Memoirs, Correspondence and Manuscripts of General Lafayette

Part 8 out of 9

distinguished himself, and received a wound by a cannon ball.

In making arrangements for the support of the works we had reduced, I
was happy to find General Wayne and the Pennsylvanians so situated as
to have given us, in case of need, the most effectual support.

I have the honour to be, with the most perfect respect, &c.


1. It was the 13th of September that General Washington had operated
his junction with General Lafayette, and the 28th the place of York was
invaded. The assault was given on the 15th of October.


Camp, near York, October 20th, 1781.

The play, sir, is over--and the fifth act has just been closed; I was
in a somewhat awkward situation during the first acts; my heart
experienced great delight at the final one--and I do not feel less
pleasure in congratulating you, at this moment, upon the fortunate
issue of our campaign. I need not describe the particulars of it, sir,
because Lauzun will give them to you in person; and I only wish him the
same degree of good luck in crossing the ocean that he had in passing
through a corps of Tarleton's legion.

M. de Rochambeau will give you a full account of the army he commands;
but if the honour of having commanded for some time the division of M.
de St. Simon gives me any right to speak of my obligations to that
general and his troops, that right would be much valued by me.

Will you have the kindness, sir, to present my respectful compliments
to the Countess de Maurepas, and Madame de Flamarens, and to accept,
yourself, the sincere assurance of my affection, gratitude, and


Camp, near York, October 20th, 1781.

Allow me, sir, to offer you my congratulations upon the good leaf that
has been turned over in our political tablets. M. Laurens will give all
particulars; I rejoice that your Virginian campaign should close so
well, and my respect for the talents of Lord Cornwallis renders his
capture still more valuable to me. After this commencing stroke, what
English general will ever think of conquering America? Their southern
manoeuvres have not ended more fortunately than their northern ones,
and the affair of General Burgoyne has been again renewed.

Adieu, Sir; I have so short a time for writing, that I can only add at
present the assurance of the respect and sincere attachment of, &c.


On board _La Ville de Paris_, in Chesapeak Bay, Oct. 22, 1781.

This is the last moment, my dearest love, allowed me for writing to
you; M. de Lauzun is going to join the frigate and return to Europe;
some business I had to settle with the admiral affords me the pleasure
of thus giving you some news of me two days later; what relates to
public affairs will be detailed to you by M. de Lauzun. The close of
this campaign is truly brilliant for the allied troops; our movements
have been all remarkably well combined, and I must, indeed, be
difficult to please, if I were not completely satisfied with the close
of my Virginian campaign. You must have learnt all the trouble that
Lord Cornwallis's talents and superior forces gave me,--the good luck
we had in regaining the ground we had lost,--and, finally, our drawing
Lord Cornwallis into the very position that was necessary to enable us
to capture him: at that precise moment all the troops rushed upon him.
I count as amongst the happiest epochs of my life, that in which the
division of M. de St. Simon remained united to my army, and that in
which I alternately commanded the three field-marshals, with the troops
under their orders. I pity Lord Cornwallis, for whom I have the highest
respect; he is kind enough to express some esteem for me, and after
having allowed myself the pleasure, in the capitulation, of repaying
the incivilities of Charlestown, I do not intend to carry my vengeance
any farther. My health is extremely good, and I met with no accident
during our encounter.

Present my most affectionate respects to Madame d'Ayen, and the Marshal
de Noailles; a thousand kind regards to all my sisters, the Abbe Fayon,
and M. de Margelay. I embrace ten thousand times our beloved children.
Adieu, adieu.


December 5th, 1781.

The king, sir, having been informed of the military talents of which
you have given such multiplied proofs whilst commanding the different
corps of the army that has been confided to you in the United States;
of the wisdom and prudence that have guided you in the various
decisions you were called upon to take respecting the interests of the
United States; and of the great confidence with which you have inspired
General Washington; his Majesty has desired me to tell you, that the
praises you have so justly merited on such various occasions have fixed
his attention, and that your conduct and successes have made him, sir,
conceive the most favourable opinion of you; such a one as you might
yourself desire, and from which you may depend on his future kindness.
His Majesty, in order to give you a very flattering and peculiar mark
of this intention, renews to you the rank of
field-marshal in his armies, which you are to enjoy as soon as the
American war shall be terminated, at which period you will quit the
service of the United States to re-enter that of his Majesty. In virtue
of this decision, sir, you may be considered as field-marshal from the
date of the signature of the capitulation, after the siege of Yorktown,
by General Cornwallis, the 19th October, of this year, on account of
your fulfilling at that time the functions belonging to that rank in
the troops of the United States of America.

His Majesty is disposing at this moment of his regiment of dragoons, of
which he had kept for you the command until the present time.

I beg you to be convinced of the pleasure I experience in this act of
his Majesty's justice, and of the wish, I feel to prove to you, on
every occasion, the sincere attachment with which I have the honour of
being, &c.




_Alliance_, off Boston, December 21st, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I am sorry to think we are not yet gone, and there
still remain some doubts of our going to-morrow. This delay I lament
not so much on private accounts as I do on the account of our next
campaign, in the planning of which your opinion, as I shall deliver it,
must be of the greatest use to the common cause. As to the department
of foreign affairs, I shall be happy to justify the confidence of the
congress, by giving my opinion to the best of my power, whenever it is
asked for; but the affair of finances will, I fear, be a difficult
point for the American minister, in which, however, I shall be happy to
help him with my utmost exertions. The moment I arrive in France, I
will write to you minutely how things stand, and give you the best
accounts in my power.

I have received every mark of affection in Boston, and am much attached
to this town, to which I owe so many obligations; but, from public
considerations, I have been impatient to leave it and go on board the
frigate, where I receive all possible civilities, but where I had
rather be under sail than at anchor.

I beg your pardon, my dear general, for giving you so much trouble in
reading my scrawls; but we are going to sail, and my last adieu, I must
dedicate to my beloved general. Adieu, my dear general: I know your
heart so well, that I am sure that no distance can alter your
attachment to me. With the same candour, I assure you that my love, my
respect, my gratitude for you, are above expression; that, at the
moment of leaving you, I felt more than ever the strength of those
friendly ties that for ever bind me to you, and that I anticipate the
pleasure, the most wished for pleasure, to be again with you, and, by
my zeal and services, to gratify the feelings of my respect and
affection. Will you be pleased to present my compliments and respects
to Mrs. Washington, and to remember me to General Knox and General

Adieu, my dear general, your respectful and tender friend, &c.

* * * * *




* * * * *



At Robins's Tavern, halfpast four, 26 June, 1778.

DEAR GENERAL,--I have received your excellency's favor~[1] notifying
your arrival at Cramberry, and am glad to have anticipated your orders
in not going too far. I have felt the unhappy effects of the want of
provisions, for I dare say if we had not been stopped by it, as we were
already within three miles of the enemy's rear, we would very easily
have overtaken them and fought with advantage.

I have consulted the general officers of the detachment, and the
general opinion seems to be that I should march in the night near them,
so as to attack the rear guard when on the march. We have also spoken
of a night attack. The latter seems dangerous. The former will perhaps
give them time of escaping, as it is impossible I would move quite
close by them, at least nearer than three miles.--Col. Morgan is
towards the right flank, Gen. Dickinson is a little upon the left,
Gens. Scott and Maxwel have insisted upon going further down than we
are now; for Wayne's and Jackson's corps they have not had provisions
at all but will be able to march in the night. I beg you would let me
know your intention and your opinion of the matter, my motions depend
much upon what the army will do for countenancing them. I beg you would
be very particular upon what you think proper to be done and what your
excellency will do. I wish indeed you would anticipate the different
cases which may happen according to the place where the enemy
lays.--Gen. Wayne, Col. Hamilton and several officers have gone to
reconnoitre it, I fancy they will lay about seven or eight miles from
here. Your excellency knows that by the direct road you are only three
miles further from Monmouth than we are in this place.

The enemy is said to march since this morning with a great confusion
and fright. Some prisoners have been made, and deserters come amazingly
fast. I believe an happy blow would have the happiest effect, and I
always regret the time we have lost by want of provisions.

I beg you would answer to me immediately, and with the highest respect
I have the honor to be, &c.


1. The letter referred to does not appear in Sparks' "Writings of
Washington;" but there is a letter of instructions in vol. 5, p. 417 of
that work addressed to Gen. Lafayette by Gen. Washington, dated the
25th June 1770, in relation to the service upon which the former had
been detached; some account of which is to be found in the preceding
"Memoirs," ante p.p.51, 52. See also, the letters of Gen. Washington to
Gens. Lee and Lafayette, in Sparks' "Writings &c." p.p. 410, 419.



At Cranbarry, 5 o'clock, June, 1778,

Dear General,--I have received your orders for marching as just as I
could and I have marched without waiting for the provisions tho' we
want them extremely. Gen. Forman and Col. Hamilton sat out last night
to meet the other troops and we shall be together at Hidestown or
somewhat lower. Gen. Forman is firmly of opinion that we may overtake
the enemy,--for my part I am not so quiet upon the subject as he is,
but his sentiment is of great weight on account of his knowledge of the
country. It is highly pleasant to me to be followed and countenanced by
the army that if we stop the enemy and meet with some advantage they
may push it with vigor. I have no doubt but if we overtake them we
possess a very happy chance. However, I would not have the army quite
so near as not to be quite master of its motions, but a very little
distance may do it.--I have heard nothing of the enemy this morning. An
officer of militia says, that after they had pitched their tents
yesterday night, they struck them again. But I am inclined to believe
they did not go farther, and that the man who brought the intelligence
was mistaken. I expect some at Hidestown which I will immediately
forward to you. I beg when your excellency will write to me, that you
could let me know the place you have reached, that I might govern
myself accordingly.

