George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Livingston, 6 July 1776

From Brigadier General William Livingston

Elizabeth Town [N.J.]
6 July 1776

May it please your Excellency,

This moment an express arrived from Major Duyckinck, a copy of whose Letter I enclose to save time1—I should be glad of some immediate directions what to do with the prisoners, as in the mean time I am obliged to keep them under Guard. I am acquainted with but one of them, John Smyth Esqr: who is a man of so great integrity that I think great faith might be given to his Word2—If they are to remain in this province, I know of nothing that can be done with them so conveniently as to forward them on, to the Convention who can provide for their safe keeping. The internal Counties are now so destitute of Men, that I should think it dangerous to trust them there, nor do I know in whom in those parts to put sufficient confidence to entrust their safe keeping.

I am under the greatest difficulty with regard to Ammunition, as the whole back Militia are unprovided, and I am prevented from sending such detachments to particular places as I think necessary for want of powder & Ball.

(Since writing the above, Capt. Kennedy & Mr Cuyler are sent in, Prisoners from New ark).3 I have the honor to be your Excellency’s most humble Servt

Wil: Livingston

P.S. In consequence of Major Duyckinks Letter I have detached 250 Men to him from the Hunterdon & Morris Militia.

LS, DLC:GW; Df, MHi: Livingston Papers. The dateline, closing, and postscript of the LS are in Livingston’s writing.

1John Duyckinck informed Livingston in his letter of this date from Perth Amboy that on orders of Gen. Nathaniel Heard he had taken into custody nine Loyalists, whom he was sending to Livingston. Duyckinck also reported: “We last Night recd Intelligence per Genl Herd about 12 o’Clock, that he had by two different persons, that had made their Escape from the Island, recd such strong Assurances that we were last night to be attacked by a strong Body, that he orderd us immediately to leave the Town, & repair to some proper Ground out of Town, which we accordingly did, & am sorry to say with much precipitation as the troops were greatly alarmed by the sudden & unexpected Orders. We kept a good look out the remainder of the night, & this morning early returned again to Town. The Enemy appear much in the same Situation as mentioned in my last, only the plain appearance of Artillery, which they have mounted opposite the Town. We can’t help thinking our Situation precarious w[i]t[h] the few troops here, & could wish a reinforcemt as soon as may be convenient” (DLC:GW). Livingston apparently also enclosed a copy of Duyckinck’s letter to him of 5 July (see Livingston to GW, that date [first letter], n.2).

2John Smyth (Smith; 1722–1786), a lawyer in Perth Amboy, served before the Revolution as treasurer of East Jersey, registrar to the council of proprietors, and clerk of the Middlesex County court of common pleas. On 10 July the New Jersey provincial congress ordered Livingston to send Smyth to Trenton. Smyth was paroled a short time later, and when the British army occupied Perth Amboy in November 1776, he became a commissary for administering oaths of loyalty to the king. The British evacuation of Perth Amboy in June 1777 obliged Smyth to withdraw to New York City where he was appointed city treasurer. Smyth’s property in New Jersey was confiscated, and at the end of the war he moved to London.

3Archibald Kennedy, Jr. (d. 1794), a former captain in the Royal Navy, lived at Pavonia, a 400-acre farm near Paulus Hook. Released on parole by the provincial congress, Kennedy subsequently was arrested on charges of spying and was paroled a second time in January 1778. In 1781 he sailed with his family to England. Henry Cuyler apparently was allowed to return to his home in Newark because of ill health, and on 16 July 1776 the provincial congress accepted his parole which was secured by a bond for £1,000 (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 4th ser., 6:1646–47).

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