Memoirs, Correspondence and Manuscripts of General Lafayette

Part 1 out of 9

Produced by Stan Goodman, Marvin A. Hodges
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team






Entered according to the act of Congress, in the year 1837,

by William A. Duer,

In the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York.

Respectfully to collect and scrupulously to arrange the manuscripts of
which an irreparable misfortune has rendered them depositaries, have
been for the Family of General Lafayette the accomplishment of a
sacred duty.

To publish those manuscripts without any commentary, and place them,
unaltered, in the hands of the friends of Liberty, is a pious and
solemn homage which his children now offer with confidence to his




* * * * *

It was the desire of the late General Lafayette, that this edition of
his Memoirs and Correspondence should be considered as a legacy of the
American people. His representatives have accordingly pursued a course
which they conceived the best adapted to give effect to his wishes, by
furnishing a separate edition for this country, without any
reservation for their own advantage, beyond the transfer of the
copyright as an indemnity for the expense and risk of publication.

In this edition are inserted some letters which will not appear in the
editions published in Paris and London. They contain details relating
to the American Revolution, and render the present edition more
complete, or, at least, more interesting to Americans. Although
written during the first residence of General Lafayette in
America--when he was little accustomed to write in the English
language--the letters in question are given exactly as they came from
his pen--and as well as the others in the collection written by him in
that language are distinguished from those translated from the French
by having the word "Original" prefixed to them.

It was intended that these letters should have been arranged among
those in the body of the work; in the order of their respective dates;
but as the latter have been stereotyped before the former had been
transmitted to the American editor, this design was rendered
impracticable. They have therefore from necessity been added in a
supplemental form with the marginal notes which seemed requisite for
their explanation.

Columbia College, N. Y., July, 1837.



Notice by the Editors


Memoirs written by myself, until the year 1780


A.--Departure for America in 1777

B.--First Interview between General Washington
and General Lafayette

C.--On the Military commands during the Winter of 1778

D.--Retreat of Barren Hill

E.--Arrival of the French Fleet

F.--Dissensions between the French Fleet
and the American Army


To the Duke d'Ayen. London, March 9, 1777

To Madame de Lafayette. On board the Victory, May 30

To Madame de Lafayette. Charlestown, June 19

To Madame de Lafayette. Petersburg, July 17

To Madame de Lafayette.--July 23

To Madame de Lafayette. Philadelphia, Sept. 12

To Madame de Lafayette.--Oct. 1

To M. de Vergennes, Minister of Foreign affairs.
Whitemarsh Camp, Oct. 24

To Madame de Lafayette. Whitemarsh Camp, Oct. 29, and Nov. 6

To General Washington. Haddonfeld, Nov. 26

To the Duke d'Ayen. Camp Gulph, Pennsylvania, Dec. 16

To General Washington. Camp, Dec. 30

To General Washington. Head Quarters, Dec. 31

To General Washington. Valley Forge, Dec. 31

To Madame de Lafayette. Camp, near Valley Forge, Jan. 6, 1778

To General Washington

To Madame de Lafayette. York. Feb 3

To General Washington. Hermingtown, Feb. 9

To General Washington. Albany, Feb. 19

To General Washington.--Feb. 23

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
Head Quarters, March 10

To Baron de Steuben. Albany, March 12

Fragment of a Letter to the President of Congress.
Albany, March 20

To General Washington. Albany, March 25

To Madame de Lafayette. Valley Forge Camp,
in Pennsylvania, April 14

To Madame de Lafayette. Germantown, April 28

To General Washington. Valley Forge Camp, May 19

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
Camp, May 17

To the Marquis de Lafayette. (Instructions.)

To Madame de Lafayette. Valley Forge Camp, June 16

To the Marquis de Lafayette. (Instructions.)

To General Washington. Ice Town, June 26

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
Cranberry, June 26

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
White Plains, July 22

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
Head Quarters, White Plains, July 27

To General Washington. Providence, Aug. 6

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
White Plains, Aug. 10

To General Washington. Camp before Newport, Aug. 25

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
White Plains, Sept.

From General Washington to Major-General Sullivan.
Head Quarters, White Plains, Sept. 1

From General Washington to Major-General Greene.
Head Quarters, White Plains, Sept. 1

To General Washington. Tyverton, Sept. I

To General Washington. Camp, near Bristol, Sept. 7

To the Duke d'Ayen. Bristol, near Rhode Island, Sept. 11

To Madame de Lafayette. Bristol, near Rhode Island, Sept. 13

President Laurens to the Marquis de Lafayette.
Philadelphia, Sept. 13

Marquis de Lafayette to President Laurens. Camp, Sept. 23

To General Washington. Warren, Sept. 24

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
Fredericksburg, Sept. 25

To General Washington. Camp near Warren, Sept. 24

To General Washington. Boston, Sept. 28

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
Fishkill, Oct. 4

Marquis de Lafayette to President Laurens.
Philadelphia, Oct. 13

President Laurens to the Marquis de Lafayette.
Philadelphia, Oct. 24

To General Washington. Philadelphia, Oct. 24

Lord Carlisle to M. de Lafayette Marquis de Lafayette

To President Laurens. Philadelphia, Oct. 26

Fragment of a Letter from the French Minister, M. Gerard,
to Count de Vergennes.--October

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
Philadelphia, Dec. 29

From General Washington to General Franklin,
American Minister in France. Philadelphia, Dec. 28

To General Washington. Boston, January 5, 1779

To General Washington. On board the Alliance,
off Boston, January 11, 1779


HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF 1779, 1780, and 1781.


To Count de Vergennes. Paris, February 24, 1779

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
Camp at Middlebrook, March 8

To M. de Vergennes, Paris, April 1, and April 26

To the President of Congress. St. Jean de Angeli,
near Rochefort, June 12

To General Washington. St. Jean de Angeli,
near Rochefort harbor, June 12

To the Count de Vergennes. Havre, July 30

To M. de Vergennes. Paris, August --

Dr. Franklin to the Marquis de Lafayette. Fassy, August 24

To Dr. Franklin. Havre, August 29

Page From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
West Point, December 30

To General Washington. Havre, October 7

To M. de Vergennes. Versailles, Feb. 22, 1780

To his Excellency General Washington.
At the entrance of Boston harbor, April 27

To M. de Vergennes. Waterburg, on the Boston road,
from the Camp, May 6

From General Washington. Morris Town, May--

To the Count de Rochambeau. Philadelphia, May 19

To General Washington. Camp at Preakness, July 4

To MM. le Comte de Rochambeau and le Chevalier de Ternay.
Camp before Dobb's Ferry, August 9

From Count de Rochambeau to M. de Lafayette. Newport, August 12

To MM. de Rochambeau and de Ternay. Camp, August 18

To M. de Rochambeau. Camp, August 18

From M. de Rochambeau. Newport, August 27

To the Chevalier de la Luzerne. Robinson House,
opposite West Point, Sept. 26

To Madame de Tesse. Camp, on the right side of North River,
near the Island of New York, October 4

To General Washington. Light Camp, October 30

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
Head Quarters, October 30

To General Washington. Light Camp, November 13

To General Washington, Paramus, November 28

To his Excellency General Washington. Philadelphia, Dec. 5

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
New Windsor, December 14

To M. de Vergennes. New Windsor, on the North River,
January 30, 1781

To Madame de Lafayette. New Windsor, on the North River,
February 2

To General Washington. Elk, March 8

To General Washington. On board the Dolphin, March 9

To General Washington. Williamsburg, March 23

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette.
New Windsor, April 6

To General Washington. Elk, April 8

To Colonel Hamilton. Susquehannah Ferry, April 18

To General Washington. Baltimore, April 18

To General Washington. Alexandria, April 23

From General Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette
New Windsor, May 4

From General Washington to Lund Washington.
New Windsor, April 30

To General Washington. Camp Wilton, on James River, May 17

From General Phillips to the Marquis de Lafayette.
British Camp at Osborn, April 28

From General Phillips to the Marquis de Lafayette.
Camp at Osborn, April 29

To Major General Phillips. American Camp, April 30

To Major-General Phillips.--May 3

Note for Captain Emyne.--May 15

Note from General Arnold to Captain Ragedale

To General Washington. Richmond, May 24

To General Washington. Camp, June 28

Extracts of several Letters to General Washington

To Madame de Lafayette. Camp, between the branches
of York River, August 24

To M. de Vergennes. Camp between the branches
of York River, August 24

To M de Maurepas. Camp, between the branches
of York River, August 24

To General Washington. Holt's Forge, September 1

To General Washington. Williamsburg, September 8

To General Washington. Camp before York, October 16

To M. de Maurepas. Camp near York, October 20

To M. de Vergennes. Camp near York, October 20

To Madame de Lafayette. On board La Ville de Paris,
Chesapeake Bay, October 22

The Marquis de Segur to M. de Lafayette.--Dec. 5

To General Washington. Alliance, off Boston, December 21


To General Washington. Robins' Tavern, June 26, 1778

To General Washington. Cranbarry, June --

To General Washington.--June 28

To General Washington. Cranbarry, June 29

To the Count de Vergennes. St. Jean de Angeli, June, 1779

To the Count de Vergennes. Havre, July 9

To the President of Congress. Havre, October 7

To General Washington. Peekskill, July 20, 1780

To General Washington. Danbury, July 21

To General Washington. Hartford, July 22

To General Washington. Lebanon, July 23

To General Washington. Newport, July 26

To General Washington. Newport, July 26

To General Washington. Newport, July 29

To General Washington. Newport, July 31

To General Washington. Newport, August 1

To General Washington. Elizabethtown, October 27

To General Washington. Light Camp, October 27

To General Washington. Philadelphia, December 4

To General Washington.--December 5

To General Washington. Philadelphia, December 16

To General Washington. Philadelphia, March 2, 1781

To General Washington. Head of Elk, March 7

To General Washington. Off Turkey Point, March 9

To General Washington. York, March 15

To General Washington. Elk, April 10

To General Washington. Susquehannah Ferry, April 13

To General Washington. Susquehannah Ferry, April 13

To General Washington. Susquehannah Ferry, April 14

To Major-General Greene. Hanover Court House, April 28

To General Greene. Camp on Pamunkey River, May 3

To General Washington. Camp near Bottom's Creek, May 4

To General Washington. Richmond, May 8

To General Washington. Welton, north side of James River, May 18

To Colonel Hamilton. Richmond, May 23

To General Washington. Richmond, May 24

To General Washington. Camp between Rappanannock
and North Anna, June 3

To General Greene. Camp between Rappahannock
and North Anna, June 3

To General Greene. Allen's Creek, June 18

To General Greene. Mr. Tyter's Plantation, June 27

To General Greene. Ambler's Plantation, July 8

To General Washington. Mrs. Ruffin's, August 29

To General Washington. Holt's Forge, September 1

To General Washington. Camp Williamsburg, September 8

To General Washington. Williamsburg, September 10

To General Washington. Camp before York, Sept. 30

To General Washington.--November 29


I.--A Summary of the Campaign of 1781, explanatory of the Map

II.--Letter from M. de Lafayette to M. de Vergennes


Under the title of _Revolution of America_, are comprised eight years
of M. de Lafayette's life, from the commencement of 1771 until the end
of 1784. His three voyages to the United States divide those eight
years into three periods: 1777, 1778; 1779-1781; and 1782-1784.~[1]

1st. Circumstantial Memoirs, written for his friends after the peace
of Versailles, and which were to have extended to 1780, open this

2nd. These are continued and completed by two detached relations,
composed between 1800 and 1814; the first, which has no title, and
might be called _Notice of the American Life of General Lafayette_,
appears to have been written for a person intending to publish the
history of the war, or of General Washington; the second is entitled,
_Observations on some portion of American History, by a friend of
General Lafayette_.

