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Full text of "The Army correspondence of Colonel John Laurens in the years 1777-8"

Bra&forD Club Series. 



NUMBER SEVEN. 



T Jl E 



ARMY CORRESPONDENCE 

OF 

COLONEL JOHN LAURENS 

IN THE YEARS 1777-8 

NOW FIKST PRINTED FROM ORIGINAL LETTERS ADDRESSED 
TO HIS FATHER 

HENRY LAURENS 



W I T H A M E M O I R 



WM. GILMORE SIMMS 




NEW YORK 

M DCCC LXVII 



SUBSCRIBER S COPY. 

Xo. 



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). 



BRADFORD CLUB. 



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 

EXTRA NUMBER. 
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 They will seek to obtain for this purpose unpublished 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 

States. 

2 



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 
profitable directions. 

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 
self-restraint. 

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 
authority. 

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- 

O 

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 
my all. 

" 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 
passenger. 

" 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 
tionate 

JOHX LAURENS." 

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. 

4 



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, 
5 



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 
his youth. 

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. 
Hamilton : 

" 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 
6 



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 
his antagonist. 

" 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- 

7 O 

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 
learn). 

" 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 

capitulation. 

(Signed) 

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 
twenty-seventh year. 

"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- 
7 



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 
that ground. 

" 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 

O 

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 
ancestors." 



LINE S 

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 
permit them. 

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 
JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
and remain 

Your ever affectionate 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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. 

Your affectionate 

JOHN LAURENS. 
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 

JOHN LAURENS. 
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 
gratulation. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

The Honble Henry Laurens Esq r , York, 
favor of Col Harrison. 

1 L" Gen. 

2 Major Generals 
7 Brig. 

2 Eng ) 

-. T i VNoblem. 
1 Irish j 

A qty of Clothing. 
5000 Privats 
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, 
1777. 



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. 

"Sir: 

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, 

Sir, &c., 
(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 
9 



66 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 

some British officers have done) must expect to be 
closely confined. 

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 
excepted. 

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 
their possession. 

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 
disappointed. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 
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 

CI? O 

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 
stopt them. 

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 
are announced. 

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, 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
ing. 

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, 
10 



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 
gaily. 

Your most affectionate 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
to them. 

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 
storm. 

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. 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
loss. 



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 
over. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 
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 
the enemy. 

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 
11 



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 
their prizes.] 

PHILADELPHIA. 

" 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 
coming. 

" 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 
wounded. 



88 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 

I have barely time to close with those expressions 
of duty and affection which it always gives me pleasure 

to repeat. 

JOHN LAURENS. 
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 

Your affectionate 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
12 



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 
my retirement. 

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 
wounded. 

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, 

Your affectionate 

JOHN LAURENS. 
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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 inhabitants. 

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 
13 



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 

JOHN LAUREN?. 

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 
L* Colonel. 

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 

O 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 

Your affectionate 

Jonx LAURENS. 

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 
our part. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
them. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r ., 
President of Congress, York. 

(Private). 



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 
15 



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 
deny it. 

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, 

Your 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
change ? 

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 
degree. 

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 
upon. 

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 
next campaign. 

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 
weak minds? 

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 

respect of 

Your 

JOHN LAURENS. 



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 
much lately. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 



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 
his services. 

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. 

O 

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. 
16 



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 

nature. 

Your most affectionate 

JOHN LAURENS. 
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 

O *J 

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 

affection, 

Your 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
wants. 

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 
17 



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 

JOHN LAUREXS. 

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 

dutiful 

JOHN LAURENS. 



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 

JOHN LAURENS. 
The Ilonble Henry Laurens, Esq r ., 

President of Congress, York. 

(Private). 



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 
an assault. 

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 
18 



138 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 

reach, I conceive the baron to be profound in the 
military science. 

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 
likeness. 

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 

O 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

With this you will receive a letter from Baron 
Steuben. 

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 
first instance. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 
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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
ancient delinquencies. 

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 
nation. 

The retiring of a single one at the present crisis 
19 



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 
writing. 

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 
accomplished. 

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- 
sergeant. 

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 
well. 

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 
qualifications. 

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 
of captains. 

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 
of captain. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r ., 

President of Congress, York. 
(Private). 



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 
irrefutable arguments. 

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 
much deliberation. 

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 
private business. 

With the tenderest affection, your dutiful son. 

JOHN LAURENS. 



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 
of France. 



