Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VIII (1779-1780)
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TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE. - 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.
Peekskill, 3 August, 1780.
I received this day, my dear Marquis, your letter of the 29th of July. The blunders which have been made with respect to arms, ammunition, and cloathing, are serious disappointments. I think, however, from a closer inspection of our means, that we shall be able to collect nearly arms enough to put into the hands of our recruits, and powder enough to undertake the enterprise, if in the course of the operation we can depend on the fifty ton expected from France, and can obtain fifty ton more from the fleet.
I would not wish you to press the French General and Admiral to any thing, to which they show a disinclination, especially to withdrawing their troops from Rhode Island before the second division arrives to give them a naval superiority. Should they yield to importunity, and an accident happen either there or here, they would lay the consequences to us. Only inform them what we can do, what we are willing to undertake, and let them intirely consult their own inclination for the rest. Our prospects are not so flattering as to justify our being very pressing to engage them in our views. I shall, however, go on with all our preparations, and hope circumstances will ultimately favor us. If a part of the West India fleet should come this way, it will powerfully contribute to our success.
Should not the second division arrive so as to enable us to commence our operations by the first of September, I shall have no great expectation of effecting the object. When we calculated on having twice the force of the enemy, we included the whole succor expected from France. It will be difficult, if not impracticable, to accomplish this before the second division arrives. The number of men come in hitherto rather fall short of than exceed our calculation.
Nothing appears to me more evident, than that a communication may be secured with Long Island by land batteries. The narrowness of the Sound, the Islands, the sinuosity and other difficulties of the channel about Hell Gate, show the impracticability of vessels interrupting the communication you may establish there. All the experiments I have seen demonstrate, that shipping cannot be under the fire of land batteries, nor will they venture to try their strength with them except when they are low, or there is a bold shore, and they can annoy them from their tops; neither of which would be the case there.
I wrote to you two days ago by a French gentleman on his way to Rhode Island with despatches from the Minister of France. You will find by that letter, that, on the 31st of July, the enemy’s fleet returned towards New York. In all probability our movement this way occasioned them to relinquish their expedition to Rhode Island. To-morrow we recross the River and proceed toward Dobbs’s Ferry; our motives for recrossing are to save transportation and forage. Your Light Infantry is formed, about two thousand fine men; but the greater part of them naked. Adieu, my dear Marquis, &c.1
[1 ]By advices, which Sir Henry Clinton had received from the Ministry, he was prepared to expect the French armament; and other intelligence had convinced him, that its destination was probably Rhode Island. This opinion he communicated seasonably to Admiral Arbuthnot, and requested that transports for six thousand men might be kept in readiness to receive troops, in case an enterprise should be deemed expedient as soon as the French should arrive. Although the French fleet entered the harbor of Newport on the 10th of July, the news did not reach New York till the 18th. Sir Henry Clinton determined, nevertheless, to attempt an attack either by land or by a combined operation with the fleet and immediately gave notice of his design to the admiral. He proceeded with his troops to Frog’s Neck, but the transports did not arrive till the 27th, when it was too late to hope for success by a coup de main. He embarked his troops; but, receiving information that the French had been very active in fortifying themselves at Newport, and that the militia were assembling at that place, he considered it impossible to secure success by land forces alone, and crossed the Sound to Huntington Bay, where the troops were disembarked on the 31st. The approach of Washington to New York also rendered it necessary for him to hasten back. By his first plan he hoped, with the aid of the fleet, to make a rapid descent upon Rhode Island, and return to New York before Washington should be able to move with his army upon that city. His scheme was defeated by the delay in furnishing transports. There was a want of harmony between Admiral Arbuthnot and Sir Henry Clinton, which already began to produce ill effects, and which in the end proved very unfavorable to the public service.—Sparks.