George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General George Clinton, 23 April 1777

To Brigadier General George Clinton

Head Quarters Morris Town 23d April 1777

Dear Sir

By a person sent into Brunswic I am informed that “Genl Skinners Force consists of about 1000 to be joined by some regular Troops and to proceed from Bergen thro’ Sussex and the back parts of the Jerseys when the Troops march for Philada.”1

I think this Move so probable, as it will give them access to a part of the Country most notoriously disaffectd, that I desire you will post a Body of Militia of the State of New York, on this Side of the North River, in such place as you shall think most safe to prevent them from being surprized, and at the same time proper to intercept Skinner’s Corps if they should attempt the above mentioned Rout.

Genl Heard with about two hundred Jersey Militia marched this day to take post at Pompton and extend himself towards Hackinsack—Colo. Dey will also have some small parties of his Regiment in that quarter; If the Enemy should move, they by being called upon, may afford some Assistance.

I have communicated the above to Genl Mcdougal and also another peice of advice “that the Enemy embarked a Brigade of about 700 Men the Night of the 20th and that it was imagined they intended to go up the North River.”2

Yours was delivered to me by Mr Gordon.3 I wish it was in my power to serve him just now, but the small Success of the Officers who are already recruiting disheartens me from giving any more Commissions at present.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

2The wording within the quotation marks is a paraphrase of the intelligence contained in Adam Stephen’s letter to GW of 22 April. See also GW to Alexander McDougall, this date.

3Clinton wrote GW on 20 April from New Windsor, N.Y.: “The Bearer Mr Gordon was highly recommended to me by Mr Erskine, Colo. Malcom & others as a fit Person to raise a Company; but not before I had compleated the Nomination of the Officers for the four Compans. which your Excellency was pleased to direct me to appoint—He seems extreamly desirous of engaging in the Service of his Country & tho I have little Personal Knowledge of him his good Charecter induces me to take this Liberty of mentioning him to your Excellency shoud there yet be a vacancy in any of the New Regiments—He is represented to me as a Person well quallified for the Duty of an Adjudant in which Charecter I believe he woud incline to serve” (DLC:GW). In a note dated 23 April on the reverse of Clinton’s letter, GW’s aide-de-camp George Johnston wrote: “Ambrose Gordon Expects to Continue with Mr Robert Erskine at Ringwood Iron Works in New Jersey for Some months to come should he Receive no in structions from his Excellencey General Washington” (DLC:GW). Robert Erskine (1735–1780), a Scottish engineer who had come to America in 1771 to manage the operations of the American Iron Company in the vicinity of Ringwood, N.J., became geographer and surveyor of the roads for the Continental army in July 1777, and he subsequently made a number of useful maps (see 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 , 8:580, and GW to Erskine, 28 July 1777, DLC:GW). Erskine recommended Gordon for a military appointment in his letter to George Clinton of 14 Mar. 1777 (see Hastings, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 1:659–61; see also Clinton to Erskine, 15 Mar. 1777, ibid., 661–63). Col. William Malcom’s recommendation is in his letter to Clinton of 19 April (see ibid., 722–23). Ambrose Gordon became paymaster of the 3d Regiment of Continental dragoons in November 1779. He later attained the rank of lieutenant in that regiment, and although he was wounded at the Battle of Eutaw Springs in 1781, he served until the end of the war.

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