George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 28 August 1780

From Major General Lafayette

Light Camp1 August 28th 1780

My dear General

I alwais forgot Mentionning to You what has past Betwen duke of Lauzun and Myself2 on account of the diminution that had been Made in his horses3—from what he told me I Saw that it has been put upon this footing that You thought A greater number of horses than was necessary for Carrying letters &c. would be quite Useless—I explain’d the Matter to him, told him You had decided that No less than hundred Should be Bought, and that in this Case Your determination had been an Active and Not A Negative one—I even told him You had desir’d me to Mention to him this Matter very particularly.

The extreme desire which duke de Lauzun had of Serving in this expedition Made him embark with the first part of his Legion [V]iz. three hundred hussards, hundred Grenadiers, hundred Chasseurs, and a Compagny of Artillery—The dress and accoutrements of the hussards Make it almost impossible for them to Serve a foot, and if they are not Mounted duke de Lauzun had Rather Serve in the Line, than to Stay with the Legion.

from what he told me, I know you will highly please him and his Legion if You hint to Count de Rochambeau the propriety of Compleating those horses—I would politically advise the Measure, and as our prospects are Now Confin’d to Charles town,4 I will Remark that if I am told Light Cavalry is there useful, and that we would be at loss to Bring ours to that place.5

May I, My dear General, without impropriety Request that the light division excepting Such of them as have fix’d feathers By the last Regulations, Be ordered to Wear A Black and Red feather. I will untertake to furnish them, So that there will be No expense for the Continent, and Unless you put that Regulation in General orders, we will loose all our feathers Some of them have been already Stolen away.6

No pontgibault as yet, which Added to our Circumstances of provisions, and our dull prospects of inaction, Makes me feel very uneasy.7 adieu, My dear General, Most Respectfully and Affectionately I have the honor to be Yours


inclos’d I Send you the letters for Count de Rochambeau whereto I join a Short one Containing the daily intelligences But no political Reflexion.8

ALS, PEL; ADf (dated 27 Aug.), in French, Lafayette Papers, LaGrange, France.

1For Lafayette’s likely location, see n.8 below.

2Lafayette met French officers at Rhode Island during the summer of 1780 (see GW to Rochambeau, 16 July).

4GW no longer anticipated attacking New York City (see GW to James Bowdoin, this date, and n.2 to that document).

5Lafayette’s draft clarifies his thought. If additional cavalry could help in South Carolina, Lafayette believed Brigadier General Lauzun’s legion would get there most easily. Lauzun later wrote about attempting to transfer in 1781 to the southern department: “General Washington was very anxious that M. de Rochambeau should send me. I was equally anxious, hoping to be of use there; I did not hesitate to ask to be employed in the South under the command of M. de La Fayette, although I had served in the field, as Colonel, long before he left school. M. de Rochambeau refused” (Memoirs of the Duc de Lauzun description begins C. K. Scott Moncrieff, trans. Memoirs of the Duc de Lauzun. 1928. Reprint. New York, 1969. description ends , 193).

6For feathers to differentiate units, see General Orders, 18 June and 29 Aug.; see also Lafayette to GW, 4 July.

7Lafayette’s aide-de-camp Pontgibaud had arrived at Boston from France (see Rochambeau to GW, 21 Aug., n.1; see also Pontgibaud, French Volunteer description begins Robert B. Douglas, ed. and trans. Chevalier de Pontgibaud, A French Volunteer of the War of Independence. 2d ed. Paris, 1898. description ends , 86–87).

8Lafayette wrote Lieutenant General Rochambeau from camp near Fort Lee, N.J., on this date to cover letters from French minister La Luzerne to Rochambeau and Ternay (CtY-BR-R).

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