Memoirs, Correspondence and Manuscripts of General Lafayette

Part 4 out of 9

accounts, will be able to render very essential service.

These considerations have determined me to send him on the expedition,
in which, as he could not with propriety act, nor be equally useful
merely in his official capacity as quartermaster-general, I have
concluded to give him a command in the troops to be employed in the
descent. I have, therefore, directed General Sullivan to throw all the
American troops, both continental, state, and militia, into two
divisions, making an equal distribution of each, to be under the
immediate command of General Greene and yourself. The continental
troops being divided in this manner, with the militia, will serve to
give them confidence, and probably make them act better than they would
alone. Though this arrangement will diminish the number of continental
troops under you, yet this diminution will be more than compensated by
the addition of militia; and I persuade myself your command will not be
less agreeable, or less honourable, from this change in the
disposition. I am, with great esteem and affection, dear marquis, your
most obedient servant.



Providence, 6th August, 1778.

DEAR GENERAL,--I have received your excellency's favour by General
Greene, and have been much pleased with the arrival of a gentleman who,
not only on account of his merit, and the justness of his views, but
also by his knowledge of the country, and his popularity in this state,
may be very serviceable to the expedition. I willingly part with the
half of my detachment, though I had a great dependence upon them, as
you find it convenient to the good of the service. Any thing, my dear
General, you will order, or even wish, shall always be infinitely
agreeable to me, and I will always feel happy in doing any thing which
may please you, or forward the public good. I am of the same opinion as
your excellency, that dividing our continental troops among the
militia, will have a better effect than if we were to keep them
together in one wing.

You will receive, by General Sullivan, an account of his dispositions,
preparations, &c.; I, therefore, have nothing to add, but that I have
been on board of the Admiral~[1] the day before yesterday. I saw among
the fleet an ardour and a desire of doing something, which would soon
turn into impatience, if we don't give them a speedy occasion of
fighting. The officers cannot contain their soldiers and sailors, who
are complaining that they have been these four months running after the
British, without getting at them; but I hope they will be soon

The Count d'Estaing was very glad of my arrival, as he could open
freely his mind to me. He expressed the greatest anxiety on account of
his wants of every kind, provisions, water, &c.; he hopes the taking of
Rhode Island will enable him to get some of the two above mentioned
articles. The admiral wants me to join the French troops to these I
command, as soon as possible. I confess I feel very happy to think of
my co-operating with them, and, had I contrived in my mind an agreeable
dream, I could not have wished a more pleasing event than my joining my
countrymen with my brothers of America, under my command, and the same
standards. When I left Europe, I was very far from hoping such an
agreeable turn of our business in the American glorious revolution.

Though I have no account, neither observations, to give to your
excellency, as I am here _a man of war of the third rate_, I will,
after the expedition, scribble some lines to you, and join to the
account of General Sullivan, the assurance that I have all my limbs,
and that I am, with the most tender affection, and entire confidence,
yours, with high respect.


1. Admiral d'Estaing. It was the 8th July that the French fleet
appeared at the entrance of the Delaware. It was at this period
stationed before Newport, below the passage, betwixt Rhode Island and
Long Island.



White Plains, 10th August, 1778.

My Dear Marquis,--Your favour of the 6th instant, which came to my
hands yesterday, afforded a fresh proof of the noble principles on
which you act, and has a just claim to my sincere and hearty thanks.
The common cause, of which you have been a zealous supporter, would, I
knew, be benefitted by General Greene's presence at Rhode Island, as he
is a native of that state, has an interest with the people, and a
thorough knowledge of the country, and, therefore, I accepted his
proffered services; but I was a little uneasy, lest you should conceive
that it was intended to lessen your command. General Greene did not
incline to act in a detached part of the army, merely as quartermaster-
general; nor was it to be expected. It became necessary, therefore, to
give him a detached command, and consequently to divide the continental
troops. Your cheerful acquiescence in the measure, after being
appointed to the command of the brigades which marched from this army,
obviated every difficulty, and gave me singular pleasure.

I am very happy to find that the standards of France and America are
likely to be united under your command, at Rhode Island. I am
persuaded, that the supporters of each will be emulous to acquire
honour, and promote your glory upon this occasion. The courier to Count
d'Estaing is waiting. I have only time, therefore, to assure you, that,
with most perfect esteem, and exalted regard, I have the honour to be,
my dear marquis, your obedient and affectionate servant.



Camp before Newport, 25th August, 1778.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I had expected in answering your first letter that
something interesting would have happened that I might communicate to
your excellency. Every day was going to terminate our uncertainties;
nay, every day was going to bring the hope of a success which I did
promise myself to acquaint you of. Such was the reason of my deferring
what my duty and inclination did urge me to do much sooner. I am now
indebted for two favours of yours, which I beg leave to offer here my
thanks for. The first letter reached me in the time we expected to hear
again from the French fleet; the second I have just received. My reason
for not writing the same day the French fleet went to Boston was, that
I did not choose to trouble your friendship with the sentiments of an
afflicted, injured heart, and injured by that very people I came from
so far to love and support. Don't be surprised, my dear general; the
generosity of your honest mind would be offended at the shocking sight
I have under my eyes.

So far am I from a critical disposition that I will not give you the
journal of our operations, neither of several instances during our
staying here, which, however, might occupy some room in this letter. I
will not even say to you, how contracted was the French fleet when they
wanted to come in at their arrival; which, according to the report of
the advertors, would have had the greatest effect. How surprised was
the admiral, when, after a formal and agreed convention, one hour after
the American general had given a new written assurance, our troops made
the landing a day before it was expected. How mortified the French
officers were to find out that there was not a gun left in these very
forts to whose protection they were recommended. All these things, and
many others, I would not take notice of, if they were not at this
moment the supposed ground upon which, it is said, that the Count
d'Estaing is gone on to Boston. Believe me, my dear sir, upon my
honour, the admirals, though a little astonished by some instances of
conduct on our part, did consider them in the same light as you and
myself would have done, and if he is gone off, it is because he thought
himself obliged by necessity.

Let us consider, my dear general, the motions of that fleet since it
was proposed by the Count d'Estaing himself, and granted by the king in
behalf of the United States. I will not go so far up as to remember
other instances of the affection the French nation have for the
Americans. The news of that fleet have occasioned the evacuation of
Philadelphia. Its arrival has opened all the harbours, secured all the
coasts, obliged the British navy to be together. Six of those frigates,
two of them I have seen, sufficient for terrifying all the trading
people of the two Carolinas, are taken or burnt. The Count d'Estaing
went to offer battle, and act as a check to the British navy for a long
time. At New York, it was agreed he should go to Rhode Island, and
there he went. They prevented him from going in at first; afterwards,
he was desired to come in, and so he did. The same day we landed
without his knowledge; an English fleet appears in sight. His being
divided into three parts by _our directions_, for, though he is a
_lieutenant-general_, he never availed himself of that title, made him
uneasy about his situation. But finding the next morning that the wind
was northerly, being also convinced that it was his duty to prevent any
reinforcement at Newport, he goes out under the hottest fire of the
British land batteries, he puts the British navy to flight, and pursues
them, and they were all in his hands when that horrid storm arrives to
ruin all our hopes. Both fleets are divided, scattered; the Caesar, a
74 gun ship, is lost; the Marseillais, of the same size, loses her
masts, and after that accident is obliged to send back an enemy's ship
of 64; the Languedoc having lost her masts, unable to be governed and
make any motions, separated from the others, is attacked by a ship of
the line against which she could only bring six guns.

When the storm was over, they met again in a shattered condition, and
the Caesar was not to be found. All the captains represented to their
general that, after a so long navigation, in such a want of victuals,
water, &c., which they had not been yet supplied with, after the
intelligence given by General Sullivan that there was a British fleet
coming, they should go to Boston; but the Count d'Estaing had promised
to come here again, and so he did at all events. The news of his
arrival and situation came by the _Senegal_, a frigate taken from the
enemy. General Greene and myself went on board. The count expressed to
me not so much as to the envoy from General Sullivan, than as to his
friend, the unhappy circumstances he was in. Bound by express orders
from the King to go to Boston in case of an accident or a superior
fleet, engaged by the common sentiment of all the officers, _even of
some American pilots_, that he would ruin all his squadron in deferring
his going to Boston, he called a new council of war, and finding every
body of the same opinion, he did not think himself justifiable in
staying here any longer, and took leave of me with true affliction not
being able to assist America for some days, which has been rewarded
with the most horrid ungratefulness; but no matter. I am only speaking
of facts. The count said to me these last words: after many months of
sufferings, my men will rest some days; I will man my ships, and, if I
am assisted in getting masts, &c., three weeks after my arrival I shall
go out again, and then we shall fight for the glory of the French name,
and the interests of America.

The day _the count_ went off, the general American officers drew a
protestation, which, as _I had been very strangely called there_, I
refused to sign, but I wrote a letter to the admiral. The protestation
and the letter did not arrive in time.

Now, my dear general, I am going to hurt your generous feelings by an
imperfect picture of what I am forced to see. Forgive me for it; it is
not to the commander-in-chief, it is to my most dearest friend, General
Washington, that I am speaking. I want to lament with him the
ungenerous sentiments I have been forced to see in many American

Could you believe, that forgetting any national obligation, forgetting
what they were owing to that same fleet, what they were yet to expect
from them, and instead of resenting their accidents as these, of allies
and brothers, the people turned mad at their departure, and wishing
them all the evils in the world, did treat them as a generous one would
be ashamed to treat the most inveterate enemies. You cannot have any
idea of the horrors which were to be heard in that occasion. Many
leaders themselves finding they were disappointed, abandoned their
minds to illiberality and ungratefulness. Frenchmen of the highest
character have been exposed to the most disagreeable circumstances, and
yet, myself, the friend of America--the friend of General Washington. I
am more upon a warlike footing in the American lines, than when I come
near the British lines at Newport.

Such is, my dear general, the true state of matters. I am sure it will
infinitely displease and hurt your feelings. I am also sure you will
approve the part I have taken in it, which was to stay much at home
with all the French gentlemen who are here, and declare, at the same
time, that anything thrown before me against my nation I would take as
the most particular affront.

Inclosed I send you the general orders of the 24th, upon which I
thought I was obliged to pay a visit to General Sullivan, who has
agreed to alter them in the following manner. Remember, my dear
general, that I don't speak to the commander-in-chief, but to my
friend, that I am far from complaining of anybody. I have no complaints
at all to make you against any one; but I lament with you that I have
had an occasion of seeing so ungenerous sentiments in American hearts.