With the highest respect I have the honor to be, &c.


1. In answer to the letter of instructions mentioned in the preceding



Half past ten, 28th June, 1778.

Dear General,--Your orders have reached me so late and found me in such
a situation that it will be impossible to follow them as soon as I
could wish. It is not on account of any other motive than the
impossibility of moving the troops and making such a march immediately,
for in receiving your letter I have given up the project of attacking
the enemy, and I only wish to join Gen. Lee.--I was even going to set
out, but all the Brigadiers, Officers, &c. have represented that there
was a material impossibility of moving troops in the situation where
ours find themselves--I do not believe Gen. Lee is to make any attack
to morrow, for then I would have been directed to fall immediately upon
them, without making 11 miles entirely out of the way. I am here as
near as I will be at English Town. To-morrow at two o'clock I will set
off for that place.

I do not know if Morgan's corps, the militia, &c., must be brought
along with the other part of the detachment. Gen. Forman who don't
approve much of that motion, says, that our right flank must be
secured, unless to incur the most fatal consequences for the whole

I beg your pardon sir, if my letter is so badly written, but I want to
send it soon and to rest one or two hours.

I have the honor to be, &c.

Be so good as to send a speedy answer of what you think proper to order


1. In answer probably to Gen. Washington's letter of the 26th June.
Sparks' Washington, vol. 5, p. 419.



Cranbarry, half past nine o'clock, 29 June, 1778.

Dear General,--Inclosed I have the honor to send you a letter which
Colonel Hamilton was going to send me from this place when I arrived
with the detachment, and which may give you an idea of the position of
the enemy. I will try to meet and collect as soon as possible our
forces, tho' I am sorry to find the enemy so far down that way. We will
be obliged to march pretty fast, if we want to attack them. It is for
that I am particularly concerned about provisions. I send back
immediately for the purpose, and beg you would give orders to have them
forwarded as speedily as possible, and directed to march fast, for I
believe we must set out early to-morrow morning. The detachment is in a
wood, covered by _Cranberry_ Creek, and I believe extremely safe. We
want to be very well furnished with spirits as a long and quick march
may be found necessary, and if Gen. Scot's detachment is not provided,
it should be furnished also with liquor; but the provisions of this
detachment are the most necessary to be sent as soon as possible, as we
expect them to march.

If any thing new comes to my knowledge, I will immediately write to
your excellency, and I will send an express in the morning.

I have the honor to be, &c.

I wish also we could get some axes, but it should not stop the so
important affairs of provisions.


St. Jean d'Angely, June, 1779.

Sir,--I learnt before I left Paris, that a loan, negotiating in Holland
for England, and which was to have been completed the coming autumn,
would be stopped, because the lenders had demanded one per cent more
interest. This loan was undertaken by a banker of English origin, who
has apportioned it among a great many persons, and had become lender-
general to the English government. I am told that some profits over and
above the commission might help America to this sum, amounting to above
forty millions. I communicated this information to the Chevalier de la
Luzerne to be imparted to you; but having discharged that duty towards
the Americans, I feared lest M. Necker would not share in my
earnestness. I have already appropriated twenty millions to bank stock,
ten to an expedition, and ten to pay the interest until the final

I received at the moment I was coming away a letter from America, dated
in the month of January, in which the President informed me in behalf
of Congress, that they had changed their determination respecting the
joint expedition to Canada. The reasons assigned are, the slight
probability of Rhode Island and New York being evacuated next winter,
the uncertainty of the enemy's movements next spring, and therefore the
impossibility of promising their quota of the troops, fixed in the plan
that I was intrusted with. I have the honor to be, &c.


Havre, 9 July, 1779

Sir, If my letter from America had contained any interesting
information, I should not have delayed a moment to acquaint you with
it; but it is only a confirmation of what you heard, and we have some
later news by the way of England. It will be injurious to commerce for
the British to have the command of James River, and while they can
coast along those shores with impunity, their transient descents will
almost always succeed. If they should establish themselves in their new
profession, to drive them out would be the more accordant to the plan I
spoke to you about; as, in Virginia, November and even December are
good campaigning months. The arrival of M. Gerard will certainly supply
you with many details of American affairs, the Swedish ambassador has
sent me, in the name of his king, the most flattering assurances, and
well suited to awaken my gratitude, but the vessels are not
forthcoming, and if we go to America, we must go under the Spanish or
French flag. I think if our Southern allies should engage alone in a
similar expedition, they would do more harm than good by it.

I wish I could send news that the English fleet was beaten in good
earnest; and whilst I wait that event with as much interest, as if I
was at the head of the fleet, the army and the whole ministry, I do not
forget that your time is precious, and so I shall content myself with
presenting to you the homage of my respect and my attachment.


Havre, 7th October, 1779.

Sir,--As from their minister in France, any European intelligence will
be properly conveyed to congress, I beg only the leave of paying them a
due tribute of my respect and heartfelt assurance of my unbounded zeal,
love and gratitude: so sensible I am of their goodness towards me, that
I flatter myself they will kindly receive this letter from one who will
ever boast in the name of an American soldier, and whose delight has
been long ago, in sharing the same fortune as the American people,
never to be considered but as a countryman of theirs. has been obliged to make, the terror that has been spread along
her own shores, while her naval forces were flying in the channel
before our fleet, and suffering themselves to be insulted by our van
guard frigates, and at length the obligation our fleet was under, to
repair into the harbour of Brest for getting provisions and water, are
events which will be more accurately reported by Mr. Franklin's
dispatches. The Ardent, man-of-war of sixty-four guns has been taken by
two French frigates. Captain Jones's small American squadron had the
good luck of taking lately a fleet from the Baltic, and displaying
Continental colours along the coasts of Scotland.

Since I had the honor to write to your excellency, I have ever been
with Count de Vaux's army, which was divided in two corps at St. Malo
and the Havre, and consisted of thirty thousand men. Another body has
been stationed in Flanders, and two thousand dragoons are to embark at
Brest.--The project of invading England was at first retarded by a
difficult meeting of the French and Spanish fleets on account of
contrary winds, by useless efforts to bring out the enemy to an
engagement, and the necessity of repairing into the harbour of Brest.
How it will be possible to bring out the expedition in the autumn is
yet undetermined, but it will be perhaps delayed until next spring,
though the ministry seem very anxious of acting in this campaign.

Suppose the taking of Gibraltar, which they are going to attack with
the greater vigor, was the only European conquest for this year, the
large expenses France has made will yet be of a great use to the common
cause, as it has exhausted England and detained at home forces which
would have done mischief in the other part of the world.

The loss which the enemy have sustained in the East Indies has been
very severly felt by them, and from their negociations in Europe they
cannot procure themselves any allies.

Count d'Estaing's arrival on the American coasts will, I hope, have
produced such an effect as we earnestly desire. How truly concerned,
how truly unhappy I am in being confined to mere wishes, Congress, from
the knowledge they have of my sentiments will better feel for me than I
might myself express. The furlough they were pleased to give me was
unlimited, no one could imagine the campaign would take such a turn,
and till the month of June I was in hopes of rendering myself, in this
part of the world, of a more immediate use to the United States. The
expedition against England had been afterwards fixed upon, and my
services were thought useful to my country and the common cause: So
that I hope Congress will approve of my conduct.

Whatever may be the success of the campaign in America, it will
certainly bring on new projects for the ensuing year. The sense I have
of the favors conferred on me by congress, and the marks of confidence
which I have obtained in many occasions, give me the freedom of
reminding them that the moments where I may find myself under American
colours, among my fellow soldiers, and take orders from our great and
heroic General will ever be considered as the happiest ones in my life.

If there is any thing in France where not only as a soldier, but as a
politician, or in whatever possible light, I may employ my exertions to
the advantage of the United States, I hope it is useless to tell that I
will seize the happy opportunity and bless the fortunate hour which
shall render me useful to those whom I love with all the ardor and
frankness of my heart.

The inestimable sword which Congress have generously added to their so
many favors, I have received from their minister with such honorable
services as by far exceed any merit I may ever boast of. This present
has been also graced by Mr. Franklin's politeness in offering it, and I
could not help repeating again to Congress some assurances of those
sentiments which for ever will animate my grateful heart.

With the warm feelings of one whose first ambition and delight is to be
known in this and to be called in ages to come a _lover of America_,
who is bound to his representatives by the most respectful and tender
attachment and gratitude, and with the highest regard for your

I have the honor to be your's &c.

Paris, 9th January, 1780.

SIR,--You were too busy yesterday for me to communicate to you the
answer of M. de Montbarrey to the request for powder and guns which I
had taken it upon me to make. I spoke in my own name, and the advice
which I took the liberty of giving was not ill received. M. de
Montbarrey told me that he would speak to you about it. He promised me
an early answer; and as you favor my request, I hope that we shall soon
obtain the powder and the fifteen thousand complete sets of
accoutrements, which we would add to the clothes bought with the king's
money. You are conferring a great obligation upon America, and
affording her great additional means of contributing to the advancement
of the grand common cause. Every citizen must be strongly interested in
the fate of our islands, and must fear the effects, which would follow
if an expedition should go out from New York. It is enough to know that
country, whose independence is so important to the honor and safety of
France, to desire that it may be not forgotten in the plan of the
campaign, and to regret the loss of the time which might be employed in
giving it assistance. But the extensive operations are beyond my
sphere, I shall merely ask for my guns, and assure you of the strong
affection and respect with which I have the honor to be, &c.



