Gateway to the Classics: American History Stories, Volume II by Mara L. Pratt
American History Stories, Volume II by  Mara L. Pratt


The Marquis de Lafayette


During this war, the French were our firm allies against the English. One Frenchman, Marquis De Lafayette was so much in sympathy with us, that, nobleman that he was, he left his home and his country to join our army and fight for our cause.

He was young, only nineteen years of age, wealthy and blessed with everything that should bind his heart to his own home. But so great was his sympathy with the struggling colonies that he was willing to give up all and come to America. "I have always held the cause of America dear," said he; "now I go to serve it personally."

When he arrived, the first act of generosity was to supply clothing and arms to the South Carolina troops, then in great distress.

He wrote at once to Washington saying, "The moment I heard of America I loved her. The moment I heard she was fighting for liberty, I burned with a desire to bleed for her."

Lafayette was so long in this country, and so much heart and soul with us in our fight for independence, that when ever he referred to the Revolution after his return to France, he spoke of himself as an American. One evening, in 1824, while visiting Boston, Mrs. Josiah Quincy said to him:

"The American cockade was black and white, was it not, General?"

"Yes, madam," he replied; "it was black at first, but when the French came and joined us, we added the white in compliment to them."

At the siege of Yorktown, in the attack which hastened the surrender of Cornwallis, Lafayette and his American division captured one redoubt some minutes before the French carried the redoubt which they commanded.

"You don't remember me, General!" cried an old soldier, pressing through the crowd at the State House to welcome Lafayette on his arrival in Boston. The General looked at him keenly, holding the hand of the old man, who added:

"I was close to you when we stormed our redoubt at Yorktown—I was just behind Captain Smith—you remember Captain Smith? He was shot through the head just as he mounted the redoubt."

"Yes, yes, I remember!" answered Lafayette, his face lightening up. "Poor Captain Smith! But we beat the French! We beat the French!"

At the surrender of Cornwallis, the American troops were drawn up on the right, and the French troops on the left of the road, along which the British army marched in solemn silence. Lafayette, noticing that the English soldiers looked only at the Frenchmen on the left, and ignored the American light-infantry, the pride of his heart, and being determined to bring their "eyes to the right," ordered the band to strike up "Yankee Doodle."

"Then," said he, narrating the story, "they did look at us, but were not very well pleased."

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