I will tell you the true reason. The leaders of the expedition are,
most of them, ashamed to return after having spoken of their Rhode
Island success in proud terms before their family, their friends, their
internal enemies. The others, regardless of the expense France has been
put to by that fleet, of the tedious, tiresome voyage, which so many
men have had for their service, though they are angry that the fleet
takes three weeks, upon the whole campaign, to refit themselves, they
cannot bear the idea of being brought to a small expense, to the loss
of a little time, to the fatigue of staying some few days more in a
camp at some few miles off their houses; for I am very far from looking
upon the expedition as having miscarried, and there I see even a
certainty of success.

If, as soon as the fleet is repaired, which (in case they are treated
as one is in a country one is not at war with,) would be done in three
weeks from this time, the Count d'Estaing was to come around, the
expedition seems to offer a very good prospect. If the enemy evacuates
New York, we have the whole continental army, if not, we might perhaps
have some more men, what number, however, I cannot pretend to judge.
All that I know is, that I shall be very happy to see the fleet
cooperating with General Washington himself.

I think I shall be forced, by the board of general officers, to go soon
to Boston. That I will do as soon as required, though with reluctance,
for I do not believe that _our position on this part of the island is
without danger_; but my principle is to do everything which is thought
good for the service. I have very often rode express to the fleet, to
the frigates, and that, I assure you, with the greatest pleasure; on
the other hand, I may perhaps be useful to the fleet. Perhaps, too, it
will be in the power of the count to do something which might satisfy
them. I wish, my dear general, you could know as well as myself, how
desirous the Count d'Estaing is to forward the public good, to help
your success, and to serve the cause of America.

I earnestly beg you will recommend to the several chief persons of
Boston to do everything they can to put the French fleet in a situation
for sailing soon. Give me leave to add, that I wish many people, by the
declaration of your sentiments in that affair, could learn how to
regulate theirs, and blush at the sight of your generosity.

You will find my letter immense. I began it one day and finished it the
next, as my time was swallowed up by those eternal councils of war. I
shall have the pleasure of writing you from Boston. I am afraid the
Count d'Estaing will have felt to the quick the behaviour of the people
on this occasion. You cannot conceive how distressed he was to be
prevented from serving this country for some time. I do assure you his
circumstances were very critical and distressing.

For my part, my sentiments are known to the world. My tender affection
for General Washington is added to them; therefore I want no apologies
for writing upon what has afflicted me both as an American and as a

I am much obliged to you for the care you are so kind as to take of
that poor horse of mine; had he not found such a good stable as this at
headquarters, he would have cut a pitiful figure at the end of his
travels, and I should have been too happy if there had remained so much
of the horse as the bones, the skin, and the four shoes.

Farewell, my dear general; whenever I quit you, I meet with some
disappointment and misfortune. I did not need it to desire seeing you
as much as possible. With the most tender affection and high regard, I
have the honour to be, &c.

Dear General,--I must add to my letter, that I have received one from
General Greene, very different, from the expressions I have to complain
of, he seems there very sensible of what I feel. I am very happy when
placed in a situation to do justice to any one.


1. The circumstances which gave rise to this letter are mentioned in
the memoirs. The following details will still further explain them:--

When the storm had dispersed his fleet, M. de Estaing wrote a very
remarkable letter to General Sullivan, in which he explained to him the
impossibility of remaining in sight of Rhode Island without danger, and
without disobeying the precise orders of the king. He expressed his
regret that the landing of the Americans in the island, which had been
effected one day before the day agreed upon, should not have been
protected by the vessels; and he rejected strongly the imputation of
having blamed him under these circumstances for having operated so
early, and with only two thousand men. To his great regret, his
situation obliged him to answer the proposal of a combined attack, by a
refusal. This answer excited much dissatisfaction amongst the
Americans. Their officers signed a protestation, which appears to have
been considered by some of them as the means of seconding the secret
inclination of the admiral by forcing him to fight. The report was
spread, in truth, that a cabal in the naval force alone obliged him to
make a retreat, from a feeling of jealousy of the glory which he might
have acquired, as he had belonged formerly to the land forces. This
protestation was carried to him by Colonel Laurens; after a
recapitulation of all the arguments which might be used against the
departure of the fleet, it terminated by the solemn declaration that
that measure was _derogatory to the honour of France_, contrary to the
intentions of his V. C. Majesty, and to the interests of the American
nation, &c. When this protestation was submitted to congress, they
immediately ordered that it should be kept secret, and that M. Gerard
should be informed of this order, which General Washington was charged
with executing by every means in his power.

General Sullivan issued the following order at the same time:--

"It having been supposed, by some persons, that by the orders of the
21st instant, the commander-in-chief meant to insinuate that the
departure of the French fleet was owing to a fixed determination not to
assist in the present enterprise, and that, as the general did not wish
to give the least colour to ungenerous and illiberal minds to make such
an unfair interpretation, he thinks it necessary to say, that as he
could not possibly be acquainted with the orders of the French admiral,
he could not determine whether the removal of the fleet was absolutely
necessary or not; and, therefore, did not mean to censure an act which
those orders might render absolutely necessary." These details,
borrowed from the edition of the writings of Washington, will explain
some passages of this letter, and the sense of the following letters.



White Plains, September 1778.

MY DEAR MARQUIS,--I have been honoured with your favour of the 25th
ultimo by Monsieur Pontgibaud, and I wish my time, which at present is
taken up by a committee at congress, would permit me to go fully into
the contents of it; this, however, it is not in my power to do; but in
one word let me say, I feel everything that hurts the sensibility of a
gentleman, and consequently, upon the present occasion, I feel for you
and for our good and great allies the French. I feel myself hurt, also,
at every illiberal and unthinking reflection which may have been cast
upon the Count d'Estaing, or the conduct of the fleet under his
command; and, lastly, I feel for my country. Let me entreat you,
therefore, my dear marquis, to take no exception at unmeaning
expressions, uttered, perhaps, without consideration, and in the first
transport of disappointed hope. Every body, sir, who reasons, will
acknowledge the advantages which we have derived from the French fleet,
and the zeal of the commander of it; but, in a free and republican
government, you cannot restrain the voice of the multitude; every man
will speak as he thinks, or, more properly, without thinking, and
consequently will judge at effects without attending to the causes. The
censures which have been levelled at the officers of the French fleet
would, more than probably, have fallen in a much higher degree upon a
fleet of our own if we had one in the same situation. It is the nature
of man to be displeased with everything that disappoints a favourite
hope or flattering project; and it is the folly of too many of them to
condemn without investigating circumstances.

Let me beseech you, therefore, my good sir, to afford a healing hand to
the wound that, unintentionally, has been made. America esteems your
virtues and your services, and admires the principles upon which you
act; your countrymen, in our army, look up to you as their patron; the
count and his officers consider you as a man high in rank, and high in
estimation here and also in France; and I, your friend, have no doubt
but you will use your utmost endeavours to restore harmony, that the
honour, the glory, and mutual interest of the two nations maybe
promoted and cemented in the firmest manner. I would say more on the
subject, but am restrained for the want of time, and therefore shall
only add, that with every sentiment of esteem and regard, I am, my dear
marquis, &c.



Head Quarters, White Plains, 1st September, 1778.

Dear Sir,--The disagreement between the army under your command and the
fleet, has given me very singular uneasiness: the continent at large is
concerned in our cordiality, and it should be kept up, by all possible
means, consistent with our honour and policy. First impressions, you
know, are generally longest remembered, and will serve to fix, in a
great degree, our national character among the French. In our conduct
towards them we should remember that they are people old in war, very
strict in military etiquette, and apt to take fire, where others
scarcely seem warmed. Permit me to recommend, in the most particular
manner, the cultivation of harmony and good agreement, and your
endeavours to destroy that ill-humour which may have got into the
officers. It is of the greatest importance, also, that the soldiers and
the people should know nothing of the misunderstanding, or, if it has
reached them, that ways may be used to stop its progress and prevent
its effects.

I have received from congress the enclosed, by which you will perceive
their opinion with regard to keeping secret the protest of the general
officers: I need add nothing on this head. I have one thing, however,
more to say: I make no doubt but you will do all in your power to
forward the repair of the count's fleet, and render it fit for service,
by your recommendations for that purpose to those who can be
immediately instrumental.

I am, dear Sir, &c.



Head-quarters, White Plains, 1st September, 1778.

DEAR SIR,--I have had the pleasure of receiving your several letters,
the last of which was of the 22nd of August. I have not now time to
take notice of the arguments that were made use of for and against the
count's quitting the harbour of Newport and sailing for Boston: right
or wrong, it will probably disappoint our sanguine expectations of
success; and, what I esteem a still worse consequence, I fear it will
sow the seeds of dissension and distrust between us and our new allies,
unless the most prudent measures are taken to suppress the feuds and
jealousies that have already arisen. I depend much upon your aid and
influence to conciliate that animosity which I plainly perceive, by a
letter from the marquis, subsists between the American officers and the
French in our service; this, you may depend, will extend itself to the
count, and to the officers and men of his whole fleet, should they
return to Rhode Island, unless, upon their arrival there, they find a
reconciliation has taken place. The marquis speaks kindly of a letter
from you to him on the subject; he will therefore take any advice
coming from you in a friendly light; and, if he can be pacified, the
other French gentlemen will of course be satisfied, as they look up to
him as their head. The marquis grounds his complaint upon a general
order of the 24th of August, the latter part of which is certainly very
impolitic, especially considering the universal clamour that prevailed
against the French nation.

I beg you will take every measure to keep the protest entered into by
the general officers from being made public. The congress, sensible of
the ill consequences that will flow from the world's knowing our
differences, have passed a resolve to that purpose. Upon the whole, my
dear sir, you can conceive my meaning better than I can express it; and
I therefore fully depend upon your exerting yourself to heal all
private animosities between our principal officers and the French, and
to prevent all illiberal expressions and reflections that may fall from
the army at large.

I have this moment received a letter from General Sullivan of the 29th
of August, in which he barely informs me of an action upon that day, in
which he says we had the better, but does not mention particulars.

I am, &c.



