George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 11 November 1780

From Major General Lafayette

Light Camp [near Cranetown, N.J.]
November 11th 1780

Dear General

From Doctor B⟨illegible⟩1 I have Receiv’d intelligence that there has been a very hott press in New york, and that Admiral Rodney is Going to Sail—If we Believe the Report, the Mayor himself was with the press gang;2 And the Cartmen were taken in the Streets which shows that they are in hurry to Set out3—I am taking the Best Measures I can to hear from the islands, But Nothing May be so Certain as the Accounts of the Unknown Gentleman who, I hope, will be prevail’d upon to Return to the City—I am surpris’d we don’t hear from Europe.4 I have the honor to be Most Respectfully and affectionately Dear General Yours


ALS, PEL; ADf, in French, Lafayette Papers, LaGrange, France. For the location in the dateline, see Lafayette to GW, 28 Oct., source note.

1The letters after the initial “B” are struck out on the ALS, and Lafayette wrote only “B.” on his draft.

2David Mathews was the royal mayor of New York City.

3The New-Jersey Gazette (Trenton) for 15 Nov. printed an item under the heading “Trenton,” same date: “Rodney’s fleet sailed from New-York last week, previous to which a very hot press took place there, when many negroes, carmen and refugees were seized and sent on board the fleet.” In his dispatch written at New York City on 13 Nov., Hessian major Carl Leopold Bauermeister related that Adm. George Rodney had “signaled on the 8th, ordering everyone to the fleet. During the night of the 8th–9th, after the fourth and last impressment of sailors, the ships weighed anchor. The whole fleet is now riding at anchor off the Hook ready to sail to the West Indies” (Bauermeister, Revolution, 391). William Smith, royal chief justice of New York, wrote in his memoirs for Friday, 17 Nov.: “Sir George Rodney left us with 5 Ships and several Frigates, Wednesday 15th” (Sabine, Smith’s Historical Memoirs description begins William H. W. Sabine, ed. Historical Memoirs . . . of William Smith, Historian of the Province of New York. 2 vols. New York, 1956–58. description ends [1971], 347).

4For further intelligence on British activities around New York City, see Lafayette’s second letter to GW on 13 November.

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