of French troops in a state to operate,
General Washington will either conduct himself, or send to Long Island,
a sufficient number of troops to obtain a force nearly equal to that of
the enemy, and he will also have a corps of troops of nearly the same
strength as the one opposed to him, either at Westchester or in the
Island of New York.

6th. The Chevalier de Ternay will examine, attentively, the possibility
of forcing the passage of Sandy Hook, and if it be deemed practicable,
will attain that important end.

7th. As soon as the arms, clothes, and ammunition, belonging to the
United States, shall arrive, the Chevalier de Ternay will have the
goodness, without giving them time to enter the harbour, to send them
with a convoy of frigates, or, if the batteries be not yet erected, by
a ship of the line, to that point in the Sound which General Washington
may judge proper to select.

8th. The French fleet will take charge of the boats we shall require,
which will be delivered up to them at Providence; they will also land
us all the powder that they can do without themselves; this does not
amount, at present, to more than thirty thousand pounds.

9th. I shall send to the French generals all the correct information
I may obtain respecting the passage of the Sound by Hell Gate; I shall
communicate to them, likewise, all the details relating to Brooklyn, and
they will send us the calculations which have been made in consequence
by the artillery and engineers,--from thence we shall decide what must
be sent with the American Long Island corps for these two companies.
Some doubts are entertained by the French generals concerning the
two points of this last article; I shall send them from home some
information respecting that subject, of which I had before the honour of
speaking to them.

10th. The invalids, magazines, &c., shall be sent to Providence, and the
batteries of that river are to be placed by us in proper order. It is
clearly specified that the instant the expected naval superiority of
force arrives, the French are not to lose a single day in commencing
their co-operative measures.

Such is, gentlemen, the abridgment of the account rendered to General
Washington; and it will serve as the basis for his preparations, as
well as a rule for the future elucidations you may receive. From the
confidence with which he has honoured me, I was obliged to settle
finally all that it was possible for me to arrange with you,--the fate
of America, in short, appears to be dependent upon your activity or
repose during the remainder of this summer. I attach the greatest
importance to all your ideas being clearly rendered, and I entreat you
to lose no time in writing a few words to say whether I have understood
your meaning.

A short time after my departure, gentlemen, you must have learnt that
General Clinton, fearing for New York; had been obliged, by a sudden
movement of our army, to enclose himself in that island. The army is at
present near Dobb's Ferry, ten miles above King's Bridge, on the right
side of the North River, and our advance guard is nearly three miles
before it.

If General Clinton, with a force and position equal to our own, should
judge proper to fight, we shall give him a favourable opportunity of
doing so, and he may take advantage of that kind of challenge to make
the most impartial trial of the English and Hessian against the American

I shall wait here, most impatiently, gentlemen, your answer to this
letter. I shall have the honour of communicating to you the various
advices General Washington may find it expedient to send you. The first
intelligence of the arrival of the ships is very necessary to our peace
of mind, and from an intimate knowledge of our situation, I assure you,
gentlemen, in my own private name and person, that it is important to
act during this campaign, that all the troops you may hope to obtain
from France next year, as well as all the projects of which you may
flatter yourselves, will never repair the fatal consequences of our
present inactivity. Without resources in America, all foreign succours
would prove of no avail; and although, in every case, you may rely
wholly upon us, I think it important to take advantage of the moment
when you may find here a co-operation, without which you will not be
able to achieve anything for the American cause.

I have the honour to be, &c.

P.S. Such, gentlemen, is the long official letter which I have the
honour of writing to you, but I cannot send it without thanking you for
the kindness you expressed for me at Rhode Island, and presenting you
the assurance of my sincere and respectful attachment.


1. General Heath, who commanded the militia in the state of Rhode
Island, announced, on the 13th of July, the arrival of the French
squadron to Washington, who was then stationed with his staff at
Bergen. M. de Lafayette set out instantly, bearing instructions from
the general-in-chief dated the 15th, to meet the French Generals and
to concert with them. Washington had long formed a plan of offensive
operations, for the reduction of the town and garrison of New York
(letter to General Greene the 14th of July); this plan was to take
effect on condition, first, that the French and American troops should
form a junction; second, that the French should have a decided naval
superiority over the united forces of Admiral Graves and Admiral
Arbuthnot. In nine letters, written between the 20th of July and the
1st of August, which would not perhaps have offered much interest to the
reader, M. de Lafayette rendered an account of his mission, of which a
short analysis will give the principal details.

The first letters relate to the multiplied difficulties he encountered
in the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island, in collecting provisions,
clothing, arms, and, above all, powder, in sufficient quantities for
the projected expedition. These difficulties were much increased by the
insufficiency of every kind of munition brought by the French squadron,
which but half realized the promises of the French cabinet. M. de
Lafayette repaired to Newport the 25th, and found the army, which had
been disembarked, encamped in Rhode Island, and M. de Rochambeau much
occupied by the news of an important attack, and, in fact, four of the
enemy's ships appeared on the 19th, and nine or ten more two days after,
before Block Island. Sir Henry Clinton had on his side left New York.
By a combination of his land and sea forces, he intended to surprise
the French army. But he experienced some delay; his soldiers could
only embark in the transports the 27th; there was a wrong understanding
between him and Admiral Arbuthnot. He learnt that the French had
fortified themselves at Newport, and that the neighbouring militia had
joined them; and at length that General Washington was making a rapid
movement upon New York. He hastened to pass over the Sound, and landed
his troops on the 31st.

M. de Lafayette, who had always felt doubtful, himself, of Clinton's
making the attack, had then the opportunity of discussing with the
allies the project for an offensive operation. He was extremely anxious
to put it into execution, and General Washington was desirous also of
doing the same.

The thing was, however, difficult. Although the capture of New York had
always been one of the objects of the French ministry, the instructions
of M. de Rochambeau prescribed to him to attach great importance to the
station of Rhode Island, and to endeavour to make it the basis for his
other operations. He was therefore reluctant to quit it in order to
march upon New York. M. de Ternay, at the same time, considered it as
impossible to enter with his ships of war into the harbour of that town,
and contented himself with promising a blockade; he did not, besides,
possess that naval superiority which could only be obtained by the
arrival of the second division, which was so vainly expected from
France, or by the junction of the squadron of M. de Guichen, then in the
West Indies, to whom M. de Lafayette had written to promote that object.
M. de Rochambeau's own opinion was, however, in favour of offensive
measures, and he promised to conform, according to his instructions,
to the orders of the general-in-chief. Everything was discussed and
regulated in two or three conferences, which took place from the end
of July to the commencement of August, between MM. de Rochambeau, de
Ternay, and de Lafayette. The result of these conferences is resumed in
a letter, to which is annexed this note--

In the suppressed letters it is also seen that the French troops evinced
the greatest ardour, and that the good intelligence that reigned between
the two allies completely justified the expectations of M. de Lafayette,
and the measures he had proposed. He wrote, in a letter of the 31st, to
General Washington:--

"The French army hate the idea of staying here, and want to join you.
They swear at those that speak of waiting the second division: they
are enraged to be blockaded in this harbour. As to their dispositions
towards the inhabitants and our troops, and the dispositions of the
inhabitants and the militia for them, they are such as I may wish. You
would have been glad the other day to see two hundred and fifty of our
drafts that came on from Connanicut, without provisions and tents, and
who were mixed in such a way with the French troops, that every French
soldier and officer took an American with him, and divided his bed and
his supper in the most friendly manner. The patience and sobriety of our
militia are so much admired by the French officers, that, two days ago,
a French colonel called all his officers together, to take the good
examples which were given to the French soldiers by the American troops.
So far are they gone in their admiration, that they find a great deal to
say in favour of General Varnum, and his escort of militia dragoons,
who fill up all the streets of Newport. On the other band, the French
discipline is such, that chickens and pigs walk between the tents
without being disturbed, and that there is in the camp a corn-field, of
which not one leaf has been touched. The Tories don't know what to say to
it."--(ORIGINAL.)--(_Letters of Washington from the 14th of July to the
5th of August, 1780, and Appendix, Nos. 1 and 8_, VOL. vii.)


Newport, August 12th, 1780.

I received, my dear marquis, the letter you did me the honour of writing
the 9th of August; permit me to send you, in reply, the one I had
the honour of addressing to our general on the 10th of this month, to
express to him the opinion you asked for by his desire. I am only now,
therefore, waiting for his last orders, and I have earnestly requested
him to grant me the favour of an interview, that the admiral and I may
receive from his own lips the last plan he has decided upon; we should
do more in a quarter of an hour's conversation than we could do by
multiplied despatches. I am as thoroughly convinced as any person can
be of the truth of what your letters mentioned, that it was his marching
which had detained Clinton, who intended to come and attack us; but I
must observe to you also, at the same time, that there was much reason
to hope that he would have been well beaten here, and during that time
our general would have taken New York. As to your observation, my dear
marquis, that the position of the French at Rhode Island is of no use to
the Americans, I reply:--

First, That I never heard it had been injurious to any one of them.

Second, That it would be well to reflect that the position of the French
corps may have had something to do with Clinton's evacuation of the
continent, when he has been obliged to confine himself to Long Island
and New York; that, in short, while the French fleet is guarded here
by an assembled and a superior naval force, your American shores are
undisturbed, your privateers are making considerable prizes, and your
maritime commerce enjoys perfect liberty. It appears to me, that, in so
comfortable a situation, it is easy to wait patiently the naval and land
forces that the king assured me should, be sent; that, in short, as
I have received no letter from France since my departure; I can only
flatter myself that the second division is already on the road, and
is bringing me despatches, since, if it had been blockaded by superior
forces, some sort of advice would have been sent me from the shores of
France. I fear those savannahs and other events of the kind, of which I
have seen so many during the course of my life. There exists a principle
in war, as in geometry, _vis unita fortior_. I am, however, awaiting
orders from our generalissimo, and I entreat him to grant the admiral
and myself an interview. I will join the latter's despatch to this
packet as soon as I receive it.

I beg you to accept, my dear marquis, the assurance of my sincerest


Camp, August 18th, 1780.

GENTLEMEN,--As I wish to submit the same observations to you both,
permit me to address this letter to you in common, and permit me also
(without pretending to complain of the interpretation you have given to
my last letter) to accuse myself of having explained my own meaning in a
very awkward manner.

On my return here, gentlemen, General Washington asked me for an account
of our conversations. You know that he had given me full powers to
explain to you our situation, and to settle finally the plan of the
campaign. When he knew that you wished to confer with him, he again
wrote me word that I was to arrange everything in his name, as if he
were himself present. It was natural that he should wish to know what I
said to you, what you replied, and what we had finally decided upon. He
thought that the best manner of collecting our ideas was to write
them down; and I, fearing to say a single word that was not precisely
according to your intentions, thought it more polite, more respectful
towards you, to submit to your examination the written account which
my general had requested. I may add, at this place, gentlemen, that the
general, thinking that you were only acquainted with our position from
what I had the honour of saying to you, did not consider the previous
letters he had received as answers to what I had undertaken to explain
to you. All that I said to you, gentlemen, concerning Rhode Island, the
passage of Hell Gate, the harbour of New York, and the disembarkation,
was from the reiterated orders of General Washington; and as to the
political opinions, which I will dispense myself with expressing in
future, because they must come from the Chevalier de la Luzerne, I,
assure you that if, as your own countryman, it was more delicate for me
to give them in my own name, they are not less conformable to the ideas
of General Washington. The only time when I took the liberty of speaking
for myself was, when, wearied by the questions that have been made to
me by a thousand American individuals upon the second division, and
the superiority of the English at this present period, I yielded to my
ardent wish of entering at once on action, and to the hope of commencing
our operations immediately. If I have been to blame, I think it can only
be in this one instance.

I believe that the march towards New York has recalled Clinton from the
bay of Huntington, but I believe that if he had been guilty of the folly
of attacking you, he would have both lost at Rhode Island a portion of
his army, owing to our French troops, and the Island of New York by our
attack. This was my opinion, and the one I found most prevalent here,
and I also think that it is very unfortunate for the common cause that
General Clinton did not pursue his enterprise. Is it I who could
imagine the contrary?--I who have always been laughed at for thinking it
impossible that the French could ever be beaten!

When, after having received three letters from General Washington, and
held twenty conversations with him on the subject, I thought it proper
to tell you in what point of view we looked upon Rhode Island, I do
not think it ever occurred to me to say you had injured any person by
staying there, and as to the advantage America derives from having a
French squadron and French troops, allow me to mention, gentlemen, that
M. d'Estaing found me formerly well disposed to acknowledge this
truth; that for more than eighteen months, and especially since the
commencement of last summer, I held a regular correspondence with the
French government, to represent to it the utility of such a measure;
and, although the gratitude of the Americans does not by any means
require being excited, few hours pass without my employing a part of
my time in pointing out to them the advantages that you may procure for
them even when inferior to the hostile forces, and in which I do not
take the measures most proper to publish this truth from the extremity
of Canada to that of Florida, as I may prove to you by the few copies of
letters which I have preserved.

As to the political opinions with which I took the liberty of closing my
letter, although I acknowledge having committed the fault of expressing
them to you, I am certain beforehand that, from an intimate acquaintance
with the American character and resources, the Chevalier de la Luzerne
and General Washington are both of my opinion.

I will do all that depends upon me, gentlemen, to prevail upon the
general to meet you half way; but, from his proximity to the enemy, and
from the present situation of the army, which he has never quitted since
the commencement of the war, I fear it will appear to him very difficult
to absent himself. Whenever you have any orders to give me, look upon
me as a man who, you must well know, idolizes his own country with
a peculiar degree of enthusiasm, and who unites to that feeling (the
strongest one of his heart) the respectful affection with which he has
the honour of being, &c.


Camp, August 18th, 1780.

Having written, sir, one letter to you in common with the Chevalier de
Ternay, permit me to address myself to you with the frankness authorised
by the warm affection I have felt, and endeavoured to prove to you, from
my earliest youth. Although your letter expresses your usual kindness
for me, I observed a few sentences in it which, without being
individually applied to me, prove to me that my last epistle displeased
you. After having been engaged night and day for four months, in
preparing the minds of the people to receive, respect, and love you;
after all I have said to make them sensible of the advantages they
derived from your residence at Rhode Island, and after having made use
of my own popularity to propagate this truth; in short, sir, after
all that my patriotism and affection for you have dictated to me, my
feelings were unavoidably hurt by your giving such an unfavourable turn
to my letter, and one which had never for a moment occurred to myself.
If in that letter I have offended or displeased you; if, for example,
you disapprove of that written account which General Washington asked
for, and which I thought I ought to submit to you, I give you my word
of honour that I thought I was doing a very simple thing; so simple,
indeed, that I should have considered I was wronging you by not doing

If you had heard that second division spoken of, sir, as I have done; if
you knew how strongly the English and the Tories endeavour to persuade
the Americans that France only wishes to kindle, without extinguishing
the flame, you would readily conceive that my desire of silencing those
reports might have inspired me, perhaps, with too much warmth. I will
confide to you that, thus placed in a foreign country, my self love is
wounded by seeing the French blockaded at Rhode Island, and the pain I
feel induces me to wish the operations to commence. As to what you write
to me, sir, respecting Rhode Island, if I were to give you an account of
all I have said, written, and inserted in the public papers; if you
had heard me, frequently in the midst of a group of American peasants,
relating the conduct of the French at Newport; if you were only to pass
three days here with me, you would see the injustice of your reproach.

If I have offended you, I ask your pardon, for two reasons; first,
because I am sincerely attached to you; and secondly, because it is my
earnest wish to do everything I can to please you here. As a private
individual, in all places your commands will ever be laws to me, and for
the meanest Frenchmen here I would make every possible sacrifice
rather than not contribute to their glory, comfort, and union with the
Americans. Such, sir, are my feelings, and although you have imagined
some which are very foreign to my heart, I forget that injustice to
think only of my sincere attachment to you.

P.S. I am far from thinking, sir, that I am in any degree the cause of
the sentiments that are experienced in this country for yourself and the
officers of your army. I am not so vain as to have entertained such an
idea; but I have had the advantage of knowing you, and I was, therefore,
able to foresee what would occur on your arrival, and to circulate
the opinions adopted by all those who have personally known you. I
am convinced, and no one here can deny it, that but for your arrival,
American affairs would have gone on badly this campaign; but, in our
present situation, this alone is not sufficient, and it is important to
gain advantages over the enemy. Believe, that when I wrote in _my own
name_, that opinion did not belong to myself alone; my only fault was
writing with warmth, in an official manner, that which you would have
forgiven on account of my youth, if I had addressed it as a friend
to yourself alone; but my intentions were so pure, that I was as much
surprised as pained by your letter, and that is saying a great deal.


Newport, August 27th, 1780.

Permit an aged father, my dear marquis, to reply to you as he would do
to a son whom he tenderly loves and esteems. You know me well enough to
feel convinced that I do not require being excited, that when I, at
my age, form a resolution founded upon military and state reasons, and
supported by circumstances, no possible instigation can induce me to
change my mind without a positive order from my general. I am happy
to say that his despatches, on the contrary, inform me that my ideas
correspond substantially with his own, as to all those points which
would allow us to turn this into an offensive operation, and that
we only differ in relation to some small details, on which a slight
explanation, or his commands, would suffice to remove all difficulties
in an instant. As a Frenchman, you feel humiliated, my dear friend, at
seeing an English squadron blockading in this country, with a decided
superiority of frigates and ships, the Chevalier de Ternay's squadron;
but console yourself, my dear marquis, the port of Brest has been
blockaded for two months by an English fleet, and this is what
prevents the second division from setting out under the escort of M. de
Bougainville. If you had made the two last wars, you would have heard
nothing spoken of but these same blockades; I hope that M. de Guichen,
on one side, and M. de Gaston, on the other, will revenge us for these
momentary mortifications.

It is always right, my dear marquis, to believe that Frenchmen are
invincible; but I, after an experience of forty years, am going to
confide a great secret to you: there are no men more easily beaten when
they have lost confidence in their chiefs, and they lose it instantly
when their lives have been compromised, owing to any private or
personal ambition. If I have been so fortunate as to have retained
their confidence until the present moment, I may declare, upon the most
scrupulous examination of my own conscience, that I owe it entirely to
this fact, that, of about fifteen thousand men who have been killed
or wounded under my command, of various ranks, and in the most bloody
actions, I have not to reproach myself with having caused the death of a
single man for my own personal advantage.

You wrote to the Chevalier de Chastellux, my dear marquis, that the
interview I requested of our general has embarrassed him, because it
only becomes necessary after the arrival of the second division,
when there will be quite time enough to act. But you must surely have
forgotten that I have unceasingly requested that interview immediately,
and that it is absolutely necessary that he, the admiral, and I, should
concert together all our projects and details, that in case one of
the three chances should occur and enable us to act offensively, our
movements may be prompt and decisive. In one of these three cases, my
dear marquis, you will find in your old prudent father some remnants of
vigour and activity. Be ever convinced of my sincere affection, and
that if I pointed out to you very gently what displeased me in your last
despatch, I felt at the time convinced that the warmth of your heart
had somewhat impaired the coolness of your judgment. Retain that latter
quality in the council-room, and reserve all the former for the hour of
action. It is always the aged father, Rochambeau, who is addressing his
dear son Lafayette, whom he loves, and will ever love and esteem until
his latest breath.


Robinson House, opposite W. Point, Sept. 26, 1780.

When I parted from you yesterday, sir, to come and breakfast here with
General Arnold, we were far from foreseeing the event which I am now
going to relate to you.~[1]

You will shudder at the danger to which we have been exposed; you will
admire the miraculous chain of unexpected events and singular chances
that have saved us; but you will be still more astonished when you learn
by what instruments this conspiracy has been formed. West Point was
sold--and sold by Arnold: the same man who formerly acquired glory by
rendering such immense services to his country. He had lately entered
into a horrible compact with the enemy, and but for the accident that
brought us here at a certain hour, but for the combination of chances
that threw the adjutant-general of the English army in the hands of some
peasants, beyond the limits of our stations, West Point and the North
River, we should both at present, in all probability, be in possession
of the enemy.

When we set out yesterday for Fishkill, we were preceded by one of my
aides-de-camp, and one of General Knox's, who found General Arnold and
his wife at breakfast, and sat down at table with them. Whilst they were
together, two letters were given to Arnold, which apprised him of the
arrestration of the spy. He ordered a horse to be saddled, went into his
wife's room to tell her he was ruined, and desired his aide-de-camp
to inform General Washington that he was going to West Point and would
return in the course of an hour.

On our arrival here, we crossed the river and went to examine the works.
You may conceive our astonishment when we learnt, on our return, that
the arrested spy was Major André, adjutant-general of the English army;
and when amongst his papers were discovered the copy of an important
council of war, the state of the garrison and works, and observations
upon various means of attack and defence, the whole in Arnold's own hand

The adjutant-general wrote also to the general, avowing his name and
situation. Orders were sent to arrest Arnold; but he escaped in a
boat, got on board the English frigate the _Vulture_, and as no person
suspected his flight, he was not stopped at any post. Colonel Hamilton,
who had gone in pursuit of him, received soon after, by a flag of truce,
a letter from Arnold to the general, in which he entered into no details
to justify his treachery, and a letter from the English commander,
Robertson, who, in a very insolent manner, demanded that the
adjutant-general should be delivered up to them, as he had only acted
with the permission of General Arnold.

The first care of the general has been to assemble, at West Point, the
troops that, under various pretences, Arnold had dispersed. We remain
here to watch over the safety of a fort, that the English may respect
less as they become better acquainted with it. Continental troops have
been summoned here, and as Arnold's advice may determine Clinton to make
a sudden movement, the army has received orders to be prepared to march
at a moment's warning.


1. The project of an expedition against New York had not been abandoned:
it was still canvassed by letter. General Washington agreed with
the French generals as to the necessity of waiting for a naval
reinforcement. The latter insisted upon having a conference with the
General and M. de Lafayette. (See especially Washington's Letter of the
21st August, vol. vii. p. 169.) That long deferred conference was at
length granted, and it was fixed that it should take place at Hartford
(Connecticut). Washington left his army the 18th of September. It will
be recollected that it was his interview with Arnold at the passage of
the Hudson, that induced the latter to take the steps which led to
the discovery of the conspiracy. (See above.) Some days after, M. de
Rochambeau wrote thus to M. de Lafayette:--

"Providence has declared itself for us, my dear marquis,--and that
important interview, which I have so long wished for, and which has
given me so much pleasure, has been crowned by a peculiar mark of the
favour of Heaven. The Chevalier de la Luzerne has not yet arrived; I
took the liberty of opening your letter to him, in which I found all the
details of that horrible conspiracy, and I am penetrated with mingled
feelings, of grief at the event itself, and joy at its discovery."


Camp, on the right side of the North River, near the Island of New York,
October 4th, 1780.

A French frigate arriving from America,--the son of M. de Rochambeau
on board! Good God, what a commotion all that will excite, and how much
trouble inquisitive people will take to discover the secrets of the
ministers. But I, my dear cousin, will confide to you our secret. The
French army has arrived at Rhode Island, and has not quitted that spot.
M. de Ternay's seven vessels have been blockaded the whole time, and the
English have nineteen vessels here under that lucky commander, Rodney.
We Americans, without money, without pay, and without provisions, by
holding out fair promises, have succeeded in forming an army, which
has been offering to fight a battle with the English for the last three
months, but which cannot without vessels reach the island of New York.
Gates, who was no favourite of mine, has become still less so since he
has allowed himself to be beaten in the south. But all this is quite as
monontonous as a European war, and catastrophes are necessary to excite
and sustain the interest of men.

You must know, then, my cousin, that a certain General Arnold, of some
reputation in the world, was our commander at West Point, a fort on
the North River, whose importance the Duke d'Ayen will explain to you.
General Washington and I, returning from Hartford, where we had held
a conference with the French generals, discovered a conspiracy of
the highest importance. We owe that discovery to an almost incredible
combination of accidents. West Point was sold by Arnold, and we were
consequently lost. The traitor has fled to join the enemy.

I received letters from you by the fleet, and by the Alliance, and I am
impatiently expecting more recent ones. The nation will not be pleased
with the state of tranquillity in which we remain. But as we have no
ships, we can only wait for the enemy's blows, and General Clinton does
not appear in any haste to attack us. As to ourselves, we republicans
preach lectures to our sovereign master, the people, to induce him
to recommence his exertions. In the mean while we practise so much
frugality, and are in such a state of poverty and nudity, that I
trust an account will be kept in the next world, whilst we remain in
purgatory, of all we have suffered here.

Poircy~[1] is here, and although he does not find a St. Germain in this
part of the world, he accustoms himself extremely well, I assure you,
to a soldier's life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all
the news you gave me. Although they afforded me the greatest pleasure, I
scarcely dare reply to them, from the fear that my answers may appear to
come from another world. I saw in the paper that the King of Spain was
dead: has God, then, punished him for having conferred the title of
grandee upon M. de Montbarrey?

I need not tell you that I am in good health, for that is, you know,
my usual custom. My situation here is as agreeable as possible. I am in
high favour, I believe, with the French army: the American army shew me
every possible kindness and attention. I have the command of a flying
corps, composed of the elite of the troops. My friend General Washington
continues to be everything to me that I before described to you.

Adieu, my dear cousin. When shall I again see you? I pray that God may
grant us an honourable peace, and that I may embrace my friends, and I
willingly, for my own part, will give up my share of the glory in the
hope eventually to win.

Present my affectionate regards to M. de Tesse, M. de Mun, M. Tenai, and
the baron;~[2] I was on the point of saying, embrace his daughter for


1. Secretary. The Marshal de Noailles had a house at Saint Germain.

2. The Baron de Tott.


Near Fort Lee, opposite Fort Washington, on the North River, Oct. 7th,

You must have already learnt, my dearest love, all that can interest you
relating to myself, from my arrival at Boston until my voyage to Rhode
Island, which place public affairs, and the desire of seeing my friends,
induced me to visit soon after my landing. I have been since to Hartford
in Connecticut, to be present at an interview between the French
generals and General Washington: of all my young friends, Damas ~[1] was
the only one who accompanied us. The viscount~[2] and I often write
to each other, but we do not meet, and the poor man remains shut up in
Rhode Island; the French squadron detains the army there, and is itself
detained by nineteen ships of the line and sundry other ships of war,
upon which M. Rodney proudly exhibits the British colours. So long as
our naval inferiority lasts, you need feel no anxiety about the health
of your friends in America.

I must speak to you, however, about my health; it continues excellent,
and has not been interrupted for a single moment; a soldier's mode of
living is extremely frugal, and the general officers of the rebel army
fare very differently from the French army at Newport. You have probably
heard that, on my arrival in America, I found the army of General
Washington very weak in numbers, and still more so in resources. Our
prospects were not brilliant, and the loss of Charleston was for us a
most heavy blow, but the desire of co-operating with their allies gave
new vigour to the states. General Washington's army increased more than
half in number, and more than ten thousand militia were added to it,
who would have come forward if we had acted offensively. Associations
of merchants and patriotic banks were formed to supply the army with
subsistence. The ladies made, and are still making, subscriptions, to
afford succour to the soldiers. When that idea was first proposed, I
made myself your ambassador to the ladies of Philadelphia, and you are
inscribed on the list for a hundred guineas. General Gates had in the
south an army quite sufficient for defence; but he has been completely
beaten in Carolina. The fruit of all these labours has been, to prove to
the French that the Americans desire nothing better than to second their
views upon England, to prove to the English that the flame of liberty
was not wholly extinguished in America, and to keep us, during the
whole campaign, in daily expectation of a battle, which General Clinton,
although equal to us in number, has never thought proper to accept. If
we had only had ships, we should have been enabled to do a great deal

As I know that all that interests me deeply is also interesting to you,
I will tell you that we are much occupied by an important system, which
would secure to us a considerable army during the whole war, and would
bring into action all the resources which America is capable of making.
God grant that the nation may understand its true interests, and our
affairs will go on without difficulty!

M. de Rochambeau and M. de Ternay, as well as all the other French
officers, conduct themselves extremely well here. A little ebullition of
frankness gave rise to a slight altercation between those generals
and myself. As I perceived I could not convince them, and that it was
important for the public good that we should remain friends; I declared,
with due humility, that I had been mistaken, that I had committed an
error, and, in short, in proper terms, I asked their pardon, which
produced such an excellent effect that we are now on a more amicable
footing than ever.

I command a flying corps, which always forms an advance guard, and
is quite independent of the great army; this is far too grand for our
pacific situation.

On the Hackensack River, Oct. 8th, 1780.

You will learn, my dearest love, an important event, which has exposed
America to the greatest danger. A frightful conspiracy has been planned
by the celebrated Arnold: he sold to the English the fort of West Point,
which was under his command, and, consequently, the whole navigation of
the river: the plot was within an ace of succeeding, and quite as
many chances combined together to discover it as in that affair of
the _Alliance_, which I have so often described to you.~[3] After our
journey to Hartford, General Washington passed by West Point, which was
not on his road; but he was desirous of shewing me the works that had
been constructed since my departure for France. Detained by various
accidents upon the road, we arrived at the traitor's house just as he
received the letters which announced that he had been discovered. He had
not time to intercept those proofs of infamy, and consequently he could
only make his escape towards New York half an hour before our arrival.

The adjutant-general of the English army has been arrested under a
feigned name and dress. He was an important person, the friend and
confidant of General Clinton. He behaved with so much frankness,
courage, and delicacy, that I could not help lamenting his unhappy fate.

I received, with great delight, the letters of my dear sisters; I shall
write to them to-morrow; but I shall send this scrawl, as I fear the
frigate may depart. I finish my letter in this place, having begun it
rather more close to the enemy: we had approached them to protect a
small enterprise, in which a detachment of my advance-guard has been
engaged, and which only ended by capturing two officers, and fifteen
men and horses. We are now marching towards a place you will find marked
upon the map Sotawa, whither the grand army is also to repair. I shall
write to Madame d'Ayen and to my sisters.

Sotawa Bridge, October 10th, 1780.

I am closing my letter, but before sealing it, I must again speak to you
for a moment of my affection. General Washington was much pleased by the
kind messages which I delivered from you; he desires me to present to
you his tender regards; he is affectionately attached to George, and is
much gratified by the name we have given him. We often speak of you and
of the little family. Adieu, adieu.


1. The Count Charles de Damas, died a peer of France under the

2. The Viscount de Noailles.

3. The conspiracy discovered on board the frigate which brought home M.
de Lafayette, in September, 1779.



Light Camp, October 30th, 1780.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--In our conversations upon military operations you have
often told me that, since the beginning of the campaign, your eyes were
turned towards a project upon which I generally agree in opinion with
you, and beg leave to offer some observations.

Far from lessening my desire of finishing the campaign by some brilliant
stroke, the project of Staten Island, though it miscarried, has
strengthened my opinions, as I have clearly seen, by the details of this
operation, that we should, in all human probability, have succeeded, and
that our men were fully equal to any enterprise of that kind.~[1]

My reasons for wishing to undertake something are these:--1st. Any
enterprise will please the people of this country, and shew them that
when we have men we do not lie still; and even a defeat (provided it
was not fatal) would have its good consequences. 2ndly. The French court
have often complained to me of the inactivity of the American army, who,
before the alliance, had distinguished themselves by their spirit of
enterprise. They have often told me, your friends leave us now to fight
their battles, and do no more risk themselves: it is, moreover, of the
greatest political importance to let them know, that, on our side, we
were ready to co-operate. Be sure, my dear general, that many people's
interest will be to let it be believed that we _were not ready_, and if
anything may engage the ministry to give us the asked for support,
it will be our proving to the nation that, on our side, _we had been
ready_. So far was the Chevalier de la Luzerne convinced of this (and on
this point the minister's interest is the same as ours) that he was made
happy by my mentioning to him the Staten Island affair. I well know
the court of Versailles, and were I to go to it, I should think it very
impolitic to go there unless we had done something. 3rdly. It is
more than probable that mediators will interfere this winter by a
negotiation. Then England will say, how can we give up people whom we
consider as half conquered; their best city has been taken by an army
not much superior to the people that were to defend it; their southern
army was routed almost as soon as looked at by the British troops
New York is so much ours, that they dare not approach it, and General
Washington's army does not exceed five thousand men. What shall France
answer? Principally now that from the letters I have received I find
the Charleston affair has brought our arms into contempt. But what
difference, if France might say, the American army has taken, sword in
hand, your best works; they have offered to you the battle upon your own
island, and, perhaps they may add (for news increases in travelling),
they are now in possession of New York.

Upon these considerations, my dear general, what I want is this, to find
an expedition which may wear a brilliant aspect, and afford probable
advantages, also an immense, though very remote one, which, if
unsuccessful, may not turn fatal to us, for the loss of two or three
hundred men, half of them being enlisted for two months, I do not
consider as a ruinous adventure.

The basis of the plan will be, that Fort Washington, being in our
possession, may, with the Fort Lee batteries, protect our crossing North
River, and be a security for our retreat, principally if some works are
added on the point of embarkation. The taking of Fort Washington we
may demonstrate to be very probable, and upon that point you are of my

The enemy have, on the upper part of the Island from fifteen hundred
to two thousand men, who would immediately occupy all the other upper
posts. Their army on Long Island would repair to New York, and there
would also retire the troops posted at Harlem.

As soon as Fort Washington should be ours, the army would cross over
to the island, and those of West Point arrive in the same time (which
calculation may be easily done) so that we should effectually possess
all the upper posts, or cut them off from their main army. Some militia
would come to our assistance, and as these posts are not well furnished
with provisions we should take them, at least, by famine.

The enemy's army consists of nine thousand men: they must certainly
leave one thousand men in their several posts; fifteen hundred of them,
at least, will be either killed at Fort Washington or blocked up at
Laurel Hill, and they will then have between six and seven thousand men
to attack ten. The two thousand militia (in supposing that they durst
take them out) I do not mention, because we may have four thousand
militia for them: under such circumstances it is, probable that Sir
Henry Clinton will venture a battle. If he does, and by chance beat us,
we retire under Fort Washington; but, if we beat him, his works will be
at such a distance, that he will be ruined in the retreat. If, on the
contrary, he knows that the French army is coming, and if we spread
the report of a second division, or of Count de Guichen being upon the
coasts, he will keep in his works, and we will, some way or other, carry
the upper posts. When we are upon the spot we may reconnoitre New York,
and see if something is to be done. If Clinton was making a forage into
the Jerseys, I should be clear for pushing to the city.

If we undertake, the circumstances of the weather make it necessary that
we undertake immediately. I would move the army, as soon as possible,
to our position near the new bridge. This movement may invite Clinton in
the Jerseys, and bring us nearer to the point of execution.

Though my private glory and yours, my dear general, both of which are
very dear to my heart, are greatly interested, not so much for the
opinions of America, as for those of Europe, in our doing something
this campaign, I hope you know me too well to think I should insist upon
steps of this nature unless I knew that they were politically necessary,
and had a sufficient military probability.

I have the honour to be, &c.

The six hundred men of Luzerne's legion might be got in twelve days. If
our movements had no other effect but to make a diversion in favour of
the south, it would, on that footing, meet with the approbation of the
world, and perhaps impeach the operations of General Leslie.


1. M. de Lafayette had taken, since the 7th of August, command of the
corps of light infantry, consisting of six companies of men, selected
in different lines of the army. Those battalions were divided into two
brigades; one under the command of General Hand, the other of General
Poor. The inactivity of the army was very opposite to the character and
policy of M. de Lafayette; he endeavoured incessantly to find means of
putting an end to it, at least as far as regarded himself. The 14th of
August he had written to General Washington to ask his permission to
attempt a nocturnal surprise on the two camps of Hessians established at
New York Island. At the beginning of October, he attempted an expedition
on Italian Island, which could not be accomplished, owing to a mistake
made by the administration of the materality of the army. This letter,
and the letters of the 13th of November, allude to this circumstance.
We have been obliged to retrench ten letters, which relate solely to the
unimportant incidents of a war of observation.



Head-quarters, 30th October, 1780.

It is impossible, my dear marquis, to desire more ardently than I do,
to terminate the campaign by some happy stroke; but we must consult our
means rather than our wishes, and not endeavour to better our affairs
by attempting things which, for want of success, may make them worse. We
are to lament that there has been a misapprehension of our circumstances
in Europe; but to endeavour to recover our reputation, we should take
care that we do not injure it more. Ever since it became evident that
the allied arms could not co-operate this campaign, I have had an eye to
the point you mention, determined, if a favourable opening should offer,
to embrace it; but, so far as my information goes, the enterprise would
not be warranted; it would, in my opinion, be imprudent to throw an army
of ten thousand men upon an island against nine thousand, exclusive of
seamen and militia. This, from the accounts we have, appears to be the
enemy's force. All we can do at present, therefore, is to endeavour to
gain a more certain knowledge of their situation, and act accordingly.
This I have been some time employed in doing, but hitherto with little
success. I shall thank you for any aids you can afford. Arnold's flight
seems to have frightened all my intelligencers out of their senses. I am
sincerely and affectionately yours.



