George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Ann Hawkes Hay, 19 July 1776

From Colonel Ann Hawkes Hay

Haverstraw [N.Y.] July 19th 1776


I have the Honor to acknowledge the Receipt of yours directed to the County Committee of this County1—The Enimy now lie in Haverstraw Bay and are using every effort to land and distroy the Property of the Inhabitants, the great extent of Shore I have to guard obliges me to keep the greatest part of my Regiment on Duty in order to prevent their Depradations—I have recd a Reinforcemt from General Clinton at Fort Montgomery of about Eighty Men, and hope when he receives your Excellency’s Letter he will send me further Relief as the Enimy seem to direct their Opperations against the West Shore. We are in Want of Powder and Ball a supply will be absolutely Necessary—If I had two or three small Cannon I should have been able to distroy one of the Cutters that grounded near Stony Point and lay there Six Hours.2

The Inclosed Examination of a Desirter from Capt. Wallace will give your Excellency all the Information I am able to communicate at Present3—I am with esteem—Your most Obt servt

A. Hawkes Hay

P.S. The Bearer can bring up in his saddle Baggs Twenty weight of Powder.4


Ann Hawkes Hay (1745–1786), a colonel in the Orange County militia, was appointed by the provincial congress on 10 Aug. as “commissary for the militia raised and to be raised in this State to the northward of King’s Bridge, while in service on the west side of Hudson’s river, below the Highlands, under the command of Genl. [George] Clinton” (N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 1:568; see also Hay to GW, 2 Aug., and GW to Hay, 10 Aug.). In the fall of 1777 a British raiding party burned Hay’s house, barn, and stables at Haverstraw, and in the summer of 1779 while Hay was on active duty with his militia regiment, the British again raided his farm, taking most of what was left of his property including his slaves (see Hay to George Clinton, 22 June 1780, in Hastings, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 5:877–80).

1Hay apparently is referring to GW’s letter to the Orange County committee of safety of 17 July which has not been found.

2Stony Point, a high rocky promontory jutting out from the west bank of the Hudson River about three miles north of Haverstraw, was strategically important during the Revolutionary War because it commands the narrow southern entrance to the highlands. Anthony Wayne’s successful surprise attack on British works at Stony Point in July 1779 was a notable American victory.

3Richard Turpin, a sailor who was a native of Boston, says in his deposition of this date, that “he was taken [prisoner] in a Schooner Called the Hannah . . . on the 17th of May last, by the Ship Rose Capt. [James] Wallace, on Board of Whose Ship he has been ever Since, that he Sailed from Halifax with the Fleet which Consisted of about one hundred and fifty Sail—That from the Best information he was able to procure the Troops Consisted of about Ten thousand Men fit for Service. . . . That When they Arrived at Staten Island a man Came off and Informed Capt. Wallace that there were five hundred men Ready to Jone their Troops and the Next morning about one hundred and fifty men came Down and Joined them and the next Day the Rest joined them in all about five hundred—That the Inhabitants appeared very Ready to Afford them every Necessary, that they Got a Number of Cattle on the Island, That they lost no men on Board the Rose, but three men were wounded on Board the Phenix, in passing New York, that the Rose Received three Shot in her Hull, and her Rigging was Damaged, That the Phenix was also Damaged in her Hull and Rigging That the Intention of the Ships in Coming up the River was to procure Stock, Receive Tories, Burn the Ships Building up the River and Destroy the Buildings on the Shore. That a few People not Exceeding twenty had Come on Board in the River that they had Received no Provissions Since they came up That they have but two months Proviss[i]on on Board and their Water is very Bad That it is the General Talk on Board, that they will not Attempt to Pass the forts in the Highlands till they heard from Governor Carleton. That there were two Transports from Grenock that had Joined General How with three hundred men, that these were all that were with General How when the Examinant left the Fleet. That it was Expected that the Hessians were to join them at New York. That Yesterday Capt. Wallace went up to the Highlands with the Tender and went on Shore and Set fire to a House and then went off with Six Poor Hogs and Piggs. That he heard before he left the Ship last Night that they Intended to land at Mr Thiers’s Store and Burn the Buildings—That on Wednesday [17 July] the Tender went up the River and one Gun was fired from the Fort which Struck the Tenders Stern. That there are not above four hundred men on Board the Ships and Tenders in all, Wallace has about thirty Negroes which he brought from the Eastward, who are Entered and Receive Pay. . . . That When the Fleet came into the [Sandy] Hook a Considerable Number of men Joined them from Long Island and Amboy and a Party of about Seventeen Light Horse from New Jersey” (DLC:GW).

4The addressed cover includes the notation “B: Nicholas Cox—Express.”

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