George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Maxwell, 20 September 1778

From Brigadier General William Maxwell

Elizth Town [N.J.] 20th Sepr 1778—9 p.m.


I was Honoured with Your Excellencys Favour of the 19th Inst. about noon to day, it accompany one to Coll Ogden[,] Barber & some others as Coll Ogden is gone to Philada to day on some private Bussiness I opened his letter, but as I did not know what he wrote to Your Excellency last I can return nothing on that subject.1 I suppose he thought by this time to have much to send you and so did I, but I am something disapointed.

I have had people out of York that I think would give me every intiligence in their power but there is nothing scarcely to gather. They are fiting up the Men of War & Watter and wooding the Transports. and possably puting some Artillery on Board A Gentleman saw a bout 20 Load of Baggag coming from Kings Bridge to go on board. They have held a Council of War for three days Byron is come to New York has taken the Command of the Navy Lord How is going home Gambier will stay about New York Byron says his orders is to take care of the French Fleet some says he is gone to Rhode Island for that purpose2 Some says that the reinforcement that went to Rhode Island is returned to Long Island again.3 one report says they are going to Garrison Hallifax Cannada & the West Indias, and the rest go home.4

Others say they are going to make a nother stroke at Charles Town. a Packet is hourley expected. Major Howel Informs me that he has intiligence that a Fleet of ten Sail went out of the Hook last tuesday night,5 supposed to be mostly Victualers for Queback, I rather suppose they were for Rhode Island. my information from New York says that some Vessels went out then. The Bacons are already fixed, should the Enemy come out this way, we will make the roads as troublesom as possable to them. Coll Barber is gone to see some of his friends as he became able to ride but I know not where. I am Your Excellencys Most Obedt Humble Servant

Wm Maxwell

ALS, DLC:GW. Although GW’s aide-de-camp John Laurens docketed this letter in part “Anwd,” no reply to it has been identified.

1The accompanying letters have not been identified.

2Although Vice Adm. John Byron had arrived off Sandy Hook on 16 Sept., he had proceeded almost immediately to Newport, R.I., where he remained from 18 to 28 Sept. (see Alexander Clough to GW, 18 Sept., and note 2 to that document, and John Sullivan to GW, 21 Sept.). British officer Frederick Mackenzie says in his diary entry for 20 Sept. that “Admiral Byron, who is a Senior Admiral to Gambier, is only to have the separate command of the Fleet he brought out with him, which is to be employed as a fleet of observation” (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: 396; see also Whinyates, Services of Francis Downman description begins F. A. Whinyates, ed. The Services of Lieut.-Colonel Francis Downman, R.A., in France, North America, and the West Indies, between the Years 1758 and 1784. Woolwich, England, 1898. description ends , 83).

3This reference may be to the return to Whitestone, Long Island, on 17 Sept. of the British fleet carrying Maj. Gen. Charles Grey’s troops back from their recent raids on New Bedford and Fairhaven, Mass., and Martha’s Vineyard.

4The large expeditions that the British were planning to send to the West Indies and the Floridas did not sail until November. Reinforcements for the Halifax garrison sailed on 19 October.

5The previous Tuesday was 15 September.

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