George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Stirling, 3 July 1777

From Major General Stirling

Cross Roads on Westfeild Gap road [N.J.]
July 3d 1777. 2 oClo.

Dear Sir,

As I was in the General Orders of Yesterday Nominated Major General of the Day, I thought it my Duty to Attend at head Quarters this Morning for orders & to be in the way to see them executed, but I found your Excellency & the Cheif of the Army moved off, on the Road I received the Order of March wt. Colonel Pickerings explanation of them;1 as my I find it was your Excellency’s Intentions I should take Care of my own division, I returned to this place and have given orders for its March at Sunrise to Morrow Morning.

I send your Excellency four letters I have this day received from General Maxwell, I have taken every means in my power to Obtain Intelligence from Staten Island and of the Enemy’s Motions, but from any thing I have yet learnt it is uncertain wether any part of their Army is yet embarked, this Morning their Encampm’t on the North Side of Staten Island, was very large, at noon this day it was very small;2 I will endeavour to reduce the Intelligence to some Certainty, and as Genl Maxwell must lay by tomorrow, I believe it be best to see the division off in the morning under Genl Conway & go down myself to Elizabeth Town & New Ark in order to get all the Intelligence or at least get proper people out to Obtain it. I have not heard any particulars of the News from the Northward, but is it possible that there can be any which will Justify our Leaving this Quarter & the Road to Philadelphia open; before we know that General Howe is not waiting to take advantage of this very movement. I hope your Excellency is well advised and that gives me Consolation & Confidence that all is Right. I am your Excellency’s Most Obt Humble Servant



1Adj. Gen. Timothy Pickering’s signed draft copy of the Continental army’s order of march from Middlebrook to Morristown of this date reads:

“1. The Army to march in Sub-Divisions from the right. Genl Green’s Division first, then Genl Stephen—Genl Lincolns—Lord Stirlings.

“2. The Artillery of each Brigade equally divided in front and Rear of the Brigade.

“3. The Pack of Artillery to follow Genl. Green’s Division.

“4. The Baggage of Genl Green’s & Genl Stephen’s Divisions to march in the rear of their respective Divisions.

“5. The Baggage of Genl Lincoln’s, and Lord Stirling’s Divisions, to march in the rear of their respective Divisions.

“6. Each Brigade to furnish a proper Baggage Guard.

“7. The front Brigade of Genl Green’s Division to send forward two Compa⟨nies &⟩ an advanc’d Guard.

“8. The rear Brigad⟨e of Genl Lincoln⟩’s Division to furnish the like number for a ⟨rear G⟩uard.

“9. Col Sheldon’s Horse to be divided equally among the Divisions of the Army.

“10. The Commissaries Quarter Master’s & Hospital Stores to move in front of the whole, under Care of the Guards that are mounted over them at the Time of moving.

“11. This Order of march to remain in Force as far as Morristown, to be alter’d then as Circumstances may require.

“The Men to cook to night what Provisions they have by them” (DLC:GW).

2Stirling actually enclosed five brief letters from Brig. Gen. William Maxwell, two written on 2 July 1777 and three on the following day. In the letters of 2 July Maxwell reports that large numbers of British troops were encamped on the high ground near the Watering Place at Staten Island, N.Y., and in the letters of 3 July he reports that most of the troops had moved off. All of the letters are located in DLC:GW.

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