George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Alexander McDougall, 1 October 1778

From Major General Alexander McDougall

Fredericksburgh octor 1st 1778 9 a.m.


The van of my division arr[i]ved at Mr Menezies House;1 at 8 this morning, when I received your Excellency’s orders, throˆ Colonel Laurence, to Halt my Division on the first Convenint Ground; and there wait further orders, which is accordinly done.2 From the appearance of the Country near us, I fear Forage will be a Scarce Article. Mr Van Zandt who is the Bearrer of this, will convey to me any Commands you shall please to Honor me with.3 If none are sent by him; as I have yet no Quarters, I wish to be enquired for, at General Schylers Quarters at the House above mentioned.

The North Carolina Troops are greatly in want of Shoes; and the Badness of these Roads Criples them. If there are any in the Store, I beg to be favored with an order to draw for them. Please to receive the inclosed, handed to me by General Gates to be communicated to your [Excellency].4 I have the Honor to be, your Excellency very Humble Servt

Alexr McDougall


1Thomas Menzies, whose house stood about two miles northeast of Fredericksburg on the highway between Danbury and Fishkill, was a British half-pay officer who had served in North America during the French and Indian War as a lieutenant in the 77th Regiment of Foot, also known as Montgomerie’s Highlanders. He had settled at his present location soon after the disbanding of his regiment at the end of that war in 1763, and he had subsequently served as a Dutchess County magistrate. Unwilling to forfeit his army pension by renouncing his allegiance to the Crown, Menzies was called before the county committee of safety in May 1776 and the New York committee for detecting and defeating conspiracies in October 1776, and he eventually was allowed to return home as a prisoner of war on parole. During the fall of 1778, four Continental brigades camped on Menzies’s land for a period of two or three months, causing extensive damage to his fences and timber, for which he apparently was not reimbursed (see Menzies to Nathanael Greene, 16 Jan. 1779, in Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 3:168–69, and Menzies to George Clinton, 9 Aug. 1779, 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 , 5:184–87). In 1781 Menzies was exchanged and allowed to go to New York City with his family.

2GW’s aide-de-camp John Laurens wrote to McDougall at 1 a.m. on this date: “I have it in command from His Excellency to acquaint you that the last advices from Jersey indicate the enemy are retiring—this determines him to stop the farther progress of your troops—You will therefore halt them on the first convenient ground you come to, and remain there ’till you hear farther from him” (NHi: McDougall Papers).

3The bearer may be Jacobus Van Zandt (1726–1786), a merchant who was one of the representatives of New York City and County in the New York provincial congresses 1775–77 and the state assembly 1777–83. During the summer of 1776, Van Zandt had been involved in efforts to defend the Hudson River with fire rafts and fire ships. He had been appointed a Continental prize agent in the fall of 1776, and during the summer of 1778 he had helped to collect pilots for the French fleet.

4The enclosed letter to Gates from Maj. Ebenezer Gray of 30 Sept., which is in DLC:GW, conveys intelligence very similar to that contained in Gray’s letter to GW of that date.

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