George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 8 November 1780

From Major General Lafayette

Light Camp [near Cranetown, N.J.]
November the 8th 1780

dear General

here is a letter from Mercereau Which Says very little, and the little which is Said in it I don’t take to be true—But thought I had better Send his scrole to head Quarters—I have sent him Word that there Was No Monney for Such intelligences as these.1

Captain Ogden told me that one of our jersay Spies had lately writen to you—I have directed him to go to head quarters and Report of Something Relating to A letter from Arnold—The Circumstance which Ogden Mentions of Sir Henry Going to Long island with his Baggage Seems to indicate a speedy embarkation under the Commander in chief.2

From What I have been able to ascertain, (Whatever May be said By the ennemy) it seems that The Surprise of staten island Would have been Compleat.3

if A friendly fleet has Really been seen to the South Ward I Am inclin’d to Believe they are the Spaniards who had been directed to Attak pensacola.4 With the Most Respectfull And Affectionate Sentiments I have the honor to be, My dear General Yours


p.S. The inclos’d Came from Mercereau.


ALS, PEL. For the location in the dateline, see Lafayette to GW, 28 Oct., source note.

1John Mercereau’s intelligence report has not been identified, but he sent it when he wrote Lafayette from Woodbridge, N.J., on 7 Nov. (see 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 , 3:222). GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman had written an unidentified correspondent (possibly Q.M. Gen. Timothy Pickering) on 2 Nov.: “There is a private Express of the name of Cushman from the Eastward, will you be pleased to give him the letters for Har[t]ford and desire him to proceed to the Marquis’s quarters for the remainder of his dispatches—The letter for Mr Mercereau is to be immediately forwarded by a careful express who will find him and deliver it into his own hands” (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 29235).

2See John Vanderhovan to GW, 6 Nov., and the notes to that document.

3Lafayette had aborted an attack on Staten Island in late October (see his first letter to GW on 27 Oct., and Timothy Pickering to GW, 28 Oct.).

4GW had received erroneous reports about French or Spanish operations along the southern coast (see GW to Edmund Randolph, 7 Nov.; see also GW to William Fitzhugh, and to Thomas Jefferson, this date).

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