George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major Alexander Clough, 25 August 1778

To Major Alexander Clough

Head Quarters White plains 25 Augt 1778


I recd yours of yesterday late last Night.1 I am very anxious to obtain a true account of what is passing in New York, and am therefore endeavouring to send in a variety of persons from different quarters who have no connexion or communication with each other. By comparing their accounts, I shall be able to form a pretty good judgment. I have desired them to attend particularly to some matters of which the inclosed are the Heads.2 I shall be obliged to you to procure some intelligent person to go into the City, and as it will be unsafe to give him a written paper, I desire you to impress the inclosed upon his memory by repeating them to him; when he returns, let me know his Answer to each head. If the person, who goes in, cannot make an excuse of Business, he must be allowed to carry a small matter of provision in, and bring something out, by way of pretext. I am &c.

Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Clough’s letter to GW of 24 Aug. has not been found.

2The enclosure was evidently a version of the “particular observations to be made by persons going into N——Y——” that GW sent out about this time. The draft of that document, in GW’s writing with the last paragraph in Tench Tilghman’s writing, reads: “Get into the City.

“There, in the best manner possible, learn the designs of the Enemy.

“Whether they mean to evacuate New York wholly—in part—or continue the Army there. A discovery of this kind will be best made by attending a little to the conduct of Delancy, Bayard, Matthews &ca—as they, more than probably, will be preparing for a removal if the City is to be left, wholly, or in any considerable degree.

“Or secondly, whether they have any views of Operating against this Army—which will be best known by their preparations of Waggons, Horses &ca—these will want Shoeing, repairing, & Collecting together.

“Enquire whether the Transports are Wooding & Watering—Whether the Stores are removing from the City into them—& whether any Regimental Baggage is Imbarked.

“Enquire also, how the Enemy are off for Provisions—whether the Cork Fleet is arrived. & the number of Provisions ships it consists of.

“Enquire also if Admiral Byrons Fleet is arrived—where Lord Howe & the New York Fleet is—whether within Sandy hook, or gone out to Sea, & for what purpose.

“Whether any Troops have been Imbarked lately & for what place. Whether any have arrived from England lately, or are expected.

“Whether the Merchants who came from Europe and those who have been attached to Government are packing up or selling off their goods. Attend particularly to Coffin and Anderson who keep a large dry goods Store and supply the Officers and Army” (DLC:GW).

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