George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 19 November 1780

From Major General Lafayette

Light Camp [near Cranetown, N.J.]
November the 19th 1780

My dear General

Clel smith having Rode All Night Return’d this Morning at four o’clock from Elizabeth town and Gave me the following Account of his journey.1

he first Saw the doctor whom I wanted to Employ, who told him that Every one of the Men Arriv’d from England had been Reimbark’d Again a few days ago—that he Saw himself Many of them Going on Board—that he thinks General philips will have the Command2—he went in Again last Night and from him I will get pretty Accurate intelligences By the 21st or 22d—Clel Smith has fix’d a New Chain Through A Gentleman in Elizabeth town, who told him the Same Thing as the doctor, and Added That Mister Lenox A British d. Commissary of prisoners had Confidentially told a friend that there was an Embarkation Going on—Lenox’s private opinion was that they were Going to possess The heights of Wilmington—I don’t Believe Mr Lenox’s plan of Campaign, Unless There is A Treaty Going on, and they want to have a footing Every where3—But it Seems My informants of Yesterday were Mistaken, which I Attribute to the precaution the Ennemy Take of Embarking theyr Troops from the points of staten and Long island.

the Ennemy have Not A Mouth full of forage for theyr horses upon staten island—They have been Very particular in inquiring about the State of forage, hay, grain &c. in the Neighbourood of Elizabeth town and Newark—So that they are Expected to Come out.

General smith is Gone to England4—Skinner Commands on The island.5

This is, My dear General, what I Could get Since our Conversation of Yesterday, and these Accounts Seem More favorable than the Last ones.


p.s. Clel Smith Repeats in very strong terms what I wrote Last Morning Concerning the provisions that are Carried in to the Ennemy.6

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

1Lt. Col. William Stephens Smith had left the previous morning to seek intelligence (see Lafayette to GW, 18 Nov.).

GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman had written Q.M. Gen. Timothy Pickering from headquarters on 16 Nov.: “Be pleased to send an Express who is to go to Newark and Elizabeth Town. Let him be an intelligent person as the General wants him to transact a peice of Business at Newark. If James who formerly lived with General Maxwell is in quarters, he will answer the purpose” (DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 25654).

2For the troops that arrived from England on 15 Oct. and their subsequent departure for Charleston, see John Jameson to GW, 31 Oct., and n.2; see also Lafayette’s second letter to GW, 13 Nov., and n.8. Maj. Gen. William Phillips did not command this contingent.

3For William Lenox, see Matthias Ogden to GW, 13 Nov., and n.1 to that document.

4Maj. Gen. Francis Smith had not departed for England recently (see Lafayette to GW, 14 Nov., n.2).

5Hessian captain Johann Ewald recorded in his diary that “two battalions of [Brig. Gen. Cortlandt] Skinner’s” were then “in Richmond” on Staten Island, N.Y. (Ewald, Diary description begins Johann Ewald. Diary of the American War: A Hessian Journal. Translated and edited by Joseph P. Tustin. New Haven and London, 1979. description ends , 251).

6The British allegedly carried provisions from Shrewsbury, N.J., into New York (see Lafayette to GW, 18 Nov.).

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