Light Camp, November 13th, 1780.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--In revolving in my mind the chances of discovery by
moonlight, and, on the other hand, the inconveniences of staying longer
than you wish under our tents, I have thought if there was any position
which might enable us to take advantage of the first hours of the night.
How far the sending of the Pennsylvanians towards Aquakanac, and going
ourselves to the Hukinsac~[1] position, may awaken the enemy, I cannot
pretend to say. The most difficult affair in this would be the article
of the boats. Colonel Smith will go tomorrow morning to West Point,
unless any intelligence received at head-quarters had made it useful
that the enterprise be attempted soon, in which case he would go and
reconnoitre the place. Suppose he was to bring from West Point Colonel
Gouvion, who has often examined the place with the eye of an engineer.
These ideas, my dear general, have rather started into any mind, than
become fixed, and I thought I would communicate them.

Most affectionately and respectfully yours,


The Marquis de Laval Montmorency, one of the most illustrious families
in France, is on his way to the camp. The Chevalier de Chastellux, a
relation and friend of mine, major-general in the French army, is also
coming. I every day expect my brother-in-law, and his friend, Count
de Charlus, only son to the Marquis de Castries, who enjoys a great
consideration in France, and has won the battle of Closter Camp. The
Duke of Lauzun has also written to me that he would come soon.~[2] These
five gentlemen may, by their existence at home, be considered as the
first people in the French army. This little history I give you before
their arrival, in consequence of what you have desired from me at the

I write some letters to the commanding officers at Fishkill, West Point,
and King's Ferry, so that the gentlemen may be directed to come by the
best road to my quarters, from which I will present them to you. I think
the letters ought to be sent as soon as possible.

P.S. As General Heath commands in all these parts, I think, upon
recollection, that I had better write to him alone. You might also send
him a line on the subject.


1. The general-in-chief projected an attack on the posts of the northern
part of New York. While General Heath was to attract, by a feint, the
attention of the enemy, Washington was to march in advance, and M. de
Lafayette to attack Fort Washington. This expedition, for which great
preparations had been made, terminated in a few reconnoitring parties.
The campaign closed without an engagement.

2. The Marquis de Laval, is the Duke de Laval, who died under the
restoration. The Chevalier de Chastellux is well known by his works.
The Count de Charlus is at present the Duke de Castries, member of the
chamber of peers. M. de Lauzun has been general in the service of the
French republic.



Paramus, November the 28th, 1780.

My dear General,--We arrived last night at this place, and were much
favoured by the weather in our recognising of the Island, where, I
confess, my feelings were different from what I had experienced when
looking at these forts with a hopeful eye. I saw the fatal sentry
alluded to, Colonel Gouvion, on an upper battery of Jeffery's Hook.
I also saw a small vessel playing off this Hook, but quite a trifling
thing, without guns, and but two men on board. Nothing else on the river
but the usual guards of spiting devil.

As you have been pleased to consult me on the choice of an
adjutant-general, I will repeat here, my dear general, that though I
have a claim upon General Hand, in every other point of view, his zeal,
obedience, and love of discipline, have given me a very good opinion of

Colonel Smith has been by me wholly employed in that line, and I can
assure you that he will perfectly answer your purpose.

Unless, however, you were to cast your eye on a man who, I think, would
suit better than any other in the world. Hamilton is, I confess,
the officer whom I should like to see in that station. With equal
advantages, his services deserve from you the preference to any other.
His knowledge of your opinions and intentions on military arrangements,
his love of discipline, the superiority he would have over all the
others, principally when both armies shall operate together, and his
uncommon abilities, are calculated to render him perfectly agreeable
to you. His utility would be increased by this preferment; and on other
points he could render important services. An adjutant-general ought
always to be with the commander-in-chief. Hamilton should, therefore,
remain in your family, and his great industry in business would render
him perfectly serviceable in all circumstances. On every public or
private account, my dear general, I would advise you to take him.

I shall, on my arrival at Philadelphia, write you how those matters are
going, upon which I build my private schemes. But I heartily wish that
some account or other from Europe may enable you to act this winter on
maritime operations. I hate the idea of being from you for so long a
time; but I think I ought not to stay idle. At all events, I must return
when your army takes the field.

I flatter myself with the hope of meeting Mrs. Washington on the road.
Adieu, my dear general, most affectionately and respectfully yours.



Philadelphia, December 5th, 1780.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--By my letter of yesterday I have mentioned to you that
a Spanish expedition was intended against St. Augustine. They mean to
set out at the end of December, which will certainly delay them till
the middle of January. It consists of twelve ships of the line, some
frigates, bomb ketches, and a large number of troops. I have advised the
minister to communicate officially to you this intelligence, and also to
Count de Rochambeau, that proper means, if convenient, may be taken to
improve it.

For my part, my dear general, I have conducted myself agreeably to what
you said to me in our last conversations, that if, in the course of the
winter, a naval superiority was obtained, our business should be to
push for the southward, and that you would take for that purpose four
thousand French and two thousand Americans. Nothing against New York
can be undertaken before the end of May. Anything, therefore, that could
employ us during February, March, and April, is worthy of our attention.

The confederacy was going to sail for some clothing which we have in
the West Indies. No time was left to wait for an answer from you. I knew
perfectly your sense of this affair. I therefore, with the advice of
Chevalier de la Luzerne, wrote him a letter dated from Camp, wherein
I explained to him that something might be done in conjunction for
the public good. My opinion is strengthened by your sentiments on this
matter, without, however, bringing myself, and still less yourself, to
make any formal application to the Spanish generals.

Inclosed you will find a copy of this letter, the first part of which
mentions that if, after having landed their troops in Florida, they
would send their ships of the line for us, we might, at three weeks
notice before the departure of the squadron, have in readiness six
thousand men for a powerful diversion in Carolina. Their own interest is
the only thing I seem to consider in this business, and I endeavour to
invite Spanish caution in this measure; but, unless a more particular
application is made, I do not believe that this part of my letter will
have any effect.

The second part will, I hope, be productive of some good for America.
I urge the necessity immediately to open a correspondence with General
Greene that he may, by his manoeuvres, facilitate the operation of
Spain. I tell them, that unless they land a corps of troops on the
boundaries of Georgia, with a view at least to threaten Augusta and
Savannah, their expedition will run a great risk. I advise the measure
of cruizing off Charleston Harbour, the whole under the idea of their
own interest.

I have also written to the naval French commander in the West Indies,
advising him to succour Chevalier de Ternay, which I know he will not
do. But I take this opportunity of condemning their foolish neglect, in
not appearing on our coasts when they return to Europe; and I do also
advise that, in their cruizes from St. Domingo, they may sometimes
appear off Savannah and Charlestown Harbour. Inclosed you will find a
copy of this letter.

Though I always speak of the beginning of February, it is, however,
certain, that any time in February would be convenient to go to the
southward. March and April are more than sufficient for the taking of
Charlestown; and in all cases, I know, from our last conversations, that
you wish for a naval superiority this winter, in order to succour the
southern states.

I had this morning, my dear general, a long conversation with the
Chevalier de la Luzerne, relating to a southern operation. He is, as
well as myself, clearly of opinion, that unless a formal application and
a plan of campaign be proposed to them, they will not send their ships
to us. In this last case their coming ought still to be questioned.
But if you thought it better to try, you might propose to the French
generals to send a frigate there, and see, with them, what might be done
in conjunction. Suppose they were to take four thousand men, leaving
some, and the militia, at Rhode Island. We could on our part muster two
thousand Americans. However, the Spaniards are so positive and strict
in following literally their instructions that I do not believe anything
will engage them to come. But my letter, which I look upon as a mere
cipher on the first proposition, will, I hope, engage, them to impart
their projects to General Greene, and of course this diversion will
become useful to us.

Suppose Count de Rochambeau and Chevalier de Ternay were to send to
Havanna a copy of your letter, I think they ought to intrust it to
Viscount de Noailles, who will soon return to Rhode Island, and whose
name is highly respected by the court of Spain for many particular
reasons, too long to be mentioned here.

I have seen Mr. Ross, and find that very little clothing is to be for
the present expected. They have some arms on board the _Alliance_,
and, I think, a hundred bales of cloth on board a vessel under Jones's
convoy. The remainder will come with the _Serapis_. Unless the storm
has forced Jones to put in some French harbour, he may be expected every

The assembly of Pennsylvania have before them the affair of the
recruits; but proper arrangements are not properly supported. They are
fond of voluntary enlistments. I have an appointment for to-morrow with
General Mifflin, where I will debate this matter with him.

To-morrow, my dear general, I will go to Brandywine with Chevalier de
Chastellux, and also to Red Bank, Fort Mifflin, &c. On my return I hope
to find news from France, and I will write you my determination about my
going to the southward.

Inclosed you will find a newspaper, wherein congress have printed a
letter from General Gates, relating to a new success of Sumpter.

Congress have lately received letters from Mr. Jay and Mr. Adams,
but nothing very particular. They have more fully written by other
opportunities that are expected. Portugal has entered into the
convention of neutrality, and with such conditions as to shew their
partiality to our side of the question.

Adieu, my dear general, most respectfully and affectionately.


1. The winter, according to custom, causing the dispersion of the army,
M. de Lafayette repaired to Philadelphia to be nearer arrivals and
intelligence from Europe. It was there he first conceived the project
of going to serve in the south under General Greene, who was to make a
winter campaign. As regards the project of making a division in Florida,
with the co-operation of the Spaniards, he seconded it with ardour, and
to General Washington, M. de la Luzerne, and the Spanish commanders, he
wrote long letters on the subject, which have but little interest, owing
to the project not having been attended with any important result: those
letters have been omitted.



New Windsor, 14th December, 1780.

My dear Marquis,--Soon after despatching my last letter to you, your
favour dated at Paramus was put into my hands by Colonel Gouvion. The
Chevalier de la Luzerne's despatches came in time for the post, which is
the only means left me for the conveyance of letters; there not being so
much money in the hands of the quartermaster-general (I believe I might
go further, and say in those of the whole army,) as would bear the
expense of an express to Rhode Island. I could not get one the other day
to ride so far as Compton.

I am now writing to the Count de Rochambeau and the Chevalier de Ternay,
on the subject of your several letters. When their answer arrives, I
will communicate the contents to you. You must be convinced, from what
passed at the interview at Hartford, that my command of the French
troops at Rhode Island stands upon a very limited scale, and that
it would be impolitic and fruitless in me to propose any measures of
co-operation to a third power, without their concurrence; consequently
an application from you, antecedently to an official proposition from
the minister of France, the gentlemen at the head of the French armament
at Rhode Island, congress, or myself, could only be considered as coming
from a private gentleman; it is, therefore, my advice to you to postpone
your correspondence with the Spanish generals, and let your influence
come in hereafter, as auxiliary to something more formal and official.
I do not hesitate to give it clearly as my opinion to you, (but this
opinion and this business should be concealed behind a curtain,) that
the favourable moment of the Spanish operations in the Floridas ought to
be improved to the utmost extent of our means, provided the Spaniards,
by a junction of their maritime force with that of his most Christian
Majesty, under the command of the Chevalier de Ternay, will give us a
secure convoy, and engage not to leave us until the operations shall be
at an end, or it can be done by consent of parties.

I am very thankful to the minister for permitting, and to you for
communicating to General Greene, intelligence of the Spanish movement
towards the Floridas. It may have a happy influence on his measures,
and it may be equally advantageous to the Spaniards. Your expressions of
personal attachment and affection to me are flattering and pleasing, and
fill me with gratitude. It is unnecessary, I trust, on my part, to give
you assurances of mutual regard, because I hope you are convinced
in your own choice to go to the southern army or to stay with this,
circumstances and inclination alone must govern you. It would add to my
pleasure if I could encourage your hope of Colonel Nevill's exchange.
I refused to interest myself in the exchange of my own aide. General
Lincoln's were exchanged with himself, and upon that occasion, for I
know of no other, congress passed a resolution, prohibiting exchanges
out of the order of captivity.

Under one general head, I shall express my concern for your
disappointment of letters, our disappointment of clothes, and
disappointment in the mode of raising men; but I shall congratulate you
on the late change of the administration of France,~[1] as it seems to
be consonant to your wishes, and to encourage hope. I am much pleased
at the friendly disposition of Portugal. Much good, I hope, will result
from the combination of the maritime powers. I am in very confined
quarters; little better than those at Valley Forge, but such as they are
I shall welcome into them your friends on their return to Rhode Island.
I am, &c.


1. Footnote 1: The Marquis de Castries had succeeded, as minister of the
navy, to M. de Sartine. This change gave rise to the hope that France
would send the promised succours, and that expectation induced M. de
Lafayette to renounce his journey to the south.


New Windsor, on the North River, Jan. 30th, 1781.

The letters which I had the honour of writing to you, sir, and which
were dated the 20th May, 19th July, 4th and 16th December, have, I hope,
reached you safely. Since the arrival of the squadron, your despatch
of the 3rd of June is the only one I have received. The Chevalier de la
Luzerne has only received one letter of the same month, and none have
yet reached the officers of the army and squadron.

The first copy of this letter will be delivered to you by
Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens, aide-de-camp to General Washington, who is
charged by congress with a private mission. Permit me to recommend
to you this officer as a man who, by his integrity, frankness, and
patriotism, must be extremely acceptable to government.

According to the instructions of congress, he will place before you the
actual state of our affairs, which demand, I think more than ever, the
most serious attention. As to the opinions which I may allow myself
to express, sir, they entirely correspond with those I have hitherto
expressed, and the very slight alterations observable in them have been
occasioned by a change of time, prejudices, and circumstances.

With a naval inferiority, it is impossible to make war in America. It
is that which prevents us from attacking any point that might be carried
with two or three thousand men. It is that which reduces us to defensive
operations, as dangerous as they are humiliating. The English are
conscious of this truth, and all their movements prove how much they
desire to retain the empire of the sea. The harbours, the country, and
all the resources it offers, appear to invite us to send thither a naval
force. If we had possessed but a maritime superiority this spring, much
might have been achieved with the army that M. de Rochambeau brought
with him, and it would not have been necessary to have awaited the
division he announced to us. If M. de Guichen had stopped at Rhode
Island, on his way to France, Arbuthnot would have been ruined, and not
all Rodney's efforts could have prevented our gaining victories. Since
the hour of the arrival of the French, their inferiority has never for
one moment ceased, and the English and the Tories have dared to say that
France wished to kindle, without extinguishing the flame. This calumny
becomes more dangerous at a period when the English detachments are
wasting the south; when, under the protection of some frigates, corps of
fifteen hundred men are repairing to Virginia, without our being able to
get to them. On the whole continent, with the exception of the Islands
of Newport, it is physically impossible that we should carry on an
offensive war without ships, and even on those Islands the difficulty
of transportation, the scarcity of provisions, and many other
inconveniences, render all attempts too precarious to enable us to form
any settled plan of campaign.

The result, sir, of all this is, that the advantage of the United States
being the object of the war, and the progress of the enemy on that
continent being the true means of prolonging it, and of rendering it,
perhaps, even injurious to us, it becomes, in a political and military
point of view, necessary to give us, both by vessels sent from France,
and by a great movement in the fleet in the Islands, a decided naval
superiority for the next campaign; and also, sir, to give us money
enough to place the American forces in a state of activity; fifteen
thousand of the regular army, and ten thousand, or, if we choose it, a
still greater number of militia in this part of the country; a southern
army, of which I cannot tell precisely the extent, but which will be
formed by the five southern states, with all means of supporting in this
country such a considerable force. Such, sir, are the resources that
you may employ against the common enemy; immense sums of money could not
transport resources of equal value from Europe to America, but these,
without a succour of money, although established on the very theatre
of war, will become useless; and that succour, which was always very
important, is now absolutely necessary.

The last campaign took place without a shilling having been spent; all
that credit, persuasion, and force could achieve, has been done,--but
that can hold out no longer: that miracle, of which I believe no similar
example can be found, cannot be renewed, and our exertions having been
made to obtain an army for the war, we must depend on you to enable us
to make use of it.

From my peculiar situation, sir, and from what it has enabled me to know
and see, I think it is my duty to call your attention to the American
soldiers and on the part they must take in the operations of the
next campaign. The continental troops have as much courage and real
discipline as those that are opposed to them. They are more inured to
privation, more patient than Europeans, who, on these two points, cannot
be compared to them. They have several officers of great merit, without
mentioning those who have served during the last wars, and from their
own talents have acquired knowledge intuitively; they have been formed
by the daily experience of several campaigns, in which, the armies being
small, and the country a rugged one, all the battalions of the line were
obliged to serve as advance-guards and light troops. The recruits whom
we are expecting, and who only bear, in truth, the name of recruits,
have frequently fought battles in the same regiments which they are
now re-entering, and have seen more gun-shots than three-fourths of the
European soldiers. As to the militia, they are only armed peasants,
who have occasionally fought, and who are not deficient in ardour and
discipline, but whose services would be most useful in the labours of a
siege. This, sir, is the faithful picture that I think myself obliged to
send you, and which it is not my interest to paint in glowing colours,
because it would be more glorious to succeed with slighter means. The
Chevalier de la Luzerne, who, having himself seen our soldiers, will
give you a detailed and disinterested account of them, will doubtless
tell you, as I do, that you may depend upon our regular troops. The
result of this digression, sir, is, to insist still more earnestly on
the necessity of sending money to put the American troops in movement,
and to repeat that well-known truth, that a pecuniary succour and
a naval superiority must be the two principal objects of the next

It would take us too long to examine the faults that have been
committed, and the efforts that the states may still endeavour to make:
we must return to the former point, that, under present circumstances,
money is requisite to derive any advantage from the American resources;
that the means which have been substituted for funds are almost
completely worn out; that those to which we are at present reduced, do
not fulfil the proposed end, and are opposed to the ideas which induced
the nation to commence the revolution; that, consequently, we require
money to restore to the army that degree of activity without which it
cannot operate in an efficacious manner. Clothes, arms, ammunition, are
comprised in the same article, and Colonel Laurens carries with him a
copy of the former list, from which some deductions have been made. I
will content myself with saying, that nothing of any importance has
been sent us, that it is necessary to clothe the American army, that
it requires arms, and, to be enabled to besiege places, a great
augmentation of powder. As these expenses relate to the pecuniary
succours, and are those which will strike most forcibly individuals,
both of the army and nation, I think it important that the government
should prepare them with promptness, and send them in a secure manner.

If it should appear strange, sir, to call that completion of the army
a great effort, I would beg to observe, that hunger, cold, nudity, and
labour, the certainty of receiving no pay, clothes, or necessary food,
being the prospects held out to the American soldier, they must be but
little inviting to citizens who are, generally speaking, accustomed to
live at home with some degree of comfort; and the English having had
sufficient time to think of all the naval points, the attacks of
next year will be anything rather than surprises, and our forces must
increase in proportion to their precautions. I could have wished that
there had been some French troops, and my confidence in the decrease
of prejudice has been even greater than that of congress, General
Washington, or your minister at that time. The advance-guard of the
Count de Rochambeau, although inactive itself from want of ships, by its
presence alone has rendered an essential service to America: if it had
not arrived, the campaign would have been a ruinous one. When I consider
the present state of feeling, my opinion, as I have had the honour of
telling you before, would be to send hither, for the expedition of New
York, a division of about ten thousand Frenchmen.

In our conference at Hartford, sir, the calculations were of course
made, not according to the fortifications actually existing, but
according to those they might intend erecting. The answers General
Washington thought proper to make to the questions put by the Count
de Rochambeau, have been long since carried to you by the _Amazon_. A
proposal to ask for a corps of fifteen thousand Frenchmen could only be
acceptable to the commander-in-chief. But if that surplus were to lessen
the sum of money by means with which fifteen thousand regular troops,
ten thousand militia, and a southern army should be put into motion; if
it were to lessen the number of ships that would enable us to act in
all places, and with a decided superiority;--I must again repeat, that
pecuniary succours and a naval superiority are the two most essential
points; that the same quantity of money would, put into action here,
double that number of American soldiers; and that, without ships, a few
thousand men more would be but of little use to us.

The admirable discipline of the French corps, in addition to the honour
it confers on M. de Rochambeau and the soldiers under his command,
fulfils a still more important aim, by impressing on the minds of the
Americans the highest idea of our nation.

The wisdom of the government, in placing that corps under the orders of
General Washington, allows me only to repeat how essential it is that
his authority should be complete, and without any sort of restriction.
The talents, prudence, delicacy, and knowledge of country, which are
all united in him in the greatest degree of perfection, are qualities
of which one only would suffice to ensure the rigid observance of the
instructions which I bear; and the longer I remain here, the more frilly
am I convinced that each of them is equally necessary to the harmony and
success of the whole affair.

We have had, lately, sir, an important mutiny, of which Colonel Laurens
will give you the details.~[2] A corps of Pennsylvanian troops, almost
wholly composed of strangers, and stationed at Morristown (Jersey),
unanimously rose against their officers, and, under the direction of
one of their sergeants, marched on to Princetown. The civil authorities
repaired thither, to afford them the justice they demanded. To be in
want of food and clothes, to serve for more than a year without pay,
some of them, indeed, having been forced to serve a whole year beyond
their engagement, are evils to which no army would submit. It is
singular enough that those mutineers should have hung up the envoys of
General Clinton. The greatest part of the soldiers are disbanded, but
they are to re-enter the service, and to join the recruits in different
regiments of the state. I am not less positive as to the number of men
we shall have in our continental army. Some troops belonging to the
Jerseys, seduced by example, and being those next to the Pennsylvanians,
which were composed of the greatest number of foreigners, wished to take
the same method of obtaining justice; but General Washington, having
taken the management of this affair in his own hands, sent forward a
detachment; the mutineers submitted, and their chiefs were punished. It
is impossible to pass too high encomiums upon the New England troops,
almost all national ones, whose cause was at bottom the same, and who,
in spite of their nudity, crossed heavy snows to march against the
mutineers. This proves, sir, that human patience may have some limits,
but that soldier citizens will endure far more than strangers. These
events furnish another argument for the necessity of obtaining money.

I flatter myself, sir, that the government, conscious that the ensuing
campaign may be a decisive one, will occupy itself seriously of
rendering it favourable to us. The taking of New York would destroy
the power of the English on this continent, and a short continuation of
naval superiority would secure to us the easy conquest of all the other
parts of the United States. As to the taking of New York, which it would
be rash to consider easy, but absurd to respect the town as if it were
a fortified one, it is, I believe, well authenticated, and General
Washington has no doubt upon the subject, that with the means proposed
in my letter, we should obtain possession of it in the course of the

It is, I believe, important to turn, as far as possible, the enemy's
attention towards Canada.

When General Washington gave Colonel Laurens his opinion respecting
military affairs and the operations of the campaign, he also put down in
writing some ideas on our present situation, and communicated to me that
letter, which contains the substance of several of his conversations
with me. I take the liberty of requesting the king's minister, to ask to
see that letter. Our situation is not painted in flattering colours; but
the general speaks from the sad experience of our embarrassments, and
I agree with him, sir, that it is indispensable for us to obtain some
pecuniary succours, and a decided naval superiority.

You must certainly have learnt, sir, that the defeat of Ferguson, and
some other successes of ours, having disarranged the plans of Lord
Cornwallis, General Leslie re-embarked to form the junction by water,
and that he has since arrived at Charlestown. Arnold, became an English
general, and honoured by the confidence of that nation, is at this
moment at the head of a British detachment. Having landed in Virginia,
he took possession of Richmond for some hours, and destroyed some public
and private property: he must now have retired into a safe harbour, or
has, perhaps, joined some other expedition. At the very moment when
the English fancied that we were in the most awkward situation from the
mutiny of some troops, General Washington sent a detachment on the left
side of the Hudson, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hull, supported
by General Parsons, which surprised, at Westchester, a corps of three
hundred men under Colonel Delancey, wounded several, killed thirty, took
sixty prisoners, burnt all the barracks and provisions, and retired,
after having destroyed a bridge of communication with the Island of New

The general is soon to pass some days with the French troops at Rhode
Island, and I shall accompany him on that journey.

I have the honour to be, sir, with equal affection and respect, &c. &c:

New Windsor, February 4th, 1781.

By a letter from M. de Rochambeau, sir, we learn that the English
squadron in Gardiner's Bay has suffered severely from a gale of wind.
A seventy-four, it is said, has run on shore; the _London_, of ninety
guns, is dismasted, and M. Destouches~[3] was preparing to take
advantage of this event. But you will receive more circumstantial, and
perhaps more certain details, by letters from Rhode Island, and we are
also ourselves expecting some, to fix more positively our own ideas and
hopes. General Knox, commander of our artillery, a man of great merit
and extreme probity, has just reported to the general the result of a
mission which had been given him in the New England States. The spirit
of patriotism and the zeal he found,--the exertions they are making
to levy troops, either for the whole duration of the war, or for (what
amounts, I trust, to the same thing) the period of three years, surpass
our most sanguine hopes; and as they have twenty regiments in the
continental service, I can only urge, in a still more positive manner,
what I have already had the honour in writing to you.


1. This letter was written in ciphers. It is inserted here exactly as
it was first deciphered at the archives of foreign affairs. To avoid
repetitions, we have not inserted the answers of the minister; these
were written in a tone of confidence and friendship, and accord almost
on every point with the ideas of M. de Lafayette, which were, in a
measure, adopted by the cabinet of Versailles for the approaching

2. The revolt of the Pennsylvanian line is of the 2nd of January. It was
appeased ten days afterwards, and imitated, the 20th of the same month,
by the New Jersey troops.--(See the Letters of Washington at that
period, and the Appendix, No. x. vol. vii.)

3. M. Destouches had replaced in the command of the frigates M. de
Ternay, deceased the 15th December, after a short illness.


New Windsor, in the North River, February 2nd, 1781.

The person who will deliver this to you, my dearest love, is a man I am
much attached to, and whom I wish you to become intimate with. He is the
son of president Laurens, who has been lately established in the Tower
of London;~[1] he is lieutenant-colonel in our service, and aide-de-camp
to General Washington; he has been sent by congress on a private mission
to the court of France. I knew him well during the two first campaigns,
and his probity, frankness, and patriotism, have attached me extremely
to him. General Washington is very fond of him; and of all the Americans
whom you have hitherto seen, he is the one I most particularly wish you
to receive with kindness. If I were in France, he should live entirely
at my house, and I would introduce him to all my friends (I have even
introduced him to some by letter); and give him every opportunity in
my power of making acquaintance, and of passing his time agreeably at
Versailles; and in my absence, I entreat you to replace me. Introduce
him to Madame d'Ayen, the Marshal de Mouchy, the Marshal de Noailles,
and treat him in every respect as a friend of the family: he will tell
you all that has occurred during our campaign, the situation in which we
are at present placed, and give you all details relating to myself.

Since my arrival here, my health has not for a moment failed. The air
of this country agrees with me extremely well, and exercise is very
beneficial to me. My exertions during the last campaign did not lead
me into much danger, and in that respect we have not, in truth, much to
boast. The French squadron has remained constantly blockaded in Rhode
Island, and I imagine that the Chevalier Ternay died of grief in
consequence of this event. However this may be, he is positively dead.
He was a very rough and obstinate man, but firm, and clear in all his
views, and, taking all things into consideration, we have sustained a
great loss. The French army has remained at Newport, and although its
presence has been very useful to us, although it has disconcerted some
plans of the enemy which would have been very injurious to us, it might
have done still more good if it had, not been thus blockaded.

Several Frenchmen have passed by head quarters. They have all been
delighted with General Washington, and I perceive with pleasure that he
will be much beloved by the auxiliary troops. Laval and Custine disputed
together during the whole journey, and at each station would have done
much better than the American and English generals, but never both in
the same manner. The viscount and Damas have taken a long journey on the
continent; we have also had the Count des Deux-Ponts, whom I like very
much; M. de Charlus is at present in Philadelphia. I intend setting
out about the 15th, for Rhode Island, and I shall accompany General
Washington during his visit to the French army. When you recollect how
_those poor rebels_ were looked upon in France, when I came to be hung
with them, and when you reflect upon my warm affection for General
Washington, you will conceive how delightful it will be for me to
witness his reception there as generalissimo of the combined armies of
the two nations.

The Americans continue to testify for me the greatest kindness: there
is no proof of affection and confidence which I do not receive each day
from the army and nation. I am serving here in the most agreeable manner
possible. At every campaign I command a separate flying corps, composed
of chosen troops; I experience for the American officers and soldiers
that friendship which arises from having shared with them, for a length
of time, dangers, sufferings, and both good and evil fortune. We began
by struggling together; our affairs have often been at the lowest
possible ebb. It is gratifying to me to crown this work with them, by
giving the European troops a high idea of the soldiers who have been
formed with us. To all these various motives of interest for the cause
and army, are joined my sentiments of regard for General Washington:
amongst his aides-de-camp there is one man I like very much, and of whom
I have often spoken to you; this is Colonel Hamilton.

I depend on Colonel Laurens to give you the details of our campaign.
We remained sufficiently near the English to merit the accusation of
boldness; but they would not take advantage of any of the opportunities
we offered them. We are all in winter quarters in this part of the
country. There is some activity in the south, and I was preparing to
go there; but the wishes of General Washington, and the hope of being
useful to my countrymen, have detained me here. The corps I command
having returned to the regiments, I have established myself at
head-quarters. America made great efforts last summer, and has
renewed them this winter, but in a more durable manner, by only making
engagements for the war, and I trust that none will have cause to be
dissatisfied with us.

Arnold, who has now become an English general, landed in Virginia, with
a corps, which appears well pleased to serve under his orders. There
is no accounting for taste; but I do not feel sorry, I own, to see our
enemies rather degrade themselves, by employing one of our generals,
whose talents, even before we knew his treachery, we held in light
estimation: abilities must, in truth, be rare in New York. But whilst
speaking of baseness, Colonel Laurens will tell you of the fine embassy
sent by General Clinton to some mutinous soldiers. He will describe to
you also the details of that mutiny; the means employed to arrest it
with the Pennsylvanians, and also those we employed with the Jersey
troops. This only proves, however, that human patience has its limits,
as no European army would endure the tenth part of such sufferings,
that _citizens_ alone can support nudity, hunger, cold, labour, and the
absolute want of that pay which is necessary to soldiers, who are more
hardy and more patient, I believe, than any others in existence.

Embrace our children a thousand and a thousand times for me; their
father, although a wanderer, is not less tender, not less constantly
occupied with them, and not less happy at receiving news from them.
My heart dwells with peculiar delight on the moment when those dear
children will be presented to me by you, and when we may embrace and
caress them together. Do you think that Anastasia will recollect me?
Embrace tenderly for me my dear and amiable viscountess, Madame du
Roure, my two sisters, de Noailles and d'Ayen, &c. &c.


1. He was detained both as a prisoner of war and a rebel. The 18th of
October, Madame de Lafayette had herself written in his favour to M. de
Vergennes, a letter which is still preserved, in the archives of foreign



Elk, March the 8th, 1781.

My dear general,--Your letter of the 1st inst. did not come to hand
until last evening, and I hasted to answer to its contents, though
I should, in a few hours, be better able to inform you of my

From what I hear of the difficulties to convoy us down the bay, I very
much apprehend that the winds will not permit any frigate to come up.
Count de Rochambeau thinks his troops equal to the business, and wishes
that they alone may display their zeal and shed their blood for an
expedition which all America has so much at heart. The measures he is
taking may be influenced by laudable motives, but I suspect they are
not entirely free from selfish considerations. God grant this may not be
productive of bad consequences. Baron de Viomenil will also want to do
every thing alone. As to the French troops, their zeal is laudable, and
I wish their chiefs would reserve it for the time when we may co-operate
with an assurance of success.

I heartily feel, my dear general, for the honour of our arms, and think
it would be derogatory to them had not this detachment some share in the
enterprise. This consideration induces me to embark immediately, and
our soldiers will gladly put up with the inconveniences that attend the
scarcity of vessels. We shall have those armed ones (though the largest
has only twelve guns) and with this every body assures us that we may
go without any danger to Annapolis. For my part I am not yet determined
what to do; but if I see no danger to our small fleet in going to
Annapolis, and if I can get Commodore Nicholson to take the command
of it, I shall perhaps proceed in a small boat to Hampton, where my
presence can alone enable me to procure a frigate, and where I will
try to cool the impetuosity or correct the political mistakes of both

Whichever determination I take, a great deal must be personally risked,
but I hope to manage things so as to commit no imprudence with the
excellent detachment whose glory is as dear, and whose safety is much
dearer, to me than my own. I have written to General Greene, and will
write to the governors, either to get intelligence or to prepare means
to operate; but (General Greene excepted) I do not give them any hint of
our intentions further than the expedition against Portsmouth.

When a man has delicate games to play, and when chance may influence
so much his success or miscarriage, he must submit to blame in case of
misfortune. But your esteem, my dear general, and your affection,
will not depend upon events. With the highest respect and most tender
friendship, &c.


1. An instruction of the 20th of February, enjoined to General Lafayette
to take the command of a detachment assembled at Peekskill, to act in
conjunction with the militia, and some vessels of M. Destouches. He
was to proceed by a rapid march to Hampton, on the Chesapeak bay, to
surprise Arnold at Portsmouth: he had orders to return back immediately
if he learnt that the latter had quitted Virginia, or that the French
commander had lost his naval superiority. M. de Lafayette reached
Pompton the 23rd, (from whence he wrote to the general-in-chief,)
Philadelphia the 2nd, and Head-of-Elk the 3rd of March. Washington,
however, had himself repaired to Newport to urge the departure of M.
Destouches, which event he announced in a letter of the 11th. The result
of his encounter on the 16th with Admiral Arbuthnot was to oblige the
squadron to return to Newport, and M. de Lafayette to begin his retreat
on the 24th. He spoke himself in the following terms of the expedition
of which this letter treats:--

"Dr. Ramsay and Mr. Marshall speak of the expedition attempted against
Arnold, and the circumstances which caused its failure. Lafayette's
detachment was composed of twelve hundred of those soldiers of light
infantry which had formed, the preceding year, the advance guard of the
army: these were drawn from regiments of the four states of New England
and Jersey. Gordon has truly related that, after conducting them by
water from Head-of-Elk to Annapolis, he went himself in an open canoe
to Elizabethtown to accelerate the preparations. The expedition having
failed, he was obliged to return to Annapolis, where his continental
troops had remained, vainly expecting that the French frigates would
come to escort them. It was a bold and skilful stroke in him to take
advantage of a favourable moment to convoy the American flotilla from
Annapolis to Head-of-Elk, and the detachment had scarcely arrived when
General Washington, announcing to him that General Phillips, with more
than two thousand chosen men, had gone to reinforce Arnold, and take
the command in Virginia, which was to become the centre of active
operations, desired him to defend the state as well and as long as the
weakness of his means allowed."--(Manuscript, No. 2.)

2. Viomenil and Steuben.



On board the _Dolphin_, March 9th, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Here I am at the mouth of Elk River, and the fleet
under my command will proceed to Annapolis, where I am assured they can
go without danger. They are protected by the _Nesbitt_, of twelve guns,
some field-pieces on board the vessel that carries Colonel Stevens, and
we are going to meet an eight-gun and a six-gun-vessel from Baltimore.
With this escort, we may go as far as Annapolis. No vessel of the enemy
ever ventured so far up, and if by chance they should, our force is
superior to any cruizer they have in the bay. At Annapolis we shall meet
Commodore Nicholson, whom I have requested, by a letter, to take the
general command of our fleet, and if there was the least danger, to
proceed farther down. They are to remain at Annapolis until I send them
new orders.

As to myself, my dear general, I have taken a small boat armed with
swivels, and on board of which I have put thirty soldiers. I will
precede the fleet to Annapolis, where I am to be met by intelligence,
and conformable to the state of things below, will determine my personal
movements and those of the fleet.

With a full conviction that (unless you arrived in time at Rhode
Island) no frigate will be sent to us I think it my duty to the troops
I command, and the country I serve, to overlook some little personal
danger, that I may ask for a frigate myself; and in order to add weight
to my application, I have clapped on board my boat the only son of
the minister of the French Navy, whom I shall take out to speak if
circumstances require it.

Our men were much crowded at first, but I unload the vessels as we go
along, and take possession of every boat that comes in my way.

These are, my dear general, the measures I thought proper to take. The
detachment is, I hope, free from danger, and my caution on this
point has been so far as to be called timidity by every seaman I have
consulted. Captain Martin, of the _Nesbitt_, who has been recommended by
General Gist, makes himself answerable for the safe arrival of the fleet
at Annapolis before to-morrow evening.

I have the honour to be, &c.



Williamsburg, March the 23rd 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--By former letters your excellency has been acquainted
with my motions, from my arrival at the head of Elk to the time of my
landing at this place. The march of the detachment to Elk had been
very rapid and performed in the best order. Owing to the activity of
Lieutenant-Colonel Stevens, a train of artillery had been provided at
Philadelphia, and notwithstanding some disappointments, namely, that
relating to the want of vessels, no delay should have been imputed to us
in this co-operation. Having received your excellency's letter, by
which the sailing of the French fleet became a matter of certainty, I
determined to transport the detachment to Annapolis, and did it for many
essential reasons. The navigation of the bay is such that the going
in and the going out of Elk River requires a different wind from those
which are fair to go up and down the bay. Our stopping at Annapolis,
and making some preparations on the road to Carolina, might be of use to
deceive the enemy. But above all, I thought, with your excellency, that
it was important, both to the success of the operation and the honour of
our arms, that the detachment should be brought to cooperate, and from
the time when the French were to sail and the winds that blew for some
days, I had no doubt but that our allies were in the Chesapeak, before
we could arrive at Annapolis.

