Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE. INSTRUCTIONS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VIII (1779-1780)
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TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE. INSTRUCTIONS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VIII (1779-1780) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VIII (1779-1780).
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TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
Head-Quarters, 15 July, 1780.
The Marquis de Lafayette will be pleased to communicate the following general ideas to Count de Rochambeau and Chevalier de Ternay, as the sentiments of the underwritten.
1. In any operation, and under all circumstances, a decisive naval superiority is to be considered as a fundamental principle, and the basis upon which every hope of success must ultimately depend.1
2. The advantages of possessing the port of New York, by the squadron of France, have been already enumerated to Count de Rochambeau and Chevalier de Ternay, and are so obvious, as not to need recapitulation. A delay in the execution of this enterprise may defeat all our projects, and render the campaign inactive and inglorious.
3. To render our operations nervous and rapid, it is essential for us to be masters of the nevigation of the North River and of the Sound. Without this, our land transportation will be great, our expenses enormous, and our progress slow if not precarious for want of forage and other means.
4. With these ideas, and upon this ground, it is conceived that many advantages will result from the French squadron’s taking possession of the inner harbor between Staten Island and the city of New York, and detaching a frigate or two above the chevaux-de-frise in the North River opposite Fort Washington, for the purpose of opening the navigation of the River, shortening the transportation by land on the upper and lower communication, and bringing the enemy to an explanation respecting Staten Island. Shipping so near the town would, at the same time they cover the frigates in the North River, keep the garrison in check, and be more likely to facilitate other movements of the army, than if they were to remain at the Hook or below the Narrows.
5. Our operations against the enemy in the city of New York may commence from either of three points, to wit, Morrisania, or the height near Kingsbridge, or Staten Island. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but, under a full view of all circumstances, the preponderancy is in favor of Morrisania; especially since the aid of his Most Christian Majesty has come by the way of Rhode Island, instead of Cape Henry, as it was expected they would do, and touch at Sandy Hook, in consequence of advices lodged there.
6. As the means for carrying on our operations are not yet sufficiently appreciated, nor is the time by which our aids will arrive sufficiently ascertained, it is impossible to be precise as to the time the American troops can with safety rendezvous at Morrisania; but, as it is necessary to fix some epoch, it is hoped that it may happen by the 5th of August. I would propose that day for the reëmbarkation of the French efficient force at New London (if they should have come there), and that they proceed up the Sound to Whitestone on Long Island, or to such other place on that Island, or on the main, as circumstances may require, and the Count shall be advised of. For, the operations against the enemy depending very much upon their holding all or dismantling some of their present posts, and upon contingencies on our side, it is not possible at this time to mark out a precise plan, or determine whether our approaches to the city of New York shall be by the way of York Island, Brooklyn, or both. Numbers must determine the latter, and circumstances of the moment the former.
7. It must be clearly understood and agreed between the parties, that, if any capital operation is undertaken, the French fleet and land forces will at all events continue their aid until the success of the enterprise, or until it is mutually determined to abandon it.
8. In all matters of arrangement and accommodation, not repugnant to the foregoing ideas, the Marquis, in behalf of the United States, will consult the convenience and wishes of the Count and Chevalier, and will be pleased to assure them of the disposition I possess to make every thing as agreeable to them as possible, and of my desire to manifest on all occasions the high sense I entertain of their merit, and the generous aid they have brought to us.
[1 ]“You have totally misconceived my meaning, if you think I have or shall relinquish the idea of an enterprise against New York, till it shall appear obviously impracticable, from the want of force or means to operate. I have not as yet relaxed in any preparation tending to this end; nor shall I, till I am convinced of the futility of the measure. I would, by all means, have it understood as my wish, that the French squadron, if superior to Arbuthnot’s since the junction, should take a station, while it can do it with safety, off Sandy Hook. This, and our exertions in the mean while, will demonstrate, long before the equinoctial gales, to what we are competent.