Peekskill, July the 20th, 1780.

DEAR GENERAL,--Having heard of an express from Rhode Island being going
through the Continental village, I sent for him as it would not delay
him more than an hour. Inclosed I have the honor to send you the letter
from Gen. Heath, which I have opened, and also two letters from the
French generals to me. It seems, my dear General, that they have
anticipated the desire you expressed yourself of our plans in a private
conversation. That way indeed will do better than a hundred letters. In
case (what however I don't believe) they would wish to speak to
yourself, I shall immediately send an express to inform you of it; but
I dare say they will be satisfied with my coming.

I am glad to hear they are hunting after the Cork fleet, and those
frigates being out will also apprise them of the enemy's naval motions.

Adieu, my dear General. With a heart full of hopes, and I think of well
grounded expectations, I have the honor to be very tenderly and
respectfully, &c.

P.S. It is much to be lamented that Paul Jones did not come in the
first envoy. In case there is nothing to fear from the enemy, I will
send the clothing to New London. Be certain, my dear General, that
though by serious reflexions and calculations which I can prove to be
right, I have great hopes of success, I shall however look upon and
speak of all the difficulties that may present themselves. I have on
public and private accounts many reasons to feel the consequence of the
plan in question, and to take the greatest care in considering by
myself and explaining to others our circumstances. The delay of the
small arms I don't consider as equally hurtful to our affairs as will
be the deficiency of Powder. But as (even at the so much overrated
calculations) we have enough of it for one month, I will try to get a
supply from the fleet, and then it will come to the same point. You
will hear from me as soon as possible after my arrival.


1. This letter was written by General Lafayette, while on his journey
to Newport R.I., whither he has been sent with full instructions to
conduct measures of co-operation with the French Generals De Rochambeau
and De Ternay. A copy of these instructions is given in Sparks' History
of Washington, Vol. 7, App. III. See also the answer of Washington to
La Layette, ib. p. 117.



Danbury, July the 21st, 1780.

As I find an express going from Hartford to General Greene, I send this
letter to him that you might hear something further about the recruits
of Connecticut.

From the Colonel who under Gen. Parsons is intrusted with the care of
forwarding them, I hear that by the first of August two thousand of
them will be at West Point; but I had put in my head that they were to
bring arms with them, and I find it is not the case.

Gen. Parsons and myself will meet at Newtown, where, in mentioning
again to him the necessity of hurrying the recruits to West Point, I
will apprise him that you have been disappointed in the expectation of
some powder, and desire him to write to you how far, in case of an
emergency, you might be provided for with that article from his state.

In case Gen. Parsons thought that my waiting on the governor and
council might answer any purpose, I would go three or four miles out of
my way to preach to them some of my old sermons.

With the help of French horses whom I make free with on the road, I
hope I will arrive very soon at Rhode Island. Nothing about Graves'
fleet; but I am happy to think that they will find our people ready to
receive them at Newport.

When I wrote you, my dear General, that my heart was full of flattering
expectations, it is understood that I suppose a sufficiency of arms and
ammunition, which I thought so far useless to explain, as I hope you
believe I have some common sense. But I had an idea that the recruits
would be armed, and I yet think (though I had no reason to be
particular on that head) that you have many small arms in your stores.
For what relates to the powder, I hope that what you will get from the
states, and what I flatter myself to borrow from the French fleet, wilt
put you in a situation to wait for the alliance. You may remember that
the second division is to come before, or very little after, the
beginning of our operations.

I however confess it is impossible not to be very angry at captain
Jones's delays, and much disappointed in our expectations. The only
thing I want to know, is _if you depend on a sufficiency of arms and
ammunition for the first thirty days_. Be certain that before settling
any thing, my great basis will be, _when and how does the second
division come, and how far may we depend on the arms and ammunition
coming with them_.

I have the honor to be, respectfully, &c.



Hartford, July the 22d, 1780.~[1]

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I hasten to inform you that the missing transport is
safely arrived, on the 19th, at Boston. She is said to be a
two-decker, and to have on board a vast deal of powder, with pieces of
ordnance, and also the baggage of the officers of _Bourbonnsis_.--The
intelligence came this instant by an officer of our army who saw the
men encamped on the commons, from where they were to march to
Providence. Two American frigates were, I am told, ordered to convoy
the ship around the Rhode Island; but as their orders were to sail by
to-morrow, they will have time to receive contrary directions from the
French Admiral. The inclosed newspaper will acquaint you of Graves's
cruising off Block Island, and on their first appearance, Chev. de
Ternay will certainly dispatch an express to Boston.

In a conversation which I had yesterday with General Parsons, he told
me that he thought the number of your arms in stores, amounted to ten
thousand, exclusive of those which are now in the hands of the men. He
seems to be of opinion, and so is Col. Wadsworth, that there is no
inconvenience in their State's furnishing their drafts with arms, and
giving even a larger proportion if thought necessary. They say those
arms may be by the 5th of August at King's Ferry. I was so particular
as to make myself certain that this demand will not in the least
impeach any other measure, and as it would be too distressing to fall
short on that article, I will take on myself, though in a private
capacity, to persuade the Governor and Council in the measure of arming
every one of the men whom they send out, and forwarding the arms to
King's Ferry, or West Point, as you may direct.

As to the matter of ammunition Gen. Parsons thinks that (as far as he
may guess,) near fifty tons of powder might be collected. Col.
Wadsworth says he can't ascertain the quantity. They have three mills,
and from what I can collect, I am certain that if you attack New York,
this State will do all in their power. I will foretell the Governor,
that he will have a large demand of ammunition, and let you know how
much we are to depend upon, as far as I may guess from his answer.
Massachusetts have, say they, a vast deal of powder.

I intend to breakfast at Newport the day after to-morrow, and as soon
as I can make out any thing worth the while, from my conversation with
them, I will let you know every matter that may be interesting.

With the highest respect and most tender friendship, I have the honor
to be, dear General, &c.

I am told that the French are in a great want of vegetables. I think it
will be agreeable to them to forward their waggons and horses as much
as possible.~[2]


1. It appears from Spark's Hist. of Washington, p. 125. n. that in his
progress to New Port, General Lafayette called on Governor Trumbull,
General Parsons, Mr. Jeremiah Wadsworth, the Commissary-General, and
other persons in Connecticut, to procure and hasten forward the quota
of troops, and such supplies of arms and ammunition as could be spared
from that State, to co-operate with the French troops upon their

2. The answer to the above letter appears in Spark's Writ. of
Washington, Vol. 7, p 125, See also ib. p.127, note.



Lebanon, July the 23d, 1780.~[1]

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I had this morning the honor to wait on His
Excellency, the governor, and took the liberty, though in a private
capacity, to inform him of our circumstances. The result of our
conversation I will therein transmit to you, and to be more certain of
conveying the governor's ideas, I am writing at his own house, and will
show him my letter before I fold it up.

To begin by the article of powder which is so much wanted, and which,
from unforeseen circumstances may, by its deficiency, ruin all our
expectations, I am, by the Governor, desired to tell you that you may
depend upon: 1stly. Fifty four tons for the present. 2dly, Fifteen tons
to be made up in the course of August, by the three Connecticut Mills.
3dly, Twenty tons, which in case of an absolute necessity, will be
found out in this State; the whole amounting to eighty-five tons, which
he would try to encrease, if possible, to ninety. How far that may
fulfil your expectations, I don't know, but his Excellency will wait
for a letter from you on this subject.

As to the balls, shells, &c., the Governor cannot as yet ascertain the
quantity to be expected, but thinks this State may go a great length.

His resources for arms have been, it seems, overrated by General
Parsons, and other gentlemen, whose opinions I had communicated to your
Excellency. The Governor thinks that it would be difficult to arm the
whole of the recruits. He will, however, if requested by you, do any
thing in his power, and might have a good prospect of succeeding for
the half part of them.

Tho' I had no orders for this interview with Governor Trumbull, and
from the knowledge of our circumstances, took upon myself the freedom
of disclosing them to him, I heard your Excellency's sentiments on one
point so often, so strongly, and so repeatedly expressed, that I could
with all certainty assure him, that you would not ask from the State
more than is necessary to answer our great purposes, and in delivering
the country from the danger of ruin and the disgrace of a shameful
inability, to turn this decisive crisis to the honor and safety of

I took also the liberty of mentioning something about clothing the
officers, and assured the Governor that you thought the measure to be
highly necessary. He entirely agrees in opinion with me, and does not
doubt but that at the first meeting of the Council a sufficient sum in
hard money will be delivered for that purpose. The knowledge I have of
Colonel Wadsworth's zeal and activity makes me desirous that he be
intrusted with that business.

As to the clothing from the fleet, it seems the Governor wishes it to
be sent into Connecticut river, and I will engage the French Admiral
into that measure; for I am very warm in this opinion, my dear General,
and so I know you are, that as less trouble as possible must be given
to the people whose exertions should be entirely thrown in such
channels, as are of absolute necessity; but if we can't send the
clothing around without an eminent danger of its being taken, then his
Excellency the Governor will send it with all possible dispatch and by
pressed waggons from the boundaries of Rhode Island to any place on the
North River, which is mentioned in Mr. Olney's instructions.

I have the honour to be, dear General, &c.

Your's, &c.