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 
principal. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

I inclose you a billet which I received this morning 
from Bringhurst. 

The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r ., 

President of Congress, York. 
(Private). 



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 
offers. 

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 
20 



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 
with distinction. 

Adieu, my dearest friend and father. 

I am ever your affectionate 

JOHN LAURENS. 

The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r ., 
President of Congress, York. 

(Private). 



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 
opportunity. 

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 
Town. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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. 
(Private). 



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 
tenderly. 

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. 

JOHN LAURENS. 

"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 
common management. 
21 



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. 

Your affectionate 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
wisest patriots. 



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, 

JOHN LAURENS. 

I send a letter which you will be so good as to 
inclose by Mr. Francis, to Co 1 Gervaise, to be for 
warded. 



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 
herself. 

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 
Congress. 

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. 

JOHX LAURENS. 



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 
received. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
discipline. 

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 
22 



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 
confidence. 

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 

private relation, 

Your 

JOHN LAUHENS. 



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 

you. 

JOHN LAUHENS. 



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 
soldiers. 

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 
merchandise. 

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 
redoubts. 

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 
have embarked. 

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. 

23 



178 CORRESPONDENCE OF JOHN LAURENS. 

God bless yon, my dear father; I salute you with 

my tenderest love. 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
together. 

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. 

JOHN LAURENS. 
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r ., 

President of Congress, York. 

(Private). 



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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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. 
(Private). 



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 
charge of. 

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 
citizens. 

God preserve you, my dear father. 

JOHN LAURENS. 

The Ilonble Henry Laurcns, Esq r ., 

President of Congress, York. 
(Private). 



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 
punishment. 



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 
intelligence. 

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. 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
military instruction. 

The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq 1 ., 

York Town. 



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 
requires. 

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 
adieu. 

JOHN LAURENS. 



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 
affectionate 

JOHN LAURENS. 



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 
victoire. 

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 
25 



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 
nobly. 

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 
ever 

Your most dutiful and affectionate 

JOHN LAURENS. 
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 
in waggons. 

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 example. 

Your most affectionate 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
tion. 

26 



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 
offence. 

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 
ing amazingly. 



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 
war. 

The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r ., 

President of Congress, Philadelphia. 
(Private). 



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 
major generals. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 
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 

JOHN LAURENS. 
The Honble Henry Laurens, Esq r ., 

President of Congress, Philadelphia. 

(Private). 



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. 

JOHN LAURENS. 
The Honble Henry Laurens, Escf., 

President of Congress, Philadelphia. 

(Private). 



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 

pleasure to 

Your most affectionate 

JOHN LAURENS. 
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 
Chimere. 

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 
acquired. 

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 
you. 

JOHN LAUKENS. 
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 

JOHN LAURENS. 
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 
27 



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 
American attack. 

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 
Newport. 

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. 

o J- 

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 
immediately. 

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 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
prisoners. 



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 
28 



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 
worth notice. 



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 
nations. 

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 
important business. 

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. 

Adieu. 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
operations. 

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 
morrow morning. 

God preserve you, my dear father. 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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. 
(Private). 



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 
29 



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 
in America. 

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 
most improbable. 

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 
encourage. 

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 
eradicated. 

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 
blished reputation. 



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. 

JOHN LAURENS. 

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 
common sense. 

His Excellency Henry Laurens, Escf., 

President of Congress, Philadelphia. 
(Private). 



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 

JOHN LAURENS. 



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 
30 



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 
management. 

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, 

Adieu. 

JOHN LATRENS. 

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 
confidence. 

His Excellency, Henry Laurens, Esq., 

President of Congress, Philadelphia. 
(Private). 

Fay* 1 by I. Custis, Esquire. 



INDEX 



Adams, John, on death of Lau- 

rons, 39. 

Advertisements, British, 66, 67. 
Affair related by Cliev. cle Failly, 

95, 96. 

Africa, wars in, for slaves, 117. 
Amiable, frigate, movement of, 

212. 
Albany, Burgoyne s orders to 

advance to, 63. 
Alemene, frigate, movement of, 

212. 

Alliance with France, 167. 
Ambassadors, mode of receiving, 

32. 
Ambition, imputation of, denied, 

125. 

Ambuscade by British, 37, 38. 
American code of public law 

received, 89. 

Amphictionic League, 90. 
Anspachers embarked, 184. 
Argyle, regiment of Duke of, 226. 
Aristocracy of South Carolina, 

- rvo 

17o. 

