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Bra&forD Club Series.
T Jl E
COLONEL JOHN LAURENS
IN THE YEARS 1777-8
NOW FIKST PRINTED FROM ORIGINAL LETTERS ADDRESSED
TO HIS FATHER
W I T H A M E M O I R
WM. GILMORE SIMMS
M DCCC LXVII
SUBSCRIBER S COPY.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1807,
By John B. Moreau,
FOB THE BRADFORD CLUB,
In the Clerk s Office of the District Court of the United States
i or the Southern District of New York.
SEVKNTY-FIVK I OI IKS I ltlNTKI).
No. I. PAPERS CONCERNING THE ATTACK ON
HATFIELD AND DEERFIELD . . . 1859
" II. THE CROAKERS . . . I860
" III. THE OPERATIONS OF THE FRENCH FLEET
UNDER COUNT DE GRASSE . . . 1864
" IV. ANTHOLOGY OF NEW NETHERLAND . 18G5
" V. NARRATIVES OF THE CAREER OF DE SOTO
IN FLORIDA ...... 1866
VI. NORTHERN INVASION .... 1806
" VII. ARMY CORRESPONDENCE OF COL. JOHN
LAURENS . . ... 1867
MEMORIAL OF JOHN ALLAN 18G4
THE BRADFORD CLUB.
UNDER this designation, a few gentlemen, interested in the
study of American History and Literature, propose occasionally
to print limited editions of such manuscripts and scarce
pamphlets as may be deemed of value towards illustrating these
subjects. They will seek to obtain for this purpose unpublished
journals or correspondence containing matter worthy of record,
and which may not properly be included in the Historical
Collections or Documentary Histories of the several States.
Such unpretending contemporary chronicles often throw
precious light upon the motives of action and the imperfectly
narrated events of bygone days ; perhaps briefly touched upon
in dry official documents.
The Club may also issue fac-similes of curious manuscripts
or documents worthy of notice, which, like the printed issues,
will bear its imprint.
" These are the
Registers, the chronicles cf the age
They were written in, and speak the truth of History
Better than a hundred of your printed
Communications." Shakcrly Marmyons Antiquary.
WILLIAM BRADFORD the first New York Printer whose
name the Club has adopted, came to this country in 1682,
Vlll THE BRADFORD CLUB.
and established his Press in the neighborhood of Philadelphia.
In 1G93 he removed to this City was appointed Royal
Printer and set up his Press "at the Sign of the Bible"
For upwards of thirty years he was the only Printer in the
Province, and in 1725 published our first Newspaper The
New York Gazette. He conducted this paper until 1748 when
he retired from business. He died in May, 1752, and was
described, in an obituary notice of the day, as " a man of great
sobriety and industry, a real friend to the poor and needy, and
kind and affable to all." He was buried in Trinity Church
Yard, by the side of the wife of his youth ; and the loving
affection of relatives and friends reared a simple and unosten
tatious Monument to his memory.
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
The collection of original letters which follow iu
this volume, written during the war of the American
revolution and at the most interesting of its several
crises, and now for the first time published, will, we
are assured, prove not only agreeable to the general
reader, but a most valuable contribution to the mate
rial of American history. They are from the pen of
John Laurens, a native of South Carolina, a lieuten
ant colonel in the American army, a favorite aid de
camp of General Washington, frequently acting as
his private secretary, and highly valued by that great
man, in every capacity, as one in whose honor, valor
and judgment he could equally confide.
John Laurens was a son of Henry Laurens for some
time president of the Continental congress, subse
quently a minister plenipotentiary to Holland, and
finally, under commission of congress one of the mini
sters with Franklin and Jay in the negotiation of the
treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United
10 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
John Laurens was born somewhere about 1756, and
was a student of law in London at the opening of the
revolution. His letters to his father, uncle, and others
of his family, begin prior to this period, and are
deeply imbued with the politics of the times as cur
rently expressed in Great Britain. Several of these
have been preserved, though they do not appear in
this collection. They are all characterized by good
taste, a style at once easy, natural and impressive, a
nice observance of the proprieties, quite remarkable
in one so young, showing a well trained and well
balanced mind, with sentiment, thoughtful opinion,
fine sensibilities and the most ardent patriotism. They
exhibit also a constant endeavor at solid acquisition,
and the search for it, usually, in the most proper and
From the letters not included in this collection,
which, for unity, are confined exclusively to the army
correspondence, we learn that he was at Westmin
ster, pursuing his studies, in April, 1772. He was
then sixteen years of age. His hand writing, even at
this time, which subsequently became admirably per
fected, for symmetry, grace and uniformity, was
remarkably indicative of character and force, coupled
with compactness and great clearness, showing the
attributes of a strong mind and will, already under
Soon after this date he visited the continent, and in
August of the same year, he writes from Geneva,
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 11
whither lie lias gone for Ms studies in some of the
higher branches of education. In 1773, he reports
the progress he has made in the study of the civil
law and mathematics, under some of the great masters
of Geneva, then one of the most famous schools of
letters and philosophy upon the continent. He has
completed his course in ancient and modern history,
as it was then pursued, and has begun his readings
and reviews in political eloquence, which, at that
period, was a necessary part in the education of a
gentleman even where he contemplated no practice in
the profession. But Geneva was held to be a danger
ous province in which to frame the mind, if not the
morals of the youthful student, and young Laurens,
writing to his parents, is at pains to show them that
he is able to mantain his faith, in spite of the influ
ence of great names, and the authoritative opinions of
society. He has asserted the independence of his
own mind, and, while receiving information and acquir
ing knowledge, he has fallen into none of the fashions
of infidelity. Even then, though but seventeen, he was
not to be overawed, into self-abnegation, by any mere
name, however potent as a social authority. He avows
his utter disregard of, if not disrespect, for what was
skeptical in the teachings of the doctors of Geneva, of
whose influence his father might well entertain many
fears in the case of a son, at once so bold, earnest, and
enthusiastic. But he had no cause for anxiety. The
letters of the son disabuse him of his fears if he ever
12 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
really entertained them in terms of great good sense
and modest firmness. In pursuing this topic, the
writer is enabled to give an interesting account of the
state of religion and of church practice and discipline
at Geneva, during his continuance in that place.
It is about this period, and while at Geneva, that his
letters begin to display a certain degree of doubt and
anxiety, in respect to his choice of a profession. This
is a problem of great embarrassment to every really
conscientious student; since it implies the first neces
sary inquiry: "What am I best fitted for? "What
can I best do ? " - the choice depending, in the case of
the honest mind, solely upon the endowment. Young
Laurens felt all the embarrassments of this problem,
the tastes and impulses naturally tending to that inter
ference with the judgment, which constitutes the great
difficulty in the way of deciding justly upon the right
of the individual to choose from the professions, or,
indeed, to attempt the professions at all the qualities
which justify (with proper training and education)
the entrance upon a professional career, being special
gifts to the individual, and not the common allot
ment of a race or people.
Laurens treats his subject with all the ingenuousness
of boyhood, though without bitting the exact rule
which we have indicated, and which requires that the
choice of the profession must be governed wholly by
a just regard to the endowments of the individual.
A neglect of this rule is probably one of the most mis-
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 13
chievous of all the educational influences of society,
as it so constantly elevates incompetence to office and
Two of the letters of young Laurens, which now lie
before us, addressed to his uncle, fully illustrate the
frank and ingenuous nature of the youth, the seri
ousness of his purpose even in boyhood, the elevation
and ardency of his aim, and the high toned honor and
purity of those motives and principles which marked
his career through life. Nor will the simplicity with
which he declares these motives, fail to arrest attention
as significant of an ingenuousness of nature which
denied no concealments. In one of these letters, of
date April 17, 1772, he says : " For my own part I
find it exceedingly difficult, even at this time, to deter
mine in which of the learned professions I shall list
myself. "When I hear a man of an improved educa
tion, speak from the goodness of heart divine truths
with a persuasive eloquence which commands the
most solemn silence and serious attention from all his
audience, my soul burns to be in his place ; when I
hear of one who shines at the bar, and overpowers
chicanery and oppression, who pleads the cause of
helpless widows and injured orphans, who, at the same
time that he gains lasting fame to himself, dispenses
benefits to multitudes, the same emulous ardor rises
in my heart. When I hear of another who has done
eminent service to mankind, by discovering remedies
for the numerous train of disorders to which our frail
14 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
bodies arc continually subject, and lias given relief to
numbers whose lives, without his assistance, would
have been insupportable burdens, I cannot refrain from
wishing to be an equal dispenser of good.
" Thus am I agitated. Tis beyond, far beyond the
power of one man to shine conspicuous in all these
characters ; one must be determined upon ; and I
am almost persuaded that it would be that of the
divine, if this did not preclude me from bearing arms
in defence of my country for I cannot read with
indifference the valiant acts of those, whose prudent
conduct and admirable bravery have rescued the liber
ties of their countrymen, and deprived their enemies
of power to do them hurt.
" Xo particular profession is in itself disagreeable
to me. Each promises some share of fame. I never
loved merchandise, nor can I now. There are but
three considerations that can reconcile it to me, first,
that the universal correspondence which it establishes,
gives one a knowledge of mankind ; then the continual
flow of money peculiar to this employment, enables a
man to do extensive good to individuals of distressed
fortunes, without injuring himself, as well as to promote
works of public utility, upon the most beneficial terms.
" Many such instances have offered to my attention,
but I am sure the recital of one will give you pleasure.
A man from Scotland trumped up a claim against our
landlord, Mr. Deans, pretended for maintenance of a
former wife ; swore to a debt, and sued him for 300
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 15
and upwards, and carried liim away to a bailiff s
sponging house ; but papa relieved him the same day.
The man, finding that Deans had a liberal and hearty
friend, made some application to papa, who told him
generally, but positively, that if Mr. Deans was on
the right side, he should not want a thousand guineas
to do him justice; if on the other hand he was in the
wronff he should not receive the assistance of a half-
penny from him ; then left the man abruptly. This
wrought such an effect, that the man offered to sub
mit the whole matter to papa ; but he would not
engage in it. Then the bold claimant offered to drop
the action entirely if Mr. Deans would pay half the
charges. Papa said he would soon be glad to go off
without any other benefit, than that of escaping the
pillory. If Deans had not been supported by such a
friend, he would have remained in gaol, under scandal
ous imputations, and probably have been totally
ruined, for he had tried all his London acquaintance
in vain. The man, at length, begged of Mr. Deans to
accept a general release ; which he in his good nature
did ; he signed a release, discharged Deans s bail, and
went immediately out of England ; but papa says, if
he had been previously consulted, he would have
turned the tables upon him for example s sake."
It is a boy s letter ; but the letter of a very remark
able boy. The second, dated more than two years
later (Sept. 15, 1774) from the same place, exhibits the
matured resolve of his mind on the subject of his
16 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
previous embarrassment. He has made his choice,
giving to the law his preference among the professions.
" My present prospect," he writes, " is either to be
lodged in the Temple or in some reputable private
family, under the eye of an honest lawyer, if such a
one can be found, and to study the laws of my coun
try very diligently for three years. But a horrible
prospect it is, that I am to get my bread by the quar
rels and disputes of others, so that I can t pray for
success in my occupation without praying at the same
time that a great part of mankind may be in error
either through ignorance or design. The only noble
part of my profession is utterly unprofitable in this
world, I mean the defence of the weak and oppressed ;
it is a part, however, that I am determined never to
neglect ; for, although it enriches not, it must make
a man happy. "What can be equal to the heartfelt
satisfaction which abounds in him who pleads the
cause of the fatherless and the widow, and sees right
done to him that suffers wrong. Thus, after long
wavering, I am now fixed : no more talk to me either
of physic or commerce; law is the knotty subject
which I must endeavor to render pleasant."
In Xov., 1774, he reports further progress in this
direction. In a letter from Chancery lane, he says :
" On Monday I shall be initiated in the mystery of
mutton-eating, by which, alone, I can gain the title
of barrister. I have entered into the necessary bond,
and paid the accustomed fees to the present time. "
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAUEENS. 17
His letters, during the period over which we have
gone, show him to have been an active observer of
affairs and a weigher of opinion in Great Britain, and
are full of references to the antagonist relations, grow
ing daily more and more embittered, between that
nation and its American colonies. His mind seems
to have been equally well informed in English opinion
and American principles. The politics of both sec
tions are discussed, or at least considered, and pas
sages from them, even now, would be found to possess
an interest for the American reader ; but these must
be reserved for other publications. We give a single
sample from a letter addressed to his uncle, of date
13th ]STov., 1775. It is partly of this character; and
shows, besides, the impatient workings of his own
spirit, encaged as it were, chafing at the restraint of
his abode in England, while his father and his country
are preparing, in anxious apprehensions, for the terrors
of the impending war.
" Can I think with composure of ins [his father]
being continually exposed to danger, while I am
remote in security. Although he commands me abso
lutely to obey him, is not what may be my duty in
one sense, baseness and want of true affection in
another ? O God ! I know not what to do ! of what
avail are wishes ? When is the time for an active
part, if not the present. No one can conceive what I
feel for my dearest friend and father; to ransom
him, I would give my life with pleasure ; I do not
18 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
mean to boast, for I think it little to give ; but it is
" I endeavored to gain admission into the House of
Commons to-day, but in vain ; Mr. Burke had been
speaking to , when I was dancing a fruitless
attendance at the door. But to what end these elo
quent harangues, if ministry outvote ; and our fine
speeches are [only] printed ; in the beginning of the
session there seemed to be some hope of accommoda
tion, but now I think tis vanished.
" Duchess of Bedford, it is said, has some pique
against her brother, Lord Gower, and, to give him
trouble, will bring over to the minority her dependents.
But the ministry are so powerful that a large defec
tion from their party will not be missed. Since Lord
Geo. Germaine, and Lord Wcymouth have succeeded
to office the prospect of affairs has blackened."
In another style and mood, we give an extract from
a letter preceding this in time, addressed to his sister.
It exhibits the affectionate tenderness of his character
in its domestic relations ; the delicacy of its tone and
tenor, as well as the considerate prudence of the
writer, illustrating the claim which is made on his
behalf, as that of the graceful and courteous gentle
man, lie is still, it must be remembered, but a youth,
having barely reached his nineteenth year. The letter
is dated 5th May, 1775.
" Write instantly, clearly, fully ; and explain to me,
my sweet sister, that little sentence dictated by a
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 19
tender heart, and which seems to have cost you a sigh
in writing it. What is that important something
which agitates your mind, and demands the friendly
aid of a confidant ? Make one of your brother, or our
indulgent father; you cannot doubt of our love.
Whatever it be, depend upon the best advice I am
capable of; but let me entreat you, my dear, to banish
reserve, and write to me as freely as you would indulge
your own ideas in tranquil retirement. The confer
ence which you so ardently wish for, cannot happen
soon ; in unbosoming one s self, there are some
advantages in writing, if we may believe Mr. Pope :
The virgin s wish, without her fears impart,
Excuse the blush, and pour out all the heart :
though I can very well conceive of circumstances
which require more of detail and minute explanation,
than a letter easily admits of. But you write to a
friend ; the form of the letter is not essential ; the
length will not be complained of. Tis true, that in
a conversation, your confidence would be regulated
in a great measure by the encouragement given you ;
but consider me as your other self; approving, or
ready in finding excuses, and write as you would
speak upon such an occasion. I shall make many
fruitless conjectures. As your letter contains symp
toms of something grave, I must needs be in painful
suspense till you put it in my power to assist you.
20 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
No more need be said to procure me a satisfactory
letter upon this subject."
The residence of John Laurens in Europe, during
the intervals between the years 1772 and 1775, was
occupied by other griefs, anxieties and interests than
those of study and politics. By a cruel accident,
during his temporary absence from London, a younger
brother, a most promising boy, and a great favorite
with his father, whom the latter had left in Europe
also, with the view to his education, was killed
by an accidental fall while at play. The sensitive
nature of John Laurens prompted him to bitter self
reproaches, on this occasion, for which there was no
good reason. The boy had been, indeed, entrusted
measurably to his care and keeping; but he does
not seem to have neglected any proper precautions in
his case; and the casualty is to be ascribed wholly
to the indiscreet playfulness of the boy, in a caprice
of sport, such as is common to, and characteristic
of childhood. But the keenness of the pang and
the terrible suddenness of the event, seem for the
moment, to have overcome his judgment; his sensi
bilities were too active for his thoughts, and he made
a case of conscience out of the event, which embit
tered the natural sorrow, and humbled greatly the
spirit beyond the usual exactions of grief.
"We have reason to believe, from the results in the
development of intellect and character, that he pur
sued his studies with diligence and zeal. But his
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 21
nature was warm, and craved sympathy; and to this
we are to ascribe his premature, arid, in a worldly
sense, perhaps, imprudent marriage, which took place
only a short period before his departure for America.
But, even while taking his vows at the altar, they
were made with the accompanying avowal of his reso
lution to proceed to his native country, in spite of all
other obligations, and join himself in arms with his
people. Opportunity for this, however, was not easy,
and lie watched the occasion with the avidity of a patri
otic zeal, which soon realized its object. The oppor
tunity at length presented itself; the contingency for
which he had awaited finally came, and tearing him
self away from his young bride, he made his way from
England into France, the only route by which he
could then find his way to America. His first letter
(which we quote) to his uncle, James Laurens, dates
from Paris, llth January, 1777.
" My Dear Uncle :
I arrived here the 7th inst,, and have since had the
pleasure of conversing, at three different times, with
Doctor Franklin. His accounts of America are, that
she will be much better provided for, the ensuing
campaign, than she was for the last ; that the members
of the congress are as unanimous, as the members of
popular assemblies generally are ; and that the spirit
of the people does not, by any means, flag. It is a
secret yet whether France will assist America or not.
22 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
The fact, as it appears to me, is, that France does not
choose to involve herself in a war by declaring herself
openly, when she can give special succors without any
risk. There are more French officers in America
than can find employment ; the French ports are daily
receiving American vessels. Some time ago, two
armed vessels, one of which was loaded with military
stores, were cleared out for St. Domingo, and a number
of French officers took their passages in them. By
some means or other, Lord Stormont discovered that
these vessels were employed by Silas Deane, and the
cargoes intended for America. He went immediately,
at an unusual hour for business, to Versailles, and
represented the matter to M. de Vergennes, minister
and secretary for the foreign department; he had
obtained an exact list of every thing on board ; said
he had sufficient proof that the whole was designed
for the rebellious English colonies; and demanded
that these vessels should be stopped. The answer was
that a courier should be dispatched ; a courier was
dispatched, but the bird had flown.
" To-night, I take place in the diligence for Bor
deaux, from whence I hope soon to embark for my
own country. Cochran has sailed, which I am very
sorry for, as my acquaintance with him, and the
good character of his vessel, made me wish to be his
" Present my tenderest love to my dear aunt and
sisters. I am afraid I shall not be able to write to
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 23
my dear Patty. That God may grant you all his
blessing, is the constant prayer of your most affec
The defeat of the British licet, under Sir Peter
Parker, in Charleston harbor, was, in all probability,
the event which more immediately prompted this
resolution to fling aside his studies, professions and
other tics. This event, which happened on the 28th
June, 1776, was not known in England until the 22d
August, of the same year.
According to the purpose expressed in the preced
ing letter, Laurens made his way to America, via Cape
Frangois, which place he reached somewhere about
the 3d April, 1777. In thirteen days thereafter, we
find him safely arrived in South Carolina, where he at
once joined the American army. lie was soon after
transferred to the main force of the Continentals, at
the north, there being no longer any enemy threaten
ing the safety of the south.
He was now under the immediate command and
eye of Washington. The relations which had long
existed between the commander-in-chief and Henry
Laurens, then president of congress, were of the most
grateful and confidential character. These naturally
secured for young Laurens the entree, under the most
favorable auspices, into the family of Washington.
His own qualities did the rest. The grace, spirit,
24 MEMOIR OF JOHN LATJRENS.
accomplishments, excellent sense and general intelli-
o-ence of the vonng soldier, combined to confirm him
in position on his own account, and, like Hamilton, he
soon became the trusted agent of his chief, his secre
tary as well as aid and confidant.
But these relations did not keep him from the
field of action, which was the province lie most
preferred. He sought every opportunity for active
service, and distinguished himself, on all occasions,
especially at the battle of Germantown, where he was
wounded in the endeavor to expel the enemy from
Chew s house, where they had established themselves
in a hold too strong to be wrested from them by the
inadequate means provided for the occasion. He was
engaged in the brilliant though capricious and indeci
sive conflicts on the plains of Monmouth, where the
base conduct, if not treachery, of Charles Lee, came
nigh to bring about the most disastrous consequences.
On this occasion he acquired large increase of repu
tation for brilliant dash and determined courage. In
Rhode Island he added anew to his reputation both
as a sage counsellor and as a military man. In refer
ence to his bravery in his campaign in the latter state
"Washington wrote to his father Henry Laurens :
"Feeling myself interested in every occurrence that
tends to the honor of your worthy son ; and sensible
of the pleasure it must give you to hear his just plaudit,
I take the liberty of transcribing a paragraph of Gene
ral Greene s letter to me giving some account of the
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 25
conduct of particular officers in the action on Rhode
Island. Our troops behaved with great spirit, and
the brigade of militia under the command of Gene
ral Lovel advanced with great resolution and in good
order; and stood the lire of the enemy with great
firmness. Lt. Col. Livingston, Col. Jackson and Col.
PL B. Livingston did themselves great honor in the
transactions of the day. But it is not in my power to
do justice to Col. Laurens who acted both the general
and partisan. His command of regular troops was
small, but he did every thing possible to be done by
their numbers. " *
He was about to change the scene of operations.
The war languished at the north. The British had
begun their demonstrations in force against Georgia
and Js"orth Carolina, and Laurens eagerly sought and
obtained leave to repair to the defence of his native
state. Lie joined the militia forces under Moultrie,
led the troops which defended the passes of the
Coosohatchie, was wounded and narrowly escaped
with his life and from captivity. His horse was killed
under him, and but for the devotion of a few friends
and adherents, he must have perished or been made
a prisoner. Subsequently, he was one of the favorite
lieutenants of Moultrie in the attempted coup de main
of Prevost against Charleston.
1 Manuscript letter of Washington to Henry Laurens; Whiteplains,
Sept. 4, 1778.
26 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
Savannah had already fallen into the hands of the
British ; and Lincoln, then in command of the arm} 7
of the south, upon the arrival of the French fleet,
under Count D Estaing, proceeded to attempt the
recovery of the capital of Georgia. Savannah was
strongly fortified by the British, who took advantage
of an indiscreet indulgence in point of time, accorded
them by D Estaing, prior to the arrival of Lincoln.
When the allies advanced to the assault upon the
place, to Col. Laurens was confided the command of
the American light infantry. At the head of his com
mand, he led them on to the attack with his accus
tomed dash and headlong gallantry, and was one of
the first to mount the British redoubts. We know
from general history the issue of this badly managed
leaguer and assault. The combined forces of America
and France met with a decided defeat, and all farther
attempts to secure the city from the grasp of the
enemy were abandoned as hopeless. The French
retired to their shipping and left the country, while
the Americans under Lincoln retreated across the
Savannah river into South Carolina.
It followed as a matter of course from the failure
of this enterprise, that South Carolina should suffer
next from British invasion. Lincoln with his small
force of five thousand men including the local militia,
threw himself unwisely into Charleston, where he was
soon besieged by the British under Sir Henry Clinton,
with a well provided army of twelve thousand. The
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 27
cooperation of a powerful fleet enabled him to close up
all the avenues to the city by sea and land, and after a
gallant defence of nearly two months and the exhaus
tion of the provisions of the garrison, the American
General was compelled to capitulate.
During the siege, Laurens was conspicuous as usual
as well in the council as the field. He led at the
head of his light troops, in the few sorties that
were made, displaying on all occasions that head
long enthusiastic gallantry, which was sometimes
condemned as temerity, but which had the good
effect usually of inspiring confidence in his troops,
encouraging those who faltered, and lessening those
ideas of British superiority and resource which were
quite too general in America at this period, and
which were particularly calculated to impair the
resolution of a provincial militia. He was one of
those leaders who never know when they are beaten
a characteristic which in war is very much like a
virtue, and which is decidedly to be preferred to
that soldiership which never knows in season when
it is victorious !
After the fall of Charleston, Laurens again resumed
his relations with the grand army under Washington.
But that army presented at this time nothing encou
raging in its aspects. It had dwindled away in num
bers and the states were slow to recruit it. The
country was impoverished, if not exhausted. Con
tinued progress and repeated successes on the part of
28 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
the invader, with the rapid diminution of the national
resources of the country under a long protracted
external pressure, had brought the congress and the
people at large to a sense of weariness. The crisis,
more perilous than ever before, had made doubtful their
hopes of independence. It was now evident, as an
essential condition of success, that without further
foreign aid, especially in money, there could not much
longer be continued any adequate resistance to the
external pressure. It was resolved accordingly that
fresh appeals should be made to France for a far larger
degree of assistance than she had ever before accorded
to the wants of the colonies. For this mission, a spe
cial messenger was required directly from the army,
having equally the confidence of Washington and
Congress and bearing the letters of the former along
with the commission of the latter.
It was undoubtedly the highest sort of compliment
but not, as we shall see, an unmerited one, that both of
these parties should unite upon the youthful aid do
camp of the commander in chief. The choice origin
ally was that of Washington himself, and it was
promptly concurred in by the congress. At this period
Laurens was but twenty-five years old. We have but
few instances on record none that we can recall -
of the choice, by any nation, of one so young as an
envoy extraordinary. One of the youngest of all the
officers by whom Washington was surrounded, he was
required to execute a mission of the most vital im-
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 29
portanee and of the greatest delicacy. But in a well
known phrase, Laurens carried an old head upon young
shoulders. He was a man of thought as well as
action ; who could design as well as execute, and was
possessed of peculiar personal advantages. Himself of
French origin, of the well known and much honored
Huguenot stock, he was a master of the French
language, and did not need the intervention of an
interpreter. He was well read in civil law ; had stu
died politics, or rather statesmanship, as something of
a science, and was quite familiar with the old and new
world histories. Practiced in the graces, of noble form
and ligure, he had the facility and manners if not the
arts of the courtier; and with all these virtues of
grace, manner, education and acquisition, he pos
sessed that sort of boldness and energy which belongs
to great ardency of temperament and a resolute will,
qualities which in some degree at that time, but more
particularly since, distinguish the American character,
and render its frankness more than a match for the
subtleties of the mere politician, or the native refine
ments of the ordinary courtier. In all respects, he
was far more variously endowed for such a mission
than the greater number of his countrymen of even
twice his age. It is also to be remembered that he
had been for a long time intimately associated, on an
equal footing and in like relations to Washington, with
one of the ablest of American statesmen in the person
of Alexander Hamilton. Briefly, his capacity for the
30 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
mission was sucli as fully to justify the choice of the
commander in chief, even if the results of his labor
had failed to do so.
Laurens reached Paris in February, 1781, and
promptly sought an interview with Franklin, then
the resident minister, who gave him no encourage
ment in regard to the prospects of his mission. He
had himself failed of that degree of success which
was essential to the needs of his country, and which
would have made the succor of France efficacious
for the American cause in the struggle with her
powerful adversary. The great philosopher, it was
thought by many, had yielded to the seduction of
a brilliant but frivolous court, and had shown him
self less earnest in the advocacy of the claims of his
country, in urging her necessities than was consistent
with a fervid patriotism. 1 It is thought that he
somewhat resented the employment of another, and
one so young, for the attainment of those very
objects which were specially involved in his own
commission, and this was natural enough. He was,
in fact, temporarily, though not formally superseded.
At all events, he gave no assistance to the new
commissioner, beyond bringing him to the know
ledge of the minister Vergennes. To him Laurens
addressed himself with all the earnestness of his
nature, stimulated to fervency by a perfect know-
1 See Memoirs of Arthur Lee.
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 31
ledge of the condition of the American army and
the rapidly failing resources of the country. His
quest was generally for succor in arms and the
munitions of war, but especially to negotiate for
a large loan of money. It was in financial respects
that the American people were reduced to extremity.
But his labours to persuade and convince Vergennes
were all in vain. That minister would not or could
not see the extent of American exigency. He was
cold, indifferent and evasive. His self-complacency
would not allow him to he hurried, and by a mere
youth, who might well be supposed an inexpert ; while
the formalities as well as the frivolities of a court and
its etiquette, were of themselves great obstacles in the
path of a singled-eyed and ardent patriotism. But the
mission of Laurens would not brook delay. For two
months Vergennes had contrived to baffle the direct
approaches of the youthful commissioner. But he
little knew the spirit, temper and resources of the
young man. Laurens was resolved to be baffled no
longer, and he proceeded to cut the knot that he was
not suffered to untie. He determined, in defiance of
all form and precedent, to make his appeal directly
from the minister to the monarch ! This purpose he
declared to Franklin, who discouraged the proceeding,
as against all rule and etiquette, and refused, in any
way, to give his countenance to the attempt. Yer-
gennes, also, to whom he avowed his purpose, was
confounded at his audacity, and probably deceived
32 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
himself with the belief that the threat was simply
designed for himself, and to expedite his own
movements, and that, after his own declared hos
tility to such a course of action, he should hear no
more of it.
He was mistaken. He little knew his man. Lau-
rens cherished his purpose faithfully, and it was a
surprise to Yergennes himself, when at the iirst public
levee which followed, he carried his purpose into
action. It was then first, after so long a delay, that
he received audience of the king. The reception was
general and simply formal, and not designed with
any view to business. The monarch, according to
custom, received the parties, ambassadors and dis
tinguished persons from abroad, accorded them a
simple recognition, and they passed on severally,
without a moment s delay, giving place to others.
The court was one of severe etiquette, and a rigid
formality which was confounded with ideas of state
and dignity. It was, therefore, with something like a
sentiment of terror, that the court beheld the young
ambassador, instead of simply bowing and passing
forward like the rest, come to a full stop in the pre
sence of his majesty, and present his memorial; while
in good set terms, in French, in well chosen words,
few but forcible, he made known his business, and
the exigencies of the American cause. He took
occasion, in the few brief moments in which he thus
trespassed upon etiquette , to report to the king, that
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 33
lie was recently from America, from the camp of
Washington ; that he bore the mission of that great
man, as well as that of congress ; that he personally
knew the truth of all the facts which he reported, and
concluded with the bold assurance, that unless the
succors which were prayed for by his country were
promptly accorded, the sword which he then wore
at his side as that of an ally of his majesty, would
soon, in all probability, be of necessity drawn against
him, as that of a subject of Great Britain.
The proceeding, however against rule and precedent,
was equally electrical in its effect and beneficial in
result. Louis is described as being greatly confused
for the moment, but quickly recovering himself, he
replied briefly, and graciously received the memorial.
The impression made upon the king by the bold
young minister was highly favorable, and he distin
guished him by his notice, presenting him, when
about to leave France, with a magnificent snuff box
encircled with diamonds, and surmounted with his
own miniature, similarly enriched. This precious
gift, valued at a thousand guineas, is still in the posses
sion of the family.
Vergennes was now moved promptly in the right
direction. The prayer of the petition was granted;
the munitions and money were obtained; and the
latter, under the judicious financiering of Kobert
Morris, enabled Washington to recruit and satisfy his
army, and to carry on the war to its triumphant close,
34 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
in establishing, as states, the sovereignty and inde
pendence of the colonies.
Laurens, with his frank earnestness, resolnte zeal
and American directness of purpose, thus achieved a
novel triumph which conveyed a new lesson to the old
world diplomatists of Europe. Having successfully
effected his object, he yielded no time to the fascina
tions of the French court, but took ship immediately,
and fortunately reached America in safety.
He at once proceeded to resume his active duties
in the field. Great events, contributing largely to
the full close of the grand drama, which through
war led to independence, were culminating to fulfill
ment. Cornwallis was soon, by a concentration of the
American and French armies under Washington and
Rochambeau, cooped up, and defending himself
stoutly within the narrow trenches of Yorktown.
"When the period arrived for assaulting him in his
stronghold, Laurens led one of the storming parties
which carried the British redoubts, and received,
in person, the sword of his captive Cornwallis.
This surrender of the army of Cornwallis entirely
transferred the war to the extreme south, where
Greene held the chief command of the American
forces. Laurens at once hastened to attach himself
to this command. The war in the south had become
one of partisan conflict rather than of grand armies;
and with such chiefs as Marion, Sumter, Pickens,
and others of the same school, activelv and incessantlv
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 35
ut work, it was soon evident that the issue, no longer
admitting of a doubt, was simply a question of time.
There were no great cities to capture or defend;
and to conquer one by one, the several scattered
garrisons of the enemy, cut off their supplies
and reinforcements, and force them down to the
seaboard, was the sort of service which, alone was
now required. For such work, Laurens was emi
nently endowed by his prompt military genius, great
boldness, and celerity of movement. He too, shared
largely in that peculiar talent which has made
famous the names of Marion and Sumter; and, in
this province, he displayed his wonted gallantry and
dash carrying it sometimes, in the excess of his
zeal, to a desperate extent, which provoked alike the
rebuke and admiration of his contemporaries. His
audacity in the field incurred the reproach of rashness ;
but it is matter of question, whether at this period it
did not serve as a wise and useful virtue, in the encou
ragement of his own troops, and in the corresponding
depression of the enemy. His followers might natu
rally become dispirited, contending severally against
superior -numbers, without clothing or pay, and
frequently without provisions, such only excepted as
they could gather unripened from the fields. In the
interval between his junction with the southern army
and his last battle, he was rarely out of the saddle ;
and for a time he cooperated in some of the enter
prises of Col. Lee "Light Horse Harry whose
36 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
legion grew famous with a reputation wholly its own.
But our space will not suffer us to enter into details
respecting his enterprises, however much they might
serve to illustrate the self-sacrificing daring of his
temper. We must hasten to that painful catastrophe
which punished his temerity if such it were and
set its closing seal upon a career, which, wide, various
and in all respects nohle, argued gloriously for that
future of performance, which might well he undis
puted in the case of one still in the very flower of
It was in the closing hours of the war, in 1782,
when active operations were almost wholly suspended
on both sides, and when the British were everywhere
making their preparations for leaving the country,
that Laurens, stimulated by his sleepless and almost
feverish zeal and impulse, arose from a sick bed he
had been suffering from tertian and taking saddle,
proceeded, with a small force of fifty infantry, a few
matrosses and a single howitzer, to execute one of
those partisan performances which had been his day
by day exercise for a long season. A force of the
British had ascended the Oombahee in boats, with the
view of reaping the harvests of rice along that river,
prior to their departure. Laurens resolved on defeat
ing this object. In fact, the conflicts of the war in the
south, from the termination of the battle of Eutaw, had
been chiefly confined to predatory operations on tlie
part of the British, having this one object in view.
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 37
Having been frequently punished severely on these
expeditions by the partisan cavalry and light troops, it
appears that, on the present occasion, they not only
sent forth a larger detachment than usual but resorted
to a more circumspect strategy. They were accord
ingly better prepared for the whole force led by
Laureus than he had any reason to suspect, and the
neglect of duty, on the part of his scouts and patrols,
enabled the enemy to ascertain his movements while
he remained in comparative ignorance of theirs. It
was known that their barges had ascended the river
to a certain point, and he proceeded to a point below,
called Cliehaw, where he hoped to intercept them.
He reached the plantation residence of William Stock,
near Chehaw Point, on the night of the 26th of August
and there rested for the night, with the design to oc
cupy the point at early morning.
But the British, advised of his movements, had
anticipated his purpose. Their barges dropped down
the river under cover of the night, and taking their
station so as to command the point, they landed a
considerable force, which they concealed in the long
grasses and thickets of the place.
