George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Horatio Gates, 9 June 1778

From Major General Horatio Gates

Robinson’s House [N.Y.] 9th June 1778.


I inclose Your Excellency the Report of Brigadier General parsons, who is just returned from a reconnoitring party towards Kingsbridge.1 Various are the Conjectures that may be formed upon this Intelligence, as the facility with which the Enemy may move by water, puts all possible Finesse in their power.

Yesterday Evening I received a Letter from Colonel Lamb, acquainting me he had halted the Artillery until further Orders.2 The public Service is liable to Suffer exceedingly, by the Officers of Colo. Lamb’s Regiment having never been Ranked, as not a Single Captain will submit to be Commanded by another, each having his seperate pretensions; I wish to know, as soon as possible, the Arrangement, containing the Rank and Names of the Officers of this Regt as otherwise I have not the means here to Settle the Dispute.

The Flag & Sloops that went with the British Hospital, and Convalescents, are not yet returned; they were Stopped by the Men of War near Tarry Town, and are, I suppose, waiting for Our People to be brought from New York in Exchange.

This moment the Sloops are returned from Tarry Town; they bring only the inclosed Letter from Genl Jones, with the Intelligence of Captain Van Buren.3 I am Sir Your Excellencys most Obedient Humble Servant

Horatio Gates

ALS, DLC:GW; ADf, NHi: Gates Papers.

1The enclosed copy of a letter of 8 June from Brig. Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons to Gates reads: “By the Information of Deserters, and the concurring Accounts of the Inhabitants near the Bridge, there are Three Hessian, and Two British Regiments in the City; One Battalion of Highlanders at Bloomingdale; At Fort Washington and the Bridge, Two British Regiments, vizt—the 45th & 52nd—Two Hessian Regiments, Bruerton’s & Bayards Regiments, & Emmerick’s Chasseurs.

“One Twelve, & 6 Six pounders in Fort Independence. Two of 18—Two of 12—and five of 6, and under, in Fort Washington—The Cannon removed from the Embrasures in Fort Washington, on the side next the North River. Fort Independence not picketted, but an Abattis around it. A Captain’s Guard kept in the Fort relieved every three Days. In the Redoubts are Guards from 25 to 36 Men. By the Information of returning Refugees, it appears the Enemy are establishing a Camp at the Head of the Fly on Long Island: Cruger’s, Ludlow’s, Fanning’s, and a Regiment of Brown’s Brigade, are to encamp there, perhaps 1000 Men. A Regiment of Regular Troops at Brookline, I Suppose the 35th—This Regiment received Orders last Tuesday, to March Eastward on the Island, and their heavy Baggage to put on ship board. By the Information of Joseph Lawrence & Samuel Rickers from New York, Two British Regiments received Orders to Embark the 6th Instant; where destined uncertain. No particular Information of Robinson’s Regiment, I think it probable they still remain at Haerlem. The Ships are thinly mann’d, and cannot remove with out encreasing the Number of Hands. Those at Huntington are ordered to be ready to Sail Sometime next Week. The Enemy are Strengthening their Works on Bayard’s Hill, but in what Manner I am unable to learn.

“The Fly on Long-Island, I think well chosen to defend the City on that part; ’tis about 8 or 9 Miles from the Ferry; and from the Creek near the Camp, to Jamaica Bay on the South of the Island, about 5 Miles, and the passes through the Mountains, are effectually Secured by this post, which leaves it exceeding difficult to move forward to Brookline with any Artillery, And will enable the Enemy to Send occasional parties down the Island, & Compel what Supplies of provissions & Forage from Suffolk County Can be Spared. I believe that County can feed 3000 Men 6 Months” (DLC:GW).

2Col. John Lamb’s letter to Gates, dated 6 June, is in NHi: Gates Papers.

3The enclosed copy of a letter from Maj. Gen. Daniel Jones to Gates, dated 7 June from New York, reads: “I shall transmit to the Commander in Chief, a Copy of Your Letter of June the 4th with a Return of our Sick & wounded prisoners Sent here. I have no Authority to exchange Prisoners without His Excellency’s Orders” (DLC:GW).