P. S.--I have read my letter to the Governor and he agrees with the
contents. He will immediately give orders about the Mills, and collect
four hundred french arms he had in stocks.~[2]


1. This is one of the letters referred to in Gen. Washington's letter
of 20th July. Spark's Writ. of Wash. v, 7, p.128.

2. For the answer to the above, see Spark's Writ. Of Wash. v. 7, p.124.



Newport, July 26th, 1780.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Every private intelligence from Long-Island, and also
the letters from General Howe, and the officer on the lines do agree
with the note I have received from Colonel Hamilton, and are all
positive upon it that General Clinton, with a great part of his army,
is coming to attack the French troops.

In consequence of this Count de Rochambeau is fortifying both Islands,
and making preparations of defence. He has requested our calling
immediately a body of militia, which demand has been complied with by
General Heath.

After many intelligences had been received, I did yet persist in
disbelieving the report, but they now come from so many quarters, that
I am obliged to yield to the general idea, and expect them in a little

I have no doubt but that in the course of the day we will receive some
orders, and some intelligences from head-quarters. The French Generals
have asked me if your army was in a situation to make a diversion, or
if a part of it would not be marched immediately to our relief. My
answer was, that if you was able to do one or the other, you would
certainly not lose a minute, but that I could not tell them any thing
positive; that however, I thought you would come nearer to New-York
than you was when at Preakaness.

All the last day has been employed or in viewing the camp with Count de
Rochambeau, or in helping General Heath in his arrangements. This
morning the Count is gone to reconnoitre the grounds on the Island. We
dine together at the Admiral's, and I will, if possible, begin our
conversation, our affairs exclusive of what we are now expecting from
the enemy.

In case you was to send some troops this way, I wish I might get notice
in such a time as to have some clothing kept on the road, but in all
cases we should take some well looking and well dressed men; that, I
only mention as a mere supposition.

If the enemy mean regular approaches the French Generals say that they
would give time for a succour to come. In all suppositions I don't
think the French will be able to form a junction before some time, as
they can't leave the Island before the fifteenth of next month, (in
supposing that they are not attacked.) They have many sick, but I will
soon be able to tell you more about it, and had not those intelligences
been so pressing, I might have by this time fully spoken on our affairs
with the French Generals.

For my part, my dear General, till orders from you fix any thing I am
to do, I will stay here under General Heath's orders, and help him to
the best of my skill. As soon as any thing important comes to us I will
send you an express.

From private inquires I hope the fleet will furnish us with some
powder. As to the militia who are called by General Heath, the French
army will spare to them such provisions as may be wanted.

I have the honor to be with the most perfect respect and tender
affection, Yours, &c.



Newport, July the 26th, at Seven o'clock, P. M.~[1]

My Dear General,--I had this morning the honor of writing to you by
Genl. Heath's express, and informed you that we had from every official
and private quarter minuted accounts of the enemy's coming in great
force to attack this island. For my part I have been a long time a
disbeliever of the intelligence; but so many letters came to hand that
at length I was forced to take the general opinion about their intended
expedition. But, tho' I wrote you in the morning, I know you are
anxious of hearing often from this quarter, and will therefore desire
General Heath to send an other express.

Nothing as yet (the ships of war excepted) has come in sight; but the
French Generals who have not the smallest doubt about their coming, are
hurrying their preparations of defence.

General Heath and myself were invited to a meeting of the French
General Officers, wherein, to my great satisfaction, the idea of
holding both Connecticut and Rhode Island was abandoned, as it is
assured that from the first one the enemy cannot annoy our shipping, if
in a certain position. Count de Rochambeau, Chevalier de Chattelux, and
myself, went afterwards to dine with the Admiral, and the two French
Commanders have agreed to the following plan:

The transports to be put in the harbour of Newport; the shipping to
anchor along the shore from Brenton's Point, going Northward, where
they are protected by batteries, a frigate and a cutter to be stationed
in Sekonnet Passage; the army to encamp at its usual place, but upon
the appearance of the enemy, to be in readiness to attack them at any
point where they may disembark, and, if unsuccessful, to retire to the
position which was once occupied by the enemy. There they want also to
place some militia. Count de Rochambeau cannot hear of the idea of
evacuating the island, and says he will defend this post to the last
man. I could not help advising him very strongly and very often to
erect works, and keep a communication open with the Continent by
Howland's Ferry or Bristol Point, that matter will, I hope, be attended
to in the course of the next day.

General Heath will inform you of the measures he has taken, in which,
as the second officer, I am only to help him to the best of my power.
The Count's urging request, made it, I think, necessary to call for

The number of sick is such that by the return given before me to Count
de Rochambeau, it appears they will have but three thousand six hundred
men fit for duty if they are attacked within a few days. The fleet has
a great proportion of sick men and the ships are therefore poorly
manned for the present.

Count de Rochambeau asked me so often if you would not send a body of
Continental troops to their relief; if, in the course of twelve days
from this they could not be arrived, or that I knew he wanted me to
write to you about it, and at length he told me he did not want it. But
this must be _between us_. The Count says he will stand a storm; but if
the enemy wanted to make a long work of it that a corps of Continental
troops in their rear would have the best effects. That in this case the
enemy would be much exposed on the Island, and that the circumstances
which would follow their re-embarking, would be so fatal to them as to
facilitate our operations for the campaign. All this, my dear General,
I was in a private manner desired to hint to you.

We could not speak of our grand operations, and they are wholly taken
in their expectations of the enemy. But what might be an inducement to
send a corps this way is, that in any case the French will not be able
to march before the 15th of August.

A return of the clothing has been promised to me for this evening, but
tho' I am sorry to be the news-bearer of so many disappointments, I
must tell you that from what they said to me nothing but a small part
of the clothing has been intrusted to them, and that not only nothing
new has been done, but what I had settled has been undone by those
arrangements of the alliance which I can't conceive. In case you was to
send troops this way, I think their route to Providence should be
known, so that they might meet the clothing on the way. What you will
do, my dear General, I don't know, but it seems Count de Rochambeau is
determined to defend Newport, at all events.

With the most perfect respect and tender sentiments, I have the honor
to be, Yours, &c.


1. For the answer to this letter, See Spark's Writ. of Wash. v. 7,



Newport, July the 29th, 1780.

My Dear General,--Your letter of the 22d~[1] came to hand last evening,
and I hasten to answer at least to a part of its contents. I shall
begin by the disagreeable disappointment I met with on account of our
clothing. Inclosed, my dear General, you will find the return of what
has been put on board of the fleet, which I have sent by a vessel to
Providence, and which will be forwarded to head-quarters. I can't tell
you how much I feel for that shoking arrangement of clothing, but as it
is not quite so essential to arms and powder, if we have no clothing. I
shall be the forwardest to advise our acting without it. I am apt to
blush for neglecting improvements that are within my reach, but I
readily do without those which are not in our power.

As to the affair of arms I spoke this morning to the Count, and am
sorry to find that he has but the most necessary articles of exchange
which are to answer to the daily broken arms, &c., his superfluous
armament is coming in the second division, and for the present there is
nothing to expect from that quarter. The only way, my dear General,
will be to request the States to pick up arms for their recruits.
Governor Trumbull, (as you may have seen by my letter from Lebanon,)
thinks there is a great deal of difficulty in this matter; but many
other Gentlemen from the State assure that it can be done. I will
desire Colonel Wadsworth to manage that affair with the Governor, and I
will also write a private letter to Mr. Bowdoin and Governor Greene.

As to the powder, my dear General, I hope the Navy will give us some,
not however a great deal. You cannot conceive how difficult it is for
the present to speak with them on offensive plans. They expect Clinton
at every minute, and say his success will decide our operations, I had
however this morning a conversation with the Land General, and was to
see in the evening the Admiral, who, I am told, cannot come, so that I
must delay it to be done to-morrow.

Connecticut will, I think, furnish you with a much greater quantity
than you expected. How far it will fulfil your purpose I hope to hear
from you; but I cannot flatter you to get so much from the fleet as two
hundred, even as hundred tons.

I have fully considered, my dear General, the idea of those French
Generals, and made myself acquainted with every thing that has past
since my departure from France. A great mismanagement in the affair of
transports, has prevented the whole coming here at once; but as the
French and Spaniards have a superiority, there is no doubt but that if
they join together as was intended, the second division will be here in
less than three of four weeks. The fleet on this Continent will, I
hope, be commanded by Mr. Duchoffaut, and will be very superior to that
of the enemy. If by an unlucky chance the junction was prevented, the
second division would yet certainly come in the autumn, and be in a
situation to act during the winter; but I have all reasons to believe
that they will be here in three weeks, and you may depend upon it that
they will at all events be here for the winter. From what I have been
intrusted with I have a pretty certain ground to hope that my letter
will produce upon Count de Guichen, the desired effect, and after an
expedition which I can't trust to paper, will be concluded, you may, I
think, depend upon his coming this way with a good part of his fleet.

In a word, the French Ministry are determined to keep here during the
war a land and naval force which will act on the Continent till a peace
is concluded, and to support it with all their power. They look upon
Rhode Island as a point to be kept for receiving their fleets and their
reinforcements of troops, and want the defence of it to be such an
object as will insure the basis of our operations.

Before settling any thing the French Generals want to hear from their
second division. _Don't fear by any means_ their acting rashly, and be
assured that you may very far depend on their _caution_; but our wants
of arms and ammunition have made me also very cautious. If the States
furnish us with a sufficiency of the first article, and almost a
sufficiency of the second, which we will make up with the fleet, then I
am most strongly of opinion that waiting for the second division is all
together wrong and unwarrantable.

