George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Elias Dayton, 10 July 1777

From Colonel Elias Dayton

Eliz. Town [N.J.] July 10. 1777


A Schooner just now arived here from New York for the family & goods of Doctor Peterson. It appears from a paper shewed me by Mrs Peterson that on the 22d of May liberty was granted to remove within one week from that time. He however delayed the matter & appeared undetermined till lately when he went to New York hardly in a fair way, & has now sent for his family. Altho’ neither he nor his family are of any use to the state Yet I did not think myself at liberty to permit the removal without your excellencys renewed licence as the other ⟨is⟩ obsolate.1

The troops designed for the present expedition are all embarked, but their destination is a profund secret both in New York & the Army. Genl Howe said yesterday in New York if the shirt on his back knew their destination he would throw it in the fire. I expect they will sail to morrow if wind & weather favours. They leave a strong party of some thousands on Statten Islan which they are fortifying, and from whence they will probably make excursions to collect Forage for themselves or to destroy ours. If a proper person is sent with a good Glass to the Top of the Mountain on the road from Cooks Bridge to New Ark,2 they may observe the first motion of the fleet & give the earliest intelligence. With all due respect and esteem, Your Excellency most obedt & very huml. sert

Elias D⟨ayton⟩

ALS, DLC:GW. The text in angle brackets is mutilated.

1Dr. William B. Peterson, a Loyalist physician from Elizabeth, N.J., had been appointed a surgeon in the 1st Regiment of New Jersey Volunteers in 1776. Peterson was first on a list of forty-six “disaffected Persons” ordered to be apprehended by the New Jersey council of safety on this date (see Livingston to Samuel Hayes, 10 July 1777, in Prince, 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 , 2:15–17), and he apparently was captured later this year at Staten Island, N.Y., and carried to Trenton, N.J., for confinement. Upon receipt of this letter GW’s aide-de-camp Richard Kidder Meade wrote to Dayton: “Your favor of this date came to hand. His Excellency desires you may suffer Mrs Peterson with her effects to goe on Board the Schooner and proced where she intends” (MH: Autograph File). Peterson served as a surgeon in the 3d Regiment of New Jersey Volunteers in 1778 and 1779.

2Cook’s Bridge is on the Passaic River in East Hanover Township, Morris County, N.J., about ten miles northwest of Newark, and about five miles east of Morristown. The road running between Cook’s Bridge and Newark crosses the First and Second Watchung mountains.

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