George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Hugh Mercer, 7 August 1776

From Brigadier General Hugh Mercer

Perth Amboy [N.J.] 7 Augt [1776] 7 P.M.


Inclosd is some Intelligence from a Deserter who swam over to us1—his account that the heavy baggage of the Troops was ordered on board shows an Intended movement of the Troops from Staten Island—By this information no foreign Troops have yet arrived—I will endeavour to procure some Intelligence tonight. I have the honour to be Sir your Excellencys Most obed. St

Hugh Mercer


1The enclosed “Examination of Richd Shea a Deserter,” dated 7 Aug., reads: “Enlisted in Waterford 22 month[s] ago—an Irishman—of the 40th Regt com[mande]d by Lieut. Col. Jas Grant—in Capt. Jno. Adlam’s Company—was Clerk to the Regiment. Has been Six Weeks on Staten Island—was at Boston last year from July to the 17th March—went from there to Halifax— remained there on Ship except now & then on shore to exercise—there are in the 40th Regiment 336 rank & file—supposed to have 14000 on the Island—Two new highland Regiments very Sickly—the 42d Regt of Highlanders—Except [expect] some Hessians but none come—the 40th Regt opposite the Blazing Star in Barns—stretch 2¼ miles on the right & left of the old blazing Star—had no leave to go ¼ mile from Quarters—if any soldier left Quarters severely punishd.

“His reason for deserting was he had 4£ due for pay & £10 as Clerk wch he ask’d for & was refused by the paymaster—The Officers are much afraid of the Riflemen—the soldiers in Spirits—2000 men Sick—small pox—the highlanders with fluxes—poxes—not more than 4000 of the 14000 cleaver soldiers—The Lighthorse & Marines remaind at Halifax also old men & others unfit for Service.

“Five Days ago he Orderd the Officers heavy Baggage & women of the Army on board the fleet—As far as he heard he believes they will not attack New york unless reinforcd by the foreigners—He has seen in Orders for working party at Billops point where they are numerous & have thrown up Entrenchments—no works near the blazing Starr—One Company at the old blazing Star. Dont know who is at the new blazing Star.

“Two Days fresh provisions in a Week—no vegetables in the week—Each Company of the 40th Regt have a Guard in front—3 men in Day time 6 at Night—no Main Guard—The Inhabitants are sworn by the Commanding Officer.

“There is on the Island Major Genl Jas Grant who was formerly Lt Colo. of 40th Regt & the Lieut. Colo. Jas Grant who is also there was Major in the Regiment.

“He heard there were 40 Transports arrived last Thursday [1 Aug.] chiefly Store Ships—some few highlanders—heard Clinton was defeated & he was expected to join them” (DLC:GW).

Index Entries