It is sad to be told of the gay and graceful manner
in which Laurens spent that evening. In a pleasant
family circle of fine women, he was the courtier, not
the soldier; and the graceful play of society for a few
hours superseded the harsh aspects of deadly struggle.
The conversation passed into pleasant badinage, in the
38 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
course of which, we are told, he jestingly proposed
to the ladies that they should be present in a secure
place during the anticipated conflict. Little did he
or they appear to consider for a moment the caprices
of that fate which already had him under doom.
He took horse at early dawn, at the head of his
troops, and the catastrophe was quickly reached. The
enemy rose from his ambush, poured in a destructive
fire, and Laurens was its first victim. He was buried
on the plantation from which he had gone forth with
such an exulting confidence !
Verily, it was a sad close of so brilliant a career ;
and that he should perish in an affair of so little con
sequence, added to the keen and bitter sense of the
public loss. Washington mourned over his fate as
over that of a son. Greene coupled his lament, which
was quite earnest and impassioned, with the reproach
that a life so precious to his country should be
sacrificed for an object of so little significance; and
that, too, at a moment when the struggle was sub
stantially at an end, and when all the great objects of
the strife had been attained. With them, Hamilton,
Lee, LaFayette, Moultrie, all the master minds of
the revolution, contributed their regrets, and joined
in his eulogium, while the voice of lamentation was
everywhere loud in the land. They all concurred in
their estimate of his great merits as soldier, courtier
and statesman. He had served with, or under, most
of them, and their testimonies were no second hand
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 39
tributes, but the fruit of personal association and a
long experience. Numerous anecdotes might be given
illustrating the genera] feeling and the sympathy of
those officers and soldiers, as well as of the civilians
of the revolution with whom he had won the title
of the Bayard of America.
John Adams writing from Paris to Henry Laurens
shortly after the news of his son s death reached that
capital, says : "I know not how to mention the me
lancholy intelligence by this vessel which affects you
so tenderly. I feel for you more than I can or ought
to express. Our country has lost its most promising
character in a manner, however, that was worthy of
her cause. I can say nothing more to you, but that
you have much greater reason to say in this case, as a
Duke of Ormond said of an Earl of Ossory, " I
would not exchange my son for any living son in the
world." 1 Even personal enemies of Col. Laurens
bore willing testimony to the nobleness of his soul,
and the lofty purity of his chivalry. "When in a duel,
he had shot General Charles Lee, because of his
disparaging language concerning Washington, the
wounded man exclaimed : " How handsomely the
young fellow behaved. I could have hugged him ! "
His sense of justice, not to say magnanimity, was ad
mirably shown, when promoted by congress, for his
1 Manuscript letter of John Adams to Henry Laurens, Paris, No
vember 6, 1782.
40 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
gallantry and public service, but out of the regular
order of promotion in the army, he declined the
commission as a bad precedent, a wrong done to his
comrades, and one which might properly provoke their
jealousy, and occasion disaffection ! We may sum up
briefly our estimate of John Laurens, in the language,
with one alteration, which Shakespeare puts into the
mouth of Ophelia when she laments the supposed
overthrow of Hamlet s mind.
O, what a noble man is here o erthrown !
The courtier s, soldier s, scholar s, eye, tongue, sword ;
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
The observ d of all observers !
Laurens fell on the 27th August, 1782, being then
but twenty-seven years of age. He left a widow and
one young daughter. How these were cared for and
how his public services were acknowledged and
requited, it will suffice to exhibit if we close this
memoir with a letter, never before published, of the
Hon. John C. Hamilton, son of Alexander Hamil
ton, and a copy of the speech made by the Hon.
Robert Y. Hayne, in the senate of the United
States, on the bill for the relief of the grandson
of Col. John Laurens. These, with the elegiac poem
of Philip Freneau, the poet par excellence of the 1
American Revolution, on the death of Laurens, may
furnish a sufficient close to this brief, but we trust
not wholly unsatisfactory memoir.
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 41
The following is the letter of the Hon. John C.
" NEW YORK, Jan. I 2th, 1824.
" Dear Sir :
In the proceedings of the Senate, I yesterday ob-
served the Report of the Committee of Foreign Rela
tions on the Petition of Francis Henderson Jr. In the
course of my inquiries I have had an opportunity of
forming an opinion of the services of Lieut. Col. Lau-
rens and of the estimation in which he was held by
the family of the Commander in chief, which entitles
him, beyond all question to the first rank among the
young men of the revolution. During his immediate
attendance at headquarters he was, with Col. Hamil
ton always selected to perform the most delicate
offices of his station, and was entrusted with Gen.
Washington s most secret confidences, and, from
the period of the arrival of C fc D Estaing, until
the close of the campaign of 1781, in the communi
cations with the officers of our ally, the aids derived
from him were invaluable.
" His military career has left behind him an
uninterrupted blaze of glory. Sent forward to R
Island, by Gen "W. to superintend the conduct of
affairs in that quarter until Gen. Greene took
the command ; to Col. Laurens is principally at
tributed the reconciliation of D Estaing, who had
been offended by Gen. Sullivan s indiscretion, which
42 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
excited the most serious apprehensions as to its
effect on our ally. His gallantry on this occasion was
so conspicuous that he received from Congress a vote
of thanks and a tender of a commission of Colonel,
which he declined from delicacy to his brother aids.
At Monmouth where every member of Geii. "W s
family seemed to contend, not only for their country
but for their personal reputation, as connected with
their chief, he participated in all the exposure of
the day and, in the controversy between "W. &
Lee which agitated the camp and Congress, such
was his devotion to the former that, late in the
year, he invited Gen. Lee to a rencontre, who,
after receiving a slight wound, made an explana
tion equally honorable to himself and satisfactory to
" On the invasion of Georgia in 79, Co 1 L. hastened
to Carolina. Here he was conspicuous in preparing
for the expected invasion. In order to aid the councils
of the State, he was elected a member of their Lejnsla-
ture where he used every arg* to call out the militia
and forward the black levies which he had begun to
recruit. On the arrival of Gen. Lincoln, he immedi
ately joined him; was present in the storm of Savannah,
and such was his chivalry, that, after the retreat was
sounded, and the troops had fallen back, he continued
on, in the direction of the enemy s fire until C 6 D Es-
taing, who was himself wounded, pointed him out to
Lincoln, who ordered him to draw off a detachment in
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 43
order to remove him from the field. The misfortune
of that day menacing the most alarming consequences,
Laurens rode express to Philadelphia, in order to urge
succours to the Southern Army. Here he received a
new mark of confidence ; being elected by Congress
Secretary to the Minister at Versailles a situation
which he peremptorily declined (though sought for
by the most conspicuous names in the country) in
order to rejoin the army, and was at last induced to
accept, on an intimation " that there was no other
individual on whom the two parties in congress could
unite." Circumstances having occurred to render his
departure on this service unnecessary, he hastened
from Philadelphia and arrived in sufficient season
to take part in the defence of Charleston, where I
presume, he was taken prisoner (this fact I have to
" The most important incident, however, of his life
and that having the most immediate relation to the
claim before you, is his mission as Envoy to France in
Feby. 1781. The magnitude of his services on this
occasion are matters of history, but among many inte
resting incidents connected with this event there is
one which may not be before the public. Vergennes
was opposed to any open interference on our behalf at
the outset of the quarrel, and always continued adverse
to our independence. In this spirit he presented every
obstacle in the way of Col. Laurens negotiation,
Wearied by these delays L. obtained an interview with
44 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
him, and after a warm expostulation, characteristic of
his noble spirit, he broke from him prepared a me
morial to the king, and, waiting upon him in the suc
ceeding levee, regardless of the etiquette of the court,
handed it to Louis in person. This decisive bearing
although it excited great astonishment, was followed
by the happiest effects. On the succeeding day the
ministers contended with each other in their zeal to
promote his views, and he returned here in sufficient
season to aid us in a most critical posture of our affairs.
(The money obtained by Laurens was deposited in the
Bank of N. A. and sustained the financial operations
of Mr. Morris until the signature of the provisional
treaty). Laurens arrived in Boston, in Sept. 1781,
and he immediately joined the army and in the storm
of the Redout on the night of the 14 th Oct r , which was
the closing scene of my father s service, L. who, with
a body of picked men, was detached by him to take
the enemy in reverse and intercept their retreat,
entered the works among the foremost and made
prisoner the commanding officer. As a compliment
to his gallantry and in reference to the capture of
Charleston, he with the Viscount De Xoailles, was
appointed a commissioner to settle the terms of the
JOHN (\ HAMILTON."
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 45
IN THE SENATE. Remarks of Mr. Hayne, of South
Carolina, on the bill for the relief of the grandson of
the late Colonel John Laurens.
Mr. Hayne said, that it had been his firm determina
tion to take no part in the discussion of this claim, and
to give a silent vote on the several questions which
should arise on it. But some erroneous statements
had been made which it was in his power to correct,
and it had, therefore, become his duty, to give to the
senate all the information he possessed on the subject.
The merits of the deceased, Colonel John Laurens,
had been brought (he conceived, somewhat improperly)
into discussion, on this occasion, inasmuch as the claim
of the petitioner was a call on the justice, and not on
the bounty, of the country. As, however, the name of
Laurens had been mentioned, he could not, with jus
tice to his own feelings, refrain from adding his feeble
tribute of respect for the virtues, and admiration of
the character of that distinguished man. He felt that
he would be indulged by the senate, when they
remembered, that he represented the state which had
been honored by giving birth to that illustrious hero,
and which had been still more honored in being the
scene of his glorious death. Colonel John Laurens,
said Mr. Hayne, was the Bayard of America. Of him,
if of any man who ever lived, it could, with truth, be
said, " he was without fear, and without reproach. 7 1 He
brought to the service of his country, a Roman form,
46 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
and more than a Roman soul. If you sought for him
in the day of battle, he was found at the post of
danger ; if at any other moment, he was found at the
post of duty. The love of his country controlled every
other feeling of his heart ; it might almost be said, to
be that " in which he lived and moved, and had his
being." It had been supposed, said Mr. H., that
Colonel Laurens was a rash man, wholly reckless of
life who rushed, with the instinct of the lion, on his
foe, and who was regardless, because he was insensible
to danger. Some countenance, indeed, had been given
to this idea by the historians of the day. But Mr. H.
was strongly impressed with the belief, that injustice
had, in this respect, been done to the character of
Laurens, and that his ardent enterprize, and heroic
courage, had been mistaken for thoughtless despera
tion. Laurens possessed a highly cultivated mind.
He was a man of thong] it as well as of action ; "as
great in council as in high resolve." It is not to be
supposed, therefore, that such a man could have been
insensible to danger. Mr. H. w^as satisfied, from
facts within his own knowledge, that though Colonel
Laurens always felt himself impelled by his noble
nature, and a high sense of duty, to seek danger in
his country s service, wherever it was to be found,
yet he duly estimated the hazards of such conduct,
and considered, as probable, the event by which he
finally sealed, with liis blood, his devotion to his
country. When entering on his last campaign, he
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 47
confided to the care of a friend a precious jewel the
gift of Louis XVIth, with directions how it should be
disposed of in the event of his fall. No, sir, said Mr.
H., Colonel Laurens was neither insensible to danger,
nor indifferent to life. It was only when, to borrow
the language of the immortal poet :
He set honor in one eye, and death in t other,
That he did look on death indifferently.
" The field of battle was not the only sphere in which
Colonel Laurens displayed great talents, and rare
qualities. lie was no less able as a negociator, than
distinguished as a soldier. At the most critical period
of the revolution, congress found it necessary to send
to France for succor and support. They sought out
Laurens in the camp, and confided to him a special
mission to the court of Versailles. His conduct on
that mission was as striking and peculiar as it was
eminently successful. He stamped his own high cha
racter on a transaction unexampled in the whole
history of diplomacy. Arrived at the French court,
lie trampled at once on all the official forms, and in
the simple garb of an American soldier, pressed
instantly into the presence of the sovereign elo
quently and fearlessly explained the situation of his
country, clearly pointed out the duty and interest of
France, and demanded assistance. Patriotism and
eloquence were signally triumphant Laurens pre
vailed. He obtained at once that relief which was,
perhaps, essential to the accomplishment of American
48 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
Independence, and which if it had not been wholly
denied to the usual course of tardy negociation, might
have come too late to produce the desired effect. Thus
was the work of years accomplished in a few short
weeks. But a few months had elapsed since Laurens
had been seen in the ranks of the American army "in
the thickest of the fight." And now (having in the
meantime twice crossed the Atlantic, and concluded a
most important negociation), he was again on his
native shores, bringing with him immense treasures,
the fruits of his labors, and furnishing pay and cloth
ing to the suffering soldiery. In a few days after his
arrival, he was again found in the camp, marshalling
to glory the soldiers of liberty. Mr. II. said, he
would not attempt to follow him further in his glori
ous course. We all know that he fell at the head of
his troops gallantly fighting for the liberties of his
country, and the rights of mankind. It is delightful,
said Mr. H., to reflect that he fell " in the last of our
fields," as if Providence, who had preserved him
through so many perils, had permitted his career to
be closed only when there were no more battles to be
won. It will hardly be believed by posterity, that the
hero who filled so large a space in the annals of his
country, died in his youth, not having yet attained his
"As nearly connected with this subject, said Mr. II.,
it is worthy of remark, that Col. Laurens was the
purest and most disinterested of human beings. His
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 49
political creed was, that in the hour of calamity, the
life and fortune of the citizen is the property of his
country, and that his services should be rendered gra
tuitously. Laurens received no pay kept no private
accounts, and, most certainly, never intended to de
mand, nor would have consented to receive, any
compensation for his invaluable services, military and
diplomatic. It was in the same spirit, that on one occa
sion, he declined a commission in the army, tendered
him as a reward for his gallantry ; not, assuredly, from
insensibility to its value (for military glory was the idol
of his soul, and promotion the very reward for which
his heart panted), but because, as he himself declared,
his promotion might give offence to older officers ;
and thus be injurious to the public service. Mr. H.
said, he knew not how better to combine in one view,
the various traits which marked the character of John
Laurens, than by adopting the elegant language of the
American historian : " Nature had adorned him with
a profusion of her choicest gifts, to which education
had added its most useful as well as its most elegant
improvements. Acting from the most honorable
principles uniting the bravery and other talents of
the great officer, with the knowledge of a complete
soldier, and the engaging manners of a well bred gen
tleman he was the idol of his country the glory
of the army, and the ornament of human nature."
"It was such a man, said Mr. II., as he had
described so gallant in war, so happy in negocia-
50 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
tion, and whose good fortune it was to have rendered
such immense services to his country, that at the end
of the revolution, closed his glorious life, by a still
more glorious death. Cut down in the midst of all
his prospects, he left an infant child, an orphan
daughter ; and had that child been left destitute and
friendless, what would the American nation have done ?
What ought they to have done ? Sir, they w T ould have
imitated Rome, in the best, the most virtuous days of
that republic. They would have adopted that orphan.
She would have become the child of the republic,
which would have cherished and protected her
reared her up to honor and usefulness, and finally
have bestowed on her " a suitable dowry in marriage."
But such was fortunately not her destitute condition.
She was left to the paternal care of her venerable
grandfather, a man of high character, of large
fortune, and to whom his deceased son had been
dearer than his own life.
" It was supposed to be proper to apply to congress
in behalf of the orphan, for the payment of the salary
to which her father w r as entitled as a military officer,
and a foreign minister. All that was asked was
granted; the pay was adjusted the account settled,
and the money received and applied to the use of the
child. At a subsequent period she was married in
England to the petitioner, who, in the right of his
wife, became entitled to receive a considerable for
tune, composed of the money granted by congress,
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 51
and the bequest of her grandfather. In this situation
matters have remained for upwards of thirty years,
when the petitioner discovers, that in the adjustment
of Col. Laurens account, other claims might have
been introduced ; and he comes here in his own right,
and asks not only for the corrections of errors in the
settlement, but also for interest for forty years on the
whole amount interest, which is not the practice of
this government to allow. Now, sir, if the daughter of
Col. Laurens was in pecuniary distress, and were to
come here, and ask of your liberality, assistance and
support, it would become this house it would be
worthy of the nation to extend the hand of kindness,
and generously to bestow any sum of money necessary
for her relief. It ought not, however, in such a case,
to be presented, in the shape of a demand, for interest
on an account, but the lasting gratitude due for the
services of the father, ought to be the foundation of a
liberal donation to the child.
" But the parties to this petition make no appeal. It
is a simple demand by the legal representative, for the
settlement of an account, to which, therefore, the
usual rules ought to be applied. No complaint is
made of pecuniary distress ; no appeal has been made
or could be made, with any propriety, to your sympa
thies. Let justice, then, be done; but let the bounty
of the country be reserved for a more suitable
occasion. With respect to the claim of interest, on
the ground that all the parties have constantly resided
52 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
in England, Mr. II. said, the honorable chairman of
the committee was mistaken, in point of fact; and this
was one of the errors which Mr. II. had risen to cor
rect. The petitioner was in this country upwards
of twenty years ago; had heen here on one or two
occasions since, and had resided in America for
several years past, Interest could not he claimed on
" It only remains, then, said Mr. H., to enquire what
does justice require at our hands, in this case ? It is
alleged by the petitioner, that certain errors exist in
the settlement of Col. Laurens account, under the
resolutions of congress of 1784. The respectable com
mittee to whom the subject has been referred, have
reported that in their opinion the allegation has been
supported by proof. With that report, Mr. II. was
disposed to rest satisfied; more especially, as it
appeared to him, from the examination he had been
enabled to make, that there were good grounds for that
opinion. It might, indeed, be objected, by persons
disposed to be over scrupulous, that the account hav
ing been long settled, every presumption ought to be
indulged against the claim. But he thought that
would be applying a rule too technical, and much too
rigid for such a case ; more especially, as the items
of which the claim was composed, could be easily
brought to the test of a rigid examination. It is
alleged by the petitioner, that Col. Laurens was not
allowed his expenses, as a foreign minister, but only
MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS. 53
the usual salary; and it is insisted, that it was the
universal practice to allow these expenses, in lieu of
the outfit, which has since been established by law.
Both of these facts are susceptible of the clearest
proof. The account which was settled, shews plainly,
say the committee, that no allowance was made for
expenses ; and that it was then usual to allow these
expenses, is manifest from the journals and documents
submitted. The committee have informed us that
the sum reported is in exact proportion to that allowed
to Silas Deane and other foreign ministers, on the
same account. The other items are of small amount,
and from the statements of the chairman, seem to be
equally satisfactorily proved. The amount of these
items ought therefore to be paid ; but in the shape in
which this claim was now presented, Mr. H. thought
without interest. The United States did not in
general allow interest, and he saw no sufficient rea
son to make this case an exception to the rule. Had
the petitioner insisted on the payment of the amount
of the claim to himself, and for his own use, by virtue
of his marital rights, Mr. II. said he would have felt
great reluctance in complying with that demand.
But he had wisely consented that the amount should
be paid to his son, the only grandchild of Col. John
Laureiis ; and believing that his mother was suitably
provided for, and that the best direction the money
could possibly take, was to make a provision for that
young man, at the commencement of his career in
54 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
life, Mr. H. was satisfied with the bill, as reported by
the committee, and should give it his vote.
" Mr. Hayne said he was happy in being able to add
that he believed the grandson to be a respectable
young man, who was preparing himself for the
practice of an honorable profession in the country;
and he indulged the hope that he would become a
valuable citizen, and prove himself worthy of his
ON THE DEATH OF COLONEL LAURENS.
BY PHILIP FREXEAU.
Since on her plains this generous chief expir d,
Whom sages honour d and whom France aclmir d ;
Does Fame no statues to his memory raise,
Nor swells one column to record his praise
Where her palmetto shades the adjacent deeps,
Affection sighs, and Carolina weeps !
Thou, who shall stray where death this chief confines,
Revere the patriot, subject of these lines :
Not from the dust the muse transcribes his name,
And more than marble shall declare his fame
Where scenes more glorious his great soul engage,
Confest thrice worthy in that closing page
When conquering Time to dark oblivion calls,
The marble totters, and the column falls.
LAURENS ! thy tomb while kindred hands adorn,
Let northern muses, too, inscribe your urn.
Of all, whose names on death s black list appear,
No chief, that pcrish d, claim d more grief sincere,
Not one, Columbia, that thy bosom bore,
More tears commanded, or deserv d them more!
Grief at his tomb shall heave the unwearied sigh,
And honour lift the mantle to her eye :
Fame thro the world his patriot name shall spread,
By heroes envied and by monarchs read :
56 MEMOIR OF JOHN LAURENS.
Just, generous, brave to each true heart allied :
The Briton s terror, and his country s pride ;
For him the tears of war-worn soldiers ran,
The friend of freedom, and the friend of man.
Then what is death, compar d with such a tomb,
Where honour fades not, and fair virtues bloom,
When silent grief on every face appears,
The tender tribute of a nation s tears ;
Ah ! what is death, when deeds like his thus claim
The brave man s homage, and immortal fame !
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
HEAD QUARTERS, near the Cross Koads,
13th August, 1777.
My Dear Father :
We moved to this place on the 10th hist. Here we
received the account from Synnepuxent, and remain
at fault till some more particular accomts of the mo
tions of the enemy enable me to judge of their designs.
In the meantime our soldiers are recruiting in a plenti
ful country, as well as strong drink and women will
These impediments, however, to their laying in a
stock of good health are not so general as might be
expected in an army situated as ours is.
The men are exercised in smaller or greater numbers
every day. The country people bring in a plenty of
vegetables, &c. and w r e hear very few complaints
from those immediately about us of the violations of
private property. We are all anxious to hear some
thing that will give us employment of a different kind
58 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
from that which we have at present. My best regards
to all our friends, and I remain ever
Your most affectionate
I have no prospect yet of horses or servant,
The Honhle Henry Laurens, Esq.,
at Mrs. Aries, Market street, near 4th street.
HEAD QUARTERS, 21st August, 1777.
My Dear Father :
As we shall probably move to-morrow, I w r rite to
inform you that I must be obliged to use your horses
and servant farther on there having been no possi
bility of supplying myself with these articles here.
Shrewsberry says his hat was violently taken from
him by some soldiers, as he was carrying his horses
to water. If James will be so good as to send him
his old laced hat by the bearer, I hope he will take
better care of it,
If the enemy have a design upon Charles Town
which does not so clearly appear to me as it does
to most people, I hope we shall ruin the northern
branch of their army, and that however they may
for a while distress an individual state, their efforts
against the general confederacy will be less likely to
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. o9
succeed than ever. I commend myself to your love
Your ever affectionate
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq., at Mrs. Aries,
Market street near 4th St., Philadelphia.
My Dear Father :
I have just a minute to beg the favor of you to send
my watch by Col. Tilghman : Messrs. Pinckney
and Horry arriv d here yesterday, but they could not
inform me certainly whether you had employ d Hunt
to buy me a horse. I am exceedingly in want of a
vigorous steed that can gallop and leap well, not
younger than four, but I would rather have him of
six or seven years of age. Your kindness will excuse
my hurry and the trouble I give. The gentlemen
above mention d gave me pleasure in informing me
that you were well. Col. Tilghman will answer
any questions respecting the motions of the enemy
and our own.
BQth Aucf, 1777.
The Iloiible Henry Laurens, Esq r .
60 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
HEAD QUARTERS, near Potts Grove,
26th Scptem., 1777.
My Dear Father :
M r . Forsyth, the bearer of this, takes charge of
four packets for you, two of which I received yester
day and two to-day. He has likewise two other
packets for other members of Congress, one of them
directed to your care. I have desired him in case of
your removal from Reading to call on General Mifflin
who will have the letters forwarded. We shall move
towards Philadelphia to-day, as the weather is fair
and our reinforcements are at some distance below,
ready to fall in with us. Yesterday, the enemy
halted at Chestnut Hill, not far from Germantown,
and there was a cannonading heard in the morning
down the river. I am your most affectionate
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esqr., Reading.
HEAD QUARTERS, WAMPOLES, 15th October, 1777.
"When an opportunity offers, however little I have
to communicate, my desire of conversing with you
leads me to take up the pen at all events even tho the
impossibility of giving you information upon public
and more interesting objects should confine me to the
old family style of I continue in good health as I hope
you do, etc.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 61
The northern intelligence which was accidentally
handed to us yesterday, but which you no doubt have
received in proper form, is subject matter for con
I beg leave to felicitate you upon the victory gained
over the haughty Burgoyne, a victory which derives
much of its importance from the critical time in which
it happened. It was announced to the American
prisoners in Howe s possession by a flag that happened
to be going in yesterday. After all my good intentions
I am obliged to break off abruptly, as M r . Harrison
the bearer hurries me, and my letter will serve only
to inclose one left here yesterday for Col. Pinckney.
Yours aft ection y
The Honble Henry Laurens Esq r , York,
favor of Col Harrison.
1 L" Gen.
2 Major Generals
2 Eng )
-. T i VNoblem.
1 Irish j
A qty of Clothing.
15000 Stand Arms
40 Brass Cann"
The above in the hand writing of Henry Laurens is
endorsed on the back of the letter dated 15th October,
62 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
HEAD QUARTERS WMtemarsh Camp,
bth November, 1777.
My Dear Father :
In our present camp form d of two commanding
hills, whose front and flanks bid defiance to assailants,
additionally secured by a very strong advanced post,
and well supplied with every necessary, we wait the
arrival of reinforcements from the north, a part of
which is on its march and will soon arrive. What we
are to do when reinforced depends upon circumstances.
If our forts hold out and we do our duty, Gen 1
Howe will find himself in a situation which will re
quire the utmost exertions of military talents to bring
him off with honor. He lias already experienced
some difficulty in subsisting his troops and Tory
adherents; perhaps he might have been reduced to the
necessity of retreating, if there had been proper con
cert in the proceedings of our fleet and garrison.
The enemy s boats pass and repass at night, carry sup
plies from the shipping to the town, and meet with
no interruption. The cannon of the fort cannot be
brought to bear upon them; random firing would be a
waste of precious ammunition. The galleys alone can
be opposed to their passage, which has been hitherto
effected between Province Island and Fort Minim,
under cover of darkness. What this inactivity of the
galleys is owing to is unknown ; some attribute it to
the jealousy which commonly subsists between the
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 63
officers of the naval and land service a vitious spirit
which should not be known in Republics. However
I have reason to believe that this communication will
be cut off for the future.
The Reinforcements for this army are arrived at
Red-bank the intended addition has been made
to the two garrisons, and the remainder will be
posted in a proper situation for falling on the rear of
any storming party, or annoying the enemy in any
more formal attack 011 Red-bank. This morning a
heavy cannonading was heard from below and con
tinued till afternoon ; from the top of Chew s house
in German Town to which place the General took a
ride this morning, we could discover nothing more
than thick clouds of smoak, and the masts of two
vessels, the weather being very hazy.
This days Philadelphia paper contains Gen 1 Bur-
goyne s Letter to S r AV m Howe : as I cannot send
you the paper itself I copy the letter
Copy of a Letter, $c., brought by Lieut. Valancy of the 62d.
ALBANY, Octob. 20th.
In conformity to my orders to proceed by the
most vigorous exertions to Albany, I pass d the
Hudson s River at Saratoga on the 13th September.
" No exertions have been left untried. The army
under my command has fought twice against great
64 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
superiority of numbers. The first action was on the
19th Septem. when after four hours sharp conflict,
we remain d masters of the field of battle. The 2d
action (on the 7th October) was not so successful and
ended with a storm upon two parts of our intrench-
ments, the one defended by Lieut. Col. Breyman who
was kill d upon the spot, and the post was lost, the
other defended by Lord Balcarras at the head of the
British Light Infantry who repulsed the enemy with
great loss. The army afterwards made good their
retreat to the heights of Saratoga, unable to proceed
farther, the enemy having possession of all the fords
and the passes on the east side of Hudson s River.
The army waited the chances of events and ofFer d
themselves to the attack of the enemy till the 13th
inst when only three days provision at short allow
ance remained. At that time the last hope of timely
assistance being exhausted, my numbers reduced by
past actions to three thousand five hundred fighting
men, of which about nineteen hundred alone were
British; invested by the enemys troops to the
amount of sixteen thousand men ; I was induced by
the general concurrence and advice of the General,
Field officers and Captains commanding Corps, to
open a Treaty with Major Gen 1 Gates. Your
Excellency will observe by the papers transmitted
herewith, the disagreeable prospect that attended the
first overtures, The army determined to die to a
man, rather than submit to terms repugnant to
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 65
national and personal honor. I trust you will think
the Treaty inclosed consistent with both.
I am with the greatest respect and attachment,
(Signed), J. BUHGOYNE."
The first overtures alluded to in the above letter.
1st. General Burgoyne s army being exceedingly
reduced by repeated defeats, by desertion, sickness,
&c., their provisions exhausted, their military stores,
tents and baggage taken or destroyed, their retreat
cut off and their camp invested, they can only be al
lowed to surrender prisoners of war.
Answer. Lieut. Gen 1 Burgoyne s army, however
reduced, will never admit that their retreat is cut
off, while they have arms in their hands.
2. The officers and soldiers may keep the baggage
belonging to them. The generals of the United
States never permit individuals to be pillaged.
3. The troops under his excell 7 Gen 1 Burgoyne will
be conducted by the most convenient route to N". Eng
land, marching by easy marches, and sufficiently pro
vided for by the way.
4th. The officers will be admitted on parole, may
wear their side arms, and will be treated with the
liberality customary in Europe, so long as they by
proper behaviour continue to deserve it ; but those
who are apprehended having broke their parole (as
66 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
some British officers have done) must expect to be
Answer. There being no officer in this army, under
or capable of being under the description of breaking
parole, this article needs no answer.
5th. All public stores, artillery, arms, ammuni
tion, carriages, horses, &ca., must be deliver d to
Commissaries appointed to recieve them.
Answer. All public stores may be deliver d arms
6th. These terms being agreed to and sign d, the
troops under His Excellys Gen 1 Burgoynes command
may be drawn up in their encampment, where they
will be order d to ground their arms, and may be
thereupon march d to the river side, to be pass d over
in their way towards Bennington.
Answer. This article is inadmissible in any ex
tremity ; sooner than this army will consent to ground
their arms in their encampment, they will rush on the
enemy determined to take no quarter.
October 14/A, 1777.
These overtures being rejected the present Conven
tion took place.
In this paper are continued the proclamations on
promising 200 Acres of Land to each non commisioned
officer, and 50 to each private who shall serve in the
Provincial Corps now raising the other marking
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 67
the 1st day of December next as the last term of
pardon for deserters from His Majesty s services.
The most remarkable advertisements are " Wanted
immediately an additional number of able bodied men,
to serve on the city nightly parole, those desirous of
serving are to apply to J. Delaplane Constable of the
watch. "Wanted, a number of hands to cut wood
during the winter season, for the use of the army
good encouragement will be given &ca.
The inhabitants of Philadelphia, Germantown and
the country about are desired to make a return of
the number of horses, waggons, teams and carts in
Those that choose to hire their waggons by the day,
shall be paid the customary price and those who
conceal their waggons, and do not make returns as
above, will have them seized.
KB. A number of men wanted to drive waggons
their pay shall be three shillings N. York Currency
and provisions found them."
The day before yesterday, M r Crouch and another
gentleman pass d thro camp in their way from the
eastward to Charles Town. They said they intended
to continue their journey early the next morning. I
was out till late dinner time with the General, was
busy after dinner, and consequently had but little time
for private affairs however, I accomplished a letter
to M rs Laurens which I enclosed to M r Gervais to be
forwarded, giving him for his pains as much news as
68 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
I could recollect and commit hastily to paper, and
what will be a treasure to him as a Newsmonger,
Humphrey s Gazette of the 25 th . I expected to have
been able to procure another for you, but have been
The light manner in which Count Donops affair is
related. S r W m Howe s Kitean harangue to such
he would delude into the loyal corps of which he has
reserved to himself the Colonelcy and other little
anecdotes, may make it acceptable even a day or
two hence, if you have not already seen it, and in
that time I may get it from some one whose curiosity
and that of his circle is satisfied or called off to some
thing more recent.
A day or two ago, Cap* Lee of the light horse with
twelve of his troops, dispersed a foraging party on
the other side Schuylkill, took a Captain of the
Queen s Rangers (this is the name given to the new
levies of provincial troops), and seven privates, two of
whom were marines. He gives us intelligence that
Gen 1 Howe s first Aid de Camp is embarked for
England and that his principal business is to solicit
speedy and large reinforcements. This will be
delivered to you by a Baron Frey, who brought a
letter of recommendation from Doctor Franklin to
the General, and is carrying one to M r Morris. He
left France in August, at which time he says it was
the- serious opinion of people in France that the Court
of G. Britain had obtained 30,000 Russians.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 69
Between copying and composing I have inked a
great deal of paper, and it begins to be time for me to
join in the concert of my snoring companions, who
are extended before the fire in the style which we
practiced in the interior parts of So. Carolina. I
wish you as sound sleep with the cares of state as I
am likely to have, and continue in every circum
stance and situation my dear father.
Your most dutiful
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .
HEAD QUARTERS, 7 th November, 1777.
I had the pleasure of writing to you yesterday by
Col Morgan, and the day before by Baron Frey, a
stranger lately arrived from France who is gone to
offer his service to Congress. The cannonading
heard day before yesterday was between the Somerset
64 Gun Ship, the Roebuck and some other vessel on
the one part, and our row-gallies seconded by a two
gun battery on the other the affair was as follows :
The above mentioned vessels advanced towards our
chevaux de frise Gen 1 Varnum had thrown up a
fascine battery on a commanding piece of ground
below Red-bank, and order d an eighteen pounder
and a twelve pounder to be moved into it. The
eighteen pounder was overset in its way, which
accident prevented its arrival before two o clock. In
70 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
the intermediate time, however, the piece of twelve,
was well employed the ships dropped down to the
distance of a mile and a half from the battery, and
the Somerset ran aground, in which situation she
underwent a constant Fire from the Battery, which
Gen 1 Varnnm thinks must have injur d her exceed
ingly. She made several signals of distress, upon
which our Commodore with a great force advanced
towards her and made a dreadful hut ineffectual
roaring with his cannon the Roebuck, with the third
vessel whose name I dont recollect and a galley,
brought their bow guns to bear on our fleet and
kept them at a respectful distance. The flood made,
and the Somerset moved slowly off under cover of the
other ships. She received farewell salutes from the
battery as long as she continued within reach.
Our anxiety had been raised in camp, by a report
that a heavy firing of musquetry had been heard for a
considerable time on the evening of the same day
it turns out to be nothing more than a few single
guns which Potter s militia and the enemy s detach
ment 011 Province Island make a practice of firing
at each other without com 8 to any action. Four
deserters from the enemy brought in this morning, say
that the militia men call d to the British soldiers and
invited them to go over, promising them beef and
flour the red-coats in return ask d them to come
and partake of tlieir salt that from raillery they
proceeded to abuse- and at length to discharging
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 71
tlicir pieces at each other, without any other effect as
far as they know than wounding a Hessian yager.
There have been several women from Ph a within
two days past, who have applied for leave to pass into
the country declaring that unless this indulgence
be granted to them, they must inevitably starve.
Our humane General says he will grant their request
upon condition that they do not return into the city,
and I believe directions are given for that purpose to
the officers commanding sub-posts, who have hitherto
Rubenhaupt, the Dutch general who conducted the
celebrated siege of Grave, shielded by national phlegm
against any impression from female and infantine dis
tress, rudely sent back into the town crowds of
women and children, who presented themselves in his
camp to entreat that he would deliver them from the
horrors of famine by suffering them to pass his lines.
