George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel David Chambers, 16 December 1776

From Colonel David Chambers

Amwell [N.J.]1 Decm. 16th 1776


herewith I send your Excellency 4 prisoners that we took last evening 2 being Regulars—one of the others by name Jno. Vandyke a Malitious Active Tory, and is said to have let some prisoners out of Millstone Goal and assembled and spirited the Negroes against us And as I am Informed was about a week since taken prisoner in Company with some light Horse by our people and confin’d who says he was discharg’d from sd Confinem[en]t by Order of Congress and travelled into Jersey by the way of Easton from thence to Jno. Ringoes where he call’d himself by the name of — Jones. The other is a person employed as Post by Jesse Wall of Trenton in conveying intelligences Letters &c. for the use of the Regular Army—And from the best information I can get their forces are on the move from Pennington—I am since inform’d the said Vandyke made his escape from Ld Sterling and given Orders for him to be left with him if so.2 I have the Honour to Subscribe myself your most obedent & very Hml. Sert

David Chambers

ALS, NjMoHP. The cover is addressed: “To his Excellency Genl Washington at his Quarters.”

David Chambers was appointed colonel of the 3d Regiment of the Hunterdon County militia in June 1776, and in September 1777 he became colonel of the county’s 2d Battalion of militia. Chambers resigned his commission in May 1779 after becoming embroiled in a bitter dispute with Lt. Col. William Chamberlin (see William Livingston to the Assembly, 14 Sept. 1778, in Livingston Papers description begins Carl E. Prince et al., eds. The Papers of William Livingston. 5 vols. Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., 1979–88. description ends , 2:437–39; Petition from Cornelius Stout et al., 3 June 1780, ibid., 3:411–13; and Livingston to the Assembly, 5 June 1780, ibid., 414–15). For the accusation of plundering that GW made against Chambers and his men in January 1777 and Chambers’s strong denial of the charge, see GW to Joseph Reed, 15 Jan. 1777, RPJCB; 19 Jan. 1777, NjMoHP; and Chambers to GW, 9 Feb. 1777, DLC:GW.

1Amwell Township is in Hunterdon County, N.J., on the east side of Coryell’s Ferry. It includes the towns of Lambertville, Ringoes, Sergeantsville, and Flemington.

2John Vandyke (Van Dyke, Van Dyck; 1747–1811), a farmer and inferior court judge who lived near Rocky Hill in Somerset County, N.J., apparently was held prisoner in Philadelphia for four months before he was exchanged. He may subsequently have served for a time as a captain in the Queen’s Rangers. In March 1778 Vandyke raised a Loyalist corps called the West Jersey Volunteers which he commanded during the ensuing campaign with the rank of major. During the southern campaigns later in the war, he served as a volunteer with the 17th Regiment of Foot. Although Vandyke’s property was confiscated and sold in the spring of 1777, he returned to Somerset County some years following the war after having lived in Nova Scotia for a time. Millstone, N.J., is in Somerset County about eight miles north of Rocky Hill and about thirty miles northeast of Coryell’s Ferry (Lambertville). John Ringo’s tavern in what is now Ringoes, N.J., was about seven miles northeast of Coryell’s Ferry.

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