From Major General Israel Putnam
Peeks Kill [N.Y] July 27th 1777
I Recd yours of the 25th respecting two Brigades holding themselves in readiness to move on the Shortest notice, and I have Issued orders accordingly, & am now going to advise with Genl Clinton in respect to Calling the militia as directed in your letter.
This Moment Mr Israel Knap D. Commissy came in from Horseneck and informs me that he Saw Genl Silliman there;1 & that he had it in charge from Genl Silliman to acquaint me (Sd Silliman not having time to write) that he Saw a man from blue point on long Island, who told him, that on thursday last he Saw & Counted One hundred Sail Opposite to Sd point passing Eastward & that there were more that came after.2 Genl Silliman has not favoured me with his Informers name or Character, nor is Mr Knap able to tell it—this point I understand is on the South side of the Island nearly Opposite to Huntington & East of Rockaway inlet3—this account corresponds very well with the time of their Sailing. With esteem & respect I am your most Obedt humble Servant
LS, DLC:GW. GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton answered this letter, which is docketed in part “Ansd 30th,” in a letter written at Coryell’s Ferry, N.J., on 30 July 1777:
“His Excellency commands me to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 27th instant.
“The circumstance of the fleet appearing off, opposite to Blue Point does not indicate any movement to the Eastward. It was necessary in going out of the Hook, whatever course they might intend to steer, whether to the Southward or Eastward, to stand out in that direction for some time, as they went out with a Westerly wind. If however you hear any thing more of them, you will give His Excellency the earliest notice of it.
“General Clinton informs His Excellency, that he is called to attend at Kingston and take the oath of office, conformable to his appointment as Governor of the State of New York. It is to be regretted that so useful an officer is obliged to leave the posts under his superintendency at a time like this. The General is at a loss how to supply his place properly, without doing an injury to some other post, where the presence of the person fit to succeed General Clinton would be equally wanted. But as some person must be found to succeed him, He desires me to mention to you Genl James Clinton, who is, in his present situation, in a manner lost to the service. This Gentleman having been formerly stationed at those posts, is to be supposed well acquainted with them; and he has the character of being a brave man, but it is to be apprehended he may want activity which will be a very essential quality. To remedy this defect I am to suggest the stationing Col: Malcolm ⟨with his Regiment, with General Clinton. Colo: Malcom is an active, judicious man, and seems to have some skill in fortifications, and a turn for those things which it will be necessary to attend to at the posts to be commanded by Genl Clinton.⟩
“The General does not mean to direct absolutely in this matter. He only means to suggest for your consideration and that of the other General officers with you, whom he wishes you to consult, on what is best to be done, and leaves it to your option either to send General James Clinton, or any person who may be deemed fitter for the purpose, and can be spared from where he may now be, to take the command in place of General George Clinton. If Col: Malcolm is ordered from the Clove, it will be requisite to send some other person, with a proportionable number of men to supply his place.
“General Clinton also informs that the time of service for which the Militia at the posts under him are engaged expires tomorrow; and that there will then be only Col: DuBois’s regiment and Col: Meigs’ detachment remaining. The General wishes you to attend particularly to this matter as it will by no means be prudent to leave those posts in so weak a state.
“General Sullivan has been ordered to halt wherever the letter which was sent off last night for the purpose should find him. I imagine this will be at Morris Town or in the neighbourhood of it. He is directed to march off immediately to you on your giving him notice of any number of the enemy’s fleet appearing in the North River. The rest of the troops are all halted on the Jersey side of the Delaware ’till further intelligence” (DLC:GW; 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 , 1:297–98).
1. Deputy commissary Israel Knap, Jr., was from Dutchess County, New York.
2. The previous Thursday was 24 July 1777.
3. Blue Point is on Long Island in Suffolk County, N.Y., near Great South Bay.