The polite and gallant Prince of Conde, upon a
similar application, when he was particularly called
upon not to act inconsistently with the amiable
characteristic of his countrymen the women of the
besieged town who petitioned his leave to quit it,
saying " they were persuaded a French Nobleman
could not be so impolite as to reject the prayer of
unfortunate ladies " dexterously parried this artful
address to his feelings as a Frenchman, by replying
that "he could not consent to deprive himself of the
most desirable part of his conquest."
72 COEEESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAUEENS.
I write this to go by James, who came to Head
Quarters this morning to see me and take my com
mands. I happen d to be out with the General when
he arrived, and did not know of his being here till
after dinner, which according to our late hour, made
it near evening and as I had a second ride to take
I detained him for the rest of the day. Mrs. Hartley
is too far from camp for me to pay her my respects.
If James returns that way, I will write her a note of
thanks for her care of your letter of 26th Octob r which
I received yesterday.
8th. His Excellency detains James in order to write
by him to Congress I congratulate you, upon your
succession to the Presidentship, tho we shall not
know you in that capacity at Head Quarters till you
Permit me to say, that I have the honour to be
with as much respect for your public station, as any
citizen in the United States, and with an increasing
flow of filial affection.
Your dutiful son,
I wrote yesterday to St. Mary Axe, under cover to
Babut and Labouchere, by way of New Orleans, and
committed my packet to the care of Col Morgan.
Since writing as above, I have received your kind
favor of the 4 th .
The Hon ble Henry Laurens, Esq.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 73
HEAD QUARTERS, 9 th November, 1777.
My Dear Father :
Colonel du PortaiPs visit to Congress gives me an
opportunity of relating some little transactions which
serve by way of interlude to the grand acts of the
military drama. Capt. Craig of Moylan s Light Dra
goons, with sixteen horsemen surprised one of the
enemy s patrols this morning, consisting of seven
horse and seven grenadiers and took the whole party
prisoners without a stroke on either side. The same
officer informs us this afternoon from authority which
he thinks good, that fifteen of the enemy s provision
boats have fall n into our hands.
We have received accounts from different persons
that one of their floating batteries was sunk in launch
From the preparations made and every account
obtained from deserters, spies, &c., we have reason to
expect every day a pow rful attack on Fort Minim.
General Yarnum has reinforced the garrison from
his brigade, and such a disposition is made of our
naval and land force in that quarter as will make a
greater sacrifice the price of success, than I think M r
Howe in his present circumstances can afford. This
evening, Cap ^Nichols of the Eagle packet with the
Cap* of an armed sloop, were brought to Head Quar
ters they were made prisoners by a detachment
from Cap* Lee s troop, and as Nichols mentioned his
being acquainted with some gentlemen of Carolina,
74 CORKESrONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
Cap* Lee gave him a recommendatory letter to me.
The honest seaman, tho he says his vessel was order d
to be in readiness for sailing at a moment s warning,
seems to be affected by his misfortune and expresses
as hearty rejoicing at the welfare of President Lau-
rens as if he were a loyal subject to his master. lie
says that Pond w T as on shore with him and narrowly
escaped accompanying him hither.
I am sorry to deduct from your pleasure by striking
out the story of the provision boats. Upon reading
Gen 1 Varnum s letter of yesterday, I find mention of
a convoy being driven back by our gallics ; the delay
of their arrival has probably given room to conjecture
in Philadelphia that they had been taken.
10th. I have just return d from an early walk to an
eminence in front of the camp, where I had been
listening to the tremendous, tho distant roaring of
cannon. It is probable that this infernal noise is only
a prelude to the more dangerous closer fight which
has been so long meditated by the British and which
both parties are prepared for.
Will you be so kind as to tell me the orthography
of galley, whether it be as already written, or thus
Your most affectionate
The Ilonble Henry Laurens, Esq.,
President of Congress, York.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 75
HEAD QUARTERS, 14 th Novem., 1777.
My Dear Father :
Since I had the pleasure of writing to you by
Baron Frey, and the Chevalier du Portail, the siege
of Fort Mifflin has been continued with great vigour
and the new batteries open d by the enemy on the
10th have thrown their 24 and 32 pounders with
great success. A considerable breach was made on
the llth in the masonry of the fort, many palisades
were level d, the block houses almost ruin d, several
cannon dismounted, and a valuable artillery officer
kill d. In these circumstances the commanding offi
cer Lieut. Col. Smith thought proper to consult with
Brigadier Gen 1 Varnum who is stationed at Wood-
berry near Fort Mercer on Red Bank, upon the
propriety of evacuating the post. It was determined
that the superfluous cannon, provisions and artillery
stores should be removed and that a show of de
fence should be kept up as long as possible. The
commander in chief considering the importance of
this place, which if it should fall into the enemy s
hands would enable them to annoy our fleet and even
drive it from the defence of the chevaux de frise, at
first gave positive orders to maintain it at all events.
These, however, were changed for discretionary orders
in consequence of the great injury which the works
had sustained. On the night of the llth the enemy s
fire interrupted the repairs of the fort. Three of
76 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
their small vessels pass tl between Province Island
and the fort to the mouth of the Sclmylkil. On the
12th there was a great firing and two eighteen
pounders dismounted. At night the enemy threw
shells and the garrison was alarmed by thirty of their
boats. On the 13th they open d a new battery; our
block houses were destroyed ; each day there were a
few kill d and wounded. The garrison exhausted by
watching labour and ill health have been relieved.
The enemy have not been tempted by the success of
their batteries to storm a small number of men who
maintained their ground in the ruins of the fort.
I certainly think it practicable by nocturnal labours
to complete a work which will bid defiance to storm,
and cover the garrison from their 32 pounders. The
engineer who is on the spot, Major Floury, a French
man, will do every thing that can be done. His zeal
and talents recommend him to public notice. To
night the enemy have renewed their tiring.
13th. Nothing like a storm yet from the detach
ment on Province Island. They content themselves
with battering by day, and interrupting as much as
they can our fatigue parties at night by firing from
time to time in which the moonlight is serviceable
14th. Early this morning a floating battery armed
with two heavy cannon was discover d near the shore
of Province Island. The new commandant at Fort
Mifnin thinks the post tenable in spite of the enemy s
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 77
land and water batteries. The Engineer Fleury says
if lie is supplied from Red Bank with fascines,
gabions, earth and fatigue-men, he will repair as
much as possible each night the havoc made by day.
What he will principally aim at will be the construc
tion of some flanked work (shaped according to cir
cumstances) which in case the block houses sh d be
irreparably lost, may enable the garrison to resist a
15. There has been firing in the course of the day
and some scatter d guns in the evening.
16. Every account given by persons of different sexes
and ages who have left Philadelphia agrees in these
points, that the inhabitants are exceedingly distressed
for want of provision. Officers and soldiers humbled
by the unexpected resistance of the forts, begin to
express great anxiety on account of their present
situation that our unhappy prisoners are treated
with a barbarity which I think the Britons can only
venture to be guilty of, because they persuade them
selves the relation of it will not be believed in the
present refined age.
Gentlemen retum d from reconnoitering on the
other side of Schuylkil say that the Continental flag
was flying at Fort Mifnin yesterday evening, that the
enemy by lightering a frigate of her guns had towed
her through a shallow channel between Hog Island
and Province Island.
With this you will receive a Philadelphia paper
78 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
and a printed handbill which is one of a great number
lately found in a chest at East Town. The direction
of the chest is rubb d off and there were no manu
scripts within by which the owner could be discover d;
each handbill was inscribed with the address which
you see on this. Cap Robinson calls for my letter.
Adieu my dear Father.
I had closed my letter persuaded that Fort Mifflin
was still ours, when an officer from Red Bank enter d
with Gen 1 Yarnum s dispatches. The enemy s fire
yesterday was universal. Ships, batteries, land and
water, one of the latter stationed near the fort threw
in hand grenades our brave garrison suffer d consi
derably some of our best officers wounded and
Gen 1 Yarnum, I suppose, ordered the fort to be
evacuated last night. The fort has done infinitely
more than was expected of it, and we must repair its
HEAD QUARTERS, 18 th Novem., 1777.
My Dear Father :
Your kind letter of the 12 th , concluded on the 15 th ,
has been deliver d to me barely time enough to run it
The express is to be sent back immediately with
dispatches that were ready, so that I shall have but
few moments allowed me for writing to you. The
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 79
little innovation in the epithet applied to Gen 1 Howe s
oration, I took the liberty of forming from Kite, a
character in the comedy of the Recruiting Officer,
and meant to draw a parallel between the sergeant s
harangue and that of the General but upon recol
lection I believe I have done the former an injustice
who confined his promises to more practicable things.
I shall not now have time to give you my dear Father
a particular account of the progress of the besiegers
and persevering defence of our brave garrison, to the
time when perpetual hail of musquetry and hand
grenades from the round tops of the Empress of
Russia, an East Indiaman cut down and converted
into a floating battery of 18 twenty-four pounders,
made it impossible for men to do any thing more in
the fort than sacrifice themselves unrevenged. I hate
to blame without sure grounds ; but as far as I can
judge at this distance, the naval department has been
deficient in its duty. The Commodore is brave, but
has no command. The questions now are can we
prevent the enemy s raising the chevaux de frise by
keeping possession of Red Bank or Fort Mercer if
the enemy should eftect a lodgment on Mud Island
can our fleet maintain its present position ? Is it not
possible to take the Empress of Russia, and sink an ob
struction in the channel thro which she pass d ? I say
yes to them all, except the second and the enemy s
lodgm* may be prevented.
You, my dear father will call me a presumptuous
80 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
young man, especially when you hear that three gene
ral officers are gone to investigate these points on the
spot. Pardon the manner of my letter, in consideration
that I have been endeavouring to satisfy the problem
which requires the most written in the least given
time. Chagrined at the necessity of taking leave so
abruptly, I console myself with the prospect of writing
more deliberately in a day or two.
Your most affectionate
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esrf.,
President of Congress, York.
HEAP QUARTERS, 26th Nor cm., 1777.
My Dear Father :
M r Boudinot, commissary of prisoners informs me
that he intends for York to morrow, and if I understand
him right, wishes that I would give him a letter of
introduction to you. He is a sensible man and atten
tive to the duties of his office.
Your kind letter of the 23 d announces a very accept
able reinforcement of linnen for which I am exceed
ingly obliged to you the boots will come in good
time those which I wear at present are in good
condition, but where they undergo sucli hard duty as
they do in the service of an aide de camp, a relief is
necessary. The gloves are not so indispensible, I
have discover d an old pair which have been washed
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 81
and serve me with reparation ; the woolen ones
however will be an exceeding good reserve.
I believe your question relative to the proceedings
of the enemy since the evacuation of Fort Mimin,
has been answered in one of my former letters.
Troops from Province Island immediately possess d
themselves of the ruin d wall and palisades, and threw
up a battery. At the evacuation of Fort Mercer a
quantity of powder was fired with intention to blow
up the magazine and ruin the works however, it had
but little effect, and the destruction was completed by
Gen 1 Greene had prepared to give L d Cornwallis
battle, when he was call d oft by a grand scheme
which was in agitation the day before yesterday. An
attack was meditated on the enemy s lines ; a proper
disposition was plann d for attacking their redoubts
vigorously in front, while Greene s detachment em-
bark d in boats should fall down the river land in the
city and charge the enemy in their rear. A cannon
ade from an eminence on the west side of Schuylkil
was to second these attacks and Potter s Militia were
to make a show at the bridge. Some were clearly
for it and some clearly against it ; both parties ignorant
at the same time of the strength of the works. Our
Commander in chief wishing ardently to gratify the
public expectation by making an attack upon the
enemy yet preferring at the same time a loss of
popularity to engaging in an enterprise which he could
82 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
not justify to his own conscience and the more respect
able part of liis constituents, went yesterday to view
the works. A clear sunshine favoured our observa
tions : we saw redoubts of a very respectable profit,
faced with plank, formidably fraised, and the inter
vals between them closed with an abbatis unusually
strong. General du Portail declared that in such
works with five thousand men he would bid defiance
to any force that should be brought against him. I
was led into all the history which I must beg my dear
father may be very discreet but now no secret
however my friends in Carolina may talk of things
they know without quotation I know my few friends
there are also discreet, between ourselves in order
to account for Gen 1 Greene s not marching to L d Corn-
wallis as every man of experience and judgment,
thinks it would be madness with our force to make an
attempt on the enemy in their present situation.
It follows that in order to guard against L d Corn-
wallis s being suddenly recall d, and the enemy s
marching with their whole force against our army,
weakened by a considerable detachment, we should
withdraw Gen 1 Greene from the Jerseys and a
courier has been accordingly dispatched for that
purpose. When the junction is form d we shall
probably march to some place where the troops may
be cover d from the inclemency of the season, and be
within distance for annoying the enemy s shipping
and cutting ofT any detachments which they may
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 83
have occasion to make. A position on the other side
of Sclmylkil would unite these two advantages and
have the additional ones of being in a more plentiful
country for forage, &ca., and reducing the enemy to
the passage of a bridge in case they should attempt a
sudden attack upon us. German Town would cover
a great many troops, but it would require strong w T orks
to secure it, and is within surprising distance.
I was going to speak privately of several public
matters, but the horses are order d, and what I write
must be dispatched hastily. The promotion of Col.
"Wilkinson to the rank of Brigad r General has given
universal disgust in the corps of Continental officers.
If he had signalized himself, say many of them, by
any remarkable service, we should have applauded
Congress for bestowing a well merited reward; but
we think there is a degradation of rank and an injus
tice done to senior and more distinguished officers,
when a man is so extraordinarily advanced for riding
post with good news. Let Congress reward him with
a good horse for his speed, but consecrate rank to
merit of another kind.
This matter is likely to produce many resignations
in the line of colonels. Rank has likewise been
vilified by the indiscriminate distribution of it. Wag
gon masters, regimental quarter masters, &ca., have
had titles which cease to be honorable when possessed
by such personages.
I had some other things to say but I believe I
84 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
shall be better employed for the present in sending
you such extracts as I sliall have time to cull from the
last Philadelphia paper. I give you the paragraphs
quoted from the English papers first because I am sure
they will amuse you.
" The great outline of the intended operations is
" said to be this. If France does not absolutely relin-
" quish her present treacherous conduct, which gives
" her all the advantages of a war without any of the
"dangers and losses to declare war against her;
" to send 50,000 foreign troops to America, which are
"actually agreed for; to call home the frigates and
" let them loose on the French commerce, and to form
" a grand expedition with Gen 1 Howe s army against
"the W. India Islands; to cede Gibralter and a sugar
" island to Russia, on condition of the Empress send-
"ing 40,000 men to North America. What seems to
" confirm these circumstances is a commission going
" to Holland to engage transports.
[The above appear d in the London papers, a few
days before the court of France had order d the rebel
vessels out of their ports, and prohibited the sale of
" Last Thursday afternoon the rebels at Red-bank,
horribly panick struck with the loss of their fort at
Mud Island, which they looked upon as inaccessible
and indeed was ama/ingly strong blew up their
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 85
magazine and fled from their fortifications which, they
had been preparing for these six or seven weeks past,
with all the speed they were masters of, depending
intirely on the nimbleness of their heels for their
safety, and were heard by many of the citizens who
were on the wharves looking at the vessels on fire,
to cry with the greatest vociferation, Damn you
drive on drive on run my boys the English are
" The same evening the brave commander of their
fleet deserted by these their gallant comrades, set fire
to two of their vessels, and sent them towards the city
with the flood tide, but not having heart to put in
execution their mischievous designs, quitted them
before they reached the town when they drifted on
the Jersey shore and were burnt. Early the next
morning with the first of the flood, they would fain
have stolen by the city with the rest of the fleet, and
for this purpose sent their galleys on first, which were
so warmly saluted by the different batteries along shore
and by the Delaware frigate, that it induced them
rather to trust terra-firma than their floating fortresses
for the security of their persons, and setting fire
to their ships, kebecs, brigs, schooners, sloops, &ca.,
abandoned them leaving their rigging, sails and
every thing else on board, to the mercy of the flames,
which burnt with such rapidity that it was impossible
to save any part. Some of the vessels drove opposite
to the town, where the fire reaching the guns which
86 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
wore loaded, they went off, and shortly after their
magazines blew up with great explosions, but hap
pily did no damage. In the conflagration, eight or
nine topsail vessels were consumed. Thus was a fleet
that cost the Congress and this province some hundred
thousand pounds, to their burning shame destroyed
in a few hours.
" It is with the greatest satisfaction the printer con
gratulates his fellow citizens upon the happy fulfilment
of his hopes express d in one of his former papers,
that we sh d shortly have the fleet lying before this
city and upon the happy renewal of business.
Nothing can afford every well- wisher to the prosperity
of this province greater joy than the present pleasing
view of our wharfs crowded with vessels and merchan
dise of every kind.
" Saturday morning last about 7 o clock a pretty
smart shock of an earthquake was felt in this city.
It is about 14 years since any thing of an earthquake
has been felt here before.
" "Whereas, notwithstanding the general agreement
of the inhabitants of this city That such legal paper
money as has been emitted by acts of assembly, and
received the royal sanction, should be received in all
payments, and deemed of equal value with gold and
silver at the old customary rates, in the said agree
ment specified sundry persons lately arrived in this
city, and even some who have signed the said agree
ment, do now refuse to take the said paper money
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 87
and make a difference in the prices if they can be paid
in gold and silver thereby taking an injust advan
tage of the necessity of the times, striving to embarrass
the public affairs, to destroy the chief medium of
our commerce and prevent the negotiating bills of
exchange. "We therefore to discourage practices so
selfish and injurious to the public, do hereby engage to
each other and the public upon our honor that we
will not directly or indirectly deal with any person or
persons whatsoever who shall refuse to take the said
paper money in their payments, or make any difference
between the value thereof and gold and silver as fixed
in the said agreement nor will we deal with any
person or persons who shall be known to engross any
quantity of provisions, with a view to retail the same
at an immoderate price to the distress of the poor and
industrious housekeepers. The above association is
now signing by the Inhabitants at the Coffee House.
AYe have just received intelligence from Gen 1
Greene and the Marquis de la Fayette that Morgan s
Corps with two pickets of militia, under the command
of the Marquis de la Fayette attacked the Hessian
Picket consisting of 300 men, kill d 20, wounded about
as many and took 14 prisoners the picket was twice
reinforced by British night came on, and the Ame
ricans masters of the field march d slowly to their
camp, having lost only two men kill d and three or four
88 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
I have barely time to close with those expressions
of duty and affection which it always gives me pleasure
27th Noveni., 1777.
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esof.,
President of Congress.
HEAD QUARTERS, 29 th Novem., 1777.
My Dear Father :
I have just received and hastily read over your kind
letter of the 27 th and could write a great deal in answer
to it if time or discretion would permit. This will
merely serve as a cover to a newspaper, part of which
I copied in my last. It goes by a man who is to set
off immediately for York as I am informed by Col.
Tilghman. I am exceedingly obliged to you for the
gloves, and am ever
I must detain the messenger, who ever he be, while
I relate an anecdote, which will give you some idea
of the general misbehaviour of our navy.
When their retreat up the river was expected, the
Delaware frigate was given over for lost her guns
were taken out, and only a few men left in her who
were to make their escape immediately upon an attack
from our fleet which was looked upon as an event that
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 89
would certainly happen and that could not be other
wise than successful on our side.
If it were the custom for generals to proclaim their
intentions, we had a right to expect an attack to-day ;
however, it is not amiss to he prepared for it. Gen 1
Greene has joined us, and our forces are reunited.
The enemy after razing Bilingsport and Red Bank
have quitted the Jerseys altogether. It appears that
two British captains were kill d and two wounded in
the Marquis de la Fayette s combat.
Upon looking into your letter again I see that I am
indebted to a lady for the gloves; you will oblige me
by saying something handsome for me. My letter
alluded to, began in the manner which you describe ;
it was a kind of journal which I had begun, and laid
by in order to add to it occasionally.
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, 3 d December, 1777.
My Dear Father :
I thank you for your kind letter of the 30 th of last
month, and the American Code of Public Law. I
have given this book not such a reading as I wished,
but such as my time permitted, and think it contains
all the fundamental laws of a federative republic.
It is the part of the wise legislative body to make
90 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
the union of the states perpetual by procuring it the
sanction of popular opinion.
If the majority of the people in each state, or only
the majority of the states, can he persuaded that it is
a religious duty, as was the case of the Greeks with
respect to the Amphictioiiic League, or a duty to
themselves as most favouring their private and
political interests to maintain the confederation, it
will he established upon the most permanent basis
that human affairs admit of, and the opinion propa
gated by education will pass to remote posterity. I
shall study these laws with the greatest attention in
We have received several accounts from outposts
within a few days past intimating that an attack upon
us was meditated. We have in consequence prepared
ourselves, paraded our men so as to make them
acquainted with their ground and its advantages ; but
the enemy have remained within their works. Many
are of opinion that S r W m Howe will not sutler any
thing but mere necessity, or a very tempting prospect
of decisive success, to call him from good winter
quarters. Others say that from past experience lie
knows the vicinity of the Continental army to be
exceedingly troublesome, and that it is his interest to
drive us to a more respectable distance. In the mean
time the season advances in which armies in general
are forced to repair to more substantial shelter than
tents, and whose inclemency is more particularly
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 91
grievous to our ill-clothed soldiers. The question is
whether we are to go into remote winter quarters,
and form a chain of cantonments in the interior part
of the country ; leaving a vast extent of territory ex
posed to the devastation of an enraged unsparing
enemy ; leaving inhabitants who will be partly seduced
by the expectation of gold, or more generally compell d
to fill the traitorous provincial corps now raising;
leaving plentiful granaries and large stocks of cattle,
ample means for subsisting the troops and Tory citi
zens in Philadelphia, and for victualling transports
that may carry home M r Burgoyne and his army;
leaving the well affected to fall a sacrifice, and deplore
our abandonment of them and the country; or,
whether we shall take a position more honourable, more
military, more republican, more consonant to the
popular wish in a proper situation for covering the
country, or at least so much of it as circumstances will
permit and for distressing and annoying the Enemy ?
Winter campaigns it is said are ominous to the best
appointed and best disciplined armies. The misery
incident to them occasions desertion and sickness
which waste their numbers. Our army in particular
requires exemption from fatigue in order to com
pensate for their want of clothing.
Relaxation from the duties of a campaign, in order
to allow them an opportunity of being disciplined and
instructed ; warm quarters, that it may appear in the
spring with undiminished numbers and in the full
92 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
prowess of health, &ca. Besides it is urged that the
hardships which our soldiers undergo discourage men
from enlisting. The answers that might be given in
our particular circumstances to these general objec
tions against winter campaigns are only for your
private ear, and not to be trusted in a letter to the possi
bility of miscarriage ; besides, we may take a position
which will not absolutely expose us to a winter
campaign, but furnish us excellent quarters for men
at the same time that it leaves us within distance for
taking considerable advantages of the enemy, and
cover a valuable and extensive country.
As I hear that the Chevalier Failly intends for York,
and it seems to be a matter of doubt whether any
dispatches will go from head quarters to-day, I ll
finish my letter and send it by him.
Gen 1 Dickinson made a descent some days ago on
Staten Island which, if lie had not been betrayed,
would have thrown into his hands some very valuable
prisoners and a large number of common ones. As it
was, he took 2 lieutenants and 25 privates ; made a
secure retreat, and lost only two or three kill d and
The trium viral committee from Congress arrived
this evening. As much as I desire to see you, my
dear father, I fear an interview cannot be effected for
some time to come. Col. Hamilton who was sent to
the Northern army to explain the necessity for rein
forcements from thence, lies danin rously ill on the
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 93
road. Since the battle of German Town, I have no
longer been a supernumerary.
My heart is ever with you,
The Honble Henry Laurens Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
Fav d by M r Le Chevalier De Failly.
HEAD QUARTERS, at the Gulf,
15 th December 1777.
My Dear Father :
I have barely time to thank you for your packet of
the 12 th , and to express my great concern at the cause
of your confinement. The pain arising from your
malady must be aggravated by its happening at a time
when you have the most important public affairs on
your mind ; but I hope it will neither be so durable
nor so grievous as you seem to expect. Your own
philosophy and the assurance of the sympathy of your
friends will greatly mitigate the evil. I return two
of the letters which you sent me, for your perusal;
the others were from M w Laurens; the last dated gives
me a title to expect her arrival in Carolina in com
pany with M r Blake s family.
The army cross d the Schuylkil on the 13 th and has
remained encamped on the heights on this side. Our
truly republican general has declared to his officers
that he will set the example of passing the winter in
94 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
a hut himself. The precise position is not as yet
fixed upon, in which our huts arc to be constructed ;
it will probably be determined this day; it must
be in such a situation as to admit of a bridge of com
munication over the Schuylkil for the protection of
the country we have just left; far enough from the
enemy not to be reached in a day s march, and pro
perly interposed between the enemy and the most
valuable part of this country on this side Schuylkil.
With anxious prayers for your recovery,
I am your most dutiful and affectionate
Berry received a hunting shirt and a check shirt.
If there be any difficulty in getting him winter clothes
I believe he can do without.
The last plundering and foraging party of the ene
my under L d Cornwallis on this side Schuylkil have
gone beyond themselves in barbarous treatment of
The Honble Henry Laurens,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, 23 d December 1777.
My Dear Father :
I wish it were in my power to enter properly into
the different subjects which compose your letter of
the 20 th . In my present circumstances I must content
myself with writing you a short and hasty epistle.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 95
The particulars of the aifair alluded to by the Cheva
lier de Failly, I took it for granted you would have
received in your official letter, and therefore regretted
the less my want of time to inform you properly of it.
The matter was in brief as follows : when we march d
from WMtemarah Camp, and were in the act of cross
ing the Schuylkil, we received intelligence that the
enemy were advancing on this side of the river; in
fact a ravaging party of four thousand under the com
mand of Lord Cornwallis had pass d the river and
were driving Potter s Militia before them. Two regi
ments of this corps, however, are said to have conducted
themselves extremely well and to have given the
enemy no small annoyance as they advanced. General
Sullivan was Major Gen 1 of the day and consequently
conducted the march.
His division and part of Wayne s had cross d the
river; being uncertain as to the number of the
enemy, and dreading their advance in force. When
part of the army should be on one side of the river and
part on the other he order d those troops to recross
and our bridge to be render d impassible.
Notice of this was sent to the Commander in Chief,
and when he arrived parties of the enemy were seen
on the commanding heights on this side of the river.
There was a pause for some time and consultation what
was to be done; parties of horse in the mean time
were detached to gain certain intelligence of the ene
my s number and designs.
96 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
It was considered that our army was near a river
to which it had march d by a narrow road, on each
side of which thick woods render d it impossible for
the army to display itself; and that if S r W m Howe sh d
keep up a show on the opposite side Schuylkil, and at
the same time march in force from Philadelphia upon
us, we must in these circumstances inevitably be
ruined. Some pronounced hastily that the enemy had
received intelligence of our march, although the reso
lution had been taken in council only the night before,
and that they were prepared to oppose our passage.
Gen 1 Washington who never since I have been in his
family has pass d a false judgment on such points,
gave it as his opinion that the party in view were
foragers ; that the meeting was accidental, but, how
ever, the enemy might avail themselves of this unex
pected discovery, and might draw as much advantage
from it as if the rencounter had been premeditated.
The intelligence was received that the enemy were
retiring in great haste, but it did not appear satisfactory,
and the army was ordered to march to the Swedes
Ford three or four miles higher up the river and
encamp with the right to the Schuylkil. The next
morning the want of provisions I could weep tears of
blood when I say it the want of provisions render d it
impossible to march. We did not march till the eve
ning of that day. Our ancient bridge, an infamous
construction which in many parts obliged the men to
march by Indian file, was restored, and a bridge of
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 97
waggons made over the Swedes Ford, but fence-rails
from necessity being substituted to plank, and furnish
ing a very unstable footing, this last served to cross a
trifling number of troops. As the event turn d out
Gen 1 Sullivan s retrograde movement was unspeakably
unlucky. If we had persevered in crossing in the
first instance, or if we had even crossed in the evening
of the first day, the flower of the British army must
have fallen a sacrifice to superior numbers.
Among the parties of horse that \vere out upon this
occasion a small detachment of Bland s Regiment
composed of trumpeter, farrier, and whatever could
be collected for the moment, their Col. at their head,
charged a serjeant and guard of Hessians and took
them all prisoners.
On the 19 th inst. we march d from the Gulph to this
camp, head quarters at the Valley forge.
On the 22 nd at night we received intelligence of a
large foraging party of the enemy having pass d the
Schuylkil. Last evening the 22 d Gen 1 Potter wrote us
that General Howe is with the foragers, from whence
we conclude that the greatest part of his army is with
him. They encamped on the other side of Derby
last night will you believe it starving in a plenti
ful country. The utmost we could do was to dispatch
small parties draughted from each brigade last night,
and to take extraordinary means for furnishing the
army with provisions to enable a more respectable
force to inarch to the enemy. L d Stirling s Division
98 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
march cl to-day in order to cover the country and
observe the enemy s motions till something more
effectual can be done.
I have inquired whence this defect in the Commis
sariat Department arises; but this must be defer d
till I next have the pleasure of writing to you. I have
barely time to repeat my prayers for your speedy re
covery, and the assurances of the boundless love of your
Enclosed are letters of thanks, one in French and
an attempt at one in English, by way of translation,
from L* Col. Fleury. By the bye my military title is
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, 1 st Jan., 1778.
My Dear Father :
I am much disappointed in being obliged to write
you a short and hasty letter, and sorry to send you
only the translation of one of your French pieces.
Col. Barton, who brought me your letter of the 25 th ,
made me happy by informing me that you were in a
fair way of recovery; in that of the 23 d that you had
recourse to your old experiment of cold water. Gen 1
M Intosh had told me that you were trying the effects
of this uncommon application, and it made me uneasy;
but I cannot help applauding it as it lias succeeded.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. V\)
Inclosed is a letter from Holland, and one from M ra
Manning, to which the former served as cover. The
blunder of our friend is unaccountable, but I am in
hopes it will not be attended with the pernicious conse
quence which you seem to apprehend, as it will not
be easy to ascertain or take hold of the property which
you may have in private hands against the will of
the party holding it. Capt Nichols is not yet returned
from Philadelphia ; I have sent a message to him by
the deputy Com y of prisoners who went in to-day,
and I have no doubt that the Cap will wait upon you
if he conies out again.
Gen 1 Smallwood who commands a division posted
at Wilmington, has given us information that upon
hearing of an armed brig being aground five miles
above his post, he detached a strong party with two
field pieces to take her. The Cap* of the brig upon
the first summons refused to surrender, thinking the
party was armed only with musquetry and prepared
for defending himself; but being undeceived by
two or three cannon shot, he struck. The prisoners
taken on board of her are a British captain of foot,
67 privates, the master of the brig, 12 seamen and
about 40 women, some of whom are officers wives.
The cargo is said to consist of clothing for soldiers,
some arms and ammunition, some liquors, officers
baggage and camp equipage; however, we do not
know exactly. The captain of foot was too sulky
to be communicative, and the master says the con-
100 COERESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
tents of the bales are unknown to him. The brig is
armed with six four pounders and a few swivels. A
sloop laden with pork, flour, &ca., for the Philadelphia
market is likewise taken and will be either burnt or
secured as circumstances will permit.
The enemy returned to Philadelphia last Sunday
after having completed their forage, without any other
inconvenience than a small balance of prisoners against
them. It seems they had been necessitated to come
out by having imprudently packed their former plunder
of hay before it was thoroughly dry, by which means
the greatest part was damaged and they were reduced
to four days allowance in this article.
The soldiers are nearly covered with good huts.
The ISTorth Carolinians are the most backward in their
buildings, and for want of sufficient energy to exert
themselves once for all, will be exposed to lasting evils.
The promotion of Gen 1 Conway has given almost
universal disgust. His military knowledge and expe
rience may fit him for the office of inspector genera],
but the right of seniority violated, without any remark
able services done to justify it, has given a deep wound
to the line of brigadiers.
It is said that the influence of a certain general
officer at Reading is productive of great mischief.
When Gen 1 Conway went from camp he gave out that
he meant to return to France, his countrymen under
stood the manoeuvre ; it has succeeded to his wish,
and I believe now he is exceedingly indiffi-rent whether
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 101
lie acts Insp r Gen 1 or no. I am rather inclined to think
that he prefers returning with his splendid titles to
France, where he hopes to obtain a lucrative and
peaceful office in the service of the states.
I devoutly pray that many new years of happiness
may be added to your life.
Your most affectionate
The Chevalier du Plessis who commanded the
artillery and acted as engineer at Fort Mercer has
obtained a promise from his Excellency, to write in
his behalf to Congress in order that his merit may be
rewarded by promotion as from the improvements
which he made at Fort Mercer and his gallant conduct
when Count Donop was repulsed, he deserves well of
the United States ; if the general should recommend
him in consequence of his promise, which I suppose
he will do whenever his time permits, I would solicit
that the reasons for the Chevalier s promotion may be
express d in the resolve of Congress, which will be of
great service to him in France.
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r ,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, 3 d Jan., 1778.
My Dear Father :
By this day s courier, you will be informed of a
base insult offer d to the Commander in chief, which
will raise your indignation.
102 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
A preliminary anecdote may throw some light upon
this matter. Some time ago, his Exc y received a letter
from a friend, enclosing a piece of paper with the fol
lowing words : " In a letter to Gen 1 Gates, Gen 1 Con-
way says, Heaven has been determined to save your
country, or a weak general and bad counsellors would
have ruined it. The gen 1 immediately copied the
contents of the paper, introducing them with sir, and
concluding with, I am your humble serv 4 , and sent
this copy in form of a letter to Gen 1 Conway." This
drew an answer, in which he first attempts to deny the
fact, and then in a most shameless manner, to explain
away the word weakness. The perplexity of his style,
and evident insincerity of his compliments, betray his
real sentiments, and expose his guilt.
After this, he certainly had no right to expect cor
diality on the part of the general, but he has always
been treated with that kind of civility, which resulted
from a consideration of his public character, abstracted
from his private one. He experienced that kind of com
plaisance, which passes current in the transactions of
men, and in which the heart is not concerned. Indeed
you will think, perhaps, the General s delicacy on this
point led him to too great forbearance when you learn
that Gen 1 Conway was charged with cowardice at the
battle of German Town, and that a gentleman of rank
and reputation, desir d to be called upon as an evi
dence. It is notorious that he disobey d his orders,
and that he was fora considerable time separated from
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 103
his brigade. The Gen 1 , however, thinking that a pub
lic investigation of this matter set on foot by him,
might be attribut d to motives of personal resentment,
suffer d it to pass over. When Gen 1 C. left camp, pre
tending that he was determined to return to France,
his countrymen discerned his real intentions, and gave
him credit for the manoeuvre.
He has weight it seems with a certain party, formed
against the present Commander in chief, at the head
of which is Gen 1 Minim. His own preposterous pane-
gyricks of himself, and the influence of this junto, have
probably gained him the extraordinary promotion,
which has convulsed the army. His reception at camp
was consonant to the Gem" 8 uniform conduct towards
him, since the epoch above alluded to ; the complai
sance due to his rank was exercised towards him.
What has passed since, you will be properly informed
of. His last letter, which is a most insolent attempt
at what the French call persiflage, or humouring a man,
affects the Gen 1 very sensibly.
It is such an affront as Conway would never have
dared to offer, if the General s situation had not assured
him of the impossibility of its being revenged in a
private way. The Gen 1 , therefore, has determined to
return him no answer at all, but to lay the whole mat
ter before Congress ; they will determine whether Gen 1
W. is to be sacrificed to Gen 1 C., for the former can
never consent to be concerned in any transaction with
the latter, from whom he has received such uupar-
104 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
donable insults. My private opinion is, that Conway
never meant to act as Inspector Gen 1 , or to carry his
new grade of major general into the field ; but that his
vanity being amply gratified by his exaltation, not only
above the brigadiers, but even the major generals, he
was desirous of retiring to a more lucrative and less
dangerous employment in the service of the states at
home. I hope that some virtuous and patriotic men,
will form a countermine to blow up the pernicious
junto spoken of above.