The other enclosure is an undated intelligence report from Leonard Van Buren: “Admiral Sr Hugh Palasier to supercede Lord Howe Genl Sir H. Clinton has superceded General Howe—7: June—The commissioners are arrived at philaa—4 Days ago, amongst the Number Governor Johnson—that Clinton’s army is equal, if not superior to Genl Washington’s—that if their Troops at Philadelphia leave it, they will leave a Garrison of 4000 men, which will be able (as they say) to keep it against any number—That Genl Howe is much disliked among the British Troops—they say ‘Damn him, he has fought in favour of America, instead of fighting against it[’]—Clinton is now their Man—That the only way still left to conquer America is by sending an Army up the North River and cut off all Communication between the States, or as they call them the revolted Provinces, That there was a Reinforcement arrived at Philaa, this I learned by a Discourse between Capt. McDonald & Capt. Gilcrist commanding a Transport—My real Opinion is they will attempt the Highlands, as every thing seems to be carried on very secretly—Admiral Gambier has the Command at New York, on Board the Ship Ardent—His Midshipman informed me that they had arrived from England about 8 Days ago, that in that time they had sent about 250 Men to the Hospital on Acct of Sickness, that Ships in general never were in a greater want of Men, than at present, that himself had been taken from a Merchantman in England, where Presses were very hot—he took me for a British Officer, but finding his mistake—made a sudden Stop—I have been on Board the Admiral’s Ship where I saw one Catchem from Baltimore, he and his Vessel had been taken last Summer, he came over in said Vessell and tells me when they left England, War was not yet declared, but was expected daily—they left it on the 7th or 27th of April which of the two I have forgot.

“Robt Cambridge Livingston yesterday arrived from England, but is not allowed to land, which is the Case with every one except Officers.

“One Genl Jones has the Command of the city and another Genl Jones Commander in Chief at and round N. York—Abm. C. Cuyler late Mayor of Albany is gone to Philaa—his Brother is appointed Lt Col. of the 55th of which Fisher is Major—A Virginia Frigate was taken and now lyes in N. York Harbour—they daily bring in French and american prizes.

“The British Hospital which arrived at N. York from Albany—not above thirty were sent to the Hospital, the rest were sent to Long Island to g⟨mutilated⟩ some Forts.

“There is about 1 Regt at powles Hook—by appearance N. Levies—Twenty nine Topsail Vessells, eleven armed Vessells, amongst the eleven 2 fifty’s and 4–64 Gun Ships in the North River opposite to the City, by what I can see over the Tops of the Houses, the East River is full of all sorts of Ships, as far as Governours Island—I could not see more than one Gun in or on the Battery at N. York—I saw the one half of it—8 large Stacks of Hay and a large Magazine of Fire Wood at the North River—Oswego Market—The Works round N. York viz. Byards Mount Grenadier Battery &c. the same as it formerly was, but no Cannon—at Lispenards lays a Regt—Opposite Bulls Ferry on N. York Island lags another—One Mile below Ft Washington lays an armed Transport, at same place Tents, pitched for about two Companies, a Tender at same place—Fort Washington is all standing—the Embrasures towords the River shut up with hewed Wood—the out Lines tore down, and a very few Troops—I could see no Cannon—At Spitendevil lays an armed Transport—On the clear Hill South West of K. Bridge on York Island, is by all Appearance a large encampment, I counted upwards of 100 Tents and am convinced could not see half—Fort Independence still remains, the Barricks I could not see—By all Appearance there is a Reinforcement arrived in N. York under Convoy of the Admiral and other Ships—how many am entirely ignorant of—I forgot to mentio⟨n⟩ in the Beginning of this Paper, that as we lay at Spitendevil, in going down, they had a Review—Their Troops fir’d for about one Hour—by Appearance a great many Men—The Ship Terrible—The King Fisher and two Tenders lay opposite Philips House” (DLC:GW).

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