As these two relations, both written by M. de Lafayette, and which we
designate under the names of Manuscript, No. 1, and manuscript, No. 2,
contain a second, and occasionally a third, account of events already
mentioned in the Memoirs, we have only inserted quotations from them.

3rd. A relation of the campaign in Virginia, in 1781, shall be
inserted in its complete state.

4th. Extracts from the collection of the general's speeches, begun by
him in 1829, will give some details of his third voyage to America

5th. With the account of each particular period that portion of the
correspondence which may relate to it will be inserted. From a great
number of letters, written from America, and addressed either to
France or to America, or from France to America, those only have been
suppressed whose repetitions or details, purely military, would render
them uninteresting to the public.

6th. In the Correspondence, some letters have been inserted from
General Washington, and other contemporaries, and also some historical
records, of which M. de Lafayette had taken copies, or which have been
extracted from various collections published in the United States.


1. M. de Lafayette (Marie-Paul-Joseph-Roch-Yves-Gilbert Motier) born
at Chavaniae, in Auvergne, the 6th of September, 1757; married the
11th of April, 1774; set out for America the 26th of April, 1777. The
other dates will be mentioned in proper order, with each particular
event. All the notes which are not followed by the name of M. de
Lafayette, may be attributed to the members of his family, sole
editors of this work.

* * * * *


When, devoted from early youth to the ambition of liberty, I beheld no
limit to the path that I had opened for myself, it appeared to me that
I was sufficiently fulfilling my destiny, and satisfying my glory, by
rushing incessantly forward, and leaving to others the care of
collecting the recollections, as well as the fruits, of my labour.

After having enjoyed an uninterrupted course of good fortune for
fifteen years, I presented myself, with a favourable prospect of
success, before the coalition of kings, and the aristocracy of Europe:
I was overthrown by the simultaneous fury of French jacobinism. My
person was then given up to the vengeance of my natural enemies, and
my reputation to the calumnies of those self-styled patriots who had
so lately violated every sworn and national guarantee. It is well
known that the regimen of my five years' imprisonment was not
favourable to literary occupations, and when, on my deliverance from
prison, I was advised to write an explanation of my conduct, I was
disgusted with all works of the kind, by the numerous memoirs or
notices by which so many persons had trespassed upon the attention of
the public. Events had also spoken for us; and many accusers, and many
accusations, had fallen into oblivion.

As soon as I returned to France, my friends requested me to write
memoirs: I found excuses for not doing so in my reluctance to judge
with severity the first jacobin chiefs who have shared since in my
proscription,--the _Girondins_, who have died for those very
principles they had opposed and persecuted in me,--the king and queen,
whose lamentable fate only allows me to pride myself upon some
services I have rendered them,--and the vanquished royalists, who are
at present deprived of fortune, and exposed to every, arbitrary
measure. I ought to add, likewise that, happy in my retreat, in the
bosom of my family and occupied with agricultural pursuits, I know not
how to purloin one moment from the enjoyments of my domestic life.

But my friends have renewed their request, and to comply in some
degree with it, I have consented to place in order the few papers that
I still possess and assemble together some relations which have been
already published, and unite, by notes, the whole collection, in which
my children and friends may one day find materials for a less
insignificant work. As to myself, I acknowledge that my indolence in
this respect is owing to the intimate conviction which I feel, that
liberty will ultimately be established in the old as well as in the
new world, and that then the history of our revolutions will put all
things and all persons in their proper places.


1. Although this notice, written a short time after the 18th
_Brumaire_, be anterior to a great number of events, in the midst of
which General Lafayette continued his public life, we have placed it
in this part of the work, as a sort of general introduction to the
various materials it contains.

* * * * *







If I were to confound, as is too often done, obstinacy with firmness,
I should blush at beginning these memoirs, after having so long
refused to do so, and at even increasing their apparent egotism by my
style, instead of sheltering myself under cover of the third person;
but I will not yield a half compliance to the request of that tender
friendship which is far more valuable to me than the ephemeral success
which a journal might obtain. It is sufficient for me to know that
this relation, intended for a few friends only, will never extend
beyond their circle: it even possesses two very great advantages over
many celebrated books: these are, that the public not being concerned
in this work it cannot need a preface, and that the dedication of
affection cannot require an epistle.

It would be too poetical to place myself at once in another
hemisphere, and too minute to dwell upon the particulars of my birth,
which soon followed the death of my father at Minden;~[2] of my
education in Auvergne, with tender and revered relations; of my
removal, at twelve years of age to a college at Paris,~[3] where I
soon lost my virtuous mother,~[4] and where the death of her father
rendered me rich, although I had been born, comparatively speaking,
poor; of some schoolboy successes, inspired by the love of glory and
somewhat disturbed by that of liberty; of my entrance into the
regiment of the black musketeers, which only interrupted my studies on
review days; and finally, of my marriage, at the age of sixteen,
preceded by a residence at the academy of Versailles.~[5] I have still
less to say relating to my entrance into the world; to the short
favour I enjoyed as constituting one member of a youthful society; to
some promises to the regiment de Noailles; and to the unfavourable
opinion entertained of me owing to my habitual silence when I did not
think the subjects discussing worthy of being canvassed. The bad
effects produced by disguised self-love and an observing disposition,
were not softened by a natural simplicity of manner, which, without
being improper on any great occasion, rendered it impossible for me to
bend to the graces of the court, or to the charms of a supper in the

You ask me at what period I first experienced my ardent love of
liberty and glory? I recollect no time of my life anterior to my
enthusiasm for anecdotes of glorious deeds, and to my projects of
travelling over the world to acquire fame. At eight years of age, my
heart beat when I heard of a hyena that had done some injury, and
caused still more alarm, in our neighbourhood, and the hope of meeting
it was the object of all my walks. When I arrived at college, nothing
ever interrupted my studies, except my ardent wish of studying without
restraint. I never deserved to be chastised; but, in spite of my usual
gentleness, it would have been dangerous to have attempted to do so;
and I recollect with pleasure that, when I was to described in
rhetoric a perfect courser, I sacrificed the hope of obtaining a
premium, and described the one who, on perceiving the whip, threw down
his rider. Republican anecdotes always delighted me, and when my new
connexions wished to obtain for me a place at court, I did not
hesitate displeasing them to preserve my independence.~[6] I was in
that frame of mind when I first learnt the troubles in America; they
only became thoroughly known in Europe in 1776, and the memorable
declaration of the 4th of July reached France at the close of that
same year.

After having crowned herself with laurels and enriched herself with
conquests; after having become mistress of all seas; and after having
insulted all nations, England had turned her pride against her own
colonies. North America had long been displeasing to her; she wished
to add new vexations to former injuries, and to destroy the most
sacred privileges. The Americans, attached to the mother country,
contented themselves at first with merely uttering complaints; they
only accused the ministry, and the whole nation rose up against them;
they were termed insolent and rebellious, and at length declared the
enemies of their country: thus did the obstinacy of the king, the
violence of the ministers, and the arrogance of the English nation,
oblige thirteen of their colonies to render themselves independent.
Such a glorious cause had never before attracted the attention of
mankind; it was the last struggle of Liberty; and had she then been
vanquished, neither hope nor asylum would have remained for her. The
oppressors and oppressed were to receive a powerful lesson; the great
work was to be accomplished, or the rights of humanity were to fall
beneath its ruin. The destiny of France and that of her rival were to
be decided at the same moment; England was to lose, with the new
states, an important commerce, of which she derived the sole
advantage,--one quarter of her subjects, who were constantly
augmenting by a rapid increase of population, and by emigration from
all parts of Europe,--in a word, more than half of the most beautiful
portion of the British territory. But if she retained possession of
her thirteen colonies, all was ended for our West Indies, our
possessions in Asia and Africa, our maritime commerce, and
consequently our navy and our political existence.

(1776.) When I first learnt the subject of the quarrel, my heart
espoused warmly the cause of liberty, and I thought of nothing but of
adding also the aid of my banner.~[7] Some circumstances, which it
would be needless to relate, had taught me to expect only obstacles in
this case from my own family; I depended, therefore, solely upon
myself, and I ventured to adopt for a device on my arms these
words--"_Cur non?_" that they might equally serve as an encouragement
to my-self, and as a reply to others. Silas Deane was then at Paris;
but the ministers feared to receive him, and his voice was overpowered
by the louder accents of Lord Stormont. He despatched privately to
America some old arms, which were of little use, and some young
officers, who did but little good, the whole directed by M. de
Beaumarchais; and when the English ambassador spoke to our court, it
denied having sent any cargoes, ordered those that were preparing to
be discharged, and dismissed from our ports all American privateers.
Whilst wishing to address myself in a direct manner to Mr. Deane, I
became the friend of Kalb, a German in our employ, who was applying
for service with the _insurgents_, (the expression in use at that
time,) and who became my interpreter. He was the person sent by M. de
Choiseul to examine the English colonies; and on his return he
received some money, but never succeeded in obtaining an audience, so
little did that minister in reality think of the revolution whose
retrograde movements some persons have inscribed to him! When I
presented to Mr. Deane my boyish face, (for I was scarcely nineteen
years of age,) I spoke more of my ardour in the cause than of my
experience; but I dwelt much upon the effect my departure would excite
in France, and he signed our mutual agreement. The secrecy with which
this negotiation and my preparations were made appears almost a
miracle; family, friends, ministers; French spies and English spies,
all were kept completely in the dark as to my intentions. Amongst my
discreet confidants, I owe much to M. du Boismartin,~[8] secretary of
the Count de Broglie, and to the Count de Broglie himself, whose
affectionate heart, when all his efforts to turn me from this project
had proved in vain, entered into my views with even paternal

Preparations were making to send a vessel to America, when very bad
tidings arrived from thence. New York, Long Island, White Plains, Fort
Washington, and the Jerseys, had seen the American forces successively
destroyed by thirty-three thousand Englishmen or Germans. Three
thousand Americans alone remained in arms, and these were closely
pursued by General Howe. From that moment all the credit of the
insurgents vanished; to obtain a vessel for them was impossible: the
envoys themselves thought it right to express to me their own
discouragement, and persuade me to abandon my project. I called upon
Mr. Deane, and I thanked him for his frankness.

