George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Horatio Gates, 1 October 1778

To Major General Horatio Gates

Colo. Brinkerhoffs near Fish Kills1 Octor 1 1778


I do not find that the Enemy are advancing on the West side of the River. From the latest accounts they were at the liberty pole and at the Newbridge near Hackensack; and from many circumstances and the conjectures of the Officers in their Neighbourhood, it would seem that foraging is the principal object of their expedition. I was very apprehensive that they would possess themselves of some of our Stores; but they have not; and I am in hope, that the only inconvenience we shall suffer in this instance, from their coming out, will be a diversion of them from the usual route, and a little more delay in getting them to Camp.

Colo. Butler from Genl Scots detachment was fortunate enough to fall in with a party of the Enemy yesterday morning, and to make a Lieutenant and Eighteen privates prisoners, besides killing Ten, without any loss on our part.2 I am sir Yr Most Obed. servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, NHi: Gates Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Several members of the Brinkerhoff family lived in the Fishkill area. According to a local tradition, GW’s headquarters from 30 Sept. to 8 Oct. was at the house of John Brinkerhoff (1702–1785), located near the confluence of Fishkill and Sprout creeks about four miles northeast of the village of Fishkill (see Reynolds, Dutch Houses description begins Helen Wilkinson Reynolds. Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley Before 1776. 1929. Reprint. New York, 1965. description ends , 333–35). However, the military rank attributed to Brinkerhoff in the dateline of this letter and two others written by GW during this period indicate that his headquarters was at Col. Derick Brinkerhoff’s house, located near Fishkill Creek about two miles northeast of the village of Fishkill (see GW to Benjamin Lincoln, 2, 3 Oct., and Reynolds, Dutch Houses description begins Helen Wilkinson Reynolds. Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley Before 1776. 1929. Reprint. New York, 1965. description ends , 331–33). Derick Brinkerhoff (1724–1788) served as colonel of the 2d Regiment of Dutchess County, N.Y., militia from October 1775 to June 1778, and he represented the county in the New York provincial assembly 1768–75, the first provincial congress 1775, and the state assembly 1777–87. It is also possible that GW’s host was Abraham Brinkerhoff, who lived in the Fishkill area and who, after serving as lieutenant colonel of the 2d Dutchess County Regiment since October 1775, had succeeded Derick Brinkerhoff as the regiment’s colonel in June 1778. Abraham Brinkerhoff was a member of the state assembly 1784–85. Tench Tilghman’s headquarters expense account dated 21 Nov. 1778 includes an expenditure of $20 at “Brinkerhoffs,” but Tilghman does not further identify this person, and because the entry is undated, it is not clear whether the expenditure occurred when GW passed through Fishkill on his trip from White Plains to Fredericksburg between 16 and 22 Sept., or during his longer stay in the Fishkill area 30 Sept.–8 Oct. (Revolutionary War Accounts, Vouchers, and Receipted Accounts, 1776–1780, DLC:GW, ser. 5).

2GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison gave this same information to Maj. John Allison in a letter of this date and added: “This in some measure, takes off from the loss sustained by poor Colo. Baylor. I wish Colo. Butler had, in imitation of the British Barbarians at Herringtown, bayonetted every Man of them, or at least the Officer” (ALS, DLC:GW). For an account of Col. Richard Butler’s successful surprise attack on a Hessian detachment on 30 Sept., see Butler to Charles Scott, 30 Sept., in Scott to GW, 30 Sept. (second letter), n.1. For 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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