I have taken the liberty of writing to you my dear
father on this subject, in order that you might be more
minutely acquainted with it.
I have been obliged to do it in a hurry, and in a
small, noisy, crowded room. I have succeeded so far
with secrecy, and dare not venture upon a more decent
copy. I hope, therefore, that you will excuse my let
ter, and accept it in its present dress.
I hope it will find you perfectly reliev d from your
old enemy, the gout, and in condition to save America
from her most dangerous enemies.
Your most affectionate
I hope Congress will not lose sight of the office of
inspector gen 1 .
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r ,
President of Congress.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 105
HEAD QUARTERS, 5th Jan., 1778.
My Dear Father:
Some commercial technicalities puzzled me in the
letters which you sent me to translate. My French
acquaintance here are almost as much at a loss how
to render the words in question, as much as I was my
self; however, I believe the following explanations are
right: fonsage, one of the articles of charge in the
account sales, signifies, filling up, or packing ; it stands
thus in the original, an tonnelier ponr fonsaye $ foneage,
i. e., to the cooper for packing gabarage ; another charge
is properly cooperage, or repairs to the cask.
Livraison, another charge, means the delivery ; but I
can t explain what delivery is to be understood, as it
is unconnected with any other word.
Babut & Labouchere in one of their letters say,
" We are sorry the goods per Cap Cochran were ovaries.
The blank in this part of my translation is to be sup
plied with the word averaged; the cargo, I suppose,
received some damage at sea.
In another letter, where they relate the prices curr ,
goudron means tar, and bray, I can only guess, means
green tar, for it is placed among the productions of the
pine tree, and it cannot signify pitch, for that is
express d by poix. I am exceedingly sorry that my
ignorance in these matters has made me bungle so, but
hope there will be no ill consequence arise from it.
The continuance of your pains is a great affliction
106 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
to me ; and if sympathy can alleviate, or prayers avail
to remove the evil, the tenderness of the former causes
the latter incessantly to now from
Inclosed is a newspaper, which, though not of a very
recent date, may afford you some amusement. The
means which are taken in Philadelphia to discredit the
report of a French war, are to me, better proof in our
favor, than many testimonies that are exhibited 011
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, 14th Jan., 1778.
My Dear Father :
This will be delivered to you by the Chevalier de
Mauduit de Plessis, whose name I mentioned to you
in one of my late letters. I am happy in having an
opportunity of recommending so worthy a man to your
protection. lie was employed by the Commander in
chief, to act at Red Bank in the capacities of engineer
and commandant of artillery, and acquitted himself
so well as to obtain panegyricks approaching to rap
ture from the officers who were witnesses of his con
duct. The alterations which he made in the works of
his post shew d that he had not contined himself to
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 107
one branch of military knowledge, but had extended
his studies with success to one which is generally held
as a mystery apart. His admirable behaviour during
the action which proved fatal to so many daring Hes
sians ; his saving some valuable artillery and stores by
preferring the public interest to his own safety; his
exposing his life by blowing up the magazine at Fort
Mercer without the preparation which is usually made
in such cases for the security of the operator, and his
gallant conduct on all occasions, entitle him to the
promotion which his Excellency solicits for him. The
letter which Mr. Duplessis now carries to Congress
would have gone in the order of time, if his modesty
had not made him backward in speaking of himself.
I interest myself greatly in his success because I know
his merit. As this is the only reason that can prevail
with you to befriend any man who is soliciting public
reward, I recommend this gentleman with confidence ;
and if it is in your power to assist him in procuring a
brevet of lieutenant colonel, expressing the reasons
for his promotion, and bearing date the 26th Novem
ber, in order that those who are not his seniors in
France may not have a right to command him here,
I entreat you to do it, as you will essentially serve a
young man, whose military ardour and talents make
him valuable to the United States.
I am with every sentiment of filial affection your
As there is a great demand for commissions, his
108 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
Excellency desires me to apply for a large number of
blanks to be sent by the next courier.
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress.
HEAD QUARTERS, \kth Jan., 1778.
I barely hinted to you, my dearest father, my desire
to augment the Continental forces from an untried
source. I wish I had any foundation to ask for an
extraordinary addition to those favours which I have
already received from you. I would solicit you to
cede me a number of your able bodied men slaves,
instead of leaving me a fortune.
I would bring about a two-fold good ; first, I would
advance those who are unjustly deprived of the rights
of mankind to a state which would be a proper grada
tion between abject slavery and perfect liberty, and
besides I would reinforce the defenders of liberty
with a number of gallant soldiers. Men, who have
the habit of subordination almost indelibly impressed
on them, would have one very essential qualification
of soldiers. I am persuaded that if I could obtain
authority for the purpose, I would have a corps of such
men trained, uniformly clad, equip d and ready in
every respect to act at the opening of the next cam
paign. The ridicule that may be thrown on the
color, I despise, because I am sure of rendering essen
tial service to my country. I am tired of the languor
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 109
with which so sacred a war as this is carried on. My
circumstances prevent me from writing so long a
letter as I expected and wish d to have done on a
subject which I have much at heart. I entreat you
to give a favorable answer to
Your most affectionate
The Honhle Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress.
HEAD QUARTERS, 23d Jan., 1778.
My Dear Father :
I wish it were in my power to enter fully into every
part of your kind letters dated the 8 th and 16 th inst,
but as that will be impossible by the present opportu
nity I must confine myself to thanking you for the
information which you have given me in some
important points, and replying briefly to several ques
tions which you ask me :
First, the Barou d Arendt is a German, who served
as he says in quality of aide de camp to the K. of
Prussia ; was colonel in our service of a battalion of
Germans and their descendants raised in Maryland
and this State, was sent afterwards to take the com
mand at Fort Mifflin where his ill health suffered him
to stay but a short time. He has undoubtedly great
military talents ; but I have heard that Gen 1 Muhlen-
berg, who commanded the brigade to which the German
110 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
regiment is attached, and the officers of the regiment,
call the baron s probity into question. His Excellency
has neither seen nor heard any thing of this gentleman
that could give him an unfavourable opinion of him.
We have never had any particular account of the
prizes in the Delaware. One or two of those taken
on the Jersey shore, from their vicinity to Philadel
phia yielded but little profit to the captors, as they
were obliged to burn them before they could unload
The Chevalier de Neuville with his brother and
companions sets out for York to-morrow. I take the
Cheval r to be a gentleman whose thirst for glory, and
whose military knowledge would make him an acquisi
tion to the army of the United States. The younger
brother as far as I can judge from his appearance, tho
inferior in knowledge, is animated with sentiments
that characterize the soldier.
The resolution of Congress respecting Gen 1 13 ur-
goyne and his army, I think both founded in justice
and policy. It might have been better perhaps if a
little more republican laconism had been used in
explaining the reasons for it.
The letter said to be the general s is partly genuine
and partly spurious. Those who metamorphosed the
intercepted original committed an error in point of
time, for Mrs. Washington was with the general in
New York at the date of it.
You asked me, my dear father, what bounds I have
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. Ill
set to my desire of serving my country in the military
line ? I answer glorious death, or the triumph of the
cause in which we are engaged.
I must not conclude without giving you a short
account of a brilliant defence lately made by a few of
Cap* Lee s troop. Near two hundred of the enemy s
light dragoons made an attempt to surprise the captain
in his quarters. They concealed their march by a
circuitous road, and arrived at the house a little after
day-break conducted by an intelligent guide. Lee
had at the time with him only his lieutenant, Mr.
Lindsay, a corporal and four privates, and Major
Jameson of the same regiment who happen d to be
there on a visit. They posted themselves in the
house and made the necessary preparations for defence.
Cap*. Dclancy, w T ho commanded the enemy s advanced
guard, led it on bravely till he arrived under cover of
the eves, while the main body kept up a constant fire
from a distance on the windows. After repeated
efforts had been made to enter the house, the party
repulsed made an attempt to seize the horses which
were in the stable, but such a well directed constant
fire was kept up from the house that the bravest dra
goon did not venture to dismount. The loss of the
enemy was one commissioned officer and three or four
privates. The party in its retreat picked up a quar
ter-master s serjeant and a couple of videttes. Lieu
tenant Lindsay was wounded in the hand. Too much
praise cannot be bestowed upon the officers and men
112 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
who had the honor of forcing such an incomparable
superiority of numbers to a shameful retreat. Cap*
Nichols was at Lee s quarters in his way from Phila
delphia during the action, and gives our little party
great applause as I have been told.
We have some as brave individuals among our
officers as any that exist. Our men are the best
crude materials for soldiers I believe in the world, for
they possess a docility and patience which astonish
foreigners. "With a little more discipline we should
drive the haughty Briton to his ships.
I am unhappy in hearing that your leg continues so
weak, and wish that I could offer my shoulder as a
support; but at this distance, I can only help you by
my prayers, and comfort by assurances of sympathy.
Your most affectionate
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, 28th Jan., 1778.
My Dear Father :
The Marquis de Lafayette gives me an opportunity
of thanking you for your kind letter of the 25 th . The
intended expedition to Canada that gentleman had
communicated to me the day before in confidence,
and by giving me the perusal of his letter to you on
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 113
the subject had discovered his aversion to a certain
general as second in command.
The policy of the enterprise does not appear to me
good in our present circumstances, for altho numbers
may be employed in this that could not be engaged in
any other, counting volunteers from the Eastern states
and the well affected of the country into which the war
is carried, yet a certain quantity of strength and trea
sure will be employed, which might be better applied
elsewhere. I am speaking on the supposition that it
is impossible for us to hold our conquests in Canada,
while the enemy continues superior to us by sea.
Towns and fortifications and some military stores
may be destroyed; the unhappy Canadians will be
forced to side by turns with the party in possession,
and experience the redoubled horrors of war.
The organization of the force which we are to use,
as far as we are acquainted with it here, does not give
satisfaction. It is feared that the ambition and
intriguing spirit of Con way will be subversive of the
public good, while he will proceed securely behind
the shield of his commanding officer, taking to
himself the merit of every thing praiseworthy and
attributing every misfortune to the ostensible head.
The person who is appointed Q. master for this
expedition, is said to be a man skilfull in enriching
himself at the public expense.
Our friend the M s . knowing the existence of a
certain faction, and penetrating the character of his
114 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
second, has prudently resolved to wait upon Congress,
and to find out the extent of their views in sending
forces into Canada, that he may act correspoiidently
and not have the secret of their intentions deposited
in another man while he has the command.
I cannot altogether clear up the matter which you
allude to. I think I told you in my first letters on the
subject whence the general derived his knowledge of
the existence of the insolent paragraph, and it does
not appear extraordinary to me that a certain gentle
man who was capable of writing it, should afterwards
I am called upon to attend the general to his first
official interview with the congressional committee,
and have time only to repeat that I am ever,
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, 2d Feb., 1778.
My Dear Father :
The more I reflect upon the difficulties and delays
which are likely to attend the completing our Conti
nental regiments, the more anxiously is my mind bent
upon the scheme, which I lately communicated to you.
The obstacles to the execution of it had presented
themselves to me, but by no means appeared insur-
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 115
mountable. I was aware of having that monstrous
popular prejudice, open-mouthed against me, of under
taking to transform beings almost irrational, into well
disciplined soldiers, of being obliged to combat the
arguments, and perhaps the intrigues, of interested
persons. But zeal for the public service, and an ardent
desire to assert the rights of humanity, determined me
to engage in this arduous business, with the sanction
of your consent. My own perseverance, aided by the
countenance of a few virtuous men, will, I hope,
enable me to accomplish it.
You seem to think, my dear father, that men recon
ciled by long habit to the miseries of their condition,
would prefer their ignominious bonds to the untasted
sweets of liberty, especially when offer d upon the
terms which I propose.
I confess, indeed, that the minds of this unhappy
species must be debased by a servitude, from which
they can hope for no relief but death, and that every
motive to action but fear, must be nearly extinguished
in them. But do you think they are so perfectly
moulded to their state as to be insensible that a better
exists ? Will the galling comparison between them
selves and their masters leave them unenlightened in
this respect ? Can their self love be so totally annihi
lated as not frequently to induce ardent wishes for a
You will accuse me, perhaps, my dearest friend, of
consulting my own feelings too much; but I am
116 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
tempted to believe that this trampled people have so
much human left in them, as to be capable of aspiring
to the rights of men by noble exertions, if some friend
to mankind would point the road, and give them a
prospect of success. If I am mistaken in this, I would
avail myself, even of their weakness, and, conquering
one fear by another, produce equal good to the public.
You will ask in this view, how do you consult the
benefit of the slaves ? I answer, that like other men,
they are the creatures of habit. Their cowardly ideas
will be gradually effaced, and they will be modified
anew. Their being rescued from a state of perpetual
humiliation, and being advanced, as it were, in the
scale of being, will compensate the dangers incident
to their new state.
The hope that will spring in each man s mind,
respecting his own escape, will prevent his being
miserable. Those who fall in battle will not lose
much ; those who survive will obtain their reward.
Habits of subordination, patience under fatigues, suf
ferings and privations of every kind, are soldierly
qualifications, which these men possess in an eminent
Upon the whole, my dearest friend and father, I
hope that my plan for serving my country and the
oppressed negro race will not appear to you the chi
mera of a young mind, deceived by a false appearance
of moral beauty, but a laudable sacrifice of private
interest, to justice and the public good.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 117
You say, that my resources would be small, on
account of the proportion of women and children.
I do not know whether I am right, for I speak from
impulse, and have not reasoned upon the matter. I
say, altho my plan is at once to give freedom to the
negroes, and gain soldiers to the states ; in case of
concurrence, I sh d sacrifice the former interest, and
therefore w d change the women and children for able-
bodied men. The more of these I could obtain, the
better ; but forty might be a good foundation to begin
It is a pity that some such plan as I propose could
not be more extensively executed by public authority.
A well chosen body of 5,000 black men, properly offi-
cer d, to act as light troops, in addition to our present
establishment, might give us decisive success in the
1 have long deplored the wretched state of these
men, and considered in their history, the bloody wars
excited in Africa, to furnish America with slaves
the groans of despairing multitudes, toiling for the
luxuries of merciless tyrants.
I have had the pleasure of conversing with you,
sometimes, upon the means of restoring them to their
rights. When can it be better done, than when their
enfranchisement may be made conducive to the pub
lic good, and be modified, as not to overpower their
You ask, what is the general s opinion, upon this
118 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
subject ? He is convinced, that the numerous tribes
of blacks in the southern parts of the continent., offer
a resource to us that should not be neglected. With
respect to my particular plan, he only objects to it,
with the arguments of pity for a man who would be
less rich than he might be.
I am obliged, my dearest friend and father, to take
my leave for the present ; you will excuse whatever
exceptionable may have escaped in the course of my
letter, and accept the assurance of filial love, and
HEAD QUARTERS, 3d Feb.
My Dear Father :
I am happy in having an opportunity of introducing
to your acquaintance the brave Col Fleury, whose
reputation is not unknown to you. At the same time,
I cannot but regret that he is called to another
employment when I was in hopes of having engaged
him as a colleague and coadjutor in raising the famous
black battalion, with which I have troubled you so
The resolutions of Congress is a sufficient recom
mendation of this young gentleman to your notice. I
will only add, that I am happy in having laid the
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 119
foundation of what I hope will be an inviolable
friendship with him.
Your most dutiful and affectionate
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress.
HEAD QUARTERS, 3d Feb., 1778.
My Dear Father :
I am happy in having the pleasure of introducing to
your acquaintance, Colonel Fitzgerald, the senior aid
in our family.
His affairs call him to Virginia, and as he means to
pass through York Town, you will have an opportu
nity of learning many things, viva voce, from him,
which are not so well committed to writing.
Your most dutiful and affectionate
HEAD QUARTERS, 9th Feb., 1778.
I have to thank you, my dear father, for two shirts,
and a piece of scarlet cloth. I wrote to James for some
hair powder and pomatum, but received only the
latter with a comb. As I am upon the subject of
dress, it will not be premature to inform you, that if
you should command me to remain in my present
station, blue and buff cloth, lining, twist, yellow flat
120 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
double gilt buttons sufficient to make me a uniform
suit, will be wanted ; besides, corded dimity for waist
coats and breeches against the opening of the cam
paign ; and I must beg the favour of you to write to
some friend in South Carolina, to procure me these
articles. A pair of gold epaulettes and a saddle cloth
may be added, if not too expensive. If you should
give me leave to execute my black project, my uni
form will be a white field (faced with red), a color
which is easiest kept clean, and will form a good con
trast with the complexion of the soldier.
Inclosed are two letters from Duplessis, which relate
to his commission. Upon his arrival here, he asked
for a regimental commission, in addition to that which
had been given him by Congress.
The general refused it, as he looked upon the
resolve to have intended only a brevet, and that a regi
mental commission might produce a concurrence
between him and senior artillery officers, which would
be the occasion of discontent, and perhaps the resign
ation of some valuable men.
Duplessis understands it differently, and, hoping
that he is in the right, applies to you.
You know my opinion of this gentleman s merit,
but I must confess at the same time, that I think the
brevet is a very honourable and handsome reward of
It is said here, that Mr. Fleury is soliciting at York a
farther promotion ; I am exceedingly sorry to hear it.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 121
All his countrymen agree that he is amply rewarded,
and that as there was great analogy between the ser
vices render d by him and Duplessis, no greater recom
pense should be accorded to one than to the other. If
Fleury is made a colonel, Duplessis will have the right
to ask the same rank, and so they may go on till they
have exhausted all the rank that exists amono; us.
It is a pity that Congress should grant any promotions
but upon the recommendation of those superior offi
cers, who have known or seen the feats upon which
the pretensions are founded. The present way of pro
ceeding is productive of great confusion and much
uneasiness. It is complained, that whoever will go to
York and speak loudly to members of Congress, of his
own abilities and eminent services, will obtain what
he intrigues for. One improper promotion induces
another, and perhaps several others to silence the
murmurers, and rank and Congress, I am sorry to
say it, but I speak with the bleeding heart of a republi
can, they are both brought into contempt by it. The
august representative body of thirteen free states is
said to be bullied by every man who is impudent
enough to make his own panegyrick, and represent
his own importance.
I could not forbear communicating a part of your
favour of 3 d hist., to our friend; he seems sensible that
the gentleman, who you mention to have conversed
with you upon certain matters, is only the instrument
of more dangerous and inveterate personages.
122 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
Mr. Payne has obligingly otfcr d to take charge of
my letter. I have just discovered that he is waiting
for it, and as it grows dark and he has a had road to
travel, I must not farther trespass upon his good
Your most affectionate
The Honhle Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, Sth Feb., 1778.
My Dear Father :
I have just finished a few hasty lines and dispatched
M r . Payne, hut in my hurry I forgot to inform you of
an interesting letter which the general received this
morning from Sir "Win. Howe, in which he declares
that he is ready to give his consent to a general
exchange of prisoners upon the terms formerly offered
by Gen 1 . Washington, alledging his desire to relieve
the men and officers from the misery which unavoid
ably accompanies captivity, as his only motive. He
disavows the cruel treatment of our prisoners with
which he has been so often charged; and quotes the
license which he has lately given to our commissaries
to purchase blanketing for the unhappy American
captives, to establish his reputation in point of human
ity. He farther says he is informed that the claims
upon Lieut. Gen 1 Burgoync s army for provisions
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 123
have been made a pretext for infringing if not totally
breaking the convention of Saratoga, and says he will
give orders for liquidating accounts of this nature and
paying the balances, when he hopes the proper orders
will be given by Gen. "Washington for the embarca-
tion of the convention troops. But as this letter is
not announced to you officially, I must entreat you to
let the existence of it remain a secret with yourself.
The Marquis de Lafayette left camp on Friday.
Duplessis set out this morning. They both have told
me things which humble me as a republican. Our
freedom depends upon the patriotic exertions of a few
individuals. It is with grief I learn that Congress is
composed of so small a number as fifteen. The state
of Virginia you see has assented to the articles of
confederation. Is there not some latent eastern policy
in the article which requires a majority of nine voices
to four to decide every important general question ?
Adieu, my dear friend and father. I can not form a
better wish for my country, than that it had more men
like you. The paucity of such citizens is an unanswer
able argument for your remaining in public office.
I am with the greatest respect and tenderest
A day or two ago, a handsome young lad, who
call d himself Cope, and said he was an ensign in the
;35th British. He said that in an affair of honor, he
124 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
had killed his man, and fearing the consequences,
threw himself into our protection. He was treated
with that generosity which I hope will ever character
ize Americans. A collection of clothes and money
was made for him ; the Marquis took him with him,
and is to furnish him with letters for his friends in
France. We have since discovered that he is an
impostor. A duel has lately been fought in which an
officer was killed, but Cope was not concerned in it,
It is probable that he is some young officer who has
been obliged to fly in consequence of some disgrace
ful action, or perhaps a series of follies. I just had
time to send the Marquis a message by Duplessis to
put him on his guard.
HEAD QUAIITEKS, 15th Feb., 1778.
My Dear Father :
I am to thank you for your kind letter of the 6 th
inst., and the two camp shirts which accompanied it.
The presumption which would lead me to pursue my
project after what you have said upon it, would be
unpardonable ; praying your forgiveness therefor, my
dear friend, for the trouble which I have given you on
this eccentric scheme, I renounce it as a thing which
cannot be sanctified by your approbation. At the
same time, I must confess to you that I am very
sensibly affected by your imputing my plan in so large
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 125
a degree to ambition. I declare upon my honor that
I would not have desired any other than my present
rank, and that I would even have taken the title of
captain of an independent corps, for the pleasure of
serving my country so usefully, as I fondly hoped I
should have been able to do, had my scheme been
carried into execution.
The scarlet cloth, four camp shirts (in all), a roll of
pomatum, a hair comb, two shirts for Berry, and a
hunting shirt, have been received at different times,
and I am exceedingly obliged to you for them. In
future I will be more careful to thank you for such
articles immediately after the receipt of them.
The express is waiting only for my letter, which
circumstance has obliged me to write in haste, and
force me to take leave. I am
Your most affectionate and dutiful
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, Wh Feb., 1778.
My Dear Father :
I have to ask pardon for omitting to inform you
what was done with the letter for Mr. Bringhurst. The
day after its arrival here, Mr. Chaloncr, one of our
126 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
commissaries, set out for German Town, on some
business, and took charge of it. As lie has not since
returned to camp, I am not yet acquainted of the
fate of it.
We have lately been in a most alarming situation
for want of provisions. The soldiers were scarcely
restrained from mutiny by the eloquence and manage
ment of our officers. Those who are employed to
feed us, either for want of knowledge or for want of
activity or both, never furnish supplies adequate to our
I have more than once mentioned to you that we
have been obliged to renounce the most important
enterprises, delay the most critical marches, by the
delinquency of commissaries. Here of late it has
reduced us almost to the point of disbanding. The
head of the department is a stationary attendant on
Congress; what he might do if he had views suffi
ciently extensive, by a proper employment of agents,
I know not; but as the case is at present, he seems
to be almost useless. I have heard it asserted by more
than one sensible, disinterested man, that the removal
of Mr. Trumbull from that office has been the source
of all our misfortunes. lie had .considerable connec
tions and influence in a great meat country, and had
laid such a train for supplying the army, as in all
probability would have put us out of the reach of bad
weather, difficult roads and other common accidents.
Certain it is that the want of providence , or want of
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 127
ability in the present managers, has brought us to the
brink of ruin. By extraordinary exertions, by scrap
ing from distant scanty magazines and collecting with
parties, we have obtained a temporary relief; and
have hopes that the representation of our late distress
to several persons of influence and authority in differ
ent states, will procure us such farther supplies as will
save us from the disagreeable necessity of dividing the
army into cantonments.
To the ill offices of TrumbulPs friends we may
attribute perhaps a part of our distress. The increas
ing number of privateers in the Xew England states,
the subsistence of the convention troops, and an expe
dition now on foot, will greatly diminish the meat
resources of the country on which we principally
depend. The carcasses of horses about the camp, and
the deplorable leanness of those which still crawl in
existence, speak the want of forage equal to that of
human food. General Greene with a party of two
thousand, is now foraging, but will be able to collect
only the gleanings of a country over which an unspar
ing enemy has passed.
A small detachment from his party under the com
mand of Major Billiard, made an attempt to surprise
the enemy s picket near their bridge. The design was
discovered and the picket had time to post itself in a
stone house, at the distance of 500 yards. Our men
were saluted with a general discharge ; they marched
forward and returned the lire, and would have pro-
128 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
ceeded to storming the house, but it was thought more
advisable to retire. Our party had five men slightly
wounded; the enemy s loss was one Hessian killed,
and another mortally wounded.
Gen 1 . Wayne is detached by Gen 1 Greene to cross
the Delaware at Wilmington, for the purpose of de
stroying all the hay on the Jersey shore which we
cannot secure for our own use, and which may fall
into the enemy s hands, and with a view of driving all
the cattle from the neighborhood of the river, by a
circuitous road to camp. If he finds it practicable to
cross the river and carry that plan into execution, he
is to make a large sweep and return here with what
ever he can collect by the way of Gorshen.
The disaffected inhabitants find means to conceal
their teams and cattle, so that the country appears
more naked than it really is.
Deserters from the enemy inform us that they are
preparing for a grand forage, and that they will pro
bably make it in Bucks county. We have the same
business in contemplation in the same place.
I must not omit informing you of a gallant defence
made by a justice of the peace in Philadelphia county
(011 the other side of the Schuylkil), known by the
appellation of Squire Knox. This gentleman s house
was surrounded early in the morning some days ago
by a party of traitors, lately distinguished by the title
of royal refugees; he was in bed in a lower room, and
upon their demanding admittance, was going to open
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 129
to them, when his son who was above, and perceiving
from the window fixed bayonets, call d to him to keep
his door shut and warned him of danger. The vil
lains in the mean time pressed against the door ;
the old man armed himself with his cutlass, and his
son descended with a gun. The door was at length
forced half open by one of the most enterprising;
the father kept it in that position with his left hand,
and employed his right in defending the passage.
After some vigorous strokes, his cutlass broke ; the
bad condition of the son s fusil had prevented his
tiring till this moment. He was now prepared to salute
the assailants, but the old man thinking all was lost by
the failure of his weapon, called to him not to fire ;
upon farther examination, however, he says he found
that by being shortened, it was only better adapted
to close quarters, and renewed the fight.
The villains fired seven shots through the door, one
of which grazed the squire s knee, which was all the
damage done. They then threw down their arms and
took to their heels ; they were pursued by the Knoxes
and a family of militia, and one of them who was
concealed in a cellar was taken.
The besetting Mr. Knox s house is a matter of civil
cognizance, but it appears that the prisoner has held
correspondence with the enemy, and supplied them
with provisions, and he will probably suiter death for
those offences by sentence of court-martial.
It is said that a number of deserters from the
130 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
convention troops have found means to introduce
themselves as substitutes among the militia.
Don t you think my dear father that this matter
should he provided against? I have insensibly written
a letter, which perhaps you will not have time to read.
It is not uncommon, however, to look at the exordium
and peroration ; you may think it policy therefore in me
to repeat my request for cloths in this place, but I
assure you it was accidental. You will by complying
with it contribute to the propriety of the Commander
in chief s family, and infinitely oblige,
Your most affectionate
The Ilonble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
Fav d by Colonel Harvey.
My Dear Father:
I have barely time to thank you for your kind
favour of the eighteenth, and the pleasure of Baron
Steuben s acquaintance. ^Nothing that depends on me
shall be wanting to make his stay in camp agreeable,
and if he enters into service, to make myself useful to
him. I deplore the misfortune of Charlestown if it
has fallen upon individuals of moderate fortune ; if
it affects only a number of rich men, it will contribute
to equalizing estates, I shall not regret it.
Gargon being masculine, requires the article to be
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 131
of the same gender; therefore, une, which is feminine,
makes a false concord ; take away the e final and
make it un, all will be right.
I am, my dear father, ever your affectionate and
HEAD QUARTERS, 24th Feb., 1778.
I have but one pair of breeches that are wearable.
If James can possibly procure me some white cloth
to reinforce me in this article, it will be of great ser
vice to me.
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, 28th Feb., 1778.
My Dear Father :
I was obliged to write briefly and in haste, by the
last courier. I have since had several long conversa
tions with the Baron Steuben, who appears to me a
man profound in the science of war, and well disposed
to render his best services to the United States. In
an interview between him and the general, at which I
assisted in quality of interpreter, he declared that he
132 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
had purposely waved making any contract with Con
gress, previous to his having made some acquaintance
with the Commander in chief, in order that he might
avoid giving offence to the officers of the army, and
that the general might decide, in what post he could
he the most useful. If I have conceived rightly of his
character and abilities, he would make us an excellent
quarter master general, in the military part of the
department; his office being confined to the choice
of positions, regulation of marches, etc. But as the
civil and military duties with us are blended, he can t
be disposed of in this way; his being a foreigner,
unfitting him totally for the latter. I think he would
be the properest man we could choose for the office
of inspector general, and there are several good assist
ants that might be given him. I have the highest
opinion of the service he would render in this line, as
he seems to be perfectly aware of the disadvantages
under which our army has labored from short enlist
ments and frequent changes; seems to understand
what our soldiers are capable of, and is not so staunch
a systematist as to be averse from adapting established
forms to stubborn circumstances. He will not give us
the perfect instructions, absolutely speaking, but the
best which we are in a condition to receive. We want
some kind of general tutoring in this way so much,
that as obnoxious as Conway is to most of the army,
rather than take the field without the advantages that
might be derived from a judicious exercise of his
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 133
office, I would wish every motive of dissatisfaction
respecting him for the present to be suppressed.
The baron proposes to take the rank of major
general, with the pay, rations, etc. He does not wish
for any actual command, as he is not acquainted with
our language and the genius of our people.
It gives great uneasiness to hear it whispered that
Congress will not probably ratify the arrangements
proposed for the benefit of the army. If we had as
much virtue as we ought to have, this would produce
no dangerous change ; but according to the present
interested ideas of men, many of our best officers will
very likely retire from the service.
The whole corps of officers look up to the commit
tee of Congress, and anxiously wait the result of their
recommendations. The most disinterested lament the
delay, and tremble for the cause of their country.
My dearest friend and father, adieu.
I am your most affectionate
The Ilonble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
134 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
HEAD QUARTERS, 9th March, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I have received your three letters, one of the 1 st
inst., and two of the 3 d , with the very seasonable sup
ply of buff cloth, which, that I may not disgrace the
relation in which I stand to the president of Congress,
and the Commander in chief of the armies of the
United States, by an unworthy appearance, shall be
immediately converted to proper use. My obligation
is the greater, as my want was more pressing, and I
entreat your acceptance of due thanks. The necessity
of the case can only plead my excuse for intruding
such minutious objects on a mind filled with the inte
rests of a great empire.
The method which you allude to, of procuring the
necessary article in question, has been clandestinely
practiced by many. The policy of continuing the law
which prohibits this commerce, is disputed. It does
not appear to me, that a connivance at it on the part
of the states would importantly injure our own manu
factories, or encourage those of Great Britain. How
far it might be pernicious in draining us of specie, and
in reducing the present slender resources which we
have for supporting our prisoners among the enemy,
I cannot pronounce. The greatest objection I think
is, that our country people and soldiers would be
debauched by this interest, It is probable that one of
the principal marts of the continent has capitally suf-
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 135
fered by tiro, and that we shall more than ever find it
expedient to relax the vigor of our first resolutions
against all kind of commerce with the enemy.
The naval expedition in which some of our brave
landsmen, you say, have embarked, will, I hope, be
crowned with deserved success.
The accounts which you have heard of repeated
successes of the enemy s parties have probably been
exaggerated. The major superintending the Taylors,
from the best accounts I have been able to gather
from two of our soldiers, who made their escape, and
concurrent circumstances, appears to me inexcusable.
lie had sufficient warning to have admitted of his
posting his guard advantageously, and repelling the
enemy with loss, in case they should have hazarded
The number of men unfit for duty by reason of their
nakedness, the number sick in hospitals, and present
under innoculation, certainly emaciate the effective
column in our returns.
Similar causes, added to the severity of the season,
have prevented our completing the works of the camp,
in such a manner as would have been indispensably
necessary if we had been engaged with a more alert
and enterprising antagonist.
The repeated cavils of some general officers have
driven the engineer in his own defence to substitute
lines to redoubts in fortifying the camp, whereby
the labor of the soldier was greatly augmented, and
136 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
the extent to be mann d is considerably increased.
The position which we at present occupy, is not that
which was at first judiciously chosen. The bridge
over Schuylkil which was intended to be one of the
avenues of retreat is so placed, that it is impossible to
cover it by any work. Perhaps in case of attack, we
shall be obliged to abandon both that and our huts,
to the destroying hand of the enemy, and if we fight
at all, must make a stand in the rear of both.
It is a very bad principle, to trust to the usual slug
gishness and inactivity of the enemy. But when I
reflect upon the great indulgence of Gen 1 Howe, I draw
some consolation from hoping that he will not do vio
lence to his nature by any extraordinary exertions at
the present moment, but postpone his visit till we be
better prepared for receiving him. These truths are
deposited in the breasts of a few, and must be deplored
in silence. But every prudent method and general
argument should be used to stimulate the different
states to the immediate completion of their regiments.
I am truly sensible of your kindness 011 the subject
of my black battalion. Nothing would tempt me to
quit my present station, but a prospect of being more
useful in another.
The ambition of serving my country, and desire of
gaining fame, leads me to wish for the command of
men. I would cherish those dear, ragged Continentals,
whose patience will be the admiration of future ages,
and glory in bleeding with them.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 137
It gives mo the most serious concern, to find that
you have any thoughts of retiring from Congress.
That body collectively it is a deplorable truth has
fallen into disrepute. Firm and disinterested patriots
are more than ever wanted. I entreat you in the
name of your country, not to lessen their numbers at
this critical epoch of our affairs. I think the sum
proposed might be very usefully disposed. The
effect greatly depends upon a judicious distribution,
and would be more certain if the sum could be aug
mented by other contributions. A gift of this kind,
deposited in the hands of Mr. Franklin, at Phila
delphia, might prove a blessing to the sick and naked.
Blankets, and a few of the little articles which comfort
disordered nature, would lessen the horrors of a goal,
and keep our unhappy soldiers from despair.
The Baron Steuben has had the fortune to please
uncommonly, for a stranger, at first sight.
All the gen 1 officers who have seen him, are prepos
sessed in his favor, and conceive highly of his abilities.
I must tell you tho , by the bye, that Congress has
mistaken his rank in Prussia. He was there lieute
nant general quarticr maitre, which in good English
is deputy quarter master general. He had never any
higher rank in the Prussian service, than that of
colonel. But he was lieutenant general of the Mar
grave de Baden s troops, after he had retired from the
Prussian army in disgust, As far as my line can
138 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
reach, I conceive the baron to be profound in the
The General seems to have a very good opinion of
him, and thinks he might be usefully employed
in the office of inspector general, but I fancy is
cautious of recommending it to Congress, as he might
appear implacably to pursue a certain person to whom
Congress gave that post. Now it is a doubt with me
whether the gentleman in question was not virtually
removed from the inspectorship by being ordered on
the Canadian expedition. In that case, the difficulty
would be obviated. The baron s own desire is to
have for the present the rank and pay of major gen 1 ;
not to have any actual command, until he is better
known, and shall be better qualified by a knowledge
of our language, and the genius and manners of the
people. Then, if any stroke is to be struck, his ambi
tion prompts him to solicit a command.
