George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Hugh Mercer, 27 July 1776

From Brigadier General Hugh Mercer

Perth Amboy [N.J.] 27th July 1776


General Heard, Genl Roberdeau1 have considered with me the Plan proposed for Attacking the Posts on Staten Island—Two things we entirely agree in—Namely that the Number of Troops proposed are by no means equal to the Undertaking—We cannot rationally suppose the Enemies Force on the Island to be less than 10,000—where these are cheifly posted we have no intelligence to be depended on—Several out guards posted along the Shores of the Island are in our View—but these we can only regard as necessary to the Sec[u]rity of their main body; who may speedily come to the asistance of any one Post—The Craft necessary to convey a sufficient body for a successfull attack on the Enemy is not so far as I can find to be collected along the Shores here—It is true there are many small Vessels—but the greater Number ill constructed for making a Descent—It is therefor our Opinion that before any grand Effort is made, a Number of flat bottomd Boats be constructed for the Purpose as well as those we have put in the best repair—We have Carpenters enough in the Troops here; Tools, Nails, & other Materials may be had—and we wait your order to set about this part of the Service.

In Raritan River are Craft of different Sizes calculated to transport 1000 Men[,] Raway River—300 [men]. Genl Heard will be able to inform your Excellency what Craft may be ready in Thompsons Creek—Elizabeth Town and Newark. I have the honour to be Sir Your Excellencys Most obedt Servt

Hugh Mercer

No Troops have joind since last return.


1Daniel Roberdeau (1727–1795), a successful Philadelphia merchant of French and Huguenot descent, became colonel of the 2d Battalion of Philadelphia Associators in 1775, and on 4 July 1776 the officers and privates of the state’s fifty-three battalions of associators, meeting at Lancaster, Pa., elected Roberdeau one of their two brigadier generals (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 4th ser., 6:1261). As brigadier general, Roberdeau commanded the contingent of Pennsylvania associators who marched from Philadelphia about the middle of July to join the flying camp at Perth Amboy (see Hancock to Roberdeau, 14 July 1776, ibid., 5th ser., 1:326). Roberdeau’s military career was a relatively brief one, for on 5 Feb. 1777 he was elected a Pennsylvania delegate to the Continental Congress. Roberdeau served in Congress until February 1779, and a short time later he moved to Alexandria, Va., where in 1780 he became a member of the Sun Fire Company (see Moore, Seaport in Virginia description begins Gay Montague Moore. Seaport in Virginia: George Washington’s Alexandria. 1949. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1972. description ends , 152). Roberdeau subsequently settled in Winchester, Va., his residence when he died in 1795.

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