George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 24 February 1781

From Major General Lafayette

Morristown [N.J.] february the 24th 1781

My dear General

the Heavy Rain we Had And the extreme Badness of the Roads Have Much Added to our difficulties—But the troops Have Marched with Great Chearfulness and order, and will Be to morrow Very early at Morristown—they will arrive at trenton the 28th, and as I Set out to morrow for philadelphia I will take Care to Have Boats provided for them.

I Have Spoken most particularly to Colonel dayton Respecting intelligences—His Spies Have Been Sent in to Night—I will take Every measure that May for Some few days serve to deceive the ennemy.

the detachement Has Been thus far well furnished With provisions, and will take enough at this place to last them Untill they Arrive at trenton where I will Have Another Magazine Ready for them—the troops Have the Greatest Zeal, and preserve the Most Strict order in their march as well as their Cantonnements.

Colonel dayton told me this evening that He Had just Received the following intelligence from Good Authority—that Arnold Had Given Notice at Newyork of the Arrival of A french Ship of the Line and two frigats in the Bay of Cheseapeake—Arnold it is Said is strictly Blockaded and Cannot By any Means Get out1—He Begs for Relief, But None Can Be Given from Newyork As theyr largest Ship is the iris frigat of thirty two Guns—people Are Very Uneasy at Newyork, and I Begin to Hope that their fears Are Grounded—dayton is positive upon their Having no ship of force at Newyork.

it is also Reported that A Packet from falmouth Has Brought to them disagreable intelligences But the other Account Respecting Arnold is So Minuted and So well founded Upon what We know that I thought it ought to Be Communicated to Your Excellency.

Having found Here Axes I Have added them to the tents which I was to take, as C[o]l[on]el Gouvion finds a Great insufficiency in the Number that Had Been Settled By the Quarter Master.

the dispatch we Make on our March the men exceed my expectations as the Roads are Shokingly Bad. But the Men are not fatigued, and None Stays Behind. Whatever May Be My desire to Precipitate our Movements I will take the Gratest Care Not to do it to the detrim⟨ent⟩ of the troops. This detachement is excellent.

Count de Ste même and Mons. de St Victor are With me—they ask Your permission to follow me2 and So Will Count de Charlus ⟨&c.⟩3—I told them that You would Have No objection to it As far as may Be Consistent with their Arrangements with Count de Rochambeau Upon which You Will not intrude, and that the American Army Will Be Happy in all times to Be Honor’d with the Visit of Such Volonteers—But these expressions will Still do Better from You, and the Word Volonteer must not Be forgotten for Reasons obvious, in any thing You’ll order me to Answer to them. With the Most tender Affection and Highest Respect I Have the Honor to Be, My dear General Your excellency’s Most obedient Humble servant And Affectionate friend


I Request You Will please present My Respects to Mistress Washington and Mistress Hamilton and My Compliments to the family.

ALS, DLC:GW; copy, PEL. GW acknowledged this letter when he wrote Lafayette on 26 Feb. (postscript).

1Col. Elias Dayton had already sent this information to GW (see Dayton to GW, 17–20 Feb., postscript).

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