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- 
town, 34. 

Axe, St. Mary, 72. 



Babut and Labouchere, letter 
under cover to, 72 ; letters 
quoted, 105. 

Balcarras, Lord, repulsed, 64. 



Balfour, Capt., arrives in New 
York, 226. 

Bannister, Col. favor of, acknow 
ledged, 222. 

Barber, Col., at Monmouth, 199. 

Barren Hill, meritorious conduct 
at, 189. 

Barry, Capt., success of, 140; fri 
gate lost by, 232. 

Batteries opened on Fort Miffliu, 
75, 76. 

Battery, floating, reported as 
sunk, 73. 

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, 
227. 



238 



INDEX. 



Boudinot, Mr., asks letter of in 
troduction, 80 ; returns from 
Germantown, 178 ; story told 
to, 180; information by, 182. 

Bounties of land offered recruits, 
66. 

Brevet rank of Mons. Duplessis, 
130. 

Breyman, Lt. Col., killed, 64. 

Bridge thrown over at Swedes 
Ford, 97. 

Brig captured by Gen. Small- 
wood, 99. 

Brigade inspectors, 146. 

Brigades, organization of, 190. 

Bringlmrst, letter for, 125, 158, 
166 ; billet received from, 153. 

Bristol, movement of troops at, 
211. 

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, 
162. 

British fleet appear before New 
port, 220. 

Brompton, death of Mrs. Savage 
at, 168. 

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 
mons, 18. 

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 
of, 232. 



Camp, fortifications of, 135 ; re 
moval of, 182. 



Campbell, Lady W., visits Mrs. 
Laurens, 168. 

Campus Martins, enlivened scene 
at, 152. 

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, 
149. 

Cavalry, difficulty in raising, 142 ; 
enemy increase their force of, 
187. 

Celebration of French alliance, 
169. 

Ceremony, recommended for 
oaths, 174. 

Certificates of service by French 
officers, 233. 

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, 
37. 

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 
rens, 45. 

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; 
received, 134. 

Clothing captured, 99 ; extreme 
want of, in army, 135 ; needed, 
119, 120, 131, 159, 160; 



INDEX. 



239 



Clothing received, 80, 81, 88, 94, 
124, 125, 158 ; requests for, 105. 

Cochran, Capt., goods sent by, 
105. 

Cochran sails for America, 22. 

Code of public law, received, 89. 

Coffin and Anderson preparing to 
remove, 175. 

Colored persons recommended 
for soldiers, 108, 114, 115, 116, 
117. 

Combahee, British attacked on 
36. 

Combes, Mr., intelligence from, 
176. 

Commerce illicit with enemy, 134. 

Commercial letters, French, trans 
lations of, 105. 

Commissariat department, defi 
ciencies in, 98. 

Commissaries, delinquency of, 
120. 

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, 
152. 

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 
Island, 25. 

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 ; 
reconnoitred, 215. 

Constitution of South Carolina, 
rumored change of, 173 ; limi 
tation of powers of, 153, 154. 

Continental forces, proposed in 
crease by negroes, 108, 114, 
115. 

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 
ensign, 123. 



240 



INDEX. 



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 
wards, 173. 

Countenance of Gen. Washing 
ton, 138. 

Court martial, probable action of, 
129. 

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 
France, 22. 

Deans, Mr., suit against, 14, 15. 

D Arendt, Baron, introduced, 209 ; 
information concerning, 109. 

Death of elector of Bavaria, 101, 
163. 

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 
ofLaFayette, 218. 

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, 
117. 

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 
concerning, 216. 

De Murnant, Mr., request con 
cerning, 144. 

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, 
86. 

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. 



INDEX. 



241 



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, 
122; 123. 

Exhaustion of army, 27; of re 
sources, 28. 

Expedition, naval, 135. 

Expedition to Canada intended, 
112, 113. 



Factions, intrigues of, 113. 

Failley, Chevalier, intends for 
York, 92. 

Fascines supplied from Red Bank, 
77. 

Ferguson, Dr., secretary of com 
mission, 183. 

Fire, Charleston suffers from, 130, 
134. 

Fire ships, 85. 

Fitzgerald, Col., introduced, 119. 

Fleet of English wood boats 
escape capture, 215 ; errone 
ous report concerning, 152, 
180. 

