George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, 30 October 1780

Oct. 30th 1780

It is impossible, my Dear Marquis to desire more ardently than I do to terminate the Campaign by some happy stroke; but we must consult our means rather than our wishes; and not endeavour to better our affairs by attempting things, which for want of success may make them worse. We are to lament that there has been a misapprehension of our circumstances in Europe; but to endeavour to recover our reputation, we should take care that we do not injure it more.

Ever since it became evident that the allied arms could not cooperate this campaign, I have had an eye to the point you mention, determined if a favourable opening should offer to embrace it; but so far as my information goes, the enterprise would not be warranted. It would in my opinion be imprudent to throw an army of ten thousand men upon an Island against Nine thousand, exclusive of seamen and militia—This from the accounts we have appears to be the enemy’s force. All we can therefore do at present is to endeavour to gain a more certain knowlege of their situation and act accordingly. This I have been some time employed in doing but hitherto with little success—I shall thank you for any aids you can afford. Arnold’s flight seems to have frightened all my intelligencers out of their senses. I am sincerely and Affectionately Yrs

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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