I have, however, brought Count de Rochambeau to this, viz.:--That if
the second division comes we must attack. That in all cases, if we are
masters of the water, we may attack; and that we may do it if the
Admiral thinks that we can secure the passage by batteries, and if each
part is equal to the whole of the enemy.

We must now see what the Admiral has to say. What he wrote about the
harbour of New York don't please me. If Duchoffaut comes, I answer for
anything you wish. To-morrow I will speak with the two Gentlemen, so at
least I hope, and will let you know their answers.

If the second division comes in time we shall certainly act and
succeed. Then we will have our arms, powder, clothing, &c.

I never thought, my dear General, that Clinton would come this way; nor
do I think it now, but every body says he is coming. Governor Clinton
has it as a certainty, and upon his letter received this morning they
have altered the arrangement; I had settled to dismiss the
extraordinary militia. I hate troubling all these people, and taking
them away from their harvest. Gen. Heath is of my opinion, but the
intelligences are so particular, so authentic, that he dares not to
neglect to gather as many men as possible. Before you receive this you
will certainly know the truth of those reports.

If you think, my dear General, that Clinton is coming, and if he
disembarks upon Rhode Island, I am clearly of opinion that three or
four thousand Continental troops and the militia landing on his rear,
while the Count would sally from Newport, would ruin the British army,
and that the taking of New York would be but a trifle after such a

In case you adopt the measure, I think that the communication with the
main is very important. I went yesterday to the North end of the
Island, and had the works repaired in such a way (at least they will be
soon so) as to keep up a communication by Howland's Ferry for eight or
ten days after the enemy will possess the Island. I have also desired
Colonel Greene, in case they appear, to run up the boats to Slave
Ferry. Signals have been established from Watch Point to Connanicut;
all those arrangements I have made with the approbation and by the
orders of General Heath.

You will by this express receive a letter from Genl. Heath, who applies
for, and most ardently wishes a leave of repairing to his command in
the grand army. For my part, my dear General, I will, I think, wait
your answer to this, and want to know if by the situation of your arms
and ammunition, there is a possibility of your acting before the second
division comes. If from the answers of the States you think _such a
proportion_ of powder from the fleet will be sufficient; then I will be
more positive. If, however, after my conversations, I was to see that
the second division must be waited for at all events, then I need not
be waiting for your answer to this. I will, therefore, my dear General,

1st, Or arrange with them a beginning of operations before the second
division comes, and then wait for your answer about arms and
ammunition, or the prospects I may have by myself to fix it entirely.

2d, Or fix our plans for the moment the second division comes, and then
I will, as soon as possible, repair to head-quarters.

They seem rather doubtful of the possibility of landing safely, and
having a sufficiency of boats to carry them under the protection of our
Westchester batteries, and I beg you will give me such a note about it
as I might show to them.

With the highest respect and most tender friendship, I have the honor
to be, dear General,

Yours, &c.

All the officers and soldiers of the army have a great desire to join
the grand army, and hate the idea of staying at Rhode Island.


1. See Spark's Writ. of Wash. vol. 7, p. 117.



Newport, July the 31st, 1780,

My Dear General,--In consequence of a note from me the Admiral came to
last evening, and defensive ideas gave way to offensive plans. Our
conversation was long, and it is not yet ended, but I hasten to write
you a summary report of what past between the Count, the Chevalier, and

I first began, in my own name, to give them a pretty exact account of
the situation we were in three months ago, of the supernatural efforts
which the country had made for the purpose of an immediate
co-operation. I told them that by the 1st of January our army would be
dismissed; that the Militia was only to serve for three months. I
added, that for the defensive they were useless to us, nay, they were
hurtful, and that I thought it necessary to take New-York before the
winter. All that, my dear General, was said in my own name, and
therefore in a less delicate way than when I am your interpreter.

I then told them that I was going to speak of you, and after many
compliments, assurances of confidence, &c., I went on with your plan,
beginning with the importance of possessing the harbour, and going on
about the three ways which you have directed me to point out as to be
hereafter regulated by circumstances.

As to the possessing of the harbour the Chevalier told that he did not
believe his ships might go in; but that if superior at sea, he would
answer by cruising off to protect the landing, the transportation, and
prevent an evacuation; indeed to blockade the harbour.

The French General, with the advice of the Naval commander did not
hesitate to prefer the going in transports to the point you know of.
Both were of opinion that nothing could be undertaken unless we had a
naval superiority, and as I know it is your opinion also, (tho' it is
not mine,) I durst not insist on that article.

There was another reason which made me wait for the reinforcement. I
knew we had neither arms nor powder. I know we would be at least a long
time to get them; but as they did not think of making me the objection
I put my assent to the others on the account of my private confidence
in their superior abilities; told them that you also thought we should
have a naval superiority, and added, in my own name, that however we
must, any how, act before the winter, and get rid of a shameful

The summary of the arrangement will, I presume, be this: That as soon
as we hear of a naval reinforcement we go where you know, and establish
what you intend to fix; that, if possible, we get where I want you to
be; that immediately the French will embark and go where you wish them
to be, or thereabout; that a number equal to the enemy's whole force be
stationed in that part; that they don't want there more than ten pieces
of our heavy cannon; that after every thing will be disembarked, three
weeks, in their opinion, will do the business on their side; that
proper means will be taken by sea to keep up the communication and
prevent an evacuation; that we must not give up that plan if we may
begin in August or September; that fascines and other apparatus must be
ready on the opposite shore; that they will take for us all the boats
belonging to the Continent which will be at Providence; that as soon as
our clothing, &c., arrive, it will without entering any harbour be sent
to W.C. or thereabout.

Their superiority at sea, will, I think, take place in the course of
this month; they have two ways to depend upon it:--1st, Unless of an
absolute impossibility the second division, consisting of four other
regiments and the remaining part of Lauzun's, with the Alliance and all
other stores, and with a strong convoy of ships of the line, will be
here very soon. When they will be heard of on the coast, Chevalier de
Tergay will, at all events, go out and meet them. 2dly, the Gentleman I
wrote to on my arrival has full liberty to send here reinforcements,
the Admiral has already applied to him, but I am going to make him
write other letters _in my way_, and will send them
to-morrow or the day after to Chevalier de la Luzerne, whom I beg you
will immediately desire to secure three fast sailing vessels for the
West Indies.

I am going this evening to fix plans with Pilots, and also to speak of
the entrance of the harbour. Dobs and Shaw are here, and I will have a
full conversation with them and the Admiral, both for the entrance of
the harbour and the navigation of the Sound. To-morrow I call, with as
much secrecy as possible, a number of Pilots for the harbour of Halifax
and River St. Laurence.

Inclosed, you will find a letter from Count de Rochambeau. He requests
you will have the goodness of letting the Minister know what the French
army is about, as he had no time of writing to him; it is, I believe,
very important. 1st, To send every where to meet the reinforcement, and
give them proper directions. 2dly, To have some vessels ready for the
West Indies.

The French set more value upon Rhode Island than it is worth. I however
got them to promise that in case of an operation they will not leave
here a Garrison, and that their Magazines would be sent to Providence.

You know, my dear General, I did not expect Clinton, and tho' I could
not stand alone in my opinion, I ever lamented the calling out of the
Militia. I am happy to inform you that they have been dismissed.
Nothing can equal the spirit with which they turned out, and I did not
neglect letting the French know that they have done more for their
allies than they would have done for the security of their own
continental troops on a similar occasion.

As to the three month men, the French General wants them to establish
the communication with the main; but I will soon request him to let
them go to the grand army, and will, in the same time, get from this
State as many arms and powder as possible. I have written to
Massachusetts for the same purpose.

After I will have sent the Pilots, and made calculations with the
Commander of the Artillery and the first Engineer whom the Count will
consult, I shall draw a plan which I will get their answer to, and
repair with it to head-quarters. In the meantime I will receive answers
from Boston and from Governor Greene.

The Admiral cannot send to us more than thirty thousand of powder. But
you see that their demands as to heavy pieces are small; they indeed
say they do not want any on the Island, and that their twenty-ones will
be sufficient. All that, my dear General, I will be more positive upon
after the Commanders of Artillery and Engineers will have made with us
their calculations.

I hope, my dear General, that by the 5th or 6th of August, I will have
nothing more to do in this place. The French army hate the idea of
staying here, and want to join you; they swear at those that speak of
waiting for the second division; they are enraged to be blockaded in
this harbour. As to the dispositions of the inhabitants and our troops,
and the dispositions of the inhabitants and the Militia for them, they
are such as I may wish. You would have been glad the other day to see
two hundred and fifty of our drafts that came on Connecticut without
provisions or tents, and who were mixed in such a way with the French
troops, that every French soldier and officer took an American with him
and divided their bed and their supper in the most friendly manner.

The patience and sobriety of our Militia is so much admired by the
French Officers, that two days ago a French Colonel called all his
officers together to desire them to take the good examples which were
given to the French soldiers by the American troops. So far are they
gone in their admirations that they find a great deal to say in favor
of General Varnum, and his escort of Militia Dragoons, who fill up all
the streets of Newport. On the other hand, the French discipline is
such, that chiken and pigs walk between the tents without being
disturbed, and that there is in the camp a cornfield, from which not
one leaf has been touched. The Tories don't know what to say to it.

Adieu, my dear General. To-morrow, I hope having the pleasure of
writing you another letter, and am with the most tender friendship,
dear General,

Your most obedient humble servant, &c.

