Harford History

March 19, 2006

1781: Lafayette's troops need supplies

At the height of the Revolutionary War, prospects for American regiments were grim. The troops desperately needed food, shoes, clothing, motivation and money.

In late February 1781, Maj. Gen. Marquis de Lafayette received orders to transport 1,200 troops from Elkton through Harford County to Virginia to capture Benedict Arnold. The success of the expedition, however, depended upon the procuring provisions for the disgruntled and hungry soldiers.

By mid-March, the regiments arrived in Annapolis, only to find rations still in short supply. In a letter dated March 19, 1781, the Council of Maryland requested 100 barrels of bread be delivered to David Poe of Baltimore for immediate transport down the Chesapeake Bay to Marquis de Lafayette.

Lafayette's expeditions through Harford left an indelible mark on the county and served as a precursor to the victory at Yorktown. Lafayette returned to Harford in 1824 as a guest of the nation. It was then that he renamed "Lower Susquehanna Ferry" as "Havre de Grace."

[Source: Lafayette in Harford County, 1781 by J. Alexis Shriver, 1931. Research by Harford County Public Library.]

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