George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 14 November 1780

From Major General Lafayette

Light Camp [near Cranetown, N.J.]
November the 14th 1780

dear general

A Man is just Arriv’d at My quarters Who Says that the Cork fleet Arriv’d in Newyork on Sunday last—his informant Saw himself thirty six vessels Coming up1—the Man Adds that general Smith is gone to the City and Suppos’d to embark With this late envoy of troops2—But I don’t put a perfect dependance on what he Says nor on the inclos’d letter he has Brought me from Merc⟨ereau⟩3—I am Sure that the En-nemy’s force on Staten island is not By far So Large As he Makes it.

My forraging party did not go this Morning, and I am the More glad of it as the Weather has been Bad4—I will do Myself the honor of dining at head quarters. Most Affectionately and Respectfully 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 previous Sunday was 12 November. British captain John Peebles wrote in his diary entry for 10 Nov.: “The Corke fleet arrived, they came by Chas Town—60 sail” (Gruber, Peebles’ American War description begins Ira D. Gruber, ed. John Peebles’ American War: The Diary of a Scottish Grenadier, 1776–1782. Mechanicsburg, Pa., 1998. description ends , 416–17). New York City printer Hugh Gaine wrote in his journal entry for the same date: “This morning we received the very agreeable News of the arrival of the Cork Fleet, via South Carolina, and several of them were blown off the Coast of Carolina, and ’tis feared some of them were taken.” Gaine wrote in his entries for 11 and 12 Nov.: “The Fleet is not yet come up, on account of the Wind being hard at North West. … Some of the Fleet got up this Day, and the Remainder are expected next Tide” (Ford, Journals of Hugh Gaine description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed. The Journals of Hugh Gaine, Printer. 1902. Reprint. [New York] 1970. description ends , 2:104). Pvt. Johann Conrad Döhla of the Anspach Regiment, then in New York, wrote in his diary entry for 12 Nov.: “The provisions fleet of fifty-four sail arrived from England and entered this port” (Döhla, Hessian Diary description begins Johann Conrad Döhla. A Hessian Diary of the American Revolution. Translated and edited by Bruce E. Burgoyne. Norman, Okla., and London, 1990. description ends , 140).

2Maj. Gen. Francis Smith had returned to England in 1778 and saw no further service in the United States.

3Lafayette struck out the latter portion of the name, but John Mercereau was then an active spy (see Intelligence Operations in the New York City Area, 17 May–24 June 1780, editorial note; see also Mercereau to GW, 27 Nov.). The enclosed letter has not been identified.

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