George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Maxwell, 27 August 1778

From Brigadier General William Maxwell

Elizth Town [N.J.] 27th August 1778


I have the pleasure to Inclose to Your Excellency Major Howels Journal.1 I have it confirmed by another channel that the 7 Vessels of the Cork Fleet is arived, the day before yesterday; and that Lord How Sailed with his Fleet the same day to the Eastward; this is all I have at present only that I have Just got another Packet from the Commissioners to Congress and sent it on2—I am Your Excellencys Most Obedient Humble Servt

Wm Maxwell


1Maj. Richard Howell’s letter to Maxwell of 26 Aug. reported on ship movements from 18 to 25 Aug., of which the most significant were that on 20 Aug. “The fleet was anchor’d off the Hook & afterwards 2 frigates were sent out ⟨as⟩ suppos’d, on a Cruise of Observation”; on 21 Aug. “A large Ship anchor’d off the point … said to be one of Birons Fleet, but more probably one of Ld Howes, as ’twas said one large ship of his fleet was missing”; and on 25 Aug. “The fleet hove in View. … Observ’d 27 sail moving to the Eastward 24 suppos’d to be ships 2 snows 1 brig & a Schooner. at the same Time, a fleet of 7 sail came in from Europe—6 ships & a Brig—One only of those Ships appeard to be a fighting Vessel And she suppos’d by some to be only an arm’d transport. I think one was a frigate with a fleet of Victuallers under Convoy: I am told that by this fleets saluting with 13 Guns & Admiral How’s returning 14 Guns, there must have been an Admiral on board.” Howell added other intelligence: “I am told that the french Admiral was engaged and, Night coming on, before Morning several other french Vessels were come up, which made the brittish ship retire. That a 50 attack’d a french 74 & would have carried her but, She fled, and the 50’s Rigging being much damag’d, she could not give Chase. And that Commodre Hothman engagd a french 84 with a 50 & would have Carried her, but some others came to her Assistance—The Enemy at the Hook are very quiet—I sent out two men who were to pass for Deserters & Join the Wood Tories, but could not Join them from their Caution, having been deceiv’d before. Since that Measure was defeated, I now propose to go down by Night & surround a swamp in which they are from the best Intelligence, And burn their cabbins at least.” On the cover he noted: “There was a heavy firing at Sea Yesterday and a ship came in dismasted supposd to be a bomb Ketch. the French are at Rhode Island” (DLC:GW).

2For the contents of the packet of 26 Aug. from the British peace commissioners, see Henry Laurens to GW, 29 Aug., n.3.

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