Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Lafayette, 27 April 1781

From Lafayette

Bowlen Greene April the 27th 1781


Captain North from Baron de Stüben’s Camp Has Been with Me last Evening and was directed By the Baron to Give me Every intelligence Relative to the Situation. From what He says I think the Baron is By this time [at] Chesterfield Court House, And Consider Richmond as the Present object for Both Parties.

Every Boat that is in the River should Be Collected Above the falls By which Means A Communication Can Be Secured. Those that Are for the present with the Vessels are of No use to them and will Be of Great Service to us.

I wish it was possible to fix some Heavy Cannon Upon small vessels So as to make floating Batteries or Galleys. I Have lately tried the Experiment at Annapolis And Could derive Great Advantages from it.

This Evening or to Morrow Morning I Hope to Be with Your Excellency, and Beg leave to Request You will Honor me with a letter that will Meet me on the Road and let me know How Matters are.

With the Highest Respect I Have the Honor to Be Your Excellency’s Most obedient Humble Servant,


RC (Vi); addressed; endorsed: “Lre from Marquis Fayette April 28th 1781 [In another hand:] Copd.” (the date is that of receipt).

This evening or tomorrow morning I hope to be with you: Lafayette’s troops only arrived at Hanover Courthouse late in the afternoon of 28 Apr.; from that place they marched at daylight on the 29th and “arrived at Richmond about 5 o’clk p.m. where the troops were quartered in the rope walks which are at the east end of the town” (Ebenezer Wild, Journal, quoted in Bennett Nolan, Lafayette in America Day by Day, 170). On the 27th Weedon wrote to Spotswood: “The Marquis Fayette writes me very pressing for a few Horse to protect him till his reinforcements all get up; he is gone on to Richmond where there is not a man in arms” (Weedon to Spotswood, 27 Apr. 1781, PPAP). From this it is apparent that Lafayette preceded his men into Richmond and it was probably, therefore, on 28 Apr. 1781 that he first met TJ (see TJ to Lafayette, 14 May 1781 and note there). Indeed, Washington had suggested this: “It will be well to advise Governor Jefferson of your intended march thro’ the State of Virginia, or perhaps it might answer a good purpose were you to go forward to Richmond yourself, after putting the troops in motion and having made some necessary arrangements for their progress” (Washington to Lafayette, 6 Apr. 1781, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, xxi, 422).

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