George Washington Papers

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

From Brigadier General William Maxwell

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


Your Excellency may depend on the following; as I have it from a Gentle Man of Varacity that came from Long Island yesterday Viz. Lord How went the day before yesterday off Barren Island1 out of the Hook and that day 4 Regts went down Long Island one of them Turnbuls, new levys, they said they were going on board of the Fleet to act as Marines but an express follow’d them that night, and they returned next morning.2 These Troops returning gives room for speculation there, either that Rhode Island is taken, or that they give asisting of it over. above 20 pieces of Cannon was fired yesterday out of the Hook, the Colours hoisted at the light House &C. and shortly after 15 or 20 Sail was seen standing into the Hook. General Tryon is returned to Jamica from the East of the Island with every thing he could find Eatable. I am your Excellencys Most Obedt Humble Servt

Wm Maxwell


1Barren Island is in Brooklyn at the outlet of Jamaica Bay, where Floyd Bennett airfield is now.

2Lt. Col. George Turnbull commanded the New York Volunteers. A native of Scotland, Turnbull was commissioned as a lieutenant in the British army in February 1756 and rose to captain of the 60th Regiment of Foot in November 1765, but he sold his commission and left the army between 1774 and 1776, settling in New York. As a captain in the Loyal American Regiment, Turnbull participated in the capture of Fort Montgomery in October 1777, and he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel a few days later. He remained in command of the New York Volunteers until the end of the war. Gen. Henry Clinton’s after-orders at 9 p.m. on 23 Aug. directed the New York Volunteers and the British 15th and 46th Regiments to march to New Utrecht on the morning of 24 Aug., but new orders at 3 p.m. on that date directed that the two British regiments “return again to their former Encampments as soon as convenient” (order book, 24 May 1778–2 July 1779, MiU-C: Clinton Papers).

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