Monmouth Memoirs of the Marquis de Lafayette
On the 17th of June , Philadelphia was evacuated. The invalid) magazines and heavy ammunition of the British were embarked with the general; the commissioners of conciliation alone remained behind. Passing over. Gloucester, the army marched, in two columns, each consisting of seven thousand men, commanded by Clinton and Knyphausen, towards New York; The army of the United States, which was of nearly equal force, directed itself from Valley Forge to Coryell's Ferry, and from thence to King's Town,' within a march of the enemy; it was thus left at the option of the American either to follow on their track or to repair to White Plains.
In a council held on this subject, Lee very eloquently endeavored to provt| that it was necessary to erect a bridge of gold for the enemy; that while one very point of forming an alliance with them, every thing ought not to be placed at hazard; that the English army had never been so excellent and so well disciplined; he declared himself to be for White Plains: his speech influenced the opinion of Lord Stirling and of the brigadiers-general.
M. de Lafayette, placed on the other side, spoke late, and asserted that it would be disgraceful for the chiefs, and humiliating for the troops, to allow the enemy to traverse the Jerseys tranquilly; that, without running any improper risk, the rear guard might be attacked; that it was necessary to follow the English, manouvre with prudence, take advantage of a temporary separation, and, in short, seize the most favorable opportunities and situations. This advice was approved by many of the council, and above all by M. du Portail, chief of the engineers, and a very distinguished officer. The majority were, however, in favor of Lee; but M. de Lafayette spoke again to the general on this subject in the evening, and was seconded by Hamilton, and by Gricne, who had been lately named quarter-master in place of Mifflin.
Several of the general officers changed their opinion; and the troops having already begun their march, they were halted in order to form a detachment. When united, there were 3,000 continentalists and 1,200 militia, the command fell to the share of Lee, but, by the express desire of the general, M. de Lafayette succeeded in obtaining it. Everything was going on extremely well, when Lee changed his mind and chose to command the troops himself; having again yielded this point, he recharged once more; and as the general wished him to adhere to his first decision—"It is my fortune and honor," said Lee to Me de Lafayette, "that I place in your hands; you are too generous to cause the loss of both! " This tone succeeded better, and M. de Lafayette promised to ask for him the next day.
The enemy, unfortunately, continued their march; M. de Lafayette was delayed by want of provisions; and it was not until the 26th, at a quarter to twelve at night, that he could ask for Lee, who was sent with a detachment of one thousand men to Englishtown on the left side of the enemy. The first corp had advanced upon their right; and M. de Lafayette, by Lee's special order joined him at midday, within reach of the enemy, from whom he fortunately succeeded in concealing this movement. The two columns of the English army had united together at Monmouth Courthouse, from whence they departed on the morning of the 28th.