So I recently read that Lafayette caught malaria at Yorktown. Do you know if this is true / know anything more about it?
He sure did. Between overexerting himself and riding back and forth in swamp-laden territory, Lafayette eventually broke down with malaria before the push to capture Yorktown. Optimistic as ever, he thought he would sleep it off and carry on with his life, but he didn’t.
“I have finished awkwardly enough by giving myself a fever and a headache…..Perhaps I am dying of old age since two days ago I rang out my twenty-fourth birthday.”
Our favorite Frenchman managed to ride out and greet Washington when he arrived in camp, embracing him “with an ardour not easily described.” He also attended dinner that night with the generals, maintaining noticeably high spirits during the conversation and meal, after which he excused himself and immediately went to bed.
Over the next few weeks, he rested off and on, but Lafayette was never one to sit still and he continued pushing himself. He wrote off a constant stream of letters to a long list of recipients, many of which have an obviously fevered tint to them. He attended meetings, went to dinners, and even hosted one himself. People started noticing his ‘shaky knees and quivering hands’ at these events and due to his tendency to overdo…well…everything, Washington ordered him to stay behind and rest while he and Rochambeau met with the French fleet. Lafayette finally managed to get some sleep and soon recovered.