George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Woodford, 29 September 1778

From Brigadier General William Woodford

Colo. Hays House [N.Y.]
Tuesday [29 September 1778] 12 Oclock1

Dr Genl

My Brigade has cross’d the River & advanced as far as this place, the best accts I have been able to collect inform that the Enemy lay Just below orrange Town (theire is a report that a large party is gone to take possession of the pass in the Clove, but this wants confirmation) I shall keep partys out for inteligence, & move with expedition & caution to the neighbourhood of Clarkstown, unless my information makes it necessary to take anothe[r] route—of which I will take the earliest opportunity to inform your Excellency.

I met here with the inclosed Letters, brought in this morning by a Flagg to an Officer of Colo. Hays Melitia—your Excellency will observe that Doctr Evans who wrote by order of Colo. Baylors requests that a Surzeon may be sent in to Tappon to Dress the wounded—I have taken the liberty to send Doctr Griffith with a flagg for that purpose.2

Some time after Dark last night I fell in with the Baggage, & remains of Colo. Baylors Regt on the other side the River, I have order’d what few could be mounted to follow me, & the remainder to continue at the Contl Village till further orders (of this I have Advised Genl Putnam) I likewise order’d an exact return of them, which the Officer has not yet sent in—the bearer is order’d to call for it.3

I heard this morning from Elizth Town. Genl Maxwell is still there watching the Motions of Genl Vaughan, who is said to be upon Statten Island with a considerable Force, & a number of Boats & some Gallies.

from the best accts they have not collected many Cattle, the greatest part are drove back in & about Cakiack—I am Just inform’d that Colo. Spencer is at paramus, where he went to Join Majr Fell. I am with great Respect Your Excellencys most Obedt humble Servt

Wm Woodford

Colo. Hays informs that he has about 100 Melitia now at Clarks Town, & expects the appearance of the Continental Troops will soon double their number.


1GW’s assistant secretary James McHenry docketed this letter: “Genl Woodford 29th Septr 1778 ansd 30.” The date 29 Sept. 1778 was a Tuesday. GW replied to Woodford on 30 September. Woodford apparently was writing from Col. Ann Hawkes Hay’s farm in Orange County, N.Y., which was severely damaged by British raiders in the summer of 1779. Hay’s house, barn, and stables in the town of Haverstraw had been burned by the British in the fall of 1777 (see Hay to George Clinton, 22 June 1780, in Hastings and Holden, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 5:877–80).

2The enclosed letters, which have not been identified, apparently concerned the officers and men of Col. George Baylor’s 3d Continental Light Dragoon Regiment who had been wounded and/or taken prisoner by the British near Old Tappan, N.J., on 28 September. For accounts of the attack, see Israel Putnam to GW, 28 Sept., and notes 1 and 2 to that document; Charles Stewart to GW, 28 Sept., and note 1 to that document; Otho Holland Williams to GW, 28 Sept.; Israel Putnam to GW, 29 Sept., and notes 1 and 2 to that document; and Baylor to GW, 19 Oct., and note 1 to that document. George Evans (c.1756–1832) of Virginia, who had been appointed surgeon of Baylor’s regiment in May 1777, was among the wounded. Subsequently exchanged, he resigned his commission on 1 Aug. 1779. For Dr. David Griffith’s report about his treatment of the wounded Americans, see his letter to William Woodford, 30 Sept., in Stirling to GW, 1 Oct., n.1.

3The return of the 3d Continental Light Dragoon Regiment of this date, signed by regimental riding master Edward Conner, which is in DLC:GW, apparently did not reach GW until sometime after 11 Oct., when he wrote Capt. Robert Smith that he had not received any return of Baylor’s regiment since the attack of 28 Sept. (for that letter, see Robert Smith to GW, 4 Oct., n.2). Conner’s return shows that in addition to himself, who was fit for duty, there were present on 29 Sept. two sick lieutenants, one fit and one sick sergeant, 31 fit rank and file, 25 sick rank and file, and 105 horses. For reports of the regiment’s strength before the 28 Sept. attack, see GW to Otis & Andrews, 27 Sept., and David Griffith to Stirling, 20 Oct., in Israel Putnam to GW, 28 Sept., n.1.

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