Owing to the good disposition of Commodore Nicholson, whom I requested
to take charge of our small fleet, the detachment was safely lodged in
the harbour of Annapolis; and in the conviction that my presence here
was necessary, not so much for preparations which Baron de Steuben
provided, as for settling our plans with the French, and obtaining an
immediate convoy for the detachment, I thought it better to run some
risk than to neglect anything that could forward the success of the
operation, and the glory of the troops under my command.

On my arrival at this place, I was surprised to hear that no French
fleet had appeared, but attributed it to delays and chances so frequent
in naval matters. My first object was to request that nothing be taken
for this expedition which could have been intended for, or useful to,
the southern army, whose welfare appeared to me more interesting
than our success. My second object has been to examine what had
been prepared, to gather and forward every requisite for a vigorous
co-operation, besides a number of militia amounting to five thousand;
I can assure your excellency that nothing has been wanting to ensure a
complete success.

As the position of the enemy had not yet been reconnoitred, I went
to General Muhlenberg's camp, near Suffolk, and after he had taken a
position nearer to Portsmouth, we marched down with some troops to view
the enemy's works. This brought on a trifling skirmish; during which we
were able to see something; but the insufficiency of ammunition, which
had been for many days expected, prevented my engaging far enough to
push the enemy's outposts, and our reconnoitring was postponed to the
21st,--when, on the 20th, Major MacPherson, an officer for whom I have
the highest confidence and esteem, sent me word from Hampton, where he
was stationed, that a fleet had come to anchor within the Capes. So far
it was probable that this fleet was that of M. Destouches, that
Arnold himself appeared to be in great confusion, and his vessels,
notwithstanding many signals, durst not, for a long time, venture down.
An officer of the French navy bore down upon them from York, and nothing
could equal my surprise in hearing from Major MacPherson, that the fleet
announced by a former letter certainly belonged to the enemy.

Upon this intelligence, the militia were removed to their former
position, and I requested Baron de Steuben (from whom, out of delicacy,
I would not take the command until the co-operation was begun, or the
continental troops arrived) to take such measures as would put out of
the enemy's reach the several articles that had been prepared. On my
return to this place, I could not hear more particular accounts of the
fleet. Some people think they are coming from Europe; but I believe them
to be the fleet from Gardiner's Bay. They are said to be twelve sail
in all, frigates included. I have sent spies on board and shall forward
their report to head-quarters.

Having certain accounts that the French had sailed on the 8th, with a
favourable wind, I must think that they are coming to this place, or
were beaten in an engagement, or are gone somewhere else. In these three
cases, I think it my duty to stay here until I hear something more,
which must be in a little time. But as your excellency will certainly
recal a detachment composed of the flower of each regiment, whose loss
would be immense to the army under your immediate command, and as
my instructions are to march them back as soon as we lose the naval
superiority in this quarter, I have sent them orders to move at the
first notice which I will send to-morrow or the day after, or upon a
letter from your excellency, which my aide-de-camp is empowered to open.

Had I not been here upon the spot, I am sure that I should have waited
an immense time before I knew what to think of this fleet, and my
presence at this place was the speediest means of forwarding the
detachment either to Hampton or your excellency's immediate army.
By private letters, we hear that General Greene had, on the 19th, an
engagement with Lord Cornwallis. The honour of keeping the field was
not on our side. The enemy lost more men than we did. General Greene
displayed his usual prudence and abilities, both in making his
dispositions and posting his troops at ten miles from the first field of
battle, where they bid defiance to the enemy, and are in a situation to
check his progress.



New Windsor, 6th April, 1781.

MY DEAR MARQUIS,--Since my letter to you of yesterday,~[1] I have
attentively considered of what vast importance it will be to reinforce
General Greene as speedily as possible; more especially as there can be
little doubt that the detachment under General Phillips, if not part of
that now under the command of General Arnold, will ultimately join, or
in some degree co-operate with Lord Cornwallis. I have communicated
to the general officers at present with the army my sentiments on the
subject; and they are unanimously of opinion that the detachment under
your command should proceed and join the southern army. Your being
already three hundred miles advanced, which is nearly half way, is
the reason that operates against any which can be offered in favour of
marching that detachment back. You will therefore, immediately at the
receipt of this, turn the detachment to the southward. Inform General
Greene that you are upon your march to join him, and take his directions
as to your route, when you begin to approach him. Previously to that,
you will be guided by your own judgment, and by the roads on which you
will be most likely to find subsistence for the troops and horses. It
will be well to advise Governor Jefferson of your intended march through
the state of Virginia, or, perhaps, it will answer a good purpose were
you to go forward to Richmond yourself, after putting the troops in
motion, and having made some necessary arrangement for their progress.

You will take with you the light artillery and smallest mortars, with
their stores and the musket cartridges. But let these follow, under a
proper escort, rather than impede the march of the detachment, which
ought to move as expeditiously as possible without injury to them. The
heavy artillery and stores you will leave at some proper and safe place,
if it cannot be conveniently transported to Christiana River, from
whence it will be easily got to Philadelphia. You may leave to the
option of Lieutenant-Colonel Stevens to proceed or not, as he may think
proper; his family is in peculiar circumstances, and he left it with
the expectation of being absent for a short time. Should there be other
officers under similar circumstances, you may make them the same offers,
and they shall be relieved.

I am, my dear marquis, yours, &c.


1. This related merely to the expedition which had lately failed.
Washington deplored its result, which had been occasioned by maritime
events, but he approved and eulogised the conduct of M. de Lafayette.



Elk, April 8th, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Your excellency's letters of the 5th and 6th instant
are just come to hand, and before I answer their contents, I beg leave
to give you a summary account of the measures I have lately taken. As
to the part of my conduct you have been acquainted with, I am happy, my
dear general, to find it has met with your approbation.

When the return of the British fleet put it out of doubt that nothing
could be undertaken for the present against Portsmouth, I sent pressing
orders to Annapolis, in order to have everything in readiness, and even
to move the troops by land to the Head-of-Elk. I myself hastened back
to Maryland, but confess I could not resist the ardent desire I had of
seeing your relations, and, above all, your mother, at Fredericksburg.
For that purpose I went some miles out of my way, and, in order
to conciliate my private happiness to duties of a public nature, I
recovered by riding in the night those few hours which I had consecrated
to my satisfaction. I had also the pleasure of seeing Mount Vernon, and
was very unhappy that my duty and my anxiety for the execution of your
orders prevented my paying a visit to Mr. Curtis.~[1]

On my arrival at Annapolis, I found that our preparations were far
from promising a speedy departure. The difficulty of getting wagons and
horses is immense. No boats sufficient to cross over the ferries. The
state is very desirous of keeping us as long as possible, as they were
scared by the apparition of the _Hope_, twenty guns, and the _Monk_,
eighteen guns, who blockaded the harbour, and who (as appeared by
intercepted letters) were determined to oppose our movements.

In these circumstances, I thought it better to continue my preparations
for a journey by land, which, I am told, would have lasted ten days, on
account of ferries, and, in the meanwhile, had two eighteen-pounders put
on board a small sloop, which appeared ridiculous to some, but proved to
be of great service. In the morning of the 6th, Commodore Nicholson went
out with the sloop and another vessel, full of men. Whether the sound
of eighteen pounders, or the fear of being boarded, operated upon the
enemy, I am not able to say; but, after some manoeuvres, they retreated
so far as to render it prudent for us to sail to this place. Every
vessel with troops and stores was sent in the night by the commodore, to
whom I am vastly obliged; and having brought the rear with the sloop and
other vessels, I arrived this morning at Elk. It is reported that
the ships have returned to their stations; if so, they must have been
reinforced; their commander had already applied for an augmentation of

Before I left Annapolis, hearing that General Greene was in want of
ammunition, I took the liberty of leaving for the southern army four
six-pounders, with three hundred rounds each, nearly a hundred thousand
cartridges, and some small matters, which I left to the care of the
governor and General Smallwood, requesting them to have wagons and
horses impressed, to send them to a place of safety, where they must
be by this time. I also wrote to the governor of Virginia, to General
Greene, and the baron. These stores will set off in a few days,
under the care of a detachment, for the Maryland line, commanded by
Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart.

In consequence of previous orders, everything was in readiness for
our movement. The troops were ordered to march the next morning, and
I expect a sufficiency of vessels is now at Wilmington or Christiana
Creek; so that I am in hopes to join your excellency in a very few days.
Your letter of the 6th, ordering me to the southward, is just come to
hand. Had I been still at Annapolis, or upon the road by land, and
of course with the same means to return that I had to advance, your
commands should have been immediately obeyed; but necessity keeps us
here for some days, and as your letters arrived in two days, your answer
to this must be here before we are in a situation to move.

When your excellency wrote to me, I was supposed to be at Annapolis, or
very near that place, with the means of returning, which makes a great
difference. Another circumstance, still more material, is, that, instead
of joining either Arnold or Phillips (if Phillips be there), Lord
Cornwallis is so disabled as to be forced to a retreat, as appears from
General Greene's letter.

To these considerations I have added this one, which is decisive: that
being fitted only to march twelve miles, part of it in the State
of Delaware, and a part of our provisions being asked for from
Philadelphia, it is impossible to have the necessary apparatus to march
and subsist, or to cross ferries on our way to the southern army, so
as to leave this place under four or five days. As to a transportation
through the bay, we cannot expect the same good luck of frightening an
enemy, who must know how despicable our preparations are; and we
must, at least, wait for the return of look-out boats which, if sent
immediately, will not possibly return under five or six days.

In these circumstances, my dear general, I am going to make every
preparation to march to Virginia, so as to be ready as soon as possible.
I shall keep here the vessels, and will also keep those which have been
ordered to Christiana Creek. This state of suspense will distract
the enemy's conjectures, and put me in a situation to execute your
excellency's orders, which will be here before I can be able to move
with any degree of advantage towards the southward.

Had it been possible to obey to-morrow morning, I would have done it
immediately; but since I am obliged to make preparations, I beg leave
to make these observations, which I should have been allowed to present,
had I been at the meeting of general officers.

The troops I have with me being taken from every northern regiment, have
often (though without mentioning it) been very uneasy at the idea of
joining the southern army. They want clothes; shoes particularly; they
expect to receive clothes and money from their states. This would be a
great disappointment for both officers and men. Both thought at first
they were sent out for a few days, and provided themselves accordingly;
both came cheerfully to this expedition, but both have had already their
fears at the idea of going to the southward. They will certainly obey,
but they will be unhappy, and some will desert.

Had this corps considered themselves as light infantry, destined for
the campaign, to be separated from their regiments, it would be attended
with less inconveniences; and such a corps, in the course of the
campaign, might be brought there without difficulty, particularly by
water, as they would be prepared accordingly.

Supposing the Jersey line were to join the detachment of their troops
at this place, it would hardly make any difference, as we have been but
five days coming from Morristown to the Head-of-Elk.

These considerations, my dear general, I beg you to be convinced, are
not influenced by personal motives. I should most certainly prefer to
be in a situation to attack New York, nor should I like, in an operation
against New York, to see you deprived of the New England light infantry;
but I think with you, that these motives are not to influence our
determination, if this be the best way to help General Greene.

By the letters I have received from my two friends, Marquis de Castries
and Count de Vergennes, I am assured that we shall soon get an answer
to our propositions against New York, and am strongly led to hope that,
having a naval superiority, the army under your immediate command will
not remain inactive.

At all events, my dear general, I will use my best endeavours to be
ready to move either way as soon as possible; and have the honour to be,
with the highest respect and affection, &c.


1. Son of Mrs. Washington by a former marriage.



Susquehannah Ferry, 18th April, 1781.

Dear Hamilton,~[1]--You are so sensible a fellow, that you can certainly
explain to me what is the matter that New York should be given up; that
our letters to France go for nothing; that when the French are coming,
I am going. This last matter gives great uneasiness to the minister of
France. All this is not comprehensible to me, who, having been long from
head-quarters, have lost the course of intelligence.

Have you left the family, my dear sir? I suppose so. But from love to
the general, for whom you know my affection, I ardently wish it was not
the case. Many, many reasons conspire to this desire of mine; but if you
do leave it, and if I go to exile, come and partake it with me. Yours,


1. The 11th of April, Washington renewed, with more detail, his
instructions upon the movement to the south, and General Greene,
desiring to carry the theatre of war into South Carolina, urged General
Lafayette to march upon the capital of Virginia. The latter made his
preparations accordingly, and with great activity, in spite of the
regret he experienced, and the difficulties he encountered. He deplored,
in truth, that long-promised expedition on New York being abandoned; and
he had to combat the repugnance of the troops, who threatened to become
weakened by desertion. This was the subject of several long letters we
have thought proper to suppress. He wrote, also, frequently, to Colonel
Hamilton, and we may see some of those letters in the life of the
latter. We have only inserted this one letter, which expresses all he
felt. Hamilton, at that period, having had a coolness with Washington,
wished to quit his staff; and it was in reality as an officer of the
line that he took part in the siege of Yorktown.--(See his Life, vol.
i., chap. xiii.)



Baltimore, April 18th, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Every one of my letters were written in so lamentable
a tone, that I am happy to give you a pleasanter prospect. The anxiety
I feel to relieve your mind from a small part of those many solicitudes
and cares which our circumstances conspire to gather upon you, is the
reason of my sending this letter by the chain of communication, and with
a particular recommendation. When I left Susquehannah Ferry, it was the
general opinion that we could not have six hundred men by the time we
should arrive at our destination. This, and the shocking situation of
the men offered the more gloomy prospects, as the board of war have
confessed their total inability to afford us relief. Under these
circumstances, I have employed every personal exertion, and have the
pleasure to inform you that desertion has, I hope, been put to an end.

On my arrival on this side of the Susquehannah, I made an order for the
troops, wherein I endeavoured to throw a kind of infamy upon desertion,
and to improve every particular affection of theirs. Since then,
desertion has been lessened. Two deserters have been taken up; one of
whom has been hanged to-day, and the other (being an excellent soldier)
will be forgiven, but dismissed from the corps, as well as another
soldier who behaved amiss. To these measures, I have added one which
my feelings for the sufferings of the soldiers, and the peculiarity of
their circumstances, have prompted me to adopt.

The merchants of Baltimore lent me a sum of about 2,000_l_., which will
procure some shirts, linen, overalls, shoes, and a few hats. The
ladies will make up the shirts, and the overalls will be made by the
detachment, so that our soldiers have a chance of being a little more
comfortable. The money is lent upon my credit, and I become security for
the payment of it in two years' time, when, by the French laws, I
may better dispose of my estate. But before that time, I shall use my
influence with the French court, in order to have this sum of money
added to any loan congress may have been able to obtain from them.

In case you are told, my dear general, that my whole baggage has been
taken in the bay, I am sorry I cannot discountenance the report. But
when the mention of papers and maps is made, do not apprehend anything
bad for the papers or maps you have put in my possession. Nothing has
been lost but writing paper and printed maps. The fact is this: when
at York, I had some continental soldiers and my baggage to send up in
a safe barge and an unsafe boat. I, of course, gave the barge to the
soldiers, who easily went to Annapolis. The baggage was put into the
boat, and has not been since heard of. But being aware of the danger; I
took by land with me every article that was, on public accounts, in the
least valuable. By a letter from Baron de Steuben, dated Chesterfield
Court House the 10th of April, I find that General Phillips has at
Portsmouth 1500 or 2000 men added to the force under Arnold. Proper
allowance being made for exaggerations, I apprehend that his whole
army amounts to 2800 men, which obliges me to hasten my march to
Fredericksburg and Richmond, where I expect to receive orders from
General Greene.

The importance of celerity, the desire of lengthening the way home,
and immense delays that would stop me for an age, have determined me
to leave our tents, artillery, &c., under a guard, and with orders to
follow as fast as possible, while the rest of the detachment, by
forced marches, and with impressed wagons and horses, will hasten to
Fredericksburg or Richmond, and by this derange the calculations of the
enemy. We set off to-morrow, and this rapid mode of travelling, added
to my other precautions, will, I hope, keep up our spirits and good

I am, my dear general, &c.

P. S. The word _lessened_ does not convey a sufficient idea of what
experience has proved to be true, to the honour of our excellent
soldiers. It had been announced in general orders, that the detachment
was intended to fight an enemy far superior in number, under
difficulties of every sort. That the general was, for his part,
determined to encounter them, but that such of the soldiers as had an
inclination to abandon him, might dispense with the danger and crime of
desertion, as every one of them who should apply to head-quarters for
a pass to join their corps in the north might be sure to obtain it


1. This letter announces the real commencement of the Virginian
campaign. M. de Lafayette marched upon Richmond, and thus wrote on the
4th of May:--

"The leaving of my artillery appears a strange whim, but had I waited
for it, Richmond had been lost. It is not without trouble I have made
this rapid march. General Phillips has expressed to a flag officer the
astonishment he felt at our celerity; and when on the 30th, as he was
going to give the signal to attack, he reconnoitred our position, Mr.
Osburn, who was with him, says, that he flew into a violent passion, and
swore vengeance against me and the corps I had brought with me."

The subsequent operations are given in detail, both in the Memoirs,
and in a relation of the campaign; it was, therefore, thought proper to
suppress the greatest part of the letters in which M. de Lafayette gave
an account of them to General Washington. To each of those letters is
usually annexed a copy of his official reports to General Greene.



Alexandria, April 23rd, 1781.

My Dear General,--Great happiness is derived from friendship, and I
experience it particularly in the attachment which unites me to you. But
friendship has its duties, and the man who likes you best, will be the
first to let you know everything in which you may be concerned.

When the enemy came to your house, many negroes deserted to them. This
piece of news did not affect me much, as I little value these matters.
But you cannot conceive how unhappy I have been to hear that Mr. Lund
Washington went on board the enemy's vessels, and consented to give them

This being done by the gentleman who, in some measure, represents you
at your house, will certainly have a bad effect, and contrasts with
spirited answers from some neighbours that have had their houses burnt

You will do what you think proper about it, my dear general; but, as
your friend, it was my duty confidentially to mention the circumstances.

With the help of some wagons and horses, we got, in two days, from the
camp, near Baltimore, to this place. We halted yesterday, and having
made a small bargain for a few pair of shoes, are now marching to
Fredericksburg. No official account from Phillips, but I am told they
are removing stores from Richmond and Petersburg. I am surprised nobody
writes to me, and hope soon to receive intelligence.

Our men are in high spirits. Their honour having been interested in this
affair, they have made a point to come with us; and murmurs, as well as
desertion, are entirely out of fashion. Requesting my best respects to
Mrs. Washington, and my compliments to the family, I have the honour to
be, with those sentiments which you know, &c.



New Windsor, May 4, 1781.

MY DEAR MARQUIS,--The freedom of your communications is an evidence to
me of the sincerity of your attachment, and every fresh instance of
this gives pleasure and adds strength to the bond which unites us in
friendship. In this light I view the intimation respecting the conduct
of Mr. Lund Washington. Some days previous to the receipt of your
letter, which only came to my hands yesterday, I received an account of
this transaction from that gentleman himself, and immediately wrote
and forwarded the answer, of which the enclosed is a copy. This letter,
which was written in the moment of my obtaining the first intimation of
the matter, may be considered as a testimony of my disapprobation of his
conduct, and the transmission of it to you, as a proof of my friendship;
because I wish you to be assured, that no man can condemn the measure
more sincerely than I do.

A false idea, arising from the consideration of his being my steward,
and in that character more the trustee and guardian of my property than
the representative of my honour, has misled his judgment and plunged
him into error, upon the appearance of desertion among my negroes,
and danger to my buildings; for sure I am, that no man is more firmly
opposed to the enemy than he is. From a thorough conviction of this, and
of his integrity, I entrusted every species of my property to his care,
without reservation or fear of his abusing it. The last paragraph of my
letter to him was occasioned by an expression of his fear, that all the
estates convenient to the river would be stripped of their negroes and
moveable property.

I am very happy to find that desertion has ceased, and content has taken
place, in the detachment you command. Before this letter can reach you,
you must have taken your ultimate resolution upon the proposal contained
in my letters of the 21st and 22nd ultimo, and have made the consequent
arrangements. I shall be silent, therefore, on the subject of them, and
only beg, in case you should not return to this army, and the papers
were not lost with your other baggage (on which event give me leave to
express my concern) that you would permit M. Capitaine to furnish me
with copies of the drafts, and the remarks of the pilots (taken at
Colonel Day's) on the entrance of the harbour of New York. It is
possible they may be wanted, and I am not able to furnish them without
your assistance.

Mrs. Washington and the rest of my small family, which, at present,
consists only of Tilghman and Humphreys, join me in cordial salutations,
and, with sentiments of the purest esteem and most affectionate regard,
I remain, my dear marquis, &c.



New Windsor, April 30, 1781.

Dear Lund,--I am very sorry to hear of your loss; I am a little sorry to
hear of my own; but that which gives me most concern is, that you should
go on board the enemy's vessels, and furnish them with refreshments. It
would have been a less painful circumstance to me to have heard that, in
consequence of your non-compliance with their request, they had burnt
my house and laid the plantation in ruins. You ought to have considered
yourself as my representative, and should have reflected on the bad
example of communicating with the enemy, and making a voluntary offer of
refreshments to them, with a view to prevent a conflagration.

It was not in your power, I acknowledge, to prevent them from sending a
flag on shore, and you did right to meet it; but you should, in the same
instant that the business of it was unfolded, have declared explicitly,
that it was improper for you to yield to the request; after which,
if they had proceeded to help themselves by force, you could but have
submitted, and, being unprovided for defence, this was to be preferred
to a feeble opposition, which only serves as a pretext to burn and

I am thoroughly persuaded that you acted from your best judgment,
and believe that your desire to preserve my property, and rescue the
buildings from impending danger, was your governing motive; but to go on
board their vessels, carry them refreshments, commune with a parcel of
plundering scoundrels, and request a favour by asking a surrender of my
negroes, was exceedingly ill judged, and, it is to be feared, will be
unhappy in its consequences, as it will be a precedent for others, and,
may be, become a subject of animadversion.

I have no doubt of the enemy's intention to prosecute the plundering
plan they have begun; and, unless a stop can be put to it by the arrival
of a superior naval force, I have as little doubt of its ending in the
loss of all my negroes, and in the destruction of my houses. But I
am prepared for the event, under the prospect of which, if you could
deposit in a place of safety the most valuable and less bulky articles,
it might be consistent with policy and prudence, and a means of
preserving them hereafter. Such and so many things as are necessary
for common and present use must be retained, and must run their chance
through the fiery trial of this summer. I am sincerely, yours.



Camp Wilton, on James River, May 17, 1781.

Dear General,--My correspondence with one of the British generals,
and my refusal of a correspondence with the other, may be, perhaps,
misrepresented, I shall therefore give an account of what has passed,
and I hope your excellency and General Greene will approve of my
conduct. On the arrival of our detachment at Richmond, three letters
were brought by a flag, which I have the honour to inclose, and which,
as commander of the troops in this state, it became my duty to answer.
The enclosed letters were successively sent in pursuit of General
Phillips, who received them both with a degree of politeness that seemed
to apologize for his unbecoming style. General Phillips being dead of
a fever, an officer was sent with a passport and letters from General
Arnold. I requested the gentleman to come to my quarters, and having
asked _if General Phillips was dead_,~[1] to which he answered in the
negative, I made it a pretence not to receive a letter from General
Arnold, which, being dated head-quarters, and directed to the commanding
officer of the American troops, ought to come from the British general
chief in command. I did, however, observe, should any officers have
written to me I should have been happy to receive their letters. The
next day the officer returned with the same passport and letter, and
informed me that he were now at liberty to declare that Phillips was
dead, and Arnold was commander-in-chief of the British army in Virginia.
The high station of General Arnold having obliged me to an explanation,
the enclosed note was sent to the officer of the flag, and the American
officer verbally assured him that were I requested to put in writing a
minute account of my motives, my regard for the British army was such
that I would cheerfully comply with the demand.

Last evening, a flag of ours returned from Petersburg, who had been sent
by the commander of the advanced corps, and happened to be on his way
while the British officer was at our picquets. Inclosed is the note
written by General Arnold, in which he announces his determination of
sending our officers and men to the West Indies.

The British general cannot but perfectly know that I am not to treat of
partial exchanges, and that the fate of the continental prisoners must
be regulated by a superior authority to that with which I am invested.

With the highest respect, I have the honour to be, &c.


1. Gordon places the death of General Phillips on the 13th of May: he
was very ill in his bed, when a cannon ball traversed his bed-room.
General Phillips commanded at Minden the battery whose cannon killed the
father of M. de Lafayette.



British Camp, at Osborn, April 28, 1781.

SIR,--It is a principle of the British army engaged in the present
war, which they esteem as an unfortunate one, to conduct it with
every attention to humanity and the laws of war; and in the necessary
destruction of public stores of every kind, to prevent, as far as
possible, that of private property. I call upon the inhabitants of
Yorktown, Williamsburg, Petersburg, and Chesterfield, for a proof of the
mild treatment they have received from the king's troops; in particular
at Petersburg, when the town was saved by the labour of the soldiers,
which otherwise must have perished by the wilful inactivity of its

I have now a charge of the deepest nature to make against the American
arms: that of having fired upon the king's troops by a flag of truce
vessel; and, to render the conduct as discordant to the laws of arms,
the flag was flying the whole time at the mast head, seeming to sport in
the violation of the most sacred laws of war.

You are sensible, sir, that I am authorized to inflict the severest
punishment in return for this bad conduct, and that towns and villages
lay at the mercy of the king's troops, and it is to that mercy alone you
can justly appeal for their not being reduced to ashes. The compassion,
and benevolence of disposition, which has marked the British character
in the present contest, still govern the conduct of the king's officers,
and I shall willingly remit the infliction of any redress we have a
right to claim, provided the persons who fired from the flag of truce
vessel are delivered into my possession, and a public disavowal made by
you of their conduct. Should you, sir, refuse this, I hereby make you
answerable for any desolation which may follow in consequence.

Your ships of war, and all other vessels, not actually in our possession
in James River, are, however, driven beyond a possibility of escaping,
and are in the predicament and condition of a town blockaded by land,
where it is contrary to the rules of war that any public stores should
be destroyed. I shall therefore demand from you, sir, a full account of
whatever may be destroyed on board vessels or otherwise, and need not
mention to you what the rules of war are in these cases.

I am, sir, your most humble servant,




Camp at Osborn, April 29th, 1781.

Sir,--When I was at Williamsburg, and at Petersburg, I gave several
inhabitants and country people protections for their persons and
properties. I did this without asking, or even considering, whether
these people were either friends or foes, actuated by no other motive
than that of pure humanity. I understand, from almost undoubted
authority, that several of these persons have been taken up by their
malicious neighbours, and sent to your quarters, where preparations are
making for their being ill treated; a report which I sincerely hope may
be without foundation. I repeat to you, sir, that my protections were
given generally from a wish that, in the destruction of public stores,
as little damage as possible might be done to private property, and
to the persons of individuals; but at any rate, I shall insist upon my
signs manual being held sacred, and I am obliged to declare to you, sir,
that if any persons, under the description I have given, receive ill
treatment, I shall be under the necessity of sending to Petersburg,
and giving that chastisement to the illiberal persecutors of innocent
people, which their conduct shall deserve. And I further declare to
you, sir, should any person be put to death, under the pretence of their
being spies of, or friends to, the British government, I will make the
shores of James River an example of terror to the rest of Virginia.
It is from the violent measures, resolutions of the present house of
delegates, council, and governor of Virginia, that I am impelled to use
this language, which the common temper of my disposition is hurt at. I
shall hope that you, sir, whom I have understood to be a gentleman
of liberal principles, will not countenance, still less permit to be
carried into execution, the barbarous spirit which seems to prevail in
the council of the present civil power of this colony.

I do assure you, sir, I am extremely inclined to carry on this
unfortunate contest with every degree of humanity, and I will believe
you intend doing the same.

I am, sir, your most obedient humble servant,




American camp, April 30th, 1781.

Sir,--Your letters of the 26th, 28th, and 29th, came yesterday to hand.
The duplicate dated at Petersburg being rather of a private nature, it
has been delivered to Major-General Baron de Steuben. I am sorry the
mode of your request has delayed the civility that had been immediately

From the beginning of this war, which you observe is an unfortunate
one to Great Britain, the proceedings of the British troops have been
hitherto so far from evincing benevolence of disposition, that your long
absence~[1] from the scene of action is the only way I have to account
for your panegyrics. I give you my honour, sir, that the charge against
a flag vessel shall be strictly inquired into, and in case the report
made to you is better grounded than the contrary one I have received,
you shall obtain every redress in my power, that you have any right to
expect. This complaint I beg leave to consider as the only part in your
letter that requires an answer. Such articles as the requiring that the
persons of spies be held sacred, cannot certainly be serious.

The style of your letters, sir, obliges me to tell you, that should your
future favours be wanting in that regard due to the civil and military
authority in the United States, which cannot but be construed into a
want of respect to the American nation, I shall not think it consistent
with the dignity of an American officer to continue the correspondence.

I have the honour to be, your most obedient servant,



1. General Phillips had been made prisoner at Saratoga.



May 3rd, 1781.

Sir,--Your assertion relating to the flag vessel was so positive, that
it becomes necessary for me to set you right in this matter. Inclosed
I have the honour to send you some depositions, by which it is clearly
proved that there has been on our side no violation of flags.

I have the honour to be, sir, your humble servant,



May 15th, 1781.

The Major-General Marquis de Lafayette has the honour to present his
compliments to Captain Emyne, and begs him to recollect that, on the
supposition of the death of General Phillips, he said, "that he should
know in that case what to do." From regard to the English army, he had
made use of the most polite pretence for declining all correspondence
with the English general who is at this moment commander-in-chief. But
he now finds himself obliged to give a positive denial. In case any
other English officer should honour him with a letter, he would always
be happy to give the officers every testimony of his esteem.


Brigadier-General Arnold presents his compliments to Captain Ragedale,
and takes the liberty of informing him, that the flag of truce having
been sent by Brigadier-General Nelson, who is not commander-in-chief of
the American army, is an inadmissible act. The letters are accordingly
sent back unopened. If Captain Ragedale thinks proper to leave them with
the servants, a receipt must be given for them.

Brigadier-General Arnold has given orders that the officers lately taken
in that place should be sent to New York; their baggage will follow soon
after them, and all the officers and soldiers of the American army that
shall be taken prisoners in future, shall be sent to the West Indies,
unless a cartel be immediately granted for the exchange of prisoners, as
General Arnold has repeatedly demanded.

Head-quarters, at Petersburg, 17th May, 1781.



Richmond, May 24th, 1781,

MY DEAR GENERAL,--My official letter, a copy of which I send to
congress, will let you know the situation of affairs in this quarter. I
ardently wish my conduct may meet with your approbation. Had I followed
the first impulsion of my temper, I should have risked something more;
but I have been guarding against my own warmth; and this consideration,
that a general defeat, which, with such a proportion of militia, must be
expected, would involve this state and our affairs in ruin, has rendered
me extremely cautious in my movements. Indeed, I am more embarrassed to
move, more crippled in my projects, than we have been in the northern
states. As I am for the present fixed in the command of the troops in
this state, I beg it as a great favour that you will send me Colonel
Gouvion. Should a junction be made with General Greene, he will act as
my aide-de-camp. Had the Pennsylvanians arrived before Lord Cornwallis,
I was determined to attack the enemy, and have no doubt but what we
should have been successful. Their unaccountable delay cannot be too
much lamented, and will make an immense difference to the fate of this
campaign. Should they have arrived time enough to support me in the
reception of Lord Cornwallis's first stroke, I should still have thought
it well enough; but from an answer of General Wayne, received this day,
and dated the 19th, I am afraid that at this moment they have hardly
left Yorktown.

Public stores and private property being removed from Richmond, this
place is a less important object.

I don't believe it would be prudent to expose the troops for the sake
of a few houses, most of which are empty; but I am wavering between two
inconveniences. Were I to fight a battle, I should be cut to pieces, the
militia dispersed, and the arms lost. Were I to decline fighting,
the country would think itself given up. I am therefore determined
to skirmish, but not to engage too far, and particularly to take care
against their immense and excellent body of horse, whom the militia fear
as they would so many wild beasts.

A letter from General Greene to General Sumner is dated 5th May, seven
miles below Camden. The baron is going to him with some recruits, and
will get more in North Carolina. When the Pennsylvanians come, I am only
to keep them a few days, which I will improve as well as I can. Cavalry
is very necessary to us. I wish Lauzun's legion could come. I am sure he
will like to serve with me, and as General Greene gave me command of the
troops in this state, Lauzun might remain with me in Virginia. If not,
Shelden's dragoons might be sent. As to Moylan, I do not believe he will
be ready for a long time.

Were I anyways equal to the enemy, I should be extremely happy in
my present command, but I am not strong enough even to get beaten.
Government in this state has no energy, and laws have no force. But I
hope this assembly will put matters upon a better footing. I had a
great deal of trouble to put the departments in a tolerable train; our
expenses were enormous, and yet we can get nothing. Arrangements for the
present seem to put on a better face, but for this superiority of the
enemy, which will chase us wherever they please. They can overrun the
country, and, until the Pennsylvanians arrive, we are next to nothing
in point of opposition to so large a force. This country begins to be
as familiar to me as Tappan and Bergen. Our soldiers are hitherto very
healthy: I have turned doctor, and regulate their diet. Adieu, my
dear general. Let me hear sometimes from you; your letters are a great
happiness to your affectionate friend, &c.



Camp, 28th June, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Inclosed, I have the honour to send you a copy of
my letter to General Greene. The enemy have been so kind as to retire
before us.~[1]

Twice I gave them a chance of fighting (taking care not to engage
farther than I pleased), but they continued their retrograde motions.
Our numbers are, I think, exaggerated to them, and our seeming boldness
confirms the opinion.

I thought, at first, Lord Cornwallis wanted to get me as low down as
possible, and use his cavalry to advantage. But it appears that he does
not as yet come out, and our position will admit of a partial affair.
His lordship had (exclusive of the reinforcement from Portsmouth,
said to be six hundred) four thousand men, eight hundred of whom were
dragoons, or mounted infantry. Our force is about equal to his, but only
one thousand five hundred regulars and fifty dragoons. Our little action
more particularly marks the retreat of the enemy. From the place whence
he first began to retire to Williamsburg is upwards of one hundred
miles. The old arms at the Point of Fork have been taken out of the
water. The cannon was thrown into the river, undamaged, when they
marched back to Richmond; so that his lordship did us no harm of any
consequence, but lost an immense part of his former conquests, and did
not make any in this state. General Greene only demanded of me to hold
my ground in Virginia. But the movements of Lord Cornwallis may answer
better purposes than that in the political line. Adieu, my dear general;
I don't know but what we shall, in our turn, become the pursuing enemy;
and in the meanwhile, have the honour to be, &c.


1. It was the 20th of May that Lord Cornwallis effected his junction
with the troops of Arnold, whose unexpected opposition re-established
the affairs of the English in Virginia. The war became from that moment
extremely active, and the movements of the two armies very complicated.
M. de Lafayette maintained his position, and experienced no other check
than the loss of some magazines, at the forks of James River, which had
been confided to the care of Baron Steuben. His position was, however,
rather a defensive one, until the period at which that letter was
written, when the English abandoned Richmond. Cornwallis obtained,
and usually by the aid of negroes, the best horses of Virginia. He had
mounted an advance-guard of Tarleton on race-hores, who, like birds of
prey, seized all they met with, so that they had taken many couriers who
were bearers of letters. Cornwallis stopped once during his retrograde
march on Williamsburg; the Americans being close to him, it was thought
an affair would take place, but he continued on his road. It was before
he reached Williamsburg that his rear-guard was attacked by the advance
corps of Lafayette under Colonel Butler. He evacuated Williamsburg the
4th; Lafayette had done all he could to convince him that his own forces
were more considerable than they really were. Either the night of, or
two nights before, the evacuation of Williamsburg, a double spy had
taken a false order of the day to Lord Cornwallis,--found, he said, in
the camp,--which ordered General Morgan's division to take a certain
position in the line. The fact was, that General Morgan had arrived in
person, but unaccompanied by troops: Dr. Gordon justly observes, that
Lord Cornwallis, from Charlestown to Williamsburg, had made more than
eleven hundred miles, without counting deviations, which amounts,
reckoning those deviations, to five hundred leagues. The whole march
through North Carolina and Virginia, and the campaign against Lafayette,
were effected without tents or equipages, which confers honour on
the activity of Lord Cornwallis, and justifies the reputation he
had acquired, of being the best British general employed in that
war.--(Extract of Manuscript, No. 2.)



Ambler's Plantation, July 8th, 1781.

