George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 5 December 1780

From Major General Lafayette

[Philadelphia] December the 5th [1780] in the evening

My dear General

however Acquainted I May be with your intentions, I thought upon the whole that I Should Better wait for your approbation Before I present any opinion of yours to the spanish or french Generals in the west indias1—I will, I Know, Loose the opportunity of The Confederacy, But Many vessels are Going that Way and if My letters Meet with Your Approbation I Shall Send them By Triplicatas2—I impatiently wait for your answer—I will write to General Greene to let him Know of this intended expedition which tho uncertain as all human events are May be however in A Great Measure Depended upon.3

I Confess that I don’t hope to prevail upon the Spaniards to Come here—But if you will You Count de Rochambeau and chevalier de ternay May try—In that Case I wish you Would Write to Both of them—My letter Will at all events Give Some Remoted chance of theyr doing what I wish and insure theyr Communicating with General Greene—for political Reasons I also wish to draw them into this Correspondance.4

Chevalier de La luzerne Wishes his paquet to Count de Rochambeau to be forwarded as Speedily as possible.5 Adieu, My dear General, Yours most Respectfully and affectionately


inclos’d I send you Something Relating to the Southern Army.6

ALS, PEL; ADf, in French, Lafayette Papers, LaGrange, France. GW replied to Lafayette on 14 December.

2Lafayette refers to the Continental frigate Confederacy (see his letter to GW, 4 Dec., and n.11).

3Lafayette’s letter to Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene, sent through the Board of War, has not been identified. Lafayette wrote Greene again from Philadelphia on 25 Dec. to reiterate that he would not go “to the Southward as I expected” and “to Apprize You Confidentially that By letters from Havanna We knew that Besides the Expedition which had Sail’d for Pensacola, there Was A Greater one Intended Against St. Augustine which Was to Sail in the Beggining of January and to Consist of twelve Ships of the Line and twelve thousand Men. …

“A Vessel from Havanna Came up this Evening and I waited to Write to you till the dispatches were oppened in order to Impart you any Intelligence I Might Get. Theyr Pensacola Expedition has been Ruin’d By the Storm. … The Men of war put Back into Havanna. But on the departure of the Vessel they were almost Refitted and Ready to put to Sea in order it is Said to pursue the Expedition. Nothing Said of the project against St. Augustine” (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 , 3:272–73; see also n.4 below).

6The enclosure has not been identified, but see Lafayette’s first letter to GW of this date, n.10.

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