From Brigadier General Charles Scott
Kings Street [N.Y.] Sept. 23d 1778
Some time in the day Yesterday a Country man was Seen on the North river who told that a large Body of the enemy had1 Crossed the North River into The Jerseys, the day before,2 about the time he says they Crossed my Patrolls inform me they heard a Smart Firing of Small arms on the other Side of the river, as they thaught. I immediatly on hearing this Sent Colo. Grayham to Dobs’s Ferry with orders to provide a Propper person, and Send over the river to make what Discoverys he Could. he is not Yet returnd Nither have I heard from him, there are two deserters from York Isla[n]d Yesterday who knows nothing of Such a movement. they Say that about the time it is said that they the Body of troops Crossed over The river Four Regiments imbarked for the west Indias, and are now Lying off New York in the North River in Readiness to Sail, By the last Accounts From York the Transports are preparing to receive the Cavelry and they are Accordingly orderd to hold themselves In readiness to embark on the Shortest Notice, However I hourly expect a Very good man out, who will Give me a more particular Acct of things in Genl.3
Agreable to Your Excellencys orders I have Sent an officer to post the Horsemen on the road from this to Head Quarters for a more Speedy Convayance of Intilligence.4 the Gentleman will wait on Your Excellency With this letter and at the Same time Acquaint You where He has Fixed the Horsmen, I have not as Yet been obligd To make Use of more than Fifteen Guineas. that I have still Ten remaining, but as Colo. Gray ham & Capt. Leavenworth (my two prinsable hands) are now out it is more than probable that I shall be called on for the greater part if not the Whole remains of the 25.5 I shall be as Sparing of the hard money as possable. when I am out I shall agreable to Your Excellencys directions send for more. the deserters I mentiond in my Last6 are part 15. taken, by the partie I sent in Persute of them, and Brought to Camp last night. the others I hourly expect as they was not fare a head of those taken But on a nother road. previous to Your Excellencys desur I Had a partie constantly in View of the North river and Shall take particular Care in Case of a movement of The enemy by that way to give the earliest information Possable as You direct.7 I am Just inform’d that the troops That landed at white stone, marched the Next day for New York.8
this day proving so exceeding bad I had Concluded to wait untill the weather was better before I posted the Horsmen, but a deserter, the Serjant Majr of the 2d Batallion of Hylanders coming out with the Following intelligence I thaught propper to forward it immediatly. He says that the 1st & 2d Battallions of hylanders with Some other British regiments some of the Greens & about one hundred horse In the whole about 3000 Marched this morning with three days Provision Cooked. he left them four mile this side of kings bridg they brought with them Several Field peaces and A Number of Wagons. the day has been so very bad that I dont think they have been able to proceed or I should have heard somthing of them By my Hors patrolls before this.9 he says that the 1st & 2d Brigads of British troops had orders two or three days ago To hold themselves in readiness to imbark for the West Indies On the Shortest Notice, and that the Transports are Laying off New York in Readiness to receive them—It is common report among the officers and he has frequently heard them Say that New York Was to be evacuated, a Strong Garrison to be left at Rhod Island And the Remainder of the troops wear to go to Hallafax—He says that he heard Some of the Soldiers who was from the City, Say that 7000 men had gon into the Jerseys about two days ago, which agrees with the Accounts I have had. he also Says that a Considerable Number of Flat bottom boats was Brought up the North River Yesterday, opposit Kings bridg If the enemy should not be advancing on us the Hors men Shall Be posted on the road to Head Quarters tomorrow agreable to Your Excellencys directions. I received Your Favour of Yesterd<a>ys date, late this evening, to which particular <atten>tion Shall be paid. I am Your Excellencys Obt Servant
12 oClock at Night Sept. 23d 1778
GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman replied to Scott about noon on 24 Sept. from GW’s Fredericksburg headquarters: “His Excellency recd yours of Yesterday just as he was riding out. It is not possible that any troops could have passed over into Jersey the 21st, had that been the case we must have had intelligence of it before this time from Colo. Baylor who is at Hackensack. His Excellency desires you to direct Colo. Sheldon to send an Officer and twenty Dragoons to Fish Kill, there to take orders from Colo. Hay D. Qr Mr Genl. It is of the utmost importance to come at the designs of the Enemy and His Excellency desires you will neither spare pains or money to make yourself acquainted with them” (DLC:GW).
Tilghman wrote again to Scott at 1 p.m. on 24 Sept.: “Since I wrote to you about an Hour ago, we have recd letters from Colo. Baylor informing that the Enemy had landed a Body of Men in Bergen. By their advancing on both sides of the River at the same time, perhaps they may have an intention of possessg themselves of the passes of the Highlands on the East & West side. If therefore you find the party, mentioned in your last, seriously advancing, you are to keep before them and throw yourself into the strong passes of the Mountains at the Continental Village before they can gain them. Your Baggage may be sent over the Mountain, at some distance from the River. You are to keep Genl Putnam informed of every motion of the Enemy on this side of the River, that he may govern himself accordingly. You will also give His Excellency information. . . . P.S. there is a strong pass in your Rear at Croten Bridge, which you will attend to. You need not encumber yourself with provision, there being a Magazine at West Point” (DLC:GW).
1. Scott inadvertently wrote “hard” on the manuscript.
3. Maj. Gen. James Grant’s West Indies expedition, which consisted of ten British regiments, did not sail from Sandy Hook until 3 November.
9. Having determined that Washington had withdrawn his army from White Plains, the British and Hessians began on this date to push their outposts north from King’s Bridge into southern Westchester County. Hessian major Carl Leopold Baurmeister wrote in his dispatch of 21 Oct. that on 23 Sept. “the following troops marched out under the command of his Excellency General von Knyphausen: the British light troops under Colonel [Archibald] Campbell to Hunt’s bridge over the Bronx; the Hessian Jäger Corps to Philipse’s house; the 71st Regiment to Valentine’s Hill to support the advanced posts; and two Hessian brigades, [Johann Daniel] von Stirn’s and the grenadiers, to the left of Van Cortlandt’s house. On the 24th Colonel [Carl Wilhelm] von Hachenberg’s brigade, six British regiments, and Generals Grant, Leslie, and Erskine marched to Philipse’s house, where headquarters were established. The left wing was stationed at the twenty-mile stone on the road to Dobbs Ferry, the center rested on Sawmill Creek, and the right wing extended to the Bronx.” The left wing was protected by the fifty-gun warship Phoenix anchored in the Hudson River (Baurmeister, Revolution in America description begins Carl Leopold Baurmeister. Revolution in America: Confidential Letters and Journals, 1776–1784, of Adjutant General Major Baurmeister of the Hessian Forces. Translated and annotated by Bernhard A. Uhlendorf. New Brunswick, N.J., 1957. description ends , 217; see also Ewald, Diary description begins Johann Ewald. Diary of the American War: A Hessian Journal. Translated and edited by Joseph P. Tustin. New Haven and London, 1979. description ends , 149; Krafft, Journal description begins Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft. 1882. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 60–61, and Ritchie, “New York Diary,” description begins Carson I. A. Ritchie, ed. “A New York Diary [British army officer’s journal] of the Revolutionary War.” New-York Historical Society Quarterly 50 (1966): 221–80, 401–46. description ends 279). The twenty-one milestone on the Albany Road was about a mile and a half north of the Philipse house; Dobbs Ferry was at the twenty-five milestone. For the heavy rain in the New York City area on 23 Sept., see Krafft, Journal description begins Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft. 1882. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 60, and Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends , 182.