George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 23 February 1781

From Major General Lafayette

pompton [N.J.] february the 23d 1781

My dear General

Since writing the inclosed,1 My fears Are Gone a way And the 64 Has Vanished into the frigat the iris—the importance of the thing, and perhaps the Mistrust of My first judgement in Occasions upon which I am personally sanguine Had Been the Reasons of My Being so particular—they will Still influence the precaution I take of Sending You the Man, But He is Such a fool or Such a knave that His intelligence Amounts to Nothing.

My first letter was writen After a few Slight Questions which He Answered as I Have writen to Your excellency—Since this time I Have examined Him More Carefully, And find that the History He Gives of Himself is the More improbable as it is Said the Man under whom He pretends to Have inlisted at Newyork in 1776 Never was with the ennemy Before 1777 and Never at Newyork Before 1778.

Among the five ships of the line He Reckons two Sloops of war who Says He as well as every Sloop of war are ships of the Line—the Sixty four at Newyork is what is Called the iris frigat—She Had An engagement of[f] the Coast of Virginia With a french frigat—She Brought to Newyork the Account of the taking of Charlestown2—He thinks she is Commanded By a Captain Montaigu (who I was told Has Relieved Hawker) But tho’ He Cannot ascertain this last Circumstance He Has Never Heard during the four years He was in Newyork of any other ship of this Name than the Iris frigat whom he assures to Be a ship of the line.

Unless I was to Hear Some thing less inconsequent and Stupid on the Ennemy’s force, I will not write to Chesepeak Bay Untill I Arrive at philadelphia But tho’ I do not at All credit this foolish Report, I Send the Man to you, So that Your excellency May not Be troubled By the least doubt on that Matter.3 With the Most tender affection and Highest Respect I Have the Honor to be Your Excellency’s Most Humble servant and eternal friend


ALS, DLC:GW; copy, PEL.

2For the arrival of the Iris at New York City with news of the British capture of Charleston, see Elias Dayton to GW, 30 May 1780, n.1.

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