Fleury, Mr., applies for aid of 
militia, 214; engineer at Fort 
Mercer, 76, 77; introduced, 
118; letters from, inclosed, 
98; solicits promotion, 120, 
121. 

Flour, scarcity of, 234. 

Forasre, deplorable scarcity of, 
127. 

Foraging of enemy, 94, 95, 100, 
229, 232 ; party crosses 
Schuylkill, 97 ; dispersed, 68 ; 
supplies obtained by, 127, 128. 

Foreigners, prejudices against, 
203. 

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. 

31 



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, 
177. 

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, 
21, 22. 

Francis, Mr., bearer of letters, 152, 
165. 

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 
of, 137. 

Freneau, Philip, 40 ; lines by, on 
the death of Col. Laurens, 
55. 

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, 
106. 

Frey, Baron, letter by, 68, 69, 75. 



242 



INDEX. 



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 
service, 109. 

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, 
67, 165. 

Gibraltar, proposed cession of, 84. 

Gibbes, Capt., at Lancaster, 159; 
failure of, to make purchase, 
165. 

Gorshen,expedition by way of, 128. 

Gower, Lord, 18. 

Grant, Gen., escapes a court mar 
tial, 187. 

Grave, siege of, 71. 

Gray, Gen. return of troops of, 
226. 

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 
cerning, 156. 

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 
Quebec, 226. 

Hamilton,. John C., letter of, 40, 41. 

Handbills found, 78 ; sent to Gov. 
Tryon, 162 ; thrown out by 
enemy, 159. 

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, 
45. 

Henderson, Francis, jr., petition 
of, 41. 

Hessians, action against, 107; 
attacked, 87; captured, 97; 
in Philadelphia, 191 ; killed, 
128. 

Highlanders in Philadelphia, 191. 

Hog island, shallow channel by, 

Holland, commission to engage 
transports, 84; letter inclosed 
from, 99. 

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, 
220. 

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; 



INDEX. 



243 



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 
of, 172. 

Huguenot origin of Laurens, 29. 

Humphrey s Gazette, copy of, 
sent, 68. 



Imposture attempted by a de 
serter, 124. 

Independence, acknowledgment 
of, hoped, 163. 

Inspector general, question con 
cerning, 138. 

Inspector general s department, 
146. 

Insult offered to commander in 
chief, 102. 

Intrigue of Gen. Conway, 102, 113. 

Invalids embarked by the enemy, 
139. 



Jackson, Col., conduct at Rhode 
Island, 25. 

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 
rens, 9. 

Jealousies between French and 
Americans, 220, 228. 

Jealousy between naval and land 
service, 62. 

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 
to, 188. 



Jones, R. Strettle, intelligence 

from, 161. 
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, 
225. 

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 
entitled, 141. 

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, 
74. 

Laurens, Lieut. Col. John, active 
service of, in the field, 24; 
ancestors of, 9 ; 



244 



INDEX. 



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, 
25. 



Laurcns, Mrs., 67; expected ar 
rival, 93. 

La Vienne, Marquis de la, intro 
duction of, 203. 

Law, American code of, received, 
89. 

Law, decision of Laurensin study 
of, 16. 

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, 
38. 

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- 
goyne, 63. 

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, 
26. 

Lindsay, Corporal, service of, 111. 

Livingston, Col. H. B., conduct 
of, at Rhode Island, 25. 

Livingston, Col., at Monmouth, 
199. 

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, 
180. 

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. 



INDEX. 



245 



Lovcl, Gen., conduct at Ilhode 

Island, 25. 
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 
soner, 186. 

Maga/ine of Fort Mercer ex 
ploded, 107. 

Manning, Mr., letters from, 145, 
183; news from family of, 
168. 

Manning-, Mrs., letter enclosed 
from, 99. 

Margrave de Baden, rank of Steu- 
ben in troops of, 137. 

Marion, warfare of, 34, 35. 

Marseilles, relative of Laurens at, 
168. 

Marseilles, ship, dismantled in a 
storm, 221. 

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 
king, 44. 

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 
Island, 25. 

Miniature painter, in camp, 139. 

Mischianza, entertainment, 175. 

Mission to France, 28; success 
of, 33. 

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, 
42. 

Monopolies, detestable charges of, 
234. 



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, 
193. 

Moultrie, Laurens joins forces of, 
24, 25 ; regrets the death of 
Laurens, 38. 

Moylan s Light Dragoons, affair 
of, 73. 

Muhlenberg, Gen., commanding 
Germans, 109. 