I beg, my dear General, you will present my compliments to the family.


1. See Spark's Writ. of Wash. vol. 7, p. 117. The answer to this letter
appears in Spark's Writ. of Wash. v. 7, p. 135.



Newport, August the 1st, 1750.

My Dear General,--Your letter to Count de Rochambeau~[1]
mentioning the enemy's embarkation, and your future movements against
New-York, a positive letter from Governor Trumbull, and a positive one
from General Parsons, have once more altered the dispositions, and such
of the Militia as had been dismissed have been again sent for.

In consequence of these expectations my offensive arrangements have
been entirely cut short, they are wholly taken in their preparations.
My letter of yesterday has been detained with the hope that some
intelligence might be added to it; but I will send it this morning, and
if it is possible to obtain from the Admiral some hour's conversation
with Captains Dobs and Shaw I shall to-morrow morning dispatch another

The dispositions of defence are, I believe, these; the French to occupy
the English lines; General Heath to command a corps of militia on the
Tivertown side; I to have his van-guard on the Island, and to watch the
enemy's motions almost all around the Island, which is not a small

If the enemy land I will try to oppose it, and the French will come in
columns to attack them with fixed bayonets. If this attack do not
succeed they will retire behind the lines, and take with them fifteen
hundred Militia, when with the few ones that may stay, I will retire to
Butt's Hill, and secure the communication with General Heath.

As you did not write to me, my dear General, I could not know what you
want me to do. If you think seriously of entering on the Island of New-
York, I am extremely sorry to stay here. If on the contrary you send
troops this way, (which, if the enemy land, would be fatal to them,) I
will not be to lament my being away from the army. I shall feel very
unhappy to be with some Militia while the Light Infantry is acting
under you, and had I been sent for, I would have joined you very fast;
but if you can take New-York I will heartily forget that I could have
been there, and feel nothing but joy; if, however, there was time
enough, I'd beg you will send for me. If you send troops this way I
believe they may strike a great blow.

The wind is against them, so that they won't be here before the day
after to-morrow. Adieu, my dear General, with the highest respect I
have the honor to be,

Your's, &c.~[2]


1. See Spark's Writ. of Wash. vol. 7, p. 126.

2. For the answer to the above, approving the measures of Lafayette,
See Spark's Writ. of Wash. v.7, p.147.



Elizabeth Town, October the 27th, 1780.

My Dear General.--From what you have heard from Dr. Hagen about the
boats when on your way to head-quarters, I don't believe that you may
have kept any hope for our success. The boats have been, it seems,
reduced to five, and from the time when they were yet at the Little
Falls you may see that they could not be here at the appointed hour.

I will not permit myself to reflect on this moment upon the many
blunders committed on that affair by the Quarter-General's department.
I was too certain of some brilliant success, and military glory is too
much idolized by me; not to be rather severe on the occasion. I will
content myself to say that from the report and common agreement of all
the spies and guides collected together by Major Lee, from the
negligence of the enemy, the circumstances of the tide and a thick
foggy weather, not one of those whom I led into the matter had the
least doubt upon your success.

The only advantage I have got from it has been to convince myself that
our troops are particularly fit for such an expedition, on account of
their patience and silence; and that if the other business could be
supported upon a large scale, I would answer to carry it. I have
written upon both roads to the commanding officer of the brigade of the
line that our expedition was relinquished, and that I would advise him
not to give to his men the trouble of going farther. I have also
requested him to speak of this movement as if it had taken place on
account of some intelligence that the enemy meant to come out into the
Jersey's to attack us.

I have taken my position between Elizabethtown and Connecticut Farms.
General Clinton has not the time of making any disposition against us.
To-morrow at nine or ten I will march to our position of Crane's Town,
and the day after to-morrow to Cotawa, unless I receive contrary

Newark Mountain was rather too far to march it this night, and too near
for to-morrow, because our men being in want of blankets will like
better to join their tents again.

If your Excellency approves of this arrangement, I beg, you will order
our baggage to wait for us on our position of Crane's Town; if you
dislike the disposition your orders may reach us on the road.

I beg, my dear General, you will please to communicate our ill success
and disgraceful disappointment to the Minister, who said he would not
leave Morris Town until he hears from me.

Had I any thing to reproach to myself on the occasion, I would be
inconsolable. I undertook the business because I thought myself equal
to it; I wish the people in the Quarter Master's Department had done
the same for their plans.

I am, my dear General, your's, &c.



Light Camp, October 27th, 1780.

My Dear General,--I am sorry to hear from Major Gibbs that my letter of
last night did not reach you before your departure from head quarters.
It had been written at one o'clock, as soon as I took my position for
the night, and intrusted to Colonel Ogden, who promised to send it by
an officer acquainted with the roads.

Depending upon your communication of the sad intelligence to Chevalier
de la Luzerne, I did not send to Morristown where he was to wait for
the news of the success.

Among the many blunders which have been committed, I shall extract from
that complete assortment some instances (not for this glorious occasion
that is forever lost) but on any future one.

You may remember that after a long time Colonel Pickering assured to
you that the boats were in complete readiness whilst they had no
oars,--he afterwards positively told that he had only three boats with
him at
Camp when two hours before I had seen five of them with my own eyes.
The sending of those five boats two hours after that which you had
appointed, you have been early apprized of, but you don't perhaps know
that instead of being at Dod's the night before last the boats from
Suffrans arrived there last evening about sunset, to this report the
man who received them eight miles this side of Suffrans adds that they
wanted their double trees and spread chains, so that he was obliged to
lose about two hours in taking those things from Continental wagons and
the inhabitants; when our affairs will be thus managed your best
projects cannot fail of being defeated.

Had Mr. Pickering followed the example of General Knox, every thing
would have been here in proper time and proper order, as was the
artillery from the Park.--I confess, my dear General, that I cannot
reconcile my feelings to the idea that by this neglect I have lost a
most happy opportunity, blessed with all the little circumstances which
may insure success. Our expedition has taken the most foolish turn in
the eyes of any one who is unacquainted with this circumstance of the

When I was in hopes of seeing in time at least five of them, I gave up
the watering place to think only of Richmond; but when I saw that we
could not be there before the break of the day, I did not hesitate to
relinquish an expedition which on that footing would have occasioned a
great profusion of blood for little or no purpose, but you will easily
guess what I have felt on the occasion. I never have been so deeply
wounded by any disappointment.

By Mercereau and Colonel Ogden, I hear that the enemy are collecting
boats and intend a forage into the Jerseys. I would be very happy to
know if you have got the like intelligence. Suppose they were to come
out in force and at a distance from us, would not this be an
opportunity to execute your grand plan?

I beg you will let me know this evening if I am to march to-morrow to
our old ground to Cotawa; if the enemy were likely to come out, or if
you thought of a certain plan, I would advise to keep Major Lee for
some days, as in both cases he will be a capital man,--he is a most
charming officer.

Arnold has issued a second proclamation wherein he invites the officers
and soldiers of our army to join him, promising to them equal ranks to
those they hold in the American service.

I am told expresses were sent to me to acquaint me of the delay of the
boats; but excepting Doctor Pagen I have not seen one of them,--the
boats have been sent to the two bridges by Major Gibbs, I had brought
them up with me, and in passing by them both conductors and wagoners
have received the curses of every officer and soldier in the division.
The men marched last night very fast with such silence, good order and
desire of fighting as would have highly pleased you. The activity and
resources of Major Lee have been on that occasion displayed in such a
way as entitles him to my eternal esteem and gratitude. I felt not only
for me but for all the officers and men who had promised themselves so
much glory on the occasion.

With the most tender affection and high respect I have the honor to be,
my clear general, yours, &e,

Colonel Ogden has remained behind to get inteligences; so that being
uncertain if my first letter has reached you, I would be happy to know
in the course of the night if I am to march to-morrow morning to the
old ground.~[1]


1. The two preceding letters relate to a descent upon Staten Island,
which was projected, and was to be executed by Lafayette, who was now
in command of a Light Corps, consisting of battallions, stationed in
advance of the main army, and was anxious to effect some important
enterprise before the campaign should be brought to a close; but this
expedition, as well as an attack proposed in his letter of the 30th
October, ante upon the upper part of New York Island, was rendered
impracticable by the want of boats and other necessary preparations.
See Sparks' Writ. of Wash. v. 7, p. 280, and App. No. 9.



Philadelphia, December 4, 1780.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--I will for this time write a very short letter to you
and cannot be more particular either on public or private business,
until some few days stay in this city have enabled me to get further

I have been greatly disappointed in my not meeting Mrs. Washington. I
have been very angry with my bad fate which led me into another road at
the only moment when I could miss her--this has been the more the case,
as I knew you was uneasy about her, and I wanted both to send you an
express and to advise her to the best way of meeting you as soon as

The southern news are expected this evening. Leslie has re-embarked and
will probably go to Charleston; the southern members are pleased to
like my going towards their country. However I cannot for the present
be determined, as I don't yet know if the campaign will be active, and
if succours are to be expected from France.

By a vessel from there who left Lorient before the middle of October,
we hear that nothing material had happened except the taking of the
merchant fleet. Both naval armies were in port. There was an expedition
of, I think, ten ships of the line and five thousand men ready to
sail--this vessel came in company with Jones, who is daily expected;
a very little part of our clothing will be on board, some will come on
board the Serapis, Jones, who mounts the _Ariel_ had dispatches from
the French Court, for as he however might have been detained by a storm
off the French coast which separated the little convoy. In the vessel
arrived was a Mr. Ross, who, I hope will give me some account of the
clothing, and Baron d'Arent, who got rid of his rupture, has a star
with a cross and a ribbon, and is upon very good terms with the King of

Congress have debated a motion about your being desired to go to the
southward, but have determined that you would better know than they do
if it was more useful to go or to stay. I am more than ever of this
last opinion.