Tyvertown, 1st September, 1778.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--That there has been an action fought where I could
have been, and where I was not, is a thing which will seem as
extraordinary to you as it seems so to myself. After along journey and
a longer stay from home, (I mean from head-quarters,) the only
satisfactory day I have, finds me in the middle of a town. There I had
been sent, pushed, hurried, by the board of general officers, and
principally by Generals Sullivan and Greene, who thought I should be of
great use to the common cause, and to whom I foretold the disagreeable
event which would happen to me; I felt, on that occasion, the
impression of that bad star which, some days ago, has influenced the
French undertakings, and which, I hope, will soon be removed. People
say that I don't want an action; but if it is not necessary to my
reputation as a tolerable private soldier, it would at least add to my
satisfaction and pleasure. However, I was happy enough to arrive before
the second retreat: it was not attended with such trouble and danger as
it would have been had not the enemy been so sleepy, I was thus once
more deprived of my fighting expectations.

From what I have heard from sensible and _candid_ French gentlemen, the
action does great honour to General Sullivan: he retreated in good
order; he opposed, very properly, every effort of the enemy; he never
sent troops but well supported, and displayed great coolness during the
whole day. The evacuation I have seen extremely well performed, and _my
private opinion_ is, that if both events are satisfactory to us, they
are very shameful to the British generals and troops; they had, indeed,
so many fine chances to cut us to pieces; but they are very good

Now, my dear general, I must give you an account of that journey for
which I have paid so dear. The Count d'Estaing arrived the day before
in Boston. I found him much displeased at a protest of which you have
heard, and many other circumstances which I have reported to you: I did
what I could on the occasion; but I must do the admiral the justice to
say that it has not at all diminished his warm desire of serving
America. We waited together on the council, General Heath, General
Hancock, and were very well satisfied with them; the last one
distinguished himself very much by his zeal on the occasion. Some
people in Boston were rather dissatisfied; but when they saw the
behaviour of the council, Generals Heath and Hancock, they, I hope,
will do the same; I, therefore, fear nothing but delays. The marts are
very far off, provisions difficult to be provided. The Count d'Estaing
was ready to come with his land forces and put himself under General
Sullivan's orders, though dissatisfied with the latter; but our new
circumstances will alter that design.

I beg you will pardon me once more, my dear general, for having
troubled and afflicted you with the account of what I had seen after
the departure of the French fleet. My confidence in you is such, that I
could not feel so warmly upon this point without communicating it to
your excellency. I have now the pleasure to inform you that the
discontent does not appear so great. The French hospital is arrived at
Boston, though under difficulties, which, however, I think I have
diminished a good deal by sending part of my family, with orders to
some persons, and entreaties to others, to give them all the assistance
in their power. Now, everything will be right provided the Count
d'Estaing is enabled to sail soon. Every exertion, I think, ought to be
employed for that purpose in all the several parts of the continent:
marts, biscuit, water, and provisions are his wants. I long to see that
we have again the command, or at least an equal force, upon the
American seas.

By your letters to General Sullivan, I apprehend that there is some
general move in the British army, and that your excellency is going to
send us reinforcements. God grant you may send us as many as with the
militia will make a larger army, that you might command them yourself.
I long, my dear general, to be again with you, and to have the pleasure
of co-operating with the French fleet, under your immediate orders,
this will be the greatest I can feel; I am sure everything will then be
right. The Count d'Estaing (if Rhode Island is again to be taken, which
I ardently wish,) would be extremely happy to take it in conjunction
with General Washington, and it would remove the other inconveniences.
I am now entrusted, by General Sullivan, with the care of Warren,
Bristol, and the eastern shore. I am to defend a country with very few
troops who are not able to defend more than a single point. I cannot
answer that the enemy won't go and do what they please, for I am not
able to prevent them, only with a part of their army, and yet this part
must not land far from me; but I answer, that if they come with equal
or not very superior forces to those I may collect, we shall flog them
pretty well; at least, I hope so. My situation seems to be uncertain,
for we expect to hear soon from your excellency. You know Mr. Touzard,
a gentleman of my family--he met with a terrible accident in the last
action; running before all the others, to take a piece of cannon in the
midst of the enemy, with the greatest excess of bravery, he was
immediately covered with their shots, had his horse killed, and his
right arm shattered to pieces. He was happy enough not to fall into
their hands: his life is not despaired of. Congress was going to send
him a commission of major.

Give me joy, my dear general, I intend to have your picture, and Mr.
Hancock has promised me a copy of that he has in Boston. He gave one to
Count d'Estaing, and I never saw a man so glad at possessing his
sweetheart's picture, as the admiral was to receive yours.

In expecting, with the greatest impatience, to hear from your
excellency as to what are to be the general plans, and your private
movements, I have the honour to be, with the highest respect, the
warmest and most endless affection, dear general, &c.



Camp, near Bristol, the 7th September, 1778.

My Dear General,--I cannot let M. de la Neuville go to head-quarters
without recalling to your excellency's memory an inhabitant of the
eastern Rhode Island, those who long much to be again reunited to you,
and conceive now great hopes, from Sir Henry Clinton's movement to New
York, that you will come to oppose him in person. I think if we meet to
oppose the enemy in this quarter, that more troops are absolutely
necessary, for we are not able to do anything in our scattered
situation. I confess I am myself very uneasy in this quarter, and fear
that these people will put it in their heads to take some of our
batteries, &c., which, if properly attacked, it will be difficult to
prevent. I am upon a little advance of land, where, in case of an
alarm, a long stay might be very dangerous; but we will do the best.

I am told that the enemy is going to evacuate New York. My policy leads
me to believe that some troops will be sent to Halifax, to the West
Indies, and to Canada; that Canada, I apprehend, will be your
occupation next winter and spring. This idea, my dear general, alters a
plan I had to make a voyage home some months hence, however, as long as
you fight I want to fight along with you, and I much desire to see your
excellency in Quebec next summer.

With the most tender affection and highest respect, I have the honour
to be, &c.


Bristol, near Rhode Island, September 11th, 1778,

I have already endeavoured to describe to you some part of the pleasure
your last letter gave me; but I cannot write again without repeating my
assurance of the delight I derived from its perusal. I have blessed, a
thousand times, the vessel that brought that letter, and the favourable
winds that blew it, to the American shore. The kindness and affection
you express have sunk deeply into a heart which is fully sensible of
all their value. Your partiality has far over-rated my slight merit;
but your approbation is so precious to me, my desire of obtaining it is
so very strong, that I experience the same pleasure as if I were
conscious of meriting your good opinion. I love you too well not to be
enchanted and overjoyed when I receive any proof of your affection. You
may find many persons more worthy of it, but I may take the liberty of
challenging you to find one human being who either values it more
highly, or is more desirous of obtaining it. I place full reliance on
your kindness, and even if I were unhappy enough to fall under your
displeasure, I hope I should not forfeit your affection. I think I may
promise that that last misfortune shall never occur through any fault
of mine, and I wish I could feel as certain of never erring from my
head as from my heart. The goodness of my friends imposes a weight of
obligation upon me. My greatest pleasure will be to hear you say,
whilst I embrace you, that you do not disapprove of my conduct, and
that you retain for me that friendship which renders me so happy. It is
impossible for me to describe to you the joy your letter, and the kind
feeling which dictated it, have inspired me with. How delighted I shall
be to thank you for it, and to find myself again in your society! If
you should ever amuse yourself by looking at the American campaigns, or
following them on your maps, I shall ask permission to insert a small
river or a mountain: this would give me an opportunity of describing to
you the little I have seen, of confiding to you my own trifling ideas,
and of endeavouring so to combine them as to render them more military:
for there is so great a difference between what I behold here, and
those large, fine, well-organised armies of Germany, that, in truth,
when I recur from them to our American armies, I scarcely dare say that
we are making war. If the French war should terminate before that of
the rest of Europe, and you were disposed to see how things were going
on, and permitted me to accompany you, I should feel perfectly happy;
in the meantime, I have great pleasure in thinking that I shall pass
some mornings with you at your own house, and I promise myself as much
improvement as amusement from conversing with you, if you are so kind
as to grant me some portion of your time.

I received, with heartfelt gratitude, the advice you gave me to remain
here during this campaign; it was inspired by true friendship and a
thorough knowledge of my interest: such is the species of advice we
give to those we really love, and this idea has rendered it still
dearer to me. I will be guided by it in proportion as events may follow
the direction you appear to have expected. A change of circumstances
renders a change of conduct sometimes necessary. I had intended, as
soon as war was declared, to range myself under the French banner: I
was induced to take this resolution from the fear that the ambition of
obtaining higher rank, or the wish of retaining the one I actually
enjoy, should appear to be my only motives for remaining here. Such
unworthy sentiments have never found entrance into my heart. But your
letter, advising me to remain, and assuring me there would be no land
campaign, induced me to change my determination, and I now rejoice that
I have done so. The arrival of the French fleet upon this coast, has
offered me the agreeable prospect of acting in concert with it, and of
being a happy spectator of the glory of the French banner. Although the
elements, until now, have declared themselves against us, I have not
lost the sanguine hopes of the future, which the great talents of M.
d'Estaing have inspired us with. You will be astonished to hear that
the English still retain all their posts, and have contented themselves
with merely evacuating Philadelphia. I expected, and General Washington
also expected, to see them abandon everything for Canada, Halifax, and
their islands; but these gentlemen are apparently in no great haste.
The fleet, it is true, may hitherto have rendered such a division of
their troops rather difficult; but now that it is removed to Boston,
they might easily begin to make a move: they appear to me, instead of
moving off, to intend fighting a little in this part of the country. I
thought I ought to consult M. d'Estaing, and even M. Gerard on this
subject. Both agreed that I was right to remain, and even said, that my
presence here would not prove wholly useless to my own country. That I
might have nothing to reproach myself with, I wrote to M. de Montbarrey
a short letter, which apprised him of my being still in existence, and
of the resolution I had taken not to return to France in the midst of
this campaign.

The kind manner in which you received the gazette which John Adams
conveyed to you, induced me to send you a second, which must have made
you acquainted with the few events that have taken place during this
campaign. The visit that the English army designed to pay to a
detachment which I commanded the 28th of May, and which escaped their
hands owing to their own dilatory movements; the arrival of the treaty,
subsequently that of the commissioners, the letter they addressed to
congress, the firm answer they received, the evacuation of
Philadelphia, and the retreat of General Clinton through Jersey, are
the only articles worthy of attention. I have also described to you in
what manner we followed the English army, and how General Lee, after my
detachment had joined him, allowed himself to be beaten. The arrival of
General Washington arrested the disorder, and determined the victory on
our side. It is the battle, or rather affair, of Monmouth. General Lee
has since been suspended for a year by a council of war, for his
conduct on this occasion.

