George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Lafayette, 25 February 1781

To Major General Lafayette

Head Quarters New Windsor 25th Feby 1781.

Dear Marquis

I have recd your favors of the 23d from pompton by Capt. Castaign1—You may make yourself perfectly easy as to ships of the line being at New York—the Iris and the others mentioned by Hagarty are Frigates—This Man relates a circumstance to me that he does not seem to have informed you of—it is—that a reinforcement of six hundred Men is preparing for Arnold—and that the Convoy is to be the Farges India Man which is fitting up, but that she will not be ready till the latter end of this Week. I do not give much credit to any thing he says, but if it is so, Colo. Dayton will probably be able to gain some knowledge of it.

The return of Cloathing wanting for the Detachment was so long coming to hand, that I had directed the Cloathier to despatch a parcel, which he did some days ago, and I am glad to find that the essential Articles all exceed your demand. It will be too late to send a further supply of Shoes from hence—You must endeavour to get them in Philada.

The inclosed contains an article of most important news from the West Indies2—in addition to which I have recd a letter from Count de Rochambeau of the 20th which has the following Paragraph “The news of Count D’Estaings success over the Fleet of Admiral Hood are again arrived here by a schooner that on the 1st of this Month set sail from Cape Francois—the private letters say it is very sure.”3

I cannot but flatter myself that this report must have a good foundation, as it comes thro’ different Channels and it is said from persons of intelligence and credit in the Islands.

The America of 64 Guns has got into Gardiners Bay, after being long out—The Bedford was remasted—This again gives Adml Arbuthnot the superiority and puts it out of Mr des Touche’s power to give us any further Assistance.

I return you Docr Franklin’s letter, and am obliged to you for the perusal of it—Be good enough to take care of the inclosed for the Board of War and Lt Colo. Derricks.4

I have already hinted to you the necessity of having a number of Boats for debarking the Troops at the point of destination—this is a matter the Qr Mr Genl must pay particular attention to—I therefore repeat it. It is also of essential importance to keep fast Sailing Vessels (Pilot Boats would be best) plying from the Hd of Elk t⟨o⟩ Hampton Road for the purpose of corrisponding with the French Commodore—or to apprize you of any danger which may arise from a change of circumstances as I am not without apprehension that the detachment from Monsr Des touches squadron will be followed by a superi⟨or⟩ one from Gardners bay as soon as the destination of the former is known—This evinces strongly the necessity of dispatch which depends upon great exertion in providing the Transports—With the Comy Genl of Issues (as I mentioned in a former letter)5 or his Deputy at Phila. & Colo. Pickering you will make the necessary arrangemt of Provisions for your Corps—If it could be done solely with the latter the business would be in fewer hands.

As your March will be rapid to the head of Elk, leave good Officers to bring up the tired, lazy, & drunken Soldiers. With every wish for your success & glory I am My Dear Marqs Your obedt & Affect. Ser.

Go: Washington

ADfS, partly in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1See Lafayette to GW, 23 Feb. (both letters [1 and 2]).

2This enclosure has not been identified.

3This intelligence was erroneous (see Rochambeau to GW, 18 Feb., n.1; see also Rochambeau to GW, 20 Feb.).

4To this point, the draft is in Tilghman’s writing; the remainder is in GW’s writing. GW’s letter to the Board of War was presumably the one of 23 February. For the probable letter to Lt. Col. Jacob Diriks, see GW to Diriks, 21 Feb., found at Diriks to GW, 9 Feb., n.5.

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