On my arrival I found one of the salt meat vessels sold and the other
to be sold to day. I have spoken on the subject to almost every member
of Congress, who promised that they would take the best measures in
their power to get these provisions.

Chevalier de la Luzerne has communicated to me in _the most
confidential way_ a Spanish plan against St. Augustine, upon which I am
building a letter for the Generals of this nation, and using the best
arguments in my power to engage them either to send twelve ships of the
line to take us and conduct us to Charleston, as to render their
operations as useful as possible to General Greene. To-morrow I will
write you about it. If I have time before the departure of the
confederacy who is going to the West Indies, I will send you the
original, if not a copy of my letter. This is entirely _confidential_,
as I have not the Chevelier's permission to mention it. Adieu, my dear
General, your's, most respectfully.

A letter dated Cadiz, September 23d, mentions that Count d'Estaing
commands the combined fleet, and is gone to sea. In this case his going
with sixteen ships could not be true. I will endeavour to ascertain
this matter.~[1]

Mr. Carmichael writes that Spain has sent a hundred and thirty thousand
dollas. It is not a great deal, the dispositions of that court are very
satisfactory. Portugal does every thing we want, letters are just
arrived from St. Domingo but not desciphered.


1. The Light Infantry corps which Lafayette had commanded was broken up
when the army went into winter quarters, and he now entertained the
desire of transferring his services to the southern army under General
Greene, and had applied to Washington for his advice. See Sparks' Writ.
of Wash. Vol. 7, p. 316.



December the 5th, in the Evening, 1780.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--However acquainted I may be with your intentions, I
thought, upon the whole, that I should better wait for your approbation
before I present any opinion of yours to the Spanish and French
Generals in the West Indies. I will, I know, lose the opportunity of
the confederacy, but many vessels are going that way, and if my letters
meet with your approbation I shall send them by triplicates. I
Impatiently wait for your answer.

I will write to General Greene to let him know of this intended
expedition, which, tho' uncertain as all human events are, may be,
however, in a great measure depended upon.

I confess that I don't hope to prevail upon the Spaniards to come here;
but if you will, you, Count de Rochambeau, and Chevalier de Ternay, may
try. In that case I wish you would write to both of them. My letter
will, at all events, give some remote chance of their doing what I
wish, and insure their communicating with General Greene. For political
reasons I also wish to draw them into this correspondence.

Chevalier de la Luzerne wishes his packet to Count de Rochambeau to be
forward as soon as possible. Adieu, my dear General, yours most
respectfully and affectionately.~[1]


1. For the answer to this letter, See Sparks' Writ. of Wash. v. 7, p.



Philadelphia, December the 16th, 1780.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Your favor of the 8th instant never came to hand
before last night. My former letters will have explained to you my
sentiments relating to a journey southward. I must heartily thank you,
my dear General, for the kind and friendly letters you have been
pleased to send me. I am so happy in your friendship that every mark of
your affection, for me gives me a degree of pleasure which far
surpasses all expressions.

As I have written to you before, my dear General, there is an
intelligence of some ships and troops having been put in readiness at
Brest; there is a possibility of a Spanish officer waiting on you for
the sake of a co-operation. We are also to expect news from my friend
the new Minister of the French Navy, and before they arrive you would
not like my departure.

Two other reasons have weight with me; the first that if the enemy make
this detachment, without which nothing material will happen in the
Southward, and if the intelligence is true about the fast recruiting of
six month men, there is (not a probability) but a possibility of some
thing to be done in this quarter. The second is, that for reasons I
will explain to you when we meet, a visit from you to the French army
is to be much wished, and in this case you will be glad that I may
accompany you.

Under these circumstances, to which is added a natural reluctance to
part from you and this army, and some idea that upon the whole my
staying will be more agreeable to you, I think, my dear General, that
unless new intelligence comes I will soon return.

Colonel Laurens persists in refusing to go, and hopes Hamilton may be
sent, whom he thinks better calculated for the purpose; but I don't
believe now that this plan may be effected, and in that case I should
advise Laurens to accept of the commission, provided he is merely a
_messenger_ and not an _envoy_, that would supersede the old Doctor.

The Assembly of Pennsylvania have passed a bill for their officers
which seems satisfactory to them. Before I go I will still intrigue for
the affair of filling up the battalions. Mifflin behaves perfectly

Adieu, my dear General, most affectionately and respectfully, Yours,


1. For the letter referred to in the commencement of this, See Sparks'
Writ. of Wash. v. 7, p. 316, and see also the letter of Washington to
Lafayette, ibid, p.322 & 339.



Philadelphia, March the 2nd, 1781.

MY DEAR GENERAL,--Your letters of the 25th and 26th~[1] both came
yesterday to hand, which shows that the expresses have not made great
dispatch. I would have done myself the honour of writing to your
Excellency had I not every minute waited for intelligence from the

Your Excellency remembers that our shortest calculation on the arrival
of the troops at the head of Elk was for the 6th of March; I am happy
to inform you that they will be there this day or to-morrow early, and
notwithstanding the depth of the mud, and the extreme badness of the
roads, this march, which I can call rapid, (as for example, they came
in two days from Morris Town to Princeton,) has been performed with
such order and alacrity, that agreeable to the report two men only have
been left behind; and yet these two men have embarked at Trenton with
some remains of baggage. At every place where the detachment have
halted, they have found covering and wood ready for them, and there has
not been the least complaint made to me from any inhabitant. Every
third day they have drawn their provisions; the clothing has also been
distributed, and having embarked yesterday at Trenton they passed the
city about two o'clock with a wind which was extremely favorable.
Congress have given to their troops the advance of one month's pay
which will be distributed at the head of Elk in new emission.

The Artillery, consisting of one 24, six 18, two brass 12, one 8 inch
howitzer, two 8 inch mortars, in all, 12 heavy pieces; four 6 pounders,
and two small howitzers, with a sufficient quantity of ammunition, will
be at the head of the Elk this day and to-morrow, so that by the 4th I
hope we shall be ready to sail. A quantity of medicines and
instruments, and fifteen hundred pairs of shoes will be at the head of
Elk before we embark. Vessels will be in readiness to receive us with
thirty days provision on board. I am also assured that we will have a
sufficient quantity of boats to land the detachment, and two heavy ones
will be added for the Artillery, the public, and some of the private
armed vessels in the Bay have been ordered to the head of Elk; two
dispatch boats are there, and four more have been asked for. As a
farther security to our subsistence, I have got the Minister's
permission to dispose of the French flour and salt meat along the Bay
in case of necessity.

On my arrival at this place I heard that M. de Tilly, the French
Commander, had conferred with the Virginians, but upon seeing that
nothing could be done immediately, he was undetermined whether to stay
or to return to Rhode Island. Fearing that our letters might miscarry,
and wishing to hurry the preparations of the Militia, I complied with
the earnest solicitations of the Minister of France to send on Colonel
Gouvion, and directed him to go either by land or water (as the state
of the Bay would permit) on board the French squadron, and afterwards
to Baron de Steuben's Camp, where he may apprise these Gentlemen of our
force, our intentions, and the time of our arrival. This minuted
account I give to your Excellency to show you that nothing on our part
has been wanting for the success of the expedition. Our preparations
have in every article fulfilled, and in the most important one, time,
have exceeded what had been expected.

Your letter was sent by express to General St. Clair, who immediately
came to town; but nothing having been done for the settling of the
accounts, none of the promises having been complied with, and the men
being much scattered, it has, (after much consideration,) been thought
impossible to embark any number with us, and General St. Clair promises
to make every exertion for the sending of two or three hundred in a few
days whom however I am not to depend upon.

I am myself going to the head of Elk and shall arrive there this
evening. It has not been possible for me to leave sooner the City, as
the three days I have remained here have been fully employed in making
and forwarding preparations.

Before I go I will wait on the Board of War Navy and propose the
sending of the frigates; but the Trumbull having not her compliment of
men, and those of the Ariel having mutinied at sea, I am afraid we will
find difficulties. The preparations made at New York; the return of the
Amarila; the remasting of the Bedfort; the impossibility Mr. Destouches
is under to give us any further assistance; the uncertainty of what Mr.
de Tilly may have determined before he had received your letter. Such
are, my dear General, the many reasons which from a pretty certain
expedition have lately made a precarious one. Under these
circumstances, indeed, there must always be more or less danger in
going down the Bay, and venturing the low country about Portsmouth.
Being unacquainted with the answer you have received from Count de
Rochambeau and Mr. Destouches, I am not able to judge how far I may
depend upon the same ship being ordered again to Chesapeake (in case
before the reception of your letter) she had thought proper to sail.
Her coming was not in consequence of your proposition; her going was
relative to the difficulties of an expedition very different from ours,
and I wish I might know if (tho' Mr. Destouches cannot give further
assistance,) this assistance at least may be depended upon, so as to
hope for the return of the ship should M. de Tilly have left the bay.
The bottom of the Bedfort is said to be damaged; the Amarila was said
to have been dismasted. Suppose those circumstances were true, they
would be in our favour. If a detachment was to go from New York to
Portsmouth, Westpoint would be less in danger. If Cornwallis continues
advancing on, perhaps our being in the neighbourhood of Arnold may be
of service; I will, however, confine myself literally to my
instructions, and if Colonel Gouvion writes me with certainty that M.
de Tilly is gone; if I am not led to suppose he will return, I will
march back the detachment; for the present I am going on because upon
the increasing of the enemy's force at Gardner's Bay, you recommended
dispatch to me; I hope, however, that I will hear from your Excellency.
Now that the chain is established, Colonel Dickering says, that in six
days I may receive your answer at the head of Elk. The hope of seeing
the French ship again, or some other reason, may detain me; but your
answer will determine my movements, and I can receive it by the 8th,
which is about the time when it was thought we would arrive at the head
of Elk.