"Until now, sir," said I, "you have only seen my ardour in your cause,
and that may not prove at present wholly useless. I shall purchase a
ship to carry out your officers; we must feel confidence in the
future, and it is especially in the hour of danger that I wish to
share your fortune."~[9] My project was received with approbation; but
it was necessary afterwards to find money, and to purchase and arm a
vessel secretly: all this was accomplished with the greatest despatch.

The period was, however, approaching, which had been long fixed for my
taking a journey to England;~[10] I could not refuse to go without
risking the discovery of my secret, and by consenting to take this
journey I knew I could better conceal my preparations for a greater
one. This last measure was also thought most expedient by MM. Franklin
and Deane; for the doctor himself was then in France; and although I
did not venture to go to his house, for fear of being seen, I
corresponded with him through M. Carmichael, an American less
generally known. I arrived in London with M. de Poix; and I first paid
my respects to Bancroft, the American, and afterwards to his British
Majesty. A youth of nineteen may be, perhaps, too fond of playing a
trick upon the king he is going to fight with,--of dancing at the
house of Lord Germaine minister for the English colonies, and at the
house of Lord Rawdon, who had just returned from New York,--and of
seeing at the opera that Clinton, whom he was afterwards to meet at
Monmouth. But whilst I concealed my intentions, I openly avowed my
sentiments; I often defended the Americans; I rejoiced at their
success at Trenton; and my spirit of opposition obtained for me an
invitation to breakfast with Lord Shelbourne. I refused the offers
made me to visit the sea ports, the vessels fitting out against the
_rebels_, and everything that might be construed into an abuse of
confidence. At the end of three weeks, when it became necessary for me
to return home, whilst refusing my uncle,~[11] the ambassador, to
accompany him to court, I confided to him my strong desire to take a
trip to Paris. He proposed saying that I was ill during my absence. I
should not have made use of this stratagem myself, but I did not
object to his doing so.

After having suffered dreadfully in the channel, and being reminded,
as a consolation, how very short the voyage would be, I arrived at M.
de Kalb's house in Paris, concealed myself three days at Chaillot, saw
a few of my friends and some Americans, and set out for Bordeaux,
where I was for some time unexpectedly delayed.~[12] I took advantage
of that delay to send to Paris, from whence the intelligence I
received was by no means encouraging; but as my messenger was followed
on his road by one from the government, I lost not a moment in setting
sail, and the orders of my sovereign were only able to overtake me at
Passage, a Spanish port, at which we stopped on our way. The letters
from my own family were extremely violent, and those from the
government were peremptory. I was forbidden to proceed to the American
continent under the penalty of disobedience; I was enjoined to repair
instantly to Marseilles, and await there further orders. A sufficient
number of commentaries were not wanting upon the consequences of such
an anathema, the laws of the state, and the power and displeasure of
the government: but the grief of his wife, who was pregnant, and the
thoughts of his family and friends, had far more effect upon M. de
Lafayette.~[13] As his vessel could no longer be stopped, he returned
to Bordeaux to enter into a justification of his own conduct; and, in
a declaration to M. de Fumel, he took upon himself all the
consequences of his present evasion. As the court did not deign to
relax in its determination, he wrote to M. de Maurepas that that
silence was a tacit consent, and his own departure took place soon
after that joking despatch. After having set out on the road to
Marseilles, he retraced his steps, and, disguised as a courier, he had
almost escaped all danger, when, at Saint Jean de Luz, a young girl
recognised him; but a sign from him silenced her, and her adroit
fidelity turned away all suspicion. It was thus that M. de Lafayette
rejoined his ship, the 26th of April 1777; and on that same day, after
six months anxiety and labour, he set sail for the American

* * * * *

(1777.) As soon as M. de Lafayette had recovered from the effects of
sea sickness, he studied the language and trade he was adopting. A
heavy ship, two bad cannons, and some guns, could not have escaped
from the smallest privateer. In his present situation, he resolved
rather to blow up the vessel than to surrender; he concerted measures
to achieve this end with a brave Dutchman named Bedaulx, whose sole
alternative, if taken, would have been the gibbet. The captain
insisted upon stopping at the islands; but government and orders would
have been found there, and he followed a direct course, less from
choice than from compulsion.~[15] At forty leagues from shore, they
were met by a small vessel: the captain turned pale, but the crew were
attached to M. de Lafatette, and the officers were numerous: they made
a show of resistance. It turned out, fortunately, to be an American
ship, whom they vainly endeavoured to keep up with; but scarcely had
the former lost sight of M. de Lafayette's vessel, when it fell in
with two English frigates,--and this is not the only time when the
elements seemed bent on opposing M. de Lafayette, as if with the
intention of saving him. After having encountered for seven weeks
various perils and chances, he arrived at Georgetown, in Carolina.
Ascending the river in a canoe, his foot touched at length the
American soil, and he swore that he would conquer or perish in that
cause. Landing at midnight at Major Huger's house,~[16] he found a
vessel sailing for France, which appeared only waiting for his
letters. Several of the officers landed, others remained on board, and
all hastened to proceed to Charleston:

This beautiful city is worthy of its inhabitants and everything there
announced not only comfort but even luxury. Without knowing much of M.
de Lafayette, the generals Howe,~[17] Moultrie, and Gulden, received
him with the utmost kindness and attention. The new works were shown
him, and also that battery which Moultrie afterwards defended so
extremely well, and which the English appear, we must acknowledge, to
have seized the only possible means of destroying. Several
adventurers, the refuse of the islands, endeavoured vainly to unite
themselves to M. de Lafayette, and to infuse into his mind their own
feelings and prejudices. Having procured horses, he set out with six
officers for Philadelphia. His vessel had arrived, but it was no
longer protected by fortune, and on its return home it was lost on the
bar of Charlestown To repair to the congress of the United States, M.
de Lafayette rode nearly nine hundred miles on horseback; before
reaching the capital of Pennsylvania, he was obliged to travel through
the two Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Whilst studying
the language and customs of the inhabitants, he observed also new
productions of nature, and new methods of cultivation: vast forests
and immense rivers combine to give to that country an appearance of
youth and majesty. After a fatiguing journey of one month, he beheld
at length that Philadelphia, so well known in the present day, and
whose future grandeur Penn appeared to designate when he laid the
first stone of its foundation.

After having accomplished his noble manoeuvres at Trenton and
Princetown, General Washington had remained in his camp at
Middlebrook. The English, finding themselves frustrated in their first
hopes, combined to make a decisive campaign. Burgoyne was already
advancing with ten thousand men, preceded by his proclamations and his
savages. Ticonderoga, a famous stand of arms, was abandoned by
Saint-Clair; he drew upon himself much public odium by this deed, but
he saved the only corps whom the militia could rally round. Whilst the
generals were busied assembling the militia, the congress recalled
them, sent Gates their place, and used all possible means to support
him. At that same time the great English army, of about eighteen
thousand men, had sailed from New York, and the two Howes were uniting
their forces for a secret enterprise; Rhode Island was occupied by a
hostile corps, and General Clinton who had remained at New York, was
there preparing for an expedition. To be able to withstand many
various blows, General Washington, leaving Putnam on the north river,
crossed over the Delaware, and encamped, with eleven thousand men,
within reach of Philadelphia.

It was under these circumstances that M. de Lafayette first arrived in
America; but the moment, although important to the common cause, was
peculiarly unfavourable to strangers. The Americans were displeased
with the pretensions, and disgusted with the conduct, of many
Frenchmen; the imprudent selections they had in some cases made, the
extreme boldness of some foreign adventurers, the jealousy of the
army, and strong national prejudices, all contributed to confound
disinterested zeal with private ambition, and talents with quackery.
Supported by the promises which had been given by Mr. Deane, a
numerous band of foreigners besieged the congress; their chief was a
clever but very imprudent man, and although a good officer, his
excessive vanity amounted almost to madness. With M. de Lafayette, Mr.
Deane had sent out a fresh detachment, and every day such crowds
arrived, that the congress had finally adopted the plan of not
listening to any stranger. The coldness with which M. de Lafayette was
received, might have been taken as a dismissal; but, without appearing
disconcerted by the manner in which the deputies addressed him,~[18]
he entreated them to return to congress, and read the following

"After the sacrifices I have made, I have the right to exact two
favours: one is, to serve at my own expense,--the other is, to serve
at first as volunteer."

This style, to which they were so little accustomed, awakened their
attention; the despatches from the envoys were read over, and, in a
very flattering resolution, the rank of major-general was granted to
M. de Lafayette. Amongst the various officers who accompanied him,
several were strangers to him; he was interested, however, for them
all, and to those whose services were not accepted an indemnity for
their trouble was granted. Some months afterwards, M.----- drowned
himself in the Schuylkill, and the loss of that impetuous and
imprudent man was perhaps a fortunate circumstance.

