George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 7 October 1780

From Major General Lafayette

New Bridge [N.J.] October the 7th 1780

Dear General

Mr Ward’s Corps being Situated on the end of Bergen Neck,1 two and thirty Miles from our Army, Major lee Began to move Yesterday after Noon and to Execute the plan which he had propos’d; he March’d Conceal’d through the Woods So as to Arrive on the Ground By the Breack of the day.

he had with him his own Corps, Mjor parr’s Riflemen, and a piquet of light infantry under Captain Abbot.2

having Arriv’d in due time, With a Secrecy and dispatch, with3 does Credit to himself and his troops—his object Was Much Reduc’d By the Unexpected Absence of the Greatest part of the Corps, and the plan precipitated By the Accidental Visit of an officer Riding through the Woods.

he then charg’d the Ennemy who had An officer kill’d, a lieutenant, fifteen privates, and about the Same Number of horses taken—he Retook Seven farmers Who had been stolen away By those people, and Return’d to them the property which had been taken from them—the Rest of the Ennemy’s Corps flew to theyr Boats, from where they fir’d without effect—lee did not loose a man, and had not one Straggler.

Tho’ By Accident the object did not Become important, the distance and peculiar position of that Corps, as well as the Manner in which the plan was executed, Are A New instance of Mjor lee’s talents and enterprising Spirit.

to Support Majr lee’s Movement the light infantry took its line of March By the liberty pole, Clel Gimat’s Regiment Being Stationn’d at fort lee, and the Militia of Mjor Gotcheus at Bull’s ferry.

As the Ennemy did not offer Any disturbance, We Cross’d over the New Bridge, having the River in our front—to-morrow at the Break of the day our quarter Masters will go to totawa Bridge, and I will March that Way at Sun Rise Unless I Receive Contrary orders.

I hear that We have lost a Boat and four men, whom lee will tomorrow exchange for Refugees.4 With the Most tender and Respectfull Attachement, I have the honor to be dear General Your most obedien⟨t⟩ humble Servant


ALS, PEL; ADf, in French, Lafayette Papers, LaGrange, France.

1Thomas Ward (d. 1785) of Orange County, N.Y., joined Col. William Malcom’s Additional Continental Regiment as a sergeant in April 1777. He deserted in April 1778 and entered British service as a captain in January 1780. Ward and his interracial Loyalist force supplied wood for the British at New York City and raided from Bergen Neck, N.J., where they repulsed an attack in July (see GW to Anthony Wayne, 20 July 1780, and notes 1 and 3 to that document). Ward went to Nova Scotia after the war and died in London.

2Stephen Abbot (Abbott; 1749–1813) served as an ensign in the 8th Continental Regiment before becoming a lieutenant in the 15th Massachusetts Regiment in November 1776. He rose to captain in May 1778 and was with the 10th Massachusetts Regiment in 1782. After the war, Abbot became a major general in the Massachusetts militia.

3Lafayette probably meant “which” for this word.

4GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton wrote Lafayette from Paramus, N.J., on 8 Oct.: “The General is very anxious to hear from you and that your corps should join the army. Your men must have suffered exceedingly yesterday and last night, and your baggage is here—Be with us as soon as you can; but send the express back immediately with an account of your success” (DLC:GW). For the inclement weather late on 7 Oct., see General Orders, this date, source note.

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