George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Livingston, 9 November 1777

From William Livingston

Princeton [N.J.] 9th Novr 1777


I this Moment received your Excellency’s Letter of yesterdays date. I am so thoroughly convinced of the Importance of the Post at Red-bank that I want no Arguments to induce me to exert my best Endeavours to raise our Militia for its defence—your Excellency is pleased to observe that “this State is more particularly called upon by reason of its Situation; and because it never furnished the two thousand Men which were ordered as its Quota to the continental Army.” Of the first reason I can easily apprehend the force; but the second does not equally strike me, because, altho’ it affects me sensibly that this State is very deficient in its Quota to the continental Army; yet as I presume that Circumstance may be equally predicated of the other States, I cannot see why it should be particularly urged against this, as an Argument for any extraordinary Exertions beyond the rest.

your Excellency may however depend upon it, that we want no other Arguments than that of our Zeal for the Cause; & no other Excuse for not fully answering your Expectations (should that prove to be the Case) than our Inability.

I inclose your Excellency copy of a Letter which I yesterday received from Major General Dickinson by which you will find, he is exerting himself to procure as great a Reinforcement as possible to the Eastward.1 To the Southern I hear they are within these few days turning out beyo⟨n⟩d E⟨xpectation.⟩ To excite them to take the Field with greater Spirit, & in larger Numbers, I have directed General Dickinson to take the Command of our Militia in that Quarter if he thinks he can be spared from his present Post without endangering the Service.2

General Forman has to my great concern, & contrary to my warmest Sollicitations, resigned his Commission, upon some Misunderstanding with the Assembly.3 I have the honour to be your Excellency’s most obedient Humble Servt

Wil: Livingston

ALS, DLC:GW. The text in angle brackets is mutilated. A pass on the cover signed by Livingston reads: “Let the Bearer pass.”

1The enclosed copy of Philemon Dickinson’s letter to Livingston, written at Elizabeth, N.J., on 7 Nov., reads: “General Winds has returned & dismissed his Brigade except Coll [John] Seawards Regiment from Sussex, who have about a fortnight to stay in Camp, those I have Ordered on to Red Bank, together with the following Classes, from the Battalions herein after mentioned—Coll [David] Chambers, [Joseph] Beavers, [Ellis] Cooke & [John] Munson 3 Classes and [Frederick] Frelinhuysen 2 Classes, besides 2 Classes from [Jacob] Hyers Battalion already sent on, & those Troops ordered from the Westward, by Generals [David] Forman & [Silas] Newcomb.

“Hope this Order will meet your Approbation—shall endeavour to maintain this Post, with the remainders I can collect—not a man from Bergen County—The Enemy have left about a Thousand Men on Staten Island” (DLC:GW).

2No written instructions from Livingston to Philemon Dickinson on this subject have been identified.

3For Brig. Gen. David Forman’s account of the reasons for resigning his commission, see his letter to GW of 7 November.

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