4th. Letters from the Marqs. de la Fayette of the 25th Ulto. informs that Lord Cornwallis had formed a junction with Arnold at Petersbourg1—that with their United force he had Marched to City point2 on James River and that the detachment which sailed from New York the 13th of May had arrived in James River and were debarking at Westover and that he himself had removed from Wilton3 to Richmond.
The Duke de Lauzen arrived this afternoon with Letters from Count de Rochambeau & Admiral Count de Barras, with the proceedings of a Council of War held on Board the Duke de Burgoyne proposing to continue the Fleet at Rhode Island under the protection of 400 French Troops & 1000 Militia in preference to the plan adopted at Weathersfield; requiring my opinion thereon which was given to the effect—that I conceived the first plan gave a more perfect security to the Kings fleet than the latter, & consequently left the Land force more at liberty to act, for which reason I could not change my former opinion but shou’d readily acquiesce to theirs if upon a re-consideration of the matter they adhered to it. Accordingly, that delay might be avoided, I inclosed letters (under flying Seals) to the Governors of Rd. Island & Massachusetts, to be made use of or not, requesting the Militia; & pressed the March of the Land Troops as soon as circumstances would admit of it.4
1. This information was contained in a letter from Lafayette to GW, dated 24 rather than 25 May 1781 (DLC:GW).
2. City Point, Va., now part of Hopewell, is near the confluence of the James and Appomattox rivers.
3. Wilton was an estate on the north side of the James River, six miles south of Richmond in Henrico County. Lafayette had established his headquarters there in May 1781. Westover was the estate of Col. William Byrd III.
4. Armand Louis de Gontaut Biron, duc de Lauzun (1747–1793), served in the French guards and in 1767 in the French campaign in Corsica. In 1780 he was appointed brigadier general in command of the legion of horse which bore his name and in July 1780 arrived with his troops at Newport, R.I. He was in the Yorktown campaign in 1781 and carried the news of the capitulation at Yorktown to Paris.
See also entry for 22 May 1781. For the minutes of the council of war held on board Barras’s flagship, the Duc-de Bourgogne, 31 May 1781, see DONIOL description begins Henri Doniol. Histoire de la Participation de la France à l’établissement des États-Unis d’Amérique: Correspondance Diplomatique et Documents. 5 vols. Paris, 1886–92. description ends , 5:477–79. Rochambeau sent a copy of the minutes to GW, 31 May 1781 (DLC:GW). Apparently Lauzun, who had been in favor of transferring the French fleet to Boston, left GW under the impression that the council of war’s decision to keep the fleet at Newport was subject to the commander in chief’s approval (see CARSON  description begins George Barr Carson. “The Chevalier de Chastellux, Soldier and Philosophe.” Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1942. description ends , 91). GW also wrote letters on 4 June to William Greene, governor of Rhode Island (DLC:GW), and to John Hancock, governor of Massachusetts (M-Ar), requesting 500 militia from each to support the French establishment at Newport. Both letters were sent to Rochambeau and closed with a “flying seal,” that is, a seal attached but not closed, so that Rochambeau might examine the contents and forward the letters if necessary. A second council of war, held on board the Neptune 8 June 1781, confirmed the decision to hold the fleet at Newport (DONIOL description begins Henri Doniol. Histoire de la Participation de la France à l’établissement des États-Unis d’Amérique: Correspondance Diplomatique et Documents. 5 vols. Paris, 1886–92. description ends , 5:484–86; Rochambeau to GW, 9 June 1781, DLC:GW). See also GW to the chevalier de Chastellux, 13 June 1781 (DLC:GW).