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 
near, 200. 

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, 
212. 

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. 



246 



INDEX. 



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 
in, 24. 

North Carolinians in winter quar 
ters, 100. 



Oath of allegiance taken by offi 
cers, 173. 

Oaths, request for blank forms of, 
168. 

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, 
84. 

Overtures of peace, strictures up 
on, 162. 



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, 

223. 

Parker, Sir Peter, defeat of, 23. 
Parliamentary Register, recent 

numbers of, 188. 
Partisan warfare in south, 34, 35, 

36. 

Patience of the army, 136. 
Patriotism, ardent expressions of, 

110, 111. 

Paulus Hook, enemy at, 229. 
Pay of officers inadequate, 157, 

158. 

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, 

216. 
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, 
210. 

Policy of an expedition to Canada, 
113. 

Pond, narrowly escapes capture, 
74. 

Pontieres, M., secretary to Baron 
Steubcn, 148. 

Portrait, receipt of, 138. 

Potter, Gen., information from, 
97. 

Potter s militia, 95 ; demonstration 
by, 81. 

Pottsgrove, letter dated at, 60. 

Predatory incursion of British, 
36, 37. 

Prejudice against negro soldiers, 
115. 

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, 
182. 

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. 



INDEX. 



247 



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 
at, 210. 

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, 
137. 

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 
Xeuville, 171. 

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 
ceived, 161. 

Reception of ambassadors, 32. 

Recommendation of Chevalier de 
Maudit de Plessis, 106, 107. 

Reconciliation of Count D Es- 
taing, 41. 

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, 
186. 

Reid, Mr., letter received from, 
223. 

Reinforcements solicited from 
England, 68. 

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, 
178. 

Robinson, Capt., letter sent by, 
78. 

Rochambeau assists in capturing 
Cornwallis, 34. 

Roebuck, ship, cannonading by, 
69, 70. 

Rogers, Major, inquiry concern 
ing, 138. 

Russia, proposed cession to, 84. 

Russians said to be at war with 
Turks, 188. 

Rutledge, President, speech of 
received, 153; papers sent, 
158, 



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, 
227. 

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. 



INDEX. 



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, 
233. 

Secretary of Baron Steuben, 148. 

Senate, proceedings in, 41, speech 
of Mr. Ilayne in, 45. 

Sherard s ferry, cattle crossed at, 
145. 

Shreve, Col., intelligence from, 
177. 

Shrewsberry robbed, 58. 

Sickness in English fleet, 226. 

Siege of Charleston, 27; of Fort 
Mifflin, 75 ; of Savannah, 26. 

Slavery, degrading tendencies of, 
115,116,117. 

Slaves as soldiers, 108, 114, 115, 
116, 117. 

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, 
69, 70. 

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 
sterdam, 151. 

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, 
175. 

Sumter, military genius of, 34, 
35. 

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, 
65. 

Swede s ford, bridge of wagons 
at, 97. 



INDEX. 



249 



Sympathy at death of Laurens, 

38, 39. 
Syuuepuxent, accounts from, 56. 



Taxes upon luxuries, remarks on, 

156. 
Taylors, Major superintending 

the, 135. 

Teams, returns of, 67. 
Terms of Burgoyne s surrender, 

65. 
Ternaut, M., offers his services, 

147. 

Testimonials, too free use of, 234. 
Tilghman, Col, 59, 87. 
Tiverton. movement of troops at, 

211. 

Toilet articles, 119,125. 
Translations from French, 98 ; 

difficulties in, 105. 
Transports loading at Phila 
delphia, 175, 176. 
Treaty, French, terms unknown, 

179. 
Trenton, expected march of 

enemy to, 192. 
Troops, conduct of, at Rhode 

Island, 25 ; subsistence of, 

57, 62. 
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 

Russians, 188. 



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. 

32 



Varnum s Brigade at Monmouth, 
194. 

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 
of, 47. 

Vessel burnt, 85, 191, 232; cap 
tured, 73 ; clear for St. Do 
mingo, 22. 

Vigilant, ship, at Philadelphia, 
178, 191. 

Virginia accedes to articles of 
confederation, 123. 



Wagons, returns of, 67. 

Wampoles, letter dated at, 60. 

War, doubts concerning declara 
tion of, by France, 178 ; gene 
ral, expected in Europe, 161, 
163. 

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. 



250 



INDEX. 



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, 
83. 

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- 
mouth, 197. 



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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