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I think it my duty to inform Congress, that there is great dissatisfaction at this time in the New York line for want of pay. Near sixteen months' pay, I am told, is due. If it were practicable to give this and the Jersey troops, if they are in the same predicament, a small portion of their pay, it might stop desertion, which is frequent, and avert greater evils, which are otherwise to be apprehended. The four eastern States have given a temporary relief to their troops, which makes the case of others, those of New York particularly, appear more distressing and grievous to them.
I have the honor to be, &c.
TO MAJOR BENJAMIN TALLMADGE.
New Windsor, 8 April, 1781. SIR, The success of the proposed enterprise, must depend on the absence of the British fleet, the secrecy of the attempt, and a knowledge of the exact situation of the enemy. If, after you have been at the westward, the circumstances, from your intelligence, shall still appear favorable, you will be at liberty to be the bearer of the enclosed letter to the Count de Rochambeau, to whose determination I have referred the matter; as any coöperation on our part, by moving troops towards the Sound, would give such indications of the design, as would effectually frustrate the suc
Should you not proceed to the Count, you may destroy that letter. If, on the contrary, you should go to Newport, by keeping an account of the expenses, they will be repaid by the public.
In the mean time, I wish you to be as particular as possible, in obtaining from your friend an accurate
account of the enemy's strength on York, Long, and Staten Islands, specifying the several corps and their distributions. This, I think, from the enemy's present weak state, may be procured with more facility and accuracy than at any former period. I wish to know, also, the strength of the last detachment from New York, and of what troops it was composed.
I need scarcely suggest, if you should go eastward, that it will be expedient to do it in such a manner as not to create suspicion. Indeed, secrecy is absolutely necessary in the whole affair. As Count de Rochambeau does not understand English, it may be well to communicate your business to the Chevalier de Chastellux in the first instance, and through him to the Count, lest it should accidentally get abroad in the communication. I am, &c.*
In the letter to which the above was a reply, Major Tallmadge had written as follows.
“ Since the establishment of the Board at New York for the direction of the Associated Loyalists, there appears to have been a regular system adopted to open a more effectual communication with the disaffected in Connecticut. Chains of intelligence, which are daily growing more dangerous, and the more injurious traffic, which is constantly increasing, are but too fatal consequences of this system. My informer has requested me to propose to your Excellency a plan to break up the whole body of these marauders. At Lloyd's Neck, on Long Island, it is supposed there are assembled about eight hundred men, chiefly refugees and deserters from our army. Of this number there may be about four hundred and fifty or five hundred properly armed. Their naval guard consists of one vessel of sixteen guns, two small privateers, and a galley. About eight miles east of Lloyd's Neck, they have a post at Treadwell's Bank, of about one hundred and forty men, chiefly woodcutters armed. I have seen an accurate draft of this post and works." Hartford, April 6th.
Major Tallmadge believed, that, if two frigates should enter the Sound, in the absence of the British fleet, and at the same time a suitable body of troops were embarked in boats, the posts might be cut off. He offered to aid or direct an enterprise for such an object.
On receiving General Washington's letter, Major Tallmadge passed over in person to Long Island, and obtained exact knowledge of the
TO COLONEL JOHN LAURENS, AT PARIS.
New Windsor, 9 April, 1781. MY DEAR LAURENS, Colonel Armand, who was charged with the delivery of many letters to you from the Marquis de Lafayette, imparting to his friends and the ministry of France your mission, unfortunately arrived at Boston after you had sailed. By him I gave you an account of the revolt of part of the Jersey troops, Arnold's expedition to Virginia, Leslie's arrival at Charleston, and such other matters as occurred after your departure.
Since that period several interesting events have happened; some favorable, others adverse. Among the former may be reckoned Morgan's brilliant action with Tarleton; among the latter, the advantages gained by Lord Cornwallis over General Greene. The official accounts of these I enclose to you. Cornwallis, after the defeat of Tarleton, destroyed his wagons, and made a violent effort to recover his prisoners, but, failing therein moved equally light and rapidly against General Greene, who, though he had formed a junction with Morgan, was obliged to retreat before him into Virginia. Whether from despair of recovering his prisoners, of bringing Greene to a general action, or because he conceived his own situation critical, I do not take upon me to determine; but the fact is, that here commenced Cornwallis's retrograde movements, and Greene's advance from the Roanoke to the place of action.
condition and strength of the forts at Lloyd's Neck and Treadwell's Bank. He then returned, and proceeded to Newport, where he found Count de Rochambeau disposed to assist in the expedition, if it could be made practicable; but, all the armed French frigates being then absent on different destinations, it was not possible at that time to provide the proper naval force.
On the first notice of the storm, which happened on the 22d of January, and of its effects, I intimated to the French general the possibility and importance of improving the opportunity in an attempt upon Arnold. When I received a more certain account of the total loss of the Culloden, and the dismasting of the Bedford, two seventy-four-gun ships belonging to the British fleet in Gardiner's Bay, I immediately put in motion, under the command of the Marquis de Lafayette, as large a part of my small force here, as I could with prudence detach, to proceed to the Head of Elk, and, with all expedition, made a proposal to the Count de Rochambeau and the Chevalier Destouches for a coöperation in Virginia with the whole of the fleet of our allies and a part of their land force. Before my proposition arrived, in consequence of an application to him from Philadelphia, the Chevalier Destouches had sent a ship of the line and two or three frigates to the Chesapeake Bay, which not only retarded the plan I had proposed (by awaiting their return), but ultimately defeated the project; as the enemy in the mean time remasted the Bedford with the masts taken out of the Culloden, and, following the French fleet, arrived off the Capes of Virginia before it; where a naval combat ensued, glorious for the French, who were inferior in ships and guns, but unprofitable for us, who were disappointed of our object.
The failure of this expedition, which was most flattering in the commencement, is much to be regretted; because a successful blow in that quarter would, in all probability, have given a decisive turn to our affairs in all the southern States; because it has been attended with considerable expense on our part, and much inconvenience to the State of Virginia, by the assembling of its militia; because the world is disappointed at not seeing Arnold in gibbets; and, above all, because we stood in need of something to keep us afloat, till the result of your mission is known; for, be assured, my dear Laurens, day does not follow night more certainly, than it brings with it some additional proof of the impracticability of carrying on the war without the aids you were directed to solicit. As an honest and candid man, as a man whose all depends on the final and happy termination of the present contest, I assert this, while I give it decisively as my opinion, that, without a foreign loan, our present force, which is but the remnant of an army, cannot be kept together this campaign, much less will it be increased and in readiness for another.
The observations contained in my letter of the 15th of January last are verified every moment; and, if France delays a timely and powerful aid in the critical posture of our affairs, it will avail us nothing, should she attempt it hereafter. We are at this hour suspended in the balance; not from choice, but from hard and absolute necessity; and you may rely on it as a fact, that we cannot transport the provisions from the States in which they are assessed to the army, because we cannot pay the teamsters, who will no longer work for certificates. It is equally certain, that our troops are approaching fast to nakedness, and that we have nothing to clothe them with ; that our hospitals are without medicines and our sick without nutriment except such as well men eat; and that all our public works are at a stand, and the artificers disbanding But why need I run into detail, when it may be de clared in a word, that we are at the end of our tether, and that now or never our deliverance must come. While, indeed, how easy would it be to retort the enemy's own game upon them, if it could be made to