I must now relate to you what has occurred since the arrival of the
fleet, which has experienced contrary winds ever since it sailed; after
a voyage of three months it reached the Delaware, which the English had
then quitted; from thence it proceeded to Sandyhook, the same place
General Clinton sailed from after the check he encountered at Monmouth.
Our army repaired to White Plains, that former battle-field of the
Americans. M. d'Estaing blockaded New York, and we were thus neighbours
of the English both by land and sea. Lord Howe, enclosed in the
harbour, and separated from our fleet only by the Sandy-hook bar, did
not accept the combat which the French admiral ardently desired, and
offered him for several days. A noble project was conceived--that of
entering into the harbour; but our ships drew too much water, and the
English seventy fours could not enter with their guns. Some pilots gave
no hopes on this subject; but, when we examined the case more narrowly,
all agreed as to its impossibility, and soundings proved the truth of
the latter opinion; we were therefore obliged to have recourse to other

General Washington, wishing to make a diversion on Rhode Island,
ordered General Sullivan, who commanded in that state, to assemble his
troops. The fleet stationed itself in the channel which leads to
Newport, and I was ordered to conduct a detachment of the great army to
General Sullivan, who is my senior in command. After many delays, which
were very annoying to the fleet, and many circumstances, which it would
be too long to relate, all our preparations were made, and we landed on
the island with twelve thousand men, many of them militia, of whom I
commanded one half upon the left side. M. d'Estaing had entered the
channel the day before, in spite of the English batteries. General
Pigot had enclosed himself in the respectable fortifications of
Newport. The evening of our arrival, the English fleet appeared before
the channel with all the vessels that Lord Howe had been able to
collect, and a reinforcement of four thousand men for the enemy, who
had already from five to six thousand men.

A north wind blew most fortunately for us the next day, and the French
fleet passing gallantly under a sharp fire from the batteries, to which
they replied with broadside shot, prepared themselves to accept the
conflict which Lord Howe was apparently proposing to them. The English
admiral suddenly cut his cables, and fled at full sail, warmly pursued
by all our vessels, with the admiral at their head. This spectacle was
given during the finest weather possible, and within sight of the
English, and American armies. I never felt so proud as on that day.

The next day, when the victory was on the point of being completed, and
the guns of the _Languedoc_ were directed towards the English fleet, at
the most glorious moment for the French navy, a sudden gale, followed
by a dreadful storm, separated and dispersed the French vessels, Howe's
vessels, and those of Biron, which, by a singular accident, had just
arrived there. The _Languedoc_ and the _Marseillais_ were dismasted,
and the _Cesar_ was afterwards unheard of for some time. To find the
English fleet was impossible. M. d'Estaing returned to Rhode Island,
remained there two days, to ascertain whether General Sullivan wished
to retire, and then entered the Boston harbour. During these various
cruises, the fleet took or burnt six English frigates, and a large
number of vessels, of which several were armed; they also cleared the
coast and opened the harbours. Their commander appeared to me to have
been formed for great exploits; his talents, which all men must
acknowledge, the qualities of his heart, his love of discipline and of
the honour of his country, and his indefatigable activity, excite my
admiration, and make me consider him, as a man created for great

As to ourselves, we remained some time at Rhode Island, and spent
several days firing cannon shot at each other, which produced no great
result on either side; but General Clinton having led himself a
reinforcement of five thousand men, and a part of our militia having
returned to their own homes, we thought of retiring; the harbour was no
longer blockaded, and the English were resuming their naval advantage.
Our retreat at that period was preceded by a trifling skirmish, at
which I was not present, having repaired to Boston respecting an affair
which I dare not write for fear of accidents. I returned in great
haste, as you may imagine, and, after my arrival, we completed the
evacuation of the Island. As the English were gone out, we were such
near neighbours, that our picquets touched each other; they allowed us,
however, to re-embark without perceiving it, and this want of activity
appeared to me more fortunate, as they would have incommoded me
exceedingly had they attacked the rear.

I am at present on the continent, and have the command of the troops
stationed nearest Rhode Island; General Sullivan is at Providence; M.
d'Estaing is taking in, at Providence, masts and provisions; General
Washington is at White Plains, with three brigades, stationed some
miles in advance on that side, in case of need. As to the English, they
occupy New York and the adjacent Islands, and are better defended by
their vessels than by their troops. They possess the same number of
troops at Rhode Island that they did formerly, and General Grey, at the
head of about five thousand men, marches along the coast, with the
intention of burning the towns and ransoming the small Islands. It is
thought, however, that the scene will soon become more animated; there
are great movements in New York; Lord Howe has gone out with all his
fleet, strengthened with the greatest part of Biron's squadron; M.
d'Estaing has taken possession of the harbour, and has established some
formidable batteries. On the other side, Mr. Grey may form and execute
more serious projects; he is at present in my neighbourhood, and I am
obliged to keep myself still more on the alert, because the stations
which I occupy extend from Seconnet Point, which you may see on the
map, to Bristol. I hope all this will soon end, for we are now in a
very tiresome state of inaction.

I am becoming extremely prolix, but I perceive that I have forgotten
dates, and two lines more or less will not add much to your fatigue.
The evacuation of Philadelphia took place the 18th June; the affair of
Monmouth the 28th; we arrived on Rhode Island, I think, the 10th
August, and evacuated it the 30th of the same month: my gazette is now

An accident has occurred on this Island which has affected me deeply.
Several French officers, in the service of America, have the kindness
to pass much of their time with me, especially when I am engaged firing
musket balls. M. Touzard, an artillery officer in the regiment of _La
Fere_, has been, during the last months, one of my constant associates.
Finding a good opportunity on the Island of snatching a piece of cannon
from the enemy, he threw himself in the midst of them, with the
greatest gallantry and courage; but his temerity drew upon himself a
hot fire from the enemy, which killed his horse, and carried away his
right arm. His action has been admired, even by the English; it would
be indeed unfortunate if distance should prevent its being known in
France; I could not refrain from giving an account of it to M. de
Montbarrey, although I have not any right to do so; but I am very
anxious to be of use to this brave officer. If any opportunity offers
of serving him, I recommend him earnestly to your love of noble
actions. I confide my letters to M. d'Estaing, who will send them to
France. If you should have the kindness to write to me, and any packet
ships be sent out to the fleet, I beg you to take advantage of them.
The admiration I feel for him who commands it, and my firm conviction
that he will not let an opportunity escape of performing glorious
deeds, will always make me desirous of being employed in unison with
him; and the friendship of General Washington gives me the assurance
that I need not even make such a request; I often also receive letters
from M. d'Estaing, and he will send me yours as soon as he receives
them. You must feel how impossible it is for me to ascertain when I can
return to you. I shall be guided entirely by circumstances. My great
object in wishing to return was the idea of a descent upon England. I
should consider myself as almost dishonoured if I were not present at
such a moment. I should feel so much regret and shame, that I should be
tempted to drown or hang myself, according to the English mode. My
greatest happiness would be to drive them from this country, and then
to repair to England, serving under your command. This is a very
delightful project; God grant it may be realized! It is the one which
would be most peculiarly agreeable to me. I entreat you to send me your
advice as soon as possible; if I but receive it in time, it shall
regulate my conduct. Adieu, I dare not begin another page; I beg you to
accept the assurance of my tender respect, and of all the sentiments
that I shall ever feel for you during the remainder of my life.

I shall add this soiled bit of paper, which might have suited Harpagon
himself, to my long epistle, to tell you that I am become very
reasonable as relates to expenses. Now that I have my own
establishment, I shall spend still less, and I really act very
prudently, when you consider the exorbitant price of every thing,
principally with paper money.

I shall write by another opportunity, perhaps a more speedy one, to
Madame de Tesse. I entreat you to present her with my tender respects.
If M. de Tesse, M. de Mun, M. de Neiailly, M. Senac~[1] retain a kind
remembrance of me, deign to present my compliments to them. If M. de
Comte le Broglie does not receive news from this country, as he has
always expressed great interest in me, be so good as to give him an
account of our proceedings when you see him.

May I flatter myself that I still possess your good opinion? I should
not doubt it, if I could but convince you how much I value it; I will
do everything in my power to deserve it, and I should be miserable if
you doubted for an instant how very deeply this feeling is engraven in
my breast. If I have ever erred in the path I am pursuing, forgive the
illusions of my head in favour of the good intentions and rectitude of
my heart, which is filled with feelings of the deepest, gratitude,
affection, and respect for you; and these it will ever retain, in all
countries, and under all circumstances, until my latest breath.



1. M. de Tesse, first squire to the Queen, had married Mademoiselle de
Noailles, daughter of the Marshal, and aunt to Madame de Lafayette; M.
de Neuilly was attached, under the Marshal's orders, to the stables of
the Queen; M. de Mun, father to M. de Mun, peer of France, was intimate
with the whole family; M. Senac de Meilhan has been named comptroller


Bristol, near Rhode Island, Sept. 13th, 1778.

If any thing could lessen my pleasure in writing to you, my dearest
love, it would be the painful idea that I am writing to you from a
corner of America, and that all I love is two thousand leagues from me.
But I have reason to hope that the actual state of things cannot
subsist for any length of time, and that the moment appointed for our
meeting is not very far removed. War, which so often causes separation,
must reunite us; it even secures my return by bringing French vessels
here, and the fear of being taken will soon completely vanish; we shall
be at least two to play at the game, and if the English attempt to
interrupt my course, we shall be able to answer them. How delightful it
would be for me to congratulate myself upon having heard from you; but
that happiness has not been granted me. Your last letter arrived at the
same time as the fleet; since that very distant day, since two months,
I have been expecting letters, and none have reached me. It is true
that the admiral, and the King's minister, have not been better treated
by fortune; it is true that several vessels are expected, one in
particular, every day: this gives me hope; and it is upon hope, that
void and meagre food, that I must even subsist. Do not leave me in such
a painful state of uncertainty, and although I do not expect to be here
to receive an answer to the letter I am now writing, yet I entreat you
to send me a very long one immediately, as if I were only waiting for
your letter to depart; when you read this, therefore, call instantly
for pen and ink, and write to me by every opportunity that you love me,
and that you will be glad to see me again, not but that I am well
convinced of this; my affection does not permit me to make use of any
compliments with you, and there would be more vanity in telling you
that I doubt your love, than in assuring you that I depend fully upon
it, and for the remainder of my life. But every repetition of this
truth always gives me pleasure. The feeling itself is so dear to me,
and is so very necessary to my happiness, that I cannot but rejoice in
your sweet expressions of it. It is not my reason (for I do not doubt
your love) but my heart that you delight by repeating a thousand times
what gives me more pleasure, if possible, each time you utter it. O,
when shall I be with you, my love; when shall I embrace you a hundred

I flattered myself that the declaration of war would recall me
immediately to France: independent of the ties which draw my heart
towards those most dear to me, the love of my country, and my wish to
serve her, are powerful motives for my return. I feared even that
people, who did not know me, might imagine that ambition, a taste for
the command I am entrusted with, and the confidence with which I am
honoured, would induce me to remain here some time longer. I own that I
felt some satisfaction in making these sacrifices to my country, and in
quitting everything to fly to her assistance, without saying one word
about the service I was giving up. This would have been a source of the
purest gratification to me, and I had resolved to set out the moment
the news of war arrived. You shall now learn what has delayed me, and I
may venture to say you will approve of my conduct.

