George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Daniel Morgan, 19 July 1777

From Colonel Daniel Morgan

Camp at Crain Town [N.J.]1 19th July 1777


Col. Dayton told me your excellency wanted a Country man, that Could be depended upon, to Carry letters from this to Camp, the bearer Alexander Anderson is well Recommended to me, And I belive a friend to his Country, and is willing to undertake it,2 this morning about seven oClock, the enemies fleet ware all in Motion, thay fired several guns which I looked upon to be signarals, thay saild about for the span of two hours, and Come to at the watering place, except a few that fell down towards the hook and seemd to go round statan island toward Princes bay,3 we found secreted in the Corner of a field Covered with straw and brush eight iron swivels two small brass Howatz, fourteen Blunderbuses 16 speers 6 old swords 3 worms 22 spunges 6 lint stocks I will take Care of them till I hear from your excellency. I am sir your most obedient Servt

Danl Morgan

ALS, CSmH; Sprague transcript, DLC:GW.

Upon receipt of this letter GW’s aide-de-camp John Fitzgerald wrote the following reply to Morgan: “9 OClock P.M. . . . We have received your Letter of this date—from the Intelligence receiv’d this Afternoon we have every reason to believe that the Enemy are about to move up the North River—It is therefore his Excellency’s Orders that upon receipt of this you March your Corps to the Bridge at the great Falls, from thence to Paramus, thence to Kakegate & thence to Haverstraw, then to observe the motions of the Enemy, & if they land on the west side of the river below the Highland you are to take possession of the Road to the forrest of Dean Furnace, & oppose their penetrating that way—but if the Enemy push up the River you are to get over the Mountains to fort Montgomery & there wait for further Orders. Your Baggage (except what you think necessary for the Men to carry) is to be sent by the nearest Route towards this place & from hence to whatever place the Army is, under a small Guard. The swivels &C. which you mention, you are to send to the Commissary of Military stores at Morris Town—You will Observe to take as much Cook’d provision with you as you conveniently can—Inclos’d you have a Letter for Colo. [Theodorick] Bland, which you will forward immediately to him by Express” (NN: Myers Collection, Daniel Morgan Papers; see also Tench Tilghman to Bland, 19 July, in Campbell, Bland Papers description begins Charles Campbell, ed. The Bland Papers: Being a Selection from the Manuscripts of Colonel Theodorick Bland, Jr., of Prince George County, Virginia. 2 vols. Petersburg, Va., 1840-43. description ends , 60).

Fitzgerald wrote Morgan again on 21 July: “7 OClock A.M. since I wrote you the Night before last: we found out, that the Intelligence, which occasion’d the Order to you was premature, His Excellency therefore orders me to direct that if you have March’d to the Northward of Paramus you return & take Post there—If you have not got so far on receipt of this, you are to occupy some place near you which you may find most convenient for the reception of your Men. If your Baggage has not got far from you, you had better order it back immediately. . . . P.S. you will let us know where you are as soon as you have fix’d upon a place—As it may be probable the Enemy may make an Incursion from staten Island you will require no Instructions from Head Quarters to March & Oppose them” (NN: Myers Collection, Daniel Morgan Papers). At GW’s direction aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton sent similar orders to Col. Theodorick Bland, instructing Bland to “return to your old station and there remain ’till further orders” (see Hamilton to Bland, 21 July 1777, in NjMoHP; see also Syrett, Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 1:288).

1Cranetown was part of the original settlement of what is now Montclair, New Jersey.

2Alexander Anderson probably is the same man of that name who was running the post route from Elizabeth to Princeton, N.J., with John Hedden in 1778.

3Lord Howe’s secretary Ambrose Serle writes about the British fleet at New York in his journal entry for this date: “Signal was made for sailing, & got under way about 8 o’clock; but in less than half an Hour, Order was given by the Admiral [Howe] to anchor, the Wind coming foul” (Tatum, Serle’s Journal description begins Edward H. Tatum, Jr., ed. The American Journal of Ambrose Serle: Secretary to Lord Howe, 1776–1778. San Marino, Calif., 1940. description ends , 239).

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