The inclosed copy, my dear general, will give you an account of our
affairs in this quarter. Agreeably to your orders I have avoided a
general action, and when Lord Cornwallis's movements indicated that it
was against his interest to fight, I ventured partial engagements. His
lordship seems to have given up the conquest of Virginia. It has been
a great secret that our army was not superior, and was most generally
inferior, to the enemy's numbers. Our returns were swelled up,
as militia returns generally are; but we had very few under arms,
particularly lately, and to conceal the lessening of our numbers, I was
obliged to push on as one who had heartily wished a general engagement.
Our regulars did not exceed one thousand five hundred, the enemy had
four thousand regulars, eight hundred of whom were mounted: they thought
we had eight thousand men. I never encamped in a line, and there was
greater difficulty to come at our numbers.

Malvan Hill, July 20th.

When I went to the southward, you know I had some private objections;
but I became sensible of the necessity there was for the detachment to
go, and I knew that had I returned there was nobody that could lead them
on against their inclination. My entering this state was happily marked
by a service to the capital. Virginia became the grand object of the
enemy, as it was the point to which the ministry tended. I had the
honour to command an army and oppose Lord Cornwallis. When incomparably
inferior to him, fortune was pleased to preserve us; when equal in
numbers, though not in quality of troops, we have also been pretty
lucky. Cornwallis had the disgrace of a retreat, and this state being
recovered, government is properly re-established: The enemy are under
the protection of their works at Portsmouth. It appears an embarkation
is taking place, probably destined to New York. The war in this state
would then become a plundering one, and great manoeuvres be out of the
question. A prudent officer would do our business here, and the baron is
prudent to the utmost. Would it be possible, my dear general, in case a
part of the British troops go to New York, I may be allowed to join the
combined armies?

Malvan Hill, July 20th.

No accounts from the northward, no letter from head quarters. I am
entirely a stranger to every thing that passes out of Virginia; and
Virginian operations being for the present in a state of languor, I have
more time to think of my solitude; in a word, my dear general, I am home
sick, and if I cannot go to head quarters, wish at least to hear from
thence. I am anxious to know your opinion concerning the Virginian
campaign. That the subjugation of this state was the great object of
the ministry is an indisputable fact. I think your diversion has been of
more use to the state than my manoeuvres; but the latter have been much
directed by political views. So long as my lord wished for an action,
not one gun has been fired; the moment he declined it, we have been
skirmishing; but I took care never to commit the army. His naval
superiority, his superiority of horse, of regulars, his thousand
advantages over us, so that I am lucky to have come off safe. I had an
eye upon European negotiations, and made it a point to give his lordship
the disgrace of a retreat.

From every account it appears that a part of the army will embark. The
light infantry, the guards, the 80th regiment, and the Queen's rangers,
are, it is said, destined to New York. Lord Cornwallis, I am told, is
much disappointed in his hopes of command. I cannot find out what he
does with himself. Should he go to England, we are, I think, to rejoice
for it; he is a cold and active man, two dangerous qualities in this
southern war.

The clothing you have long ago sent to the light infantry is not yet
arrived. I have been obliged to send for it, and expect it in a few
days. These three battalions are the best troops that ever took the
field; my confidence in them is unbounded; they are far superior to
any British troops, and none will ever venture to meet them in equal
numbers. What a pity these men are not employed along with the French
grenadiers; they would do eternal honour to our arms. But their presence
here, I must confess, has saved this state, and, indeed, the southern
part of the continent.

Malvan Hill, July 26th.

I had some days ago the honour to write to your excellency, and informed
you that a detachment from the British army would probably embark at
Portsmouth. The battalions of light infantry and the Queen's rangers
were certainly, and the guards, with one or two British regiments, were
likely to be, ordered upon that service. My conjectures have proved
true, and forty-nine sail have fallen down in Hampton-road, the
departure of which I expect to hear every minute. A British officer, a
prisoner, lately mentioned that Lord Cornwallis himself was going.

It appears the enemy have some cavalry on board. The conquest of
Virginia, and the establishment of the British power in this state,
not having succeeded to the expectation of the British court, a lesser
number might be sufficient for the present purpose, and two thousand men
easily spared. So that I do not believe the present embarkation is under
that number; so far as a land force can oppose naval operations and
naval superiority, I think the position now occupied by the main body of
our small army affords the best chance to support the several parts of

Malvan Hill, July 30th.

Some expressions in your last favour will, if possible, augment my
vigilance in keeping you well apprised of the enemy's movements.~[2]
There are in Hampton-road thirty transport ships full of troops, most
of them red coats. There are eight or ten brigs which have cavalry on
board, they had excellent winds and yet they are not gone. Some say
they have received advices from New York in a row boat: the escort, as
I mentioned before, is the _Charon_, and several frigates, the last
account says seven. I cannot be positive, and do not even think Lord
Cornwallis has been fully determined.

I have sent, by a safe hand, to call out some militia, mount some cannon
at the passes, and take out of the way every boat which might serve the
enemy to go to North Carolina. You know, my dear general, that, with a
very trifling transportation, they may go by water from Portsmouth to
Wilmington. The only way to shut up that passage is, to have an army
before Portsmouth, and possess the heads of these rivers, a movement
which, unless I was certain of a naval superiority, might prove ruinous.
But should a fleet come in Hampton-road, and should I get some days'
notice, our situation would be very agreeable.

Malvan Hill, July 31.

A correspondent of mine, servant to Lord Cornwallis, writes on the 26th
of July, at Portsmouth, and says his master, Tarleton, and Simcoe, are
still in town, but expect to move. The greatest part of the army is
embarked. My lord's baggage is yet in town. His lordship is so shy of
his papers that my honest friend says he cannot get at them. There is a
large quantity of negroes, but, it seems, no vessels to take them off.
What garrison they leave I do not know: I shall take care at least to
keep them within bounds. . . . Should a French fleet now come in Hampton
Road, the British army would, I think, be ours.

Camp on Pamunkey, August 6.

The embarkation which I thought, and do still think, to have been
destined for New York, was reported to have sailed up the bay, and to be
bound for Baltimore; in consequence of which I wrote to your excellency,
and as I had not indulged myself too near Portsmouth, I was able to cut
across towards Fredericksburg. But, instead of continuing his voyage up
the bay, my lord entered York River, and landed at York and Gloucester.
To the former vessels were added a number of flat-bottomed boats.

Our movements have not been precipitate. We were in time to take our
course down Pamunkey River, and shall move to some position where the
several parts of the army will unite. I have some militia in Gloucester
county, some about York. We shall act agreeably to circumstances, but
avoid drawing ourselves into a false movement, which, if cavalry had
command of the rivers, would give the enemy the advantage of us. His
lordship plays so well, that no blunder can be hoped from him to recover
a bad step of ours.

York is surrounded by the river and a morass; the entrance is but
narrow. There is, however, a commanding hill, (at least, I am so
informed,) which, if occupied by the enemy, would much extend their
works. Gloucester is a neck of land projected into the river, and
opposite to York. Their vessels, the biggest of whom is a forty-four,
are between the two towns. Should a fleet come in at this moment, our
affairs would take a very happy turn.

New Kent Mountain, August 11.

Be sure, my dear general, that the pleasure of being with you will make
me happy in any command you may think proper to give me; but for the
present I am of opinion, with you, I had better remain in Virginia,
the more so, as Lord Cornwallis does not choose to leave us, and
circumstances may happen that will furnish me agreeable opportunities in
the command of the Virginian army. I have pretty well understood you,
my dear general, but would be happy in a more minute detail, which, I am
sensible, cannot be entrusted to letters. Would not Gouvion be a proper
ambassador? indeed, at all events, I should be happy to have him with
me; but I think he would perfectly well answer your purpose; a gentleman
in your family could with difficulty be spared. Should something be
ascertained, Count Damas might come, under pretence to serve with me;
it is known he is very much my friend. But, to return to operations
in Virginia, I will tell you, my dear general, that Lord Cornwallis is
entrenching at York and at Gloucester. The sooner we disturb him, the
better; but unless our maritime friends give us help, we cannot much
venture below.

Forks of York River, August 21.

The greater part of the enemy are at York, which they do not as yet
fortify, but are very busy upon Gloucester neck, where they have a
pretty large corps under Colonel Dundas. They have at York a forty-four
gun ship; frigates and vessels are scattered lower down. There is still
a small garrison at Portsmouth. Should they intend to evacuate, they
at least are proceeding with amazing slowness. From the enemy's
preparations, I should infer that they are working for the protection
of one fleet, and for a defence against another; that in case they hold
Portsmouth, the main body would be at York, and a detached corps upon
Gloucester neck to protect the water battery. Their fortifications
are much contracted. From the enemy's caution and partial movements, I
should conclude their intelligence is not very good, and that they wish
to come at an explanation of my intentions and prospects.

We have hitherto occupied the forks of York River, thereby looking both
ways. Some militia have prevented the enemy's parties from remaining any
time at or near Williamsburg, and false accounts have given them some
alarms. Another body of militia, under Colonel Ennis, has kept them
pretty close in Gloucester Town, and foraged in their vicinity. Upon the
receipt of your orders, I wrote to the governor, that intelligence of
some plans of the enemy rendered it proper to have some six hundred
militia collected upon Blackwater. I wrote to General Gregory, near
Portsmouth, that I had an account that the enemy intended to push a
detachment to Carolina, which would greatly defeat a scheme we had
there. I have requested General Wayne to move towards the southward,
to be ready to cross James River at Westover. A battalion of light
infantry, and our only hundred dragoons, being in Gloucester county, I
call them my vanguard, and will take my quarters there for one or two
days, while the troops are filing off towards James River. Our
little army will consequently assemble again upon the waters of the
Chickahonimy; and should Jamestown Island thought to be a good place to
junction, we will be in a situation to form it, while we render it more
difficult for the enemy to render a journey to Carolina.~[3]

In the present state of affairs, my dear general, I hope you will come
yourself to Virginia, and that, if the French army moves this way, I
will have, at least, the satisfaction of beholding you myself at the
head of the combined armies. In two days I will write again to your
excellency, and keep you particularly and constantly informed, unless
something is done the very moment (and it will probably be difficult).
Lord Cornwallis must be attacked with pretty great apparatus. But when a
French fleet takes possession of the bay and rivers, and we form a land
force superior to his, that army must, sooner or later, be forced to
surrender, as we may get what reinforcements we please.

Adieu, my dear general; I heartily thank you for having ordered me to
remain in Virginia; it is to your goodness that I am indebted for the
most beautiful prospect which I may ever behold.


1. From Williamsburg, the English retreated towards Portsmouth, near the
mouth of James River, and consequently not far from Chesapeak Bay. The
sea was open to them, and those repeated retrograde movements seemed to
indicate the project of evacuating Virginia. M. de Lafayette, therefore,
when he learnt that they were embarking on board their ships, never
doubted but that their intention was to leave that part of the country,
to repair, in all probability, to New York. But it became evident, at
the same time, that if those naval forces appeared upon the coast, they
would be blockaded without any means of escape. This is what occasioned
their inexplicable and unhoped for retreat upon Yorktown and Gloucester.

2. The 13th, Washington, who was then at Dobb's Ferry, while
congratulating M. de Lafayette on his success, announced to him the
junction of his army with that of Rochambeau, and that very important
information would be carried to him by a confidential officer. He
recommended to him to concentrate his forces, and obtain means of
corresponding with him. The 15th, he apprised him that the Count de
Grasse intended quitting St. Domingo on the 3rd, with his fleet, to
proceed to the Chesapeak, and prescribed to him to shut out from Lord
Cornwallis all retreat on North Carolina. He added, "You shall hear
further from me." The 30th, he no longer concealed his intention of
marching to the south. But he only announced on the 21st of August
that his troops were actually on their march. While recurring to the
necessity of inclosing the enemy on every side, he ended by saying, "The
particular mode I shall not at this distance attempt to dictate; your
own knowledge of the country, from your long continuance in it, and
the various and extended movements you have made, have given you great
opportunities for observation; of which I am persuaded your
military genius and judgment will lead you to make the best
improvement."--(Letters of Washington, vol. viii.)

3. After the arrival of Lord Cornwallis at York, General Lafayette asked
Colonel Barber for a faithful and intelligent soldier, whom he could
send as a spy into the English camp. Morgan, of the New Jersey line,
was pointed out to him. The general sent for him and proposed to him the
difficult task of going over to the enemy as a deserter and enrolling
in their army. Morgan answered that he was ready to everything for his
country and his general, but to act the part of a spy was repugnant to
all his feelings; he did not fear for his life but for his name which
might be blotted with an eternal stain. He ended, however, by yielding
but on condition, that in case of any misfortune, the general would make
the truth known, and publish all the particulars of the case in the New
Jersey papers. M. de Lafayette promised this should be done. Morgan then
proceeded to the English camp. His mission was to give advice of
the movements of the enemy, and deceive them as to the projects and
resources of the Americans. He had not been long with the English,
when Cornwallis sent for him, and questioned him, in the presence of
Tarleton, upon the means General Lafayette might have of crossing south
of James River. Morgan replied, according to his private instructions,
that he had a sufficient number of boats, on the first signal, to cross
the river, with his whole army. "In that case," said Cornwallis
to Tarleton, "what I said to you cannot be done;" alluding, in all
probability, to an intended march upon North Carolina. After the arrival
of the French fleet, M. de Lafayette, on his return from a reconnoitring
party, found in his quarters six men dressed in the English uniform, and
a Hessian dressed in green: Morgan was amongst them, bringing back five
deserters and a prisoner: he no longer thought his services as a spy
could be of any use to his country. The next day, the general offered
him, as a recompence, the rank of sergeant. Morgan thanked him, but
declined the offer, saying that he thought himself a good soldier,
but was not certain of being a good sergeant. Other offers were also
refused. "What can I then do for you?" inquired the general. "I have
only one favour to ask," replied Morgan. "During my absence, my gun has
been taken from me; I value it very much, and I should like to have it
back again." Orders were given that the gun should be found and restored
to him: this was the only thing he could be prevailed on to receive. Mr.
Sparks, who published this anecdote, "says he heard it related, fifty
years after it had occurred, by General Lafayette, who still expressed
great admiration for that soldier's noble feelings and disinterested
conduct."--(Washington's Writings, vol. viii., p. 152.)


Camp, between the branches of York River, August 24, 1781.

The residence of Virginia is anything but favourable to my
correspondence. I do not accuse public affairs of this evil; and as I
find so much time to think of my affection for you, I could doubtless
find some, also, to assure you of it; but there are no opportunities
here of sending letters, and we are obliged to despatch them to
Philadelphia and expose them to many hazards; these dangers, in addition
to those of the sea, and the increased delay they occasion, must
necessarily render the arrival of letters far more difficult. If you
receive a greater number from the French than from the Virginian army,
it would be unjust to imagine that I have been to blame.

Your self-love has, perhaps, been gratified by the part I have been
obliged to act: you may have hoped that I could not be equally awkward
on every theatre; but I should accuse you of an egregious degree of
vanity (for all things being in common between us, there is vanity in
rating me too highly) if you have not trembled for the perils to which
I have been exposed. I am not speaking of cannon balls, but of the more
dangerous master-strokes with which I was threatened by Lord Cornwallis.
It was not prudent in the general to confide to me such a command. If
I had been unfortunate, the public would have called that partiality an
error in his judgment.

To begin, even from the deluge, I must speak to you of that miserable
Portsmouth expedition. General Rochambeau had intended sending a
thousand Frenchmen there, under the Baron de Viomenil. You must have
heard that the French squadron gained a great deal of glory, whilst the
English attained their desired end. Admiral Arbuthnot will since have
informed you that I was blockaded; but, although we were not sailors,
that blockade did not detain us four hours. You will have learnt,
afterwards, that General Phillips having made some preparations at
Portsmouth, we marched in all haste to Richmond, where we arrived nearly
at the same time; but I arrived first. They then came from New York and
Carolina to unite with the Virginian troops; the whole was commanded
by the formidable Lord Cornwallis, who abandoned his first conquests
to fulfil the ministerial plan by the conquest of Virginia. It was not
without some difficulty that we avoided the battle he wished for; but,
after many marches, we became stronger than we were at the commencement,
and we pretended to be stronger than we were; we regained what we had
lost without risking a battle, and, after two trifling affairs, the
hostile army proceeded to Portsmouth, which it has since evacuated, and
whose fortifications we have destroyed. That army is now in York River,
whither they repaired by water. If the naval superiority which we are so
fully expecting should arrive, I shall rejoice at the campaign closing
by the English army's assuming that position.

The French and American troops before New York are under the orders of
the generalissimo. My friend Greene has had great success in Carolina,
and that campaign has taken a far better turn than we had any reason to
expect or hope. _It may perhaps end in a very favourable manner_. It
is said that the British ministry are sending here the Governor of
Virginia; I fancy they have founded rather too many hopes upon the
success of their army. The Pennsylvanians, who were to have joined them,
are at present here with us. But for the virtue, zeal, and courage of
the regular troops who were with me, it would have been impossible for
me to have saved myself. I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude to
those with whom I have undertaken this fatiguing campaign. The militia
have done all they could. I have been well pleased, with our little
army, and only hope it may have been also pleased with me.

I must speak of my health, which is a monotonous subject,--for I need
only repeat favourable accounts of my own constitution: the sun of
Virginia has a very bad character, and I had received many alarming
predictions; many persons, in truth, have had fevers; but this climate
agrees with me as well as any other, and the only effect fatigue has
upon me is to increase my appetite.


Camp, between the branches of York River, August 24th, 1781.

When a person, sir, has Lord Cornwallis in front and is flying through
the sands of Virginia, he must depend upon others to give circumstantial
news of America. Ever since the guidance of this army has been entrusted
to me, I have found myself five hundred miles from any other troops, and
all accounts of the war, of General Washington, and of congress, are an
immense time in reaching me; but you have the Chevalier de la Luzerne,
and you could not have a better informer. There is only one point on
which I cannot depend on any person to speak for me,--and that is when I
am assuring you of the affectionate and devoted attachment I shall feel
for you during the remainder of my life.

To execute the gigantic project which his court has planned, Lord
Cornwallis was obliged to leave exposed both the Carolinas. General
Greene took ample advantage of this circumstance. It is true that the
hostile army bore on every point upon us, and all depended upon our
having the good luck to avoid a battle: fortune served us well, and
after a few junctions, our little army regained all the ground whose
conquest had occasioned so many sacrifices. In the other states we
manoeuvred rather than fought. Lord Cornwallis has left us Portsmouth,
from whence he communicated with Carolina, and finds himself at present
at York, which would be a very advantageous station for us, if we
possessed a naval superiority: if that should by chance arrive, our
little army would enjoy successes which would amply compensate for this
long and fatiguing campaign: I should not, in that case, regret our last
movements having placed us in our present situation.

I can only speak to you of myself, sir, or of the English army, for all
other accounts will reach you at Versailles almost as soon as they do me
in this remote corner of Virginia. It is reported that you are going to
make peace, but I am not very credulous on this point, and I fancy that
they will at least await the end of this campaign.

This is a large packet, sir, but I do not fear taking advantage of your
kindness, as I well know the full extent; I flatter myself I merit it
as much as it is possible for any person to do so, by the feelings of
confidence and respectful affection with which I remain, &c.

I beg you to present my kind compliments to the Countess de Vergennes,
and to your sons.


Camp, between the branches of the York River, August 24th, 1781.

Whilst I am thus, sir, more than ever separated from the rest of the
world, I am not less occupied with the persons I love, and who honour me
with their kindness and attention. I owe you so much gratitude, and
feel so much attached to you, that I wish to recal sometimes to
your recollection the rebel commander of the little Virginian army.
Interested for me, sir, as I know you are, you would have been alarmed
by the important part my youth has been called upon to act: five hundred
miles from any other corps, and without any resources whatever, I was
placed to oppose the projects of the court of St. James's and the good
fortune of Lord Cornwallis. Until the present moment, we have not met
with any disasters; but, in a time of war, no person can tell what
events may occur on the following day. Lord Cornwallis pursued us
without succeeding in taking us, and after a variety of movements, he is
now in the good York harbour; who knows whether his manoeuvres may not
end by making us prisoners of war?

As I do not know what vessel may bear this despatch, I will neither
dwell upon our projects nor our hopes; the Chevalier de la Luzerne, who
knows every opportunity for France, will inform you of all that passes
here; for my part, I am lost in the sands of Virginia, living only by my
wits, and corresponding with Lord Cornwallis only. This letter, sir, is
merely intended to recal me to your remembrance, and to offer you the
assurance of my respectful and affectionate regard.

Will you permit me, sir, to present my respects to the Countess de
Maurepas and Madame de Flamarens?



Holt's Forge, 1st Sept., 1781.

My dear General,--From the bottom of my heart I congratulate you upon
the arrival of the French fleet. Some rumours had been spread, and spy
accounts sent out, but no certainty until the admiral's despatches came
to hand. Inclosed I send you his letter, and that of M. de St. Simon,
both of whom I request you will have translated by Tilghman or Gouvion
alone, as there are parts of them personal, which I do not choose to
shew to others. Thanks to you, my dear general, I am in a very charming
situation, and find myself at the head of a beautiful body of troops;
but am not so hasty as the Count de Grasse, and think that, having so
sure a game to play, it would be madness, by the risk of an attack, to
give anything to chance.

It appears Count de Grasse is in a great hurry to return; he makes it
a point to put upon my expressions such constructions as may favour his
plan. They have been pleased to adopt my ideas, as to the sending of
vessels into James River, and forming a junction at Jamestown. I wish
they may also force the passage at York, because then his lordship has
no possibility of escape.

The delay of Count de Grasse's arrival, the movement of the grand army,
and the alarm there was at York, have forced me, for greater security,
to send a part of the troops to the south side, of James River.
To-morrow and the day after will be employed in making dispositions for
covering a landing, which will be done with continentals discumbered
of baggage; and on the 5th, agreeable to the count's desire, a junction
will be made of our troops. I shall then propose to the French general
the taking of a safe position, within ten or twelve miles of York; such
a one as cannot be forced without a much greater loss than we could

And, unless matters are very different from what I think they are, my
opinion is, that we ought to be contented with preventing the enemy's
forages, and fatiguing them by alarming their picquets with militia,
without committing our regulars. Whatever readiness the Marquis de St.
Simon has been pleased to express to Colonel Gimat, respecting his being
under me, I shall do nothing without paying that deference which is
due to age, talents, and experience; but would rather incline to the
cautious line of conduct I have of late adopted. General Portail must be
now with Count de Grasse. He knows your intentions, and our course will
be consulted in our movements.

Lord Cornwallis has still one way to escape; he may land at West Point,
and cross James River, some miles below Point of Fork; but I thought
this part was the most important, as the other route is big with
obstacles. However, to prevent even a _possibility_, I would wish some
ships were above York.

The governor~[2] was with me when the letters came; he jumped upon a
horse, and posted off to his council. I gave him a memorandum, demanding
provisions of every kind for the fleet and the combined army. We may
depend upon a quantity of cattle, but flour ought to be sent from
Maryland and Pennsylvania. Chevalier d'Annemours, the French consul,
is here, and will take a method to have his countrymen supplied without
starving us.

Upon a particular inquiry of the country, and our circumstances, I
hope you will find we have taken the best precautions to lessen his
lordship's chances to escape; he has a few left, but so very precarious,
that I hardly believe he will make the attempt; if he does, he must give
up ships, artillery, baggage, part of the horses, all the negroes; he
must be certain to lose the third of his army, and run the greatest risk
to lose the whole, without gaining that glory which he may derive from a
brilliant defence.

Adieu, my dear general, the agreeable situation I am in is owing to
your friendship, and is, for that reason, the dearer to your respectful
servant and friend.


1. Washington having finally adopted the project of uniting the land
and sea forces against the army of Cornwallis, which had so fortunately
stationed itself in the position most favourable to a naval attack, it
was still important and difficult to prevent him from reaching Carolina,
and thus ruining the campaign of the allied powers. It was to attain
this end, that Lafayette had despatched troops to the south of James
River, under pretence of dislodging the English from Portsmouth; this
movement had also the good effect of uniting to the corps of the army
the troops and artillery who could escape by Albemarle Sound on the
arrival of the Count de Grasse. With the same view, he detained troops
on the south of James River, on pretence of sending General Wayne and
his Pennsylvanians to the southern army to reinforce General Greene.
No person was in the secret, and the enemy could not, therefore, be
undeceived. It was at that period that he sent them the pretended
deserter, Morgan. In short, after having manoeuvred for several months
to lead his opponent into the spot that would best allow him to take
advantage of a naval co-operation, he manoeuvred at last so as to
prevent his enemy from withdrawing when he became conscious of his
danger. His precautions in this respect were more necessary from Lord
Cornwallis knowing that a large French fleet was expected in North
America. The moment the Count de Grasse arrived, Lafayette marched on
rapidly to Williamsburg, and effected a junction with a corps of three
thousand men belonging to the Marquis de St. Simon. As soon as he landed
at Jamestown, he crossed the river, united Wayne's corps to his own, and
assembled, on the other side of York River, opposite to Gloucester, a
corps of militia. The English army thus found itself enclosed on every
side, and no possible means of safety were left to Lord Cornwallis but
by his undertaking a very perilous enterprise. He reconnoitred, however,
the position of Williamsburg, with the intention of attacking it. It was
a well chosen station: two creeks; or small rivers, throwing themselves,
one into James, the other into York River, almost enclosed the peninsula
on that point; it was necessary to force two well defended passages;
two houses and two public buildings of Williamsburg, both of stone, were
well placed to defend the front. There were five thousand French and
American troops, a large corps of militia, and a well served campaign
artillery. Lord Cornwallis thought he ought not to hazard an attack. He
might have crossed over to Gloucester, or have ascended York River, the
Count de Grasse having neglected to place vessels above that point,
but he must have abandoned, in that case, his artillery, magazines, and
invalids, and measures had been taken to cut off his road in several
places; he determined, therefore, to await the attack. He might have
had, in truth, the chance of a combat, if Lafayette had yielded to some
tempting solicitations. The Count de Grasse was in a hurry to return;
the idea of waiting for the northern troops and generals was intolerable
to him; he entreated Lafayette to attack the English army; with the
American and French troops that were under his command, offering, for
that purpose, not only the detachments which formed the garrisons of the
ships, but also as many sailors as he should demand. The Marquis de
St. Simon, who although subordinate to Lafayette from the date of his
commission, was much his senior in point of age and service,
joined earnestly in the admiral's request. He represented that Lord
Cornwallis's works were not yet completed, and that an attack of
superior forces would soon, in all probability, take Yorktown, and
afterwards Gloucester. The temptation was great for the young general of
the combined army, who was scarcely four-and-twenty years of age; he had
an unanswerable pretence for taking such a step in the declaration made
by M. de Grasse, that he could not wait for the northern generals
and forces; but this attack, which, if successful, would have been so
brilliant, must necessarily have cost a great deal of blood. Lafayette
would not sacrifice to his personal ambition the soldiers who had been
confided to him; and, refusing the request of the Count de Grasse,
he only endeavoured to persuade him to await the arrival of General
Washington, accompanied by the Generals Rochambeau and Lincoln, seniors
of Lafayette; by this means the reduction of the army of Cornwallis
became a secure and by no means costly operation. (Note extracted from
Manuscript, No. 2.)

2. The governor of Virginia, Nelson.



Williamsburg, September 8, 1781.

My dear General,--I had the honour to write you lately, giving an
account of everything that came within my knowledge. I was every hour
expecting I might be more particular; but if you knew how slowly things
go on in this country; still I have done the best in my power; I have
written and received twenty letters a day from government and from every
department. The governor does what he can: the wheels of his government
are so very rusty that no governor whatever will be able to set them
free again. Time will prove that Jefferson has been too severely
charged. The French troops, my dear general, have landed with amazing
celerity; they have already been wanting flour, meat and salt, not so
much, however, as to be one day without. I have been night and day the
quarter-master collector, and have drawn myself into a violent head-ache
and fever, which will go off with three hours' sleep, the want of which
has occasioned it. This, my dear general, will apologize to you for
not writing with my own hand. The French army is composed of the most
excellent regiments: they have with them a corps of hussars, which may
be of immediate use. The general and all the officers have cheerfully
lived in the same way as our poorly provided American detachment. I
think a letter from you on the subject will have a very good effect.
Last night by leaving our own baggage, and accepting of our officers'
horses, we have been able to move to a position near Williamsburg: it
is covered along the front with ravines; the right flank is covered by
a mill-pond, on the road to Jamestown; the left by Queen's Creek, small
rivulets, and marshes. We have militia still in front of our right and
left, and a good look out on the river. Our provisions may come to the
capital landing. Williamsburg and its strong buildings are in our front.
I have upon the lines General Muhlenberg with one thousand men, four
hundred of whom are Virginian regulars, and one hundred dragoons. In
borrowing White's unequipped horses we may add one hundred hussars.
There is a line of armed ships along James River, and a small reserve
of militia, which may increase every day: there are in Gloucester county
eight hundred militia driving off stock. I had recommended, with proper
delicacy, to Count de Grasse to send some naval forces up York River;
the French armed vessels in Pamunkey are come down to West Point. No
movement of Count de Grasse has as yet taken place, except some ships
below York. Your excellency's letter to him has been duly forwarded;
we are under infinite obligations to the officers and the men for their

I entered into these particular accounts, my dear general, in order to
show you that propriety, and not the desire to advance, has dictated our
measures. We will try, if not dangerous, upon a large scale, to form a
good idea of the works; but, unless I am greatly deceived, there will
be madness in attacking them now with our force. Marquis de St. Simon,
Count de Grasse, and General du Portail, agree with me in opinion; but,
should Lord Cornwallis come out against, such a position, as we have,
everybody thinks that he cannot but repent of it; and should he beat us,
he must soon prepare for another battle.

Now, my dear general, I am going to speak to you of the fortifications
at York. Lord Cornwallis is working day and night, and will soon work
himself into a respectable situation: he has taken ashore the greater
part of his sailors; he is picking up whatever provisions he can get.
I am told he has ordered the inhabitants in the vicinity of the town
to come in, and should think they may do him much good. Our present
position will render him cautious, and I think it a great point. No news
as yet in this camp of the fleet of M. le Comte de Barras.~[1]

I will now answer you that part of your letter respecting provisions for
the troops under your immediate command.

With respect to a proper place for the debarkation of your troops, it
is the opinion of the Marquis de St. Simon, and mine, that it must be
in James River, but we have not had an opportunity yet of fixing on the
best spot: it appears, however, that it must be at or near Williamsburg
or Jamestown.

With the most affectionate regard and esteem, I am; dear general, &c.


1. Marshall speaks of the departure of the Count de Barras for the
Chesapeak, and of his arrival with the artillery of the siege; that
the admiral had received a letter from the minister of the marine, the
Marshal de Castries, who, informing him of the orders given to M. de
Grasse to proceed to the coasts of the United States, left him free to
make a cruise on the banks of Newfoundland, not wishing to oblige him to
serve under his junior, to whom the minister had entrusted the command.
But M. de Barras nobly determined to convey himself and the artillery
to Rhode Island, and to range himself, with all his vessels, under the
command of an admiral less ancient than himself.--Manuscript, No. 2.



Camp before York, October 16, 1781.

My dear General,--Your excellency having personally seen our
dispositions, I shall only give an account of what passed in the

Colonel Gimat's battalion led the van, and was followed by that of
Colonel Hamilton's, who commanded the whole advanced corps; at the same
time, a party of eighty men, under Colonel Laurens, turned the redoubt.
I beg leave to refer your excellency to the report I have received from
Colonel Hamilton, whose well known talents and gallantry were on this
occasion most conspicuous and serviceable. Our obligations to him, to
Colonel Gimat, to Colonel Laurens, and to each and all the officers and
men, are above expression. Not one gun was fired, and the ardour of the
troops did not give time for the sappers to derange them, and, owing to
the conduct of the commanders and the bravery of the men, the redoubt
was stormed with uncommon rapidity.

Colonel Barber's battalion, which was the first in the supporting
column, being detached to the aid of the advance, arrived at the moment
they were getting over the works, and executed their orders with the
utmost alacrity. The colonel was slightly wounded: the rest of the
column under General Muhlenberg and Hazen advanced with admirable
firmness and discipline. Colonel Vose's battalion displayed to the left,
a part of the division successively dressing by him, whilst a second
line was forming columns in the rear. It adds greatly to the character
of the troops that, under the fire of the enemy, they displayed and took
their rank with perfect silence and order. Give me leave particularly to
mention Major Barber, division inspector, who distinguished himself, and
received a wound by a cannon ball.

In making arrangements for the support of the works we had reduced, I
was happy to find General Wayne and the Pennsylvanians so situated as to
have given us, in case of need, the most effectual support.

I have the honour to be, with the most perfect respect, &c.


1. It was the 13th of September that General Washington had operated
his junction with General Lafayette, and the 28th the place of York was
invaded. The assault was given on the 15th of October.


Camp, near York, October 20th, 1781.

The play, sir, is over--and the fifth act has just been closed; I was in
a somewhat awkward situation during the first acts; my heart experienced
great delight at the final one--and I do not feel less pleasure in
congratulating you, at this moment, upon the fortunate issue of our
campaign. I need not describe the particulars of it, sir, because Lauzun
will give them to you in person; and I only wish him the same degree of
good luck in crossing the ocean that he had in passing through a corps
of Tarleton's legion.

M. de Rochambeau will give you a full account of the army he commands;
but if the honour of having commanded for some time the division of
M. de St. Simon gives me any right to speak of my obligations to that
general and his troops, that right would be much valued by me.

Will you have the kindness, sir, to present my respectful compliments
to the Countess de Maurepas, and Madame de Flamarens, and to accept,
yourself, the sincere assurance of my affection, gratitude, and respect.


Camp, near York, October 20th, 1781.

Allow me, sir, to offer you my congratulations upon the good leaf that
has been turned over in our political tablets. M. Laurens will give
all particulars; I rejoice that your Virginian campaign should close
so well, and my respect for the talents of Lord Cornwallis renders his
capture still more valuable to me. After this commencing stroke, what
English general will ever think of conquering America? Their southern
manoeuvres have not ended more fortunately than their northern ones, and
the affair of General Burgoyne has been again renewed.

Adieu, Sir; I have so short a time for writing, that I can only add at
present the assurance of the respect and sincere attachment of, &c.


On board _La Ville de Paris_, in Chesapeak Bay, Oct. 22, 1781.

This is the last moment, my dearest love, allowed me for writing to you;
M. de Lauzun is going to join the frigate and return to Europe; some
business I had to settle with the admiral affords me the pleasure of
thus giving you some news of me two days later; what relates to public
affairs will be detailed to you by M. de Lauzun. The close of this
campaign is truly brilliant for the allied troops; our movements have
been all remarkably well combined, and I must, indeed, be difficult
to please, if I were not completely satisfied with the close of my
Virginian campaign. You must have learnt all the trouble that Lord
Cornwallis's talents and superior forces gave me,--the good luck we had
in regaining the ground we had lost,--and, finally, our drawing Lord
Cornwallis into the very position that was necessary to enable us to
capture him: at that precise moment all the troops rushed upon him.
I count as amongst the happiest epochs of my life, that in which the
division of M. de St. Simon remained united to my army, and that in
which I alternately commanded the three field-marshals, with the troops
under their orders. I pity Lord Cornwallis, for whom I have the highest
respect; he is kind enough to express some esteem for me, and after
having allowed myself the pleasure, in the capitulation, of repaying the
incivilities of Charlestown, I do not intend to carry my vengeance any
farther. My health is extremely good, and I met with no accident during
our encounter.

Present my most affectionate respects to Madame d'Ayen, and the Marshal
de Noailles; a thousand kind regards to all my sisters, the Abbé Fayon,
and M. de Margelay. I embrace ten thousand times our beloved children.
Adieu, adieu.


December 5th, 1781.

The king, sir, having been informed of the military talents of which you
have given such multiplied proofs whilst commanding the different corps
of the army that has been confided to you in the United States; of the
wisdom and prudence that have guided you in the various decisions you
were called upon to take respecting the interests of the United States;
and of the great confidence with which you have inspired General
Washington; his Majesty has desired me to tell you, that the praises
you have so justly merited on such various occasions have fixed his
attention, and that your conduct and successes have made him, sir,
conceive the most favourable opinion of you; such a one as you might
yourself desire, and from which you may depend on his future kindness.
His Majesty, in order to give you a very flattering and peculiar mark of
this intention, renews to you the rank of field-marshal in his armies,
which you are to enjoy as soon as the American war shall be terminated,
at which period you will quit the service of the United States to
re-enter that of his Majesty. In virtue of this decision, sir, you may
be considered as field-marshal from the date of the signature of the
capitulation, after the siege of Yorktown, by General Cornwallis, the
19th October, of this year, on account of your fulfilling at that time
the functions belonging to that rank in the troops of the United States
of America.

His Majesty is disposing at this moment of his regiment of dragoons, of
which he had kept for you the command until the present time.

I beg you to be convinced of the pleasure I experience in this act of
his Majesty's justice, and of the wish, I feel to prove to you, on every
occasion, the sincere attachment with which I have the honour of being,




_Alliance_, off Boston, December 21st, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I am sorry to think we are not yet gone, and there
still remain some doubts of our going to-morrow. This delay I lament not
so much on private accounts as I do on the account of our next campaign,
in the planning of which your opinion, as I shall deliver it, must be
of the greatest use to the common cause. As to the department of foreign
affairs, I shall be happy to justify the confidence of the congress, by
giving my opinion to the best of my power, whenever it is asked for;
but the affair of finances will, I fear, be a difficult point for the
American minister, in which, however, I shall be happy to help him with
my utmost exertions. The moment I arrive in France, I will write to you
minutely how things stand, and give you the best accounts in my power.

