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and with the greatest precision. At present I am anxious to know (for the reports have been very numerous, vague, and uncertain), whether another embarkation is preparing, and, if so, to what amount, and where destined; what the present force of the enemy is, particularly on Long Island, in New York, and at Kingsbridge; what corps are at the latter place, how strong, and where posted exactly; and, indeed, what the situation, prospects, and designs of the enemy are, so far as they can be penetrated. I am, &c.
TO LUND WASHINGTON, AT MOUNT VERNON.
New Windsor, 30 April, 1781.* DEAR LUND, I am very sorry to hear of your loss. I am a little sorry to hear of my own; but that which gives me
* General Washington commenced a Diary on the 1st of May, to which he prefixed the following remarks.
“ To have a clearer understanding of the entries, which may follow, it would be proper to recite in detail our wants and our prospects ; but this alone would be a work of much time and great magnitude. It may suffice to give the sum of them, which I shall do in a few words. Instead of having magazines filled with provisions, we have a scanty pittance scattered here and there in the different States; instead of having our arsenals well supplied with military stores, they are poorly provided and the workmen all leaving them; instead of having the various articles of field-equipage in readiness to be delivered, the quartermaster-general, as the dernier resort, according to his account, is but now applying to the several States to provide these things for their troops respectively ; instead of having a regular system of transportation established upon credit, or funds in the quarterīnaster's hands to defray the contingent expenses of it, we have neither the one nor the other, and all that business, or a great part of it, being done by military impress, we are daily and hourly oppressing the people, souring their tempers, and alienating their affections ; instead of having the regiments completed to the new establishment, which ought to have been done agreeably to the requisitions of Congress, scarce any State in the Union has at this hour an eighth part of its quota in the field, and little prospect that I can see of ever
most concern is, that you should go on board the enemy's vessels, and furnish them with refreshments. It would have been a less painful circumstance to me to have heard, that in consequence of your non-compliance with their request, they had burnt my house and laid the plantation in ruins. You ought to have considered yourself as my representative, and should have reflected on the bad example of communicating with the enemy, and making a voluntary offer of refreshments to them with a view to prevent a conflagration.
It was not in your power, I acknowledge, to prevent them from sending a flag on shore, and you did right to meet it ; but you should, in the same instant that the business of it was unfolded, have declared explicitly, that it was improper for you to yield to the request; after which, if they had proceeded to help themselves by force, you could but have submitted ; and, being unprovided for defence, this was to be preferred to a feeble opposition, which only serves as a pretext to burn and destroy
I am thoroughly persuaded, that you acted from your best judgment, and believe, that your desire to preserve my property, and rescue the buildings from impending danger, was your governing motive; but to go on board their vessels, carry them refreshments, commune with a parcel of plundering scoundrels, and request a favor by asking a surrender of my negroes, was exceedingly ill judged, and, it is to be feared, will be unhappy in its consequences, as it will be a precedent for others, and may become a subject of animadversion.
getting more than half; in a word, instead of having every thing in readiness to take the field, we have nothing; and, instead of having the prospect of a glorious offensive campaign before us, we have a bewildered and gloomy defensive one, unless we should receive a powerful aid of ships, land troops, and money from our generous allies, and these at present are too contingent to build upon."
I have no doubt of the enemy's intention to prosecute the plundering plan they have begun; and unless a stop can be put to it, by the arrival of a superior naval force, I have as little doubt of its ending in the loss of all my negroes, and in the destruction of my houses; but I am prepared for the event; under the prospect of which, if you could deposit in a place of safety the most valuable and least bulky articles, it might be consistent with policy and prudence, and a means of preserving them hereafter. Such and so many things as are necessary for common and present use must be retained, and must run their chance through the fiery trial of this summer. I am sincerely yours.
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
New Windsor, 4 May, 1781. MY DEAR MARQUIS,
The freedom of your communications is an evidence to me of the sincerity of your attachment; and every fresh instance of this gives pleasure and adds strength to the bond, which unites us in friendship. In this light I view the intimation respecting the conduct of Mr. Lund Washington. Some days previous to the receipt of your letter, which only came to my hands yesterday, I received an account of this transaction from that gentleman himself, and immediately wrote and forwarded the answer, of which the enclosed is a copy. This letter, which was written in the moment of my obtaining the first intimation of the matter, may be considered as a testimony of my disapprobation of his conduct, and the transmission of it to you, as a proof
of my friendship ; because I wish you to be assured, that no man can condemn the measure more sincerely than I do.
A false idea, arising from the consideration of his being my steward, and in that character more the trustee and guardian of my property than the representative of my honor, has misled his judgment and plunged him into error, upon the appearance of desertion among my negroes, and danger to my buildings; for sure I am, that no man is more firmly opposed to the enemy than he is. From a thorough conviction of this, and of his integrity, I entrusted every species of my property to his care, without reservation or fear of his abusing it. The last paragraph of my letter to him was occasioned by an expression of his fear, that all the estates convenient to the river would be stripped of their negroes and movable property.
I am very happy to find, that desertion had ceased, and content had taken place, in the detachment you command. Before this letter can reach you, you must have taken your ultimate resolution upon the proposal contained in my letters of the 21st and 22d ultimo, and have made the consequent arrangements. I shall be silent, therefore, on the subject of them; and only beg, in case you should not return to this army, and the papers were not lost with your other baggage (on which event give me leave to express my concern), that you would permit Mr. Capitaine to furnish me with copies of the drafts, and the remarks of the pilots (taken at Colonel Dey's) on the entrance of the harbour of New York. It is possible they may be wanted; and I am not able to furnish them without your assistance.
Mrs. Washington, and the rest of my small family, which at present consists only of Tilghman and Hum
phreys, join me in cordial salutations; and, with sentiments of the purest esteem and most affectionate regard, I remain, my dear Marquis, &c.
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
New Windsor, 5 May, 1781. MY DEAR MARQUIS, I have received with exceeding great satisfaction and pleasure your favor of the 18th of April,* and am extremely rejoiced to learn, that the spirit of discontent had so entirely subsided, and that the practice of desertion would probably be totally stopped among the troops under your command. The measures you had taken to obtain, on your own credit, a supply of clothing and necessaries for the detachment, must entitle you to all their gratitude and affection; and will, at the same time that it endears your name, if possible, still more to this country, be an everlasting monument of your ardent zeal and attachment to its cause, and the establishment of its independence. For my own part, my dear Marquis, although I stood in need of no new proofs of your exertions and sacrifices in the cause of America, I will confess to you, that I shall not be able to express the pleasing sensations I have experienced at your unparalleled and repeated instances of generosity and zeal for the service on every occasion. Suffer me only to pursue you with my sincerest wishes, that your success and glory may always be equal to your merits.
I was troubled to be informed of the loss of your baggage, but am happy to find, that your private and interesting papers were not with it. Should the map
* See this letter in the Appendix, No. I.