George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, 25 June 1782

St Germain June the 25h 1782

My Dear General

How it is Possible for me to Be Here at this Period You Will Hardly Be able to Conceive, and I Confess I am Myself more and More Surprised at these Strange Delays. Both duty and Inclination Lead me to America, and tho’ it is Not probable You are Active in the field, Yet the Possibility of it is to me A torment. But from the Moment I Engaged in our Noble Cause, I Made it My Sole point to Sacrifice Every thing to its Better Success. The Hope to fix a plan of Campaign Has long kept me Here, when Count de Grasse’s defeat Has ruined the Schemes of Ministry and My own Expectations. I Would then Have Immediately Sailed, when Negotiations Have kept me Here, and the American Ministers Have Declared they Wanted My presence in this part of the World. I am Myself Sensible of it, and know, in Case of a treaty, I May Better Serve our Cause, By the Situation I am in, with Governement, and My knowledge of America, than I Could in any other Capacity during an inactive Campaign. I therefore Have thought, Considering Your Principles and Your Sentiments, that You Will Approuve My Submitting to Remain a fortnight longer in this place, and Unless things Become More forward than they Now Promise to Be, I Hope by the 20he of Next Month to Set Sails for America, and to Proceed towards Head Quarters.

The Political Situation of Affairs, and the Intelligences We get Have Been By me Communicated to Mr Lewingston whom I Have Requested to Impart My long letter to Your Excellency, and therefore Will not trouble You With Repetitions.

A few Days Ago, Upon Motives which He Will Account for to Congress, Mr Franklin thought Proper to grant Lord Cornwallis a Conditional Exchange. With this I Had Nothing to do, and Much Less yet With the Exchange of the Sailors that Had Been detained in England. The only Business I Have Middled with is that of Lord Cornwallis’s Aides de Camp. They Represented that G‘al Lincoln’s aids Had Been Exchanged Along With Him, that Orders Had Been Sent By Lord Shelburne, In Consequence of Which the British Commander in chief Must By this time Have Proposed their Exchange to You for officers of the Same Rank at Your Choice, that there Was Hardly Any Doubt But What the Business Was Now Effect. Under Those Circumstances, at a time of Negotiations for peace, and With the Advice of Doctor Franklin I Consented to Give the Inclosed Conditional Discharge—But did not think it Consistent with My duty to Go further. I am obliged to My lord Cornwallis, and Wish to treat Him Well and His Aids. But as I know the ideas of Congress and Your delicacy upon the Subject, this I thought Something ought to Be done in the Present Circumstances, I Made it a point to Act With Caution, and I Hope Your Excellency Will not think I went farther than I ought to Have done.

Counte de Grasse Has So foolishly taken a Way Maritime Superiority that I am at a loss. I Hoped Charles Town Would follow Jamaica and perhaps N. Yk Harbr and N. York Would Have Been Also tempted. They will Send 28 to 26. The difficulty is to Bring Spanish Ships to America, and for that We Must Have Had Some Advantage in West Indies, and a french Commander in Chief. As I do not think Negociations will Be So forward as Some people expect I will Be Very Careful to improve Every opportunity to Bring on What I think to Be Useful on the Subjects I have just Mentioned.

The words in square brackets are GW’s translation of code.


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