The two Howes having appeared before the capes of the Delaware,
General Washington came to Philadelphia, and M. de Lafayette beheld
for the first time that great man.~[19] Although he was surrounded by
officers and citizens, it was impossible to mistake for a moment his
majestic figure and deportment; nor was he less distinguished by the
noble affability of his manner. M. de Lafayette accompanied him in his
examination of the fortifications. Invited by the General to establish
himself in his house, he looked upon it from that moment as his own:
with this perfect ease and simplicity, was formed the tie that united
two friends, whose confidence and attachment were to be cemented by
the strongest interests of humanity.~[20]

The American army, stationed some miles from Philadelphia, was waiting
until the movements the hostile army should be decided: the General
himself reviewed the troops; M. de Lafayette arrived there the same
day. About eleven thousand men, ill armed, and still worse clothed,
presented a strange spectacle to the eye of the young Frenchman: their
clothes were parti-coloured, and many of them were almost naked; the
best clad wore _hunting shirts_, large grey linen coats which were
much used in Carolina. As to their military tactics, it will be
sufficient to say that, for a regiment ranged in order of battle to
move forward on the right of its line, it was necessary for the left
to make a continued counter march. They were always arranged in two
lines, the smallest men in the first line; no other distinction as to
height was ever observed. In spite of these disadvantages, the
soldiers were fine, and the officers zealous; virtue stood in place of
science, and each day added both to experience and discipline. Lord
Stirling, more courageous than judicious, another general, who was
often intoxicated, and Greene, whose talents were only then known to
his immediate friends, commanded as majors-general. General Knox, who
had changed the profession of bookseller to that of artillery officer,
was there also, and had himself formed other officers, and created an
artillery. "We must feel embarrassed," said General Washington, on his
arrival, "to exhibit ourselves before an officer who has just quitted
French troops." "It is to learn, and not to teach, that I come
hither," replied M. de Lafayette; and that modest tone, which was not
common in Europeans, produced a very good effect.

After having menaced the Delaware, the English fleet again
disappeared, and during some days the Americans amused themselves by
making jokes at its expense. These jokes, however, ceased when it
reappeared in the Chesapeak; and, in order to approach it more closely
during the disembarkation, the patriot army crossed through the town.
Their heads covered with green branches, and marching to the sound of
drums and fifes, these soldiers, in spite of their state of nudity,
offered an agreeable spectacle to the eyes of all the citizens.
General Washington was marching at their head, and M. de Lafayette was
by his side. The army stationed itself upon the heights of Wilmington,
and that of the enemy landed in the Elk river, at the bottom of
Chesapeak bay. The very day they landed, General Washington exposed
himself to danger in the most imprudent manner; after having
reconnoitred for a long time the enemy's position, he was overtaken by
a storm during a very dark night, entered a farm house close to the
hostile army, and, from a reluctance to change his own opinion,
remained there with General Greene, M. de Lafayette, and their
aide-de-camp; but when at day break he quitted the farm, he
acknowledged that any one traitor might have caused his ruin. Some
days later, Sullivan's division joined the army, which augmented it in
all to thirteen thousand men. This Major-General Sullivan made a good
beginning, but a bad ending, in an intended surprise on Staten Island.

If, by making too extensive a plan of attack, the English committed a
great error, it must also be acknowledged that the Americans were not
irreproachable in their manner of defence. Burgoyne, leading his army,
with their heads bent upon the ground, into woods from whence he could
not extricate them, dragged on, upon a single road, his numerous
cannons and rich military equipages. Certain of not being attacked
from behind, the Americans could dispute every step they took: this
kind of warfare attracted the militia, and Gates improved each day in
strength. Every tree sheltered a skilful rifleman, and the resources
offered by military tactics, and the talents even of their chiefs, had
become useless to the English. The corps left in New York could, it is
true, laugh at the corps of Putnam, but it was too feeble to succour
Burgoyne; and instead of being able to secure his triumph, its own
fate was even dependent upon his. During that time, Howe was only
thinking of Philadelphia, and it was at the expense of the northern
expedition that he was repairing thither by an enormous circuit. But,
on the other side, why were the English permitted to land so
tranquilly? Why was the moment allowed to pass when their army was
divided by the river Elk? Why in the south were so many false
movements and so much hesitation displayed? Because the Americans had
hitherto had combats but not battles; because, instead of harassing an
army and disputing hollows, they were obliged to protect an open city,
and manoeuvre in a plain, close to a hostile army, who, by attacking
them from behind, might completely ruin them. General Washington, had
he followed the advice of the people, would have enclosed his army in
a city, and thus have entrusted to one hazard the fate of America;
but, whilst refusing to commit such an act of folly, he was obliged to
make some sacrifice, and gratify the nation by a battle. Europe even
expected it; and although he had been created a dictator for six
months, the General thought he ought to submit everything to the
orders of congress, and to the deliberations of a council of war.

After having advanced as far as Wilmington, the general had detached a
thousand men under Maxwell, the most ancient brigadier in the army. At
the first march of the English, he was beaten by their advance guard
near Christiana Bridge. During that time the army took but an
indifferent station at Newport; they then removed a little south,
waited two days for the enemy, and, at the moment when these were
marching upon their right wing, a nocturnal council of war decided
that the army was to proceed to the Brandywine. The stream bearing
that name covered its front; the ford called Chad's Ford, placed
nearly in the centre, was defended by batteries. It was in that
scarcely examined station that, in obedience to a letter from
congress, the Americans awaited the battle. The evening of the 10th of
September, Howe advanced in two columns, and, by a very fine movement,
the left column (about 8000 men under Lord Cornwallis, with grenadiers
and guards) directed themselves towards the fords of Birmingham, three
miles on our right; the other column continued its road, and at about
nine o'clock in the morning it appeared on the other side of the
stream. The enemy was so near the skirts of the wood that it was
impossible to judge of his force some time was lost in a mutual
cannonading. General Washington walked along his two lines, and was
received with acclamations which seemed to promise him success. The
intelligence that was received of the movements of Cornwallis was both
confused and contradictory; owing to the conformity of name betwixt
two roads that were of equal length and parallel to each other, the
best officers were mistaken in their reports. The only musket shots
that had been fired were from Maxwell, who killed several of the
enemy, but was driven back upon the left of the American army, across
a ford by which he had before advanced. Three thousand militia had
been added to the army, but they were placed in the rear to guard some
still more distant militia, and took no part themselves in the action.
Such was the situation of the troops when they learnt the march of
Lord Cornwallis towards the scarcely known fords of Birmingham: they
then detached three divisions, forming about five thousand men, under
the generals Sullivan, Stirling, and Stephen. M. de Lafayette, as
volunteer, had always accompanied the general. The left wing remaining
in a state of tranquillity, and the right appearing fated to receive
all the heavy blows, he obtained permission to join Sullivan. At his
arrival, which seemed to inspirit the troops, he found that, the enemy
having crossed the ford, the corps of Sullivan had scarcely had time
to form itself on a line in front of a thinly-wooded forest. A few
moments after, Lord Cornwallis formed in the finest order: advancing
across the plain, his first line opened a brisk fire of musketry and
artillery; the Americans returned the fire, and did much injury to the
enemy; but their right and left wings having given way, the generals
and several officers joined the central division, in which were M. de
Lafayette and Stirling, and of which eight hundred men were commanded
in a most brilliant manner by Conway, an Irishman, in the service of
France. By separating that division from its two wings, and advancing
through an open plain, in which they lost many men, the enemy united
all their fire upon the centre: the confusion became extreme; and it
was whilst M. de Lafayette was rallying the troops that a ball passed
through his leg;--at that moment all those remaining on the field gave
way. M. de Lafayette was indebted to Gimat, his aide-de-camp, for the
happiness of getting upon his horse. General Washington arrived from a
distance with fresh troops; M. de Lafayette was preparing to join him,
when loss of blood obliged him to stop and have his wound bandaged; he
was even very near being taken. Fugitives, cannon, and baggage now
crowded without order into the road leading to Chester. The general
employed the remaining daylight in checking the enemy: some regiments
behaved extremely well but the disorder was complete. During that time
the ford of Chad was forced, the cannon taken and the Chester road
became the common retreat of the whole army. In the midst of that
dreadful confusion, and during the darkness of the night, it was
impossible to recover; but at Chester, twelve miles from the field of
battle, they met with a bridge which it was necessary to cross; M. de
Lafayette occupied himself in arresting the fugitives; some degree of
order was re-established; the generals and the commander-in-chief
arrived; and he had leisure to have his wound dressed.

It was thus, at twenty-six miles from Philadelphia, that the fate of
that town was decided, (11th September, 1777.) The inhabitants had
heard every cannon that was fired there; the two parties, assembled in
two distinct bands in all the squares and public places, had awaited
the event in silence. The last courier at length arrived, and the
friends of Liberty were thrown into consternation. The Americans had
lost from 1000 to 1200 men. Howe's army was composed of about 12,000
men; their losses had been so considerable that their surgeons and
those in the country, were found insufficient, and they requested the
American army to supply them with some for their prisoners. If the
enemy had marched to Derby, the army would have been cut up and
destroyed: they lost an all-important night; and this was perhaps
their greatest fault, during a war in which they committed so many

M. de Lafayette, having been conveyed by water to Philadelphia, was
carefully attended to by the citizens, who were all interested in his
situation and extreme youth. That same evening the congress determined
to quit the city: a vast number of the inhabitants deserted their own
hearths--whole families, abandoning their possessions, and uncertain
of the future, took refuge in the mountains. M. de Lafayette was
carried to Bristol in a boat; he there saw the fugitive congress, who
only assembled again on the other side of the Susquehannah; he was
himself conducted to Bethlehem, a Moravian establishment, where the
mild religion of the brotherhood, the community of fortune, education,
and interests, amongst that large and simple family, formed a striking
contrast to scenes of blood, and the convulsions occasioned by a civil

After the Brandywine defeat, the two armies maneouvered along the
banks of the Schuylkill. General Washington still remained on a height
above the enemy, and completely out of his reach; nor had they again
an opportunity of cutting him off. Waine, an American brigadier, was
detached to observe the English; but, being surprised during the
night, near the White-Horse, by General Grey, he lost there the
greatest part of his corps. At length Howe crossed the Schuylkill at
Swede's Ford, and Lord Cornwallis entered Philadelphia.

In spite of the declaration of independence of the New States,
everything there bore the appearance of a civil war. The names of Whig
and Tory distinguished the republicans and royalists; the English army
was still called the _regular troops_; the British sovereign was
always designated by the name of the king. Provinces, towns, and
families were divided by the violence of party spirit: brothers,
officers in the two opposing armies, meeting by chance in their
father's house, have seized their arms to fight with each other.
Whilst, in the rancour of their pride, the English committed horrible
acts of licence and cruelty,--whilst discipline dragged in her train
those venal Germans who knew only how to kill, burn, and pillage, in
the same army were seen regiments of Americans, who, trampling under
foot their brethren, assisted in enslaving their wasted country. Each
canton contained a still greater number whose sole object was to
injure the friends of liberty, and give information to those of
despotism. To these inveterate Tories must be added the number of
those whom fear, private interest, or religion, rendered adverse to
war. If the Presbyterians, the children of Cromwell and Fairfax,
detested royalty, the Lutherans, who had sprung from it, were divided
among themselves: the Quakers hated slaughter, but served willingly as
guides to the royal troops. Insurrections were by no means uncommon:
near the enemy's stations, farmers often shot each other; robbers were
even encouraged. The republican chiefs were exposed to great dangers
when they travelled through the country; it was always necessary for
them to declare that they should pass the night in one house, then
take possession of another, barricade themselves in it, and only sleep
with their arms by their side. In the midst of these troubles, M. de
Lafayette was no longer considered as a stranger; never was any
adoption more complete than his own: and whilst, in the councils of
war, he trembled when he considered that his voice (at twenty years of
age) might decide the fate of two worlds, he was also initiated in
those deliberations in which, by reassuring the Whigs, intimidating
the Tories, supporting an ideal money, and redoubling their firmness
in the hour of adversity, the American chiefs conducted that
revolution through so many obstacles.