Mrs. Washington has received the miniature, and
wishes to know whether Major Rogers is still at
York. The defects of this portrait I think are, that
the visage is too long, and old age is too strongly
marked in it. He is not altogether mistaken, w T ith
respect to the languor of the general s eye ; for altho
his countenance when affected either by joy or anger,
is full of expression, yet when the muscles are in a
state of repose, his eye certainly wants animation.
My proficiency in this kind of drawing never went
beyond sketching a profile. I never attempted to
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 139
paint a miniature likeness of a full face. There is a
miniature painter in camp who has made two or
three successful attempts to produce the general s
The indulgence granted to Gen 1 Burgoyne, I have
no doubt will operate rather to our advantage, than
otherwise. He is too much a man of the world not
to have a convenient pliability, and therefore I am
not surprised that in his present circumstances, he
has paid homage to Congress.
Since the 1 st of the month, we have had twenty-two
deserters from the enemy, exclusive of those of our
own soldiers, who, during their confinement, had
been driven by unremitting inhumanity to enter their
service, and embraced the first opportunity to escape.
Of the latter class, so many have given them the slip
immediately on receiving their new clothes, that Gen 1
Howe under pretence of paying the passages of our
deserters to England, for their greater security against
our pursuit, distributes them on board the fleet, where
they will either be made seamen, or kept for the ser
vice of the islands, E. Indies, etc. By the accounts of
deserters yesterday, it appears that the enemy have
embarked, or are preparing to embark, a considerable
number of invalids. The intelligence given by the
majority of them confirms our ideas of the weak
state of their regiments, and from Mr. Howe s charac
teristic caution almost ensures us against an attack
before his reinforcements arrive.
140 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
We have the pleasure to be informed that the
recruiting service goes extremely well on in the Dela
ware state, and there are good prospects in the eastern
states of completing the regiments speedily. You will
be informed of Cap* Barry s success with two or three
armed boats on the Delaware. Two transports loaded
with forage, one of them mounting six four pounders
attended by a schooner, mounting eight four pounders
and four howitzers, fell into his hands, by his gal
lantry and address. The schooner had 011 board a
lieutenant of engineers and company of artificers,
some valuable intrenching tools, officers baggage and
wines, delicacies destined for Gen 1 Howe s table, etc.
Cap* Barry was obliged to destroy the ships, and set
out on a new cruise with the schooner. A large fleet
of the enemy s vessels were coming up the river.
Barry mantained an obstinate light ; his men once
leaped into the boat and were preparing to desert him ;
his presence of mind and singular address recovered
them. He renewed the combat, but surrounded and
overpowered, he was obliged to run his schooner on
shore, where he saved the camion and every thing
valuable, and rendered the schooner useless. You
may see that I write in great haste, which I am the
more sorry for, as it would give me pleasure to dwell
upon the praises due to Cap* Barry. Among other
tinners taken on board the schooner are a number of
German letters and papers relative to the foreign regi
ments in British service, from whence we hope to
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 141
gain some useful intelligence. Gen 1 Knyphausen s
order of the Lion d or is likewise taken, but will be
sent unto him.
I am ever your most affectionate
With this you will receive a letter from Baron
If among the books Duplessis has given you, there
is one entitled La Tactique de Ghibert, I am very
anxious to read it.
Likewise the work of Mesnil Durand.
HEAD QUARTERS, 14/!/i March, 1778.
My Dear Father :
This will be delivered to you by the Count Pulaski,
whose prowess is not unknown to you.
The dislike of some of his officers to him as a
stranger, the advantages which they have taken of him
as such, and their constant contrivances to thwart him
on every occasion, made it impossible for him to
command with that satisfaction to himself and benefit
to the public, which would undoubtedly have resulted
from their acting in concert with him. He has there
fore resigned his command, and determines to solicit
Congress to entrust him with a legionary corps com
posed of 68 horse, and about 200 foot. With such a
142 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
corps and proper officers under him, to be perpetually
scouring the interval between the two armies, and
embracing every opportunity for a stroke of partisan
ship, he thinks he will render considerable service,
and I am persuaded from his intelligence and enter
prising spirit, that the event will do him honour.
His military ardour is very great, and he is exceed
ingly uneasy, lest by any delay on the part of Congress
he should be obliged to appear late in the field, Avhich
would be almost as painful to him as refusal in the
He apprehends no difficulty in raising his number
of cavalry ; to engage the quota of infantry will be
almost impossible, unless Congress will make an
exception in his favour to their resolution against the
admission of prisoners and deserters into the service.
This is warranted by the practice of other nations,
and deserters, etc., enlisted in detached corps are not
by any means so dangerous as if they were admitted
in the line.
The count will be allowed, I presume, the Contin
ental bounty for men, and the rate established for
equipping his cavalry. His eagerness to distinguish
himself will not suffer him to confine himself to the
latter if he finds it inadequate.
He expects to retain his rank as brigadier. If his
whole history were known, Congress would grant his
request with thanks for his generous disinterestedness
on the present occasion.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 143
I beg leave to introduce the Count to your acquaint
ance ; you may depend upon it that Congress will not
have reason to repent of having employed him in the
way which is proposed.
His zeal for our cause and courage, proof against
every danger will cover him with glory, and I hope
promote the general interest.
I am your most affectionate
The Honblc Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
Fav d by Briga d General Count Pulaski.
HEAD QUARTERS, 22d March, 1778.
My Dear Father :
This will be delivered to you by Brigadier General
Du Portail, commanding officer of Engineers, whom
I am glad of having an opportunity of introducing to
your acquaintance. His knowledge of his profession
renders him respectable, and by aiding his want of
fluency in the English, with your French, you will
find his conversation agreeable and worth attending to.
I do not know whether what I am going to solicit
can be effected, nor would I ask it if it were anything
contrary to rule, or that could be productive of the
most remote ill consequences. Mr. De Murnant, a
French gentleman, offered himself as assistant en-
144 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
gineer, under strong recommendations from Gen 1 Du
Portail. His excellency submitted the matter to the
committee in camp, and it is very probable that in
the order of business it might not present itself till
very late for the ratification of Congress. In the
mean time, the poor man is kept in a state of sus
pense, and what is equally bad, of expence. If the
question relative to him could be brought 011 the
carpet immediately, as it cannot be a subject of long
debate or occasion any interruption to business,
Gen 1 Du Portail and himself wish that it maybe done.
He is at present employed in works of the camp.
I must not defer thanking you for your kind letter
of the 15 th inst. Tho I am unable to give such
answer to it as you wish, I still hope that the argu
ments which you use on the subject of your retiring
from Congress, will be seen in another light.
Du Plessis told me that he had commissioned a Mr.
De la Balme to put some books into your hands for
me. My dearest friend and father, adieu.
Ever your affectionate
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
Fav d by Gen 1 Du Portail.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 145
HEAD QUARTERS, 25/A March, 1778.
I was obliged to write you a hurried letter by the
hands of Gen 1 Dii 1 ortail and had barely time to
acknowledge the receipt of your favour of the 15 th .
Yesterday I had the pleasure of receiving your kind
letter of the 22 d with S. Carolina papers and letters
from England. Among them was the enclosed for
you, which I take to be from my wife. Her last date
to me is the 1 st November, at which time she and your
granddaughter were well. I enclose you likewise the
last letter from Mr. Manning, the others were all of
old dates. As Gen 1 Mclntosh is ordered with a
detachment on the other side Schuylkil, to cover the
passage of a large drove of cattle that have crossed
the Delaware at Sherard s ferry, I take the liberty of
detaining the N. papers till his return, which will be
in a day or two, that he may not miss what will be so
great a treat to him. He has mentioned to me several
times of late, that he fancied you were retaliating his
I am grieved that you persevere in your resolution
of retiring from Congress. Your reelection is a
testimony of the good opinion of your countrymen,
and I think it is needless to urge the necessity of
increasing rather than diminishing the number of
able and virtuous men in the grand council of the
The retiring of a single one at the present crisis
146 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
is a dangerous example, and may fatally strengthen
the hands of those who have not the cause of liberty
and the interest of their country at heart. I have
long anxiously desired to see you, but the unabating
flow of business in the general s family restrained
me from asking leave. Two of our gentlemen l are
appointed commissioners to meet General Howe at
German Town, for negociating the exchange of
prisoners. Their absence will render the presence
of the rest more than ever necessary; but if you
will give me notice when it will be convenient for
me to come, I will ask for a short furlough, that I
may have the happiness of embracing you, and say
ing many things which are not so well expressed in
The Baron Steuben has commenced the functions of
inspector general. Several officers whose character
and abilities give them influence, and are pledges of
success, are to be nominated as sub-inspectors ; intelli
gent active men are appointed to each brigade to
serve as brigade inspectors. The baron has given
some elementary lessons in writing, preparatory to
ulterior instructions ; and we hope by this institution
that the important end of establishing uniformity of
discipline and manoeuvres throughout the army will be
This I communicate to yourself only, for I don t
1 Colonels Harrison and Hamilton.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 147
know whether the general communicates this plan by
this courier for ratification.
The baron discovers the greatest zeal, and an
activity which is hardly to be expected at his
years. The officers in general seem to entertain
a high opinion of him, and he sets them an excellent
example in descending to the functions of a drill-
A French gentleman of the name of Ternaut with
whom I was slightly acquainted at the cape Frai^ois,
is arrived in camp, and offers himself as one of the
sub-inspectors. His talents qualify him in a superior
degree for the office. He has travelled so much
as to have worn off the characteristic manners of
his nation, and he speaks our language uncommonly
The baron is very desirous of having him as an
assistant, and says he is persuaded he will be an acqui
sition to the States. The only thing against him is,
that he comes without recommendatory letters. The
Congress have I think very wisely resolved against
employing any more foreigners unless they are forced
to it by the special contracts of their embassadors, or
very pointed recommendations. On this account the
General has, in order that the baron might not lose so
good an assistant, put the matter upon this footing :
that Mr. Ternaut may exercise the office of sub-in
spector without rank for the present ; and that when
his practical abilities are as well known as his theo-
148 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
retical, Congress will determine a rank suitable to his
merit. It is to be observed that he studied engineer
ing particularly, and would have wished to join the
corps here, but party differences were an invincible
obstacle. He has not, however, confined his views to
that branch of military science, but seems to be equally
well instructed in every other.
If an exception to the generally established rule is
ever to be made, I think it can never be with more
propriety than in favour of a person who merits such
The baron desires his friendly compliments to you.
Apropos to him, his secretary, and a Mon r de Pon-
tieres have certificates signed by the president of
Congress setting forth that they are to have the rank
I think they were not announced as such to the
General. Baron Steuben s secretary is desirous of
drawing his pay, and upon application to the General,
who is not explicitly acquainted with the intentions of
Congress in this matter, was required to draw on
account. This has created some uneasiness in the
Baron s mind, and he wishes to know whether Mr.
Duponceau is not entitled to the pay, as well as rank
I think if I could have half an hour s conversation
with you, my dear father, I could prove to you so
clearly how much the public interest is concerned in
your remaining in Congress, that you would not
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 149
refuse yourself to tins duty. Anticipating the pleasure
of embracing you, I am, my dear father,
Your most affectionate
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, 28th March, 1778.
Last night General Mclntosh returned with the
agreeable intelligence that the supply of cattle which
he was ordered to protect was out of danger.
He received the S. Carolina newspapers in ecstacy,
and we had some serious conversation together upon
the subject of your retiring from Congress, in which
we determined that your presence in that assembly is
more necessary now, than it would have been at any
other period since the revolution. More judgment,
more spirit, more firmness in the conduct of the
political bark are required than ever. So far are we
from thinking that your service may be dispensed
with on account of the appointment of the other dele
gates from S. Carolina, that we judge it more pecu
liarly incumbent on you, in consequence of the choice
of one whose great talents, from a defect of probity,
render him the more dangerous to remain a guardian
of the liberties of these rising Slates; and not by your
150 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
absence to strengthen the party of men who make
their individual selves the centre of the universe.
I conjure you, my dearest friend and father, in the
name of your country, not to leave the fate of this
empire, this last asylum of liberty, at their disposal.
Every one of your letters, in which you so pathetically
describe the low ebb of patriotism, furnishes me with
You do not particularly mention your reasons for
quitting the Congress at this time. Impaired health,
diminution of property and other reasons which have
their weight might be urged, but what can be put in
competition with the object of your present labours.
I am happy to hear that Congress is about to reward
Captain Lee of the dragoons for his distinguished
services. His brilliant actions have been so frequent,
that I think their decision need not be preceded by
Nothing but his own modesty has prevented his
being recommended to the notice of Congress long
since. This officer only wants a larger sphere of
action to show the extent of his military talents, and
it will be for the benefit of the service, as well as a
piece of justice to entrust him with a larger command,
and honour him with a higher rank. The presence of
disinterested patriots is wanted, if it were only to
patronize real merit, and oppose the sudden rise of
persons who have nothing but connections and family
interest to recommend them.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 151
From some accounts lately received, it appears that
Gen 1 Howe is concentrating his forces. Such of his
transports as are at sea will be much exposed to the
dangers of a lee-shore, by the storm of eastern wind
which seems to increase every moment. The advan
tage which he will have over us, if his transports are
safe, and have tolerable passages will be, a power
of taking the field earlier than we can. If he would
do us the favour of attacking us in the position we are
now fortifying, we might safely allow him a superi
ority of numbers. But we must have our tents early,
for in case of attack, we must sacrifice our huts.
This goes under the care of Brigadier Gen 1 Wood-
ford, who is proceeding to Virginia on public and
With the tenderest affection, your dutiful son.
HEAD QUARTERS, 1st April, 1778.
My dear Father :
I have received your kind favour of yesterday, inclos
ing a letter from Stephorsts at Amsterdam, which
served as a cover to a letter from my wife, of the 23 d
October, in which she informs me that my uncle and
family were shortly expected in London, to take leave
of their friends, previous to setting out for the south
152 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
Deserters and inhabitants from Philadelphia say
that there are no troops arrived there, except a few
German convalescents from Xew York. Neither
does it appear by their accounts that the large fleet
mentioned by General Smallwood, which probably
consists of victuallers and forage ships, is arrived yet
at the city.
Our commissioners proceeded yesterday morning
to German Town according to agreement, and a strict
neutrality and suspension of hostilities are to be
observed in all the extent of the village during the
conference. The English commissioners, I am in
formed, returned to town last night. If they intend
to do so every night, they will have the advantage of
constant and more minute consultations with their
I must not omit to inform you that Baron Steuben
is making a sensible progress with our soldiers. The
officers seem to have a high opinion of him, and
discover a docility from which we may augur the
most happy effects.
It would enchant you to see the enlivened scene of
our Campus Martins. If Mr. Howe opens the cam
paign with his usual deliberation, and our recruits or
draughts come in tolerably well, we shall be infinitely
better prepared to meet him, than ever we have been.
Mr. Francis, who will deliver you this, takes charge
likewise of your Carolina newspapers.
He speaks of you in terms of such high respect,
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 153
as arc exceedingly grateful to one who is so devoted
to you as your
I inclose you a billet which I received this morning
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, 5/A April, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I have barely time to thank you for your kind letter
accompanied by the speech and letter of President
Rutledge, on the subject of his resignation. As I
have not found a leisure moment proper for submit
ting them to the perusal of the General, I take the
liberty of detaining them till another opportunity
In the mean time, I have in general terms commu
nicated the intelligence to his Excellency.
My opinion was formed immediately upon reading
the matter over. I certainly think Mr. President is
right in the principle which he lays down relative to
the limited powers of those to whom the people have
committed that Constitution, by which they wish to be
governed. They are to make laws conformably to
the Constitution, but they have no authority to alter
154 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
or change the Constitution. I disagree with him
when he makes our present form of government have
such an absolute respect to an accommodation with G*
Britain, and when he declares the present Constitu
tion of S. Carolina to be the best we are capable of
receiving ; but I hope to have time to speak more fully
on this subject in my next.
The conduct of Congress in giving orders to offi
cers on detached commands, without communicating
them to the General, is not only a deficiency of polite
ness, considered as an omission of a compliment
which is due to him, but likewise a breach of military
propriety. He ought undoubtedly to be acquainted
with whatever orders arc given to those who are
at the same time under his command, that he may
govern himself by them and not be exposed to contra-
riate them. We expect the pleasure of Gen 1 Lee s
company to dinner, and are preparing to receive him
Adieu, my dearest friend and father.
I am ever your affectionate
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 155
HEAD QUARTERS, llth April, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I have read with attention your kind favour of the
2 d inst., and have frequently had occasion to discuss
the suhject matter of it. I have more than once con
tended, that supposing the Congress should be guilty
of the greatest injustice towards the officers of the
army, a general abandonment of the service at this
perilous crisis, the consequences of which must evi
dently be the ruin of our cause, would merit eternal
infamy. A majority, composed perhaps only of ten
men, conduct the present system, will you, to punish
them for acting either unadvisedly or even with ill
design, sacrifice the liberties of America, and des
perately involve yourselves in the perdition which
you bring upon them? That man, however injured
by the representatives of the people, who will desert
the public interest, is destitute of virtue and unworthy
to be free.
I must confess to you, with grief, my dearest friend,
that upon a nearer view, I have a far less respectable
idea of my countrymen than when I beheld their
struggle from afar, and could not distinguish the vices
with which they are oppressed. I was thunderstruck
at hearing a system adopted of governing men by
their vices, and putting public virtue and patriotism
out of the question, as nonentities, a system so sub-
156 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
versive of republicanism that if it prevails, we may
bid adieu to our liberties.
Before I received your letter, I was generally against
the pensionary half pay establishment, but had not
seen in their full extent the inconveniences that would
arise from it. You have developed some ideas that
had but slightly and feebly presented themselves to
me, and have confirmed my opinion ; but, at the same
time that I require such virtue in those of the army,
as to esteem the loss of estate a cheap price to pay for
the honour of establishing the liberties of their country,
I would wish the burthens of society as equally dis
tributed as possible, that there may not be one part of
the community appropriating to itself the summit of
wealth and grandeur, while another is reduced to
extreme indigence in the common cause. By what
means this is to be effected wise legislators must
determine. The power of our enemies and their per
fection in the military science, opposed to our inexpe
rience, seem to render it impolitic to arrive at this by
alternation in military service. Our safety requires
that we should retain those officers and soldiers who
are most enured to arms, in order to oppose veterans.
Can it be effected by taxes on luxuries, which would
be felt only by the rich ? In a republic there ought
to be the penalties of sumptuary laws, and should be
so severe as to amount to a prohibition ; consequently
no fund could be established by these means, to
answer any extensive purpose.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 157
If we were as virtuous as we ought to be, we should
have those who are enriching themselves by com
merce, privateering and farming, supplying the army
with every necessary convenience at a moderate rate ;
but as experience proves that it is in vain to expect this,
all I would demand of Congress, is that they would
contrive some means of furnishing us with articles
which nature cannot forego, and which are useful in
giving respectability to the military state, at such
prices as bear some proportion to our pay.
I would wish to see the military state rendered
honorable, and all odious distinctions of jealousy laid
aside, for we are all citizens, and have no separate
interests. If mediocrity could be established gene
rally, by any means, it would be well ; it would ensure
us virtue and render our independency permanent.
But there never will be virtue in the poor, when there
are rich in the same community. By imperceptible
and indirect methods, we should labour to establish
and maintain equality of fortunes as much as possible,
if we would continue to be free.
It is a fact that our officers cannot satisfy the simple
wants of nature, much less make that appearance
which is annexed to the military state, with their pay.
It is no less a fact that in every town on the continent,
luxury nourishes as it would among a people who had
conquered the world, and were about to pay for their
victories, by their decline. This I hope Congress will
take seriously into consideration.
158 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
I would by no means wish our pay to be increased,
but I would wish to see temptations to peculation in
weak men removed, and the honest man delivered
from the necessity of reducing himself to beggary.
This will best be effected by a public establishment
for supplying wants at a moderate price.
I have received your favour, inclosing a note for
Bringhurst, which will be sent to him by the first good
Your favour of the 9 th is just received, with the blue
cloth and the buttons, for which I return you my best
thanks. The last paragraph makes me the more
uneasy, as I do not know in what way we are menaced
and what is the extent of the danger.
"We have heard nothing from our commissioners
since their arrival at ]^ew Town, from whence WQ
conclude that they are going on well. They were
exceedingly chagrined at the distrust of their abilities
which was conspicuous in the resolves of Congress.
They had been perfectly satisfied with the prospects
which they had at their first interview, at German
Inclosed you will receive the Kutledge papers.
The General has been so much occupied that I
have not given them him to read, and though he
has got over his great business of a long official
letter, I fear to detain them any longer. Altho he
is an advocate for the half pay establishment, on the
principles of economy and justice to the officers, I
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 159
apprehend that if any other mode were proposed
for rendering commissions honorable, and enabling
the officers to subsist with decency, he is not invio
lably attached to this.
Your most affectionate
My best respects to Mr. Drayton ; I will be looking
out for quarters for him.
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, 18th Ajml, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I have barely time to inclose you a Philadelphia
paper and to thank you for the epaulettes which you
were so kind as to send me.
The General sends you a handbill which has been
artfully thrown out by the enemy, and which, unless
properly counteracted, will undubitably tend to fo
ment disunion, perhaps the only and evidently the
surest method of destroying us. The deserters who
have come in lately say it is a common talk that over
tures are to be made for a treaty of peace. Cap* Gibbes
of the General s guard is now at Lancaster, and I have
employed him to purchase me summer wear. My
want of it will depend upon his success. However, if
160 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
what is at York is very good, I shall be very glad to
have as much as will make a skirtless waistcoat and a
pair of breeches.
With respect to the spurs which you have been so
kind as to take so much trouble about, my reason for
desiring James to have them changed was on account
of their weakness. Being all silver they are apt to
break; and I imagined that he might without diffi
culty exchange them for a pair of plated. If he can
not, he must get them mended and I must use them
Apropos to spurs, I think in the present deplorable
scarcity of good horses, it would be a very acceptable
present to the Baron Steuben on the part of Congress
to give him an elegant saddle horse. He is exerting
himself like a lieutenant anxious for promotion, and
the good effects of his labour are visible.
The General I apprehend is restrained from writing
to Congress on this head till he shall be acquainted
with the sentiments of the brigadiers respecting the
Baron s rank (but this between ourselves), as far as I
can learn in conversation with those gentlemen, every
one is convinced of his zeal and abilities, and thinks
him deserving of the grade which he asks for.
Praying your indulgence for this hurried and
almost illegible production,
I assure you of my constant love.
"All our foreign publications seem to regard an
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 161
European war, as a certain consequence of the Elector
of Bavaria s death.
" Mr. R. Strettle Jones, an ostensible and a very
intelligent man, writes from Philadelphia to a friend
of his in the army that Lord Chatham was certainly
at the head of administration.
" The reports of a French war tho stifled as much
as possible are generally believed."
HEAD QUARTERS, 20th April, 1778.
My Dear Father :
You will receive by this courier, L d North s recanta
tion. It would make an admirable contrast with a
vehement oration which I heard him pronounce in
the confidence of success, while I was in England.
The treachery which he renounces is too palpable in
his conciliatory overtures, to deceive thinking men ;
but they may prove a fatal poison if suffered to be
disseminated through the continent, unattended by
the strictures of an able pen, which may serve as an
antidote. If France has not declared war, she does
not merit our alliance; but I think it is more than
probable that the sword has been drawn by this time
in Europe. There is no doubt of Gen 1 Howe s being
recalled, and that Clinton is to succeed him. The
present moment requires vigorous counsels and un
162 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
I have many fears relative to our prospects of the
ensuing campaign ; they shall be expressed in a short
letter. My dearest friend adieu.
Virtue and vigorous counsels with policy, are more
wanted than ever.
I fear the effects of northern expeditions and
projects. Our main army will be emacerated, and
nothing decisive will be done. Let us be respectable
in the field, and have a full representation of the
HEAD QUARTERS, 27/A April, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I have read with pleasure the report of the commit
tee of Congress, on the subject of the insulting and
insidious overtures made by the British ministers, tho
I think more firmness and energy would have made
it more republican. The pardons offered to the sub
jects of the states who had embraced the party of the
enemy, will, I am persuaded, be attended with extens
ive good consequences. The measure is dictated by
policy, and unites the advantage of being founded in
humanity. A few copies of the handbill have been
sent to Governor Tryon in return for the triplicate
packets of the British bill which he was so obliging as
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 163
to send to the Commander in Chief. It appears to me
that this proceeding of L d North will be the signal for
France to declare war. The reducing the commerce
and naval power of her natural enemy, increasing her
own, and humbling an inveterate rival, are objects too
important in a political view, for her to hazard them
to the wiles of negociation after they have been
secured from the chance of war. This apart, the
death of the Elector of Bavaria, it is generally thought
will embroil Europe. And if our men in power, and
men of influence, will redouble their exertions instead
of being lulled into security, the new and artful
attack of the British minister, will be foiled and
expose him to contempt. He will be obliged to with
draw his troops I mean as many of them as we suf
fer to escape and tacitly to acknowledge what he
will be afterwards forced explicitly to ratify our
independence. At the same time, if no secret alliance
has been entered into on our part with France, our
agents at that court need not represent it as an impos
sible event, that a treaty should take place between
Great Britain and America, from the degree of affec
tion which may still remain between the two nations
and the propensity to a connexion which arises from
the indentity of habits and language.
I have been informed that the tone of our embas-
sadors was infinitely too modest to produce the effects
which we had a right to expect.
It gives me pleasure to find that Congress has
164 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
directed General Gates to have a conference with
Gen 1 "Washington previous to his setting out for his
northern command. A proper force kept up in the
neighbourhood of ]STew York, provided it can be done
without prejudice to this army, may be attended with
very important good consequences.
It is a favourite plan with some men, to make a
sudden attempt in that quarter with a part of this
army, and change the theatre of the war; but there
are many irrefragable arguments against the project.
Their plan is to carry that city by storm ; but the
preliminary steps to be taken, and the length of march
would inevitably betray the design. The part of the
army left here would be attacked and dissipated by
a superior force. The British army would be re
cruited from among the numerous disaffected, which
swarm in this state, and the force before ISTew York,
if sufficient to proceed by regular approaches, would
be obliged to raise the siege with disgrace, upon rein
forcements being thrown in, which might very well
be spared from Philadelphia ; besides, as ISTew York,
supposing it carried, cannot be maintained while the
enemy have the superiority by sea, it can by no means
deserve to be made a principal object of attention.
But if we are sufficiently strengthened here to act
offensively, and a respectable force is posted in the
vicinity of N". York, we may hope for decisive suc
cess, and we avoid the risk of suffering the enemy to
establish themselves, and strengthen their party in
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 165
this state; cut off the communication between the
northern and southern states, and reduce the Congress
to the disgraceful necessity of decamping a second
time. I say nothing of the unavoidable loss of stores,
whatever diligence may be used in removing them.
I must ask, my dear father, a thousand pardons for
this ill-digested and incoherent letter. I set out with
a good intention, but from my first beginning it till
now, I have undergone perpetual interruption.
Cap 6 G-ibbes has disappointed me in not purchasing
the stuff for summer wear. I must entreat you to let
James procure me as much as will make two or three
changes, provided the extravagance of the price does
not forbid it.
Adieu my dearest friend and father,
I send a letter which you will be so good as to
inclose by Mr. Francis, to Co 1 Gervaise, to be for
HEAD QUARTERS, 1st May, 1778.
I snatch a minute to congratulate my dear fatiidr,
upon the important intelligence from France. As the
matter is represented she seems to have acted with
politic generosity towards us, and to have timed her
declaration in our favour most admirably for her own
interests, and the abasement of her ancient rival. If
the general languor can be shaken off, and that this
166 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
event instead of increasing our supineness stimulates
us to vigorous exertions, we may close the war witli
great eclat, provided General Howe does not receive
timely orders to collect his force and secure a retreat.
France might give a mortal blow to the English naval
force in its present scattered state.
I have just received your kind favour of the 28 th
ult. I have reason to hope that opportunities for
writing to my wife will he more frequent and certain,
and that we may soon find a proper conveyance for
With respect to the report of the committee, I think
a more spirited answer was required to the arrogance
and insolence of the British minister in offering us
pardons, and a part of our rights. I am entirely of
your opinion on the subject of the proposed addition
to the resolutions.
The only reason that can be assigned for Col.
Hartley s delay, is that there are better quarters at
York than at Valley Forge. The General probably is
ignorant that he has received his order to march from
General Mclntosh desires me to send you the
inclosed paper, with his compliments.
Your letter to Bringhurst went some time since.
I received an answer from him a day or two ago, that
the body of your carriage is at the painter s in Phila
delphia, and that if I give him a pass for a gentleman
who wants to get a carriage in, that gentleman will
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 167
undertake to get a pass for yours to come out. I must
inquire who the gentleman is, and if the matter can
be transacted with propriety it shall be done. He
promises to finish the carriage out of hand, if this
arrangement can be made.
I am hurried to close my letter, and must bid adieu
to my dear father.
HEAD QUARTERS, 4th May, 1778.
I thank you my dear father for your kind favour of
yesterday, and again congratulate you upon the im
portant intelligence from France. It seems to me to
have been her interest to offer such generous terms to
America, as to ensure her prompt acceptance, and to
avoid every thing which might give room for delibe
ration and delay. If our embassadors in France
were plenipotentiaries, the ratification comes of course.
If they were not, I think it is as little politic as gene
rous to refuse an alliance with France in order to
accept one upon equal terms with Great Britain.
There is still a prejudice in the minds of many
people in favour of the latter, which should be wisely
counteracted, or that power will gain by artful policy
what she has lost in the field of battle. The intelli
gence seems to diffuse sincere joy. We only wait
for leave from Congress to signify that of the army,
by sounds which will reach the ears of the enemy.
168 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
My wife writes that my uncle is at Marseilles ; his
stay there depends entirely on my aunt. Harry at
Richmond, and wrote letters which I have never
Mrs. Savage died at Brompton, three weeks before
the date of the letter, which is 17 th FeV, 1778.
Lady Will m Campbell had paid my wife a visit.
What was the end of that unexpected civility, does
not strike me.
Your grand-daughter and Mr. Manning s family
were well, and desired their love.
It has been my ill fortune to write all my letters for
some time past in very great haste, and this is the
case at present, when I would particularly have wished
to write deliberately.
Your most affectionate
P.S. I am desired to request that you will send
more blank forms of oaths.
HEAD QUARTERS, 7th May, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I have to ask pardon for omitting in my last, to
thank you for the striped dimity, which you were so
kind as to send me. It did not occur to me till it
was too late to recall the messenger, and my uneasi-
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 169
ness was the greater, as I had heen frequently a delin
quent in this way.
Yesterday we celebrated the new alliance, with
as much splendour as the short notice would allow.
Divine service preceded the rejoicing. After a pro
per pause, the several brigades marched by their right
to their posts in order of battle, and the line was
formed with admirable rapidity and precision. Three
salutes of artillery, thirteen each, and three general
discharges of a running fire by the musquetry, were
given in honour of the king of France, the friendly
European powers, and the United American States.
Loud huzzas !
The order with which the whole was conducted,
the beautiful effect of the running fire, which was
executed to perfection, the martial appearance of the
troops, gave sensible pleasure to every one present.
The whole was managed by signal, and the plan, as
formed by Baron de Steuben, succeeded in every
particular, which is in a great measure attributed to
his unwearied attention, and to the visible progress
which the troops have already made, under his
A cold collation was given afterwards, at which all
the officers of the army, and some ladies of the neigh
bourhood were present. Triumph beamed in every
countenance. The greatness of mind and policy of
Louis XVI were extol d , and his long life toasted with
as much sincerity as that of the British king used to
170 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
be in former times. The General received such
proofs of the love and attachment of his officers as
must have given him the most exquisite feelings.
But amid all this inundation of joy, there is a con
duct observed towards him by certain great men
which, as it is humiliating, must abate his happiness.
I write with all the freedom of a person addressing
himself to his dearest friend, and with all the uncon-
straint of a person delivering an unconsequential
private opinion. I think, then, the Commander in
Chief of this army is not sufficiently informed of all
that is known by Congress of European affairs. Is it
not a galling circumstance, for him to collect the
most important intelligence piece-meal, and as they
choose to give it, from gentlemen who come from
York ? Apart the chagrin which he must necessarily
feel at such an appearance of slight, it should be con
sidered that in order to settle his plan of operations
for the ensuing campaign, he should take into view
the present state of European affairs, and Congress
should not leave him in the dark.
If ever there was a man in the world whose mode
ration and patriotism fitted him for the command of a
republican army, he is, and he merits an unrestrained
You will receive copies of letters from and to the
genera], respecting Monsieur de ^Teuville. If I recol
lect right, that gentleman aims at the rank of briga
dier. This, I can venture to assure you, the general
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 171
does not think either politic or proper to be granted to
him. I took the liberty of mentioning this, that the
General s letter which is couched in polite terms,
might not induce an opinion of his approving the
demands of M. de la Neuville. The general thinks
him a man of merit and liberal sentiments, but that
he looks too high. I take the liberty which is
allowed when the restraint of officiality is laid, to say
many things which cannot with propriety be said in
public letters. And am with as much respect for you
in your public capacity, as love and friendship in our
HEAD QUARTERS, 12th Mai/, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I felicitate you upon the declaration of war between
England and France ; for though we have no posi
tive intelligence of the event, its immediate and sure
precursors have taken place, from whence we may
fairly conclude that it has followed in due course.
The sarcastical declaration of Mons r de failles,
proves the contempt which the French have for the
British power in its present dismembered state, their
confidence in their own strength seconded by that of
their own allies, and is the most humiliating stroke
that the national pride of Britain ever suffered. If
172 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
she is not instantly driven to negotiate a disgraceful
peace, she must principally depend upon powerful
naval exertions. Her superiority in this kind of war,
might gain her great advantages, and in some degree
reestablish her affairs, were not American privateers,
and the rising Continental army in the opposite scale.
L d ISTorth talks of new levies for internal defence.
The idea of reinforcements to act offensively in Ame
rica seems to be dropped. Indeed, my private
opinion is, that S r W m Howe or S r Harry Clinton
has received orders to evacuate Philadelphia after
doing as much mischief as possible. The great pre
parations which are making for a grand exhibition of
pageantry, if it be true as it is said, that a new build
ing which is now rising is intended for a ceremony
relative to the order of knighthood, and every kind of
show that is made of a design to remain in Philadel
phia, rather confirm than shake my opinion.
It gives me concern that there is no immediate pro
spect of closing the war with brilliancy. A successful
general action, or some happy stroke upon one of
the important points of which the enemy are at pre
sent in possession, would be very desirable, as it
would clearly establish the military reputation of our
country, render us more independent of our allies,
raise the character of our General, and give all young
soldiers one more opportunity of distinguishing them
selves in the dear cause of their country.
I heard by mere accident from General S Clair
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 173
that the legislative powers had ventured to alter the
constitution of S Carolina, that it is now degenerated
into an aristocracy. This has occasioned no less sur
prise than unhappiness in my mind. I should not
have imagined that in a country where the people are
generally enlightened, and of an independent spirit,
we should have suffered the depositaries of our con
stitution to usurp a power which is inherent only in
the people, and to have corrupted what they were
delegated to preserve. If this passes with impunity,
the same men may next vote themselves perpetual
representatives of the people. A few men of powerful
influence may next have credit enough to take all
government into their own hands. To an oligarchy
succeeds a monarchy, limited by a few checks, which
may be easily removed by an artful prince, and
make way for despotism. It will be said that the
confederate states, and the temper of the Carolinians
themselves, would never suffer corruption to go
such lengths; but I only observe that it is of the
most fatal tendency to suffer fundamental principles
to be violated, and that the measures taken by our
present representatives are subversive of liberty. If
your leisure will permit, I entreat to send me some
account of these transactions, or perhaps I shall be
able to get it from M r Drayton, who, I understand,
is on his way to camp.
