George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Alexander McDougall, 27 April 1777

From Brigadier General Alexander McDougall

Peeks Kill [N.Y.] 27th April 1777.


Since my last1 the Enemys Ships remain anchored from Dob’s Ferry to Philip’s, the wind haveing been against them; and very precarious Since they came there. Their Number, by the best intelligence, received this morning is Twelve Large, Square riged Vessels, and a Number of Tenders; the wind is Still against them. The inclosed Letters will communicate to you disstressing and Shameful intelligence.2 It has been confirmed from another Quarter; but none later from Danburry than Col. Huntingsons. I have not been able to learn that one Musket has been discharged against the Enemy, or any other opposition given than the taking up of one Bridge. I have Sent off three good riders for intelligence; and Shall advise you of the result. If the Enemy should be Embolden by their Success, at Danburry to proceed [to] Frederics burgh and from thence to Fish Kills, my Posit⟨ion⟩ is very dangerours. I shall be obliged to change it: and make the best use I can of my force. The Shipping being So near me; and the wa⟨nt⟩ of meat for many of the Troops for two days, prevent my moving on Conjecture. The Former is the fault of those, who furnish provission and who have been wrote to, many days to supply this post. Some However is expected Hourly. As I have had no advice of Ships passing to the Eastward from Newyork, and the winds haveg been for Some time in that Quarter, I suspect the Troops of the Enemy, who landed at Campo to be from Rhode Island. The most irreparable loss we Shall Suffer from them, is 1690 Tents removed to Danburry from Fish Kill. Since I wrote the preceeding, I am informed the Ships which carried the Troops to Campo, came from New-York.3 Time will only permit me to add that I am your Excellency’s very Hble Servant

Alexr McDougall

ALS, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in GW to Hancock, 28 April 1777, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169. The part of this letter concerning the shortage of provisions is extracted in GW’s letter to Joseph Trumbull of 12 May.

2McDougall enclosed three letters that Col. Jedediah Huntington wrote to him on 26 April from Danbury, Conn., which was raided on 26–27 April by a British and Loyalist force under the command of William Tryon. Huntington’s first letter, written at 3:00 A.M. on 26 April, contains a copy of a letter that Brig. Gen. Gold Selleck Silliman of the Connecticut militia wrote from Fairfield on 25 April to colonels Joseph Platt Cooke and Increase Moseley. Silliman says: “The Enemy from 24 Sail of Shipping have landed at Campo [Compo Hill] their Number is yet unknown but it is of the last Importance to be ready to oppose them you will therefore immediately muster your Regiments & march Day & Night till you get here as soon as you get Twenty Men of a Company together send them on immediately under a proper Officer & send on the rest as fast as possible bring all the Amunition you can get.” Huntington adds: “there are about one hundred continental Troops in this Place [Danbury] double the Number marched from this the 24th on their Way to Peeks Kill—there is great Want of Amunition. ... P.S. Flints are wanting” (DLC:GW).

Huntington says in the second letter, which he wrote at 7:00 A.M. on 26 April, that “Lt Col: [Isaac] Sherman will march immediately for Peeks Kill with 40 or 50 Men being one half of all that are here at present—I hope, about 100 men now on the Road, will be in here this Night or Tomorrow Morning—the Militia in this Neighbourhood are on the Move towards Fairfield in Consequence of the Express from General Silliman—I am sending an Express eastward to hasten Troops & Militia to this Place & Peeks Kill” (DLC:GW).

Huntington’s third letter, which he wrote at 4:00 P.M. on 26 April, reads: “The Enemy are just entered the Town & I am reduced to the hard Necessity of leaving the Plain & the greatest Part of the Stores & repairing to the Heights with about 50 continental Troops & as many again Militia—I had sent Expresses every Way for Succours but none has come worth mentioning the Enemy are said to be 2000—I did not think it prudent to stay in the Town to make any opposition as the Place is encompassed with Heights & the Numbers of the Enemy so superior. I hope some continental Troops from Massachusetts now at or near New Milford will be in here Tomorrow” (DLC:GW). For further accounts of the British raid on Danbury, see note 3 and McDougall to GW, 29 April.

3Archibald Robertson, who sailed with Tryon’s force from New York on 22 April, says in his diary that on 25 April “about 5 o’clock in the Evening [we] Landed on Cedar Point about 4 miles East of Norwalk and 8 West of Fairfield on the Connecticut Shore. We immediately march’d and took Possession of two hills call’d Compo hill and Bennets’ Rocks about 1½ miles from the Beach. Here we halted untill the Artillery etc. was landed, which was about 11 at night. We began our march in half an hour in one Column on the Danbury Road by Reading. ... At 11 in the Forenoon the 26th we reach’d Reading.... We halted an hour and a half and then march’d forward to Danbury where we Arrived about 5 o’clock in the Evening, having pass’d through a very mountainous difficult Country.... The Rebels Appeared about Danbury in a Body of 200 Scattered, they fired a few Shots at Distance. Wounded 3 of the 23d while we were taking possession of the Rising Grounds about the Village. When we entered the Street 7 Daring Rascals fired at us from a house that flank’d the street we were drawn up in. Two Companys of the 15th Attack’d them and put them to Death Burning the house. We immediately began to Collect the Stores, our men very much fatigued” (Lydenberg, Robertson’s 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 , 126–27; see also 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 , 1:116). The distance from Compo Hill to Danbury is about twenty-two miles.

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