Confined to his bed for six weeks, M. de Lafayette suffered from his
wound, but still more severely from his inactivity. The good Moravian
brothers loved him, and deplored his warlike folly. Whilst listening
to their sermons, he planned setting Europe and Asia in a flame. As he
was no longer able to do anything but write, he wrote to the commander
of la Martinique, and proposed to him to make a descent upon the
English islands under American colours. He wrote also to M. de
Maurepas, and offered to conduct some Americans to the Isle of France,
concerting previously with individuals an attack upon the English
factories.~[21] From the particulars which have since become known,
that project in India would have succeeded; but it was rejected at
Versailles, where no answers were yet vouchsafed to M. de Lafayette's
letters. Bouille more ardent in temper, would have adopted the whole
plan, but he could not act without permission; and these delays led to
the period of the war which M. de Lafayette was so desirous of
bringing on.

During his residence at Bethlehem, the English entrenched themselves
at Philadelphia. The two rivers which encompassed the town were united
by a chain of wooden palisades and good redoubts, partly covered by an
inundation. A portion of their army was encamped at Germantown, five
miles in advance of those lines; these were attacked, the 4th of
October, by Washington, and although his left column was retarded by
an absurd precedence of divisions, and misled by a thick
fog,--although the advance guard of the right, under Conway, attacked
in front what it ought to have attacked in flank, the enemy was not
less taken by surprise and beaten, and the general, with his
victorious wing, passed through the whole extent of the enemy's
encampment. All things went on well until then; but a false movement
of the left column, and still more the attack of a stone house which
they should have turned, gave the enemy time to rally. Howe was
thinking of a retreat, but Cornwallis arrived in haste with a
reinforcement. The Americans repassed through the English encampment,
and the action ended by a complete defeat. Many men were lost on both
sides. General Agnew, an Englishman, and General Nash, an American,
were killed. The Americans had some dragoons under Pulaski, the only
one of the confederated Poles who had refused to accept a pardon. He
was an intrepid knight, a libertine and devotee, and a better captain
than general; he insisted on being a Pole on all occasions, and M. de
Lafayette, after having contributed to his reception in the army,
often exerted himself to effect a reconciliation betwixt him and the
other officers. Without waiting for his wound to be closed, M. de
Lafayette returned to head-quarters, twenty-five miles from
Philadelphia. The enemy, who had fallen back upon their lines,
attacked Fort Mifflin, upon an island, and Fort Red-Bank, on the left
side of the Delaware. Some _chevaux de frise_, protected by the forts,
and some galleys, stopped the fleet, magazines, and detachments which
had been sent from the Chesapeak. Amongst the skirmishes which took
place betwixt small parties of soldiers, the most remarkable one was
the surprise of a corps of militia at Cevoked-Billet,~[22] in which
the English burnt their wounded prisoners in a barn. Such was the
situation of the south, when news was received of the capitulation of
Burgoyne. That general, when he quitted Canada, had made a diversion
on his right; but Saint Leger had failed in an operation against Fort
Schuyler; and he himself, by advancing towards Albany, appeared to
have lost much time. Gates was constantly adding numerous militia to
his continental troops. All the citizens being armed militia, a signal
of alarm assembled them, or an order of state summoned them to march.
But if that crusade were rather a voluntary one, their residence at
the camp was still more dependent on their own inclination: the
discipline was suitable to the formation of the corps. The
continentalists, on the contrary, belonged to the thirteen states, of
which each one supplied some regiments; the soldiers were either
engaged for the war or for three years, which improper alternative was
occasioned by republican jealousy. These regular troops had military
regulations, a severe discipline, and the officers of each state vied
with each other for promotion. Gates, placed in an entrenched
position, in the centre of woods, on the road to Albany, and with the
North river on his right, had assembled sixteen thousand men; and this
invasion of the enemy, by threatening New England, had served as an
instant summons to the brave militia. They had already proved their
strength at Bennington, where Stark had surrounded and destroyed a
detachment belonging to Burgoyne. The enemy, having arrived within
three miles of Gates, and not being able to make a circuit round him
without abandoning their cannon and military accoutrements, attempted
twice to force him; but they had scarcely commenced their march when
Arnold fell upon them with his division, and in those woods, lined
with sharpshooters, it was only possible for them to reach the
entrenchments. Arnold had his leg broken at the second affair;
Lincoln, the other major-general, was wounded also. Four thousand men,
who embarked at New York, had, it is true, ascended the Hudson. Whilst
Vaughan was needlessly burning Esopus, Clinton had taken all the forts
that defended the river. They were but little annoyed by Putnam, who,
in the first breaking out of the troubles, had thrown aside his plough
to bear to the army far more zeal than talent. But still that
diversion was too weak; and by a note which a spy who had been taken
swallowed, but which was recovered by an emetic, it was seen that
Clinton was aware of his own weakness. Burgoyne, abandoned by the
savages, regretting his best soldiers, and Frazer, his best general,
reduced to five thousand men, who were in want of provisions, wished
to retreat; but it was then too late: his communications were no
longer open; and it was at Saratoga, some miles in the rear of his
army, that he signed the celebrated convention. A brilliant troop,
covered with gold, filed out with Burgoyne: they encountered Gates and
his officers, all clothed in plain grey cloth. After a frugal repast,
the two generals beheld the conquered army filing out; and, as a
member of parliament said, "_five thousand men crossed the rebel
country to take up their winter quarters near Boston_." Clinton then
redescended to New York, and the militia returned to their domestic
hearths. Gates' chief merit consisted in his skilful choice of a
position; Burgoyne's misfortune was owing to the nature of the
country, which was impracticable and almost a desert. If the enemies
of the former criticised the terms of the convention, M. de Lafayette
loudly proclaimed how glorious he thought it; but he blamed Gates
afterwards for rendering himself independent of his general, and for
retaining the troops which he ought to have sent him. To obtain them,
it was necessary to despatch Hamilton, a young man of great talents,
whose counsels had justly acquired much credit.~[23]

The forts of the Delaware had not yet yielded: that of Red-Bank,
defended by four hundred men, was attacked, sword in hand, by sixteen
hundred Hessians. The work having been reduced by Mauduit, a young
Frenchman, the enemy engaged betwixt the old and new entrenchments.
They were driven back with the loss of seven hundred men and Count
Donop, their chief, whose last words were--"_I die the victim of my
own ambition, and the avarice of my sovereign_." That fort was
commanded by an old and respected colonel, Greene, who, three years
after, was massacred by the English to whom he had surrendered,
whilst, covering him with his own body, an old negro perished
heroically by his side. Fort Mifflin, although attacked by land and
water, did not defend itself less valiantly; the _Augusta_, an English
ship of the line, had been already blown up; a frigate also perished;
and Colonel Smith did not even think of surrendering: but the island
being attacked from an unknown passage, the works were assaulted from
the rear, and were obliged to be evacuated. Lord Cornwallis and five
thousand men having fallen upon the Jerseys, it became also necessary
to quit Red-Bank which the Americans blew up before leaving it:
General Greene, crossing the river at Trenton opposed, with a
precisely equal force, the detachment of Cornwallis.

Although M. de Lafayette's wound was not yet sufficiently closed for
him to put on a boot, he accompanied Greene to Mount Holly; and
detaching himself in order to reconnoitre, he found the enemy,
November 25th, at Gloucester, opposite Philadelphia. The booty they
had collected was crossing the river. To assure himself more fully on
this point M. de Lafayette advanced upon the strip of land called
Sandy Point, and for this imprudence he would have paid dearly if
those who had the power of killing him had not depended too much on
those who had the power of taking him prisoner. After having succeeded
in somewhat appeasing the terror of his guides, he found himself,
about four o'clock, two miles from the English camp, before a post of
four hundred Hessians with their cannon. Having only three hundred and
fifty men, most of them militia, he suddenly attacked the enemy, who
gave way before him. Lord Cornwallis came up with his grenadiers; but,
supposing himself to be engaged with the corps of General Greene, he
allowed himself to be driven back to the neighbourhood of Gloucester,
with a loss of about sixty men. Greene arrived in the night, but would
not attack the enemy. Lord Cornwallis passed over the river, and the
American detachment rejoined the army at its station at Whitemarsh,
twelve miles from Philadelphia. It had occupied, since the last month,
some excellent heights; the general's accurate glance had discerned
the situation of the encampment through an almost impenetrable wood.

The slight success of Gloucester gratified the army, and especially
the militia. The congress resolved, that "it would be extremely
agreeable to them to see the Marquis de Lafayette at the head of a
division."~[24] He quitted, therefore, his situation of volunteer, and
succeeded Stephen in the command of the Virginians. The junction of
Cornwallis having been the work of some hours, and that of Greene
requiring several marches, it is difficult to imagine why Howe gave
him time to arrive, and only proceeded with his army on the 5th of
December to Chesnut Hill, three miles from Whitemarsh. After having
felt his way with the right wing, of which he stood in some awe, he
threatened to attack the extreme left; and that wing, following his
own movements, stationed itself on the declivity of the heights. Some
shots were exchanged betwixt the English light horsemen and the
American riflemen, very skilful carabineers, who inhabit the frontiers
of the savage tribes. Not being able to attack that position, and not
wishing to make the circuit of it, Howe returned, on the fourth day,
to Philadelphia. In spite of the northern reinforcements, the
Americans were reduced to nine thousand, and the advanced season
diminished their numbers rapidly. The protection of the country had
cost the army dear. The 15th of December they marched toward Swedes'
Ford, where Lord Cornwallis was accidentally foraging on the other
side of the river. M. de Lafayette, being upon duty, was examining a
position, when his escort and the enemy fired upon each other. The
uncertainty being mutual, Lord Cornwallis and General Washington
suspended their march; the former having retired during the night, the
army crossed over the Schuylkill, and entrenched itself in the station
of Valley-Forge, twenty-two miles from Philadelphia. Having skillfully
erected there, in a few days, a city of wooden huts the army
established itself in its melancholy winter quarters. A small corps
was detached to Wilmington, and fortified itself, under the command of
Brigadier-General Smallwood.

