George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Lafayette, 26 February 1781

To Major General Lafayette

Head Quarters New Windsor 26th Feby 1781.

Dear Marquis

I have received yours of the 25th from Morris Town.1 I do not think it very probable that three hundred Dragoons will trust themselves in the heart of Connecticut with a superior regular Corps and the force of the Country to oppose them, but I have nevertheless given the intelligence to Duke Lauzun.2

Upon your arrival in Philada if not before, you will hear that a Body of Men, supposed to be a reinforcement under General provost from Europe, had landed at Cape Fear, in consequence of which the whole pennsylvania line are ordered to the southward3—I have therefore directed Genl St Clair, instead of confining himself to a single Battalion, to send as many as he can down the Chesapeak with your detachment, if circumstances should admit of your embarkation.4

If the troops landed at Cape Fear are from Europe, I do not imagine their Convoy is more than a Frigate or two—Will it not be well, when matters are ripe for discovering your object, to endeavour to get the Ariel—The Trumbull—and any other public Vessels of War which may be in the Delaware, to go round to the Chesapeak? For a combination of Vessels, though of unequal rate, might perplex and distress the small squadron of our Ally. This you can urge to the Gentlemen of the marine department.5

If nothing unforeseen occurs, I will set out for Rhode Island when Genl du portail arrives here. I think I may expect him about the 1st of next Month.6 I am &c.

P.S. Yours of the 24th has just now reached me the Express says his Horse tired.7

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Lafayette replied to GW on 2 March.

3See Samuel Huntington to GW, 20 Feb. (both letters [1 and 2]); see also Thomas Jefferson to GW, 8 Feb., and n.1 to that document.

5GW had made a similar request to Congress (see his letter to Huntington, this date).

6GW left for Rhode Island without Brigadier General Duportail (see his letters to Duportail, 21 Feb. and 1 March, and Duportail to GW, 5 March).

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