I have received every mark of affection in Boston, and am much attached
to this town, to which I owe so many obligations; but, from public
considerations, I have been impatient to leave it and go on board the
frigate, where I receive all possible civilities, but where I had rather
be under sail than at anchor.

I beg your pardon, my dear general, for giving you so much trouble in
reading my scrawls; but we are going to sail, and my last adieu, I must
dedicate to my beloved general. Adieu, my dear general: I know your
heart so well, that I am sure that no distance can alter your attachment
to me. With the same candour, I assure you that my love, my respect, my
gratitude for you, are above expression; that, at the moment of leaving
you, I felt more than ever the strength of those friendly ties that for
ever bind me to you, and that I anticipate the pleasure, the most wished
for pleasure, to be again with you, and, by my zeal and services, to
gratify the feelings of my respect and affection. Will you be pleased to
present my compliments and respects to Mrs. Washington, and to remember
me to General Knox and General Lincoln.

Adieu, my dear general, your respectful and tender friend, &c.




       *       *       *       *        *



At Robins's Tavern, halfpast four, 26 June, 1778.

DEAR GENERAL,--I have received your excellency's favor~[1] notifying
your arrival at Cramberry, and am glad to have anticipated your orders
in not going too far. I have felt the unhappy effects of the want of
provisions, for I dare say if we had not been stopped by it, as we were
already within three miles of the enemy's rear, we would very easily
have overtaken them and fought with advantage.

I have consulted the general officers of the detachment, and the general
opinion seems to be that I should march in the night near them, so as to
attack the rear guard when on the march. We have also spoken of a night
attack. The latter seems dangerous. The former will perhaps give them
time of escaping, as it is impossible I would move quite close by them,
at least nearer than three miles.--Col. Morgan is towards the right
flank, Gen. Dickinson is a little upon the left, Gens. Scott and Maxwel
have insisted upon going further down than we are now; for Wayne's and
Jackson's corps they have not had provisions at all but will be able to
march in the night. I beg you would let me know your intention and your
opinion of the matter, my motions depend much upon what the army will do
for countenancing them. I beg you would be very particular upon what you
think proper to be done and what your excellency will do. I wish indeed
you would anticipate the different cases which may happen according to
the place where the enemy lays.--Gen. Wayne, Col. Hamilton and several
officers have gone to reconnoitre it, I fancy they will lay about seven
or eight miles from here. Your excellency knows that by the direct
road you are only three miles further from Monmouth than we are in this

The enemy is said to march since this morning with a great confusion
and fright. Some prisoners have been made, and deserters come amazingly
fast. I believe an happy blow would have the happiest effect, and I
always regret the time we have lost by want of provisions.

I beg you would answer to me immediately, and with the highest respect I
have the honor to be, &c.


1. The letter referred to does not appear in Sparks' "Writings of
Washington;" but there is a letter of instructions in vol. 5, p. 417 of
that work addressed to Gen. Lafayette by Gen. Washington, dated the 25th
June 1770, in relation to the service upon which the former had
been detached; some account of which is to be found in the preceding
"Memoirs," ante p.p.51, 52. See also, the letters of Gen. Washington to
Gens. Lee and Lafayette, in Sparks' "Writings &c." p.p. 410, 419.



At Cranbarry, 5 o'clock, June, 1778,

Dear General,--I have received your orders for marching as just as I
could and I have marched without waiting for the provisions tho' we want
them extremely. Gen. Forman and Col. Hamilton sat out last night to
meet the other troops and we shall be together at Hidestown or somewhat
lower. Gen. Forman is firmly of opinion that we may overtake the
enemy,--for my part I am not so quiet upon the subject as he is, but his
sentiment is of great weight on account of his knowledge of the country.
It is highly pleasant to me to be followed and countenanced by the army
that if we stop the enemy and meet with some advantage they may push it
with vigor. I have no doubt but if we overtake them we possess a very
happy chance. However, I would not have the army quite so near as not to
be quite master of its motions, but a very little distance may do it.--I
have heard nothing of the enemy this morning. An officer of militia
says, that after they had pitched their tents yesterday night, they
struck them again. But I am inclined to believe they did not go farther,
and that the man who brought the intelligence was mistaken. I expect
some at Hidestown which I will immediately forward to you. I beg when
your excellency will write to me, that you could let me know the place
you have reached, that I might govern myself accordingly.

With the highest respect I have the honor to be, &c.


1. In answer to the letter of instructions mentioned in the preceding



Half past ten, 28th June, 1778.

Dear General,--Your orders have reached me so late and found me in such
a situation that it will be impossible to follow them as soon as I could
wish. It is not on account of any other motive than the impossibility of
moving the troops and making such a march immediately, for in receiving
your letter I have given up the project of attacking the enemy, and I
only wish to join Gen. Lee.--I was even going to set out, but all the
Brigadiers, Officers, &c. have represented that there was a material
impossibility of moving troops in the situation where ours find
themselves--I do not believe Gen. Lee is to make any attack to morrow,
for then I would have been directed to fall immediately upon them,
without making 11 miles entirely out of the way. I am here as near as
I will be at English Town. To-morrow at two o'clock I will set off for
that place.

I do not know if Morgan's corps, the militia, &c., must be brought along
with the other part of the detachment. Gen. Forman who don't approve
much of that motion, says, that our right flank must be secured, unless
to incur the most fatal consequences for the whole army.

I beg your pardon sir, if my letter is so badly written, but I want to
send it soon and to rest one or two hours.

I have the honor to be, &c.

Be so good as to send a speedy answer of what you think proper to order


1. In answer probably to Gen. Washington's letter of the 26th June.
Sparks' Washington, vol. 5, p. 419.



Cranbarry, half past nine o'clock, 29 June, 1778.

Dear General,--Inclosed I have the honor to send you a letter which
Colonel Hamilton was going to send me from this place when I arrived
with the detachment, and which may give you an idea of the position
of the enemy. I will try to meet and collect as soon as possible our
forces, tho' I am sorry to find the enemy so far down that way. We will
be obliged to march pretty fast, if we want to attack them. It is
for that I am particularly concerned about provisions. I send back
immediately for the purpose, and beg you would give orders to have them
forwarded as speedily as possible, and directed to march fast, for I
believe we must set out early to-morrow morning. The detachment is in
a wood, covered by _Cranberry_ Creek, and I believe extremely safe. We
want to be very well furnished with spirits as a long and quick march
may be found necessary, and if Gen. Scot's detachment is not provided,
it should be furnished also with liquor; but the provisions of this
detachment are the most necessary to be sent as soon as possible, as we
expect them to march.

If any thing new comes to my knowledge, I will immediately write to your
excellency, and I will send an express in the morning.

I have the honor to be, &c.

I wish also we could get some axes, but it should not stop the so
important affairs of provisions.


St. Jean d'Angely, June, 1779.

Sir,--I learnt before I left Paris, that a loan, negotiating in Holland
for England, and which was to have been completed the coming autumn,
would be stopped, because the lenders had demanded one per cent more
interest. This loan was undertaken by a banker of English origin,
who has apportioned it among a great many persons, and had become
lender-general to the English government. I am told that some profits
over and above the commission might help America to this sum, amounting
to above forty millions. I communicated this information to the
Chevalier de la Luzerne to be imparted to you; but having discharged
that duty towards the Americans, I feared lest M. Necker would not share
in my earnestness. I have already appropriated twenty millions to bank
stock, ten to an expedition, and ten to pay the interest until the final

I received at the moment I was coming away a letter from America, dated
in the month of January, in which the President informed me in behalf of
Congress, that they had changed their determination respecting the joint
expedition to Canada. The reasons assigned are, the slight probability
of Rhode Island and New York being evacuated next winter, the
uncertainty of the enemy's movements next spring, and therefore the
impossibility of promising their quota of the troops, fixed in the plan
that I was intrusted with. I have the honor to be, &c.


Havre, 9 July, 1779

Sir, If my letter from America had contained any interesting
information, I should not have delayed a moment to acquaint you with it;
but it is only a confirmation of what you heard, and we have some later
news by the way of England. It will be injurious to commerce for the
British to have the command of James River, and while they can coast
along those shores with impunity, their transient descents will almost
always succeed. If they should establish themselves in their new
profession, to drive them out would be the more accordant to the plan I
spoke to you about; as, in Virginia, November and even December are good
campaigning months. The arrival of M. Gerard will certainly supply you
with many details of American affairs, the Swedish ambassador has sent
me, in the name of his king, the most flattering assurances, and well
suited to awaken my gratitude, but the vessels are not forthcoming,
and if we go to America, we must go under the Spanish or French flag.
I think if our Southern allies should engage alone in a similar
expedition, they would do more harm than good by it.

I wish I could send news that the English fleet was beaten in good
earnest; and whilst I wait that event with as much interest, as if I
was at the head of the fleet, the army and the whole ministry, I do not
forget that your time is precious, and so I shall content myself with
presenting to you the homage of my respect and my attachment.


Havre, 7th October, 1779.

Sir,--As from their minister in France, any European intelligence will
be properly conveyed to congress, I beg only the leave of paying them a
due tribute of my respect and heartfelt assurance of my unbounded zeal,
love and gratitude: so sensible I am of their goodness towards me, that
I flatter myself they will kindly receive this letter from one who will
ever boast in the name of an American soldier, and whose delight has
been long ago, in sharing the same fortune as the American people, never
to be considered but as a countryman of theirs.

...land has been obliged to make, the terror that has been spread along
her own shores, while her naval forces were flying in the channel before
our fleet, and suffering themselves to be insulted by our van guard
frigates, and at length the obligation our fleet was under, to repair
into the harbour of Brest for getting provisions and water, are events
which will be more accurately reported by Mr. Franklin's dispatches.
The Ardent, man-of-war of sixty-four guns has been taken by two French
frigates. Captain Jones's small American squadron had the good luck
of taking lately a fleet from the Baltic, and displaying Continental
colours along the coasts of Scotland.

Since I had the honor to write to your excellency, I have ever been with
Count de Vaux's army, which was divided in two corps at St. Malo and
the Havre, and consisted of thirty thousand men. Another body has
been stationed in Flanders, and two thousand dragoons are to embark
at Brest.--The project of invading England was at first retarded by
a difficult meeting of the French and Spanish fleets on account
of contrary winds, by useless efforts to bring out the enemy to an
engagement, and the necessity of repairing into the harbour of Brest.
How it will be possible to bring out the expedition in the autumn is yet
undetermined, but it will be perhaps delayed until next spring, though
the ministry seem very anxious of acting in this campaign.

Suppose the taking of Gibraltar, which they are going to attack with the
greater vigor, was the only European conquest for this year, the large
expenses France has made will yet be of a great use to the common cause,
as it has exhausted England and detained at home forces which would have
done mischief in the other part of the world.

The loss which the enemy have sustained in the East Indies has been very
severly felt by them, and from their negociations in Europe they cannot
procure themselves any allies.

Count d'Estaing's arrival on the American coasts will, I hope, have
produced such an effect as we earnestly desire. How truly concerned, how
truly unhappy I am in being confined to mere wishes, Congress, from
the knowledge they have of my sentiments will better feel for me than
I might myself express. The furlough they were pleased to give me was
unlimited, no one could imagine the campaign would take such a turn, and
till the month of June I was in hopes of rendering myself, in this
part of the world, of a more immediate use to the United States. The
expedition against England had been afterwards fixed upon, and my
services were thought useful to my country and the common cause: So that
I hope Congress will approve of my conduct.

Whatever may be the success of the campaign in America, it will
certainly bring on new projects for the ensuing year. The sense I have
of the favors conferred on me by congress, and the marks of confidence
which I have obtained in many occasions, give me the freedom of
reminding them that the moments where I may find myself under American
colours, among my fellow soldiers, and take orders from our great and
heroic General will ever be considered as the happiest ones in my life.

If there is any thing in France where not only as a soldier, but as a
politician, or in whatever possible light, I may employ my exertions to
the advantage of the United States, I hope it is useless to tell that
I will seize the happy opportunity and bless the fortunate hour which
shall render me useful to those whom I love with all the ardor and
frankness of my heart.

The inestimable sword which Congress have generously added to their so
many favors, I have received from their minister with such honorable
services as by far exceed any merit I may ever boast of. This present
has been also graced by Mr. Franklin's politeness in offering it, and
I could not help repeating again to Congress some assurances of those
sentiments which for ever will animate my grateful heart.

With the warm feelings of one whose first ambition and delight is to be
known in this and to be called in ages to come a _lover of America_,
who is bound to his representatives by the most respectful and
tender attachment and gratitude, and with the highest regard for your

I have the honor to be your's &c.

Paris, 9th January, 1780.

SIR,--You were too busy yesterday for me to communicate to you the
answer of M. de Montbarrey to the request for powder and guns which I
had taken it upon me to make. I spoke in my own name, and the advice
which I took the liberty of giving was not ill received. M. de
Montbarrey told me that he would speak to you about it. He promised me
an early answer; and as you favor my request, I hope that we shall
soon obtain the powder and the fifteen thousand complete sets of
accoutrements, which we would add to the clothes bought with the king's
money. You are conferring a great obligation upon America, and affording
her great additional means of contributing to the advancement of the
grand common cause. Every citizen must be strongly interested in the
fate of our islands, and must fear the effects, which would follow if
an expedition should go out from New York. It is enough to know that
country, whose independence is so important to the honor and safety
of France, to desire that it may be not forgotten in the plan of the
campaign, and to regret the loss of the time which might be employed in
giving it assistance. But the extensive operations are beyond my sphere,
I shall merely ask for my guns, and assure you of the strong affection
and respect with which I have the honor to be, &c.



Peekskill, July the 20th, 1780.

DEAR GENERAL,--Having heard of an express from Rhode Island being going
through the Continental village, I sent for him as it would not delay
him more than an hour. Inclosed I have the honor to send you the letter
from Gen. Heath, which I have opened, and also two letters from the
French generals to me. It seems, my dear General, that they have
anticipated the desire you expressed yourself of our plans in a private
conversation. That way indeed will do better than a hundred letters.
In case (what however I don't believe) they would wish to speak to
yourself, I shall immediately send an express to inform you of it; but I
dare say they will be satisfied with my coming.

I am glad to hear they are hunting after the Cork fleet, and those
frigates being out will also apprise them of the enemy's naval motions.

Adieu, my dear General. With a heart full of hopes, and I think of
well grounded expectations, I have the honor to be very tenderly and
respectfully, &c.

P.S. It is much to be lamented that Paul Jones did not come in the first
envoy. In case there is nothing to fear from the enemy, I will send
the clothing to New London. Be certain, my dear General, that though
by serious reflexions and calculations which I can prove to be right, I
have great hopes of success, I shall however look upon and speak of
all the difficulties that may present themselves. I have on public and
private accounts many reasons to feel the consequence of the plan in
question, and to take the greatest care in considering by myself and
explaining to others our circumstances. The delay of the small arms
I don't consider as equally hurtful to our affairs as will be
the deficiency of Powder. But as (even at the so much overrated
calculations) we have enough of it for one month, I will try to get a
supply from the fleet, and then it will come to the same point. You will
hear from me as soon as possible after my arrival.


1. This letter was written by General Lafayette, while on his journey to
Newport R.I., whither he has been sent with full instructions to conduct
measures of co-operation with the French Generals De Rochambeau and
De Ternay. A copy of these instructions is given in Sparks' History of
Washington, Vol. 7, App. III. See also the answer of Washington to La
Layette, ib. p. 117.



Danbury, July the 21st, 1780.

As I find an express going from Hartford to General Greene, I send this
letter to him that you might hear something further about the recruits
of Connecticut.

From the Colonel who under Gen. Parsons is intrusted with the care of
forwarding them, I hear that by the first of August two thousand of them
will be at West Point; but I had put in my head that they were to bring
arms with them, and I find it is not the case.

Gen. Parsons and myself will meet at Newtown, where, in mentioning again
to him the necessity of hurrying the recruits to West Point, I will
apprise him that you have been disappointed in the expectation of some
powder, and desire him to write to you how far, in case of an emergency,
you might be provided for with that article from his state.

In case Gen. Parsons thought that my waiting on the governor and council
might answer any purpose, I would go three or four miles out of my way
to preach to them some of my old sermons.

With the help of French horses whom I make free with on the road, I hope
I will arrive very soon at Rhode Island. Nothing about Graves' fleet;
but I am happy to think that they will find our people ready to receive
them at Newport.

When I wrote you, my dear General, that my heart was full of flattering
expectations, it is understood that I suppose a sufficiency of arms and
ammunition, which I thought so far useless to explain, as I hope you
believe I have some common sense. But I had an idea that the recruits
would be armed, and I yet think (though I had no reason to be particular
on that head) that you have many small arms in your stores. For what
relates to the powder, I hope that what you will get from the states,
and what I flatter myself to borrow from the French fleet, wilt put
you in a situation to wait for the alliance. You may remember that the
second division is to come before, or very little after, the beginning
of our operations.

I however confess it is impossible not to be very angry at captain
Jones's delays, and much disappointed in our expectations. The only
thing I want to know, is _if you depend on a sufficiency of arms and
ammunition for the first thirty days_. Be certain that before settling
any thing, my great basis will be, _when and how does the second
division come, and how far may we depend on the arms and ammunition
coming with them_.

I have the honor to be, respectfully, &c.



Hartford, July the 22d, 1780.~[1]

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I hasten to inform you that the missing transport is
safely arrived, on the 19th, at Boston. She is said to be a two-decker,
and to have on board a vast deal of powder, with pieces of ordnance,
and also the baggage of the officers of _Bourbonnsis_.--The intelligence
came this instant by an officer of our army who saw the men encamped on
the commons, from where they were to march to Providence. Two American
frigates were, I am told, ordered to convoy the ship around the Rhode
Island; but as their orders were to sail by to-morrow, they will
have time to receive contrary directions from the French Admiral. The
inclosed newspaper will acquaint you of Graves's cruising off Block
Island, and on their first appearance, Chev. de Ternay will certainly
dispatch an express to Boston.

In a conversation which I had yesterday with General Parsons, he told
me that he thought the number of your arms in stores, amounted to ten
thousand, exclusive of those which are now in the hands of the men.
He seems to be of opinion, and so is Col. Wadsworth, that there is no
inconvenience in their State's furnishing their drafts with arms, and
giving even a larger proportion if thought necessary. They say those
arms may be by the 5th of August at King's Ferry. I was so particular
as to make myself certain that this demand will not in the least impeach
any other measure, and as it would be too distressing to fall short on
that article, I will take on myself, though in a private capacity, to
persuade the Governor and Council in the measure of arming every one of
the men whom they send out, and forwarding the arms to King's Ferry, or
West Point, as you may direct.

As to the matter of ammunition Gen. Parsons thinks that (as far as he
may guess,) near fifty tons of powder might be collected. Col. Wadsworth
says he can't ascertain the quantity. They have three mills, and from
what I can collect, I am certain that if you attack New York, this State
will do all in their power. I will foretell the Governor, that he will
have a large demand of ammunition, and let you know how much we are to
depend upon, as far as I may guess from his answer. Massachusetts have,
say they, a vast deal of powder.

I intend to breakfast at Newport the day after to-morrow, and as soon
as I can make out any thing worth the while, from my conversation with
them, I will let you know every matter that may be interesting.

With the highest respect and most tender friendship, I have the honor to
be, dear General, &c.

I am told that the French are in a great want of vegetables. I think it
will be agreeable to them to forward their waggons and horses as much as


1. It appears from Spark's Hist. of Washington, p. 125. n. that in his
progress to New Port, General Lafayette called on Governor Trumbull,
General Parsons, Mr. Jeremiah Wadsworth, the Commissary-General, and
other persons in Connecticut, to procure and hasten forward the quota of
troops, and such supplies of arms and ammunition as could be spared from
that State, to co-operate with the French troops upon their landing.

2. The answer to the above letter appears in Spark's Writ. of
Washington, Vol. 7, p 125, See also ib. p.127, note.



Lebanon, July the 23d, 1780.~[1]

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I had this morning the honor to wait on His
Excellency, the governor, and took the liberty, though in a private
capacity, to inform him of our circumstances. The result of our
conversation I will therein transmit to you, and to be more certain of
conveying the governor's ideas, I am writing at his own house, and will
show him my letter before I fold it up.

To begin by the article of powder which is so much wanted, and which,
from unforeseen circumstances may, by its deficiency, ruin all our
expectations, I am, by the Governor, desired to tell you that you may
depend upon: 1stly. Fifty four tons for the present. 2dly, Fifteen tons
to be made up in the course of August, by the three Connecticut Mills.
3dly, Twenty tons, which in case of an absolute necessity, will be found
out in this State; the whole amounting to eighty-five tons, which he
would try to encrease, if possible, to ninety. How far that may fulfil
your expectations, I don't know, but his Excellency will wait for a
letter from you on this subject.

As to the balls, shells, &c., the Governor cannot as yet ascertain the
quantity to be expected, but thinks this State may go a great length.

His resources for arms have been, it seems, overrated by General
Parsons, and other gentlemen, whose opinions I had communicated to your
Excellency. The Governor thinks that it would be difficult to arm the
whole of the recruits. He will, however, if requested by you, do any
thing in his power, and might have a good prospect of succeeding for the
half part of them.

Tho' I had no orders for this interview with Governor Trumbull, and
from the knowledge of our circumstances, took upon myself the freedom
of disclosing them to him, I heard your Excellency's sentiments on one
point so often, so strongly, and so repeatedly expressed, that I could
with all certainty assure him, that you would not ask from the State
more than is necessary to answer our great purposes, and in delivering
the country from the danger of ruin and the disgrace of a shameful
inability, to turn this decisive crisis to the honor and safety of

I took also the liberty of mentioning something about clothing the
officers, and assured the Governor that you thought the measure to be
highly necessary. He entirely agrees in opinion with me, and does not
doubt but that at the first meeting of the Council a sufficient sum in
hard money will be delivered for that purpose. The knowledge I have
of Colonel Wadsworth's zeal and activity makes me desirous that he be
intrusted with that business.

As to the clothing from the fleet, it seems the Governor wishes it to be
sent into Connecticut river, and I will engage the French Admiral into
that measure; for I am very warm in this opinion, my dear General, and
so I know you are, that as less trouble as possible must be given to the
people whose exertions should be entirely thrown in such channels, as
are of absolute necessity; but if we can't send the clothing around
without an eminent danger of its being taken, then his Excellency the
Governor will send it with all possible dispatch and by pressed waggons
from the boundaries of Rhode Island to any place on the North River,
which is mentioned in Mr. Olney's instructions.

I have the honour to be, dear General, &c.

Your's, &c.

P. S.--I have read my letter to the Governor and he agrees with the
contents. He will immediately give orders about the Mills, and collect
four hundred french arms he had in stocks.~[2]


1. This is one of the letters referred to in Gen. Washington's letter of
20th July. Spark's Writ. of Wash. v, 7, p.128.

2. For the answer to the above, see Spark's Writ. Of Wash. v. 7, p.124.



Newport, July 26th, 1780.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Every private intelligence from Long-Island, and also
the letters from General Howe, and the officer on the lines do agree
with the note I have received from Colonel Hamilton, and are all
positive upon it that General Clinton, with a great part of his army, is
coming to attack the French troops.

In consequence of this Count de Rochambeau is fortifying both Islands,
and making preparations of defence. He has requested our calling
immediately a body of militia, which demand has been complied with by
General Heath.

After many intelligences had been received, I did yet persist in
disbelieving the report, but they now come from so many quarters, that
I am obliged to yield to the general idea, and expect them in a little

I have no doubt but that in the course of the day we will receive some
orders, and some intelligences from head-quarters. The French Generals
have asked me if your army was in a situation to make a diversion, or if
a part of it would not be marched immediately to our relief. My answer
was, that if you was able to do one or the other, you would certainly
not lose a minute, but that I could not tell them any thing positive;
that however, I thought you would come nearer to New-York than you was
when at Preakaness.

All the last day has been employed or in viewing the camp with Count
de Rochambeau, or in helping General Heath in his arrangements. This
morning the Count is gone to reconnoitre the grounds on the Island.
We dine together at the Admiral's, and I will, if possible, begin our
conversation, our affairs exclusive of what we are now expecting from
the enemy.

In case you was to send some troops this way, I wish I might get notice
in such a time as to have some clothing kept on the road, but in all
cases we should take some well looking and well dressed men; that, I
only mention as a mere supposition.

If the enemy mean regular approaches the French Generals say that they
would give time for a succour to come. In all suppositions I don't think
the French will be able to form a junction before some time, as they
can't leave the Island before the fifteenth of next month, (in supposing
that they are not attacked.) They have many sick, but I will soon be
able to tell you more about it, and had not those intelligences been so
pressing, I might have by this time fully spoken on our affairs with the
French Generals.

For my part, my dear General, till orders from you fix any thing I am to
do, I will stay here under General Heath's orders, and help him to the
best of my skill. As soon as any thing important comes to us I will send
you an express.

From private inquires I hope the fleet will furnish us with some powder.
As to the militia who are called by General Heath, the French army will
spare to them such provisions as may be wanted.

I have the honor to be with the most perfect respect and tender
affection, Yours, &c.



Newport, July the 26th, at Seven o'clock, P. M.~[1]

My Dear General,--I had this morning the honor of writing to you by
Genl. Heath's express, and informed you that we had from every official
and private quarter minuted accounts of the enemy's coming in great
force to attack this island. For my part I have been a long time a
disbeliever of the intelligence; but so many letters came to hand that
at length I was forced to take the general opinion about their intended
expedition. But, tho' I wrote you in the morning, I know you are anxious
of hearing often from this quarter, and will therefore desire General
Heath to send an other express.

Nothing as yet (the ships of war excepted) has come in sight; but the
French Generals who have not the smallest doubt about their coming, are
hurrying their preparations of defence.

General Heath and myself were invited to a meeting of the French General
Officers, wherein, to my great satisfaction, the idea of holding both
Connecticut and Rhode Island was abandoned, as it is assured that from
the first one the enemy cannot annoy our shipping, if in a certain
position. Count de Rochambeau, Chevalier de Chattelux, and myself, went
afterwards to dine with the Admiral, and the two French Commanders have
agreed to the following plan:

The transports to be put in the harbour of Newport; the shipping to
anchor along the shore from Brenton's Point, going Northward, where they
are protected by batteries, a frigate and a cutter to be stationed in
Sekonnet Passage; the army to encamp at its usual place, but upon the
appearance of the enemy, to be in readiness to attack them at any
point where they may disembark, and, if unsuccessful, to retire to the
position which was once occupied by the enemy. There they want also
to place some militia. Count de Rochambeau cannot hear of the idea of
evacuating the island, and says he will defend this post to the last
man. I could not help advising him very strongly and very often to erect
works, and keep a communication open with the Continent by Howland's
Ferry or Bristol Point, that matter will, I hope, be attended to in the
course of the next day.

General Heath will inform you of the measures he has taken, in which, as
the second officer, I am only to help him to the best of my power. The
Count's urging request, made it, I think, necessary to call for Militia.

The number of sick is such that by the return given before me to Count
de Rochambeau, it appears they will have but three thousand six hundred
men fit for duty if they are attacked within a few days. The fleet has
a great proportion of sick men and the ships are therefore poorly manned
for the present.

Count de Rochambeau asked me so often if you would not send a body of
Continental troops to their relief; if, in the course of twelve days
from this they could not be arrived, or that I knew he wanted me to
write to you about it, and at length he told me he did not want it. But
this must be _between us_. The Count says he will stand a storm; but if
the enemy wanted to make a long work of it that a corps of Continental
troops in their rear would have the best effects. That in this case the
enemy would be much exposed on the Island, and that the circumstances
which would follow their re-embarking, would be so fatal to them as to
facilitate our operations for the campaign. All this, my dear General, I
was in a private manner desired to hint to you.

We could not speak of our grand operations, and they are wholly taken in
their expectations of the enemy. But what might be an inducement to send
a corps this way is, that in any case the French will not be able to
march before the 15th of August.

A return of the clothing has been promised to me for this evening, but
tho' I am sorry to be the news-bearer of so many disappointments, I must
tell you that from what they said to me nothing but a small part of the
clothing has been intrusted to them, and that not only nothing new has
been done, but what I had settled has been undone by those arrangements
of the alliance which I can't conceive. In case you was to send troops
this way, I think their route to Providence should be known, so that
they might meet the clothing on the way. What you will do, my dear
General, I don't know, but it seems Count de Rochambeau is determined to
defend Newport, at all events.

With the most perfect respect and tender sentiments, I have the honor to
be, Yours, &c.


1. For the answer to this letter, See Spark's Writ. of Wash. v. 7,



Newport, July the 29th, 1780.

My Dear General,--Your letter of the 22d~[1] came to hand last evening,
and I hasten to answer at least to a part of its contents. I shall
begin by the disagreeable disappointment I met with on account of our
clothing. Inclosed, my dear General, you will find the return of what
has been put on board of the fleet, which I have sent by a vessel to
Providence, and which will be forwarded to head-quarters. I can't tell
you how much I feel for that shoking arrangement of clothing, but as it
is not quite so essential to arms and powder, if we have no clothing.
I shall be the forwardest to advise our acting without it. I am apt
to blush for neglecting improvements that are within my reach, but I
readily do without those which are not in our power.

As to the affair of arms I spoke this morning to the Count, and am sorry
to find that he has but the most necessary articles of exchange which
are to answer to the daily broken arms, &c., his superfluous armament is
coming in the second division, and for the present there is nothing
to expect from that quarter. The only way, my dear General, will be
to request the States to pick up arms for their recruits. Governor
Trumbull, (as you may have seen by my letter from Lebanon,) thinks there
is a great deal of difficulty in this matter; but many other Gentlemen
from the State assure that it can be done. I will desire Colonel
Wadsworth to manage that affair with the Governor, and I will also write
a private letter to Mr. Bowdoin and Governor Greene.

As to the powder, my dear General, I hope the Navy will give us some,
not however a great deal. You cannot conceive how difficult it is for
the present to speak with them on offensive plans. They expect Clinton
at every minute, and say his success will decide our operations, I had
however this morning a conversation with the Land General, and was to
see in the evening the Admiral, who, I am told, cannot come, so that I
must delay it to be done to-morrow.

Connecticut will, I think, furnish you with a much greater quantity than
you expected. How far it will fulfil your purpose I hope to hear from
you; but I cannot flatter you to get so much from the fleet as two
hundred, even as hundred tons.

I have fully considered, my dear General, the idea of those French
Generals, and made myself acquainted with every thing that has past
since my departure from France. A great mismanagement in the affair
of transports, has prevented the whole coming here at once; but as the
French and Spaniards have a superiority, there is no doubt but that if
they join together as was intended, the second division will be here in
less than three of four weeks. The fleet on this Continent will, I hope,
be commanded by Mr. Duchoffaut, and will be very superior to that of the
enemy. If by an unlucky chance the junction was prevented, the second
division would yet certainly come in the autumn, and be in a situation
to act during the winter; but I have all reasons to believe that they
will be here in three weeks, and you may depend upon it that they will
at all events be here for the winter. From what I have been intrusted
with I have a pretty certain ground to hope that my letter will produce
upon Count de Guichen, the desired effect, and after an expedition which
I can't trust to paper, will be concluded, you may, I think, depend upon
his coming this way with a good part of his fleet.

In a word, the French Ministry are determined to keep here during the
war a land and naval force which will act on the Continent till a peace
is concluded, and to support it with all their power. They look upon
Rhode Island as a point to be kept for receiving their fleets and their
reinforcements of troops, and want the defence of it to be such an
object as will insure the basis of our operations.

Before settling any thing the French Generals want to hear from their
second division. _Don't fear by any means_ their acting rashly, and be
assured that you may very far depend on their _caution_; but our wants
of arms and ammunition have made me also very cautious. If the States
furnish us with a sufficiency of the first article, and almost a
sufficiency of the second, which we will make up with the fleet, then I
am most strongly of opinion that waiting for the second division is all
together wrong and unwarrantable.

I have, however, brought Count de Rochambeau to this, viz.:--That if
the second division comes we must attack. That in all cases, if we
are masters of the water, we may attack; and that we may do it if the
Admiral thinks that we can secure the passage by batteries, and if each
part is equal to the whole of the enemy.

We must now see what the Admiral has to say. What he wrote about the
harbour of New York don't please me. If Duchoffaut comes, I answer for
anything you wish. To-morrow I will speak with the two Gentlemen, so at
least I hope, and will let you know their answers.

If the second division comes in time we shall certainly act and succeed.
Then we will have our arms, powder, clothing, &c.

I never thought, my dear General, that Clinton would come this way; nor
do I think it now, but every body says he is coming. Governor Clinton
has it as a certainty, and upon his letter received this morning they
have altered the arrangement; I had settled to dismiss the extraordinary
militia. I hate troubling all these people, and taking them away from
their harvest. Gen. Heath is of my opinion, but the intelligences are so
particular, so authentic, that he dares not to neglect to gather as many
men as possible. Before you receive this you will certainly know the
truth of those reports.

If you think, my dear General, that Clinton is coming, and if he
disembarks upon Rhode Island, I am clearly of opinion that three or four
thousand Continental troops and the militia landing on his rear, while
the Count would sally from Newport, would ruin the British army, and
that the taking of New York would be but a trifle after such a stroke.

In case you adopt the measure, I think that the communication with the
main is very important. I went yesterday to the North end of the Island,
and had the works repaired in such a way (at least they will be soon so)
as to keep up a communication by Howland's Ferry for eight or ten days
after the enemy will possess the Island. I have also desired Colonel
Greene, in case they appear, to run up the boats to Slave Ferry.
Signals have been established from Watch Point to Connanicut; all those
arrangements I have made with the approbation and by the orders of
General Heath.

You will by this express receive a letter from Genl. Heath, who applies
for, and most ardently wishes a leave of repairing to his command in
the grand army. For my part, my dear General, I will, I think, wait your
answer to this, and want to know if by the situation of your arms and
ammunition, there is a possibility of your acting before the second
division comes. If from the answers of the States you think _such a
proportion_ of powder from the fleet will be sufficient; then I will be
more positive. If, however, after my conversations, I was to see that
the second division must be waited for at all events, then I need not be
waiting for your answer to this. I will, therefore, my dear General,

1st, Or arrange with them a beginning of operations before the second
division comes, and then wait for your answer about arms and ammunition,
or the prospects I may have by myself to fix it entirely.

2d, Or fix our plans for the moment the second division comes, and then
I will, as soon as possible, repair to head-quarters.

They seem rather doubtful of the possibility of landing safely, and
having a sufficiency of boats to carry them under the protection of our
Westchester batteries, and I beg you will give me such a note about it
as I might show to them.

With the highest respect and most tender friendship, I have the honor to
be, dear General,

Yours, &c.

All the officers and soldiers of the army have a great desire to join
the grand army, and hate the idea of staying at Rhode Island.


1. See Spark's Writ. of Wash. vol. 7, p. 117.



Newport, July the 31st, 1780,

My Dear General,--In consequence of a note from me the Admiral came
to last evening, and defensive ideas gave way to offensive plans. Our
conversation was long, and it is not yet ended, but I hasten to write
you a summary report of what past between the Count, the Chevalier, and

I first began, in my own name, to give them a pretty exact account of
the situation we were in three months ago, of the supernatural efforts
which the country had made for the purpose of an immediate co-operation.
I told them that by the 1st of January our army would be dismissed; that
the Militia was only to serve for three months. I added, that for the
defensive they were useless to us, nay, they were hurtful, and that I
thought it necessary to take New-York before the winter. All that, my
dear General, was said in my own name, and therefore in a less delicate
way than when I am your interpreter.

I then told them that I was going to speak of you, and after many
compliments, assurances of confidence, &c., I went on with your plan,
beginning with the importance of possessing the harbour, and going on
about the three ways which you have directed me to point out as to be
hereafter regulated by circumstances.

As to the possessing of the harbour the Chevalier told that he did not
believe his ships might go in; but that if superior at sea, he would
answer by cruising off to protect the landing, the transportation, and
prevent an evacuation; indeed to blockade the harbour.

The French General, with the advice of the Naval commander did not
hesitate to prefer the going in transports to the point you know of.
Both were of opinion that nothing could be undertaken unless we had a
naval superiority, and as I know it is your opinion also, (tho' it is
not mine,) I durst not insist on that article.

There was another reason which made me wait for the reinforcement. I
knew we had neither arms nor powder. I know we would be at least a long
time to get them; but as they did not think of making me the objection
I put my assent to the others on the account of my private confidence in
their superior abilities; told them that you also thought we should have
a naval superiority, and added, in my own name, that however we must,
any how, act before the winter, and get rid of a shameful defensive.