Notwithstanding the success in the north, the situation of the
Americans had never been more critical than at the present moment. A
paper money, without out any certain foundation, and unmixed with any
specie, was both counterfeited by the enemy and discredited by their
partizans. They feared to establish taxes, and had still less the
power of levying them. The people, who had risen against the taxation
of England, were astonished at paying still heavier taxes now; and the
government was without any power to enforce them. On the other side,
New York and Philadelphia were overstocked with gold and various
merchandizes; the threatened penalty of death could not stop a
communication that was but too easy. To refuse the payment of taxes,
to depreciate the paper currency, and feed the enemy, was a certain
method of attaining wealth; privations and misery were only
experienced by good citizens. Each proclamation of the English was
supported by their seductions, their riches, and the intrigues of the
Tories. Whilst a numerous garrison lived sumptuously at New York, some
hundreds of men, ill-clothed and ill-fed, wandered upon the shores of
the Hudson. The army of Philadelphia, freshly recruited from Europe,
abundantly supplied with everything they could require, consisted of
eighteen thousand men: that of Valley-Forge was successively reduced
to five thousand men; and two marches on the fine Lancaster road, (on
which road also was a chain of magazines,) by establishing the English
in the rear of their right flank, would have rendered their position
untenable; from which, however, they had no means of retiring. The
unfortunate soldiers were in want of everything; they had no coats,
hats, shirts, or shoes; their feet and legs froze till they became
black, and it was often necessary to amputate them. From want of
money, they could neither obtain provisions nor any means of
transport; the colonels were often reduced to two rations, and
sometimes even to one. The army frequently remained whole days without
provisions, and the patient endurance of both soldiers and officers
was a miracle which each moment served to renew. But the sight of
their misery prevented new engagements; it was almost impossible to
levy recruits; it was easy to desert into the interior of the country.
The sacred liberty was not extinguished, it is true, and the majority
of the citizens detested British tyranny; but the triumph of the
north, and the tranquillity of the south, had lulled to sleep
two-thirds of the continent. The remaining part was harassed by two
armies; and, throughout this revolution, the great difficulty was,
that, in order to conceal misfortunes from the enemy, it was necessary
to conceal them from the nation also; that by awakening the one,
information was likewise given to the other; and that fatal blows
would have been struck upon the weakest points before democratic
tardiness could have been roused to support them. It was from this
cause that, during the whole war, the real force of the army was
always kept a profound secret; even congress was not apprised of it,
and the generals were often themselves deceived. General Washington
never placed unlimited confidence in any person, except in M. de
Lafayette; because for him alone, perhaps, confidence sprung from warm
affection. As the situation grew more critical, discipline became more
necessary. In the course of his nocturnal rounds, in the midst of
heavy snows, de Lafayette was obliged to break some negligent
officers. He adopted in every respect the American dress, habits, and
food. He wished to be more simple, frugal, and austere than the
Americans themselves. Brought up in the lap of luxury, he suddenly
changed his whole manner of living, and his constitution bent itself
to privation as well as to fatigue. He always took the liberty of
freely writing his ideas to congress; or, in imitation of the prudence
of the general, he gave his opinion to some members of a corps or
state assembly, that, being adopted by them, it might be brought
forward in the deliberations of congress.

In addition to the difficulties which lasted during the whole of the
war, the winter of Valley-Forge recals others still more painful. At
Yorktown, behind the Susquehannah, congress was divided into two
factions, which, in spite of their distinction of south and east, did
not the less occasion a separation between members of the same state.
The deputies substituted their private intrigues for the wishes of the
nation. Several impartial men had retired; several states had but one
representative, and in some cases not even one. Party spirit was so
strong, that three years afterwards congress still felt the effects of
it. Any great event, however, would awaken their patriotism; and when
Burgoyne declared that his treaty had been broken, means were found to
stop the departure of his troops, which everything, even the few
provisions for the transports, had foolishly betrayed. But all these
divisions failed to produce the greatest of calamities--the loss of
the only man capable of conducting the revolution.

Gates was at Yorktown, where he inspired respect by his manners,
promises, and European acquirements. Amongst the deputies who united
themselves to him, may be numbered the Lees, Virginians, enemies of
Washington, and the two Adams. Mifflin, quarter-master-general, aided
him with his talents and brilliant eloquence. They required a name to
bring forward in the plot, and they selected Conway, who fancied
himself the chief of a party. To praise Gates, with a certain portion
of the continent and the troops, was a pretext for speaking of
themselves. The people attach themselves to prosperous generals, and
the commander-in-chief had been unsuccessful. His own character
inspired respect and affection; but Greene, Hamilton, Knox, his best
friends, were sadly defamed. The Tories fomented these dissensions.
The presidency of the war-office, which had been created for Gates,
restricted the power of the general. This was not the only
inconvenience; a committee from congress arrived at the camp, and the
attack of Philadelphia was daringly proposed. The most shrewd people
did not believe that Gates was the real object of this intrigue.
Though a good officer he had not the power to assert himself. He would
have given place to the famous General Lee, then a prisoner of the
English, whose first care would have been to have made over to them
his friends and all America.

Attached to the general, and still more so to the cause, M. de
Lafayette did not hesitate for a moment; and, in spite of the caresses
of one party, he remained faithful to the other, whose ruin seemed
then impending. He saw and corresponded frequently with the general,
and often discused with him his own private situation, and the effect
that various meliorations in the army might produce. Having sent for
his wife to the camp, the general preserved in his deportment the
noble composure which belongs to a strong and virtuous mind. "I have
not sought for this place," said he to M. de Lafayette; "if I am
displeasing to the nation I will retire; but until then I will oppose
all intrigues."

(1778.) The 22nd of January, congress resolved that Canada should be
entered, and the choice fell upon M. de Lafayette. The Generals Conway
and Stark were placed under him. Hoping to intoxicate and govern so
young a commander, the war-office, without consulting the
commander-in- chief, wrote to him to go and await his further
instructions at Albany.~[25] But after having won over by his
arguments the committee which congress had sent to the camp, M. de
Lafayette hastened to Yorktown, and declared there "that he required
circumstantial orders, a statement of the means to be employed, the
certainty of not deceiving the Canadians, an augmentation of generals,
and rank for several Frenchmen, fully impressed," he added, "with the
various duties and advantages they derived from their name; but the
first condition he demanded was, not to be made, like Gates,
independent of General Washington." At Gates' own house he braved the
whole party, and threw them into confusion by making them drink the
health of their general.~[26] In congress he was supported by
President Laurens, and he obtained all that he demanded. His
instructions from the war-office promised that 2500 men should be
assembled at Albany, and a large corps of militia at Coos; that he
should have two millions in paper money, some hard specie, and, all
means supplied for crossing lake Champlain upon the ice, whence, after
having burnt the English flotilla, he was to proceed to Montreal, and
act there as circumstances might require.

Repassing then, not without some danger, the Susquehannah, which was
filled with floating masses of ice, M. de Lafayette set out for
Albany, and, in spite of the obstacles offered by ice and snow,
rapidly traversed an extent of four hundred miles. Whilst travelling
thus on horseback, he became thoroughly acquainted with the simplicity
and purity of the inhabitants, their patriarchal mode of life, and
their republican ideas. Devoted to their household cares, the women
are happy, and afford to their husbands the calmest and truest
felicity. The unmarried women alone is love spoken of, and their
modesty enhances the charm of their innocent coquetry. In the chance
marriages which take place in Paris, the fidelity of the wife is often
repugnant to the voice of nature and of reason, one might almost say
to the principles of justice. In America, a girl marries her lover,
and it would be like having two lovers at the same time if she were to
break that valid agreement; because both parties know equally how and
in what manner they are bound to each other. In the bosom of their own
families, the men occupy themselves with their private affairs, or
assemble together to regulate those of the state. They talk politics
over their glasses, and become animated by patriotism rather than
strong liquor. Whilst the children shed tears at the name of Tory, the
old men sent up prayers to Heaven that they might be permitted to see
the end of that war. During his repeated and rapid journeys, M. de
Lafayette, mixing with all classes of society, was not wholly useless
to the good cause, to the interest of the French, and to the party of
General Washington.

M. de Lafayette, on arriving at Albany, experienced some
disappointments. Instead of 2500 men, there were not 1200. Stark's
militia had not even received a summons. Clothes, provisions,
magazines, sledges, all were insufficient for that glacial expedition.
By making better preparations and appointing the general earlier,
success would probably have been secured. Several Canadians began to
make a movement, and from that moment they testified great interest in
M. de Lafayette; but two months were requisite to collect all that was
necessary, and towards the middle of March the lakes begin to thaw. M.
de Lafayette, general, at twenty years of age, of a small army,
charged with an important and very difficult operation, authorized by
the orders of congress, animated by the expectations now felt in
America, and which, he knew, would ere long be felt likewise in
Europe, had many motives for becoming adventurous; but, on the other
hand, his resources were slender, the time allowed him was short, the
enemy was in a good position, and Lieutenant-General Carleton was
preparing for him another Saratoga. Forced to take a decisive step
immediately, he wrote a calm letter to congress, and with a heavy sigh
abandoned the enterprise. At the same period, congress, becoming a
little less confident, despatched to him some wavering counsels,
which, arriving too late, only served to compromise the general and
justify the government. But the prudence of M. de Lafayette was at
length rewarded by the approbation of congress and of the nation; and,
until the opening of the campaign, he continued to command that
department.~[27] He found there that intrepid Arnold, who was still
detained by his wound, and who since ...... ; he became intimately
acquainted with Schuyler, the predecessor of Gates, in disgrace as
well as Saint-Clair, but who continued useful to the cause from the
superiority of his talents, his importance in that part of the
country, and the confidence he enjoyed in New York, of which state he
was a citizen.

If Canada did not herself send an offensive army, all the savages were
paid and protected by the English party: the Hurons and Iroquois
committed their devastations on that whole frontier. Some baubles or a
barrel of rum were sufficient to make them seize the tomahawk; they
then rushed upon villages, burnt houses, destroyed harvests, massacred
all, without regard to age or sex, and received on their return the
price of each bloody scalp they could exhibit. A young American girl,
whom her lover, an English, was expecting, that their marriage might
take place, was killed by the very savages he had sent to escort her.
Two Americans were actually eaten up by the Senecas, and a colonel of
the English army was a guest at that horrible repast. "It is thus,"
was often said to the savages, whilst drinking with them at the
councils, "it is thus we must drink the blood of rebels." M. de
Lafayette, conscious that he could not protect such an immense extent
of frontier, prepared quarters in every direction, and announced the
speedy arrival of troops in all the counties; and this stratagem
stopped the depredations of the savages, who do not usually attack
those places in which they expect to find much resistance. But he kept
the Albany troops close together, satisfied them a little as to
payment, provisioned the forts, which had been hitherto neglected, and
arrested a plot of which any particulars have never been precisely
known. He found in George Clinton, governor of the state of New York,
a firm and an enlightened co-operator.

