George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Walton, 22 January 1777

From George Walton

Philadelphia, 22d January, 1777.


Mr Randolph, who came last night from some expedition towards black-point,1 informs me, that, at different times within these few days, he saw there several persons who were directly out of New-York; and who all agreed in this, That there were but very few troops in the city, and that patrol duty was performed by the inhabitants in rotation; That there have been many secret movements in the night time, of stores and heavy artillery, and that, on Tuesday last six heavy peices of Artillery were carried from New-York over to staten Island down opposite to Perth-Amboy. These, no doubt, are intended to cover a Retreat that way, if they should be necessitated to make one.2

I have not troubled your Excellency with this trifling intelligence with any view of its being materially useful to you: but as good information in war is as the optics of man, the most trifling may sometimes be of advantage. I wish you health, and am, with great respect, sir, Your Most Obedient Servant,

Geo. Walton.

ALS, DLC:GW. The addressed cover includes the notation: “favored by Capt. Henry.”

1“Mr Randolph” may be Robert Randolph (1755–1825) of Henrico County, Va., cornet of Capt. George Lewis’s troop in the 3d Continental Dragoons. Randolph was assigned to the commander-in-chief’s guard when Lewis took command of the guard in May of this year. He was wounded and captured on 28 Sept. 1778, when Col. George Baylor’s 3d Continental Dragoons was surprised at its barracks at Harrington, N.Y. (see Godfrey, Commander-in-Chief’s Guard description begins Carlos E. Godfrey. The Commander-in-Chief’s Guard: Revolutionary War. Washington, D.C., 1904. description ends , 233). Black Point at the mouth of the Shrewsbury River in east Monmouth County, N.J., a short distance south of Sandy Hook, was a good location from which to spy on the British fleet. Black Point had become a well-known resort area by the time of the Revolutionary War because of the attraction of Wister’s bath house (see Carl Bridenbaugh, “Baths and Watering Places of Colonial America,” in William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 3 (1946), 177–78.

2British sources record “nothing Extraordinary” and “All quiet” for the days around Tuesday 14 Jan. 1777 (Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends , 122, and Kemble Papers description begins [Stephen Kemble]. The Kemble Papers. 2 vols. New York, 1884-85. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 16–17. description ends , 108). This intelligence may pertain to British troop movements that took place on 19 and 20 Jan. in preparation for the 16th Regiment’s planned embarkation for Pensacola on Tuesday 21 Jan. (see Gen. William Howe’s orders for 19 and 20 Jan., ibid., 438).

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