George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 13 November 1780

From Major General Lafayette

Light Camp [near Cranetown, N.J.]
November the 13th 1780

My dear general

In Revolving into My Mind the Chances of discovery By the Moon light, and on the other hand the inconveniences of staying longer than you Wish under our tents, I have thought if there was Some position which Might enable us to take the advantage of the first hours in the Night—how far the Sending of the pensilvanians towards Aquakanac, and Going ourselves to the hakinsac position May Awaken the Ennemy I Cannot pretend to Say—the Most difficult Affair in this would be the Article of the Boats—Clol Smith Will Go tomorrow Morning to West point, Unless Any intelligence Receiv’d at head quarters had made it Useful that the Enterprise Be attempted Soon, in which Case he Would Go and Reconnoitre the place1—Suppose he was to Bring from West point Clol gouvion who has often examin’d the place with the Eye of an Engenier—These ideas, my dear general, are Rather Started into my Mind, But Not fix’d, and I thought I should Communicate them.2 Most Affectionately and Respectfully Yours


The Marquis de laval Montmorency one of the Most illustrious families in france is on his Way to Camp—The Chevalier de Chastelux a Relation and friend of Mine, Major General in the french Army is also Coming—I every day expect My Brother in Law, and his friend Count de Charlus only Son to the Marquis de Castries who enjoys a great Consideration in france and has Won the Battle of Closter Camp3—duke of Lauzun has also wrote to me that he would Come Soon4—These five gentlemen May By theyr existence at home be Considered as the first people in the french Army—This little history I Give You Before theyr Arrival in Consequence of what you have desird from me in the Begining.5

I write Some letters to the Commanding officers at fishkills, west point, and king’s ferry, So that the Gentlemen may be directed to Come By the Best Road to my quarters from which I will present them to you—I think the letters ought to be Sent as Soon as possible.

p.s. As general heath Commands in all those posts, I think upon Recollection that I had Better Write to him alone—You Might also Send him a line on the Subject.6

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

1Lt. Col. William Stephens Smith returned on the evening of 17 Nov. (see Lafayette to GW, 18 Nov.).

GW’s aide-de-camp David Humphreys wrote Q.M. Gen. Timothy Pickering from headquarters at Passaic Falls on 13 Nov.: “His Excellency requests you will be pleased to send an Express to the Marquiss La Fayettes Quar. early tomorrow Morning to go to Kings Ferry—If Lt Col. Smith of the Light Infantry goes, he will carry the Letters, and the Express will be unnecessary” (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 26388).

3A French army under Lieutenant General Castries had checked a British and German force at the Battle of Clostercamp (Kloster Kampen) near the Rhine River on 15 Oct. 1760.

4Brigadier General Lauzun’s letter to Lafayette has not been identified. Lauzun did not visit GW until February 1781 (see GW to Rochambeau, 14 Feb. 1781, CtY-BR:R, and 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 , 195).

5French officers visited GW over the next weeks (see GW to Samuel Huntington, 27 Nov. 1780, and the source note to that document).

6See GW to William Heath, this date, and n.1 to that document.

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