The news was brought by a French fleet, who came to co-operate with the
American troops; new operations were just commencing; it was in the
midst of a campaign; this was not a moment to quit the army. I was also
assured, from good authority, that nothing would take place this year
in France, and that I lost, therefore, nothing by remaining here. I ran
the risk, on the contrary, of passing the whole autumn in a vessel, and
with a strong desire to fight everywhere, to fight in truth nowhere, I
was flattered in this country with the hope of undertaking some
enterprise in concert with M. d'Estaing; and persons like himself
charged with the affairs of France, told me my quitting America would
be prejudicial, and my remaining in it useful, to my country. I was
forced to sacrifice my delightful hopes, and delay the execution of my
most agreeable projects. But at length the happy moment of rejoining
you will arrive, and next winter will see me united to all I love best
in the world.

You will hear so much said about war, naval combats, projected
expeditions, and military operations, made and to be made, in America,
that I will spare you the ennui of a gazette. I have, besides, related
to you the few events that have taken place since the commencement of
the campaign. I have been so fortunate as to be constantly employed,
and I have never made an unlucky encounter with balls or bullets, to
arrest me in my path. It is now more than a year since I dragged about,
at Brandywine, a leg that had been somewhat rudely handled, but since
that time it has quite recovered, and my left leg is now almost as
strong as the other one. This is the only scratch I have received, or
ever shall receive, I can safely promise you, my love. I had a
presentiment that I should be wounded at the first affair, and I have
now a presentiment that I shall not be wounded again. I wrote to you
after our success at Monmouth, and I scrawled my letter almost on the
field of battle, and still surrounded with slashed faces. Since that
period, the only events that have taken place, are the arrival and
operations of the French fleet, joined to our enterprise on Rhode
Island. I have sent a full detail of them to your father. Half the
Americans say that I am passionately fond of my country, and the other
half say that since the arrival of the French ships, I have become mad,
and that I neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, but according to the
winds that blow. Betwixt ourselves, they are a little in the right; I
never felt so strongly what may be called national pride. Conceive the
joy I experienced on beholding the whole English fleet flying full sail
before ours, in presence of the English and American armies, stationed
upon Rhode Island. M. d'Estaing having unfortunately lost some masts,
has been obliged to put into the Boston harbour. He is a man whose
talents, genius, and great qualities of the heart I admire as much as I
love his virtues, patriotism, and agreeable manners. He has experienced
every possible difficulty; he has not been able to do all he wished to
do; but he appears to me a man formed to advance the interests of such
a nation as ours. Whatever may be the private feeling of friendship
that unites me to him, I separate all partiality from the high opinion
I entertain of our admiral. The Americans place great confidence in
him, and the English fear him. As to the Rhode Island expedition, I
shall content myself with saying that General Washington was not there,
and that he sent me to conduct a reinforcement to the commanding
officer, my senior in service. We exchanged, for several days, some
cannon balls, which did no great harm on either side, and General
Clinton having brought succours to his party, we evacuated the island,
not without danger, but without any accident. We are all in a state of
inaction, from which we shall soon awaken.

Whilst we were on the Island, an officer, who has passed the winter
with me, named Touzard, of the regiment of _La Fere_, seeing an
opportunity of snatching a piece of cannon from the enemy, threw
himself amongst them with the utmost bravery. This action attracted the
fire of his antagonists, which killed his horse, and carried off part
of his right arm, which has since been amputated. If he were in France,
such an action, followed by such an accident, would have been the means
of his receiving the cross of St. Louis and a pension. I should feel
the greatest pleasure if, through you and my friends, I could obtain
for him any recompence.

I entreat you to present my respectful and affectionate compliments to
the Marshal de Noailles; he must have received the trees I sent him. I
will take advantage of the month of September, the most favourable
time, to send him a still larger quantity. Do not forget me to Madame
la Marechale de Noailles; embrace my sisters a thousand and a thousand
times. If you see the Chevalier de Chastellux, present to him my
compliments and assurances of affection.

But what shall I say to you, my love? What expressions can my
tenderness find sufficiently strong for our dear Anastasia? You will
find them but in your own heart, and in mine, which is equally open to
you. Cover her with kisses; teach her to love me by loving you. We are
so completely united, that it is impossible to love one without loving
also the other. That poor little child must supply all we have lost;
she has two places to occupy in my heart, and this heavy task our
misfortune has imposed on her. I love her most fondly, and the misery
of trembling for her life does not prevent my feeling for her the
warmest affection. Adieu; when shall I be permitted to see thee, to
part from thee no more; to make thy happiness as thou makest mine, and
kneel before thee to implore thy pardon. Adieu, adieu; we shall not be
very long divided.


Philadelphia, 13th September, 1777.

Sir,--I am sensible of a particular degree of pleasure in executing the
order of congress, signified in their act of the 9th instant, which
will be enclosed with this, expressing the sentiments of the
representatives of the United States of America, of your high merit on
the late expedition against Rhode Island. You will do congress justice,
Sir, in receiving the present acknowledgment as a tribute of the
respect and gratitude of a free people. I have the honour to be, with
very great respect and esteem, Sir, your obedient and most humble



1. This letter, as well as all those that follow to that of the 11th of
January, 1779, with the exception of the letter to Lord Carlisle, was
written originally in English.


Resolved:--The president is charged with writing to the Marquis de
Lafayette; that congress conceives that the sacrifice he made of his
personal feelings, when, for the interest of the United States, he
repaired to Boston, at the moment when the opportunity of acquiring
glory on the field of battle could present itself; his military zeal in
returning to Rhode Island, when the greatest part of the army had
quitted it, and his measures to secure a retreat, have a right to this
present expression of the approbation of congress.

September 9th, 1778.


Camp, 23rd September, 1778.

Sir,--I have just received your favour of the 13th instant, acquainting
me with the honour congress have been pleased to confer on me by their
most gracious resolve. Whatever pride such an approbation may justly
give me, I am not less affected by the feelings of gratefulness, and
the satisfaction of thinking my endeavours were ever looked on as
useful to a cause, in which my heart is so deeply interested. Be so
good, Sir, as to present to congress my plain and hearty thanks, with a
frank assurance of a candid attachment, the only one worth being
offered to the representatives of a free people. The moment I heard of
America, I loved her; the moment I knew she was fighting for freedom, I
burnt with a desire of bleeding for her; and the moment I shall be able
to serve her at any time, or in any part of the world, will be the
happiest one of my life. I never so much wished for occasions of
deserving those obliging sentiments with which I am honoured by these
states and their representatives, and that flattering confidence they
have been pleased to put in me, has filled my heart with the warmest
acknowledgments and eternal affection.

I am, &c.,




Warren, 24th September, 1778.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I am to acknowledge the reception of your late
favour. Your excellency's sentiments were already known to me, and my
heart had anticipated your answer. I, however, confess it gave me a new
pleasure when I received it. My love for you is such, my dear general,
that I should enjoy it better, if possible, in a private sentimental
light than in a political one. Nothing makes me happier than to see a
conformity of sentiments between you and me, upon any matter
whatsoever; and the opinion of your heart is so precious to me, that I
will ever expect it to fix mine. I don't know how to make out a fine
expression of my sentiments, my most respected friend; but you know, I
hope, my heart, and I beg you will read in it.

Agreeably to your advices and my own feelings, I made every effort that
I could for preventing any bad measures being taken on either side;
which conduct I also closely kept in the late affair of Boston
concerning M. de St. Sauveur. I wished to have been of some use on both
occasions, and I hope we have pretty well succeeded. The Count
d'Estaing is entirely ours; so, at least, I apprehend by his
confidential letters to me; and it affords me great pleasure. I have
found by him an occasion of writing to France; and you will better
conceive than I may describe, how I have acted on the occasion. I
thought the best way of speaking of those internal affairs was not to
speak of them, or at least very indifferently, so as to give any such
report which might arrive as groundless and insignificant. I daresay my
scheme will have the desired effect, and nothing will be thought of it
in France. I thought it would be well to let the admiral know that you
do not lay any blame upon him, and that you entertained the sentiments
any honest Frenchman might wish upon this matter.

Agreeably to a very useful article of a letter to General Sullivan, I
have removed my station from Bristol, and am in a safer place, behind
Warren, The few spies I have been able to procure upon the island seem
rather to think of an evacuation than of any enterprise; but, you know,
New York is the fountain-head. I long much, my dear general, to be
again with you; our separation has been long enough, and I am here as
inactive as anywhere else. My wish, and that you will easily conceive,
had been to co-operate with the French fleet; I don't know now what
they will do. The admiral has written to me upon many plans, and does
not seem well fixed on any scheme: he burns with the desire of striking
a blow, and is not yet determined how to accomplish it. He wrote me
that he wanted to see me, but I cannot leave my post, lest something
might happen: it has already cost dear enough to me. However, if you
give me leave, I'll ask this of General Sullivan, and will do what I
think best for both countries.

I have heard of a _pistolade_ between two gentlemen, which lasted very
long without much effect; it looks like our too much spoken of
_cannonade_ at Newport, while _the siege_ was continued. I have not yet
been able to find out what your excellency desires me to inquire into,
on account of the French queen:~[1] but the people of the navy are too
remote from Versailles to have any knowledge of it, and the Count
d'Estaing himself has not any intimacy with her. I'll get that
intelligence from a better source, and _more agreeable to your feelings
on the matter_, in order that you may do what you think fit to be done
if the report is true.

I beg, my dear general, when you write to your lady, that you would
present my respects to her; and I beg also the liberty to make here a
thousand compliments to your family. With the highest respect and most
tender friendship, I have the honour to be, dear general.


