George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, 24 August 1781

Mattapony River 24th August 1781

My dear General

This letter will be Handed By cll Morris who waits upon Your Excellency with Gal Greene’s Sentiments upon the different ways to Improve Count de Grasses assistance. I Have Been desired to Add my Accounts But the last letter I Had the Honor to write Has Anticipated the Informations Which Gral Greene wanted me to give.

The Light Infantry are 850—the Pennsylvania 600—Virginia exchanged soldiers and new levies 400—the Marylanders will be 600—We have 120 dragoons and a chance to obtain 60 more—Had we Accoutrements we could have 200 more whom Colo. White has in Readiness with 200 excellent horses 60 of which I hope to equip By dismounting Volunteers—As to militia we may in a few days have 3000—a demand from you upon the State of Maryland will procure 1000 well armed militia—The Conduct of some people in that State appears to me very injurious to public interest—The New levies have been every day detained—every petty pretence employed to prevent their joining either Gal Greene or this army—The danger of Baltimore upon which I was not very Hasty to quiet them Brought on a Confession that the men were Ready—I then demanded them in Most urging terms. At last I sent George there who writes me they make a Beautiful Battalion But He could not obtain more than a promise to send them in three or four days. Portsmouth is evacuated with some precipitation—I wait for a more particular Account Before I write officially—Yesterday Mr de Camus a French officer of the Navy has reconnoitered the shipping in York River—There are 60 sails 10 of which armed vessels, the largest a 50 gun ship, their situation very much exposed.

The ennemy are not yet fortifying at York—What is doing at Glocester is rather upon a contracted scale—They do not appear very much Alarmed—Colo. dundas was Heard to say that an english and french fleet Had sailed in the same time—The intelligence Concerning Count de Grasse Has Been kept a profound secret.

My Coming in this Country Has Attracted this side a large part of the enemy’s force. in the Mean while Gal Wayne was filing towards Westover and the Remainder of the Army to Ruffins ferry—Should the enemy move southerly we shall be at Westover Before Wayne has done crossing as the Cavalry will Be Hurried on—the Moment Count de Grasse arrives I will collect our force about Soans Bridge and wait for Intelligences from him.

Colo. Gimat and the french officer I have mentioned are gone to Portsmouth under pretence to see the fortifications (which I have ordered to be leveled) and will proceed to Cape Henry in order to deliver My dispatches to the French Commanders, and give them every information in their power.

Heavy Artillery and every thing Relative to a seige from the cannon to the tools are not to be found this side of Philadelphia—Cloathing and particularly shoes—Arms, dragoons and Horse Equipments, Ammunition of every kind are articles which your Excellency will be obliged to send from the Northward—I may add Medicines and Hospital stores—Could Lauzun’s Legion be forwarded with dispatch they will be extremely useful—They might Come with you and would in the mean time serve to the safety of Your journey.

As to provisions my dear General, want of sistem will render our subsistance difficult unless intelligent Commissaries are immediately sent on—If you intend, as I Hope, to Come yourself you might send on the Heads of departments—[   ]—an early application upon the State of Maryland may be productive of great good.

My expectations have not as yet Been Communicated to any General officer not even to the Executive—I will however to day write a private letter to the Governor—Count de Grasse will no doubt arrive Before long.

In case important operations are carried on in Virginia which I think cannot fail to succeed Mr Morris ought to send some Hard Money. From the Moment I took the Command of this army their has not been a farthing sent from the Treasury and this State money is good for nothing. With the Highest Respect and affection I Have the Honor to Be, My dear General, Your Affectionate friend


Lord Cornwallis’s force at Richmond was 4000—There were then at least 1000 in Portsmouth—Some have been killed and some are sick But if you add sailors he will have much upwards of 5000 men at the lowest estimate.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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