George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General John Sullivan, 11 September 1778

From Major General John Sullivan

Providence septemr 11th 1778

My Dear General

I was honored with your Excellenceys favor of the 5th Instant yesterday 12 of Clock. also That of the 9th Last night at Eleven. It gives me & the officers here Infinite Satisfaction that your Excellencey has approved our Conduct—I am at a Loss to guess the Designs of the Enemy in this Quarter General Gray with his Fleet are Standing off & on before Bedford Harbor The Day before yesterday a number of vessels Supposed to be Twenty were out of Newport and Stood westward. yesterday upward of thirty Sail went out of the Harbor about twenty Small ones went Eastward the Residue Stood to the Southward1—Colo. Peabody who is Stationed on the western Shore writes me that all the Ships & other vessels are out of the Harbor They have been taking heavy Cannons & Stores on board for Some time past—They have taken no pains to Lay up Forage & Some of their movements Seem to Indicate an Evacuation what are their Real Intentions cannot at present be Divined I Shall keep your Excellencey Constantly advised of Every movement & have the honor to be with the greatest affection & Esteem your Excellenceys most obedient & very Humble Servant

Jno. Sullivan


1British officer Frederick Mackenzie at Newport, R.I., wrote in his diary for 10 Sept.: “The Ships under Commadore [William] Hotham sailed this Morning for New York. A number of small vessels sailed at the same time for Martha’s Vineyard, for Stock.” According to Mackenzie’s entry for 9 Sept., Hotham’s vessels carried naval stores and the officers, seamen, and marines belonging to the British vessels burned at Rhode Island, to “be distributed to the ships of Admiral Byrons fleet” ( Mackenzie Diary description begins Diary of Frederick Mackenzie Giving a Daily Narrative of His Military Service as an Officer of the Regiment of Royal Welch Fusiliers during the Years 1775–1781 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1930. description ends , 2: 394).

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