The summary of the arrangement will, I presume, be this: That as soon
as we hear of a naval reinforcement we go where you know, and establish
what you intend to fix; that, if possible, we get where I want you to
be; that immediately the French will embark and go where you wish them
to be, or thereabout; that a number equal to the enemy's whole force be
stationed in that part; that they don't want there more than ten pieces
of our heavy cannon; that after every thing will be disembarked, three
weeks, in their opinion, will do the business on their side; that proper
means will be taken by sea to keep up the communication and prevent an
evacuation; that we must not give up that plan if we may begin in August
or September; that fascines and other apparatus must be ready on the
opposite shore; that they will take for us all the boats belonging to
the Continent which will be at Providence; that as soon as our clothing,
&c., arrive, it will without entering any harbour be sent to W.C. or

Their superiority at sea, will, I think, take place in the course of
this month; they have two ways to depend upon it:--1st, Unless of an
absolute impossibility the second division, consisting of four other
regiments and the remaining part of Lauzun's, with the Alliance and all
other stores, and with a strong convoy of ships of the line, will be
here very soon. When they will be heard of on the coast, Chevalier de
Tergay will, at all events, go out and meet them. 2dly, the Gentleman I
wrote to on my arrival has full liberty to send here reinforcements,
the Admiral has already applied to him, but I am going to make him write
other letters _in my way_, and will send them to-morrow or the day after
to Chevalier de la Luzerne, whom I beg you will immediately desire to
secure three fast sailing vessels for the West Indies.

I am going this evening to fix plans with Pilots, and also to speak of
the entrance of the harbour. Dobs and Shaw are here, and I will have a
full conversation with them and the Admiral, both for the entrance of
the harbour and the navigation of the Sound. To-morrow I call, with as
much secrecy as possible, a number of Pilots for the harbour of Halifax
and River St. Laurence.

Inclosed, you will find a letter from Count de Rochambeau. He requests
you will have the goodness of letting the Minister know what the French
army is about, as he had no time of writing to him; it is, I believe,
very important. 1st, To send every where to meet the reinforcement, and
give them proper directions. 2dly, To have some vessels ready for the
West Indies.

The French set more value upon Rhode Island than it is worth. I however
got them to promise that in case of an operation they will not leave
here a Garrison, and that their Magazines would be sent to Providence.

You know, my dear General, I did not expect Clinton, and tho' I could
not stand alone in my opinion, I ever lamented the calling out of the
Militia. I am happy to inform you that they have been dismissed. Nothing
can equal the spirit with which they turned out, and I did not neglect
letting the French know that they have done more for their allies than
they would have done for the security of their own continental troops on
a similar occasion.

As to the three month men, the French General wants them to establish
the communication with the main; but I will soon request him to let them
go to the grand army, and will, in the same time, get from this State
as many arms and powder as possible. I have written to Massachusetts for
the same purpose.

After I will have sent the Pilots, and made calculations with the
Commander of the Artillery and the first Engineer whom the Count will
consult, I shall draw a plan which I will get their answer to, and
repair with it to head-quarters. In the meantime I will receive answers
from Boston and from Governor Greene.

The Admiral cannot send to us more than thirty thousand of powder. But
you see that their demands as to heavy pieces are small; they indeed say
they do not want any on the Island, and that their twenty-ones will
be sufficient. All that, my dear General, I will be more positive upon
after the Commanders of Artillery and Engineers will have made with us
their calculations.

I hope, my dear General, that by the 5th or 6th of August, I will have
nothing more to do in this place. The French army hate the idea of
staying here, and want to join you; they swear at those that speak of
waiting for the second division; they are enraged to be blockaded in
this harbour. As to the dispositions of the inhabitants and our troops,
and the dispositions of the inhabitants and the Militia for them, they
are such as I may wish. You would have been glad the other day to see
two hundred and fifty of our drafts that came on Connecticut without
provisions or tents, and who were mixed in such a way with the French
troops, that every French soldier and officer took an American with him
and divided their bed and their supper in the most friendly manner.

The patience and sobriety of our Militia is so much admired by the
French Officers, that two days ago a French Colonel called all his
officers together to desire them to take the good examples which were
given to the French soldiers by the American troops. So far are they
gone in their admirations that they find a great deal to say in favor of
General Varnum, and his escort of Militia Dragoons, who fill up all the
streets of Newport. On the other hand, the French discipline is such,
that chiken and pigs walk between the tents without being disturbed, and
that there is in the camp a cornfield, from which not one leaf has been
touched. The Tories don't know what to say to it.

Adieu, my dear General. To-morrow, I hope having the pleasure of
writing you another letter, and am with the most tender friendship, dear

Your most obedient humble servant, &c.

I beg, my dear General, you will present my compliments to the family.


1. See Spark's Writ. of Wash. vol. 7, p. 117. The answer to this letter
appears in Spark's Writ. of Wash. v. 7, p. 135.



Newport, August the 1st, 1750.

My Dear General,--Your letter to Count de Rochambeau~[1] mentioning
the enemy's embarkation, and your future movements against New-York, a
positive letter from Governor Trumbull, and a positive one from General
Parsons, have once more altered the dispositions, and such of the
Militia as had been dismissed have been again sent for.

In consequence of these expectations my offensive arrangements have
been entirely cut short, they are wholly taken in their preparations.
My letter of yesterday has been detained with the hope that some
intelligence might be added to it; but I will send it this morning, and
if it is possible to obtain from the Admiral some hour's conversation
with Captains Dobs and Shaw I shall to-morrow morning dispatch another

The dispositions of defence are, I believe, these; the French to occupy
the English lines; General Heath to command a corps of militia on the
Tivertown side; I to have his van-guard on the Island, and to watch
the enemy's motions almost all around the Island, which is not a small

If the enemy land I will try to oppose it, and the French will come
in columns to attack them with fixed bayonets. If this attack do not
succeed they will retire behind the lines, and take with them fifteen
hundred Militia, when with the few ones that may stay, I will retire to
Butt's Hill, and secure the communication with General Heath.

As you did not write to me, my dear General, I could not know what
you want me to do. If you think seriously of entering on the Island of
New-York, I am extremely sorry to stay here. If on the contrary you send
troops this way, (which, if the enemy land, would be fatal to them,)
I will not be to lament my being away from the army. I shall feel very
unhappy to be with some Militia while the Light Infantry is acting under
you, and had I been sent for, I would have joined you very fast; but
if you can take New-York I will heartily forget that I could have been
there, and feel nothing but joy; if, however, there was time enough, I'd
beg you will send for me. If you send troops this way I believe they may
strike a great blow.

The wind is against them, so that they won't be here before the day
after to-morrow. Adieu, my dear General, with the highest respect I have
the honor to be,

Your's, &c.~[2]


1. See Spark's Writ. of Wash. vol. 7, p. 126.

2. For the answer to the above, approving the measures of Lafayette, See
Spark's Writ. of Wash. v.7, p.147.



Elizabeth Town, October the 27th, 1780.

My Dear General.--From what you have heard from Dr. Hagen about the
boats when on your way to head-quarters, I don't believe that you may
have kept any hope for our success. The boats have been, it seems,
reduced to five, and from the time when they were yet at the Little
Falls you may see that they could not be here at the appointed hour.

I will not permit myself to reflect on this moment upon the many
blunders committed on that affair by the Quarter-General's department.
I was too certain of some brilliant success, and military glory is too
much idolized by me; not to be rather severe on the occasion. I will
content myself to say that from the report and common agreement of
all the spies and guides collected together by Major Lee, from the
negligence of the enemy, the circumstances of the tide and a thick foggy
weather, not one of those whom I led into the matter had the least doubt
upon your success.

The only advantage I have got from it has been to convince myself that
our troops are particularly fit for such an expedition, on account of
their patience and silence; and that if the other business could be
supported upon a large scale, I would answer to carry it. I have written
upon both roads to the commanding officer of the brigade of the line
that our expedition was relinquished, and that I would advise him not to
give to his men the trouble of going farther. I have also requested him
to speak of this movement as if it had taken place on account of some
intelligence that the enemy meant to come out into the Jersey's to
attack us.

I have taken my position between Elizabethtown and Connecticut Farms.
General Clinton has not the time of making any disposition against us.
To-morrow at nine or ten I will march to our position of Crane's Town,
and the day after to-morrow to Cotawa, unless I receive contrary orders.

Newark Mountain was rather too far to march it this night, and too
near for to-morrow, because our men being in want of blankets will like
better to join their tents again.

If your Excellency approves of this arrangement, I beg, you will order
our baggage to wait for us on our position of Crane's Town; if you
dislike the disposition your orders may reach us on the road.

I beg, my dear General, you will please to communicate our ill success
and disgraceful disappointment to the Minister, who said he would not
leave Morris Town until he hears from me.

Had I any thing to reproach to myself on the occasion, I would be
inconsolable. I undertook the business because I thought myself equal
to it; I wish the people in the Quarter Master's Department had done the
same for their plans.

I am, my dear General, your's, &c.



Light Camp, October 27th, 1780.

My Dear General,--I am sorry to hear from Major Gibbs that my letter of
last night did not reach you before your departure from head quarters.
It had been written at one o'clock, as soon as I took my position for
the night, and intrusted to Colonel Ogden, who promised to send it by an
officer acquainted with the roads.

Depending upon your communication of the sad intelligence to Chevalier
de la Luzerne, I did not send to Morristown where he was to wait for the
news of the success.

Among the many blunders which have been committed, I shall extract from
that complete assortment some instances (not for this glorious occasion
that is forever lost) but on any future one.

You may remember that after a long time Colonel Pickering assured to you
that the boats were in complete readiness whilst they had no oars,--he
afterwards positively told that he had only three boats with him at
Camp when two hours before I had seen five of them with my own eyes.
The sending of those five boats two hours after that which you had
appointed, you have been early apprized of, but you don't perhaps know
that instead of being at Dod's the night before last the boats from
Suffrans arrived there last evening about sunset, to this report the
man who received them eight miles this side of Suffrans adds that they
wanted their double trees and spread chains, so that he was obliged to
lose about two hours in taking those things from Continental wagons
and the inhabitants; when our affairs will be thus managed your best
projects cannot fail of being defeated.

Had Mr. Pickering followed the example of General Knox, every thing
would have been here in proper time and proper order, as was the
artillery from the Park.--I confess, my dear General, that I cannot
reconcile my feelings to the idea that by this neglect I have lost a
most happy opportunity, blessed with all the little circumstances which
may insure success. Our expedition has taken the most foolish turn in
the eyes of any one who is unacquainted with this circumstance of the

When I was in hopes of seeing in time at least five of them, I gave up
the watering place to think only of Richmond; but when I saw that we
could not be there before the break of the day, I did not hesitate to
relinquish an expedition which on that footing would have occasioned a
great profusion of blood for little or no purpose, but you will easily
guess what I have felt on the occasion. I never have been so deeply
wounded by any disappointment.

By Mercereau and Colonel Ogden, I hear that the enemy are collecting
boats and intend a forage into the Jerseys. I would be very happy to
know if you have got the like intelligence. Suppose they were to come
out in force and at a distance from us, would not this be an opportunity
to execute your grand plan?

I beg you will let me know this evening if I am to march to-morrow to
our old ground to Cotawa; if the enemy were likely to come out, or if
you thought of a certain plan, I would advise to keep Major Lee for some
days, as in both cases he will be a capital man,--he is a most charming

Arnold has issued a second proclamation wherein he invites the officers
and soldiers of our army to join him, promising to them equal ranks to
those they hold in the American service.

I am told expresses were sent to me to acquaint me of the delay of the
boats; but excepting Doctor Pagen I have not seen one of them,--the
boats have been sent to the two bridges by Major Gibbs, I had brought
them up with me, and in passing by them both conductors and wagoners
have received the curses of every officer and soldier in the division.
The men marched last night very fast with such silence, good order and
desire of fighting as would have highly pleased you. The activity and
resources of Major Lee have been on that occasion displayed in such a
way as entitles him to my eternal esteem and gratitude. I felt not only
for me but for all the officers and men who had promised themselves so
much glory on the occasion.

With the most tender affection and high respect I have the honor to be,
my clear general, yours, &e,

Colonel Ogden has remained behind to get inteligences; so that being
uncertain if my first letter has reached you, I would be happy to know
in the course of the night if I am to march to-morrow morning to the old


1. The two preceding letters relate to a descent upon Staten Island,
which was projected, and was to be executed by Lafayette, who was now
in command of a Light Corps, consisting of battallions, stationed in
advance of the main army, and was anxious to effect some important
enterprise before the campaign should be brought to a close; but this
expedition, as well as an attack proposed in his letter of the 30th
October, ante upon the upper part of New York Island, was rendered
impracticable by the want of boats and other necessary preparations. See
Sparks' Writ. of Wash. v. 7, p. 280, and App. No. 9.



Philadelphia, December 4, 1780.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I will for this time write a very short letter to
you and cannot be more particular either on public or private business,
until some few days stay in this city have enabled me to get further

I have been greatly disappointed in my not meeting Mrs. Washington. I
have been very angry with my bad fate which led me into another road at
the only moment when I could miss her--this has been the more the case,
as I knew you was uneasy about her, and I wanted both to send you an
express and to advise her to the best way of meeting you as soon as

The southern news are expected this evening. Leslie has re-embarked and
will probably go to Charleston; the southern members are pleased to
like my going towards their country. However I cannot for the present be
determined, as I don't yet know if the campaign will be active, and if
succours are to be expected from France.

By a vessel from there who left Lorient before the middle of October,
we hear that nothing material had happened except the taking of the
merchant fleet. Both naval armies were in port. There was an expedition
of, I think, ten ships of the line and five thousand men ready to
sail--this vessel came in company with Jones, who is daily expected; but
a very little part of our clothing will be on board, some will come on
board the Serapis, Jones, who mounts the _Ariel_ had dispatches from the
French Court, for as he however might have been detained by a storm
off the French coast which separated the little convoy. In the vessel
arrived was a Mr. Ross, who, I hope will give me some account of the
clothing, and Baron d'Arent, who got rid of his rupture, has a star
with a cross and a ribbon, and is upon very good terms with the King of

Congress have debated a motion about your being desired to go to the
southward, but have determined that you would better know than they do
if it was more useful to go or to stay. I am more than ever of this last

On my arrival I found one of the salt meat vessels sold and the other to
be sold to day. I have spoken on the subject to almost every member of
Congress, who promised that they would take the best measures in their
power to get these provisions.

Chevalier de la Luzerne has communicated to me in _the most confidential
way_ a Spanish plan against St. Augustine, upon which I am building a
letter for the Generals of this nation, and using the best arguments in
my power to engage them either to send twelve ships of the line to take
us and conduct us to Charleston, as to render their operations as useful
as possible to General Greene. To-morrow I will write you about it. If
I have time before the departure of the confederacy who is going to the
West Indies, I will send you the original, if not a copy of my
letter. This is entirely _confidential_, as I have not the Chevelier's
permission to mention it. Adieu, my dear General, your's, most

A letter dated Cadiz, September 23d, mentions that Count d'Estaing
commands the combined fleet, and is gone to sea. In this case his going
with sixteen ships could not be true. I will endeavour to ascertain this

Mr. Carmichael writes that Spain has sent a hundred and thirty thousand
dollas. It is not a great deal, the dispositions of that court are
very satisfactory. Portugal does every thing we want, letters are just
arrived from St. Domingo but not desciphered.


1. The Light Infantry corps which Lafayette had commanded was broken
up when the army went into winter quarters, and he now entertained the
desire of transferring his services to the southern army under General
Greene, and had applied to Washington for his advice. See Sparks' Writ.
of Wash. Vol. 7, p. 316.



December the 5th, in the Evening, 1780.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--However acquainted I may be with your intentions, I
thought, upon the whole, that I should better wait for your approbation
before I present any opinion of yours to the Spanish and French
Generals in the West Indies. I will, I know, lose the opportunity of the
confederacy, but many vessels are going that way, and if my letters meet
with your approbation I shall send them by triplicates. I Impatiently
wait for your answer.

I will write to General Greene to let him know of this intended
expedition, which, tho' uncertain as all human events are, may be,
however, in a great measure depended upon.

I confess that I don't hope to prevail upon the Spaniards to come here;
but if you will, you, Count de Rochambeau, and Chevalier de Ternay,
may try. In that case I wish you would write to both of them. My letter
will, at all events, give some remote chance of their doing what I
wish, and insure their communicating with General Greene. For political
reasons I also wish to draw them into this correspondence.

Chevalier de la Luzerne wishes his packet to Count de Rochambeau to
be forward as soon as possible. Adieu, my dear General, yours most
respectfully and affectionately.~[1]


1. For the answer to this letter, See Sparks' Writ. of Wash. v. 7, p.



Philadelphia, December the 16th, 1780.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Your favor of the 8th instant never came to hand
before last night. My former letters will have explained to you my
sentiments relating to a journey southward. I must heartily thank you,
my dear General, for the kind and friendly letters you have been pleased
to send me. I am so happy in your friendship that every mark of your
affection, for me gives me a degree of pleasure which far surpasses all

As I have written to you before, my dear General, there is an
intelligence of some ships and troops having been put in readiness at
Brest; there is a possibility of a Spanish officer waiting on you for
the sake of a co-operation. We are also to expect news from my friend
the new Minister of the French Navy, and before they arrive you would
not like my departure.

Two other reasons have weight with me; the first that if the enemy
make this detachment, without which nothing material will happen in the
Southward, and if the intelligence is true about the fast recruiting of
six month men, there is (not a probability) but a possibility of some
thing to be done in this quarter. The second is, that for reasons I will
explain to you when we meet, a visit from you to the French army is to
be much wished, and in this case you will be glad that I may accompany

Under these circumstances, to which is added a natural reluctance
to part from you and this army, and some idea that upon the whole my
staying will be more agreeable to you, I think, my dear General, that
unless new intelligence comes I will soon return.

Colonel Laurens persists in refusing to go, and hopes Hamilton may be
sent, whom he thinks better calculated for the purpose; but I don't
believe now that this plan may be effected, and in that case I should
advise Laurens to accept of the commission, provided he is merely a
_messenger_ and not an _envoy_, that would supersede the old Doctor.

The Assembly of Pennsylvania have passed a bill for their officers which
seems satisfactory to them. Before I go I will still intrigue for the
affair of filling up the battalions. Mifflin behaves perfectly well.

Adieu, my dear General, most affectionately and respectfully, Yours,


1. For the letter referred to in the commencement of this, See Sparks'
Writ. of Wash. v. 7, p. 316, and see also the letter of Washington to
Lafayette, ibid, p.322 & 339.



Philadelphia, March the 2nd, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Your letters of the 25th and 26th~[1] both came
yesterday to hand, which shows that the expresses have not made great
dispatch. I would have done myself the honour of writing to your
Excellency had I not every minute waited for intelligence from the

Your Excellency remembers that our shortest calculation on the arrival
of the troops at the head of Elk was for the 6th of March; I am happy
to inform you that they will be there this day or to-morrow early, and
notwithstanding the depth of the mud, and the extreme badness of the
roads, this march, which I can call rapid, (as for example, they came
in two days from Morris Town to Princeton,) has been performed with such
order and alacrity, that agreeable to the report two men only have been
left behind; and yet these two men have embarked at Trenton with some
remains of baggage. At every place where the detachment have halted,
they have found covering and wood ready for them, and there has not been
the least complaint made to me from any inhabitant. Every third day they
have drawn their provisions; the clothing has also been distributed,
and having embarked yesterday at Trenton they passed the city about two
o'clock with a wind which was extremely favorable. Congress have given
to their troops the advance of one month's pay which will be distributed
at the head of Elk in new emission.

The Artillery, consisting of one 24, six 18, two brass 12, one 8 inch
howitzer, two 8 inch mortars, in all, 12 heavy pieces; four 6 pounders,
and two small howitzers, with a sufficient quantity of ammunition, will
be at the head of the Elk this day and to-morrow, so that by the 4th I
hope we shall be ready to sail. A quantity of medicines and instruments,
and fifteen hundred pairs of shoes will be at the head of Elk before
we embark. Vessels will be in readiness to receive us with thirty days
provision on board. I am also assured that we will have a sufficient
quantity of boats to land the detachment, and two heavy ones will be
added for the Artillery, the public, and some of the private armed
vessels in the Bay have been ordered to the head of Elk; two dispatch
boats are there, and four more have been asked for. As a farther
security to our subsistence, I have got the Minister's permission to
dispose of the French flour and salt meat along the Bay in case of

On my arrival at this place I heard that M. de Tilly, the French
Commander, had conferred with the Virginians, but upon seeing that
nothing could be done immediately, he was undetermined whether to stay
or to return to Rhode Island. Fearing that our letters might miscarry,
and wishing to hurry the preparations of the Militia, I complied with
the earnest solicitations of the Minister of France to send on Colonel
Gouvion, and directed him to go either by land or water (as the state
of the Bay would permit) on board the French squadron, and afterwards
to Baron de Steuben's Camp, where he may apprise these Gentlemen of our
force, our intentions, and the time of our arrival. This minuted account
I give to your Excellency to show you that nothing on our part has been
wanting for the success of the expedition. Our preparations have in
every article fulfilled, and in the most important one, time, have
exceeded what had been expected.

Your letter was sent by express to General St. Clair, who immediately
came to town; but nothing having been done for the settling of the
accounts, none of the promises having been complied with, and the men
being much scattered, it has, (after much consideration,) been thought
impossible to embark any number with us, and General St. Clair promises
to make every exertion for the sending of two or three hundred in a few
days whom however I am not to depend upon.

I am myself going to the head of Elk and shall arrive there this
evening. It has not been possible for me to leave sooner the City, as
the three days I have remained here have been fully employed in making
and forwarding preparations.

Before I go I will wait on the Board of War Navy and propose the sending
of the frigates; but the Trumbull having not her compliment of men,
and those of the Ariel having mutinied at sea, I am afraid we will
find difficulties. The preparations made at New York; the return of the
Amarila; the remasting of the Bedfort; the impossibility Mr. Destouches
is under to give us any further assistance; the uncertainty of what Mr.
de Tilly may have determined before he had received your letter. Such
are, my dear General, the many reasons which from a pretty certain
expedition have lately made a precarious one. Under these circumstances,
indeed, there must always be more or less danger in going down the Bay,
and venturing the low country about Portsmouth. Being unacquainted
with the answer you have received from Count de Rochambeau and Mr.
Destouches, I am not able to judge how far I may depend upon the same
ship being ordered again to Chesapeake (in case before the reception
of your letter) she had thought proper to sail. Her coming was not
in consequence of your proposition; her going was relative to the
difficulties of an expedition very different from ours, and I wish I
might know if (tho' Mr. Destouches cannot give further assistance,) this
assistance at least may be depended upon, so as to hope for the return
of the ship should M. de Tilly have left the bay. The bottom of the
Bedfort is said to be damaged; the Amarila was said to have been
dismasted. Suppose those circumstances were true, they would be in our
favour. If a detachment was to go from New York to Portsmouth, Westpoint
would be less in danger. If Cornwallis continues advancing on, perhaps
our being in the neighbourhood of Arnold may be of service; I will,
however, confine myself literally to my instructions, and if Colonel
Gouvion writes me with certainty that M. de Tilly is gone; if I am not
led to suppose he will return, I will march back the detachment; for the
present I am going on because upon the increasing of the enemy's force
at Gardner's Bay, you recommended dispatch to me; I hope, however, that
I will hear from your Excellency. Now that the chain is established,
Colonel Dickering says, that in six days I may receive your answer at
the head of Elk. The hope of seeing the French ship again, or some other
reason, may detain me; but your answer will determine my movements, and
I can receive it by the 8th, which is about the time when it was thought
we would arrive at the head of Elk.

My expectations are not great, and I think we have but few chances for
us. I shall make all possible dispatch, and listen particularly to the
voice of prudence; however, some hazard might be ran, if we undertake
under these circumstances.

General Duportail having not left this place, I am led to hope that if
we don't go I may return in time for the journey to Rhode Island. I most
earnestly beg, my dear General, that you will favor me with an immediate

With the highest respect and most tender affection, I have the honor to
be, your's, &c.

P.S.--One of our transports from Trenton had got aground, but the
troops of her will still be in time for her at the head of Elk. Some new
difficulties have been made for the collecting of shoes, but I will try
to get over them. From the extraordinary motions of Lord Cornwallis,
whom we have not heard of these many days, and from the movements in
New-York, I am led to hope that I will hear from you respecting my
future conduct, and that I may be at head-quarters before you think it
prudent to leave New Windsor.~[2]


1. For these, See Sparks' Writ. Wash. p. 430 & 439 The date of the
letter is there given as the 27th.

2. See the letters of Washington is Sparks' Writ. of Wash. Vol. 7, p.
444 & 447.



Head of Elk, March the 7th, 1781.

My dear general,--Contrary winds, heavy rains, disappointments of
vessels, and every inconvenience to which we had no remedy, have been,
from the day of my arrival, combined against our embarkation. I hope,
however, we will be on board to-morrow morning, and as nothing certain
has been heard from the French ships, no time will be lost on our part
for the celerity of the expedition.

The troops will embark five miles below this place, and three miles
higher up than the Point where General Howe landed. There will be more
room for the arrangements of our vessels, and the shallowness of the
water insures us against the enterprise of any vessel of force. In this
situation we may wait for intelligence from our friends. The State of
Maryland have made to me every offer in their power. I will improve this
opportunity of making up some deficiencies in the Quarter-Master and
Engineer's Department, of insuring to us a good stock of provisions, and
upon the intelligence received that Baron de Steubens was gone with
a large detachment to the Southward, I had hinted the possibility of
getting some Militia from the lower countries, and repairing some cannon
at Baltimore; but having read the inclosed from the Baron, I will write
again to Governor Lee, (as my letter has been gone but two days,)
and save the State from any expence of that kind. To the obtaining of
vessels has been joined the difficulty of getting them up the river, as
they were taking every opportunity to slip them off. All the vessels,
three excepted, are only bay craft, and our Admiral's ship mounts twelve
guns. I have prepared some kind of orders for that fleet, but hope to be
relieved from my Naval command by the arrival of a French frigate, and
have, at all events, sent for Commodore Nicholson of Baltimore. Mr.
McHenry has been very active in accelerating the measures of his State.

By a letter from Colonel Gouvion, dated Yucomico River, I find
that after many adventures, he had landed there on the 4th, and was
proceeding by land to his destination. The wind is fair enough to come
up the Bay, and hope soon to hear from our friends.

The enclosed letter from the Baron having first come into my hand, and
being on public service, as it was waited upon _to be forwarded with
dispatch_, I took the liberty to open it, but was very sorry to have
done it after a letter of the same date had came also to hand; both say
the same thing (at least in every material point,) and I am happy to
find that the Baron's preparations are going on rapidly.

Whatever may be the Baron's opinion upon the facility of taking, sword
in hand, the fortifications of Portsmouth, I will not hazard any thing
before I have considered the matter with my own eyes. Arnold had so much
time to prepare, and plays so deep a game; nature has made the position
so respectable, and some of the troops under his orders have been in so
many actions that I don't flatter myself to succeed so easily as it may
be thought. The prospect of preserving Naval superiority must, I think,
decide if we are to save bloodshed by regular approaches, or to risk
our men into the dangers of an assault; but I would like to destroy the
works in some measure before we attempt to storm them. A conversation
with the Baron, with Colonel Gouvion, and some other officers, joined to
what I can see myself, will better fix my mind on the matter than it can
be at present. When I left Philadelphia General Wayne was not far from
hoping he could soon collect a thousand men; but I am not so sanguine
in my expectations; I am, however, trying to prepare matters for this
number of men, but I think that a sufficiency of vessels, (unless ours
are sent back,) will not be obtained in a few days. Let General Wayne
arrive in time or not, when he comes under my directions I wish to know
if in case we succeed, he must be sent to Genl. Greene. Supposing he is
to go there, would your Excellency think of selecting some riflemen for
the grand army? It seems to me that I heard you once mentioning this
matter. The State of Virginia, I am told, finds difficulties in the
keeping of prisoners. Suppose something of the kind was stated to me, am
I to alter any thing in what you said to me on the subject?

I am in a great hurry to go, my dear General; but let us succeed or fall
in the object we have in view, I shan't be less hurried to return with
the detachment to head-quarters, where I hope to be again as soon as
you may possibly expect. I beg you will present my respects to Mrs.
Washington, and Mrs. Hamilton, and compliments to the family. I have
received Mr. Washington's answer, he is waiting for me at the Baron's

With the highest respect and most tender affection I have the honor to
be, your's, &c.~[1]


1. See Washington's letter in Sparks' Writ. in Wash, vol. 8, p. 449.



Off Turkey Point, March the 9th.

My dear general,--Commodore Nicholson has joined us sooner than I
expected; he answers to conduct the detachment to Annapolis without the
least danger, there he will wait for intelligence from me, but says that
if the French fleet are below be might go with safety (if not for
the vessels at least for the troops) to the point of our destination.
Nicholson will be very useful to the French fleet as he knows well the

I will be at Hampton to-morrow night or the day after, and three days
after my arrival, if the French (whose arrival has not been heard of)
consent to send a Frigate, the detachment may come in two days from

Most respectfully, my dear General, your's &c.

P.S.--I have written to the State of Maryland to tell them we don't
want any of their Militia. I have left to the Navy Board to judge of the
propriety to send out the Ariel adding that it was no more essential.



York, March 15th, 1781.

My Dear General,--The number of small frigates and privateers that are
in the bay, made it impossible for me to carry the detachment farther
down than Annapolis, and I have requested the Governor of Maryland as
well as the principal officers of the detachment, to give out that we
are going to join General Greene; but the object of the expedition is
so perfectly well known every where, that our sole dependence to keep
Arnold must be upon the apprehension he has of a French fleet being
cruizing off the capes.

For my part, I came in a barge from Annapolis, and very luckily escaped
the dangers that were in the way. Colonel Harrison will have given to
your Excellency a minute detail of the reasons which have prompted me to
this measure. I have taken his advice on the matter, and have no doubt
but that your Excellency (considering the probability that no frigate
would have been sent) will approve of the step I have taken to forward
as much as possible both the advantage of the expedition and the honor
of the American arms.

On my arrival, (yesterday afternoon) I have found that Baron de Stuben
had been very active in making preparations, and agreeable to what he
tells me, we shall have five thousand militia ready to operate. This,
with the Continental detachment, is equal to the business, and we might
very well do without any land force from Newport.

By papers found in the baggage of a British officer, (taken in a boat)
it seems that General Gregory had a correspondence with the enemy. The
Baron has suspended him, but he is still with the troops.

Arnold is so well acquainted with the coming of the detachment, and his
object is so well known, that, as I said before, our only chance to
keep him must be the idea of a French fleet being off the capes; he is
fortifying at Portsmouth, and trying to get provisions. There has been
some trifling skirmishes with the militia.

To my great disappointment the French fleet have not yet appeared. If
the project has not been given up they must be expected every minute;
they had double the time which they wanted, and such winds as ought have
brought them in four days.

I wanted to hold up the idea of my going to the Southward; but the Baron
says that if the detachment is not announced, the militia will desert.
He wanted me to take the command immediately, but I thought it more
polite not to do it until the detachment arrives or operations are

In your first letter to the Baron, I wish my dear General, you will
write to him that I have been much satisfied with his preparations.
I want to please him, and harmony shall be my first object. As in all
cases, (even this of my going to the Southward and coming here to make
arrangements with the Baron) I would reconnoitre the enemies; I will
take an opportunity of doing it as soon as possible. They have not
as yet been reconnoitred by the Baron, and I think it therefore more
necessary for me to see with my own eyes.

As I have just arrived, my dear General, I cannot give you a very exact
account of matters.

This letter I send by duplicate, and have the honor to be with the
highest respect and most tender affection, yours, &c.



Elk, April the 10th, 1751.

Dear general,--By my letter of the 8th your Excellency will have known
of my arrival at this place, and the preparations I was making to
proceed Southward. I took at the same time the liberty to inform you
that the great want of money, baggage, clothing, under which both
officers and men are suffering, and the hope they had of being furnished
with a part of these articles from their States, would render it very
inconvenient for the troops to proceed immediately by land; they begin
to be sensible of the reason which detains them here, and are uneasy
about it, as they are so unprovided for the journey. I have, however,
hurried on preparations, and will be able to set off to-morrow morning.
The circumstances of my being ready sooner than I expected, and a letter
from the Governor of Maryland telling that six ships, whom I take to be
plundering vessels, were coming up the Potomac, induces me not to wait
for your Excellency's answer. Not that I pretend to defend the towns
of Alexandria, Baltimore and Annapolis, at a time, or to stop the
depredations of the enemy's parties in a country where their naval
superiority renders it impossible; but because I don't think any
consideration must delay the execution of superior orders, and because,
if the corps was not sent to Southward they would with alacrity march
back thirty or forty miles more to rejoin the grand army.

Having received no particulars of your Excellency's journey to Rhode
Island, but by the paper, a letter from you to Mr. Lund Washington, and
private letters from some friends, I cannot know what change has taken
place in your plans, and am not able to account for the inactivity which
you foresee for the grand army. Letters from Ministers, letters from my
friends, intelligences from other quarters, every thing was combined to
flatter me with the hope that our grand and decisive object would be in
contemplation. I then was not displeased with the dispositions of the
enemy that weakened that place. It is probable that your Excellency's
plans have changed, and you intend to prosecute the war to the

I had yesterday the pleasure of dining on board the Hermione, and left
her under sail to go to Rhode Island, where she will probably be the day
after to-morrow. Mr. Delatouche, uncle to captain Latouche, will, it is
said, command the squadron of the second division. I was conversing
with his nephew, on whom he has an entire confidence on the expedition
against New York, and he assured me that his Uncle's plan would
certainly be to take possession of the harbour, and send a force up the
North River, which you know is entirely the thing that you wanted M. de
Vernay to do.

Mr. Delatouche having confidentially told me that he had a great
influence over Mr. Destouches, I observed to him how important it was
for the common cause that the French fleet might have the greatest
possible activity. We were also conversing of the difficulties we
laboured under for transportation, and he told me that the next day
after his arrival at Rhode Island, unless such obstacles occurred as he
could not foresee; Mr. Destouches would make you an offer of the ship
l'Eveillé, and the four frigates to carry twelve hundred men to any part
of` continent you might think proper. Those ships are too strong to be
afraid of frigates, and too fast sailers to be in the least concerned by
the fear of a squadron. Thinking that (particularly as Lord Cornwallis
has retreated) our march would take us forty days, where desertion and
sickness, occasioned by want of shoes and every other necessary, as well
as by the heat of the season, would much reduce our numbers, and that
these ships, with the addition of the two frigates at Philadelphia,
armed _en flute_, would in sailing on the 4th or 5th of May, carry
1500 men to Wilmington, Georgetown, or any place in the rear of Lord
Cornwallis or the neighborhood of General Greene, I thought it my duty
to encourage this idea, which would bring us to the point of operations
sooner than we could arrive by land. It would also give you the time of
forming at Morristown or Trenton, a detachment well provided, agreeably
to the project you had in contemplation after the return of this corps.
The appointment of officers could be made without affecting the delicacy
of the regimental officers, nor the honor of those already employed.
While we would be operating, Mr. Destouches might keep cruizers off
Charleston. These ideas, my dear General, are only thrown out in
consequence of the freedom you have often ordered me to take. What Mr.
Destouches may do is uncertain, and I did not think myself authorised to
express to him the least wish on that head. It was my duty to relate our
difficulties to you, and the chances I foresaw to see them relieved
in some measure; but unless the bad weather, of which there is now a
prospect, makes it impossible, I will be to-morrow at the ferry at the

You may have known from Mr. de La Luzerne, that two millions and a half
had been given to Mr. Franklin, and that Marquis de Castries and Count
de Vergennes, were trying to obtain a sum more adequate to our wants.
This, however, the Minister of France has requested me not to mention,
as it was as yet an uncertainty, and would perhaps give ill-grounded
hopes, destructive of the internal efforts we ought to make. I am told
that just before the departure of Mr. Dela Peyrouse, some dispatches
were sent to Brest; but do not think they contain any thing relating to
our operations, as Marquis de Castries writes me that the determination
of the Council upon our letters will be sent by the ships who is to
convoy the expected vessels.

I am very sorry I have not seen the Aid de Camp who had a verbal message
from General Greene. Inclosed I send to your Excellency the letter
I have received on the occasion. Perhaps, did he mean to propose an
expedition towards Cape-fear or Georgetown, which might be made with
the light squadron above mentioned. An additional circumstance is, that
l'Eveillé will now be commanded by Mr. de Lombard, captain Latouche's
uncle, who is entirely under that Gentleman's influence.

I write to the board of war to get some shoes and other parts of
clothing. I will this morning speak to the commanding officers of
battalions on our intended journey; but have not yet said any thing
to Colonel Gimat and Major Galvan, because it is possible that new
circumstances may engage you to change your dispositions. Going by
water, if possible, would level most all difficulties; but if I don't
hear from you, I will always proceed on. I have the honor to be, yours


1. See Washington's Letters of 21st of March and 5th and 6th of
April. Sparks' Writ. of Wash. volume 7. pp. 449 and 468, 8469. See
also--Sparks' Writ. of Wash. vol. 8. Appendix No. 1.