Soon after, Schuyler and Duane, who were charged with the management
of the affairs of the savages, appointed a general assembly at
Johnson's Town, upon the Mohawk river. Recalling to them their former
attachment to the French, M. de Lafayette repaired thither in a sledge
to shew himself in person to those nations whom the English had
endeavoured to prejudice against him. Five hundred men, women, and
children, covered with various coloured paints and feathers, with
their ears cut open, their noses ornamented with rings, and their
half-naked bodies marked with different figures, were present at the
councils. Their old men, whilst smoking, talked politics extremely
well. Their object seemed to be to promote a balance of power; if the
intoxication of rum, as that of ambition in Europe, had not often
turned them aside from it. M. de Lafayette, adopted by them, received
the name of _Kayewla_, which belonged formerly to one of their
warriors; and under this name he is well known to all the savage
tribes. Some louis which he distributed under the form of medals, and
some stuffs from the state of New York, produced but little effect
when compared to the presents they had received from England. A treaty
was entered into, which some of them rigidly observed; and the course
of the evil was at least arrested for the present. The Oneidas and
Tuscaroras, the only real friends the Americans possessed, requested
to have a fort; and M. de Lafayette left them M. de Gouvion, a French
officer, whose talents and virtues rendered him of great value to the
cause. Whenever savages were required at the army, whenever there was
any dealings with these tribes, recourse was always had to the credit
of M. de Lafayette, whose _necklaces_ and _words_ were equally

On his return, he found that the form of a new oath had been
established, which each civil and military officer was to take,
according to his own religious belief. _An acknowledgment of the
independence, liberty, and sovereignty of the United States; an
eternal renunciation of George III., his successors, and heirs, and
every King of England; a promise to defend the said states against the
said George III_.; this was the purport of the oath administered by
him to the whole northern department.~[28] At the approach of spring,
M. de Lafayette was recalled to the south. The affairs of General
Washington were already in a more flourishing condition. Several of
the states recommended him to their deputies; and from only suspecting
one of them of being unfavourable to him, the New York assembly wished
to recal one of their delegates. Congress had been a little recruited,
and they were thinking of recruiting the army. At Valley-Forge, M. de
Lafayette found some difficulty not from the substance, but merely
from the form of the oath; but that difficulty was easily obviated. A
short time after, Simeon Deane arrived with the treaty of commerce
between France and the United States.

By quitting France in so public a manner, M. de Lafayette had served
the cause of the revolution. One portion of society was anxious for
his success and the attention of the other had become, to say the
least, somewhat occupied in the struggle. If a spirit of emulation
made those connected with the court desirous of war, the rest of the
nation supported the young rebel, and followed with interest all his
movements; and it is well known that the rupture that ensued was truly
a national one. Some circumstances relating to his departure having
displeased the court of London, M. de Lafayette omitted nothing that
could draw more closely together the nations whose union he so
ardently desired. The incredible prejudices of the Americans had been,
augmented by the conduct of the first Frenchmen who had joined them.
These men gradually disappeared, and all those who remained were
remarkable for talents, or at least for probity. They became the
friends of M. de Lafayette, who sincerely sought out all the national
prejudices of the Americans against his countrymen for the purpose of
overcoming them. Love and respect for the name of Frenchman animated
his letters and speeches, and he wished the affection that was granted
to him individually to become completely national. On the other side,
when writing to Europe, he denied the reports made by discontented
adventurers, by good officers who were piqued at not having been
employed, and by those men who, serving themselves in the army, wished
to be witty or amusing by the political contrasts they described in
their letters. But, without giving a circumstantial account of what
private influence achieved, it is certain that enthusiasm for the
cause, and esteem for its defenders, had electrified all France, and
that the affair of Saratoga decided the ministerial commotion. Bills
of conciliation passed in the English house of parliament, and five
commissioners were sent to offer far more than have been demanded
until then. No longer waiting to see _how things would turn out_, M.
de Maurepas yielded to the public wish, and what his luminous mind had
projected, the more unchanging disposition of M. de Vergennes put in
execution. A treaty was generously entered into with Franklin, Deane,
and Arthur Lee, and that treaty was announced with more confidence
than had been for some time displayed. But the war was not
sufficiently foreseen, or at least sufficient preparations were not
made. The most singular fact is, that at the very period when the firm
resistance of the court of France had guided the conduct of two
courts, America had fallen herself into such a state of weakness, that
she was on the very brink of ruin. The 2nd of May, the army made a
bonfire, and M. de Lafayette, ornamented with a white scarf, proceeded
to the spot, accompanied by all the French. Since the arrival of the
conciliatory bills, he had never ceased writing against the
commission, and against every commissioner. The advances of these men
were ill-received by congress; and, foreseeing a French co-operation,
the enemy began to think of quitting Philadelphia.

General Washington sent two thousand chosen men across the Schuylkill
to collect intelligence. M. de Lafayette, their commander, repaired,
the 18th of May, to Barren Hill, eleven miles from the two armies. On
a good elevation, his right resting upon some rocks and the river, on
his left some excellent stone houses and a small wood, his front
sustained by five pieces of cannon, and with roads in his rear, such
was the position of M. de Lafayette. An hundred dragoons whom he was
expecting did not arrive in sufficient time; but he stationed six
hundred militia on his left at Whitemarsh, and their general, Porter,
made himself answerable for those roads. On the evening of the 19th,
Howe, who had just been recalled, and Clinton, who replaced him, sent
out a detachment of seven thousand men, with fourteen pieces of
cannon, under General Grant. Passing behind the inundation, that corps
proceeded on the road to Francfort, and, by a circuitous movement,
fell into that of Whitemarsh, from which the militia had just thought
proper to retire. On the morning of the 20th, M. de Lafayette was
conversing with a young lady, who, on pretence of seeing her
relations, to oblige him had consented to go to Philadelphia, when he
was informed that the red dragoons were at Whitemarsh. It was the
uniform of those he was expecting; he had placed Porter there; he had
promised to pay him a visit, and intended that very evening to carry
thither his detachment. But, for greater security, he examined
carefully into the truth of the report; and, ascertaining that a
column was marching on the left, he changed his front, and covered it
with the houses, the wood, and a small churchyard. Scarcely was that
movement ended, when he found himself cut off by Grant on the Swedes'
Ford road in his rear. It was in the presence of the troops that he
first heard the cry that he was surrounded, and he was forced to smile
at the unpleasant intelligence. Several officers, whom he had
despatched to Valley-Forge, declared that they had been unable to find
a passage. Every moment was precious, and M. de Lafayette proceeded on
the road of Matson Ford, to which the enemy was nearer than himself.
General Poor commanded his advance guard; and to him he sent Gimat,
his own confidential aide-de-camp. He placed himself as the rear
guard, and marched on with rapidity, but without precipitation. Grant
had possession of the heights, and M. de Lafayette's road lay
immediately beneath them. His apparent composure deceived his
adversary; and perceiving that he was reconnoitring him, he presented
to him, from among the trees and behind curtains, false heads of
columns. The time that Grant occupied in reconnoitring, and
discovering an imaginary ambuscade, M. de Lafayette employed in
regaining the foreground; at length he passed by Grant's column. He
managed to impose likewise on Grey's column, which followed him; and
when the third division, under Howe and Clinton, reached Barren Hill,
the Americans had already passed over Matson Ford. Forming themselves
on the opposite shore, they awaited the enemy, who dared not attack
them. Advancing on the ground, Howe was astonished at finding only one
red line: the generals quarrelled; and although the commander in chief
had invited some ladies to sup with M. de Lafayette, although the
admiral, (Howe's brother,) knowing him to be surrounded, had prepared
a frigate for him, the whole army, (of which half had made a march of
forty miles,) returned, much fatigued, without having taken a single
man. It was then that fifty savages, friends of the Americans,
encountered fifty English dragoons; and the cries of war on one side,
and the appearance of the cavalry on the other, surprised the parties
so much that they both fled, with equal speed. The alarm had been
likewise great at Valley Forge; and the report of three pieces of
cannon that were there fired appeared an additional mystery to Grant.
The aim of the general being attained, the detachment returned to its
quarters, and M. de Lafayette was well received by the general and

An exchange of prisoners had long been talked of, and the cruelty of
the English rendered this measure more necessary. Cooped up in a
vessel at New York, and breathing a most noxious atmosphere, the
American prisoners suffered all that gross insolence could add to
famine, dirt, disease, and complete neglect. Their food was, to say
the least, unwholesome. The officers, often confounded with their
soldiers, appealed to former capitulations and to the right of
nations; but they were only answered by fresh outrages. When one
victim sunk beneath such treatment, "Tis well," was said to the
survivors; "there is one rebel less." Acts of retaliation had been but
rarely practised by the Americans; and the English, like other
tyrants, mistook their mildness and generosity for timidity. Five
hundred Americans, in a half-dying state, had been carried to the
sea-shore, where the greatest number of them soon expired, and the
general very properly refused to reckon them in exchange for his own
prisoners of war. Another obstacle to the cartel was the capture of
Lee, who had been taken prisoner in 1776; the congress insisted on his
liberation, and, after much debating on both sides, he was at length
exchanged for General Prescot. Lee, who had been formerly a colonel in
the English service, a general in Poland, and a fellow-soldier of the
Russians and Portuguese, was well acquainted with all countries, all
services, and several languages. His features were plain, his turn of
mind caustic, his feelings ambitious and avaricious, his temper
uncomplying, and his whole appearance singular and unprepossessing. A
temporary fit of generosity had induced him to quit the English
service, and the Americans, at that period, listened to him as to an
oracle. In his heart he detested the general, and felt a sincere
affection for himself alone; but, in 1776, his advice had undoubtedly
saved both the general and the army. He made many advances to M. de
Lafayette, but the one was a violent Englishman, and the other an
enthusiastic Frenchman, and their intimacy was often interrupted by
their differences of opinion. Gates, whose great projects had been
frustrated, was at that time commanding a corps at White Plains, upon
the left side of the Hudson, opposite to the island of New York.
Conway had retired from service, and the place of inspector, which had
been created for him, was given to Steuben, an old Prussian, with
moderate talents, but methodical habits, who organized the army and
perfected their tactics. The congress received at that time some
conciliatory epistles, and the sentiments their answers breathed, like
all the other deliberations of that assembly, were nobly felt, and
nobly expressed. Lord Carlisle was president of the commission, and
Lord Howe, Sir Henry Clinton, Mr. Eden, and Governor Johnstone were
its members. The last named person wrote to some friends, who
published his letters.