The general officers are just now assembled to take
the oath of allegiance.
174 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
The independent States of America will have the
first oath that ever I took. As this matter is intended
for the vulgar, I think it a pit}* that more solemnity
and awe is not attached to the ceremony.
My dearest friend and father I tenderly embrace
HEAD QUARTERS, 21th May, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I was obliged to break off abruptly in my last letter
and send it unfinished. To resume the thread of
narration will be hardly possible ; indeed it would not
be worth troubling you with, as you must have heard
before this time of the principal circumstances of our
retreat, and the failure of the British disposition.
Generals Clinton and Howe were both out with the
whole army, deducting the necessary guards for the
city. One of the columns executed a march of 35
miles which proved fatal to several of their plethoric
The Marquis made a brilliant retreat, and left the
surrounding enemy to return to the city with precipi
tation. The firing of our alarm guns at camp, the
crossing a few troops at Sullivan s bridge, and the
report of a great number, added to the good order in
which the detachment retired, saved the flower of our
army. We have since seen a Philadelphia Gazette in
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 175
which our detachment is called a large body of the
rebels, their number covered under the appellation of
a detachment. The Marquis is said to have retreated
in the greatest confusion, and the party that crossed
the Schuylkil here are said to have recrossed panic
struck, and to have taken up the bridge after them.
In the same Gazette there is a pompous description of
the medley of entertainments which the city had given
in testimony of their affection for General Howe ; they
call it a mischianza (pronounce miskiansa) which
is an Italian word signifying a medley.
The most recent intelligence from Philadelphia is,
that the troops drew yesterday three days provision
and had their canteens filled with rum, that the
women and children had embarked, some of the sick
had been removed from the hospital and bettering
house, the spare bedding and hospital utensils had
been shipped, boxes of arms numbered were remov
ing from the arsenal to the vessels. Coffin and An
derson, a capital Tory house, were packing up their
The number of transports amounted to 180 vessels,
averaging 250 tons each. This does not appear
adequate to the number of troops, &ca., and makes
us think that the enemy will retreat through the
Jerseys, after embarking their heavy cannon and
baggage, the horses belonging to them, their invalids
and their new levies, whose desertion they have good
reason to dread.
176 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
We learn farther, that notice was given on Saturday
to the officers of police, that the army was ahout
to remove, and that vessels were prepared for such
families as should choose to quit the city that there
was a general despair among the Tory inhabitants
that the enemy were still at work on their new
On Sunday the command devolved to General
Clinton. Gen 1 Howe took leave of the city and dined
with his brother on board of the Eagle.
The inhabitants anxious to know whether their
persons and property will be protected from the rage
of the American soldiery if they could be sure of
protection, it is thought that much valuable merchan
dise would be retained in the city, which otherwise
will be sent away.
The greatest part of this intelligence was given by
a Mr. Combes, father of the clergyman the old
gentleman is come out to make his peace and take
the oath he will be sent back to town, with conso
lation for repentant sinners. Deserters, townsmen,
women of different qualities, spies, confirm the sub
stance of these accounts. There has been such
diligence used in shipping, that some light carts
have been drawn by soldiers. Every kind of carriage
from waggons to wheelbarrows, have been inces
santly rolling between the houses and water side for
some days past.
It is not certainly known whether they will embark
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 177
or march through the Jerseys ; by the latter method
of retiring they would avoid the dangers of the sea
and a French fleet, economize provision and forage,
be sure of arriving at New York at a given time ; by
the former they would be secure from desertion,
and harrassing from such light troops as might be
detached after them on their march ; but the matter
is put out of doubt, if what we have just heard from
Col. Shreve, commandant in Jersey, be true, that
several troops of the enemy s horse have embarked.
This being the case, they certainly mean to go by sea,
as every dragoon that can be mustered would be
wanted in their march through the Jerseys.
Col. Shreve adds that the refugees arc daily desert
ing from Billingsport, and surrendering themselves to
the civil power, that several companies of artillery
The intelligence from New York is that the enemy
have abandoned Fort Washington and its depend
encies. Whether their design is to concenter their
force at New York, and make a stand there, or only
rendezvous there to proceed elsewhere, or divide the
force that they have at Philadelphia, part to go to
reinforce New York, and part for the defence of
their AV. India islands, cannot be determined. It is
certain that a notion prevails among the soldiery that
many of them are going to the West Indies, and that
immense desertion would take place if any opportu
nity were given.
178 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
God bless yon, my dear father; I salute you with
my tenderest love.
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, 9th June, 1778.
My Dear Father :
The moment M r Boudinot returned from German
Town where he had a conference with M r Loring,
British comm 7 of prisoners, upon the subject of an
exchange. He brings us intelligence that the com
missioners appointed by act of Parliament to divide
us by governor s places, &ca., skilfully dealt, are ar
rived ; that they are, as we had heard L d Carlisle,
Gov. Johnston, and M r Eden; that L d Cornwallis
is come with them. A spy of ours who left the city
this morning says, that they landed at 2 o clock yes
terday afternoon, and that they came up the river in
barges ; that five or six hundred sailors had come up
to the city in boats, and were assembled at the proper
place for conducting the passage of the troops; that
no ships remained near the town except the Vigilant
and Richmond, who seem destined to cover the cross
ing, and that all the enemy s sick are removed.
Some people are of opinion that the arrival of the
commissioners at Philadelphia is a proof that war is
not yet declared between England and France ; the
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 179
former determining to try what may be done with
respect to America, by the means of negotiation,
and preferring in the mean time a suffering of incon
veniences and insults, to engage at once in so unequal
a contest ; and that the commissioners have ventured
to land in Philadelphia from a persuasion that a
declaration of war will not originate with France.
It is certain that the commissioners must know
whether war is declared, and it appears to me almost
certain that they would not come to Philadelphia if
it were. At all events I imagine the arrival of the
commissioners will delay the final evacuation of the
city till a council of war can be held, and perhaps
some message sent to Congress. It would be an
awkward appearance for them to arrive at Philadel
phia with a view of proposing terms of conciliation,
and to change their ground without announcing them
selves. But it w d be full as awkward and disgrace
ful for them to announce themselves and disappear
before an answer from Congress could be given.
All which inclines me to believe that war was not
declared at the time they left England, and that their
stay will be deferred by their court as long as pos
sible. A deserter who is just arrived, says that none
but the light troops remained in Philadelphia. Or
ders had been given for their preparing every thing
for moving, but the arrival of the commissioners had
occasioned a countermand.
Our treaty with France is known ; what the com-
180 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
uiissioners can hope from their act of Parliament,
which is an insult to our honour and understanding,
I cannot conceive. Commissary Loring told M r Bou-
dinot with a grave face, that a fleet of forty ships had
sailed from the British coast and struck such an alarm
in the minds of the French king and his ministers as
occasioned them to desire the immediate departure of
Dr. Franklin, &ca.
This express was ordered immediately on Mr.
Boudinot s return, that Congress may he apprised,
and have time to deliberate even before the com
missioners announce themselves. I have written in
the greatest hurry, and thrown a chaos of words
I have barely time to acknowledge the receipt of
your letter of the 5 th . Mr. Conway s conduct irritates
but does not surprise me. The truth of the matter
with respect to his resignation is, that he expected to
have been solicited to remain in the service, and to
have made a great bustle, and increased his import
ance. As for fighting, I know by what I saw at
German Town, that his stomach is not so keen set
for it as he pretends ; but his friends, Gates and Mif-
flin, sacrificed him at a time when he least expected
it. However, he has fairly undone himself, and will
be treated with that contempt which he deserves.
I shall take the liberty of communicating this matter
to the general.
I must beg the favour of you to send by the earliest
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 181
opportunity, a copy of the last resolves of Congress
relative to the exchange of prisoners, the 21 st ult.
It has been mislaid here, and the person who had the
care of it wishes to avoid the wound to his sensibility
which w d arise from having the matter applied for
officially with an explanation.
God preserve you, my dear father.
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, 9th June, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I have received your kind favour of the 7 th inst.
accompanied by letters from Harry, and one from
my wife. The former I send for your perusal ; the
latter contained nothing new.
Your letter to the general, and the copy of that to
the commissioners Howe and Clinton, were dated
May ; but the mistake I apprehend in the original is
of no consequence. I cannot forbear expressing my
joy that Congress has replied with so much dignity
to the iirst overtures made to them. If they pursue
the conduct which they have marked out to them
selves in their letter, they will act with propriety.
The insolence and infatuation of the British minis
ter in sending commissioners to treat with America,
182 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
under the act of Parliament which he pretends to call
conciliatory, are without parallel.
I hope Congress will not even suffer the secretary
of the commission to wait upon them, nor do any
thing that looks like listening to their proposals.
M r Boudinot, who returned this evening from con
ference with the British commissary of prisoners,
informs us that the preparations for evacuating still
continue, and that it is impossible for the enemy to
remain much longer. He says he has reason to think
that they will not march through the Jerseys, but pro
ceed to a convenient place down the Delaware on the
Jersey side, and there embark. This opinion has
been suggested before, and seems to be favoured by
a contradiction of a report which prevailed some time
ago of the enemy s collecting boats in Princes bay.
To-morrow the army will move to a camp about a
mile in front of their present position. The unwhole
some exhalations from the ground which we occupy
has made this measure necessary. We shall be at
hand to take possession of our field of battle, in case
of any forward move on the part of the enemy. And
while we are condemned to inactivity, we shall not
swallow the effluvia arising from a deposit of various
carcases and filth accumulated during six months.
I am much concerned that you are afflicted with
any bodily pain. You do not mention what it is ; I
apprehend a return of your gout. Surely if ever a
citizen deserved well of his country, you do ; but your
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 183
continued sacrifice of yourself will find its reward in
the triumph of liberty.
God grant that your health of body may speedily
be restored, and equal your health of mind.
Your most affectionate
Doctor Ferguson, sec y to the commission, was tutor
to L d Chesterfield at Geneva, where I became ac
quainted with him. He is a man known in the
literary world, and whose profound knowledge makes
him very respectable.
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, llth June, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I enclose you a packet which I received from
Philadelphia yesterday. You will be so good as to
forward those letters which Mr. Manning commits
to my care. The two letters which I have kept out
of the bundle are one from Mr. Laurens, containing
nothing new, and one for Anthony Butler, Esq., D.
Q. M. G., which Gov. Johnston desires me to take
The commissioners ventured out yesterday as far
as G erman Town with an escort of light troops, which
184 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
with the number that have crossed into the Jerseys,
left only 800 men in the city according to the account
of a very intelligent deserter. Every account con-
iirms the opinion that S r H. Clinton is throwing
his men over the Delaware by degrees, and that the
remainder arc constantly under marching orders.
The grenadiers have crossed the river, and the
Anspachers have embarked.
The packet addressed to yourself and Congress, you
will observe is sealed with the fond picture of a
mother caressing her children. I am of opinion that
the commissioners hope to do more by addressing
themselves to individuals than public bodies. But
what prospect can they have of succeeding in the
least of their views. They must, I think, retire dis
gracefully, for I am persuaded that Congress will not
lose sight of those well chosen land-marks which they
declare they mean to steer by. The honour and inter
est of the nation, and the sacred regard which is due
to treaties, unite to make us reject their overtures.
From their conduct, one would think that they have
as little opinion of our virtue and understanding, as
they formerly had of our courage. It is our duty
to convince them how much we have been calum
niated in every respect, and to render their superior
subtilty in negociations of as little avail as their
greater experience in the art of war. I begin to
regard Johnston as an apostate to the cause of liberty,
and to place him among the number of those whose
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 185
secret wisli is rather a change of men than measures.
The nominating him as a commissioner, and vesting
him and his colleagues with a power of making go
vernors, are strokes of artful policy, against which
W T C cannot be too much on our guard. His reputation
as a friend to America, his patriotic speeches in the
House of Commons, will be made the themes of
many a letter and discourse for seducing incautious
God preserve you, my dear father.
The Ilonble Henry Laurcns, Esq r .,
President of Congress, York.
HEAD QUARTERS, 14/A June, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I have barely a moment to thank you for your kind
favour of the 11 th .
Congress, I am persuaded, will act with the dignity
and virtue which ought to characterize republicans,
in their answers to the British commissioners. The
inquiry into the conduct of the late quarter masters,
must give pleasure to every man who wishes to see
the betrayers of public trusts brought to condign
186 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
A party of the enemy were out yesterday, and in
returning left a M r "Welford formerly surgeon in
their service. This gentleman made himself disa
greeable to the British officers, by his humanity to
our wounded, and was obliged to resign. He has
taken an opportunity of becoming a willing prisoner
to a people whose sentiments are congenial to his
own. This, I suppose in delicacy to him, must be
kept a secret. Cap*. McLane, an active, enterprising
officer, who is constantly near the enemy s lines, sent
him as a prisoner, and he must be announced as
such. He quartered with General Lee last night,
so that I had no opportunity of speaking to him ; it is
probable he may furnish us with a great deal of good
I intend to write to you upon the subject of reform
ing our regiments, as the French call it. The weak,
pitiful state of a great many of them, the little pro
spect of having them completed, the vast good that
would result from purging the army of a number of
officers, who besides are not unwilling to quit the
service; in a word, the facility of bringing about a
change which w d be attended with more advantages
than I have time to enumerate and develope, invites
us irresistably to it.
I pray God to continue his blessings to you.
The Baron de Steuben desires to be remembered
to you. Some jealousies against him have occasioned
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 187
Mm great trouble, and interrupted his progress in the
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq 1 .,
HEAD QUARTERS, 15th June, 1778.
My Dear Father :
The world looks with anxious expectation for the
answer of Congress to the British commissioners.
A paper was said to have been pasted up in camp,
which contained the terms that are offered on their
part. The general has given orders to have the
matter immediately traced. Low artifices of this
kind discover feeble hopes of succeeding in a more
regular and open way.
Doctor "Welford dined with us yesterday, but I had
no opportunity of conversing with him but in a pro
miscuous way. He confirms our opinion of the ene
my s intention to pass through the Jerseys ; says that
they have destroyed a vast number of blankets, etc.,
that they have strengthened their cavalry by mounting
many of their light infantry, or at least providing
horses, on which they are to be mounted occasionally.
By this means they will have, he thinks, 2,500 horse
men ; that General Grant has escaped a court martial
for his conduct on the affair of Marquis de Lafayette,
by his powerful interest, but that he is much blamed
188 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
and abused in circles of officers. The doctor contra
dicts the report of Gov. Johnston s having been
mobbed. He says, on the contrary, he is more re
spected than either of his colleagues, being regarded
as the only proper person to gain the confidence
of America, and succeed in the important business
which they have in view.
Gov. Johnston, it is said, accuses Howe of having
acted the part both of a villain and a fool ; the latter,
in his military operations, the former in wanton and
unauthorized destruction of private property. 1
I hope the answer of Congress will arrive to-day,
that it will be consistent with the reply already made
to Gen 1 Clinton, &c., and if possible be calculated to
give them less hopes.
The Baron de Steuben has received a letter from
M r de Beaumarchais, which informs him that war is
rekindled between the Russians and Turks that
the king of Prussia is in Bohemia, at the head of
00,000 men, where he has already seized a fortified
castle and two regiments, to show that he is deter
mined to have satisfaction for the dismemberment of
the electorate of Bavaria.
Gen 1 Reed has some very interesting gazettes, and
a number or two of the Parliamentary Register, parts
of which ought to be made public, without delay,
in the course of calling for authentic papers, and
Dr. Welford says so.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 189
letters relative to American transactions. The mi
nority lias made some discoveries, which if they were
generally known here, would prove an excellent anti
dote to the deceitful arts which the commissioners
are now practising. A letter from Lord Howe and
his brother, in Novem., 1776 (at a time when they
thought nothing could turn the current of success
from them), inclosed their proclamation offering a
general pardon to the Americans. But they remark
to the ministry that it will be proper to make a few
examples, and upon the whole plainly indicate their
intention to make as many as shall be found conve
nient, notwithstanding their promises.
You will receive by this courier an application from
the captain of the General s guard. He has had the
mortification of seeing himself outstripped by a vast
number of his juniors who had no greater merit than
himself. He has always done his duty in his station,
and from what I saw of his behaviour at Barren Hill,
wants only an opportunity to establish his character
as an officer of bravery and steadiness, in action ; and
I really think he is entitled to a majority, at least to
a brevet for one.
Adieu, my dear father ; we pass a most tiresome time
of inactivity and suspense in camp. I suppose you
sympathize with us in the latter. I omitted to inform
you above that Doctor Welford says the people in
town have no other than salt provisions. Even that
is brought to them from their vessels. As M r "W.
1.90 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
ought to pass for a prisoner of war, I do not mention
his name as author of any intelligence, but in con
fidence to you, not that I think his history will
be kept secret, but because I would not be the occa
sion of discovering it. As this courier was setting
out hastily on a case of life and death, I did not intend
to have said any thing on the subject of a reform, but
as he delays I will venture to oifer a few arguments
in favour of it. Our regiments, as you well know,
are many of them in a very weak state, and there is
no kind of parity between them, which is the occasion
of great trouble and confusion in encamping, march
ing, the detail for guards and detachments, &ca.
To remedy these inconveniences, the General has
issued an order to each brigadier to form his brigade
into batallions of not less than 80 files, nor more than
111 ; by which means they will be sufiiciently equal
ized to admit of their being regarded as a common
measure for the army, and to facilitate the service.
But as this is only a temporary arrangement, the
field officers who are appointed by seniority to the
command of these batallious, will not pay that atten
tion to the welfare and discipline of the men under
their command, which they would do in the case of
their own soldiers ; and, from an idea that there is no
permanent relation between them, will not have that
affection for them which the good of the service
Had we any prospect that the States would furnish
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 191
their due quotas for completing their respective ba-
tal lions, a reduction of regiments would be unneces
sary ; but as you and I very well know we have no
right to expect them to do their duty in this respect.
My letter is called for, and I must abruptly bid
HEAD QUARTERS, 16/A June, 1778.
My Dear Father :
The Chevalier de Cambray informs me that he sets
out for York ; I must write precipitately to have my
letter conveyed by him.
The state of intelligence yesterday was as follows :
That the baggage of the commissioners was packed
up, their linnen ordered from the washerwomen
finished or unfinished ; the troops in town were the
third brigade which is composed of the Highlanders
and two British regiments, a few Hessians, the grena
diers and light infantry, and the cavalry; all the
vessels on the stocks had been burnt; some few
houses had been maliciously fired at the same time ;
the park of artillery was reduced to five field pieces
and two howitzers; the horse tenders were at the
wharves with slings, &ca., in readiness; the Vigilant
and a few row galleys lay at the upper end of the
town to cover the passage of the troops ; the commis
sary of the light horse had put all his baggage in his
192 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
waggon ; orders had been given to the 3 d brigade to be
in readiness for marching this morning at 2 o clock.
This intelligence was given by a very faithful fellow
whose mother washed for the commissioners, and
who on former occasions has given us accurate and
useful intelligence. This day, three deserters, one
of them from the corps of grenadiers, confirmed many
of the foregoing circumstances. A letter from Cap*
McLane, dated at noon, informs me that all the
enemy s park had crossed the river ; that the High
landers were then crossing ; that he had marched
towards the enemy s redoubts, caused several of them
to be manned, and exchanged a few shot with a
party that advanced in front of them. It is his
opinion as well as that of others, that the city will be
completely evacuated to-morrow.
The prevailing opinion is, that one division of the
army will march by way of Trenton, and another by
a lower road, in marching through the Jersies.
An account dated yesterday from the city says that
the enemy have taken all the horses they could pos
sibly collect; logs, planks, blocks, c., have been
swept to form such magazines as they probably may
want in the West Indies.
My dearest friend, you will excuse this letter which
has been written as fast as ever my hand could
conduct my pen, and believe me ever your most
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 193
Inclosed is a letter which M r Morris desires may
be forwarded to its address.
M r De Cottineau has presented the General with
a very elegant plumage set in gold, with this cele
brated address of Henry the 4 th of France to his
soldiers engraved on it :
Ne perdez pas de vue mon Panache blanc ; vous le
trouverez toujours au Chemin de 1 honeur et de la
Don t lose sight of my white plumage, you will ever
find it in the road which leads to honour and victory.
HEAD QUARTERS, ENGLISH TOWN, 3Qth June, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I was exceedingly chagrined that public business
prevented my writing to you from the field of battle,
when the General sent his dispatches to Congress.
The delay, however, will be attended with this advan
tage, that I shall be better able to give you an account
of the enemy s loss ; tho I must now content myself
with a very succinct relation of this affair. The
situation of the two armies on Sunday was as follows :
Gen 1 Washington, with the main body of our army,
was at 4 miles distance from English Town. Gen 1
Lee, with a chosen advanced corps, was at that town.
The enemy were retreating down the road which
leads to Middle Town ; their flying army composed
194 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
(as it was said), of 2 batallions of British grenadiers,
1 Hessian grend rs , 1 batallion of light infantry, 1 regi
ment of guards, 2 brigades of foot, 1 reg* of dragoons
and a number of mounted and dismounted Jagers.
The enemy s rear was preparing to leave Monmouth
village, which is 6 miles from this place, when our
advanced corps was marching towards them. The
militia of the country kept up a random running fire
with the Hessian Jagers ; no mischief was done on
either side. I was with a small party of horse, recon-
noitering the enemy, in an open space before Mon
mouth, when I perceived two parties of the enemy
advancing by files in the woods on our right and left,
with a view, as I imagined, of enveloping our small
party, or preparing a way for a skirmish of their horse.
I immediately wrote an account of what I had seen to
the General, and expressed my anxiety on account of
the languid appearance of the Continental troops
under Gen 1 Lee.
Some person in the mean time reported to Gen 1
Lee that the enemy were advancing upon us in two
columns, and I was informed that he had, in conse
quence, ordered Varnum s brigade, which was in front,
to repass a bridge which it had passed. I went my
self, and assured him of the real state of the case ; his
reply to me was, that his accounts had been so con
tradictory, that he was utterly at a loss what part to
take. I repeated my account to him in positive dis
tinct terms, and returned to make farther discoveries.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 195
I found that the two parties had been withdrawn
from the wood, and that the enemy were preparing
to leave Monmouth. I wrote a second time to Gen 1
Washington. Gen 1 Lee at length gave orders to
advance. The enemy were forming themselves on
the Middle Town road, with their light infantry in
front, and cavalry on the left flank, while a scattering,
distant fire was commenced between our flanking
parties and theirs. I was impatient and uneasy at
seeing that no disposition was made, and endeavoured
to find out Gen 1 Lee to inform him of what was doing,
and know what was his disposition. He told me that
he was going to order some troops to march below
the enemy and cut oft their retreat. Two pieces of
artillery were posted on our right without a single
foot soldier to support them. Our men were formed
piecemeal in front of the enemy, and there appeared
to be no general plan or disposition calculated on that
of the enemy ; the nature of the ground, or any of the
other principles which generally govern in these cases.
The enemy began a cannonade from two parts of
their line ; their whole body of horse made a furious
charge upon a small party of our cavalry and dissi
pated them, and drove them till the appearance of
our infantry, and a judicious discharge or two of
artillery made them retire precipitately. Three regi
ments of ours that had advanced in a plain open
country towards the enemy s left flank, were ordered
by Gen 1 Lee to retire and occupy the village of Mon-
196 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
mouth. They were no sooner formed there, than
they were ordered to quit that post and gain the
woods. One order succeeded another with a rapidity
and indecision calculated to ruin us. The enemy
had changed their front and were advancing in full
march towards us ; our men were fatigued with the
excessive heat. The artillery horses were not in
condition to make a hrisk retreat. A new position
was ordered, but not generally communicated, for
part of the troops were forming on the right of the
ground, while others were marching away, and all
the artillery driving off. The enemy, after a short
halt, resumed their pursuit ; no cannon was left to
check their progress. A regiment was ordered to
form behind a fence, and as speedily commanded to
retire. All this disgraceful retreating, passed without
the firing of a musket, over ground which might have
been disputed inch by inch. We passed a defile and
arrived at an eminence beyond, which was defended
on one hand by an impracticable fen, on the other by
thick woods where our men would have fought to
advantage. Here, fortunately for the honour of the
army, and the welfare of America, Gen 1 Washington
met the troops retreating in disorder, and without any
plan to make an opposition. He ordered some pieces
of artillery to be brought up to defend the pass, and
some troops to form and defend the pieces. The
artillery was too distant to be brought up readily, so
that there was but little opposition given here. A few
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 197
shot though, and a little skirmishing in the wood
checked the enemy s career. The Gen 1 expressed his
astonishment at this unaccountable retreat. M r Lee
indecently replied that the attack was contrary to his
advice and opinion in council. We were obliged to
retire to a position, which, though hastily reconnoi-
tered, proved an excellent one. Two regiments were
formed behind a fence in front of the position. The
enemy s horse advanced in full charge with admirable
bravery to the distance of forty paces, when a general
discharge from these two regiments did great execu
tion among them, and made them fly with the great
est precipitation. The grenadiers succeeded to the
attack. At this time my horse was killed under me.
In this spot the action was hottest, and there was
considerable slaughter of British grenadiers. The
General ordered Woodford s brigade with some artil
lery to take possession of an eminence on the enemy s
left, and cannonade from thence. This produced an
excellent effect. The enemy were prevented from
advancing on us, and confined themselves to cannon
ade with a show of turning our left flank. Our
artillery answered theirs with the greatest vigour.
The General seeing that our left flank was secure, as
the ground was open and commanded by it, so that
the enemy could not attempt to turn it without expos
ing their own flank to a heavy fire from our artillery,
and causing to pass in review before us, the force
employed for turning us. In the mean time, Gen 1 Lee
198 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
continued retreating. Baron Steuben was order d to
form the broken troops in the rear. The cannonade
was incessant and the General ordered parties to
advance from time to time and engage the British
grenadiers and guards. The horse shewed themselves
no more. The grenadiers showed their backs and
retreated every where with precipitation. They re
turned, however, again to the charge, and were again
repulsed. They finally retreated and got over the
strong pass, where, as I mentioned before, Gen 1
"Washington first rallied the troops. We advanced
in force and continued masters of the ground; the
standards of liberty were planted in triumph on the
field of battle. We remained looking at each other,
with the defile between us, till dark, and they stole
off in silence at midnight. We have buried of the
enemy s slain, 233, principally grenadiers; forty odd
of their wounded whom they left at Monmouth, fell
into our hands. Several officers are our prisoners.
Among their killed are Co 1 Moncton, a captain of the
guards, and several captains of grenadiers. We have
taken but a very inconsiderable number of prisoners,
for want of a good body of horse. Deserters are
coming in as usual. Our officers and men behaved
with that bravery which becomes freemen, and have
convinced the world that they can beat British grena
diers. To name any one in particular w d be a kind
of injustice to the rest. There are some, however,
who came more immediately under my view, whom
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 199
I will mention that you may know them. B. Gen 1
Wayne, Col. Barber, Col. Stewart, Col. Livingston,
Col. Oswald of the artillery, Cap* Doughty deserve
well of their country, and distinguished themselves
The enemy buried many of their dead that are not
accounted for above, and carried off a great number
of wounded. I have written diffusely, and yet I have
not told you all. Gen 1 Lee, I think, must be tried
for misconduct. However, as this is a matter not
generally known, tho it seems almost universally
wished for, I would beg you, my dear father, to say
nothing of it.
You will oblige me much by excusing me to M r
Drayton for not writing to him. I congratulate you,
my dear father, upon this seasonable victory, and am
Your most dutiful and affectionate
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .
We have no returns of our loss as yet. The pro
portion on the field of battle appeared but small. We
have many good officers wounded.
200 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
HEAD QUARTERS (on the lovely banks of the Raritan,
opposite New Brunswick), 2d July, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I had the pleasure of writing to you the day before
yesterday, from English Town, but through some
mistake my letter was not delivered to the express,
altho it was written in a hurry. I recollect no cir
cumstance in it relative to our late engagement,
which farther inquiry and consideration do not con
firm. From a second view of the ground, as well as
the accounts I have since had of the enemy s strength
and designs, it is evident to me that M r Clinton s
whole flying army would have fallen into our hands,
but for a defect of abilities or good will in the com
manding officer of our advanced corps. His precipi
tate retreat spread a baneful influence every where.
The most sanguine hope scarcely extended farther,
when the Commander in chief rallied his troops, than
to an orderly retreat ; but by his intrepidity and pre
sence of mind, a firm line of troops was formed on a
good position, from whence he cannonaded with
advantage, and detached light parties in front, who
drove the enemy from the field. Gen 1 Clinton arid
Lord Cornwallis were both present at the action.
The reason for not pursuing them farther with the
main body of our army was, that people well ac
quainted with the country said that the strength of
the ground would render it impracticable for us to
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 201
injure them essentially; and that the sandy, parched
soil, together with the heat of the sun, would probably
occasion us considerable loss. From the specimen of
yesterday s march we have reason to think it fortunate
that we took the part we have done ; the heat of the
weather, thirsty soil, and heavy sand, reduced us to
the necessity of bringing on many of our weaker men
We are now arrived in a delightful country where we
shall halt and refresh ourselves. Bathing in the Rari-
tan, and the good living of the country will speedily
refresh us. I wish, my dear father, that you could
ride along the banks of this delightful river. Your
zeal for the public service will not at this time
permit it. But the inward satisfaction which you
must feel from a patriotic discharge of your duty, is
infinitely superior to the delights of retirement and
ease. I admire your constant virtue, and will imitate
Your most affectionate
Col. Morgan writes this day, that the rear of the
enemy is a mile below Middle Town; that he has
had a skirmish with several of their light parties,
which has cost them some lives. He had only one
man wounded. Desertions continue, and I suppose
will be very considerable at the moment of embarka
202 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
I have seen the General much embarrassed this
day, on the subject of those who distinguished them
selves in the battle of Monmouth. To name a few,
and be silent with regard to many of equal-merit w d be
an injustice to the latter; to pass the whole over un
noticed w d be an unpardonable slight ; indiscriminate
praise of the whole w d be an unfair distribution of
rewards; and yet, when men generally conducted
themselves so well as our officers did, this matter is
allowable and is eligible, because least liable to give
The merit of restoring the day, is due to the
General; and his conduct was such throughout the
affair as has greatly increased my love and esteem for
him. My three brother aids gained themselves great
applause by their activity and bravery, while the
three secretaries acted as military men on this occa
sion, and proved themselves as worthy to wield the
sword as the pen.
Gen 1 Steuben, his aids and your son, narrowly
escaped being surrounded by the British horse, early
on the morning of the action. "We reconnoitered
them rather too nearly, and L d Cornwallis sent the
dragoons of his guard to make us prisoners. Gen 1
Clinton saw 1 the Baron s star, and the whole pursuit
1 A dragoon deserter from the enemy just informs us of this. lie
says three others came off with him, and that the Hessians are desert
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 203
was directed at him ; but we all escaped, the dragoons
fearing an ambuscade of infantry.
We have buried Col. Moncton with the honours of
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, Philadelphia.
HEAD QUARTERS NEAR BRUNSWICK, Qth July, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I beg leave to introduce to your acquaintance, and
recommend to your civilities the Marquis de la
Yienne. He arrived in camp while we were at
Valley Forge, with recommendatory letters to the
Marquis de Lafayette, and has been with him ever
since. He is now going to present himself to Con
gress. If he asks for any thing, they will best know
whether his request is reasonable and well founded.
Unfortunately there is a prejudice against foreigners
in many of our officers. It is not without uneasiness
that some of them see Baron de Steuben, who has
certainly rendered us very important services, and
who is without doubt as capable of commanding as
any major general we have, appointed to the tempo
rary command of a division in the absence of so many
The last accounts from the enemy are, that they
204 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
were busily employed in embarking their baggage and
horses. Yesterday I had a view of their fleet, which
appeared to be getting under weigh.
Six grenadiers came in yesterday, one of them a
very intelligent fellow, says that desertion prevails so
much among them that unless they are speedily em
barked, their army will dwindle into nothing.
I felicitate you, my dear father, upon the many
happy events which have taken place during your presi
dency, and upon the happy prospects which continue
to present themselves. May God preserve you to en
joy the complete triumph of liberty and your country.
Your most affectionate
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, Philadelphia.
Fav d by the Marquis de la Vienne.
HEAD QUARTERS NEAR BRUNSWICK, 7th July, 1778.
My Dear Father :
"We are just about to march. Seventy miles are
between us and King s Ferry, where we shall probably
cross the North river. The last intelligence from the
enemy is, that they had passed the breach which the
sea has made between Sandy Hook and the main, and
had taken up their bridge after them. They were
embarking with the greatest expedition. They left a
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 205
number of waggons behind them, and cut the throats
of a great many horses. Three signal guns were fired
from the fleet the day before yesterday morning, and
they appeared to be all under weigh yesterday.
Col. Morgan informs us that he had taken 30
prisoners, and received 100 deserters. I suppose he
counts from the time of his having been detached.
I wish I had leisure, and something more interesting
to write to you, nly dear father ; but our rear has left
the ground long since, and we must march.
Your most affectionate
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, Philadelphia.
HEAD QUARTERS, 13th July, 1778.
I have barely time, my dearest friend and father,
to say that my heart overflows with gratitude at the
repeated proofs of your tender love ; and must defer
answering your kind letters of the 6 th and 10 th , till
my return from Count D Estaing s fleet, where the
General has thought proper to send me with dis
patches. I must immediately prepare for my jour
ney and voyage. I could wish that Mons r Le Comte
were furnished with a proper number of intelligent
coast pilots ; that as many pilot boats, schooners and
206 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
other small swift sailing vessels were employed under
the conduct of judicious seamen, to reconnoitre the
enemy s fleet whenever it appears at sea, and give
the French admiral the earliest account of their
strength, &ca., as well as keep him constantly advised
afterwards of all their motions.
The movement of our army across the I^orth river,
to make demonstration near ~N. York, may have a
happy effect in preventing the English admiral from
making his fleet so strong as he otherwise would.
God protect you, my dear father.
The Honble Henry Laurens, Escf.,
President of Congress, Philadelphia.
ISth July, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I am very happy in having an opportunity of in
troducing to your acquaintance, General Forman, a
gentleman for whom I have the highest esteem, on
account of his indefatigability and great sacrifices in
the public service.
You will discover at a first interview that he is a
man of enlightened understanding, and will receive
much satisfaction from his account of the most inter
esting military transactions of the present day. T
must refer you to this gentleman, likewise for a more
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 207
minute relation of the obstacles which have delayed
the operations of the French fleet. "We were on board
of the Admiral together, and he had an opportunity of
being acquainted with the difficulties with which the
Admiral has struggled.
Whatever civilities or services it may be in your
power to oifer to Gen 1 Forman, will give particular
Your most affectionate
The Ilonble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, Philadelphia.
I have barely time, paper and ink to write my dear
father a hurried official letter.
Upon my arrival here with dispatches from the
General to Admiral D Estaing, I found that the
fleet laboured under the greatest difficulty in procur
ing water ; its distance from the shore was too great
to roll the casks down to the place of embarcation ;
the disaffected inhabitants either refused their wag
gons, or granted them only at an exorbitant price.
