To George Clinton
Head Quarters Paramus [N.J.] 11th July 1778
The first division of the Army moved from hence this morning, about four Miles, to give room to the second. They will reach Kakiate tomorrow evening, and the North River the next day. I shall halt the remainder hereabouts a few days, to refresh the Men. I am yet undetermined as to the expediency of throwing the Army immediately over the North River. I will state my reasons for hesitating, and shall beg to hear your sentiments upon the matter.
Upon conversing with the Qr Mr and Commissary General and Commissary of Forage, upon the prospect of supplies, they all agree, that the Army can be much more easily subsisted upon the West, than upon the East side of the River. The Country on this side is more plentiful in regard to Forage: And Flour, which is the Article for which we shall be most likely to be distressed, coming from the Southward, will have a shorter transportation, and consequently the supply more easily kept up. We are besides in a Country devoted to the Enemy, and gleaning it, takes so much from them—Was this the only point to be determined, there would not remain a moments doubt; but the principal matter to be considered, is, (upon a supposition that the Enemy mean to operate up the North River) whether the Army, being all, or part upon this side the River, can afford a sufficient and timely support to the posts, should they put such a design in execution.
Upon this point then, Sir, I request your full and candid opinion. You are well acquainted with the condition of the posts, and know what opposition they are at present capable of making, when sufficiently manned, which ought in my opinion to be immediately done. After that, you will please to take into consideration, whether any, and what advantages may be derived from the Army’s being upon the East side of the River, and if there, what position would be most eligible. The neighbourhood of the white plains, after leaving sufficient Garrisons in our Rear, strikes me at present. We know the strength of the Ground, and we cover a considerable extent of Country, and draw the forage which would otherwise fall into the hands of the Enemy.
In forming your opinion, be pleased to advert to the necessity of keeping our force pretty much collected, for which side soever you may determine: For should the Enemy find us disjointed, they may throw the whole of theirs upon part of ours, and, by their shipping, keep us from making a junction. In determining the above, you are to take it for granted that we can, should it be deemed most expedient, support the Army upon the East, tho’ it will be with infinitely more difficulty than upon the West side of the River.
By the latest accounts from New York, it does not seem probable that the Enemy will operate any where suddenly: They have been much harassed and deranged by their march thro’ Jersey, and are at present encamped upon Long, Staten and York Islands. We have this day a rumor that a French Fleet has been seen off the Coast, and that the English is preparing to sail from New York in pursuit of them.1 But it is but a Rumor. I have the Honor to be with the greatest Respect and Esteem Dear Sir Yr most obt and hble Servt
P.S. I have just recd a letter from General Arnold at Philada in which is the following. “An Express is arrived to Congress from France by the way of Boston with intelligence, that on the 15th of April a French Fleet sailed from Toulon consisting of 12 sail of the line, 7 frigates and 4 Xbecks—which we may hourly expect to arrive in this or Chesapeak Bay—Admiral Keppel sailed the 24th April from St Helens with 11 sail of the line.”2
The above fully corroborates the account from New York. But I do not know that it ought to be made public yet, I mean as to numbers.
LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NNPM; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The draft and the transcript lack the postscript.
2. GW is quoting from Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold’s letter to him of 8 July.