On the 17th of June, Philadelphia was evacuated. The invalids,
magazines, and heavy ammunition of the British were embarked with the
general; the commissioners of conciliation alone remained behind.
Passing over to Gloucester, the army marched in two columns, each
consisting of seven thousand men, commanded by Clinton and Knyphausen,
towards New York. The army of the United States, which was of nearly
equal force, directed itself from Valley Forge to Coryell's Ferry, and
from thence to King's Town, within a march of the enemy; it was thus
left at the option of the Americans, either to follow on their track,
or to repair to White Plains. In a council held on this subject, Lee
very eloquently endeavoured to prove that it was necessary to erect a
bridge of gold for the enemy; that while on the very point of forming
an alliance with them, every thing ought not to be placed at hazard;
that the English army had never been so excellent and so well
disciplined; he declared himself to be for White Plains: his speech
influenced the opinion of Lord Stirling and of the brigadiers-general.
M. de Lafayette, placed on the other side, spoke late, and asserted
that it would be disgraceful for the chiefs, and humiliating for the
troops, to allow the enemy to traverse the Jerseys tranquilly; that,
without running, any improper risk, the rear guard might be attacked;
that it was necessary to follow the English, manoeuvre with prudence,
take advantage of a temporary separation, and, in short, seize the
most favourable opportunities and situations. This advice was approved
by many of the council, and above all by M. du Portail, chief of the
engineers, and a very distinguished officer. The majority were,
however, in favour of Lee; but M. de Lafayette spoke again to the
general on this subject in the evening, and was seconded by Hamilton,
and by Greene, who had been lately named quarter-master in place of
Mifflin. Several of the general officers changed their opinion; and
the troops having already begun their march, they were halted, in
order to form a detachment. When united, there were 3,000
continentalists and 1,200 militia; the command fell to the share of
Lee, but, by the express desire of the general, M. de Lafayette
succeeded in obtaining it. Everything was going on extremely well,
when Lee changed his mind, and chose to command the troops himself;
having again yielded this point, he re-changed once more; and as the
general wished him to adhere to his first decision--"It is my fortune
and honour," said Lee, to M. de Lafayette, "that I place in your
hands; you are too generous to cause the loss of both!" This tone
succeeded better, and M. de Lafayette promised to ask for him the next
day. The enemy, unfortunately, continued their march; M. de Lafayette
was delayed by want of provisions; and it was not until the 26th, at a
quarter to twelve at night, that he could ask for Lee, who was sent
with a detachment of one thousand men to Englishtown, on the left side
of the enemy. The first corps had advanced upon the right; and M. de
Lafayette, by Lee's especial order, joined him at midday, within reach
of the enemy from whom he fortunately succeeded in concealing this
movement. The two columns of the English army had united together at
Monmouth Court-house, from whence they departed on the morning of the
28th. Whilst following them, the Americans marched rapidly through the
woods of Freehold; and at eight o'clock the enemy's rear-guard was
still in the vicinity of the court-house. If Lee had continued the
direction he was then taking, he would have placed himself in an
excellent position, especially as the American army was advancing on
the road to Freehold; but the head of his cohort quitted the wood,
into which it was again forced to retreat by the enemy's cannon. Lee
then addressing himself to M. de Lafayette, told him to cross the
plain, and attack the left flank of the enemy; and whilst this
manoeuvre, which exposed them to the fire of the English artillery,
was executing, he sent him an order to fall back into the village in
which he had placed the rest of the troops. From thence he drew back
still farther, and, changing his attack to a retreat, he exposed
himself to be driven back by Lord Cornwallis, and subsequently by the
whole English army, to whom good space of time had been allowed to
form themselves in proper order.

At the first retrograde movement, M. de Lafayette sent information to
the general of what was passing, who, arriving speedily on the spot,
found the troops retreating in confusion. "You know," said Lee, "that
all this was against my advice." The general, sending Lee to the
rear,~[30] himself formed seven or eight hundred men, and stationed
them, with some cannon, upon a chosen spot, and M. de Lafayette
undertook to retard the enemy's march. The English dragoons made their
first charge upon a small morass which sheltered him: the infantry
marched round to attack him on the other side, but he had sufficient
time to retire; and the army had by this time placed itself upon a
height, where he took the command of the second line. A cannonade was
kept up on both sides during the whole day, and two attacks of the
enemy were repulsed. A battery, placed on their left, obliged them to
change their position, and, when they presented their flank, the
general attacked them and forced them to retreat, until darkness
interrupted all operations. The American troops continued to gain
ground, and Clinton retired during the night, leaving behind him more
than three hundred dead and many wounded. The heat was so intense that
the soldiers fell dead without having received a single wound, and the
fire of battle soon became untenable. During this affair which ended
so well, although begun so ill, General Washington appeared to arrest
fortune by his glance, and his presence of mind, valour, and decision
of character, were never displayed to greater advantage than at that
moment.~[31] Wayne distinguished himself; Greene and the brave
Stirling led forward the first line in the ablest manner. From four
o'clock in the morning until night M. de Lafayette was momentarily
obliged to change his occupations. The general and he passed the night
lying on the same mantle, talking over the conduct of Lee, who wrote
the next morning a very improper letter, and was placed under arrest.
He was afterwards suspended by a council of war, quitted the service,
and was not regretted by the army. Clinton having retreated towards
the hollows of Shrewsbury, the general contented himself with the
success already gained, and marched towards White Plains; the second
line, under M. de Lafayette forming the right column. The 4th of July,
being the anniversary of the declaration of independence, was
celebrated at Brunswick; and a few days later the army learnt that the
Count d'Estaing was before New York.~[32]

Twelve French vessels, which sailed from Toulon, had been three months
in reaching the Delaware: they arrived three days after the departure
of the English fleet, and, following it to New York, M. d'Estaing
anchored at Sandy-hook, outside the bar. He offered immense sums to be
conveyed across that bar, but the pilots declared that the large
vessels drew too much water, and the French finally agreed to attack
Rhode Island, which the enemy then occupied with a force of 5000 men,
who had entrenched themselves; whilst the state militia, under the
command of Sullivan, were stationed at Providence. M. Girard, a French
minister, arrived on board that squadron; he had been long most
anxiously expected by the Americans, and M. de Lafayette called his
delay a proof of confidence. The last mark of attention with which the
court honoured M. de Lafayette, had been an order to arrest him in the
West Indies; he was, in truth, out of favour in that quarter, and
their displeasure had increased on receiving his letters, which were
dictated less by the prudence of a philosopher than by the enthusiasm
of a young lover of liberty: but although no letters were addressed to
him, M. d'Estaing was not less kind and attentive in his conduct; and
2000 continentalists having been despatched from White-Plains to
Providence, M. de Lafayette, who had exerted himself to hasten their
departure, conducted them rapidly along the sound, across a smiling
country, covered with villages, in which the evident equality of the
population distinctly proved the democracy of the government. From the
apparent prosperity of each colony, it was easy to judge of the degree
of freedom which its constitution might enjoy.

By forcing the passage between Rhode Island and Connecticut, M.
d'Estaing might easily have carried off as prisoners 1500 Hessians who
were stationed on the latter island; but he yielded to Sullivan's
entreaties, and waited until that general should be in readiness: but
although the troops of M. de Lafayette had traversed 240 miles, he
found on his arrival that no preparations were yet made. He repaired
to the squadron, and was received with the greatest possible attention,
especially by the general; and, as M. de Suffren was placed in front,
he carried back to him an order from M. d'Estaing to attack three
frigates, which, however, were burnt by their own crews. The American
army repaired, on the 8th of August, to Howland's Ferry, during the
time that the squadron was forcing its way between the two islands.
General Greene having joined the army, M. de Lafayette yielded to him
the command of half his corps; each then possessed a wing, of 1000
continentalists and 5000 militia. M. de Lafayette's corps was to
receive the addition of the two battalions of Foix and Hainaut, with
some marines. The English, fearing to be intercepted evacuated the
forts on the right of the island during the night of the 8th, and
Sullivan landed with his troops the next day. M. de Lafayette was
expecting the French that afternoon, and the boats were already under
way, when a squadron appeared in sight on the south of the island, at
M. d'Estaing's former anchorage. Lord Howe, brave even to audacity,
having watched the movements of the French admiral and his fleet,
collected a greater number of ships, of which the sizes were however
too unequal; his position, and the southern wind, would enable him, he
thought, to throw succours into Newport where General Pigot had
concentrated his force; but the wind changed during the night, and
the next day M. d'Estaing, within sight of both armies passed gallantly
through the fire of the two batteries whilst the enemy, cutting their
cables, fled, under heavy press of sail. After a chase of eight hours
the two squadrons at length met, and Lord Howe would have paid dearly
for his temerity, had not a violent storm arisen, which dispersed the
ships. By a singular chance, several of Byron's vessels came up at the
same time on their return from Portsmouth, having been separated at the
Azores by a violent gale of wind. The _Languedoc_, the admiral's ship,
deprived of its masts and rudder, and driven by the tempest to a
distance from the other vessels, was attacked by the _Isis_, of fifty
guns, and owed its safety only to the courage and firmness of M.
d'Estaing. At length he succeeded in rallying his squadron, and,
faithful to his engagements, reappeared before Rhode Island; but as he
no longer possessed the superiority of force, he announced his
intention of repairing to Boston, where the _Cesar_ had taken shelter
after a combat. When the storm, which lasted three days, subsided, the
American army drew near Newport. This town was defended by two lines of
redoubts and batteries, surrounded by a wooden palisade, the two
concentrated fronts of which rested on the sea-shore, and were
supported by a ravine that it was necessary to cross. The trench was
opened, the heavy batteries established, and General Greene and M. de
Lafayette were deputed to go on board the French admiral ship, to
endeavour to obtain time, and propose either to make an immediate
attack, or to station vessels in the Providence river. If M. de
Lafayette had felt consternation upon hearing of the dispersion of the
fleet, the conduct of the sailors during the combat, which he learnt
with tears in his eyes, inspired him with the deepest grief. In the
council, where the question was agitated, M. de Brugnon (although five
minutes before he had maintained the contrary) gave his voice in favour


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