Susquehannah ferry April 13th, 1751.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I received your Excellency's letter relating to
Colonel Gouvion. It would have been very agreeable to me to keep this
officer, your orders have been sent to Philadelphia where he is for the
present. However distant I may be from the scene, I am happy to find
that your Excellency hopes to undertake the grand object we have had in

By a letter just received from the board of War, it seems that
representations of wants have been made which they have mistaken
for objections from me to our journey southward. I have said to some
officers that our proximity to the southern states was the reason which
had induced your Excellency to send this detachment, but I hope I need
not assure you that I never thought of intimating the least idea of
alteration to your Excellency's projects, but such as you would think
of making yourself after your own ideas and intelligences. Perhaps my
letter to the board of War may appear disrespectful or impolite, but
nothing could stop me in an instance where it might be suspected I
objected to your plans, or even differed in opinion. You know me too
perfectly not to think an explanation useless.

It is confidently reported that the second division is arrived in the
capes of Delaware, consisting of nine sail of the line, this was the
number mentioned to me by the Marquis de Castries to be in harbour,
your Excellency would in that case have a brilliant Campaign to the

With the highest and most affectionate respect Yours &c.~[1]


1. See Letters of Wash. of the 11th April. Sparks' Writ. of Wash. vol.
8, p. 11.



Susquehannah ferry April 13th, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Had your Excellency's answer to my letter of the 8th,
been forwarded with an equal celerity that your favor of the 6th, I
would have received it before this time, but whatever change my new
situation could make in your Excellency's dispositions, I thought it my
duty in the mean while to obey the positive orders I had received,
the Troops are now crossing the ferry and will with all possible speed
proceed to Richmond.

By a letter received from General Green I find that he is, strongly of
opinion that I must go to the southward, his intention is to carry the
seat of war into South Carolina, there by preventing a junction between
Arnold and Cornwallis, he gives me many excellent reasons to justify
the movement and requests me to make to Richmond, and they will, if
possible, increase my zeal to execute your Excellency's orders.

General Green's opinion is that Lord Cornwallis will fall down towards
Wilmington, his own project is to carry the war into South Carolina.
Under these circumstances a corps of Light Infantry embarked at
Philadelphia on board a light squadron might have been upon the seat of
war in a very short passage.

I cannot help fearing, my dear General, that our campaign will take
a defensive turn which is far from answering our first plans and
expectations. Major McPherson is with me as a volunteer, that officer
has most zealously employed himself and has been most dangerously
exposed in the discovery of a plot made to furnish the enemy with
provisions, he has managed this matter with infinite address, being for
two days and one night with six soldiers who, as well as himself, put
on the air of British, and, in company with a spy who thought them to
be enemy and by a most violent gale of wind, crossed the bay in a small
boat, by which means he was made sensible that a trade of flour is
carried with the enemy from the western shore of Maryland, and saved a
magazine of 800 barrels of continental flour which would otherwise have
fallen into the hands of the enemy. In case we proceed southerly perhaps
will it be possible for General Green to give Mayor McPherson a command
in some detachment; I would be happy if he was recommended to him by
your Excellency. My determination being to go on with rapidity, unless
I am recalled, your Excellency may easily judge of my movements from
the answer I will probably receive in a few hours. Was I to assure your
Excellency that this journey is perfectly agreeable to the Troops, I
would not use that candor which you have so much right to expect, but
their zeal and discipline insure their readiness to obey. I shall do my
utmost to prevent desertion, and unless I was recalled, I shall proceed
with celerity. But I beg your Excellency to remember that experience has
often taught us how much reduced has ever been the number of our
troops from the time of their departure to that of their arrival at the
Southern army.

With the highest and most affectionate respect,

Yours &c.



Susquehannah ferry April 14th, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL--Your Excellency's letter of the 11th, has overtaken
me at this place, and having given to you an account of every measure
I thought proper to take, I will only add that I am still at the ferry
where the troops have crossed the river; but the wind blows so high that
it has been impossible to take the waggons over, and I am obliged to
have others impressed on the southern side of the Susquehannah. Your
Excellency mentions the propriety of remaining at the head off Elk until
shoes can be collected, but the prospect I have from the board of war
are not flattering enough to encourage this measure. On the other side
General Green is pressing in his advices, and will soon be so in his
orders to me. I cannot obtain any good account of Phillip's motions, nor
oppose the schemes he may have formed, until I am much farther advanced;
and dissatisfaction and desertion being two greater evils than any other
we have to fear; I am anxious to have rivers, other countries, and every
kind of barrier to stop the inclination of the men to return home. Many
men have already deserted, many more will I am afraid take the same
course, whatever sense of duties, ties of affection, and severity of
discipline may operate, shall be employed by me, and I wish we might
come near the enemy, which is the only means to put a stop to the spirit
of desertion.

Many articles, and indeed every one which compose the apparatus of
a soldier, will be wanting for this detachment. But shoes, linen,
overalls, hunting shirts, shirts, and ammunition will be the necessary
supplies for which I request your Excellency's most pressing orders to
people concerned, and most warm entreaties to the board of war. I wish
it was possible to have the men equiped at once, and this would be a
great saving of expense.

While I am writing to your Excellency the wind rises more and more,
which will much impede our passage for such stores as were to cross over
with the waggons, and the guard appointed to stay with them. At such a
distance from the enemy, I cannot give your Excellency any account of
their movements, but by the last intelligence General Phillips was still
at Portsmouth.

Should the French get a naval superiority, an expedition against
Portsmouth is very practible. These companies, filled up to their proper
number, and some other troops to increase the corps to two thousand,
would with a detachment of artillery from Philladelphia, be equal to
the attack of that post. 3000 militia can with the greatest ease be
collected. In case Duke de Lauzurn's legion arrives, that corps could
come in the fleet; but should the French become superior at sea the
British fleet in Chesapeak would be in danger, and in every case, if
your Excellency thinks of sending any reinforcement this way, (let it
be the Jersey troops or recruits) their coming by water to James or York
river may save an immense trouble and expense.

My heart and every faculty of my mind, have been these last years so
much concerned in the plan of an expedition against * * * that I am very
desirous to hear, by the very first safe opportunity what reasons can
have overthrown the project.

Some disputes that have at first happened between the Jersey and
New-England troops, make me think that these last must be as much as
possible separated from the Pensylvanians.

While I was writing these accounts have been brought to me, that, a
great desertion had taken place last night: nine of the Rhode Island
company, and the best men they had, who have made many campaigns, and
never were suspected, these men say they like better a hundred lashes
than a journey to the south-ward. As long as they had an expedition in
view they were very well satisfied, but the idea of remaining in the
southern states appear to them intolerable, and they are amazingly
averse to the people and climate. I shall do my best, but if this
disposition lasts I am afraid we will be reduced lower than I dare
express. With the highest and most affectionate respect, yours &,c.~[1]


1. See Letters of Washington, of the 21st and 22d April--Sparks' Writ.
of Wash. v. 8., pp. 19, 22.



Hanover Court House, April 28th, 1781.

Sir,--Having received intelligence that General Phillips' army were
preparing at Portsmouth, for offensive operations. I left at Baltimore
every thing that could impede our march, to follow us under a proper
escort, and with about a thousand men, officers included; hastened
towards Richmond which I apprehended would be a principal object with
the enemy.

Being on our way, I have received successive accounts of their
movements. On the 21st, the British troops, commanded by their Generals,
Philips and Arnold, landed at City Point on the south side of James
River. A thousand militia under Maj. General Caroude Stuben and General
Muhlenberg, were posted at Blandford to oppose them, and on the
25th they had an engagement with the enemy; the militia behaved very
gallantly, and our loss, it is said, is about twenty killed and wounded.
The same day, the enemy whose force it is reported to be near 2500
regular troops, marched into Petersburg. Yesterday they moved to
Osburn's, about thirteen miles from Richmond, and after a skirmish
with a corps of militia, destroyed some vessels that had been collected
there, but have not yet attempted to cross the river. Baron de Stuben,
is at the same side, and has removed to Falling Creek Church.

The Continental detachment will in a few hours arrive at this place, 20
miles from Richmond. The enemy are more than double our force in regular
troops and their command of the waters gives them great advantages.

With the highest respect, I have the honor to be yours, &c.



Camp on Pamunkey River, May 3d, 1781.

Sir,--I had lately the honor to inform you of the enemy's movements
towards Richmond, and the forced marches I was making to its defence.
The detachment arrived on the 29th; the British army was thirteen miles
distant on the other side of the river. Petersburg, Chesterfield Court
House, and part of our vessels had fallen into their hands. Our regular
force consisted of 900 men, rank and file; that of the enemy, of 2,300,
at the lowest estimate.

The command of the water, and such a superiority of regular troops, gave
them possession of our shore. There was no crossing for us, but under a
circuit of fifteen miles, and from the number and size of their boats,
their passage over the river was six times quicker than ours.

Richmond being their main object. I determined to defend this capital,
where a quantity of public stores and tobacco was contained. General
Nelson was there, with a corps of militia, and Generals Stuben and
Muhlenberg, higher up on the other side. The same evening, we were by
summons from General Philips, made accountable for the public stores on
board vessels near the town, (which he declared) should certainly fall
into his hands. Next morning the enemy moved to Manchester, opposite
Richmond, where they burnt the ware-houses. Six hundred men ventured on
this side, but were timely recalled, and being charged by a few dragoons
of Major Nelson, flew into their boats with precipitation.

Knowing General Phillip's intention against Richmond, (orders for attack
had been already given) I directed Baron de Stuben to join us, and
collected our force to receive the enemy, but the same night they
retreated to Osburn's, from thence to the neck of land formed by James
River and Appamatox, where they have re-embarked. Col. Pleasant's and
Good's battallions of militia, were sent on each side of the river and
gave annoyance to their troops and boats. The enemy have lost some men
killed, prisoners and deserters. Since the British army landed at City
Point, (some flour excepted at the Court-house) no public property has
been destroyed. Yours &c.



Camp near Bottom's Creek, May 4th, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I request you will receive my affectionate
acknowledgements for your kind letters. Every mark of friendship I
receive from you adds to my happiness, as I love you with all the
sincerity and warmth of my heart, and the sentiment I feel for you goes
to the very extent of my affections.

Inclosed I send you, my dear General, two copies of letters to General
Greene, which I also sent to Congress for their information. You will
also find copies of the strange letters I have received from General
Phillips, and the answers which, if he does not behave better, will
break off our correspondence.

The leaving of my artillery appears a strange whim, but had I waited for
it Richmond was lost, and Major Galvan, who has exerted himself to the
utmost, cannot be with us under two days, as he never could obtain or
seize horses for the artillery and ammunition waggons. It is not without
trouble I have made this rapid march. General Phillips has expressed to
an officer on flag, the astonishment he felt at our celerity, and
when on the 30th, as he was going to give the signal to attack, he
reconnoitred our position, Mr. Osburn, who was with him, says that he
flew into a violent passion and swore vengeance against me and the corps
I had brought with me.

I am, however, uneasy, my dear General, and do not know what the public
will think of our conduct. I cannot say in any official letter that no
boats, no waggons, no intelligence, not one spy could be obtained; that
if once I had been manoeuvring with Phillips he had every advantage over
me; that a defeat would have scattered the militia, lost the few arms we
have, and knocked down this handful of Continental troops. Great deal of
mischief had been already done. I did not know but what the enemy meant
to establish a post. Under these circumstances I thought it better
to fight on none but my own grounds and to defeat the main and most
valuable object of the enemy. Had I gone on the other side, the enemy
would have given me the slip and taken Richmond, leaving nothing to me,
but the reputation of a rash unexperienced young man. Our stores could
not be removed.

No orders from General Greene have as yet come to me. I cannot conceive
the reason of his delay in answering my letters. In the meanwhile,
Phillips is my object, and if with a thousand men I can be opposed to
three thousand in this State, I think I am useful to General Greene. In
a former letter he tells me that his object is to divide the enemy, and
having no orders I must be regulated by his opinion.

The enemy are gone down the river. I have detached some militia to
Hoods where I mean to make a fort. Colonel Hennis, with another corps of
militia, is gone towards Williamsburg. His orders are in case the enemy
land there, to annoy them, and in case they mean to establish a post,
he is to disturb them until I arrive. This position is 16 miles from
Richmond, 42 from Williamsburg, 60 from Fredericksburg. I have sent an
officer at Point Comfort, and established a chain of expresses to
know if they appear to turn towards Potomac. Should it be the case,
Fredericksburg will have my attention, having missed Mr. Hunter's works
at Fredericksburg must be their next object as they are the only support
to our operations in the southward. Your first letters, my dear General,
will perhaps tell me something more about your coming this way. How
happy I should be to see you, I hope I need not express. As you are
pleased to give me the choice, I shall frankly tell my wishes. If you
co-operate with the French against the place, you know I wish to be
at head quarters. If something is co-operated in Virginia, I will find
myself very happily situated for the present. In case my detachment
remains in this State I wish not to leave it, as I have a separate and
active command, though it does not promise great glory; but as you gave
me leave to do it, I shall in a few days write to you more particularly
on my private concerns. It is not only on account of my own situation
that I wish the French fleet may come into the bay. Should they come
even without troops, it is ten to one that they will block up Phillips
in some rivers, and then I answer he is ruined. Had I but ships, my
situation would be the most agreeable in the world. Adieu my dear
General, you will make me happy to write me sometimes. With the highest
respect and most tender affection, I have the honor to be, yours,


1. See Letters of Wash. of 31 May.--See Sparks' Writ., v. 8., p. 60.



Richmond, May the 8th, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--There is no fighting here unless you have a naval
superiority, or an army mounted upon race-horses. Phillips' plan against
Richmond has been defeated; he was going towards Portsmouth, and I
thought it should be enough for me to oppose him at some principal
points in this State. But now it appears I will have business to
transact with two armies, and this is rather too much.

By letters from North Carolina, I find that Lord Cornwallis, who I had
been assured had sailed from Charleston, is advancing towards Hallifax.
In consequence of letters from the same quarter, General Phillip's has
altered his plans, and returned to a place called Brandon on the
south side of James river, where he landed the night before last. Our
detachment is under march towards the Hallifax road, his command of the
water, enabled him to land where I could not reach him. The brigade at
Petersburg is destroyed, and unless he acts with an uncommon degree of
folly, he will be at Hallifax before me. Each of these armies is more
than the double superior to me. We have no boats, few militia, and
less arms. I will try to do for the best, and hope to deserve your

Nothing can attract my sight from the supplies and reinforcements
destined to General Green's army. While I am going to get beaten by both
armies or each of them seperately, the Baron remains at Richmond where
he hurries the collection of recruits, and every other requisite. I
have forbidden every department to give me any thing that maybe thought
useful to General Greene, and should a battle be expected (an event
which I will try to keep off,) no consideration will prevent our sending
to Carolina 800 recruits who, I hope, may be equiped in a fortnight.
When General Green becomes equal to offensive operations, this quarter
will be relieved. I have written to Wayne, to hasten his march, but
unless I am very hard pushed, shall request him to proceed south-ward.
The militia have been ordered out, but are slow, unarmed, and not yet
used to this business. General Green, from whom I had as yet no letters,
was on the 26th, before Camden, but did not think himself equal to the
storming of the works. My respects, if you please, to Mr. Washington,
and compliments to the family. Most respectfully and affectionately.

Yours &c.



Welton, north side of James River, May 18th, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL.--Having been directed by General Greene to take command
of the troops in Virginia. I have also received orders from him, that
every account from this quarter, be immediately transmitted to Congress,
and to your Excellency; in obedience to which I shall have the honor
to relate our movements, and those of the combined armies of the enemy.
When General Phillips retreated from Richmond, his project was to stop
at Williamsburg, there to collect contributions which he had imposed,
this induced me to take a position between Pamunkey, and Chikahomany
rivers, which equally covered Richmond, and some other interesting parts
of the State, and from where I detached General Nelson with some militia
towards Williamsburg.

Having got as low down as that place, General Phillips seemed to
discover an intention to make a landing, but upon advices received by a
vessel from Portsmouth, the enemy weighed anchor, and with all the
sail they could crowd, hastened up the river, this intelligence made
me apprehensive that the enemy intended to manoeuvre me out of Richmond
where I returned immediately, and again collected our small force,
intelligence was the same day received that Lord Cornwallis (who I had
been assured, to have embarked at Wilmington) was marching through North
Carolina, (this was confirmed by the landing of General Phillips at
Brandon south side of James River.) Apprehending that both armies would
move to meet at a central point, I march towards Petersburg and intended
to have established a communication over Appamatox and James river, but
on the 9th, General Phillips took possession of Petersburgh; a place
where his right flank being covered by James River, his front by
Appamatox, on which the bridges had been destroyed in the first part of
the invasion, and his left not being attackable but by a long circuit
through fords that at this season are very uncertain, I could not (even
with an equal force) have got any chance of fighting him, unless I
had given up this side of James River, and the country from which
reinforcements are expected. It being at the enemy's choice to force
us to an action, which their own position insured them against our
enterprizes, I thought it proper to shift this situation, and marched
the greater part of our troops to this place about ten miles below
Richmond. Letters from General Nash, General Sumner, and General Jones
are positive as to the arrival of Colonel Tarleton, and announce that
of Lord Cornwallis at Halifax. Having received a request from North
Carolina for ammunition, I made a detachment of 500 men under General
Muhlenberg to escort 20,000 cartridges over Appamatox, and to divert the
enemy's attention, Colonel Gimat, with his battalion, and 4 field
pieces cannonaded their position from this side of the River. I hope our
ammunition will arrive safe, as before General Muhlenberg returned
he put it in a safe road with proper directions. On the 13th, General
Phillips died and the command devolved on General Arnold. General
Wayne's detachment has not yet been heard of, before he arrives, it
becomes very dangerous to risk any engagement where (as the British
armies being vastly superior to us) we shall certainly be beaten, and
by the loss of arms, the dispersion of militia, and the difficulty of
a junction with General Wayne, we may lose a less dangerous chance of

These considerations have induced me to think that with our so very
great inferiority, and with the advantage the enemy have by their
cavalry and naval superiority, there would be much rashness in fighting
them on any but our grounds, and this side of the river, and that an
engagement which I fear will be soon necessary; ought, if possible to be
deferred till the Pensylvanians arrive, whom I have by several letters
requested to hasten to our assistance.

No report has lately come from near Hallifax, though a very active
officer has been sent for that purpose; but every intelligence confirms
that Lord Cornwallis is hourly expected at Petersburg, it is true there
never was such difficulty in getting tolerable intelligence, as there
is in this country, and the immense superiority of the enemy's horses,
render it very precarious to hazard our small parties.

Arnold has received a small reinforcement from Portsmouth.

I am dear General, your most obedient humble servant, Yours &c.

P.S. Injustice to Major Mitchell and Captain Muir, who were taken at
Petersburg, I have the honor to inform your Excellency that they had
been sent to that place on public service. I have requested General
Lawson to collect and take command of the militia south of Appamatox,
local impediments was thrown in the road from Hallifax to Petersburg,
and precautions taken to remove the horses from the enemy's reach.
Should it be possible to get arms, some militia might be brought
into the field, but General Greene and myself labour under the same
disadvantage, the few militia we can with great pains collect arrive
unarmed, and we have not a sufficiency of weapons to put into their


1. See Washington's Letter of the 31st May.--Sparks' Writ. of Wash., v.
8., p. 60.



Richmond, May 23, 1781.

MY DEAR HAMILON,--I have been long complaining that I had nothing to
do, and want of employment was an objection I had to my going to the
southward; but for the present, my dear friend, my complaint is quite
of an opposite nature, and I have so many arrangements to make, so many
difficulties to combat, so many enemies to deal with, that I am much of
a General as will make me a historian of misfortunes, and nail my curse
upon the ruins of what good soldiers are pleased to call the army in
Virginia. There is an age past since I heard from you. I acknowledge
that on my part, I have not written so often as I ought to have done,
but you will excuse this silence in favor of my very embarrassing
circumstances, however remote you may be from your former post of
aid-de-camp, to the Commander-in-chief, I am sure you are nevertheless
acquainted with every transaction at head quarters. My letters have
served to report information, and I shall consequently abstain from

Our forced march saved Richmond. Phillips was going down, and thus far
I am very happy. Phillips' return, his landing at Brandon, south side
of James and Appamatox rivers. Had Phillips marched to Hallifax I was
determined to follow him, and should have risked every thing rather
to omit making a diversion in favor of Greene; but that army took
possession of Petersburg, and obliged me to stick to the side of the
river whence reinforcements are expected. Both armies have formed their
junction of between four and five thousand men. We have no Continentals;
their infantry is near five to one; their cavalry ten to one. Our
militia are not numerous, without arms, and not used to war. Government
wants energy, and there is nothing to enforce the laws. General Greene
has directed me to take command in this State, and I must tell you by
the way, his letter is very polite and affectionate; it then became my
duty to arrange the departments, which I found in the greatest confusion
and relaxation; nothing can be obtained, and yet expenses are enormous.
The Baron and the few new levies we could collect, are ordered to South
Carolina. Is it not strange that General Wayne's detachment cannot be
heard of? They are to go to Carolina; but should I have them for a few
days, I am at liberty to keep them. This permission I will improve so
far as to receive one blow, that being beat, I may at least be beat with
some decency. There are accounts that Lord Cornwallis is very strong;
others make him very weak. In this country there is no getting good
intelligence. I request you will write me if you approve of my conduct.
The command of the waters, the superiority in cavalry, and the great
disproportion of forces, gave the enemy such advantages that I durst not
venture out, and listen to my fondness for enterprise; to speak truth, I
was afraid of myself as much as of the enemy. Independence has rendered
me the more cautious, as I know my own warmth; but if the Pennsylvanians
come, Lord Cornwallis shall pay something for his victory.

I wish a reinforcement of light infantry to recruit the battallions, or
a detachment under General Huntington, was sent to me. I wish Lawson or
Sheldon were immediately dispatched with some horses. Come here, my dear
friend, and command our artillery in Virginia. I want your advices and
your exertions. If you grant my request, you will vastly oblige your
friend. Yours, &c.



Richmond, May the 24th, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL.--The junction of Lord Cornwallis with the other army at
Petersburg was an event that, from local circumstances, and from their
so great superiority, it was impossible to prevent, it took place on
the 20th, and having lost every hope to operate, a timely stroke in
conjunction with the Pensylvanians, my ideas were confined to defensive
measures. I therefore moved up to Richmond, where precautions were taken
to remove every valuable property, either public or private.

By an officer that was in Halifax after Lord Cornwallis, I hear he
has not left any post at that place, it appears, his sick and wounded
remained at Wilmington, and were reimplaced by that garison. Reports
concerning the numbers are so different, that I cannot trust anything
but my eyes, until such an opportunity offers, this is the order of
march, in which it is said his Lordship crossed Roanoke. Col. Tarlton's
legion, Col. Hamilton's corps, 23d, 71st, 33d, British regiments, 200
tories, an Hessian regiment, the light infantry and guards with six
field pieces. I am told General Leslie and Genl. O'Hara are with him, I
have received successive and repeated accounts, that a British fleet of
transports was arrived at Hampton, they were said to consist of 11 large
vessels, and 16 smaller ones, under convoy of three large frigates. Mr.
Day D.Q.M. at Williamsburg, writes that on the 22nd, 12 sail of large
ship; a sloop, and schooner got underway opposite James Town; those
ships full of men, and some horses on board the sloop. We have no
accounts of any fleet having sailed from New-York.

Yesterday afternoon, we had a heavy rain, which Colonel Tarlton improved
in surprising some militia in Chesterfield County, thirty of whom fell
into his hands.

This morning at 9 o'clock the enemy moved from Peteraburg towards
City Point, and destroyed the bridge they had lately constructed over
Appamatoc. I have just received accounts, that a body of them has landed
at Westover. These are said to be the men who came up the river
from Hampton, previous to which General Arnold had received a small
reinforcement from Portsmouth.

To my great mortification, I have heard this morning, that the
Pensylvanians are not so near as I had been, by every account positively
assured. General Wayne writes me he will hasten to my support, and I am
confident he will not lose time at this critical moment, but before he
arrives, it is impossible that 900 continentals and 40 horses, with a
body of militia by no means so considerable as they are reported to be,
and whom it is so difficult to arm, be with any advantage opposed to
such a superiority of forces, such a number of cavalry, to which may be
added, their very prejudicial command of the writers.

Our handful of men being the point to which militia may be collected,
and the only check, however small it is, that the enemy may have in this
state, it ought, I think, to be managed with a great deal of prudence
as its preservation is so very important to the fate of operations in

With the highest respect. I have the honor to be Yours &c.



Camp between Rappahannock and North Anna, June 3rd, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Inclosed you will find the copy of a letter to General
Green. He at first had requested that I would directly write to you,
since which his orders have been different, but he directed me to
forward you copies of my official accounts. So many letters are lost in
their way that I do not care to avoid repetitions.--I heartily wish,
my dear general, my conduct may be approved of, particularly by you.
My circumstances have been peculiar, and in this state I have sometimes
experienced strange disappointments. Two of them, the stores at
Charlottesville, and the delay of the Pennsylvania detachment, have
given me much uneasiness and may be attended with bad consequences.
Your presence, my dear general, would do a great deal, Should these
detachments be increased to three or four thousand, and the French army
come this way, leaving one of our generals at Rhode Island and two or
three about New York and in the Jerseys, you might be very offensive
in this quarter, and there could be, a southern army in Carolina. Your
presence would do immense good, but I would wish you to have a large
force. General Washington, before he personally appears, must be strong
enough to hope success. Adieu, my dear general, with the highest respect
and most tender affection I have the honor to be, Yours,~[1]

P.S. If you persist in the idea to come this way. you may depend
upon about 3000 militia in the field, relieved every two months. Your
presence will induce them to turn out with great spirit.


1. This letter, and the succeeding one to Gen. Greene, was written while
Lafayette was retreating before Lord Cornwallis, and as he was about
to cross the Rapidan to form a junction with Wayne. See the answers in
Sparks's _Writ. of Wash_. v. 3. p. 86.



Camp between Rappahannock and North Anna, June 3rd, 1781,

SIR,--I have done myself the honor to write you many letters, but least
some of them should have miscarried, which I much apprehend to have been
the case, I shall repeat an account of the late transactions in this

The junction of the enemy being made, which for the reasons I have
mentioned it was impossible to prevent, I retired towards Richmond
and waited for Lord Cornwallis's movements, his regular force being
so vastly superior to mine.--Reinforcements from below having still
increased it, and his cavalry being ten to one, I could not think
to bring into action a small body of eight or nine hundred men, that
preserved the shadow of an army and an inconsiderable number of militia
whose defeat was certain and would be attended with a fatal loss of

Lord Cornwallis had at first a project to cross above Richmond, but
desisted from it and landed at Westover, he then proposed to turn our
left flank, but before it was executed we moved by the left to the forks
of Chickahomony,--the enemy advanced twelve miles and we retreated in
the same proportion; they crossed Chickahomony and advanced on the road
to Fredericksburg. We marched in a parallel with them, keeping the upper
part of the country. Our position at Mattapony church would have much
exposed the enemy's flank on their way to Fredericksburg, but they
stopped at Cook's ford on the North Anna river, where they are for the
present.--General Wayne having announced to me his departure on the 23d,
I expected before this time to have made a junction. We have moved back
some distance and are cautious not to indulge Lord Cornwallis with an
action with our present force.--

The intentions of the enemy are not as yet well explained.
Fredericksburg appears to be their object, the more so as a greater
number of troops are said to be gone down than is necessary for the
garrison of Portsmouth.--The public stores have been as well as possible
removed, and every part of Hunter's works that could be taken out of the
way.--It is possible they mean to make a stroke towards Charlotteville;
this I would not be uneasy for, had my repeated directions been
executed, but instead of removing stores from there to Albemarle old
Court House, where Baron de Steuben has collected six hundred regulars,
and where I ordered the militia south of James River to rendezvous--It
appears from a letter I received this evening that state stores have
been contrary to my directions collected there, least they should mix
with the Continentals, but my former letters were so positive, and my
late precautions are so multiplied that. I hope the precious part of the
stores will have been removed to a safer place. I had also some stores
removed from Orange Court House. Dispatches from the Governor to me
have fallen into the enemies' hands; of which I gave him and the Baron
immediate notice.

The report of an insurrection in Hampshire county, and the hurry of
Lord Cornwallis to communicate the copy of a Cartel with you where it
is settled the prisoners will be sent by such a time to Jamestown, are
motives that gave me some suspicions of a project towards the Convention
troops. The number of the rebels is said to be 700--Gen. Morgan has
marched against them; I think the account is pretty well authenticated
tho' it is not official.--Having luckily opened a letter from the Board
of War, to the Governor whereby the Convention troops are ordered to
New England, I sent a copy of it to Col. Wood and requested an immediate
execution of the order. This motive and the apprehension that I might be
interrupted in a junction with Gen. Wayne have induced me particularly
to attend to our re-union, an event that was indispensable to give us
a possibility to protect some part or other of this state. I was until
lately ignorant of your orders, that the new Continentals and militia
under Baron de Steuben be united with this part of your army, and the
Baron intended shortly to march to the southward.--When united to Gen.
Wayne 1 shall be better able to command my own movements and those of
the other troops in this state.--Had this expected junction taken place
sooner, matters would have been very different.

The enemy must have five hundred men mounted and their Cavalry increases
daily. It is impossible in this country to take horses out of their way,
and the neglect of the inhabitants, dispersion of houses, and robberies
of negroes, (should even the most vigorous measures have been taken by
the Civil authority) would have yet put many horses into their hands.
Under this cloud of light troops it is difficult to reconnoitre as well
as counteract any rapid movements they choose to make. I have the honor
to be with great respect, &c.



Allen's Creek, 22 miles from Richmond, Jane 18th, 1781.

SIR,--The enemy's position at Cooke's ford enabled them either to return
to James River or to gain our northern communication. The arms and other
precious stores arriving from Philadelphia, the importance of a junction
with Gen. Wayne, and other strong reasons mentioned in my last, made it
my first object to check the further progress of Lord Cornwallis. Some
stores at the forks of James River were under the care of the major
general, the Baron de Steuben, who had five hundred regulars of the
Virginia new levies, and some militia.

Col. Tarlton's legion having pressed for Charlottesville, where the
Assembly were sitting, was disappointed in his purpose by proper
information being given them. One hundred and fifty arms, however, and a
small quantity of powder fell into the enemy's hands.

A detachment under Col. Simcoe said to be four hundred dragoons and
mounted infantry, proceeded to the point of Fork, of which the Baron de
Steuben received notice. Both his men and stores were transported to the
south branch when the Baron marched to Etaunton River. Simcoe threw over
a few men which destroyed what stores had been left. He hazarded a great
deal, but our loss was inconsiderable.

In the meantime the British army was moving to the point of Fork, with
intention to strike our magazines at Albermarle old Court House. Our
force was not equal to their defence, and a delay of our junction
would have answered the views of the enemy. But on the arrival of the
Pennsylvanians we made forced marches towards James River, and on our
gaining the South Anna we found Lord Cornwallis encamped some miles
below the point of Fork. A stolen march through a difficult road gave
us a position upon Michunk Creek, between the enemy and our magazines,
where, agreeable to appointment, we were joined by a body of riflemen.
The next day Lord Cornwallis retired towards Richmond (where he now is)
and was followed by our small army.

I have directed General Steuben to return this way and a junction will
be formed as soon as his distance permits.

With the highest regard, &c., &c.

P. S. The following is an extract of a letter just now received from
James Barron, Commodore, dated Warwick, 9 miles from Hampton, June 17th,

"At five o'clock this afternoon anchored in the road from sea, 35 sail
of the enemies' vessels; viz: 24 ships, 10 brigs and one schooner, which
I take to be the fleet that sailed from hence 13 days ago. Only 4 appear
to have troops on board."



Mr. Tyter's plantation, 20 miles from Williamsburg, 27th June, 1781.

SIR,--My letter of the 18th, informed you of the enemy's retrograde
movement to Richmond, where they had made a stop. Our loss at the point
of Fork chiefly consisted of old arms out of repair and some cannon,
most of which have been since recovered.

On the 18th the British Army moved towards us with design as I apprehend
to strike at a detached corps commanded by Gen. Muhlenberg, upon this
the light Infantry and Pennsylvanians marched under Gen. Wayne when
the enemy retired into town. The day following I was joined by Gen.
Steuben's troops, and on the night of the 20th Richmond was evacuated.
Having followed the enemy our light parties fell in with them near New
Kent Court House, the army was still at a distance and Lord Cornwallis
continued his route towards Williamsburg; his rear and right flank were
covered by a large corps commanded by Col. Simcoe. I pushed forward a
detachment under Col. Butler, but notwithstanding a fatiguing march the
colonel reports that he could not have overtaken them, had not Major
McPherson mounted 50 light infantry behind an equal number of dragoons,
which coming up with the enemy charged them within six miles of
Williamsburg; such of the advance corps as could arrive to their
support, composed of riflemen under Major Call and Major Willis began a
smart action. Inclosed is the return of our loss. That of the enemy
is about 60 killed and 100 wounded, including several officers, a
disproportion which the skill of our riflemen easily explains. I am
under great obligations to Col. Butler and the officers and men of
the detachment for their ardor in the pursuit and their conduct in the
action. Gen. Wayne who had marched to the support of Butler, sent down
some troops under Major Hamilton. The whole British army came out to
save Simcoe, and on the arrival of our army upon this ground returned to
Winsburg. The post they occupy at present is strong and under protection
of their shipping, but upwards of one hundred miles from the point of

I had the honor to communicate these movements to the executive of the
state that the seat of government might be again re-established in the
capital. Lord Cornwallis has received a reinforcement from Portsmouth.

With the greatest respect I have the honor to be.



Ambler's Plantation, opposite Jamestown, 8 July, 1781.

SIR,--On the 4th inst. the enemy evacuated Williamsburg where some
stores fell into our hands, and retired to this place under the cannon
of their shipping. Next morning we advanced to Bird's tavern, and a part
of the army took post at Norrel's mill about nine miles from the British

The 6th I detached an advanced corps under Gen. Wayne with a view of
reconnoitering the enemy's situation. Their light parties being drawn in
the pickets which lay close to their encampment were gallantly attacked
by some riflemen whose skill was employed to great effect.

Having ascertained that Lord Cornwallis had sent off his baggage under
a proper escort and posted his army in an opened field fortified by
the shipping, I returned to the detachment which I found more generally
engaged. A piece of cannon had been attempted by the van guard under
Major Galvan whose conduct deserves high applause.--Upon this the whole
British army came out and advanced to the thin wood occupied by General
Wayne.--His corps chiefly composed of Pennsylvanians and some light
infantry did not exceed eight hundred men with three field pieces. But
notwithstanding their numbers, at sight of the British the troops ran
to the rencontre. A short skirmish ensued with a close, warm, and well
directed firing, but as the enemy's right and left of course greatly
outflanked ours, I sent General Wayne orders to retire half a mile
to where Col. Vose's and Col. Barber's light infantry battalions had
arrived by a rapid move, and where I directed them to form. In this
position they remained till some hours in the night. The militia under
Gen. Lawson had been advanced, and the continentals were at Norrel's
mill when the enemy retreated during the night to James Island, which
they also evacuated, crossing over to the south side of the river.
Their ground at this place and the island were successively occupied by
General Muhlenberg. Many valuable horses were left on their retreat.

From every account the enemy's loss has been very great and much pains
taken to conceal it. Their light infantry, the brigade of guards and two
British regiments formed the first line, the remainder of the army the
second; the cavalry were drawn up but did not charge.

By the inclosed return you will see what part of Gen. Wayne's detachment
suffered most. The services rendered by the officers make me happy to
think that altho' many were wounded we lost none. Most of the field
officers had their horses killed, and the same accident to every horse
of two field pieces made it impossible to move them, unless men had
been sacrificed. But it is enough for the glory of Gen. Wayne and the
officers and men he commanded to have attacked the whole British army
with a reconnoitering party only, close to their encampment, and by this
severe skirmish hastened their retreat over the river.--

Col. Bowyer of the riflemen is a prisoner.--

I have the honor to be, &e,



Mrs. Ruffin's, August 20th, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL--Independent of the answer to your letter of the 15th,
I have been very particular in a second letter intrusted to Col. Moriss.
But at this moment wish to send you minuted and repeated accounts of
every thing that passes in this quarter.

The enemy have evacuated their forts at Troy, Kemp's Landing, Great
Bridge, and Portsmouth. Their vessels with troops and baggage went round
to York. Some cannon have been left spiked up at Portsmouth; but I have
not yet received proper returns.

I have got some intelligences by the way of this servant I have once
mentioned. A very sensible fellow was with him, and from him as well
as deserters, I hear that they begin fortifying at York. They are even
working by a windmill at which place I understand they will make a fort
and a battery for the defence of the river. I have no doubt but that
something will be done on the land side. The works at Gloster are
finished; they consist of some redoubts across Gloster creek and a
battery of 18 pieces beating the river.

The enemy have 60 sails of vessels into York river, the largest a 50
gun ship and two 36 frigates.--About seven other armed vessels, the
remainder are transports, some of them still loaded and a part of them
very small vessels. It appears they have in that number merchantmen,
some of whom are Dutch prizes. The men of war are very thinly manned. On
board the other vessels there are almost no sailors.

