George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Charles Scott, 30 September 1778

From Brigadier General Charles Scott

North Castle [N.Y.] Sept. 30th 1778


I have the pleasure to inclose You a letter from Colo. Butler, giving an Acct of His taking in a partie of the enemy this Morning.1 this in Some Measure Compensates For poor Baylor.2 I am Your Excellencys Obt Servant

Chs Scott

p.s. not a Single man of ours Hurt.


1In his letter of this date to Scott, Col. Richard Butler writes: “I with Pleasure Inform you that the Troops Under my Command, with Major [Henry] Lees Corps, & Captn [Alexander Spotswood] Dandridges party of Dragoo<ns> marchd at three oClock this morning & mov’d Down to the Heights between Dobbs ferry & Sawmill River, we discover’d A party of Chassieurs of About 15 <illegible> & Yeagers about 100 Under Captn Donep I dividid the Party So as to fall on them in three places, front Center & Rear, Major [Benjamin] Ledger [Ledyard] & 2 Compys on the Right with Some horse, Lt Col. [Josiah] Harmer with two Compys on the Left & Captn Dandridge & his party of horse, & Some of major Lees, with Cornet [Ferdinand] Neil [Neal], Myself with Captn [John] Grah[a]ms Compy, & Major Lee with A party of his horse with Lt [John] Rodolph [Rudulph], Attackd in Center—we kill’d ten on the Spot & Suppose many more & have taken one Lieut. of Chassieurs & Eighteen men three of which is so bad of their wounds that humanity obliged us to leave them behind with Notes that they are Considered prisoners & that only to Prevent them from Pain was the motive for So doing—Nothing but the Roughness of the Country Prevented us from taking the whole party.

“I Assure you Sir I have neve<r> Seen Greater bravery Display’d than on this occassion, by both foot & horse, I Cant Say too much in praise of the whole as they Not only Shew’d bravery but good order also, My wish is to do justice to the whole, I Am much Indebted to the Bravery of Captn Grahm & his officers, Lt Rodolph of Major Lees Corps, the whole in short (that I Saw) in Action would have done honour to Any Corps in Urope Captn Dandridge & Party had it not in their power to Engage for the Reasons above mentiond (the Roughness of the Country) but Evry mark of bravery & good order was plainly to be seen in his Party Lt Col. Harmer with his Division was Stopd by Defiles which Prevented him Coming to Action Else I am Certain he would have done himself honr. Major Ledger & Party Seconded my Design to Sattisfaction Please take this In concise Sketch till I have Pleasure to See you” (DLC:GW).

The enemy party was part of a Hessian patrol commanded by Capt. Karl Moritz von Donop. Hessian major Carl Leopold Baurmeister wrote in his dispatch of 21 Oct. 1778 that on 30 Sept. General Knyphausen “sent patrols to the front from both wings of his camp [near Philipse’s house]. Captain von Donop occupied the road to Dobbs Ferry with fifty dismounted jägers and had Lieutenant [Balthaser] Mertz ride ahead with fifteen mounted jägers. This side [south] of Dobbs Ferry these mounted jägers encountered some rebels and saw many more in ambush on their right. This discovery made it necessary to recall Lieutenant [Alexander Wilhelm] Bickell, who had been detached to a hill on the left of the road. When Lieutenant Mertz set out to do this, the enemy cut in on the road behind him. He attacked the superior troop of dragoons and beat his way through. Making a short halt, he was again engaged. After a heated skirmish, during which he received several cuts about the face, he was obliged to surrender as a prisoner. Two jägers were killed, one was left severely wounded, and one escaped.

“Lieutenant Bickell, who proceeded on foot along the North River, fared much better; he had one noncommissioned officer and one jäger wounded. It was Colonel Butler with 250 men on foot and Major Lee with 200 dragoons who had crept up by way of Horse Neck, proceeded thence to the right to the North River, and waited in ambush, hoping to surprise the entire Jäger Corps. Had the rebel infantry been quieter, and if Captain von Donop had advanced half an English mile further, he, too, would have been cut off and taken prisoner” (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 , 220–21; see also Krafft, Journal description begins Journal of Lieutenant John Charles Philip von Krafft. 1882. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 62–63, and 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 , 150).

2For the British attack on Col. George Baylor’s 3d Continental Light Dragoon Regiment on 28 Sept. near Old Tappan, N.J., see Israel Putnam to GW, 28 Sept., and notes 1 and 2 to that document.

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