George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Maxwell, 26 July 1778

From Brigadier General William Maxwell

Elizth Town [N.J.] 26th July 1778


I take this opertunity by Mr Furman1 to in form Your Excellency of what I know respecting the Enemy. Viz. the night before last a Deserter came in from the Island to Amboy seem’d to be verry intiligent; says, he is shure that the 5th Regt—10th 15th 27th 40th 55th Regts lyeth on Statten Island, besides some of the new Leveys; that the 15th came there the day before he Deserted. There is two Redoubts on the High grounds & two Batterys at the narrows on Statten Island.

At the narrows on long Island, the 17th 33d and 46th Regts is supposed to be erecting, or going to erect Batterys. The 23d Regt and 17th Dragoons lyeth at Jamaica Long Island. The 35th Regt & a number of Hessians ly’s on the outside of New York; the others gone to Kings Bridge &Ca; the general talk of the Armey is that a large part of the Armey is to go to the West Indias as soon as the French Fleet is gone; supposed to be 20 Regiments for that service.2 The 38th Regiment gone to Rhode Island.

Mr Furman & Mr Caldwell have been with me and informed that they are going to forward large quantitys of Provissons from Trenton by way of Paramus & on to the Armey, they are very desirous if consistant with my orders I would keep a Guard below Paramus for the security of the Teams passing I informed them that as the Enemy now lay I did not think I could with safety extend my Troops any further they are about to apply to You for some Troops and I will wait Your Excellencys Iinstructions and am Your Most Obedient Humble Servant

Wm Maxwell

ALS, DLC:GW. Tench Tilghman docketed this letter in part, “not ansd.”

1Moore Furman (1728–1808), a former postmaster of Trenton and merchant of Trenton and Philadelphia, was a deputy quartermaster general of the Continental army. He also served as a judge in New Jersey, 1777–86, and was appointed mayor of Trenton in 1792.

2Secret instructions sent to British general Henry Clinton on 21 March directed that he detach 5,000 troops for an immediate attack on the island of Saint Lucia in the West Indies and an additional 3,000 men to reinforce British positions in the Floridas (George Germain to Clinton, 21 March, P.R.O., Colonial Office, 5/95, Military Correspondence of the British Generals; see also Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 15:74–76). On 11 July and again on 27 July, however, Clinton wrote British secretary of state for the colonies George Germain that the arrival of the French fleet had led to a postponement of the expedition, although the troops would remain ready to embark whenever Admiral Richard Howe judged that a convoy was safe (both letters, P.R.O., Colonial Office, 5/96, Military Correspondence of the British Generals). The troops were not finally dispatched until November.

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