George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philemon Dickinson, 26 October 1777

From Major General Philemon Dickinson

Elizabeth Town [N.J.] 26th October 1777

Dear Sir

The Governors Answer this moment came to hand, which I inclose your Excellency—tis such, as I little expected1—By Order of the Governor & Council, I was stationed at this Post, with Directions to keep up 1,000 Men—my number at present, does not exceed 700 men—could I with propriety, I would instantly march 500 Men from this Post, but this cannot be done, without an Order of the Governor, or Council.

The Enemy (by advice reced this Day) have landed 1300 Men on Staten Island, & tis said they intend us a Visit—I have wrote Genls Forman, & Newcomb, to collect & march all the Men, they can possibly raise, without loss of Time, to Red Bank.2

Since the Governor does not chuse to give the necessary Orders, I will risk it myself, altho’ I have only the Power, of ordering out one half the Militia, by an express Law of our State—as there are not 200 Western Militia at this Post, I am in hopes they will be able to raise a tolerable Number.

The account of Burgoynes Surrender, comes confirmed several different ways, but I hope before this reaches your Excellency, you will have received the particulars from authority—I have the honor to be, your Excellency’s most Obt

Philemon Dickinson

P.S. Should Br Gl Winds make his appearance in a few day’s, I will order him on with his Brigade.


1The enclosed copy of New Jersey governor William Livingston’s letter to Dickinson of this date from Baskinridge, N.J., reads: “General Washington’s Letter [to Dickinson of 23 Oct.] contains so full a proof of the Importance of exerting all our forces where his Excellency mentions that I should not hesitate a moment about giving orders about it, was I authorized so to do—but all the Command I ever had expired with the year since by Election, & till another Governer is appoint’d I know not where you can apply for orders” (DLC:GW). Livingston believed that his term as governor had expired with the legislative elections of 14 October. He was reelected on 1 November.

2GW had ordered brigadier generals David Forman and Silas Newcomb to Red Bank, N.J., on 22 Oct. (see GW’s letters to Forman and to Newcomb, that date). Forman was already there by this time, but Newcomb resisted all such orders (see Forman to GW, 26, 29 Oct. and 7 Nov.).

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