1. Several ladies had lately come out from New York, who reported that
a vessel had been captured and brought to that city, in which was
contained a present from the Queen of France to Mrs. Washington, as "an
elegant testimonial of her approbation of the, general's conduct," and
that it had been sold at auction for the benefit of the captors. This
intelligence was so confidently affirmed from such a respectable
source, that General Washington had requested the Marquis de Lafayette
to make inquiry as to the truth of it through the medium of Madame de
Lafayette.--_Writings of Washington_, vol. vi p. 74.



Fredericksburg, 25th September, 1778.

MY DEAR MARQUIS,--The sentiments of affection and attachment, which
breathe so conspicuously in. all your letters to me, are at once
pleasing and honourable, and afford me abundant cause to rejoice at the
happiness of my acquaintance with you. Your love of liberty, the just
sense you entertain of this valuable blessing, and your noble and
disinterested exertions in the cause of it, added to the innate
goodness of your heart, conspire to render you dear to me; and I think
myself happy in being linked with you in bonds of the strictest

The ardent zeal which you have displayed during the whole course of the
campaign to the eastward, and your endeavours to cherish harmony among
the officers of the allied powers, and to dispel those unfavourable
impressions which had begun to take place in the minds of the
unthinking, from misfortunes, which the utmost stretch of human
foresight could not avert, deserved, and now receives, my particular
and warmest thanks. I am sorry for Monsieur Touzard's loss of an arm in
the action on Rhode Island; and offer my thanks to him, through you,
for his gallant behaviour on that day.

Could I have conceived that my picture had been an object of your
wishes, or in the smallest degree worthy of your attention, I should,
while M. Peale was in the camp at Valley Forge, have got him to take
the best portrait of me he could, and presented it to you; but I really
had not so good an opinion of my own worth, as to suppose that such a
compliment would not have been considered as a greater instance of my
vanity, than means of your gratification; and therefore, when you
requested me to sit to Monsieur Lanfang, I thought it was only to
obtain the outlines and a few shades of my features, to have some
prints struck from.

If you have entertained thoughts, my dear marquis, of paying a visit to
your court, to your lady, and to your friends this winter, but waver on
account of an expedition into Canada, friendship induces me to tell
you, that I do not conceive that the prospect of such an operation is
so favourable at this time, as to cause you to change your views. Many
circumstances and events must conspire to render an enterprise of this
kind practicable and advisable. The enemy, in the first place, must
either withdraw wholly, or in part, from their present posts, to leave
us at liberty to detach largely from this army. In the next place, if
considerable reinforcements should be thrown into that country, a
winter's expedition would become impracticable, on account of the
difficulties which would attend the march of a large body of men, with
the necessary apparatus, provisions, forage, and stores, at that
inclement season. In a word, the chances are so much against the
undertaking, that they ought not to induce you to lay aside your other
purpose, in the prosecution of which you shall have every aid, and
carry with you every honourable testimony of my regard and entire
approbation of your conduct, that you can wish. But it is a compliment,
which is due, so am I persuaded you would not wish to dispense with the
form of signifying your desires to congress on the subject of your
voyage and absence.

I come now, in a more especial manner, to acknowledge the receipt of
your obliging favour of the 21st, by Major Dubois, and to thank you for
the important intelligence therein contained.

I do most cordially congratulate you on the glorious defeat of the
British squadron under Admiral Keppel, an event which reflects the
highest honour on the good conduct and bravery of Monsieur d'Orrilliers
and the officers of the fleet under his command; at the same time that
it is to be considered, I hope, as the happy presage, of a fortunate
and glorious war to his most Christian Majesty. A confirmation of the
account I shall impatiently wait and devoutly wish for. If the
Spaniards, under this favourable beginning, would unite their fleet to
that of France, together they would soon humble the pride of haughty
Britain, and no long suffer her to reign sovereign of the seas, and
claim the privilege of giving laws to the main.

You have my free consent to make the Count d'Estaing a visit, and may
signify my entire approbation of it to General Sullivan, who, I am glad
to find, has moved you out of a _cul de sac_. It was my advice to him
long ago, to have no detachments in that situation, let particular
places be ever so much unguarded and exposed from the want of troops.
Immediately upon my removal from White Plains to this ground, the enemy
threw a body of troops into the Jerseys; but for what purpose, unless
to make a grand forage, I have not been able yet to learn. They
advanced some troops at the same time from their lines at Kingsbridge
towards our old encampment at the plains, stripping the inhabitants not
only of their provisions and forage, but even the clothes on their
backs, and without discrimination.

The information, my dear marquis, which I begged the favour of you to
obtain, was not, I am persuaded, to be had through the channel of the
officers of the French fleet, but by application to your fair lady, to
whom I should be happy in an opportunity of paying my homage in
Virginia, when the war is ended, if she could be prevailed upon to
quit, for a few months, the gaieties and splendour of a court, for the
rural amusements of a humble cottage.

I shall not fail to inform Mrs. Washington of your polite attention to
her. The gentlemen of my family are sensible of the honour you do them
by your kind inquiries, and join with me in a tender of best regards;
and none can offer them with more sincerity and affection than I do.
With every sentiment you can wish, I am, my dear marquis, &c.



Camp, near Warren, 24th September, 1778.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I am going to consult your excellency upon a point in
which I not only want your leave and opinion, as the
commander-in-chief, but also your candid advice, as the man whom I have
the happiness to call my friend. In an address from the British
commissaries to congress, the first after _Johnstone_ was excluded,
they speak in the most disrespectful terms of my nation and country.
The whole is undersigned by them, and more particularly by the
president, Lord Carlisle. I am the first French officer, in rank, of
the American army; I am not unknown to the British, and if somebody
must take notice of such expressions, that advantage does, I believe,
belong to me. Don't you think, my dear general, that I should do well
to write a letter ont he subject to Lord Carlisle, wherein I should
notice his expressions conveyed in an unfriendly manner? I have
mentioned something of this design to the Count d'Estaing, but wish
entirely to fix my opinion by yours, which I instantly beg, as soon as
you may find it convenient.

As everyting is perfectly quiet, and General Sullivan is persuaded that
I may, with all safety, go to Boston, I am going to undertake a short
journey towards that place. The admiral has several times expressed a
desire of conversing with me; he has also thrown out some wishes that
something might be done towards securing Boston, but it seems he always
refers to a conversation for further explanation. My stay will be
short, as I don't like towns in time of war, when I may be about a
camp. If your excellency answers me immediately, I may soon receive
your letter.

I want much to see you, my dear general, and consult you about many
points, part of them are respecting myself. If you approve of my
writing to Lord Carlisle, it would be a reason for coming near you for
a short time, in case the gentleman is displeased with my mission.

With the most perfect respect, confidence, and affection, I have the
honour to be, &c.


1. In the preceding session, the English parliament had passed bills
called conciliatory, and in the month of June, conciliatory
commissioners had presented themselves to negotiate an arrangement.
These were, Lord Carlisle, Governor George Johnstone, and William Eden.
Dr. Adam Ferguson, professor of moral philosophy at the University of
Edinburgh, was secretary of the commission. They addressed a letter to
Mr. Laurens which was to be communicated to congress. To that letter
were joined private letters from Mr. Johnstone to several members of
the assembly, whom he endeavoured to seduce by exciting interested
hopes. The letters were given up to the congress, who declared "_that
it was incompatible with their own honour to hold any sort of
correspondence or relation with the said George Johnstone_."--(See the
Letters of General Washington, vol. v., p. 397, and vol. vi., p. 31;
and the _History of the American Revolution_, by David Ramsay, vol.
ii., chap. 16.)


I expected, until the present moment, my lord, to have only affairs to
settle with your generals, and I hoped to see them at the head only of
the armies which are respectively confided to us; your letter to the
Congress of the United States, the insulting phrase to my country,
which you yourself have signed, could alone bring me into direct
communication with you. I do not, my lord, deign to refute your
assertion, but I do wish to punish it. It is to you, as chief of the
commission, that I now appeal, to give me a reparation as public as has
been the offence, and as shall be the denial which arises from it; nor
would that denial have been so long delayed if the letters had reached
me sooner. As I am obliged to absent myself for some days, I hope to
find your answer on my return. M. de Gimat, a French officer, will make
all the arrangements for me which may be agreeable to you; I doubt not
but that General Clinton, for the honour of his countryman, will
consent to the measure I propose. As to myself, my lord, I shall
consider all measures good, if, to the glory of being a Frenchman, I
can add that of proving to one of your nation that my nation can never
be attacked with impunity.



1. This letter was written in French.



Boston, 28th September, 1778.

DEAR GENERAL,--The news I have got from France, the reflections I have
made by myself, and those which have been suggested to me by many
people, particularly by the admiral, increases more than ever the
desire I had of seeing again your excellency. I want to communicate to
you my sentiments, and take your opinion upon my present circumstances-
-I look upon this as of high moment to my private interests. On the
other hand, I have some ideas, and some intelligence in reference to
public interests, which I am very desirous of disclosing to your
excellency. I am sure, my dear general, that your sentiments upon my
private concerns are such, that you will have no objection to my
spending some hours with you.~[1]

The moment at which the fleet will be ready is not very far, and I
think it of importance to have settled my affair with you before that
time. I am going to write to General Sullivan on the subject, and if he
has no objection, I'll go immediately to head-quarters; but should he
make difficulties, I beg you will send me that leave. I intend to ride
express, in order that I may have time enough. You may think, my dear
general, that I don't ask, what I never asked in my life--a leave to
quit the post I am sent to--without strong reasons for it; but the
letters I have received from home make me very anxious to see you.

With the most tender affection and highest respect, &c.


1. In spite of the obstacles which had arrested M. de Lafayette at the
commencement of the projected northern campaign, he had embraced with
ardour the idea of a diversion which was to be operated in Canada, with
the combined forces of France and America; and it was partly to
converse on this plan with Washington, and later with the cabinet of
Versailles, that he insisted upon having a conference with the general-
in-chief, and returning to France before the winter. He was even
summoned to explain himself on this subject with a committee from the
congress, who adopted the plan in principle, but decided that General
Washington should be first consulted. The latter expressed his
objections in a public letter addressed to the congress, and in a
private letter addressed to Laurens, (14th November, 1778.) It was long
before the final decision of congress became known. M. de Lafayette was
still ignorant of it when he embarked for Europe. The 29th December,
only, a letter was addressed to him from President John Jay, who was
charged by congress to express to him that the difficulties of
execution--the want of men and materials, and, above all, the exhausted
state of the finances, did not permit the accomplishment of this
project; that if, however, France would first enter into it, the United
States would make every effort to second her. But France, from various
motives, did not shew herself disposed to snatch Canada from the
English. (See the Correspondence of Washington, vol. vi., and his Life
by Marshal, vol. iii)



Fishkill, 4th October, 1778.

