George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, 24 May 1781

May 24th 1781 Camp Near Bottom’s Creek

My dear General

I request you will receive My Affectionate Aknowledgement 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 have 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 Astonishement He felt at our celerity, and When on the 30th As He was going to give the signal to attak He recconnoitred 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. The little dependance they put upon the militia I cannot expose in an official letter. I cannot say that no Boats, no waggons, no intelligence not one spy could Be obtained that if once I Had Been Maneuvring 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 Handfull of Continental troops. Great deal of michief Had Been already done. I did not know But what the ennemy meant to establish a post. Under the Circumstances I thought it Better to fight on none But my own grounds, and to defeat the main and most valuable object of the ennemy. Had I gone on the other side, the ennemy 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 mean while philips 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 ennemy, and Having no orders, I must be Regulated By His opinion. I wish He will call for the Pennsylvanians and leave me Here.

The ennemy are gone down the River. I Have detached some militia to Hood’s where I mean to make a fort. Clel Ennis with an other Corps of militia is gone towards Williams Burg. His orders are, in Case the ennemy land there to Annoy them, and in Case they mean to establish a post he is to disturb them Untill I arrive. This position is 16 miles from Richmond, 42 from Williams Burg 60 from Frederis Burg. I Have sent an officer at Point Comfort and established a chain of expresses to know if they appear to turn towards potowmack. Should it Be the case Frederis Burg will Have my Attention. Having missed Richmond Mr Hunter’s works at Frederis Burg must be their next object as they are the only support of our operations in the Southward.

Your first letters, my dear General, will perhaps tell me some thing more about your coming this way. How Happy I would be to see you I Hope I need not to express. As you are pleased to give me the Choice, I frankly shall tell my wishes. If you Cooperate with the french Against the place You know, I wish to Be at Head Quarters If some thing is Cooperated in Virginia I will find myself very Happily Situated. For the present, in case my detachement Remains in this State I wish not to Leave it as I Have a separate and Active command tho’ 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 Agreable in the world.

Adieu, my dear General, you will make me Happy to write me some times—With the Highest Respect and most tender affection Have the Honor to be Yours


My Respects to Mrs Washington and I beg leave to present compliments to the family.

Clel Vose is not determined to go untill the ennemy are more Remote. I Beg you will please only to know the willingness of other Colonels without sending any untill I write more particularly to Your Excellency.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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