1828 Interview of Lafayette 

about the 

"Affair at Gloucester"

1828 Jared Sparks interviewed Lafayette about the "Affair at Gloucester"

In 1828 Jared Sparks interviewed Lafayette, at Lagrange France. 

Below is the marquis de Lafayette's account of the "Affair at Gloucester". 

Affair at Gloucester

He returned to the army in November, when it was at Whitemarsh.  Greene was ordered into the Jerseys to watch the motions of Lord Cornwallis, who had gone over the river with a large body of British and Hessian troops on a foraging excursion.   Lafayette accompanied him although he was not yet able to wear a boot on his wounded leg. At his request, Greene gave him permission to reconnoiter Cornwallis’ & make an attack if circumstances would warrant it.  He took with him 150 regulars, & 200 ( or 280) militia of New Jersey. He approached Gloucester, where Cornwallis was stationed, and in the act sending his troops across the river. He reconnoiter


personally, and advanced so near the enemy, that he was discovered on a sandy point at the mouth of a creek, which empties into the Delaware at Gloucester.   A small detachment of dragoons was sent after to intercept him, which he saw across the creek.   His guide was frightened, but he soon became sufficiently collected to direct Lafayette into a back path, which took him out of the reach of the dragoons, before they could advance to the bridge, which they were obligated to cross. He passed within shooting distance of an out post, and knows not how the declined firing at him, except that they supposed the dragoons would certainly take him, as they were in sight.  He reached his troops. & led them immediate attack on a body of Hessians in the rear of Cornwallis’ forces.   His men made a spirited attack, and the Hessians retreated, leaving several killed.   The Americans pushed forward, encountered & drove before them and were going forward without seeming to reflect on differences of numbers, and the hazard they were running.  It was soon prudent to withdraw, for Cornwallis’s forces were vastly superior. They were not pursued, however, in retreat.  Cornwallis was probably deceived as to their numbers. 


Suspecting Greene to be in the rear with all his forces.   Lafayette immediately joined Greene, who, as Cornwallis had left the Jerseys, recrossed the Delaware to the main army.

This affair at Gloucester was gallant & successful and much noise.  The army had met with so many disasters, & the people had become so much disheartened, that this event was made the most of by Washington and the army, and it had an important influence in raising the spirits and keeping up the courage of the people.

             General Stevens left the army about this time, Lafayette was much delighted at being put in command of his division.


The Jared Sparks Collection of American Manuscripts Houghton Library Harvard College

Harvard University.