MY DEAR MARQUIS,--I have had the pleasure of receiving, by the hands of
Monsieur de la Colombe, your favour of the 28th ultimo, accompanied by
one of the 24th, which he overtook somewhere on the road. The leave
requested in the former, I am as much interested to grant, as to refuse
my approbation of the challenge proposed in the latter. The generous
spirit of chivalry, exploded by the rest of the world, finds a refuge,
my dear friend, in the sensibility of your nation only. But it is in
vain to cherish it, unless you can find antagonists to support it; and,
however well adapted it might have been to the times in which it
existed, in our days, it is to be feared, that your opponent,
sheltering himself behind modern opinions, and under his present public
character of commissioner, would turn a virtue of such ancient date
into ridicule. Besides, supposing his lordship accepted your terms,
experience has proved that chance is often as much concerned in
deciding these matters as bravery, and always more than the justice of
the cause. I would not, therefore, have your life, by the remotest
possibility, exposed, when it may be reserved for so many greater
occasions. His excellency, the admiral, I flatter myself, will be in
sentiment with me; and, as soon as he can spare you, will send you to
head-quarters, where I anticipate the pleasure of seeing you.

Having written very fully to you a few days ago, and put the letter
under cover to General Sullivan, I have nothing to add at this time,
but to assure you that, with the most perfect regard--I am, dear sir,



Philadelphia, 13th October, 1778.

SIR,--Whatever care I should take not to employ the precious time at
congress in private considerations, I beg leave to lay before them my
present circumstances, with that confidence which naturally springs
from affection and gratitude. The sentiments which bind me to my
country, can never be more properly spoken of than in the presence of
men who have done so much for their own. As long as I thought I could
dispose of myself, I made it my pride and pleasure to fight under
American colours, in defence of a cause, which I dare more particularly
call ours, because I had the good fortune to bleed for it. Now, sir,
that France is involved in a war, I am urged by a sense of duty, as
well as by patriotic love, to present myself before the king, to know
in what manner he may judge proper to employ my services. The most
agreeable of all will be such as may enable me always to serve the
common cause among those whose friendship I have the happiness to
obtain, and whose fortune I have had the honour to follow in less
smiling times. That reason, and others, which I leave to the feelings
of congress, engage me to beg from them the liberty of going home for
the next winter.

As long as there were any hopes of an active campaign, I did not think
of leaving the field. Now that I see a very peaceable and undisturbed
moment, I take this opportunity of waiting on congress. In case my
request is granted, I shall so manage my departure as to be certain
before going off that the campaign is really over. Inclosed you will
find a letter from his excellency General Washington, where he
expresses his assent to my getting leave of absence. I dare flatter
myself, that I shall be looked upon as a soldier on furlough, who most
heartily wants to join again his colours, and his most esteemed and
beloved fellow-soldiers. In case it is thought that I can be in any way
useful to the service of America, when I shall find myself among my
countrymen, and in case any exertion of mine is deemed serviceable, I
hope, sir, I shall always be considered as a man who is deeply
interested in the welfare of the United States, and who has the most
perfect affection, regard, and confidence for representatives. With the
highest regard, I have the honour to be, &c.




Philadelphia, 24th October, 1778.

SIR,--I had the honour of presenting to congress your letter,
soliciting leave of absence, and I am directed by the house to express
their thanks for your zeal in promoting that just cause in which they
are engaged, and for the disinterested services you have rendered to
the United States of America. In testimony of the high esteem and
affection in which you are held by the good people of these states, as
well as in acknowledgment of your gallantry and military talents,
displayed on many signal occasions, their representatives in congress
assembled have ordered an elegant sword to be presented to you by the
American minister at the court of Versailles.

Enclosed within the present cover will be found an act of congress, of
the 21st instant, authorizing these declarations, and granting a
furlough for your return to France, to be extended at your own
pleasure. I pray God to bless and protect you, Sir; to conduct you in
safety to the presence of your prince, and to the re-enjoyment of your
noble family and friends. I have the honour to be, with the highest
respect, and with the most sincere affection, Sir, your most obedient
and most humble servant,


1778. In Congress, October 21st.--Resolved, That the Marquis de
Lafayette, major-general in the service of the United States, have
leave to go to France, and that he return at such time as shall be most
convenient to him.

Resolved, That the president write a letter to the Marquis de
Lafayette, returning him the thanks of congress for that disinterested
zeal which led him to America, and for the services he has rendered to
the United States by the exertion of his courage and abilities on many
signal occasions.

Resolved, That the minister plenipotentiary of the United States of
America at the court of Versailles be directed to cause an elegant
sword, with proper devices, to be made, and presented in the name of
the United States to the Marquis de Lafayette.

October 22nd.--Resolved, That the following letter of recommendation of
the Marquis de Lafayette be written to the King of France:--

To our great, faithful, and beloved friend and ally, Louis the
Sixteenth, king of France and Navarre:--

The Marquis de Lafayette having obtained our leave to return to his
native country, we could not suffer him to depart without testifying
our deep sense of his zeal, courage, and attachment. We have advanced
him to the rank of major-general in our armies, which, as well by his
prudent as spirited conduct, he has manifestly merited. We recommend
this young nobleman to your majesty's notice, as one whom we know to be
wise in council, gallant in the field, and patient under the hardships
of war. His devotion to his sovereign has led him in all things to
demean himself as an American, acquiring thereby the confidence of
these United States, your good and faithful friends and allies, and the
affection of their citizens. We pray God to keep your majesty in his
holy protection.

Done at Philadelphia, the 22nd day of October, 1778, by the congress of
the United States of North America, your good friends and allies.




Philadelphia, the 24th of October, 1778.

My Dear General,--You will be surprised to hear that I am yet in this
city, and that I could never get out this time. My own business was
immediately done, and I received from congress all possible marks of
kindness and affection; but public affairs do not go on quite so fast,
and I am detained for the expedition of projects, instructions, and
many papers which I am to carry with me. The zeal for the common cause
prevents my leaving this place before I am dismissed. However, I will
certainly set out to-morrow afternoon at farthest.

Congress have been pleased to grant me an undetermined furlough by the
most polite and honourable resolves, to which they have added a letter
for the king in my behalf. I will shew the whole to your excellency as
soon as I have the pleasure to see you; and as I hope to arrive two
days after this letter, I think it is useless to trouble you with

I have received an answer from Lord Carlisle, in which he conceals
himself behind his dignity, and, by a prudent foresight, he objects to
entering into any explanation in any change of situation.

There is a plan going on which I think you will approve. The idea was
not suggested by me, and I acted in the affair a passive part. I will
speak to your excellency of it more at length, and with more freedom,
at our first interview. May I hope, my dear general, that you will
order the enclosed letters to be sent immediately to Boston, as some of
them contain orders for a frigate to put herself in readiness.

With the highest respect and most tender affection, I have the honour
to be.


Sir,--I have received your letter by M. de Gimat; I own it appears to
me difficult to make a serious answer to it; the only one that can be
expected from me in my capacity of commissioner of the king, and which
is one you should have foreseen, is, that I look upon myself, and shall
always look upon myself, as not obliged to be responsible to any
individual for my public conduct and mode of expression. I am only
responsible to my king and country. In respect to the opinions or
expressions contained in one of the public documents published by the
authority of the commission to which I have the honour of belonging,
unless they should be publicly retracted, you may feel certain that,
whatever change may take place in my situation, I shall never be
disposed to give any account of them, still less to disown them
privately. I must recall to you that the insult you allude to as
occurring in the correspondence between the king's commissioners and
the congress is not of a private nature. I think, therefore, that all
national disputes will be best decided when Admiral Biron and Count
d'Estaing shall have met.



Philadelphia, 26th October, 1778.

SIR,--I have received your excellency's obliging letter, enclosing the
several resolutions congress have honoured me with, and the leave of
absence they have been pleased to grant. Nothing can make me happier
than the reflection that my services have met with their approbation;
the glorious testimonial of confidence and satisfaction repeatedly
bestowed on me by the representatives of America, though superior to my
merit, cannot exceed the grateful sentiments they have excited. I
consider the noble present offered to me in the name of the United
States as the most flattering honour; it is my most fervent desire soon
to employ that sword in their service against the common enemy of my
country, and of their faithful and beloved allies.

That liberty, safety, wealth, and concord may ever extend to the United
States, is the ardent wish of a heart glowing with a devoted zeal and
unbounded love, and the highest regard and the most sincere affection
for their representatives. Be pleased, Sir, to present my thanks to
them, and to accept, yourself, the assurance of my respectful
attachment. I have the honour to be, with profound veneration, your
excellency's most obedient servant,



October, 1778.

--I ought not to terminate this long despatch, without rendering to the
wisdom and dexterity of the Marquis de Lafayette, in the part he has
taken in these discussions, the justice which is due to his merits. He
has given most salutary counsels, authorized by his friendship and
experience. The Americans have strongly solicited his return with the
troops which the king may send. He has replied with a due sensibility,
but with an entire resignation to the will of the king. I cannot
forbear saying, that the conduct, equally prudent, courageous, and
amiable, of the Marquis de Lafayette, has made him the idol of the
congress, the army, and the people of America. A high opinion is
entertained of his military talents. You know how little I am inclined
to adulation; but I should be wanting in justice, if I did not transmit
to you these testimonials, which are here in the mouth of the whole



Philadelphia, 29th December, 1778.

MY DEAR MARQUIS,--This will be accompanied by a letter from congress,
which will inform you, that a certain expedition, after a full
consideration of all circumstances, has been laid aside. I am sorry,
however, for the delay it has occasioned you, by remaining so long

I am persuaded, my dear marquis, that there is no need of fresh proofs
to convince you either of my affection for you personally, or of the
high opinion I entertain of your military talents and merits. Yet, as
you are on the point of returning to your native country, I cannot
forbear indulging my friendship, by adding to the honourable
testimonies you have received from congress, the enclosed letter from
myself to our minister at your court. I have therein endeavoured to
give him an idea of the value this country sets upon you; and the
interest I take in your happiness cannot but make me desire you may be
equally dear to your own. Adieu, my dear marquis; my best wishes will
ever attend you. May you have a safe and agreeable passage, and a happy
meeting with your lady and friends. I ate, &c.



