George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, 25 August 1781

Mrs Ruffin’s August 25th 1781

My Dear General

Independant of the Answer to Your letter of the 15th, I Have Been Very Particular in a Second letter Instrusted to Clel Moriss. But at this Moment Wish to Send you Minuted and Repeated Accounts of Every thing that Passes in this Quarter.

The Ennemy Have Evacuated their forts at Ivy, 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 Now Working By a Windmill at Which place I Understand they will Make a fort and a Battery for the defense of the River. I Have no Doubt But that Some thing will Be done on the land Side. The Works at Gloster Are finished. They Consist of Some [trifling] Redoubts Across Gloster Neck and a Battery of 18 pieces Beating the River.

The Ennemy Have 60 Sails of Vessels into York River—the largest a 50 guns ship two 36 frigats—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 Merchant Men Some of Whom 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 Refitt 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. Gal Wayne on the Road to West over and we May form our jonction in one day. I keep parties upon the Ennemies lines. The Works at Portsmouth are Levelling. The Moment I Can Get Returns and Plans I 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 Ennemy Cannot Hold two places at once. I Have Mentionned it in a letter to Congress Wherein I Send them Copy of one I Have Received upon An other Subject—the Enlisting of Your Soldiers, and Impressing them into British Service. I thought You Had Rather the Matter Should Be directly laid Before Congress, and Consequent Measures Entirely left with them. Inclosed you will find an other Copy of that letter.

The Maryland troops were to Have Sat out on Monday last—But God knows if they will keep the Engagement.

There is in this Quarter An Immense Want of Cloathing 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. There is an Amazing Quantity of Negroes But (except at Working) they May Become an Uncomberance. In a Word this Part Affords the Greatest Number of Regulars and the only Active Army to Attak, which Having Had no Plan of defense, must Be Less Calculated for it than Any Garrison Either at Newyork or in Carolina.

I Have writen a private and Confidential letter (But Not Quite So) to the Governor. I speak in pretty General terms, and just So Much as Was Necessary. No News of Any Sort Has Come to Hand. With the Highest Respect and Most Sincere Affection I Have the Honor to Be My dear General Your Most obedient Hble Servant


I am Sorry to Inform you that Gal Campdell of the Riflemen—the one of King’s Mountain—lately died of a fever at New Castle.


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