George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton, 26 June 1778

From Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton

Robins Tavern 8 Miles from Allen Town [N.J.]1
12 OClock [26 June 1778]


We have halted the troops at this place. The enemy, by our last reports, were four miles from this (that is their rear) and had passed the road which turns off towards South Amboy, which determines their rout towards Shrewsbury. Our reason for halting is the extreme distress of the troops for want of provisions—General Wayne’s detachment is almost starving—and seem both unwilling and unable to march further, ’till they are supplied—If we do not receive an immediate supply, the whole purpose of our detachment must be frustrated.

This morning we missed doing any thing from a deficiency of intelligence—On my arrival at Cranbury yester-evening, I proceeded by Desire of the Marquis immediately to Hides Town and Allen Town—to take measures for cooperating with the different parts of the detachment, and to find what was doing to procure intelligence. I found every precaution was neglected—no horse was near the enemy, or could be heard of ’till late in the morning; so that before we could send out parties and get the necessary information, they were in full march—and as they have marched pretty expeditiously we should not be able to come up with them during the march of the day; if we did not suffer the impediment we do on the score of provisions—We are intirely at a loss where the army is, which is no inconsiderable check to our entreprise, if the army is wholly out of supporting distance, we risk the total loss of the detachment in making an attack.

If the army will countenance us we may do something clever. We feel our personal honor as well as the honor of the army and the good of the service interested and are heartily desirous to attempt whatever the disposition of our men will second and prudence authorise. It is evident the enemy wish to avoid not to engage us.

Desertions I imagine have been pretty considerable to day; I have seen 8 or 10 deserters and have heard of many more—We have had some little skirmishing by detached parties—one attacked their rear guard with a degree of success killed a few and took seven prisoners. I am with great respect & regard Sir Yr Obedt ser.

A. Hamilton

Marquis & Gen. Dickenson send their compliments—My writing makes theirs unnecessary.

An officer just comes in who informs that [he] left the enemy’s rear five miles off, still in march about half an hour ago—To ascertain still more fully their route I have ordered a fresh party on their left towards the head of their column. They have three Brigades in rear of their baggage.

ALS, DLC:GW; copy, DLC: Hamilton Papers.

An undated letter from Hamilton to GW that probably was written on this date reads: “The result of what I have seen and heard concerning the enemy is, that they have incamped with their van a little beyond Monmouth Court House and their rear at Manalapans River abt seven miles from this place. Their march to day has been very judiciously conducted—their baggage in front and their flying army in the rear, with a rear guard of 1000 men about 400 paces from the main body. To attack them in this situation, without being supported by the whole army would be folly in the extreme. If it should be thought adviseable to give the necessary support, the army can move to some position near the enemy’s left flank which would put them in a very awkward situation, with so respectable a body in their rear and would put it out of their power to turn either flank should they be so disposed—Their left is strongly posted and I am told their right is also. By some accounts one part of his army lies on the road leading from the Monmouth road to South Amboy—It is not improbable that South Amboy may still be the object.

“I had written thus far when your letter to the Marquis arrived [see GW’s second letter to Lafayette of this date]. This puts the matter on a totally different footing—The detachment will march tomorrow Morning at three oclock to English Town” (DLC:GW).

1Robbins’ Tavern stood at the northeast corner of Route 524 and Roosevelt Road, near what is now Clarksburg in Upper Freehold Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey.

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