George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 9 February 1778

From Major General Lafayette

At flemming town [N.J.]
the nineth february [1778]

dear general

I can not let go back my guide without taking this opportunity of wraiting to your excellency tho’ I have not yet public business to speak of—I go on very slowly some times pierced by rain, sometimes covered with snow, and not thinking many handsome thoughts about the projected incursion into canada1—if succèss were to be had it would surprise me in a more agreable manner, by that very reason that I do’nt expect very shining ones—lake champlain is very cold for producing the least bit of laurels, and if I am neither drawned neither starv’d I’l be as proud2 as if I had gained two battles.

Mister düer had given to me a rendés vous at a tavern, but no body was to be found there3—I went by coriel-ferry in compliance to the directions of lord stirling, and the advices of Mister tilmangh and gibs—I fancy Mister düer will be with Mister Cannway sooner than he had told me—they’l perhaps conquer canada before my arrival, and I expect to meet them at the governor’s house in quebec.

I have been told by the people in going along, that on the other side of the delaware, there was a great plenty of scheep which the ennemy could take of very easely and which ought to be secured—that I ca’nt give any particular intelligence about but I thought it proper to mention that report to your excellency—I have heard too that the ennemy keeps a great correspondance with the jersays by coopers ferry.

Could I believe one single instant that this pompous command of a northen army will let your excellency forget a little an absent friend, then I would send the project to the place it comes from—but I dare hope that you will remember me some times—I wish you very heartely the greatest public or private happiness and succès—it is a very melancholy idea for me that I ca’nt follow your fortune as near your person as I could wish—but my heart will take very sincerely his part of every thing which can happen to you, and I am already thinking of the agreable moment were I’l come down to assure myself your excellency of the most tendir affection and highest respect I have the honor to be with dear general Your most obedient servant

the Marquis de lafayette

will you give me leave to inclose here my most affectionate respects to your lady and my best compliments to your excellency’s family.

ALS, PEL. After the war Lafayette edited the manuscript, which has been restored to its original form as much as possible (see Lafayette to GW, 31 Dec. 1777, source note).

1Lafayette, who returned to camp from York on 5 Feb., had just left Valley Forge for Albany, N.Y., where he arrived on 17 February. For the duties assigned Lafayette as commander of the Canadian expedition, see Horatio Gates to GW, 24 January.

2Lafayette obliterated three or four words at this place in the text.

3William Duer initially intended to participate in the Canadian expedition as a volunteer. Lafayette made no secret, however, of his opinion that Duer was a “tory” and “rascall” who was also one of Maj. Gen. Thomas Conway’s accomplices, and Duer by this time had decided that it would be more prudent to stay at home (Lafayette to Henry Laurens, 27 Jan. 1778, Lafayette Papers description begins Stanley J. Idzerda et al., eds. Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776–1790. 5 vols. Ithaca, N.Y., 1977-83. description ends , 1:258–61).

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