Philadelphia, 28th December, 1788

SIR,--The Marquis de Lafayette, having served with distinction as
major-general in the army of the United States for two campaigns, has
been determined, by the prospect of a European war, to return to his
native country. It is with pleasure that I embrace the opportunity of
introducing to your personal acquaintance a gentleman, whose merit
cannot have left him unknown to you by reputation. The generous motives
which first induced him to cross the Atlantic; the tribute which he
paid to gallantry at the Brandywine; his success in Jersey, before he
had recovered from his wound, in an affair where he commanded militia
against British grenadiers; the brilliant retreat, by which he eluded a
combined manoeuvre of the British forces in the last campaign; his
services in the enterprise against Rhode Island; are such proofs of his
zeal, military order, and talents, as have endeared him to America, and
must greatly recommend him to his prince.

Coming with so many titles to claim your esteem, it were needless, for
any other purpose than to indulge my own feelings, to add, that I have
a very particular friendship for him; and that, whatever services you
may have it in your power to render him, will confer an obligation on
one who has the honour to be--with the greatest esteem, regard, and
respect, sir, &c.



Boston, 5th January, 1779.

DEAR GENERAL,--In my difficult situation, at such a distance from you,
I am obliged to take a determination by myself, which, I hope, will
meet with your approbation. You remember, that in making full allowance
for deliberations, the answer from congress was to reach me before the
15th of last month, and I have long since waited without even hearing
from them. Nay, many gentlemen from Philadelphia assure me, congress
believe that I am gone long ago. Though my affairs call me home,
private interests would, however, induce me to wait for your
excellency's letters, for the decision of congress about an exchange in
case I should be taken, and for the last determinations concerning the
plans of the next campaign.

But I think the importance of the despatches I am the bearer of; the
uncertainty and improbability of receiving any others here; my giving
intelligence at Versailles may be for the advantage of both nations;
the inconvenience of detaining the fine frigate, on board which I
return, and the danger of losing all the men, who desert very fast, are
reasons so important as oblige me not to delay any longer. I am the
more of that opinion from congress having resolved to send about this
time three fast sailing vessels to France, and the marine committee
having promised me to give the despatches to such officers as I would
recommend; it is a very good way of forwarding their letters, and
sending such as your excellency may be pleased to write
me. I beg you will send copies of them by the several vessels.

To hear from you, my most respected friend, will be the greatest
happiness I can feel. The longer the letters you write, the more
blessed with satisfaction I shall think myself. I hope you will not
refuse me that pleasure as often as you can. I hope you will ever
preserve that affection which I return by the tenderest sentiments.

How happy, my dear general, I should be to come next spring,
principally, as it might yet be proposed, I need not to say. Your first
letter will let me know what I am to depend upon on that head, and, I
flatter myself, the first from me will confirm to you that I am at
liberty, and that most certainly I intend to come next campaign.

My health is now in the best condition, and I would not remember I ever
was sick, were it not for the marks of friendship you gave me on that
occasion. My good doctor has attended me with his usual care and
tenderness. He will see me on board and then return to head-quarters;
but the charge of your friend was intrusted to him till I was on board
the frigate. I have met with the most kind hospitality in this city,
and, drinking water excepted, the doctor has done everything he could
to live happy; he dances and sings at the assemblies most charmingly.

The gentlemen who, I hope, will go to France, have orders to go to
head-quarters; and I flatter myself, my dear general, that you will
write me by them. I beg you will let the bearer of this, Captain la
Colombe, know that I recommend him to your excellency for the
commission of major.

Be so kind, my dear general, as to present my best respects to your
lady and the gentlemen of your family. I hope you will quietly enjoy
the pleasure of being with Mrs. Washington, without any disturbance
from the enemy, till I join you again; I also hope you will approve of
my sailing, which, indeed, was urged by necessity, after waiting so

Farewell, my most beloved general; it is not without emotion, I bid you
this last adieu, before so long a separation. Don't forget an absent
friend, and believe me for ever and ever, with the highest respect and
tenderest affection.

On board the _Alliance_, 10th January, 1779.

I open again my letter, my dear general, to let you know that I am not
yet gone, but if the wind proves fair, I shall sail to-morrow. Nothing
from Philadelphia; nothing from head-quarters. So that everybody, as
well as myself, is of opinion that I should be wrong to wait any
longer. I hope I am right, and I hope to hear soon from you. Adieu, my
dear, and for ever beloved friend,--adieu!



On board the _Alliance_, off Boston, 11th Jan., 1779

The sails are just going to be hoisted, my dear general, and I have but
time to take my last leave of you. I may now be certain that congress
did not intend to send anything more by me. The navy board and Mr.
Nevil write me this very morning from Boston, that the North River is
passable; that a gentleman from camp says, he did not hear of anything
like an express for me. All agree for certain that congress think I am
gone, and that the sooner I go the better.

Farewell, my dear general; I hope your French friend will ever be dear
to you; I hope I shall soon see you again, and tell you myself with
what emotion I now leave the coast you inhabit, and with what affection
and respect I am for ever, my dear general, your respectful and sincere

* * * * *



CAMPAIGNS OF 1780 & 1781.

HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OR 1779, 1780, & 1781.~[1]

Lafayette, who quitted France as a rebel and fugitive, returned there
triumphant and in favour. He was scarcely punished by a week's arrest
for his disobedience to the King, and that was only after he had had a
conversation with the first minister, Maurepas. Lafayette found himself
the connecting link between the United States and France; he enjoyed
the confidence of both countries and both governments. His favour at
court and in society was employed in serving the cause of the
Americans, in destroying the false impressions that were endeavoured to
be raised against them, and in obtaining for them succours of every
kind. He experienced, however, many difficulties; the friends of the
Austrian alliance saw, with displeasure, that that war would cause the
refusal of the forty thousand auxiliaries stipulated by the treaty of
Vienna; the French ministry already feared the too great aggrandisement
of the United States, and decidedly refused the conquest of Canada, on
pretence that before a fourteenth state was added to those that had
already declared themselves independent, it was necessary first to
deliver the thirteen from the yoke of the English. M. Neckar feared
everything that could either increase the expense of the war or prolong
it. Maurepas himself, who had been reluctantly led into it, was
completely weary of it; he hoped to obtain peace by making an attempt
on England. Lafayette, taking advantage of this idea, had organized an
expedition, in which the celebrated Paul Jones was to command the
marines, and of which the object was to transport a body of troops,
bearing the American banner, upon the coast of England, and levy
contributions to supply the Americans with the money that could not be
drawn from the treasury of France. Liverpool and some other towns would
have been justly punished for the part they had taken in the vexations
exercised against the colonies, to whom they were indebted for their
prosperity; but the economy and timidity of the French ministers made
this undertaking fail. Lafayette, despairing of the success of the
Canada expedition, took a step that was undoubtedly a bold one, but
which was quite justified by the issue. He had been enjoined not to ask
for French auxiliary troops for the United States, because the popular
feeling of jealousy against foreigners, and especially against
Frenchmen, not only rendered the congress itself averse to this
project, but made them believe it would excite general anxiety and
discontent. Lafayette foresaw that before the succour could be ready,
the United States would feel its necessity, and that it might arrive,
as did actually occur, in a decisive moment for the safety of the
cause. He took, therefore, upon himself, not being able to obtain
troops for Canada, to solicit, in the name of the congress, what he had
been positively forbidden to ask, a succour of auxiliary troops sent to
a port of the United States, and he made choice of that of Rhode Island
which, having been evacuated by the English, and being in an Island
suitable for defence, was more likely than any other to obviate all
kinds of difficulties. He obtained the promise of six thousand men, but
four thousand only were afterwards sent, under Count Rochambeau:
however trifling that number might appear, Lafayette knew that, by
employing young officers of the court, and drawing the attention of the
French upon that little corps, the ministers would sooner or later be
obliged to render it of use by obtaining a decided naval superiority
upon the American coast, which was Lafayette's principal object, and
which it was very difficult to obtain, owing to other plans of
operation; in fact, that naval superiority was never established until
1781, and then lasted but for a few weeks: events have since proved how
right Lafayette was to speak every day of its necessity. The corps
which had been granted were not in readiness to sail until the
beginning of the year 1780. Lafayette in the meantime was employed in
the staff of the army which was preparing for a descent on England,
under the orders of the Marshal de Vaux. It was then that Dr.
Franklin's grandson presented him officially with the sword that
congress had decreed to him. Upon that sword were represented Monmouth,
Barren Hill, Gloucester, and Rhode Island; America, delivered from her
chains, was offering a branch of laurel to a youthful warrior; the same
warrior was represented inflicting a mortal wound upon the British
lion. Franklin had placed in another part an ingenious device for
America; it was a crescent, with these words: _Crescam ut prosim_; on
the other side was the device, _Cur non?_ which the youth himself had
adopted when he first set out for America.

Lafayette, at the end of the campaign, renewed his efforts to obtain
the fulfilment of the hopes which had been given him; he succeeded in
gaining pecuniary succours, which were placed at the disposal of
General Washington, for it was upon that general that reposed the whole
confidence of the government, and the hopes of the French nation.
Clothing for the army had been promised also, but that remained behind
with the two thousand men which were to have completed the corps of
Rochambeau; and Admiral Ternay, instead of bringing, as he ought to
have done, a stronger naval force than the enemy had brought, set sail
for Rhode Island with seven vessels. This expedition was kept very
secret;~[2] Lafayette had preceded it on board the French frigate the
_Hermione_; he arrived at Boston before the Americans and English had
the least knowledge of that auxiliary reinforcement.

(1780.) The arrival of Lafayette at Boston produced the liveliest
sensation, which was entirely owing to his own popularity, for no one
yet knew what he had obtained for the United States. Every person ran
to the shore; he was received with the loudest acclamations, and
carried in triumph to the house of Governor Hancock, from whence he set
out for head-quarters. Washington learnt, with great emotion, of the
arrival of his young friend. It was observed that on receiving the
despatch which announced to him this event, his eyes filled with tears
of joy, and those who are acquainted with the disposition of
Washington, will consider this as a certain proof of a truly paternal
love. Lafayette was welcomed with the greatest joy by the army; he was
beloved both by officers and soldiers, and felt the sincerest affection
for them in return. After the first pleasure of their meeting was over,
General Washington and he retired into a private room to talk over the


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