George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Israel Putnam, 31 October 1777

From Major General Israel Putnam

Fishkill [N.Y.] Octr 31st 1777

Dear Genl:

I congratulate your Excellency on the Success of your arms against the Enemy, in the attack made on Red Bank which Comes by letter from Col. Bidle—I have already informed you, by former letters,1 of the return of the Enemys fleet down the river—their having evacuated Peeks kill Fort mountgomery & their adjacent posts, after destroying the Cannon & demolishing the Forts, with an Evident design, as I conceive, to Send as Strong a reinforcement to Genl How as they possibly Can.

Genls Poors Warner Learnards Pattersons Brigades, Col. Van Schaiks Regt & Col. Morgans Riflemen, amounting in the whole to five thousand & Seven hundred men, inclusive of Col: Morgans Riflemen who are directed to march immediatly to join you are on their way here from the northward—which with the Troops, I before had amount to about nine thousand men exclusive of Col. Morgans, the artillerymen, & the militia from Connecticut & this State the greater part of which are dismissed. I understand likewise that a Considerable quantity of artillery is coming down—Inclosed is a Copy of the proceedings & advice of a Council of war held this day with respect to the disposition of the Troops here & that are expected Soon to arrive; which is Submitted to your future direction2—to Crush Genl How I Consider a most Capital object—think it my duty to give you a particular account of the Strength & numbers of the Troops here & Expected, that you may be enabled to make Such regulations & orders as you Shall Judge necessary, in the best manner to Subserve our Important Cause—& annoy the Enemy. Genl Wind with Seven hundred Jersey militia are included in the above Computation. with the highest esteem & respect I have the Honor to be, your Excellencys, most obedt humble Servant

Israel Putnam


1Putnam is referring to his letters to GW of 16 and 27 October.

2The enclosed copy of the proceedings of a council of war held at Fishkill on 31 Oct., signed by New York governor George Clinton and eight Continental army and New Jersey militia officers, reads: “Information being given to the Council by Genl Putnam that the Enemy’s Fleet had gone down the River to New York; that they had demolished The Forts Clinton, & Montgomery; in the Highlands and destroyed the Barracks, and other public Buildings, at Peeks Kill—That by Deserters and others from the Enemy 4,000 Men are orderd from New York to Reinforce General Howe—That a Considerable Reinforcement from General Gates is Near together with several other Articles of Intelligence Respecting our own, and the Enemy’s Strength, and situation.

“The General then Requested the Council to give their opinion what steps will next be Necessary, keeping in View three particular points, Viz.: the Speedy Reinforcing his Excellency Genl Washington, in Case of need Defending and Repairing the Posts in the Highlands, and as far as in our Power, diverting the Enemy from Reinforcing Genl Howe, likewise to be Ready if Call’d, to act offencively against the Enemy.

“The Council are Unanimously of opinion that 4,000 move down the West side of Hudsons River and take Post at or Near Haverstraw—that 1,000 Remain in the Highlands to cover the Country or repair the Works as the Genl may direct; the Remainder to March as soon as possible towards Kingsbridge for the purposes before Mentiond—and that Col: Morgans Core of Rifle Men which is Considerd as part of the 4,000 to move down the West Side of Hudsons River, be Immediately Orderd to March with all expedition to Join his Excellency Genl Washington” (DLC:GW).

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