George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 16 December 1780

From Major General Lafayette

philadelphia december the 16th 1780

My dear General

Your favor of the 8th inst. Never Came to hand Before Last Night1—My former letters Will have Explain’d to You My Sentiments Relating to A journey South Ward2—I Most heartly Thank You, My dear General, for the kind and friendly letters You have been pleas’d to Send to Me—I am So happy in Your friendship that Every Mark of Your Affection for me Gives me a degree of pleasure Which far surpasses All Expressions.

As I have writen to You Before, My dear General, there is an intelligence of Some Ships and troops having been put in Readiness at Brest3—There is A possibility of A Spanish officer Waïting on You for the Sake of A Cooperation—We Are Also to expect News from My friend The New Minister of the french Navy,4 and Before they Arrive You Would Not like My departure.

Two other Reasons have Weight With Me—The first that if the Ennemy Make This detachement without Which Nothing Material Will happen in the South ward, and if the intelligence is true about the fast Recruiting of six Month Men, there is (Not A probability) But a possibility of Some thing to be done in this Quarter—The Second is that for Reasons I Will Explain to You when we Meet a visit from You to the french Army is to be much Wish’d, and in this Case You Will be Glad that I May Accompany You.

Under this Circumstances, to which is Added A Natural Reluctance to part from You and this Army, and some idea that upon The Whole My staying will be More Agreable to You, I think, My dear General, that Unless New intelligence Comes I Will Soon Return.5

Clel Laurens persists in Refusing to Go And hopes hamilton May be sent whom he Thinks better Calculated for the purpose—But I don’t Believe Now that this plan May be effected, and in that Case I Should advise Laurens to Accept of the Commission provided he is Merely a Messenger and Not an Envoy that would Supercede the old doctor.6

The Assembly of pennsilvania have pass’d a Bill for theyr officers which Seems Satisfactory to them7—Before I Go, I will still intrigue for the Affair of filling up the Bataillons—Mifflin Behaves perfectly well.8 Adieu, My dear General, Most affectionately and Respectfully Yours


My Best Respects waït on Mrs Washington and Compliments to the family.9

ALS, PEL; ADfS, in French, Lafayette Papers, LaGrange, France. GW replied to Lafayette on 26 December.

3Lafayette did not mention Brest, France, when he communicated this intelligence (see his letter to GW on 4 Dec., and n.4 to that document).

4Marquis de Castries had been named the new French naval minister.

5Lafayette rejoined GW at New Windsor in January 1781.

6Lt. Col. John Laurens eventually accepted the congressional assignment to France (see Laurens to GW, 6 Nov. 1780, and n.2 to that document). Lafayette’s French draft suggests that sending an envoy would displease Benjamin Franklin.

7“An Act to Settle and Adjust the Accounts of the Troops of this State in the Service of the United States; and for other Purposes therein mentioned,” which addressed depreciation pay, became law on 18 Dec. (Pa. Statutes description begins The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania from 1682 to 1801. 18 vols. Harrisburg, Pa., 1896-1915. description ends , 10:233–38).

8For the passage of a bill in the Pennsylvania legislature to recruit soldiers, see Lafayette to GW, 19 Dec., and n.9 to that document.

9Lafayette means GW’s military family (see General Orders, 28 Oct., source note).

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