The British army had been sickly at Portsmouth, the air of York begins
to refit them. The whole cavalry have crossed on the Gloster side
yesterday evening, a movement of which I gave repeated accounts to the
militia there; but the light infantry and main body of the militia are
at this place, Gen. Wayne on the road to Westover, and we may form our
junction in one day. I keep parties upon the enemy's lines. The works at
Portsmouth are levelling. The moment I can get returns and plans l will
send them to your Excellency. The evacuation of a post fortified with
much care and great expense will convince the people abroad that the
enemy cannot hold two places at once.--The Maryland troops were to have
set out on Monday last. There is in this quarter an immense want of
clothing of every sort, arms, ammunition, hospital stores, and horse
accoutrements. Should a maritime superiority be expected, I would
propose to have all those matters carried from Philadelphia to the head
of Elk.

The numbers of the British army fit for duty I _at least_ would
estimate at 4500, rank and file. Their sailors I cannot judge but by
intelligences of the number of vessels. In a word this part affords the
greatest number of regulars and the only active army to attack, which
having had no place of defence must be less calculated for it than any
garrison either at New York or in Carolina.

With the highest respect and most sincere affection, &c.



Holt's Forge, September the 1st, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL.--I am happy to inform your Excellency that Count de
Grasse's fleet is safely arrived in this bay; it consists of 28 ships of
the line with several frigates and convoys a considerable body of troops
under Marquis de St. Simon.--Previous to their arrival such positions
had been taken by our army as to prevent the enemy's retreating towards

In consequence of your Excellency's orders I had the honor to open a
correspondence with the French Generals, and measures have been taken
for a junction of our troops.--

Lord Cornwallis is still on York river and is fortifying himself in a
strong position.--

With the highest respect I have the honor to be,~[1]


1. See answer of Washington, Sparks's Writ. of Wash. v. 8. p. 156.



Camp Williamsburg, Sept. 8th, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL.--Your letter of the 2d September is just come to hand.
Mine of yesterday mentioned that the ships in York river had gone down.
Inclosed is the account of an engagement off the capes. What disposition
has been made for the internal protection of the bay, I do not know.
James river is still guarded, but we have not as yet received any
letter from Count de Grasse relative to his last movements. I hasten to
communicate them as your Excellency will probably think it safer to keep
the troops at the Head of Elks until Count de Grasse returns. Indeed,
unless the greatest part of your force is brought here, a small addition
can do but little more than we do effect. Lord Cornwallis will in a
little time render himself very respectable.

I ardently wish your whole army may be soon brought down to operate.

We will make it our business to reconnoitre the enemy's works and give
you on your arrival the best description of it that is in our power. I
expect the governor this evening and will again urge the necessity of
providing what you have recommended.

By a deserter from York I hear that two British frigates followed the
French fleet and returned after they had seen them out of the capes. A
spy says that two schooners supposed to be French have been seen coming
up York river, but we have nothing so certain as to insure your voyage,
tho' it is probable Count de Grasse will soon return.

I beg leave to request, my dear General, in your answer to the Marquis
de St. Simon you will express your admiration at this celerity of
their landing and your sense of their cheerfulness in submitting to the
difficulties of the first moments. Indeed I would be happy something
might also be said to Congress on the subject.

Your approbation of my conduct emboldens me to request that Gen. Lincoln
will of course take command of the American part of your army; the
division I will have under him may be composed of the troops which have
gone through the fatigues and dangers of the Virginia campaign; this
will be the greatest reward of the services I may have rendered, as I
confess I have the strongest attachment to these troops.

With the highest respect I have the honor to be,~[1]


1. See Letter of Washington, Sparks's Writ. of Wash. v. 8. p. 157. A
plan of operations in Virginia at p. 158.



Williamsburg, 10 Sept. 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Gourion is just arrived, he says you may be on your
way. We hasten to send to the commanding naval officer in the bay.
Hitherto I had no way to write to you by water, but Count de Grasse
being at sea we request the officer he has left to have every precaution
taken for the safety of navigation. It is probable they are taken, but
I would have been too uneasy had I not added this measure to those that
have been probably adopted.

I wrote several letters to you; the surprising speedy landing of
the French troops under the Marquis de St. Simon; our junction at
Williamsburg; the unremitted ardor of the enemy in fortifying at York;
the sailing of Count de Grasse in pursuit of 16 sail of the line, of the
British fleet, were the most principal objects. I added we were short of
flour, might provide cattle enough. I took the liberty to advise James
River as the best to land in, the particular spot referred to a more
particular examination, the result of which we shall send tomorrow.

Excuse the haste that I am in, but the idea of your being in a cutter
leaves me only the time to add that I am, &c.



Camp before York, September 30th, 1781.

My Dear General--You have been so often pleased to ask I would give my
opinion on any subject that may occur, that I will this day take the
liberty to mention a few articles.

I am far from laughing at the idea of the enemy's making a retreat.
It is not very probable, but it is not impossible, indeed they have no
other way to escape; and since we cannot get ships at York I would be
still more afraid of a retreat by West Point than any thing else. The
French hussars remaining here, our dragoons and some infantry might be
stationed somewhere near West Point, rather on the north side. I see the
service is much done by details, and to use your permission would take
the liberty to observe that when the siege is once begun it might be
more agreeable to the officers and men to serve as much as possible by
whole battalions. Col. Scamel is taken: his absence I had accounted
for by his being officer of the day. I am very sorry we lose a valuable
officer, but tho' Col. Scamel's being officer of the day has been a
reason for his going in front, I think it would be well to prevent the
officers under the rank of generals or field officers reconnoitering for
the safety of their commands from advancing so near the enemy's lines.

There is a great disproportion between Huntington's and Hamilton's
battalions. Now that Scamel is taken we might have them made equal and
put the eldest of the two Lieutenant Colonels upon the right of the

I have these past days wished for an opportunity to speak with your
Excellency on Count de Grasse's demand relative to Mr. de Barrass's
fleet. This business being soon done, we may think of Charleston, at
least of the harbor or of Savannah. I have long and seriously thought of
this matter but would not be in a hurry to mention it until we knew
how long this will last. However it might be possible to give Count de
Grasse an early hint of it in case you agree with him upon the winterly
departure of the whole fleet for the West Indies. One of my reasons to
wish troops (tho' not in great number) to be sent to Glocester county
by way of West Point is that for the first days it will embarrass any
movement of the enemy up the river or up the country on either side,
and when it is in Glocester county it may be thought advantageous by a
respectable regular force to prevent the enemy's increasing their works
there and giving us the trouble of a second operation, and in the same
time it will keep from York a part of the British forces.

With the highest respect and most sincere affection I have the honor to
be, &c.~[1]


1. For a "Plan of the Siege of Yorktown," see Spark's Writ. of Wash.
v.8. p. 186.



November 29th, 1781

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Inclosed you will find some numbers, a copy of which I
have kept, and which contains some names that may probably occur in our
correspondence. I need not tell you, my dear General, that I will be
happy in giving you every intelligence in my power and reminding you of
the most affectionate friend you can ever have.

The goodness you had to take upon yourself the communicating to the
Virginia army the approbation of Congress appears much better to me than
my writing to the scattered part of the body I had the honor to command.
Give me leave, my dear General, to recall to your memory the peculiar
situation of the troops who being already in Virginia were deprived
of the month's pay given to the others. Should it be possible to do
something for them it would give me great satisfaction.

I will have the honor to write to you from Boston, my dear General, and
would be very sorry to think this is my last letter. Accept however once
more the homage of the respect and of the affection that render me for





After the combat of MM. Destouches and Arbuthnot, the project on
Portsmouth was abandoned: the French sailed for Rhode Island; the
militia were dismissed, the regular troops proceeded to the north.
Arnold was afterwards reinforced by Major-general Phillips, and the
conquest of Virginia became the true object of the English during this
campaign. The allied army, under the Generals Washington and Rochambeau,
proceeded towards New York; that of General Greene attacked the posts
which had been left in Carolina, both about five hundred miles from
Richmond: Major-general the Marquis de Lafayette was charged with
defending Virginia.

_April_ and _May_.--From preparations made at Portsmouth, he conceives
that the capital was the proposed aim; a forced march of his corps
from Baltimore to Richmond, about two hundred miles; he arrives in the
evening of the 29th of April; the enemy had reached Osborn; the small
corps of militia assemble in the night at Richmond; the next morning the
enemy at Manchester, seeing themselves forestalled, re-embark at Bermuda
Hundred, and re-descend James River.

The Americans at Bottom's Bridge, a detached corps in Williamsburg;
General Phillips receives an _aviso_, and re-ascends the river, landing
at Brandon; second reinforcement from New York; Lord Cornwallis, who
was reported to have embarked at Charlestown, advances through North

The Americans at Osborn, to establish a communication on James and
Appomattox, are forestalled by the march of Phillips to Petersburg, the
10th, at Wilton; the 18th, canonading and reconnoitring, on Petersburg,
which, by assembling on one point, the hostile parties permit a convoy
to file off for Carolina; the 20th, at Richmond; junction of Lord
Cornwallis with the troops of Petersburg; the great disproportion of the
American corps, the impossibility of commanding the navigable rivers,
and the necessity of keeping the important side of James River, do not
allow any opposition.

Having sent a portion of the troops to Portsmouth, Lieutenant-general
Lord Cornwallis selected for himself an army of about five thousand men,
three hundred dragoons, and three hundred light horsemen; crosses to
Westover. The Americans had only about three thousand men, formed of one
thousand two hundred regulars, fifty dragoons, and two thousand militia.
All the important forces had evacuated Richmond; our troops at Wintson's
Bridge; a rapid march of the two corps, the enemies to engage an action,
the Americans to avoid it, and retain the heights of the country with
the communication of Philadelphia, which is equally necessary to our
army and to the existence of that of Carolina.

_June_.--The magazines of Fredericksburg are evacuated; the Americans at
Mattapony Church; the enemy at Chesterfield Tavern; heavy rains, which
will render the Rapid Ann impassable; Lord Cornwallis marches to engage
the front; our troops hasten their march, and repair to Racoon Ford, to
await General Wayne, with a regular corps of Pennsylvanians.

Despairing of being able to engage in action, or cut off the
communication between Wayne and Philadelphia, Lord Cornwallis changes
his own purpose,and endeavours to defeat that of the Americans; he
suddenly directs his movements against the great magazines of Albemarle
Court House; a detachment of dragoons strives to carry off the Assembly
of State at Charlottesville, but does not accomplish this end; another
detachment bore upon Point-of-Fork, where General Steuben formed six or
seven hundred recruits; he evacuated that point, and thought he ought to
retire in the direction of Carolina; some objects of slight importance
are destroyed. The passage of the Rapid Ann was necessary, to
avoid being embarrassed by Lord Cornwallis; the communication with
Philadelphia was indispensable. It was impossible to hope, even by
fighting, to prevent the destruction of the magazines before the
junction with the Pennsylvanians. Lafayette takes, therefore, the
resolution of waiting for them, and, as soon as they arrive, regains the
enemy with forced marches.

The 12th, the Americans at Boswell's Tavern; Lord Cornwallis has reached
Elk Island. The common road, which it is necessary for him to cross to
place himself above the enemy, passes at the head of Bird's Creek; Lord
Cornwallis carries thither, his advance-guard, and expects to fall upon
our rear; the Americans repair, during the night, a road but little
known, and, concealing their march, take a position at Mechunck Creek,
where, according to the orders given, they are joined by six hundred
mountaineers. The English general, seeing the magazines covered, retires
to Richmond, and is followed by our army.

Various manoeuvres of the two armies; the Americans are rejoined by
General Steuben, with his recruits; their force then consists of
two thousand regulars, and three thousand two hundred militia. Lord
Cornwallis thinks he must evacuate Richmond; the 20th, the Marquis de
Lafayette follows him, and retains a posture of defence, seeking to
manoeuvre, and avoiding a battle. The enemy retires on Williamsburg, six
miles from that town; their rear-guard is attacked in an advantageous
manner by our advanced corps under Colonel Butler. Station taken by the
Americans at one march from Williamsburg.

_July_.--Various movements, which end by the evacuation of Williamsburg;
the enemy at Jamestown. Our army advances upon them; the 6th, a sharp
conflict between the hostile army and our advance-guard under General
Wayne, in front of Green Spring: two pieces of cannon remain in their
hands; but their progress is arrested by a reinforcement of light
infantry; the same night they retire upon James Island, afterwards to
Cobham, on the other side of James River, and from thence to their works
at Portsmouth.

Colonel Tarleton is detached into Amelia County; the generals Morgan and
Wayne march to cut him off; he abandons his project, burns his wagons,
and retires with precipitation. The enemy remaining in Portsmouth, the
American army takes a healthy station upon Malvan Hill, and reposes
after all its labour.

_August_.--The Americans refusing to descend in front of Portsmouth, a
portion of the English army embarks and proceeds by water to Yorktown
and Gloucester. General Lafayette takes a position at the Fork of
Pamunkey and Mattapony River, having a detached corps upon both sides
of York River. The Pennsylvanians and some new levies receive orders to
remain on James River, and think them selves intended for Carolina. An
assembly of militia on Moratie or Roanoke River; the fords and roads
south of James River destroyed on various pretence; movements to occupy
the attention of the enemy. As in the event prepared by Lafayette, the
means of escape would remain to the garrison of Portsmouth, Lafayette
threatened that point. General O'Hara thinks he ought to nail up thirty
pieces of cannon, and join the largest part of the army. The whole was
scarcely united, when the Count de Grasse appears at the entrance of
Chesapeak Bay. General Wayne crosses the river, and places himself in
such a manner as to arrest the enemy's march, if he should attempt to
retreat towards Carolina. The French admiral is waited for at Cape
Henry by an aide-de-camp of Lafayette, to report to him the respective
situations of the land troops, and ask him to make the necessary
movements to cut off all retreat to the enemy. He anchors at Cape Henry,
sends three vessels to York River, and fills James River with frigates;
the Marquis de Saint Simon, with three thousand men, lands at James
Island or Jamestown.

_September_.--The river thus defended, General Wayne receives the order
to cross it; the Marquis de Lafayette marches upon Williamsburg, and
assembles together, in a good position, the combined troops, to the
number of seven thousand three hundred men. He had left one thousand
rive hundred militia in the county of Gloucester, and sends to hasten
some troops coming from the north. This station, which closes all
retreat to Lord Cornwallis, (our advance posts nine miles from York,)
is retained from the 4th to the 28th of September. Lord Cornwallis
reconnoitres the position of Lafayette, and despairs of forcing it.

The 6th September, the Count de Grasse, quitting the defended rivers,
goes out with the remainder of his fleet, pursues Admiral Hood, who
had presented himself, beats him, and sinks the _Terror_; he takes the
_Iris_ and _Richmond_ frigates; the 13th, he joins, in the bay, the
squadron of M. de Barras, which had sailed from Rhode Island, with eight
hundred men and the French artillery: the fleet of the Count de Grasse
consists, at this period, of thirty eight ships of the line.

Admiral de Grasse and General Saint Simon, commanders of the French
under Lafayette, urge him to attack Lord Cornwallis and offer him a
reinforcement from the ship garrisons. He prefers acting on more secure
grounds, and waiting for the troops from the north. General Washington
succeeded in reality, in completely deceiving General Clinton as to
his intentions; he was advancing towards Virginia with an American
detachment, and the army of the Count de Rochambeau embarked at the head
of the Chesapeak; they proceeded upon transports, to Williamsburg.
The 28th, they march upon New York, and the combined army commences
investing it; the 29th, reconnoitring the place; the 30th, the enemy
evacuates the advance posts, and retires into the works of York.

_October_.--The 1st, a new reconnoitre; the 3rd, a skirmish between the
legion of the Duke of Lauzun and that of Tarleton, in which the former
gained the advantage. That legion and eight hundred men from the ships
under M. de Choisy, had joined the militia at Gloucester. The night
of the 6th, the trenches were opened; that of the 11th, the second
parallel. The night of the 14th, the redoubts of the enemy's left
were taken, sword in hand, the one by the grenadiers and French light
horsemen, the other by the light infantrymen of the Americans. The
first directed by the Baron de Viomenil, a field-marshal; the 2nd by the
Marquis de Lafayette. The morning of the 17th, Lord Cornwallis asked
to capitulate; that same evening the firing ceased. The English Army,
reduced to eight thousand men, comprising 900 militia gave themselves as
prisoners of war.



Havre, 18th July, 1779.

SIR,--You ask me for some ideas respecting an expedition to America. As
it is not a fixed plan which you require, nor a memorial addressed
in form to the ministry, it will be the more easy to comply with your

The state of America, and the new measures which the British appear to
be adopting, render this expedition more than ever necessary. Deserted
coasts, ruined ports, commerce checked, fortified posts whence
expeditions are sent, all seem to call for our assistance, both by sea
and land. The smallest effort made now, would have more effect on the
people than a great diversion at a more distant period; but besides the
gratitude of the Americans, and particularly of the oppressed states, a
body of troops would insure us a great superiority on that continent.
In short, sir, without entering into tedious details, you know that
my opinions on this point have never varied, and my knowledge of this
country convinces me, that such an expedition, if well conducted, would
not only succeed in America, but would be of very essential service to
our own country.

Besides the advantage of gaining the affection of the Americans, and
that of concluding a good peace, France should seek to curtail the means
of approaching vengeance. On this account it is extremely important to
take Halifax; but as we should require foreign aid, this enterprise must
be preceded by services rendered to different parts of the continent; we
should then receive assistance, and, under pretext of invading Canada,
we should endeavour to seize Halifax, the magazine and bulwark of the
British navy in the new world.

Well aware that a proposition on a large scale would not be acceded to,
I will diminish, as much as possible, the necessary number of troops.
I will say four thousand men, a thousand of them to be grenadiers and
chasseurs; to whom I will add two hundred dragoons and one hundred
hussars, with the requisite artillery. The infantry should be divided
into full battalions, commanded by lieutenant-colonels. If commissions
of higher rank should be desired for the older officers, you are aware
that the minister of marine has it in his power to bestow such, as
when the expedition returns to Europe, will have no value in the land
service. We want officers who can deny themselves, live frugally,
abstain from all airs, especially a quick, peremptory manner, and who
can relinquish, for one year, the pleasures of Paris. Consequently we
ought to have few colonels and courtiers, whose habits are in no respect

I would ask, then, for four thousand three hundred men, and, as I am
not writing to the ministry, allow me, for greater ease in speaking, to
suppose myself for a moment the commander of this detachment. You are
sufficiently acquainted with my principles to know that I shall not
court the choice of the king. Although I have commanded, with some
success, a larger body of troops, and I frankly confess I feel myself
capable of leading them, yet my intention is not to put forth my own
claims; but to answer for the actions of a stranger would be a folly,
and as, setting talents apart, it is on the political conduct of the
leader, the confidence of the people and of the American army, that
half the success must depend, I am obliged, reluctantly, to set forth
a character that I know, in order to establish my reasonings upon some

Leaving this digression, I come to the embarkation of these four
thousand three hundred men. As the coasts of Normandy and Brittany have
been much harassed, I should propose sailing from the Island of Aix;
troops and provisions might be obtained in the vicinity. The ports
between Lorient and the channel would furnish transport vessels.~[1]

Lorient has some merchant ships of a pretty large burthen. The caracks
of the channel are still larger, and these vessels have, moreover, guns
of large calibre, which may be of use, either in battle, or in silencing
batteries onshore; besides, they might be ready in a very short time. I
would embark the soldiers, a man to every two tons, and would admit the
dragoons, with their cavalry equipage only. There are many details I
would give if the project be decided upon, but would be superfluous to
mention here. After the experience of Count d'Estaing, who found himself
straitened with biscuit for four months, and flour for two, I would take
the latter, adding biscuit for six months, which would make in all eight
months' provision for the marine and the troops. As to our escort,
that must be decided upon by the marine; but our transports being armed
vessels, three ships of the line, one of fifty guns for the rivers,
three frigates and two cutters, would appear to me to be more than
sufficient. As the expedition is especially a naval one, the commander
of the squadron should be a man of superior abilities; his character,
his patriotism, are important points. I have never seen M. de Guichen,
but the reports I have heard of his worth and modesty prepossess
me strongly in his favour. Being then at the Island of Aix with our
detachment, and the squadron that is to transport it, the next
question is how to act, and our movements must depend entirely upon
circumstances. According to the first project, we were to sail by the
first of September, and by the second to remain here until the last of
January;~[2] it might, however, be possible to sail in October. This
even appears to me better than remaining until the close of January;
but the different operations are included in the other plan. The enemy's
fleet is to be reinforced, and, as we are assured that four or five
weeks' preparation will be sufficient for the transports and the troops,
there is nothing unreasonable in forming our projects for this autumn,
and even for the month of September.

The advantages of commencing our operations in that month would be,
first, to deprive the enemy of Rhode Island; secure to ourselves, till
spring, a fine island and harbour, and have it in our power to open
the campaign when we please. Secondly, to establish our superiority
in America before the winter negotiations. Thirdly, if peace should
be desired, to place an important post in our side of the balance.
Fourthly, in case the enemy should have extended their forces over any
one of the states, to drive them away with the more ease, as we should
take them by surprise.

A few days before our departure, and not sooner (to prevent the
consequences of an indiscretion), three corvettes should be despatched
to America, with letters to M. de Luzerne, to congress, and to General
Washington. We might write that the king, desiring to serve his allies,
and agreeably to the requests of Dr. Franklin, intends sending some
vessels to America, and, with them, a body of land forces; and that, if
congress is in want of their assistance, they will willingly lend
their aid to General Washington, but otherwise they will proceed to the
Islands: This form will be perfectly appropriate. On any part, I would
write, in my capacity of an American officer, more detailed letters
to congress, and to General Washington. To the latter I would say,
confidentially, that we have almost a _carte blanche_, and unfold my
plans, and request him to make the necessary preparations. It should be
reported at our departure that we are destined as a garrison to one of
the Antilles, while the troops of these islands act on the offensive,
and that, in the summer, we shall be ordered to attempt a revolution in

The squadron sailing before the 10th of September, would arrive at Sandy
Hook, off the coast of Jersey, early in November, one of the finest
months of the year in independent America. Our fleet would then seem
to threaten New York, and we should find, on our arrival, pilots for
different destinations, and the necessary signals and counter signs.~[3]
If Rhode Island should be the proper point of attack, of which I have
no doubt, we would steer southward towards evening, and, putting about
during the night, land at Block Island, and lay siege to Newport.

There are some continental troops, who might reach Bristol in a day.
There are militia at Tivertown, who might also be mustered. Greenwich
having also a body of troops, must have flat-bottomed boats; those at
Sledge Ferry would be sent down. All these we should find on the spot.
To escape the inconveniences experienced the last year, the naval
commander should send, without a moment's delay, two frigates, to occupy
the eastern channel, and force the middle one, a thing of trifling
danger. The vessels found there should be destroyed; and as the enemy
usually leave at Conanicut Island a body of from six to fifteen hundred
men, we might easily seize it, and make our land rendezvous there. If
the wind should be favourable, the vessels might return the same night,
or the end of the squadron might join them; all these manoeuvres,
however, will depend on circumstances. Thus much is certain, that the
same wind which brings us to land will enable us to make ourselves
masters of the eastern channel, so as to assist the Americans at Bristol
and Tivertown, and, if possible, to secure the middle channel; at
all events, however, it is easy to effect a landing in the manner I

Newport is strongly fortified on the side towards the land, but all the
shore that is behind the town offers great facilities for landing; it
is, besides, too extensive to admit of being defended by batteries.
There the French troops might easily disembark, and, reaching at
day-break the heights which command the town and the enemy's lines,
might seize their outworks and storm all before there, protected, if
necessary, by the fire of the ships. The enemy, scattered and confounded
by these false attacks on both sides of the island, would suppose that
the system of the past year was re-adopted. The bolder this manoeuvre
appears, the more confident we may be of its success.

You are aware, moreover, that in war all depends on the moment; the
details of the attack would be quickly decided on the spot. I need only
say here, that my thorough knowledge of the island leads me to think
that, with the above mentioned number of troops, and a very slender
co-operation on the part of America, I might pledge myself to gain
possession of the island in a few days.~[5]

As soon as we are in possession of the island, we must write to the
state of Rhode Island, offering to resign the place to the national
troops. Unless the state should prefer waiting for the opinion of
General Washington, our offer would be accepted, and we should be
invited to establish ourselves there during the winter. The batteries
upon Goat Island, Brenton's Point and Conanicut Island, would render the
passage of the harbour the more secure to us, particularly with the aid
of our vessels, as the British are not strong enough to attack us there,
and would never attempt it in an unfavourable season. We should be
supported by the country, and although it is said to be difficult to
procure provisions, I should endeavour to preserve our naval stores, and
should obtain more resources than the American army itself.

The same letter that announces to congress our success in Rhode Island,
of which, as far as calculations may be relied on, there is little
doubt, should also mention our proposed voyage to the West Indies, and
inquire whether, our assistance is further needed. Their reply would
open to new fields of service, and, with their consent, we would leave
the sick in a hospital at Greenwich, and the batteries manned by
the militia, and proceed to Virginia. It might be hoped, without
presumption, that James River Point, if still occupied, would yield to
the united efforts of our troops and those of the Virginians. The bay of
Chesapeak would then be free, and that state might bend its whole force
against its western frontiers.~[6]

It is impossible to estimate here the posts which the British occupy
in America. Georgia and Carolina appear to need our assistance, and the
precise operation against Rhode Island must be decided on the spot;
but to give a general idea, it is sufficient to say that the months of
December and January should be employed at the south. As the English are
obliged to station some of their vessels, frigates, merchant ships, or
transports, in each of their ports, they would amount in the whole to a
considerable loss.

In the month of February we would return to Newport, where we might
employ ourselves in interchanges with New York; and the French sailors,
exchanged for soldiers, might be sent under a flag of truce to M.
d'Orvillers. Political interests might be treated of with congress, and
the commander of the detachment go to Philadelphia to make arrangements
with the minister plenipotentiary for the next campaign, and to lay
some proposals before congress and General Washington. I should propose
sending for deputies from the different savage nations, making them
presents, endeavouring to gain them over from the side of the English,
and to revive in their hearts that ancient love of the French nation
which, at some future day, it may be important for us to possess.

It is needless to say here, that if we should wait until the month of
October, the season would be too far advanced to think of Rhode Island,
but the southern operations would be equally practicable, and their
success more certain, as we should take the enemy by surprise.

In that case, instead of proceeding to Newport, we should winter at
Boston, where we should be well received, and provided with every
accommodation. We could open the campaign when we pleased, and might
make preparations beforehand for a great expedition against Rhode
Island, procuring, at the same time, from the inhabitants of the ports
of the north of Boston, and especially that of Marble Head, all the
information they may have acquired about Halifax.

But let us suppose ourselves established at Newport. The campaign opens
by the close of April, and the British will be in no haste to quit New
York. The fear of leaving himself unprotected on our side will prevent
his executing any design against the forts on the North River. It may
even be in our power to assist General Washington in making an attack
on New York. Count d'Estaing, before his departure, thought that he had
discovered the possibility of a passage through the Sound. This question
I leave to naval officers; but, without being one myself, I know that
Long Island might be captured, the troops driven off, and, whilst
General Washington made a diversion on his side, batteries might be
erected that would greatly annoy the garrison of New York. At all
events, preparations should be made to act against Halifax in the month
of June. With the claims which the other expedition would give us, I
will pledge myself that we should be assisted in this by the Americans.
I could find at Boston, and in the northern parts, trust-worthy
persons who could go to Halifax for us, and procure all the necessary
information; the town of Marble Head, in particular, would furnish us
with excellent pilots. The inhabitants of the north of New Hampshire and
Cascobay should be assembled under the command of their general, Stark,
who gained the victory at Bennington, ready to march, if circumstances
require it, by the route of Annapolis. The country is said to be
inhabited by subjects ill affected to British government; ~[7] some of
them have entered into a correspondence with the Americans, and have
given assurances that they will form a party in our favour.

With regard to ourselves, I suppose that we sail the 1st of June, and
that we are accompanied by some continental frigates, and such private
vessels as might be collected in Boston. Congress would undoubtedly
furnish us with as many troops as we should require, and those very
brigades which lately belonged to my division, and whose sole object at
present is to keep the enemy at Rhode Island in check, having no longer
any employment, would be able to join us without impairing the main
army. They would come the more willingly, as the greater part of the
regiments belonging to the northern part of New England would be
averse to crossing the Hudson River, and would prefer a service more
advantageous to their own country.~[8] We should find at Boston cannon
and mortars. Others, if necessary, might be sent from Springfield, and
the corps of American artillery is tolerably good.

The enemy would suspect our designs the less, as their ideas run wholly
upon an invasion of Canada; the movements of the militia in the north
would be considered as a plan for uniting with us at Sorel, near the
River St. Francis, as we ascended the St. Lawrence: this opinion, which,
with a little address, might be strengthened, would awaken apprehensions
and excite disturbances at Quebec;~[9] and if a vessel of war should by
chance be at Halifax ready for sea, they would probably despatch it to
the threatened colony.

I have never seen the town of Halifax, but those persons who, before
the war, were in the English service, and had spent most of the time in
garrison, inform me that the great point is, to force to the right
and left the passage of George's Island, and that a landing might be
effected without difficulty, either on the side towards the eastern
battery, in order to seize that battery and Fort Sackville, or, which
appears to be a shorter way, on the side towards the town. The northern
suburb, where the magazines are, is but slightly defended. The basin,
where vessels are repaired, might also be secured. Several officers,
worthy of confidence, have assured me, that Halifax is built in the form
as of an amphitheatre; that all the houses might be cannonaded by the
vessels that had forced the passage, and in that case, the town would
compel the garrison to surrender. As the troops might destroy all the
works on the shore, and the vessels of war easily carry the batteries on
the islands, I am well persuaded, and the accounts of all who have been
there convince me still more, that Halifax would be unable to withstand
the united power of our forces and those of America.~[10]

The idea of a revolution in Canada is gratifying to all good Frenchmen;
and if political considerations condemn it, you will perceive that
this is to be done only by suppressing every impulse of feeling. The
advantages and disadvantages of this scheme demand a full discussion,
into which I will not at present enter. Is it better to leave in the
neighbourhood of the Americans an English colony, the constant source
of fear and jealousy, or to free our oppressed brethren, recover the fur
trade, our intercourse with the Indians, and the profit of our ancient
establishments, with out the expenses and losses formerly attending
them? Shall we throw into the balance of the new world a fourteenth
state, which would be always attached to us, and which, by its
situation, would give us a superiority in the troubles that may, at
some future day, agitate America? Opinions are very much divided on
this topic. I know yours, and my own is not unknown to you; I do not,
therefore, dwell on it, and consider it in no other light than as a
means of deceiving and embarrassing the enemy. If, however, it should
at any time be brought under consideration, it would be necessary to
prepare the people beforehand; and the knowledge which I was obliged to
obtain when a whole army was about to enter that country has enabled me
to form some idea of the means of succeeding there But to return to Nova
Scotia: part of the American troops, who will accompany us, and such of
the inhabitants as take up arms in our favour, might be left there as a
garrison. It would be easy to destroy or take possession of the English
establishments on the banks of Newfoundland, and after this movement we
should direct our course according to circumstances. Supposing that we
could return to Boston or Rhode Island during the month of September,
and that New York had not yet been taken, we might still be enabled to
assist General Washington. Otherwise St. Augustine, the Bermudas, or
some other favourable points of attack, might engage our attention; on
the other hand, if we should be ordered home, we might reach France in
three weeks or a month from the banks of Newfoundland, and alarm the
coasts of Ireland on our way.

If the September plan, which combines all advantages, appears too near
at hand, if it were decided even not to send us in October, it would be
necessary to delay our departure until the end of January. In this case,
as in the former, we should be preceded fifteen days only by corvettes;
we should pass the month of April in the south, attack Rhode Island to
May, and arrive at Halifax the last of June. But you are aware that the
autumn is, on many accounts, the most favourable time for our departure;
at all events, you will not accuse me of favouring this opinion from
interested motives, as a winter at Boston or Newport is far from
equivalent to one spent at Paris.~[11]

These views, in obedience to your request, I have the honour to submit
to your judgment; I do not affect to give them the form of a
regular plan, but you will weigh the different schemes according to
circumstances. I trust that you will receive these remarks with the
greater indulgence, as my American papers, those respecting Halifax
excepted, are at Paris, and, consequently, almost all my references are
made from memory; beside, I did not wish to annoy you with details too
long for a letter, and if you are desirous to converse more freely on
the subject, the impossibility of leaving the port of Havre, at present,
will allow me time to spend three days at Versailles.

I am thoroughly convinced, and I cannot, without violating my
conscience, forbear repeating, that it is highly important for us to
send a body to America. If the United States should object to it, I
think it is our duty to remove their objections, and even to suggest
reasons for it. But on this head you will be anticipated, and Dr.
Franklin is only waiting a favorable occasion to make the propositions.
Even if the operations of the present campaign, with the efforts of
Count d'Estaing or some other fortunate accident should have given
affairs a favorable turn, there will be a sufficient field for us, and
one alone of the, proposed advantages would repay the trouble of sending
the detachment.

A very important point, and one on which I feel obliged to lay the
greatest stress, is the necessity of perfect and inviolable secrecy.
It is unnecessary to trust any person, and even the men who are most
actively employed in fitting out the detachment and the vessel need not
be informed of the precise intentions of government. At farthest, the
secret should be confided to the naval commander, and to the leader of
the land forces, and not even to them before the last moment.

It will certainly be said that the French will be coldly received in
that country, and regarded with a jealous eye in their army. I cannot
deny that the Americans are difficult to be dealt with, especially by
the Frenchmen; but if I were intrusted with the business, or if the
commander chosen by the king, acts with tolerable judgment, I would
pledge my life that all difficulties would be avoided, and that the
French troops would be cordially received.

For my own part, you know my sentiments, and you will never doubt that
my first interest is to serve my country. I hope, for the sake of the
public good, that you will send troops to America. I shall be considered
too young, I presume, to take the command, but I shall surely be
employed. If, in the arrangement of this plan, any one, to whom my
sentiments are less known than to yourself, in proposing for me either
the command or some inferior commission, should assign as a reason, that
I should thereby be induced to serve my country with more zeal either in
council or in action, I took the liberty (putting aside the minister of
the king) to request M. de Vergennes to come forward as my friend, and
to refuse, in my name, favors bestowed from motives so inconsistent with
my character.

I have the honor to be, &c.



1. I hear that you have, at Lorient, three vessels of the India company,
of forty guns and eight hundred tons. These caracks, if I recollect
rightly, are fifty-gun ships, of nine hundred and sixty tons all number
of vessels would be sufficient; they might soon be got ready, and their
force would diminish the required escort. As for frigates, you will
find in readiness, at Lorient, the _Alliance_, the _Pallas_, and others.
However, if you are determined to employ the vessels which are fitted
out, in the expedition against England, it would be necessary to take
ours from St. Malo in preference. (Note from M. de Lafayette.)

2. Virginia and Carolina would be the scene of our operations during the
months of December and January, and we should pass the remainder of the
winter at Boston. I greatly prefer this project to waiting until the
last of January.

3. To deceive the enemy, pilots might be assembled from different parts,
under pretence of sending them to the Islands, at the request of the
French. This business, as well as the preparations and signals, might
be entrusted to a lieutenant-colonel of the royal corps of engineers, an
officer of great merit at the head of the American corps of engineers,
who, under cover of working to the fortifications of the Delaware, might
remain near Sandy Hook.

4. The frigates or vessels necessary to protect the landing, either real
or pretended, of the Americans, should anchor in those channels. The
enemy would then be obliged either to disperse among the forts, and
thereby to weaken their lines, or else to leave the field open to the
Americans, who, by a diversion upon the lines, would force the enemy to
have them fully manned, and prevent them attending to their rear.

5. It is necessary, however, to consider all the unfortunate
contingencies that may occur. If the expedition to Rhode Island
should be prevented, or if it should not succeed, or if nothing can
be attempted at New York, we ought then to proceed on our expeditions
against Virginia, or Georgia, or Carolina, and winter afterwards at
Boston, leaving Rhode Island to the next season, as proposed in our plan
of sailing in the month of October.

6. If the capture of the Bermudas, or some expedition of the kind,
should be considered necessary, the rest of the winter might be employed
in carrying it into effect.

7. The last time I was at Boston, I saw there a respectable man, a
member of the council in Nova Scotia, who had secretly entered into
the service of General Gates, and who assured us of the favourable
disposition of the inhabitants.

8. General Gates, who is popular in New England, and perfectly
acquainted with Halifax, has often proposed to make an expedition, in
concert, against that town, with French and American troops combined.

9. In the present harassed state of the English, I doubt if they will
have in port any vessel capable of joining the squadron.

10. I have not made any allowance for the diversion in the north, of
which, however, I feel certain, and if the troops should not go to
Annapolis, would, at least, compel a part of the British garrison, and
such of the inhabitants as adhered to the royal party, to remain in the

11. Fifteen hundred or two thousand select troops thrown into America
might aid General Washington, and enable him to act on the offensive, by
supplying him with good heads to his columns, and by uniting the French
with an American division for combined operations. This plan would be of
some use, but it appeared to me that you wished for one offering results
of greater importance.

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