George Washington Papers

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hanson Harrison to John Hancock, 12 September 1776

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hanson Harrison to John Hancock

Head Qrs New York Septr 12th 1776


His Excellency being called from Head Quarters to day on business of Importance which prevents his Writing,1 I therefore do myself the honor to inform Congress of what has happened since his Letter of Yesterday.

Last Evening the Enemy transported a number of Men from Buchanans to Montezors Island, and by their several movements more strongly indicate their Intention to land somewhere about Harlem or Morrisania—most likely at both at the same time. This Morning One of the Ships that has been for some time in the Sound moved down towards Hell Gate, but the tide leaving her, she could not get near enough to bring her Guns to bear upon our Fortification. If she means to attack It, It is probable she will warp in the next tide. Their Batteries have kept up a pretty constant fire against our’s at that place, but without any considerable effect. This Morning they opened a New One.2

I do not recollect any other material occurrence and shall only add That I have the Honor to be with the highest respect Sir Your Most Obedt Servt

Rob. H. Harrison

ALS, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 14 Sept. and referred it to the Board of War (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:757).

1GW attended the council of war of this date.

2Frederick Mackenzie says in his diary that two battalions of the British 1st Brigade crossed to Buchanan’s and Montresor’s islands on the morning of 11 Sept. “to support the Light Infantry and secure the posts there. The Rebels appear numerous on the opposite shores, which probably made it necessary to reinforce them. A good deal of firing at the Batteries at Hellgate. The Rebels have thrown some of their Shells very well. We had some men wounded there. A great number of the Country small Craft, are collecting at Flushing for the service of the Army.” On this date, Mackenzie says, “The two other Battalions of the 1st brigade passed over to the Islands. The fire is still kept up on both sides at Hellgate; but that of the Rebels slackens. We had four or five men wounded there this day. The Brune frigate, came down the Sound, and Anchored above Montresor’s Island” (Mackenzie, Diary description begins Diary of Frederick Mackenzie Giving a Daily Narrative of His Military Service as an Officer of the Regiment of Royal Welch Fusiliers during the Years 1775–1781 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1930. description ends , 1:44).

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