LAFAYETTE, GILBERT DU MOTIER, Marquis DE, Major General, Continental Army. Autograph letter signed (''Lafayette'') TO MAJOR GENERAL NATHANAEL GREENE, Camp between Rappahannock and North Anna [Virginia], 3 June 1781. 4 pages, large folio, 324 x 209mm (12.5/8 x 86 in.), ''GR'' and coronet watermark, second leaf neatly inlaid, slightly yellowed.
LAFAYETTE, GILBERT DU MOTIER, Marquis DE, Major General, Continental Army. Autograph letter signed ("Lafayette") TO MAJOR GENERAL NATHANAEL GREENE, Camp between Rappahannock and North Anna [Virginia], 3 June 1781. 4 pages, large folio, 324 x 209mm (12.5/8 x 86 in.), "GR" and coronet watermark, second leaf neatly inlaid, slightly yellowed.
LAFAYETTE REPORTS FROM THE FIELD, ON HIS PURSUIT BY CORNWALLIS
A fine, detailed letter from the field on the tense military situation in Virginia. The day after this letter, Lafayette's small force, which had successfully evaded Cornwallis' large army, crossed the Rapidan at Ely's Ford and Cornwallis halted his army's pursuit. Shortly afterwards, when Lafayette's force was reinforced by Generals Wayne and Stueben, Cornwallis retreated back to the coast, ultimately taking an defensive position at Yorktown, giving Washington the opportunity for the decisive entrapment which largely spelled defeat for the British in North America.
"...I retired towards Richmond and waited for Lord Cornwallis' movement. His regular force being so vastly superior to mine...and his cavalry being ten to one, I could not think to bring into action a small body of [800 or 900] men...and an inconsiderable body of militia whose defeat was certain...Cornwallis...proposed to turn our left flank, but before it was executed we moved...to the fork of Chickohominy. The Enemy advanced...and we retreated...We marched in a parallel with them...they stopped at Cook's Ford wheree they are for the present...The intention of the Enemy are not as yet well explained. Fredericksburg appears to be their object...It is possible they mean to make a strike towards Charlottes ville..." He goes on to complain that his instructions for the evacuation of munitions and stores have not been obeyed, and some dispatches "to me have fallen into the Enemy's hand." He fears that, in light of a Tory insurrection in Hampshire County, Cornwallis may try to liberate the British prisoners of war captured in Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga, so he has ordered these prisoners sent back to New England. "When united to General Wain [Wayne] I shall be better able to command my own movements...Had this expected junction taken place sooner, matters would have been very different. The Enemy must have 500 men mounted and their Cavalry increases daily," he adds, and they seize forage, horses and rob from the negroes, while "under this cloud of light troops it is difficult to reconnoitre as well as to counteract any rapid movement they choose to make..."