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I am very sorry, that any letter of mine should be the subject of public discussion, or give the smallest uneasiness to any person living. The letter, to which I presume you allude, was a confidential one from me to Mr. Lund Washington, with whom I have lived in perfect intimacy for nearly twenty years. I can neither avow the letter, as it is published by Rivington, nor declare that it is spurious, because my letter to this gentleman was written in great haste, and no copy of it was taken. All I remember of the matter is, that, at the time of writing it, I was a good deal chagrined to find by your letter of the 15th of March, from Yorktown in Virginia, that the French fleet had not at that time appeared within the Capes of the Chesapeake; and I meant in strict confidence to express my apprehensions and concern for the delay. But as we know that the alteration of a single word does oftentimes pervert the sense, or give a force to the expression, unintended by the letter-writer, I should not be surprised if Rivington, or the inspectors of his gazette, have taken that liberty with the letter in question ; especially as he or they have, I am told, published a letter from me to Governor Hancock and his answer, which never had an existence but in the gazette. That the enemy fabricated a number of letters for me formerly is a fact well known ; that they are not less capable of doing it now, few will deny. As to his asserting, that this is a genuine copy of the original, he well knows that their friends do not want to convict him of a falsehood, and that ours have not the opportunity of doing it, though both sides know his talents for lying.*
* A mail had been intercepted and carried into New York, in which was a private letter, dated March 28th, from General Washington to Lund Washington at Mount Vernon. That letter was printed in Rivington's Royal Gazette, April 4th, and contained the following extract. “It was unfortunate (but this I mention in confidence that the French fleet and detachment did not undertake the enterprise they are now upon, when I first proposed it to them. The destruction of Arnold's corps would then have been inevitable before the British fleet could have put to sea. Instead of this, the small squadron which took the Romulus and other vessels was sent, and could not, as I foretold, do any thing without a land force at Portsmouth.” The same ideas, in nearly the same language, are expressed in the letter to General Schuyler, March 23d, attached to which will be found an explanatory note.
The event, which you seem to speak of with regret, my friendship for you would most assuredly have induced me to impart to you in the moment it happened, had it not been for the request of H- , who desired that no mention should be made of it. Why this injunction on me, while he was communicating it himself, is a little extraordinary. But I complied, and religiously fulfilled it.* With every sentiment of affectionate regard, I am, &c.
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
New Windsor, 22 April, 1781. MY DEAR MARQUIS,
I have received your several letters, and am extremely concerned at the temper of your detachment, and the desertions that are taking place. I imagine however that these would have been nearly as great
* Alluding to a personal difference, that had occurred between Washington and his aid-de-camp Colonel Hamilton. The particulars may be seen in the Life of Hamilton, Vol. I. p. 333.
From Lafayette's Letter. — “Considering the footing I am upon with your Excellency, it would perhaps appear to you strange, that I never mentioned a circumstance, which lately happened in your family. I was the first who knew of it, and from that moment exerted every means in my power to prevent a separation, which I knew was not agreeable to your Excellency. To this measure I was prompted by affection for you ; but I thought it was improper to mention any thing about it, until you were pleased to impart it to me.” - April 15th.
in any other corps that might have been sent, and, after the Pennsylvania line, I think it would be ineligible to detach any other State line. We find by experience, that they are not only dissipated on the march, but, being at a great distance from their States, are almost entirely neglected. Few recruits are raised for them, and these few are lost on the way. We see how totally the Maryland line has declined, and how little is doing to reëstablish it; a line formerly among the most numerous and respectable in the army. Our plan at present appears to me to be to commit the defence of the southern States to the States as far as Pennsylvania inclusive, and to make up by detachment any additional succours, that may be necessary. We must endeavour to compensate these detachments for the loss of State supplies by giving them a larger proportion of Continental. On this principle I am sending to you the articles mentioned in the enclosed list; twelve hundred shirts, twelve hundred linen overalls, twelve hundred pairs of shoes, twelve hundred pairs of socks, and one hundred hunting-shirts, which set out two days ago from this place. I have also urged the Board of War to do their best for you.
Colonel Vose shall be relieved. If there is any good officer of an eastern line here desirous of the command, he must have it. I mentioned to you, that I had a warm remonstrance soon after your departure from the Massachusetts line, on the manner of appointing officers for your corps. If there should be no officer of the proper rank desirous of the command, I shall be glad to employ Lieutenant-Colonel Smith. I will see what can be done in the case of Major Galvan. I wish at all events to retain Gimat; but it will be difficult to remove the one without the other.
It appears to me extraordinary, that your advices
should have given you an idea so different from the whole complexion of the intelligence I had received, concerning the probability of a certain event.* This, and the situation of our own force, have induced me to regard it as barely possible; too precarious to enter far into our dispositions ; possible only in a case, which we are not authorized to expect will happen.f I dare not trust the details on which this opinion is founded to paper.
The danger to the southern States is immediate and pressing. It is our duty to give them support. The detachment with you, all circumstances considered, was the most proper for the purpose. The project, which General Greene has lately adopted, adds a particular motive to continuing its destination. It is essential to him, that Phillips should be held in check; and we cannot wholly rely on militia for this. As to a transportation by water, while the enemy command the Chesapeake and Cape Fear, I do not see how it is practicable. The only cause of hesitation in my mind, about sending your corps to the southward, was a separation from you. I refer you to private letters accompanying this, one written previously to your last, the other subsequently. As to our force here, you know what it was when you left us, and you will know what it is now, when I tell you that we have as yet but few recruits. The enemy's present force of regu
* An attack upon New York. General Washington probably had reasons to apprehend, that a coöperation of the allies for this object was not likely to happen, though the views of the French court had not as yet been received through any direct channel. Colonel Laurens wrote from Paris, on the 11th of April, that “the ministry did not seem to approve of the siege of New York as an operation for the ensuing campaign.” The letter containing this intelligence could not have been received by Washington at the date of the above to Lafayette.
+ The coming of the second French division.
lar troops at New York is near seven thousand. I shall recommend Major Macpherson, as you request, to General Greene. Present my warmest thanks to that officer and assure him of the sense I have of his services.
You were right, my dear Marquis, in supposing that no explanation could be necessary as to your letter to the Board of War. I know your sentiments and your friendship. I shall not detain the express to enlarge on the other subjects of your letters. I will embrace the first safe opportunity to give you a full view of our affairs, what we are, and what we expect to be, that you may regulate your future correspondence with your court accordingly. Hitherto I could give you nothing material, more than you know, as to ourselves.
I am, my dear Marquis, &c.
TO BRIGADIER-GENERAL GEORGE ROGERS CLARK.
New Windsor, 25 April, 1781. SIR, At the request of Governor Jefferson, I have already given orders to the commandant at Fort Pitt to afford you every assistance in his power, in the prosecution of your intended expedition.* A few days ago I received a piece of intelligence from New York, which it may be material for you to know. It is, that Colonel Connolly, who formerly lived upon the Ohio, who was taken in the year 1775, and lately exchanged, is to proceed to Quebec, as soon as the season will permit, with as many refugees as he can collect at New York ; that he is to join Sir John Johnson in Canada; and
* See the letter to Colonel Brodhead, dated December 29th, 1780. VOL. VIII.