I have done every thing in my power to remedy this
evil; but as we cannot have too many resources, I
would propose that any fast sailing small craft in the
Delaware may be immediately employed in bringing
w r ater round. The southerly winds which prevail on
the coast at this season, will give them a quick voy-
208 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
age, and they will be in time if they arrive with La
It would give me pleasure to speak to you, particu
larly of the great qualities of the admiral. He has
inspired me in the short acquaintance I have had with
him, with uncommon respect. He laments the insipid
part he is playing keeping the English fleet blocked
up within Sandy Hook ; and taking prizes within their
view every day does not satisfy a man of his great
ideas. When six prizes were brought into him yes
terday, he desired the major of the fleet to give some
directions about those Drugs, and sighed at not being
engaged in a way in which more honour was to be
Two of the prizes that have been taken since my
being here were armed, one with 4 and the other
with 10 guns. One had a quantity of specie on
board the profits of prizes taken from us. The
fleet, men and officers appear to be in fine health,
and eager to distinguish themselves in a naval combat.
As much as it is against my desire, I must break off,
an express rider must be diligent.
My dearest friend and father, I pray God to protect
Black Point, 18th July, 1778.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 209
HEAD QUARTERS, 22d July, 1778.
My Dear Father :
Permit me to introduce to your acquaintance the
Baron D Arendt, Col. of the German batallion, who
in consequence of disputes with his corps of officers,
which he thinks make it inconvenient with his honour
to serve with them again, and from the improbability
of his being placed elsewhere in an agreeable military
station, has determined to resign his commission, and
goes to Congress to obtain their leave. I have re
ceived both entertainment and improvement in con
versing with him as a military man, and will be
obliged to you to shew him such civilities as your
leisure and your public business will allow.
I am, with the most tender attachment and respect,
Your dutiful son
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, Philadelphia.
PROVIDENCE, 4th August, 1778.
I thank you, my dearest friend and father, for your
tender letter of the 26 th ult. I was upon the point of
writing to you the 22 d , when I was ordered to fly
with important dispatches to Gov r Trumbull, General
Sullivan and the Count D Estaing. I commissioned
210 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
one of my friends to acquaint you of the circumstance ;
but perhaps the multiplicity of affairs in which I left
him involved will have made him lose sight of the
matter. In 48 hours over the worst, and in some
parts the most obscure road that I ever travel d, I
arrived at Providence, had a conference with Gen 1
Sullivan, and proceeded immediately with pilots pro
vided for the French fleet, down to Point Judith.
Boats were soon provided and everything put in readi
ness for boarding the Admiral as soon as he should
announce himself by the firing of five cannon. Here
I waited in a very disagreeable kind of company till
the morning of the 29 th , for tho the squadron an
chored off Block island the preceding afternoon, the
haziness of the weather rendered them invisible to us.
In the morning when the fog was dissipated, their
appearance was as sudden as a change of decorations
in an opera house. Upon my delivering Gen 1 Wash
ington s dispatches, and Gen 1 Sullivan s containing a
plan of operations, the Admiral informed me his
intention had been to proceed immediately into the
main channel of Newport and attack the enemy s bat
teries. The day, however, began to be too far spent.
It was expedient to distribute intelligent pilots in the
squadron, and, in pursuance of Gen 1 Sullivan s plan,
the main channel was blocked up witli the squadron.
A ship of the line was ordered up the west channel,
and two frigates and a tender up the east, By con
sulting the map, you will find that there are three
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 211
entrances to Rhode Island ; one on the east of Rhode
Island between it and the main, called the Seakonnet
passage ; one on the west, between it and Cononicut
island, which is the principal or main passage ; a third
between Cononicnt and the main land, commonly
called the western passage. In the first Gen 1 Sullivan
informed the Admiral there were two galleys and one
small frigate ; in the second, two frigates besides two
galleys, and two or three frigates at Newport ; in the
last, two small frigates ; farther, that he estimated the
enemy s land force, including three regiments posted
on Cononicut at 7,000 effective.
General Sullivan s plan founded on these data, was
that the Admiral should detach a proper force up the
eastern and western channels, to take the enemy s
ships stationed in each ; to block up the main channel
with the remainder of the squadron, so as effectually
to cut off the retreat of their ships, and to prevent the
arrival of reinforcements. The French ships in the
eastern and western channels were afterwards to cover
the passage of the American troops from Tiverton and
Bristol. The troops were not to amuse themselves
with attacking the works in the northern part of the
island ; but a sufficient detachment was to be left to
be a guard upon the troops posted in those works,
while the main body was to advance rapidly to the
attack of the fort and redoubts, which immediately
environ the town of Newport. At the moment of
that attack the count was to force the passage into
212 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
Newport harbour, silence the enemy s batteries, can
nonade the town, and disembark his marines and
land forces at the most proper place for seconding the
The Sagittaire, a ship of the line, went up the
western passage on the morning of the 30 th , and was
fired upon by a two gun battery of 24 pounders, which
the enemy had on the west side of Cononicut. The
Sagittaire returned a broadside as she passed, and we
discovered from the Admiral s ship an explosion at the
battery, which induced us to believe that the enemy
had abandoned it.
The ship received two scratches in her hull, and
proceeded to her station.
The Aimable and Alemene frigates accompanied
by the Stanley (prize) tender, went up the eastern
passage. Upon their approach, the enemy set fire to
the Kingfisher 20 gun sloop, and to the Lamb galley
mounting and sent the Spitfire galley mountiiie:
O / O
in form of a fire ship. The Count de Grace
commanded the boat which was ordered to tow the
latter off. She blew up soon after the grapnel was
fixed, and the gallant officer with his crew escaped
unhurt. An officer who went on board with a party
to extinguish the flames of the Kingfisher, had an
escape equally providential. Her powder room blew
up while they were on board, and they received
no injury. The hull drifted over to the main and her
guns will be saved.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOIIN LAURENS. 213
From the enemy s keeping possession of the island
of Cononicut, the admiral concluded that it was an
important post to them. The battery which they had
on the east side of it, afforded a cross fire upon the
entrance of the harbour, and the three regiments there
made it an object. The count therefore thought it
expedient that we should make ourselves masters of
it. The most effectual way of attacking it would have
been by disembarking troops on the west side of it,
and sending a proper force of ships up the main chan
nel to run through the fire of the batteries at the
entrance, and take a proper position for cutting off
the communication between Rhode Island and Co
nonicut, so as to prevent the enemy s throwing across
reinforcements ; but, upon inquiry, it was found im
practicable to anchor the ships any where out of the
reach of the enemy s batteries, so that after running
the gauntlet at the entrance, the ships w d have been
exposed to a constant deliberate fire in the harbour.
These difficulties obliged the count to renounce the
plan of sending ships up the main channel for this
duty. It was then inquired whether the ships might
not effect the business by going up the western chan
nel, turning the north point of Cononicut and coming
down the main channel. By this means they would
in the first instance avoid the cross fire at the en
trance, and might take such a position relatively to
the harbour as w d discourage the enemy from throw
ing across succours. But the most experienced pilots
214 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
informed us that to effect this detour, the ships must
either have a wind which w d answer equally for going
up the western and coming down the main channel,
or, that after going up with a fair wind, they would
be obliged to beat down the main channel, or, lastly,
they would be obliged to wait for a fair wind to bring
them down from the north end of Cononicut. The
delay and uncertainty incident to the first and last
put them out of the question. The second was pro
nounced impracticable on account of the narrowness
of the main channel above Newport, which w d not
allow scope enough for the ships work 6 , and missing-
stays w d be fatal in such circumstances.
It was determined therefore, that in order to gain
Cononicut, a body of militia sh d be applied for to
make us equal to such a reinforcement as we thought
the enemy could spare. Col. Fleury and myself went
by the admiral s desire, to make application for this
purpose. In our way we learnt that some American
privateers had been on the island, and that the enemy
had evacuated the battery which fired on the iSagit-
taire. We met Gen 1 Sullivan on his way to the fleet,
where he was going to have a conference with the
Admiral, and propose some changes in his plan. He
was received on board with the guard of marines,
and the drums beating to arms ; and, at his departure,
the ship was manned and fifteen cannon fired.
The evening of the 30 th , the outermost ships made
signals of the appearance of a fleet. The Admiral got
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 215
his squadron in readiness for fight and chase ; but the
fleet put about and escaped under the veil of night.
It proved to be 8 transports with wood from Long
Island bound to ISTewport, and conveyed by a frigate.
On the evening of the 31 st , the Admiral sent a party
to reconnoitre Cononicut, and discover whether the
enemy had really abandoned all their batteries as was
reported. It was found that they had.
The next morning the Admiral landed in order to
view the enemy s batteries from the east side of Co
nonicut. We found in the battery which fired on the
Sagittaire two 24 pounders spiked, and all their heavy
ammunition. From the battery on the E. end, we
had a distinct view of the town shipping, and bat
teries. The latter lost that respectability which they
had on paper ; the fire from the ships of the line must
annihilate them in an hour. The fort on an emi
nence called Domine Hill, back of the town, may
require our heavy artillery and some shells. We
have every reason to believe that we shall effect our
landing on the island without opposition, as the
enemy seemed to have concentrated their force in
The admiral has disembarrassed himself of his pri
soners, sick and prizes. He is in perfect readiness for
acting his part, and as anxious as a man can be.
General Sullivan has exerted himself to the utmost,
but the backwardness of the militia called for from
the neighboring states the necessity of constructing
216 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
transport boats to supply the place of those destroyed
by the enemy in their last descent, and many other
necessary preparations which require time, have de
layed us till now, and I find it impossible to tell you
with precision on what day we shall be ready.
I fear, my dearest father, that I have tired you with
detail, and that from a habit of speaking of our opera
tions with my finger on the map, I may in some places
not have expressed my meaning fully enough, but my
time unluckily will not permit to remove these incon
veniences by writing a new letter. I am just come
from the admiral to see if it will be possible by any
means to hasten our land operations. The French
squadron will want a great quantity of provisions
whether they winter here or return to France. ~No
biscuit is to be had here. Pennsylvania must fur
nish flour, and bakers should be employed there
It is reported that 20 sail of Spanish ships are on
the coast. Pray, who is Don Juan de Miralles ?
I am ever your most affectionate
In the letter which I wrote you from Black point,
I mentioned the Admiral s intention to send his pri
soners to Philadelphia. Some difficulties induced him
to change his plan ; they are all landed here.
Deserters from Rhode Island say the troops are
in want of provisions, and look upon themselves as
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 217
The Marquis de Lafayette, with a division from the
grand army, is arrived, and his men have had time to
refresh themselves. Gen 1 Greene is likewise arrived.
Gen 1 Sullivan s 1 st estimate of the enemy s land force
is too high ; they cannot have above 5,000 men, and
the Gen 1 begins to think so himself.
President of Congress.
My Dear Father :
I have just had the satisfaction of receiving your
kind letter of the 13 th . The relation of what has
passed, since I last had the pleasure of writing, will not
in general amuse you, but it is necessary that you sh d
know it, and I will be exceedingly brief. According
to the first plan proposed by General Sullivan, the
American forces were to land on the east side of
Rhode Island under cover of the fire of three frigates
stationed in the eastern channel for that purpose. A
signal was to be given immediately as our boats
should begin to cross, and another when the descent
should be effected. Upon the latter, the French
troops were to disembark on the east side of the
island, and a junction was to be formed as speedily as
possible ; but the ambition of an individual and na
tional pride discovered insuperable obstacles to this
disposition. The Marquis de Lafayette aspired to the
command of the French troops in conjunction with
218 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
the flower of Gen 1 Sullivan s army. In a visit which he
had paid to the fleet, he prevailed upon the Count
D Estaing to write upon this suhject. The count inti
mated in his letter a desire that some good American
troops sh d be annexed to the French, adding that if
the command of them were given to M. de Lafayette
it w d be a means of facilitating the junction between
the troops of the two nations, as he was acquainted
with the service of both, and that in case any naval
operations sh d require his (the count s) return on board
the squadron, the Marquis w d naturally take the
command in his absence which w d prevent many
difficulties that w d arise on that account. The
Marquis strenuously contended that a considerable
detachment of select troops ought to be annexed to
the French. The pride of his nation would never
suffer the present disposition to take place, as by it
the French batallions w d land under cover of the
American fire, and play a humiliating secondary part.
The arguments against gratifying him in his request
were these : General Sullivan s army contained a
very small proportion of regular troops ; it was neces
sary that a main body capable of resisting the enemy s
force should exist, as a contrary conduct w d expose
either division to a total defeat or a vigorous attack
from the enemy. The Marquis, however, seemed
much dissatisfied, and his private views withdrew
his attention wholly from the general interest.
On the 8 th Gen 1 Sullivan received a letter from the
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 219
Admiral, in which he says that the disposition for
disembarking is militarily impossible. That the Ame
rican generals were now for the first time furnished
with an opportunity of discovering the value which
they set on the French alliance, by the number and
composition of the troops which they w d annex to the
French. It was not for him to point out the number,
but he w d gladly have it in his power to give an
account both to the Congress and his king of the
American detachm* which should be sent to him. In
consequence of this letter, it was determined that
Jackson s regiment, and as many good militia as in
the whole w d amount to 1,000 men sh d be sent under
the command of the marquis. The tardiness of the
militia and the impossibility of completing the trans
port boats so soon as expected, and the slow arrival of
the heavy cannon, had obliged Gen 1 Sullivan more
than once to procrastinate the attack. He had fixed
on the 9 th , and for the reasons mentioned in my last,
the Count was to force his passage with the squadron,
on the 8 th .
The Gen 1 found it impossible to keep his word, and
wrote to appoint another day on which he declared
he w d make his descent at all events.
The Count, however, had made his arrangements
and entered the harbour on the 8 th . A thundering
cannonade was kept up between the batteries and
ships as they passed. The injury to the latter is not
220 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
9 th , Gen 1 Sullivan received intelligence both from
deserters and inhabitants, that the enemy had evacu
ated all their redoubts and batteries on the north part
of the island. He took the hardy resolution of avail
ing himself of this move and threw his whole army
across. 1 This measure gave much umbrage to the
French officers. They conceived their troops injured
by our landing first, and talked like women disputing
precedence in a country dance, instead of men en
gaged in pursuing the common interest of two great
Admiral Howe s fleet appeared in the offing.
10 th . The French squadron passed the batteries of
Newport (receiving their fire and returning broad
sides), without receiving any damage by reason of the
distance, and gave chase to the British fleet. On the
11 th such a storm of wind and rain arose as filled us
with anxiety for the French squadron. The army
suffered much during the bad weather for want of
tents, and on account of the impossibility of crossing
the ferry, which circumstance reduced our magazines
to a low ebb.
On the 15 th , the army moved to a position for com
mencing its operations against the enemy, and some
works were thrown up the same night for its security.
On the evening of the 16 th , a battery of protection
and its communication were begun. The next morn-
An officer was sent immediately to give the Admiral notice of it.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 221
ing as soon as our unfinished work could be disco
vered, the enemy s batteries began to fire on it. Our
works have been carrying on every night since ; and
as long as day-light lasts there is generally a slow
firing kept up on each side, without any effect worth
mentioning. On account of the great distance, the
method that has been hitherto pursued will prove very
tedious if continued.
20 th . The French squadron appears and terminates
much anxiety. The Admiral s ship and the Marseilles
were dismasted in the storm. The former totally dis
masted, without a rudder, was attacked by a British
fifty gun ship, which she obliged to sheer off, by
bringing her stern chasers to bear. Imagine the cruel
situation of the Count to see his ship thus insulted,
after having arrived in the midst of the English
squadron and preparing for a combat in which victory
was inevitably his; but a most dreadful storm of
which he had no idea, dispersed every thing.
I was going on, but was called away upon the most
The council of war on board the French vessels
have determined that the squadron ought to go imme
diately to Boston to refit. I am going on board with
a solemn protest against it.
22 Awf, 1778.
222 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
HEAD QUARTERS, 15th Septem., 1778.
My Dear Father :
I avail myself of Col. Bannister s offer to have the
pleasure of writing to you.
The intelligence which we have received since my
last, confirms the idea of a grand move on the part of
the enemy. A British matross who deserted the day
before yesterday declares that he assisted in embark
ing artillery and stores, and says that five thousand
troops are destined for the "West Indies. Accounts re
ceived some days since of taylors being employed in
stripping regimental coats of their lining and making
up thin overalls and waistcoats, indicates an expedi
tion to a warmer climate than any on the territories
of the United States, in the approaching season.
It is reported that many merchants are disposing of
their wares by vendue at low rates. I am not ac
quainted with the persons to whom we are indebted
for intelligence, and therefore cannot be sure whether
they are the dupes of reports circulated by the enemy,
or give us a relation of facts that may be depended on.
There appears to be no other object here for the
enemy but the French squadron, nor elsewhere but
the French islands. Either will require an exertion
of their whole force, and the latter perhaps will upon
several accounts be preferred.
Some people are of opinion that they will aim first
at the ruin of the squadron, and then direct their
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURE.NS. 223
whole force against some French island. It is dif
ficult to predict what measures will be pursued by
men, who have been so eccentric in their military
If they had been vigorous, the French squadron
might have fallen a sacrifice, and it would have been
a tottering stroke to the marine of France. But their
delay and the disposition which has been made by our
general, have, I hope, pretty well secured an object of
such importance to the common cause.
It is to be urged in excuse for them that Byron s
fleet suffered by a storm, and that the crews belonging
to it are in very bad health. The division of six ships
under Rear Admiral Parker at New York, has been
obliged to land five hundred, some say a thousand
men ; besides, you know, two of his fleet (one of them
the Admiral s ship), arc said to be missing, and one, to
have put back to Portsmouth.
The army will move from its present position to
God preserve you, my dear father.
Mr. Gal van, an officer in one of our Carolina regi
ments brought me two letters of very particular
recommendation from the Bn. de Holzendorff and
Mr. Reid. Some of our family informed me that in
a letter to me, which I have not yet received, this per
son was mentioned in such a manner as excluded him
224 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
from favour. When he called upon me, therefore, I
did not introduce him to the General ; he found means
however, to introduce himself, and ask the General s
protection. The Gen 1 asked me in private whether
this was not the person alluded to in your letter ; I
told him he was; the General then left the room with
out taking any farther notice of him. Galvan finding
he had so little encouragement to stay, retired. Yes
terday he came again and produced a letter which he
said he intended to send to you, in which he desires
that through my mediation he might be restored to
your friendship, and desired leave to read it. I told
him he was the master to write what he pleased, but
that I should not confirm that in my letters to you.
He asked me the reason of the cold reception the
Gen 1 had given him. I told him that I must frankly
inform him that we had all heard very serious matters
to his disadvantage, and besides that, as his only object
here was to serve as a volunteer, he might depend
upon it, that there was no opening for him. He
asked me whether I had received any letter from you
respecting him ; I told him I had not. He desired to
have an opportunity of justifying himself before the
General, but this I waived. I was then called oft for
some business, and he went away saying that he
would call again.
His Excellency, Henry Laurens, Esq r .,
President of Congress, Philadelphia.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 225
HEAD QUARTERS, 24th September, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I have received your kind favour of the 17 th inst.
The information which you give me relative to my
hospitable acquaintance, gives me great pain. I had
conceived an esteem for him, and it afflicts me to find
a new instance of the depravity of my species.
I am sorry that Kinloch did not return to America ,/
sooner. His former sentiments on the present con
test, give reason to suspect, if he is a convert, that
success on our side has alone operated the change.
Something may be drawn in palliation of his conduct
from the education he received, and the powerful in
fluence which his guardian had over him.
Beresford s circumstances were peculiar, he has
been uniformly a friend to his country.
The approach of the period which you allude to,
occasions the greatest anxiety in my mind. The
public interest and my own lead me to wish that you
may continue in the august assembly of the states.
I dread your being so remote from where my duty
places me, and see collected in one view all the pain
ful consequences of it. It was my intention at all
events to have paid you the homage of my love in
Philadelphia, at the close of the present campaign.
We are at present in a disagreeable state of suspense.
Continued preparations in New York announce a very
considerable embarkation. Our spies inform us that
226 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
a council of war had been held, and continued for
three days. Lord Howe has certainly arrived. Gen 1
Gray s troops had returned by way of the sound and
been relanded. Admiral Byron in the Princess Royal
of 90 guns, accompanied by the Culloden, Cap* Bal-
four of 74, had arrived at New York, according to
the Gazette of that place ; but I believe the truth was,
that they only arrived off the Hook. They are since
arrived at Newport where they are refitting. It is
probable that the Princess Royal could not get into
port at N. York, without taking out the greatest part
of her artillery. Accounts from various quarters in
form us, that Lord Howe is preparing for England,
and that Admiral Byron will take the command.
The arrival of the August packet will in all proba
bility determine his operations. The sickly state of
his crews, and the damage which his ships suffered in
the storm, have rendered him inactive here till the
opportunity is lost for the only enterprise which re
mains for the enemy s combined land and naval force
Nothing remains for them, but to render the
garrisons of Quebec and Halifax respectable (at
the latter place, the seventieth regiment, the Duke
of Hamilton s and the Duke of Argyle s highland
men, according to the N. York paper, have arrived),
to evacuate New York and Rhode Island, and
withdraw the flower of the whole British infantry,
which in their present situation are useless as to the
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 227
general operations of the war. The French have
more troops in the West India islands, than are neces
sary for a mere defensive plan. Their magazines are
well furnished; the British 011 their parts are weak
in both these respects in that quarter, and I am con
vinced that the slightest demonstration there, would
occasion the immediate removal of General Clinton s
army. Some think that the British will keep posses
sion of N. York and Rhode Island, to enable them to
make better terms.
There is field for conjecture; the British may at
this moment be attempting a negotiation with France.
It can be neither her interest nor inclination to sacri
fice her ally ; a general peace in this case would be
the consequence. But accident or the caprice of a
minister may disappoint the most rational predictions,
and give rise to events which, at present, appear the
An unlucky affray has happened at Boston which
gives us the deepest concern. We are not acquainted
with particulars any farther than that a quarrel arose
between some American and French sailors. They
proceeded from harsh words to more dangerous blows.
Two valuable French officers who attempted to quell
the riot were much abused, and one of them, the
Count de S Sauveur it is feared will not recover.
Gen 1 Greene informs us that the matter has been
generally traced and found to originate with the Con
vention troops. The sailors who were the immediate
228 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
instruments were Britons in the privateer service. If
this is not strictly true, it is a story which policy w d
G-en 1 Greene in his first letter on the subject informs
us that the French officers seemed satisfied that the
mischief had been planned by some artful hand in
Burgoyne s army, but he since tells us that there are
jealousies on the subject.
I saw very plainly when I was at Boston, that our
antient hereditary prejudices were very far from being
A sergeant major who deserted from the 2 d batallion
of Highlanders gives Gen 1 Scott the following intel
ligence. That the 1 st and 2 d British brigade had
received orders to hold themselves in readiness for
embarking for the "W". Indies ; that the transports are
lying in readiness to take them on board; he has
heard officers say that New York is to be evacuated.
Another deserter asserts that four regiments are
already embarked, and that the horse transports as
well as others are ordered to prepare for sea.
I omitted to mention to you that Lord Howe was
on board a frigate during the whole time that Count
D Estaing gave him chace. This is a privilege al
lowed to admirals for their personal security, and is
analagous to a general s placing himself on a safe emi
nence to view an engagement, but it could only be used
in a desperate case, and by a man of Lord Howe s esta
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 229
For want of time to arrange my ideas, I have writ
ten you a chaos of intelligence, which I fear you. will
hardly be able to reduce to any kind of order.
You will not, I hope, quit Philadelphia immediately
after the first of next month. A few days more must
develop the enemy s intentions, and may give me an
opportunity of obtaining a furlough, at a time when it
will not be dishonourable to take one. The campaign
in all probability will terminate very insipidly, by the
evacuation of N. York and Rhode Island, and I shall
have time enough to rejoin the army for the Canadian
expedition if it should take place.
Anticipating the happiness which I shall enjoy in
embracing you, I commend myself to your love, and
my dear father to God s protection.
Gen 1 Scott informs us that a party of the enemy
have advanced on this side Kingsbridge. Another
party have landed at Paulus Hook and advanced be
yond Bergen. From the description, they are strong
foraging parties, and design to glean the county
previous to taking leave. Our General has given
orders to parry any stroke which they may medi
tate against our posts in the highlands, tho the
possibility of such an enterprise is exceedingly remote,
and their dispositions in this case would be void of
His Excellency Henry Laurens, Escf.,
President of Congress, Philadelphia.
230 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
HEAD QUARTERS, 7/A October, 1778.
My Dear Father :
The M. de Lafayette will not long have delayed
after his arrival to open to you a plan for introducing
French troops into Canada. From the manner in
which he explained himself to the General, he seemed
to intimate a desire that Congress w d solicit him to
bring about this business, as being sensible of its
utility to the United States. He did not expect to
succeed in any other way than by intrigues, petticoat
interest, &ca. He lays down as self-evident that
Canada cannot be conquered by American forces
alone ; that a Frenchman of birth and distinction at
the head of four thousand of his countrymen, and
speaking in the name of the Grand Monarque is alone
capable of producing a revolution in that country.
When he asked my opinion privately on the subject,
and asked me what I would say if I were a member
of Congress to such a proposition, I replied that I did
not think Congress could solicit, or even accept it,
because there did not appear a sufficient reciprocity
in the benefits to be derived from such an expedition.
On the one side there would be an immense expense
of transporting troops, loss of valuable officers and
soldiers, &ca., in fine, all the disadvantages, and on
the other, all the gain. That he did well to say the
project could only take place by indirect means, for
a minister would not in his cool moments deprive his
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 231
country of so many troops, with no other view than
that of killing so many Englishmen, and conquering
an extensive province for us ; that he was to reflect
that France, tho powerful in men, had an extensive
frontier to guard, and in an European war w d not have
to do with England alone. This was my private
opinion to the Marquis ; my still more private opin
ion is, that we sh d not give France any new preten
sions to Canada. It is a delicate subject to touch on,
but I dare say that we agree in our sentiments, and
that the Marquis will be thanked for his good inten
tions, and his offers waived.
Our last intelligence, from deserters belonging to
different corps, and who came out at different times,
confirms the intended embarkation of ten regiments
for the W. Indies. The 10 th 45 th and 52 d they say,
were drafted to complete these regiments, and the
forage and live stock collected in Jersey are destined
for their use.
Gen 1 Scott writes that the enemy are very busy in
embarking baggage, as may be discovered from an
eminence to which his parties go.
You will see the last unavailing effort of the com
missioners in their manifesto.
Your most affectionate
232 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
HEAD QUARTERS, 13th October, 1778.
My Dear Father :
I should have been glad to have accompanied M r
Custis, M rs Washington s son, who is so kind as to
take charge of this; but I cannot be ready in less
than a week or ten days.
The late bad weather drove that detachment of the
enemy, that was posted on Valentine s hill, into the city,
and they now coniine themselves within Kingsbridge.
The detachment in Jersey from which there are daily
desertions of two or three, have not yet returned ; but
they have contracted themselves, and seemed to be
wholly employed in collecting and carrying off their
spoil. Deserters inform us that they have indiscrimi
nately taken every kind of grain, Indian corn, stock
and all. One of the vessels burnt by our parties, had
stalls fitted up for twelve horses, and ample provi
sion of water for a sea voyage. "We have repeated
accounts of the sickliness of Byron s crews. The
report of their disorder being contagious is without
foundation, as well as that of the British fleets having
put to sea in quest of the French.
General Greene who arrived in camp yesterday,
gives us an account of Captain Barry s having lost his
frigate two days after he sailed from Boston. He
engaged a British 32 gun frigate and had fought her
with his usual bravery, and great prospect of success ;
his men and officers being sworn not to surrender;
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 233
when a 64 gun ship came up and put an end to the
contest; but not before he had given two or three
such fires as Barry s situation, relatively to the British
frigate, allowed. Our brave captain then avoided vio
lating his oath by running his ship on shoar at Seal
island, and keeping up a fire from four guns which he
brought to bear in his stern, till he got out his boats
and some baggage. He made his escape with eighty
hands ; the rest were to shift for themselves by land
ing. Ten who concealed themselves have escaped
since; one, an Englishman, remained on board and
extinguished the fire which Barry put to the ship in
order to destroy her, by which means she was saved,
and the enemy got her oft .
If the Marquis de Lafayette goes to Europe, it is
probable that he will take a great many of his coun
trymen with him. It is almost certain that many of
them will be very troublesome to Congress for certifi
cates. Duplessis applied to me the other day to
obtain him a furlough for Philadelphia, and to give
him a certificate of his having behaved well at the
battle of Monmouth, that he might go and signify his
design to Congress of retiring from service.
I replied that he had no need of an introduction to
the President if he had any business with Congress,
that he already had a most honourable certificate
from them, and that if he wanted a final certificate at
going away, the Commander in chief was the proper
person to apply to. The commissions which Congress
234 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS.
have applied so liberally have destroyed the value of
rank which is the ostensible reward of merit, and
have done great injustice to many brave and experi
enced officers who have found themselves on a par
with, or but one remove from some of their country
men who had no pretensions to rank of any kind.
The only reparation that can be made, and it is but a
feeble one, is to be sparing in the testimonials to be
given at their departure, and to make a pointed diffe
rence between those which are given to men of real
merit, and those which are the effect only of political
You will be so good as to excuse my mentioning
these matters ; they have occasioned great disgust in
foreigners conscious of their worth, much uneasiness
in our native officers, and have brought rank into
disgrace. In a few days I shall have an opportunity
of speaking more fully on this subject and many
others if you permit, when I have the happiness of
embracing you in Philadelphia. I am anxious to re
ceive a letter from you in the meantime, and begin to
count the hours which are to precede my setting out.
My dearest friend and father,
The purchasing commissioners complain of the
scarcity of Hour. Some persons high in public office,
are accused of the detestable crime of monopolizing.
CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 235
Is there no means of bringing their villainy to light,
and expelling them from all share of the people s
His Excellency, Henry Laurens, Esq.,
President of Congress, Philadelphia.
Fay* 1 by I. Custis, Esquire.
Adams, John, on death of Lau-
Advertisements, British, 66, 67.
Affair related by Cliev. cle Failly,
Africa, wars in, for slaves, 117.
Amiable, frigate, movement of,
Albany, Burgoyne s orders to
advance to, 63.
Alemene, frigate, movement of,
Alliance with France, 167.
Ambassadors, mode of receiving,
Ambition, imputation of, denied,
Ambuscade by British, 37, 38.
American code of public law
Amphictionic League, 90.
Anspachers embarked, 184.
Argyle, regiment of Duke of, 226.
Aristocracy of South Carolina,
Army crosses Schuylkil], 93; de
plorable condition of, 135,
136 ; diminution of the, 27 ;
inconvenience of vicinity to,
90; movements of, 82; re
cruited and supplied, 33 ;
supply of, 157.
Articles of confederation, Virginia
assents to, 123.
Assault at Savannah, 26 ; at York-
Axe, St. Mary, 72.
Babut and Labouchere, letter
under cover to, 72 ; letters
Balcarras, Lord, repulsed, 64.
Balfour, Capt., arrives in New
Bannister, Col. favor of, acknow
Barber, Col., at Monmouth, 199.
Barren Hill, meritorious conduct
Barry, Capt., success of, 140; fri
gate lost by, 232.
Batteries opened on Fort Miffliu,
Battery, floating, reported as
Battle of Monmouth described,
193, 199 ; of Saratoga, 64.
Bavaria, death of elector of, 161,
163 ; news from, 188.
Bayard of America, 45.
Beaumarchais, M. de, letter re
ceived from, 188.
Bedford, Duchess of, 18.
Beresford s circumstances, 225.
Bergen, enemy beyond, 229.
Berry, articles sent for, 125 ; re
ceives clothing, 94.
Billingsport, works raxed at, 89 ;
desertions from, 177.
Black battalion, 118, 120; uni
form proposed for, 120 ;
scheme abandoned, 124.
Blacks, as levies, 42.
Blake, Mr., 93.
Bland s regiment, services of a
detachment from, 97.
Blankets destroyed by enemy, 187.
Block island, French fleet at, 210.
Boats reported captured, 73.
Bohemia, reported war in, 188.
Bordeaux, Laurens sets out for, 22.
Boston, Col. Laurens returns to,
44; French fleet repair to,
221 ; unfortunate quarrel at,
Boudinot, Mr., asks letter of in
troduction, 80 ; returns from
Germantown, 178 ; story told
to, 180; information by, 182.
Bounties of land offered recruits,
Brevet rank of Mons. Duplessis,
Breyman, Lt. Col., killed, 64.
Bridge thrown over at Swedes
Brig captured by Gen. Small-
Brigade inspectors, 146.
Brigades, organization of, 190.
Bringlmrst, letter for, 125, 158,
166 ; billet received from, 153.
Bristol, movement of troops at,
British, movement of, army, 179 ;
peril of, 97; capture Savan
nah, 26; besiege Charleston,
26 ; capture Charleston, 27 ;
defeat of, at Saratoga, 64;
find Laurens unprepared, 37 ;
foraging party of, 36 ; prepa
ration of, to leave country,
36; turn their attention to
southern states, 25.
British bill sent by Gov. Try on,
British fleet appear before New
Brompton, death of Mrs. Savage
Bucks county, foraging in, 128.
Bullard, Major, surprise at
tempted by, 127.
Burgoyne, news of surrender of,
61 ; copy of letter of, 63 ; time
of surrender of, 64 ; army of,
91 ; resolutions concerning,
110; prisoners of army of, 122;
indulgence granted to, 139.
Burke speaks in House of Com
Burton, Col., information from, 98.
Butler, Anthony, letter from, 183.
Byron, Admiral, fleet of, injured
by storm, 223 ; reported arri
val of, 226 ; sickness of crew
Camp, fortifications of, 135 ; re
moval of, 182.
Campbell, Lady W., visits Mrs.
Campus Martins, enlivened scene
Canada, intended expedition to,
112, 113, 229, 230; plan for
conquest of, 230 ; question of
rank in connection with, 138.
Cape Francois, Laurens s return
by way of, 23.
Carlisle, Lord, arrival of, 178.
Carriage at Philadelphia, 166.
Cattle, expedition to capture, 128 ;
obtained by Gen. Mclntosh,
Cavalry, difficulty in raising, 142 ;
enemy increase their force of,
Celebration of French alliance,
Ceremony, recommended for
Certificates of service by French
Chaloner, Mr., letter sent by, 126.
Charlestown, 67 ; British besiege,
25, 26, 58 ; captured by Bri
tish, 27, 43 ; regrets at mis
fortune of, 130 ; defeat of Sir
Peter Parker at, 23.
Chatham, Lord, reported at head
of administration, 161.
Chehaw Point, affair at, 37; at
tempt to intercept enemy at,
Chesterfield, Lord, tutor of, 183.
Chestnut Hill, enemy at, 60.
Chew s hoiise, action at, 24 ; enemy
seen from, 63.
Claim of grandson of Col. Lau
Clinton, Sir Henry, besieges
Charleston, 26 ; captures
Charleston, 27 ; probable ap
pointment of, 161 ; probable
plans of, 172 ; movement of,
174; takes command of Bri
tish army, 176 ; crossing
troops into Jerseys, 184 ;
reply to, 188 ; escapes capture
through fault of Gen. Lee, 200.
Cloth, request for, 130, 131, 168;
Clothing captured, 99 ; extreme
want of, in army, 135 ; needed,
119, 120, 131, 159, 160;
Clothing received, 80, 81, 88, 94,
124, 125, 158 ; requests for, 105.
Cochran, Capt., goods sent by,
Cochran sails for America, 22.
Code of public law, received, 89.
Coffin and Anderson preparing to
Colored persons recommended
for soldiers, 108, 114, 115, 116,
Combahee, British attacked on
Combes, Mr., intelligence from,
Commerce illicit with enemy, 134.
Commercial letters, French, trans
lations of, 105.
Commissariat department, defi
ciencies in, 98.