My expectations are not great, and I think we have but few chances for
us. I shall make all possible dispatch, and listen particularly to the
voice of prudence; however, some hazard might be ran, if we undertake
under these circumstances.

General Duportail having not left this place, I am led to hope that if
we don't go I may return in time for the journey to Rhode Island. I
most earnestly beg, my dear General, that you will favor me with an
immediate answer.

With the highest respect and most tender affection, I have the honor to
be, your's, &c.

P.S.--One of our transports from Trenton had got aground, but the
troops of her will still be in time for her at the head of Elk. Some
new difficulties have been made for the collecting of shoes, but I will
try to get over them. From the extraordinary motions of Lord
Cornwallis, whom we have not heard of these many days, and from the
movements in New-York, I am led to hope that I will hear from you
respecting my future conduct, and that I may be at head-quarters before
you think it prudent to leave New Windsor.~[2]


1. For these, See Sparks' Writ. Wash. p. 430 & 439 The date of the
letter is there given as the 27th.

2. See the letters of Washington is Sparks' Writ. of Wash. Vol. 7, p.
444 & 447.



Head of Elk, March the 7th, 17S1.

My dear general,--Contrary winds, heavy rains, disappointments of
vessels, and every inconvenience to which we had no remedy, have been,
from the day of my arrival, combined against our embarkation. I hope,
however, we will be on board to-morrow morning, and as nothing certain
has been heard from the French ships, no time will be lost on our part
for the celerity of the expedition.

The troops will embark five miles below this place, and three miles
higher up than the Point where General Howe landed. There will be more
room for the arrangements of our vessels, and the shallowness of the
water insures us against the enterprise of any vessel of force. In this
situation we may wait for intelligence from our friends. The State of
Maryland have made to me every offer in their power. I will improve
this opportunity of making up some deficiencies in the Quarter-Master
and Engineer's Department, of insuring to us a good stock of
provisions, and upon the intelligence received that Baron de Steubens
was gone with a large detachment to the Southward, I had hinted the
possibility of getting some Militia from the lower countries, and
repairing some cannon at Baltimore; but having read the inclosed from
the Baron, I will write again to Governor Lee, (as my letter has been
gone but two days,) and save the State from any expence of that kind.
To the obtaining of vessels has been joined the difficulty of getting
them up the river, as they were taking every opportunity to slip them
off. All the vessels, three excepted, are only bay craft, and our
Admiral's ship mounts twelve guns. I have prepared some kind of orders
for that fleet, but hope to be relieved from my Naval command by the
arrival of a French frigate, and have, at all events, sent for
Commodore Nicholson of Baltimore. Mr. McHenry has been very active in
accelerating the measures of his State.

By a letter from Colonel Gouvion, dated Yucomico River, I find that
after many adventures, he had landed there on the 4th, and was
proceeding by land to his destination. The wind is fair enough to come
up the Bay, and hope soon to hear from our friends.

The enclosed letter from the Baron having first come into my hand, and
being on public service, as it was waited upon _to be forwarded with
dispatch_, I took the liberty to open it, but was very sorry to have
done it after a letter of the same date had came also to hand; both say
the same thing (at least in every material point,) and I am happy to
find that the Baron's preparations are going on rapidly.

Whatever may be the Baron's opinion upon the facility of taking, sword
in hand, the fortifications of Portsmouth, I will not hazard any thing
before I have considered the matter with my own eyes. Arnold had so
much time to prepare, and plays so deep a game; nature has made the
position so respectable, and some of the troops under his orders have
been in so many actions that I don't flatter myself to succeed so
easily as it may be thought. The prospect of preserving Naval
superiority must, I think, decide if we are to save bloodshed by
regular approaches, or to risk our men into the dangers of an assault;
but I would like to destroy the works in some measure before we attempt
to storm them. A conversation with the Baron, with Colonel Gouvion, and
some other officers, joined to what I can see myself, will better fix
my mind on the matter than it can be at present. When I left
Philadelphia General Wayne was not far from hoping he could soon
collect a thousand men; but I am not so sanguine in my expectations; I
am, however, trying to prepare matters for this number of men, but I
think that a sufficiency of vessels, (unless ours are sent back,) will
not be obtained in a few days. Let General Wayne arrive in time or not,
when he comes under my directions I wish to know if in case we succeed,
he must be sent to Genl. Greene. Supposing he is to go there, would
your Excellency think of selecting some riflemen for the grand army? It
seems to me that I heard you once mentioning this matter. The State of
Virginia, I am told, finds difficulties in the keeping of prisoners.
Suppose something of the kind was stated to me, am I to alter any thing
in what you said to me on the subject?

I am in a great hurry to go, my dear General; but let us succeed or
fall in the object we have in view, I shan't be less hurried to return
with the detachment to head-quarters, where I hope to be again as soon
as you may possibly expect. I beg you will present my respects to Mrs.
Washington, and Mrs. Hamilton, and compliments to the family. I have
received Mr. Washington's answer, he is waiting for me at the Baron's

With the highest respect and most tender affection I have the honor to
be, your's, &c.~[1]


1. See Washington's letter in Sparks' Writ. in Wash, vol. 8, p. 449.



Off Turkey Point, March the 9th.

My dear general,--Commodore Nicholson has joined us sooner than I
expected; he answers to conduct the detachment to Annapolis without the
least danger, there he will wait for intelligence from me, but says
that if the French fleet are below be might go with safety (if not for
the vessels at least for the troops) to the point of our destination.
Nicholson will be very useful to the French fleet as he knows well the

I will be at Hampton to-morrow night or the day after, and three days
after my arrival, if the French (whose arrival has not been heard of)
consent to send a Frigate, the detachment may come in two days from

Most respectfully, my dear General, your's &c.

P.S.--I have written to the State of Maryland to tell them we don't
want any of their Militia. I have left to the Navy Board to judge of
the propriety to send out the Ariel adding that it was no more



York, March 15th, 1781.

My Dear General,--The number of small frigates and privateers that are
in the bay, made it impossible for me to carry the detachment farther
down than Annapolis, and I have requested the Governor of Maryland as
well as the principal officers of the detachment, to give out that we
are going to join General Greene; but the object of the expedition is
so perfectly well known every where, that our sole dependence to keep
Arnold must be upon the apprehension he has of a French fleet being
cruizing off the capes.

For my part, I came in a barge from Annapolis, and very luckily escaped
the dangers that were in the way. Colonel Harrison will have given to
your Excellency a minute detail of the reasons which have prompted me
to this measure. I have taken his advice on the matter, and have no
doubt but that your Excellency (considering the probability that no
frigate would have been sent) will approve of the step I have taken to
forward as much as possible both the advantage of the expedition and
the honor of the American arms.

On my arrival, (yesterday afternoon) I have found that Baron de Stuben
had been very active in making preparations, and agreeable to what he
tells me, we shall have five thousand militia ready to operate. This,
with the Continental detachment, is equal to the business, and we might
very well do without any land force from Newport.

By papers found in the baggage of a British officer, (taken in a boat)
it seems that General Gregory had a correspondence with the enemy. The
Baron has suspended him, but he is still with the troops.

Arnold is so well acquainted with the coming of the detachment, and his
object is so well known, that, as I said before, our only chance to
keep him must be the idea of a French fleet being off the capes; he is
fortifying at Portsmouth, and trying to get provisions. There has been
some trifling skirmishes with the militia.

To my great disappointment the French fleet have not yet appeared. If
the project has not been given up they must be expected every minute;
they had double the time which they wanted, and such winds as ought
have brought them in four days.

I wanted to hold up the idea of my going to the Southward; but the
Baron says that if the detachment is not announced, the militia will
desert. He wanted me to take the command immediately, but I thought it
more polite not to do it until the detachment arrives or operations are

In your first letter to the Baron, I wish my dear General, you will
write to him that I have been much satisfied with his preparations. I
want to please him, and harmony shall be my first object. As in all
cases, (even this of my going to the Southward and coming here to make
arrangements with the Baron) I would reconnoitre the enemies; I will
take an opportunity of doing it as soon as possible. They have not as
yet been reconnoitred by the Baron, and I think it therefore more
necessary for me to see with my own eyes.

As I have just arrived, my dear General, I cannot give you a very exact
account of matters.

This letter I send by duplicate, and have the honor to be with the
highest respect and most tender affection, yours, &c.



Elk, April the 10th, 1751.

Dear general,--By my letter of the 8th your Excellency will have
known of my arrival at this place, and the preparations I was making to
proceed Southward. I took at the same time the liberty to inform you
that the great want of money, baggage, clothing, under which both
officers and men are suffering, and the hope they had of being
furnished with a part of these articles from their States, would render
it very inconvenient for the troops to proceed immediately by land;
they begin to be sensible of the reason which detains them here, and


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