Commissaries, delinquency of,
Commissioners, peace, at Phila
delphia, 178, 179; venture
out to Germantown, 183;
plans of, 184, 185 ; answer of
Congress expected, 187;
packing up, 191.
Commissioners at Germantown,
Commissions too freely given, 233.
Committee of Congress, 114, 133 ;
arrival of, 92.
Conciliation, views of absurdity
of, 181, 182
Conde, Prince of, 71.
Conduct of troops at Rhode
Conference at Germantown, re
sult of. 178.
Confidence betrayed, 225.
Congress, action of, awaited, 114 ;
action of, concerning Bur-
goyne, 110; action on peti
tion of descendant of Col.
Laurens, 41 ; action of, soli
cited, 144; answer to British
commissioners expected, 187,
188 ; applies to France for
aid, 28 ; arrival of committee
of, 92; blamed for promoting
Col. Wilkinson, 83 ; censured
for certain orders, 154 ; Col.
du Portail s visit to, 73 ; com
mittee of, 114; dignified ac
tion of, 181 ;
Congress, expected action to
wards peace commissioners
184, 185; express sent to,
180; failure of, to inform
commander in chief, 170 ;
injustice of, towards army
officers, 155 ; in relation to
Count Pulaski, 141, 142; in
relation to commissary de
partment, 126 ; Lafayette
wishes to influence, "230;
measures suggested for ac
tion of, 156, 157; memorial
from, delivered to the king,
33 ; offers promotion to Col.
Laurens, 40 ; orders Gen.
Gates to confer with Gen.
Washington, 164; president
Laurens proposes leaving,
137 ; probable annoyance of,
in giving certificates, 233 ;
reduction in number of, 123 ;
report of committee of, re
ceived, 162; resolves to em
ploy no more foreign officers,
147 ; request for papers con
cerning, 181 ; resolution of,
concerning Col. Flcury, 118;
rewards Capt. Lee of dra
goons, 150; tenders promo
tion to Laurens, 42; unjust
promotions by, 121 ; unplea
sant suspicions concerning
action of, 133.
Cononicut island passage, 211 ;
enemy in possession of, 213 ;
plan for capture of, 213, 214 ;
Constitution of South Carolina,
rumored change of, 173 ; limi
tation of powers of, 153, 154.
Continental forces, proposed in
crease by negroes, 108, 114,
Convention, Burgoyne s, 65, 66.
Convoy driven back by galleys, 74.
Conway, Gen., promotion of,
offensive, 100; intends to re
turn to France, 101 ; charged
with cowardice, 102 ; con
duct of, 180; intrigue of, 102,
103, 104, 113; low opinion
of, 104; obnoxious, 132.
Coosohatchie, defense of the, 25.
Cope, a lad said to be a British
Cormvallis, Lord, arrival of, 178 ;
at Monmouth, 200, 202 ; cap
tured, 34 ; foraging of army
of, 94, 95, 96; preparations
against, 81, 82.
Corruption, fatal tendencies to
Countenance of Gen. Washing
Court martial, probable action of,
Cowardice of Gen. Conway, 102.
Craig, Capt., affair of, 73.
Crisis in national affairs, 28.
Cross roads, letter dated at, 57.
Crouch, Mr., 67.
Culloden ship arrives, 226.
Custis, Mr., 232.
Deane, Silas, employs vessels in
Deans, Mr., suit against, 14, 15.
D Arendt, Baron, introduced, 209 ;
information concerning, 109.
Death of elector of Bavaria, 101,
De Cambray, Chevalier, letter
sent by, 191.
DC Cottineau, Mr., present from,
to Gen. Washington, 193.
D Estaing, Count, 41, 26 ; at siege
of Savannah, 42 ; in a naval
affair. 228 ; Laurens sent to,
205, 207, 209 ; writes in favor
De Faill v, Chevalier, affair alluded
to by, 95, 96,
Defense by Capt. Lee s troop, 111 ;
by Squire Knox, 128.
Degradation of slavery, 115, 116,
De Grace, Count, at Newport, 212.
De Holzendorff, Baron, letter re
ceived from, 223.
De la Balme, books by, 144.
Delancy, Capt., attempted sur
prise by, 111.
Dela plane, J., advertisements of,67,
Delaware, expedition crosses, 128.
Delaware, frigate, intercepts gal
leys, 85 ; frigate, guns re
moved from, 88 ; prizes in
the, 110; success of recruit
ing in, 140; successful affair
on the, 140 ; troops cross, 184.
De Miralles Don Juan, inquiries
De Murnant, Mr., request con
De Neuville, Chevalier, opinions
concerning, 110 ; letters re
specting, 170, 171.
Derby, enemy near, 97.
De Noaillcs, Viscount, 44 ; decla
ration of, 171.
Deserter, Cope, 123, 124.
Deserters, admission into army,
142 ; among militia, 129 ;
from enemy, 70, 139, 198, 201,
202, 204 ; information by, 128,
152, 159, 176, 179, 184, 192,
216, 222, 228, 231, 232; par
dons offered to, 67.
Dickinson, Gen., descent of, upon
Staten Island, 92.
Donop, Count, affair of, 68; re
pulse of, 101.
Doughty, Capt., at Monmouth, 199.
Drayton, Mr., compliments to,
159 ; excuses to, 199 ; Mr., in
telligence expected from, 173.
Duel between Col. Laurens and
Gen, Lee, 39, 42 ; pretended
occurrence of, 124.
Du Plessis, Chevalier de Maudit,
106, 107, 120, 121; applies
for furlough, 233; books
given by, 141, 144; disap
pointed in commission, 120 ;
leaves camp, 123 ; promises
to, 101 ; word sent by, 124.
Duponceau, Mr., claims of, 148.
Du Portail, favorable opinions of,
143 ; letter by, 75, 143, 145 ;
opinions of, on defense of fort,
82 ; request of, 144 ; visit of,
to congress, 73.
Durand, Mesnil, book by, 141.
Eagle, packet, captured, 73.
Eagle, ship, at Philadelphia, 176.
Earthquake felt at Philadelphia,
East Town, handbills found at, 78.
Eden, Mr., arrival of, 178.
Emancipation of slaves for mili
tary service, 108, 116, 117.
Empress of Russia, ship, 79.
Enemy razing works at Red Bank,
89 ; supplies of, 62.
Engineer at lied Bank, 106.
England, war with France, 171.
Englishtown, letter from, 193 ;
movement to, 193.
Epaulettes received, 159.
Etiquette of French court, 32, 44.
European war probable, 161.
Eutaw, final battle at, 36.
Examples, threats of making, 189.
Exchange of prisoners proposed,
Exhaustion of army, 27; of re
Expedition, naval, 135.
Expedition to Canada intended,
Factions, intrigues of, 113.
Failley, Chevalier, intends for
Fascines supplied from Red Bank,
Ferguson, Dr., secretary of com
Fire, Charleston suffers from, 130,
Fire ships, 85.
Fitzgerald, Col., introduced, 119.
Fleet of English wood boats
escape capture, 215 ; errone
ous report concerning, 152,
Fleury, Mr., applies for aid of
militia, 214; engineer at Fort
Mercer, 76, 77; introduced,
118; letters from, inclosed,
98; solicits promotion, 120,
Flour, scarcity of, 234.
Forasre, deplorable scarcity of,
Foraging of enemy, 94, 95, 100,
229, 232 ; party crosses
Schuylkill, 97 ; dispersed, 68 ;
supplies obtained by, 127, 128.
Foreigners, prejudices against,
Formality of French court, 32, 44.
Forman, Gen., introduced, 206.
Forsyth, Mr., letters sent by, 60.
Fort Mercer blown up, 107; de
fense of, 75, 76 ; destroyed by
enemy, 81 ; engineer at, 101 ;
General Yarnum near, 75 ;
thought to be tenable, 76.
Fort Mifflin evacuated, 78, 79, 81 ;
expected attack on, 73 ; flag
still up at, 77 ; officer in com
mand at, 109 ; passage by,
62 ; siege of, 75.
Fort Washington abandoned,
France, enthusiasm on account of
war, 171 ; favorable moment
for, 166, 167 ; favorable news
from, 165 ; new appeals to,
28 ; news from, 68 ; opinions
relative to war of, 178 ; plans
of, 84; pretensions of, to
Canada, 230, 231 ; probable
course of, in American affairs,
Francis, Mr., bearer of letters, 152,
Franklin, Dr., absurd rumor con
cerning, 180 ; a colleague of
H. Laurens, 9 ; discourages
direct appeal to the king, 31 ;
interview of Laurens with,
21, 30; jealousy of, 30; letter
of recommendation given by,
68; proposed gift in hands
Freneau, Philip, 40 ; lines by, on
the death of Col. Laurens,
French aid solicited, 28 ; assist in
capture of Cornwallis, 34;
grammatical criticism in, 130 ;
retire from the coast, 26 ;
sailors quarrel with, 227, 228 ;
translations from, 105 ; troops
in West Indies 227 ; to be
sent to Canada, 230.
French and American forces re
pulsed at Savannah, 26.
French fleet, arrival of, 26 ; can
nonade Newport, 219; diffi
culties encountered by, 207 ;
dispersed by a storm, 221 ;
passes Newport batteries,
220 ; peril of, 223 ; repair to
Boston, 221 ; renders water
route to New York perilous,
177; wants of, 216.
French islands, supposed object
of movement, 222, 223.
French war, reports of, 161 ; ru
mors circulated concerning,
Frey, Baron, letter by, 68, 69, 75.
Galleys alone can oppose enemy,
62 ; attempt to pass Philadel
phia, 85 ; canonacliug by, 69,
70 ; drive back a convoy, 74.
Galvan, Mr., affair of, 223, 224.
Gates, Gen., friend of Conwaj r ,
180 ; surrender to, 64 ; to
confer with Gen. Washing
ton, 164; transactions with
Gen. Conway, 102.
Geneva, acquaintance formed at,
183; Laurensat, 10, 11, 12.
Georgia, attempt to recover capi
tal of, 26 ; enemy s attention
turned to, 25 ; invasion of,
42 ; operations in, 24.
Germaine, Lord George, 18.
German troops arrive at Phila
delphia, 152 ; in Continental
Germantown, Com. meet at, 152,
158 ; Gen. Conway charged
with cowardice at, 102, 180 ;
Gen. Howe to meet commis
sioners at, 146 ; enemy near,
60, 63 ; Lanrens in battle of,
24 ; Laurens s position since,
93 ; letter sent by way of,
126; military value of, 83;
peace commissioners at, 183 ;
result of conference at, 178 ;
returns of horses, etc., 67.
Gervaise, Col., letter inclosed to,
Gibraltar, proposed cession of, 84.
Gibbes, Capt., at Lancaster, 159;
failure of, to make purchase,
Gorshen,expedition by way of, 128.
Gower, Lord, 18.
Grant, Gen., escapes a court mar
Grave, siege of, 71.
Gray, Gen. return of troops of,
Great Britain, terms with, 167.
Greene, Gen., arrival of, 217, 232;
at Rhode Island, 41 ; com
mands army in the south, 34 ;
foraging by, 127; information
from, 227, 228 ; joins grand
army, 89; news from, 87;
prepared to fight Cornwallis,
81, 82; regret of, at death of
Laurens, 38; sends expedi
tion to destroy hay, 128.
Halifax, garrison at, 226.
Half pay system favored by Wash
ington, 158 ; remarks con
Hamilton, Alexander, 29 ; ap
pointed to meet Gen. Howe,
146 ; laments the death of
Laurens, 38; letter from son
of, 40, 41 ; sick, 92.
Hamilton, Duke of, regiment at
Hamilton,. John C., letter of, 40, 41.
Handbills found, 78 ; sent to Gov.
Tryon, 162 ; thrown out by
Harrison, Col., appointed to meet
Gen. Howe, 146.
Harrison , Mr. , bearer of letters, 61 .
Hartly, Col., delay of, 166.
Hartly, Mrs., 72,
Hat stolen from servant, 58.
Hay, expedition to destroy, 128.
Hayne, Robert Y.,40; speech of,
Henderson, Francis, jr., petition
Hessians, action against, 107;
attacked, 87; captured, 97;
in Philadelphia, 191 ; killed,
Highlanders in Philadelphia, 191.
Hog island, shallow channel by,
Holland, commission to engage
transports, 84; letter inclosed
Horry, Mr., 59.
Horses, advice to present to
Baron Steuben, 160; as a
reward to Col. Wilkinson,
83; collected by enemy, 192;
returns of, 67; wanted, 59;
killed by enemy, 205.
Howe, Admiral, fleet of, appears,
Howe, Sir William, 68; arrives
in New York, 226; asks re
inforcements, 68: blamed by
Gov. Johnston, 188; caution
of, 139; commissioners ap
pointed to meet, 146; enter
tainment in honor of, 175;
expected retreat of, 166 ; ex
pedition suggested, 84 ; for
aging party of, 97 ; in a naval
affair, 228; intentions of, 90;
Hcnvc, Sir William, innovation
in speech of, 79 ; leaves Phil
adelphia, 176; letter from,
mentioned, 122, 189; letter
to, 63; movements of, 151,
174; negligence of, 136;
precautions of, concerning
prisoners, 139 ; preparations
to meet, 152; prisoners in
hands of, 61 ; probability of
recall of, 161 ; supposed plans
Huguenot origin of Laurens, 29.
Humphrey s Gazette, copy of,
Imposture attempted by a de
of, hoped, 163.
Inspector general, question con
Inspector general s department,
Insult offered to commander in
Intrigue of Gen. Conway, 102, 113.
Invalids embarked by the enemy,
Jackson, Col., conduct at Rhode
Jackson s regiment sent to join
French troops, 219.
Jagers, Hessian, action with, 194.
Jameson, Major, service of, 111.
Jay, John, a colleague of II. Lau
Jealousies between French and
Americans, 220, 228.
Jealousy between naval and land
Jerseys, enemy have quit, 89 ;
enemy s march through, 192 ;
expected retreat of enemy
through, 182 ; expedition in
to, 128 ; forage collected by !
enemy in, 231 ; probable re- |
treat of enemy through, 187. !
Johnston, Gov., arrival of, 178; i
letter received from, 183;
regarded as an apostate, 184 ; I
report corrected in relation
Jones, R. Strettle, intelligence
Journal of operations before New-
port, 219, 221.
Justice of claims of Laurens s
family, 45, 51, 52.
Kingfisher, sloop, burned, 212.
Kingsbridgc, enemy pass, 229;
enemy keep within, 232.
Kings ferry, probable place of
crossing Hudson, 204.
Kinloch s late return to America,
Kite, a comic character, 79.
Kitean, harrangue of Sir William
Howe at, 68.
Knighthood, exhibition of, cere
monies of, 172.
Knox, Squire, defense by, 128.
Ivnypliausen, Gen., badge of
knighthood captured, 141.
La Fayette, Marquis de, 112;
affair with Gen. Grant, 187;
arrival of, 217 ; aspiration at
command, 217, 218 ; censured,
218 ; introduces Marquis de
la Vienne, 203 ; leaves camp,
123 ; news from, 87 ; plans
for Canadian expedition, 230 ;
probability of return to
France, 233; regrets the
death of Laurens, 38; retreat
of, 174; sympathy for a de
serter, 124 ; two British cap
tains killed in combat of, 89.
Lamb, galley, burned, 212.
Lancaster, Capt. Gibbes at, 159.
Land, bounties offered in, 66.
La Tactique de Ghibert, book
Laurens, Henry, letter of John
Adams to, on death of his
son, 39 ; offices held by, 9 ;
proposes to retire from con
gress, 137 ; relations of, with
Washington, 23 ; urged to
remain in congress, 145, 148,
149, 150, 155, 225 ; welfare of,
Laurens, Lieut. Col. John, active
service of, in the field, 24;
ancestors of, 9 ;
Laurons, Lieut. Col. John, arrives
in Paris, 30. 47 ; at the capture
of Cormvallis, 34, 44; at siege
of Charleston, 26 ; birth and
education, 10 ; captured at
Charleston, 43 ; character of,
39, 40, 46; commands in
fantry in siege of Savannah,
26; conduct of, at Khode
Island, 25 ; correspondence
of, 56 ; decides upon a pro
fession, 12, 16 ; domestic be
reavement of his family, 20 ;
early traits of character, 16,
17 ; elected to legislature, 92 ;
eulogies on, 40, 41, 42, 45, 54 ;
family of, 40, 50 ; fitness of,
for mission, 29, 47; goes on
express to Philadelphia, 43 ;
hardy enterprise of, 36 ; in
terview with Franklin, 30;
joins army under Greene, 34 ;
joins forces under Moultrie,
25; joins Washington s mili
tary family, 23; justice of
claims of heirs of, 45, 51, 52;
killed, 38, 40, 48; letter of
John C. Hamilton, 41 ; letter
to his sister, 18 ; lines on the
death of, 55 ; memoir of, 9 ;
military qualifications of, 35 ;
obtains leave to repair south,
25 ; of French origin, 29 ;
patriotic impulses of, 17;
performs his purpose, 32, 44 ;
receives a present from the
king, 33, 47 ; receives the
sword of Cornwallis, 34 ; re
flections upon, 34 ; regrets at
the death of, 38, 39 ; rejoins
the grand army, 27 ; resolves
to appeal to the king, 31, 44 ;
resolves to return to Ame
rica, 21 ; result of applica
tion to Vergennes, 31, 43 ;
returns to America, 34, 44 ;
returns to South Carolina,
23 ; sent on mission to
France, 28, 29, 43, 47 ; speech
of Mr. Hayne in favor of
relief of grandson of, 45 ;
surprised at Chehaw Point,
37; takes an interest in
public affairs, 18; testimony
of enemies, 39; wounded,
Laurcns, Mrs., 67; expected ar
La Vienne, Marquis de la, intro
duction of, 203.
Law, American code of, received,
Law, decision of Laurensin study
Lee, Capt., brilliant exploit of
troop of, 111 ; disperses a fo
raging party, 68 ; letter from,
74; prisoners captured by,
73 ; rewarded, 150.
Lee, Col., comparison with, 35;
regrets the death of Laurens,
Lee, Gen. Charles, conduct of, at
Monmouth, 24, 193, 194, 195,
196, 197, 198, 199 ; duel with
Laurens, 42 ; expected at
dinner, 154; prisoner quar
tered with, 186; wounded in
duel witli Col. Laurens, 39.
Letter attributed to Gen. Bur-
goyne noticed, 110; Bur-
goyne to Sir William Howe,
63 ; from John C. Hamilton,
41 ; mistake in dates of, 181 ;
Sir William Howe, by Bur-
Light Horse Harry, 35.
Lincoln, Gen., attempts to recover
Savannah, 26; besieged at
Charleston, 26; captured at
Charleston, 27; joined by
C ol. Laurens, 42; troops
under, retire from Savannah,
Lindsay, Corporal, service of, 111.
Livingston, Col. H. B., conduct
of, at Rhode Island, 25.
Livingston, Col., at Monmouth,
Livingston, Lt. Col., conduct of,
at Rhode Island, 25.
Loan obtained in France, 33.
Long Island, wood boats from,
escape capture, 215.
Loring, Mr., commissioner at Ger-
mantown, 178 ; story told by,
Louis XVI, appeal of Laurens to,
32, 33 ; enthusiasm in favor
of, 169; presents a snuff-box
to Laurens, 33, 47; receives
memorial from Laurens, 44.
Lovcl, Gen., conduct at Ilhode
Luxuries, taxes upon, 156, 157.
Mclntosh, Gen., 98 ; ordered to a
certain service, 145 ; returns
of, 149 ; sends papers, 160.
McLane, Capt., letter received
from, 192; sends in a pri
Maga/ine of Fort Mercer ex
Manning, Mr., letters from, 145,
183; news from family of,
Manning-, Mrs., letter enclosed
Margrave de Baden, rank of Steu-
ben in troops of, 137.
Marion, warfare of, 34, 35.
Marseilles, relative of Laurens at,
Marseilles, ship, dismantled in a
Meat, scarcity of, 127.
Memoir of Col. John Laurens, 9.
Memoranda, on back of letter, 61.
Memorial from congress delivered
to the king, 33 ; presented to
Middletown, rear of enemy at, 201.
Mifflin, Gen., at the head of a
party against commander in
chief, 103; friend of Conway,
180; will forward letters, 60.
Military uniform, 120.
Militia, conduct of, at Ilhode
Miniature painter, in camp, 139.
Mischianza, entertainment, 175.
Mission to France, 28; success
Moncton, Col., killed at Mon-
mouth, 198; burial of, 203.
Money obtained from France, 33 ;
pressing need of, 28.
Monmouth, account of battle of,
193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198,
199 ; distinction of officers at,
202; Duplessis at battle of,
233; Laurens at battle of, 24,
Monopolies, detestable charges of,
Morgan, Col., intelligence from,
201 ; letter by, 69 ; letter to,
care of, 72 ; reports from, 205.
Morgan s corps, news from, 87.
Morris, Robert, financial service
of, 33, 44 ; letter addressed
to, 68 ; letter enclosed from,
Moultrie, Laurens joins forces of,
24, 25 ; regrets the death of
Moylan s Light Dragoons, affair
Muhlenberg, Gen., commanding
Mud island, chances of defense at,
79; loss of fort at, 84 ; naked
ness of army, 135.
Naval action, 70 ; by Capt, Barry.
232; naval expedition, 135.
Navy, blame thrown upon, 79 ;
misbehavior of, 88.
Negroes recommended as sol
diers, 108, 114,115, 116, 117.
New Brunswick, letter dated
New England, Burgoyne s troops
sent to, 65.
New Orleans, letter by way of, 72.
Newport, British ships arrive at,
226; force of the enemy at,
211 ; fortifications of, 215 ;
French fleet at, 219, 220;
plans for attack of, 210, 211,
New Town, commissioners at, 158
New York, British will probably
retain, 227; force to be kept
near, 164; intelligence from,
177 ; Mrs. Washington at,
110; preparations in, 225;
preparations for retreat to,
176, 177; probable evacua
tion of, 229 ; proposed move
ment towards, 206; relative
importance of, 164 ; rumors
of evacuation of, 228 ; troops
from, at Philadelphia, 152.
Newspapers, extracts from, 84 ;
from South Carolina, 149.
Nichols, Capt,, brought to head
quarters, 73 ; not returned
from Philadelphia, 99 ; pre
sent at an affair, 112.
North, Lord, plans of, 172 ; pro
bable result of action of, 163 ;
recantation of, received, 161.
North Carolina, enemy s atten
tion turned to, 25 ; operations
North Carolinians in winter quar
Oath of allegiance taken by offi
Oaths, request for blank forms of,
Ophelia, language quoted, 40.
Ormond, remark of Duke of, 39.
Ossory, remark to Earl of, 39.
Oswald, Col., at Monmouth, 199.
Outline of operations planned,
Overtures of peace, strictures up
Paper money, redemption of, 86 ;
discredit thrown upon, 87.
Pardons, insolent offers of, 166;
offered deserters, 67 ; offered,
and their effect, 162.
Paris, Laurens arrives in, 30.
Parker, Hear Admiral, fleet of,
Parker, Sir Peter, defeat of, 23.
Parliamentary Register, recent
numbers of, 188.
Partisan warfare in south, 34, 35,
Patience of the army, 136.
Patriotism, ardent expressions of,
Paulus Hook, enemy at, 229.
Pay of officers inadequate, 157,
Payne, Mr., letter by, 122.
Peace, rumored overtures of, 159.
Peace commissioners, arrival of,
178, 179 ; last effort of, 231 ;
supposed plans of, 227.
Pennsylvania, flour wanted from,
Petition of Laurens to the king,
32 ; success of, 33.
Philadelphia, Capt. Nichols at,
99; carriage at, 166; Col.
Laurens rides on express to,
13; conjectures at, 74;
Philadelphia, gallant defense of
Squire Knox in, 128 ; enemy
at, 100; expected evacuation
of, 172 ; Gazette, news from,
174; inhabitants leaving, 77;
movement towards, 60; news
from, 84, 152, 161, 175 ; packet
received from, 183; papers
sent, 159; partly evacuated,
192 ; peace commissioners at,
179; prizes taken near, 110;
provisions scarce in, 189; re
ports circulated at, 106 ; re
turns of horses, 67 ; show of
movement from, 96.
Pickens, military genius of, 34.
Pickets attacked, 87.
Pilots, need of, 205.
Pinckney, Col., 61.
Pinckney, Mr., 59.
Point Judith, Col. Laurens at,
Policy of an expedition to Canada,
Pond, narrowly escapes capture,
Pontieres, M., secretary to Baron
Portrait, receipt of, 138.
Potter, Gen., information from,
Potter s militia, 95 ; demonstration
Pottsgrove, letter dated at, 60.
Predatory incursion of British,
Prejudice against negro soldiers,
Present to Gen. Washington, 193.
Prevost, Gen., 25.
Prisoners, American, 61 ; cap
tured, 73; escape of, 139;
exchange of, 99 ; negociation
for exchange of, 146, 178;
proposed aid to, 137; pro
posed exchange of, 122, 123 ;
treated with cm elty,77.
Princes Bay, boats collected at,
Princess Royal, arrival of ship,
at Sandy Hook, 226.
Privateers, increasing number of,
127 ; service of, 172.
Prizes in the Delaware, 110;
taken on the Delaware, 140 ;
from British, 208.
Promotion of Gen. Conway, offens
ive, 100 ; of Col. Wilkinson,
offensive, 83 ; recommended
for Mons. Dn Plessis, 107.
Protection of Philadelphia, ques
tion of, 176.
Providence, Col. Laurens arrives
Province Island, enemy on, 70;
enemy land from, 81 ; pas
sage by, 62, 76, 77; storm
expected from, 76.
Provisions, scarcity of, 126.
Prussia, king of, said to be in
Bohemia, 188 ; services in the
army of, 109.
Prussian rank of Baron Steubeu,
Pulaski, Count, corps of, 142 ;
dislike against, 141 ; favora
ble opinions of, 142, 143 ; let
ter by, 141.
Quarter masters, inquiry into
conduct of, 185.
Quebec, garrison at, 226.
Queen s Rangers, capture of, 68.
Quotas, deficiencies of the, 191.
Rank, considerations respecting,
83 ; disgraced, 234 ; of Baron
Steuben, 160 ; of Baron Steu-
ben in Prussia, 137; ofM. de
Raritan, pleasant location at, 201.
Reading, influence of an officer
at, 100 ; orders, in case of
removal from, 60.
Rebenhaupt, General, 71.
Recantation of Lord North re
Reception of ambassadors, 32.
Recommendation of Chevalier de
Maudit de Plessis, 106, 107.
Reconciliation of Count D Es-
Recruiting in Delaware, 140.
Recruits, drill of, 152.
Red Bank, adverse tidings from,
78 ; defense of, 77 ; enemy s
account of, 84; engineer at,
106 ; fascines supplied from,
77 ; Gen. Varnum at, 75 ; re
inforcements at, 63 ; works
ra/ed at, 89.
Reed, Gen., recent gazettes in
hands of, 188.
Refugees, surrender of, 177.
Regiments, difficulty in organiza
tion of, 190; reforming of,
Reid, Mr., letter received from,
Reinforcements solicited from
Retreat of enemy expected, 175 ;
probable route, 182.
Rhode Island, British will pro
bably hold, 227; Col. Lau
rens at, 41 ; conduct of troops
in action on, 25 ; deserters
from, 216 ; entrances to, 211 ;
Gen. Sullivan s plan at, 217 ;
probable evacuation of, 229 ;
service of Laurens in, 24.
Richmond, Harry, at, 168.
Richmond, ship, at Philadelphia,
Robinson, Capt., letter sent by,
Rochambeau assists in capturing
Roebuck, ship, cannonading by,
Rogers, Major, inquiry concern
Russia, proposed cession to, 84.
Russians said to be at war with
Rutledge, President, speech of
received, 153; papers sent,
Sagittaire, ship, movement of, 212.
St. Glair, Gen., news from, 172.
St. Domingo, vessels sail from, 22.
St. Sauveur, Count, wounded at
a riot, 227.
Sailors, quarrel among, at Boston,
Salutes on French alliance, 169.
Sandy Hook, English fleet block
aded, at, 208 ; enemy embark
ing at, 204.
Saratoga, battle of, 64 ; conven
tion of Burgoyne at, 123.
Savage, Mrs., death of, 168.
Savannah, attempt to recover, 26 ;
in hands of enemy, 26.
Scarcity of provisions, 126.
Schuylkill, advantages of position
beyond, 83; army crossed,
98; expedition crosses the,
145; foraging near, 94, 95,
96 ; foraging party captured
beyond the, 68; foraging
party crosses, 97 ; position of
bridge over, 180; reconnoi-
tering beyond, 77; retreat
across, 175 ; vessels near
mouth of, 76.
Scott, Gen., information given to,
228, 229, 231.
Seakonnet passage, 211.
Seal of a packet, 184.
Seal island, vessel run ashore at,
Secretary of Baron Steuben, 148.
Senate, proceedings in, 41, speech
of Mr. Ilayne in, 45.
Sherard s ferry, cattle crossed at,
Shreve, Col., intelligence from,
Shrewsberry robbed, 58.
Sickness in English fleet, 226.
Siege of Charleston, 27; of Fort
Mifflin, 75 ; of Savannah, 26.
Slavery, degrading tendencies of,
Slaves as soldiers, 108, 114, 115,
Sloop taken, 100.
Smallwood, Gen., fleet reported
by, 152 ; movement, of, 99.
Smith, Lt. Col., consults about
evacuating Fort Mifrlin, 75.
Snuff-box, presented by Louis
XVI to Laurens, 33.
Soldiers, slaves recommended as,
108, 114, 115, 116, 117.
Somerset, ship, cannonading by,
Sorties at Charleston, 27.
South Carolina, British attempts
against, 26 ; capital of, cap
tured, 27 ; change in consti
tution of, 173 ; Gen. Lincoln
retires to, 26; limitations of
constitution of, 1 54 ; papers
received, 145, 149.
Southern department, active ope
rations in, 24.
Speech of Mr. Hayne, 45.
Spies, intelligence from, 176, 225.
Spitfire, galley, fire ship, 212.
Spurs, exchange of, 160.
Spy, intelligence from, 178.
Stanley, vessel, movement of, 212.
Staten Island, attack on, 92.
States, union of the, 90.
Stephorsts, letter from, at Am
Steuben, Baron, begins duties of
inspector general, 146 ; cele
bration conducted by, 169 ;
European news received by,
188 ; favorable opinions of,
131, 132, 137, 138; in battle
of Monmouth, 198, 202 ; in
troduced to Col. Laurens,
130; jealousies toward, 186,
203 ; letter of, sent, 141 ; mis
take concerning rank of, 137 ;
proposed rank of, 133 ; rank
of, 160 ; recommended for
inspector general, 132, 138;
request for a horse to be
given to, 160 ; successful
measures of, 152.
Stewart, Col., at Monmouth, 199.
Stirling, Lord, movement of divi
sion of, 98.
Stock, William, at" air at planta
tion of, 37.
Stormont, Lord, attempts to de
tain vessels, 22.
Sullivan, Gen., army under, 218;
Col. Laurens sent to, 209,
210; D Estaing offended at,
41 ; delayed and prevented in
attack at Newport, 219 ; esti
mate of enemy s forces, 217 ;
exertions of, 215 ; informed
of difficulties of landing, 219 ;
march conducted by, 95 ;
plans of, 210, 211, 217; un
lucky movement of, 97 ; visit
of, to French fleet, 214.
Sullivan s bridge, crossing at, 174,
Sumter, military genius of, 34,
Surprise attempted by Capt, De-
lancy, 111 ; by Moylan s Dra
goons, 73; of New York,
recommended by some, 164 ;
of pickets attempted, 127 ;
surrender of Burgoyne, 61,
Swede s ford, bridge of wagons
Sympathy at death of Laurens,
Syuuepuxent, accounts from, 56.
Taxes upon luxuries, remarks on,
Taylors, Major superintending
Teams, returns of, 67.
Terms of Burgoyne s surrender,
Ternaut, M., offers his services,
Testimonials, too free use of, 234.
Tilghman, Col, 59, 87.
Tiverton. movement of troops at,
Toilet articles, 119,125.
Translations from French, 98 ;
difficulties in, 105.
Transports loading at Phila
delphia, 175, 176.
Treaty, French, terms unknown,
Trenton, expected march of
enemy to, 192.
Troops, conduct of, at Rhode
Island, 25 ; subsistence of,
Trumbull, Gov., Col. Laurens
sent to, 209.
Trumbull, Mr., removal from com
missary department, 126, 127.
Tryou, Goy., handbill sent to, 162.
Turks, said to be at war with
Uniform, clothing for, 119, 120;
for black battalion, 120.
Union of the states, 90.
Valancy, Lieut., letter by, 63.
Valentine s Hill, enemy driven by
bad weather from, 232.
Valley Forge, inferior quarters
at, 166;"march to, 97; Mar
quis de la Vienne at, 203.
Vannim, Gen., battery thrown up
by, 69, 70; consulted on
evacuation of Fort Mifflin,
75 ; dispatches received from,
78; information from letter
of, 74 ; reinforced, 73.
Varnum s Brigade at Monmouth,
Vergennes, M. de, 22, 43; influ
ence to action, 33; Laurens
introduced to, 30; result of
application to, 31, 32.
Versailles, Col. Laurens at court
Vessel burnt, 85, 191, 232; cap
tured, 73 ; clear for St. Do
Vigilant, ship, at Philadelphia,
Virginia accedes to articles of
Wagons, returns of, 67.
Wampoles, letter dated at, 60.
War, doubts concerning declara
tion of, by France, 178 ; gene
ral, expected in Europe, 161,
Warfare, character of, in south,
34, 35, 36.
Washington, at Monmouth, 196,
197, 198 ; attentions bestowed
upon, 170 ; conduct towards,
170; confidence of, in Lau
rens, 41 ; disagreement of
Gen. Lee with, 39 ; dis
patches of, delivered to
Count D Estaing, 210; ena
bled to supply and till the
army, 33 ; features of, 138 ;
insult ottered to, 102 ; Lau
rens enters family of, 23 ;
Laureus rejoins the army
under, 27; movements of,
193; on exchange of pri
soners, 122, 123 ; opinions of,
concerning negro troops, 117,
118; regret of, at death of
Laurens, 38; sends Laurens
to France, 28, 33 ; success of,
against Cornwallis, 34; to
confer with Gen. Gates, 164;
movement of enemy upon, 96.
Washington, Mrs. allusion to, 110;
receives a miniature, 138.
Watch wanted, 59.
Water, scarcity of, on board
French fleet, 207.
Wayne, Gen., at Monmouth, 199 ;
expedition by, 128; move
ment of, 95.
Wclford, Dr., intelligence from,
188, 189; left by enemy a
wiHiug prisoner, 186 ; opi
nions of, 187.
West Indies, British supposed to
embark for, 222 ; expected
movement to, 177 ; expedi
tion suggested, 84; troops
embarked for, 228, 231.
Westminster, John Laurens a
student at, 10.
Weymouth, Lord, 18.
Whitemarsh camp, 95; letter
dated at, 62.
Wilkinson, Col., promotion of,
Wilmington, expedition from,
128 ; Gen. Smallwood at, 99.
Winter campaigns, 91.
Winter quarters, 94, 100; inten
tions concerning, 91.
Women allowed to leave city, 71.
Woodberry, Gen. Varuum, sta
tioned at, 75.
Woodford s Brigade at Mon-
York, Chevalier de Neuville goes
to, 110; Col. Floury at, 120;
Col. Hartley s delay at, 166.
York Town, * Col. Fitzgerald
passes through, 119; Corn-
wallis captured at, 34; Lau
rens at, 44.
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