George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Charles Scott, 9 October 1778

From Brigadier General Charles Scott

Bedford [N.Y.] October 9th 1778 1 oClock


I this moment Recd Your Excellencys favor of Yesterdays date. the Contents shall be particularly observed. Last night about 10 oClock I Was informd by A country man from Near the Enemy lines that they Wear going off from their Incampment about Phillaps’s hous and as He understood imbarking. Since which I recd a letter From Colo. Armand who Seams to be Very shure that they are going off his letter You have inclosd.1

Capt. Walls and Six men that I had posted on the other Side of the River for the purpose of Watching the Motions of the Fleet and the enemys imbarcation, Returnd to my Quarters this Morning, with Seven Sailors, prisoners, among them I find one intelligt Fellow, who informs me that Birons fleat Saild about Seven or Eight days ago in quest of the French Fleet that was Said to be Hovering about the Co[a]st. and that he is very Certain that no troops Wear on board, but that there Saild at the Same time about forty Victuling ships for Cork.2 he says that he knows nothing of any troops imbarking Ither at Kings Bridg or York. the Reason of all the Transports except four Being orderd down he also Knows nothing of. Capt. Walls informs me when he left the other Side of the River, there was lying off Phillaps’s hous one Man of War a Galley and three Large Transports with about twenty or 25 flat Bottom Boats all of which was giting Under way this morning Except the Man of war and Stood down the River, but he was two far to discover whether they had troops on board. the Capt. Will return to his post again this Night I have given him orders to let me have the Earliest Intelligence possable of any Movement and in the fullest manner. I have orderd Colo. Armand Capt. Dandridg and an officer from Majr Lees Corps to Reconnoiter the enemys Camp from Right to left, and Discover if possable, their intentions. Colos. Sheldon and Graham is gon in quest of Leavensworth who I have not Yet heard any thing of Since Last weak. I am almost Certain he Murst be taken, and if so have given the Necessary instructions Rispecting intillegence to those Gentlemen. I have been extreamly unfortunate in Laying this train for intelligence and have taken Unweried pains to effect it. But as Yet to no purpose.

an officer from Colo. Gists Corps Sent to my Camp Yesterday three Hessions Prisonirs taken from one of thier Picquits. those togather with the two Taken by Colo. Parker and the Seven by Walls Shall be Sent up Tomorrow. Inclosd Your Excellency will Riceive the proceedings of a Court martial if the Sentance meets Your Excellencys approbation I Should be proud It may be executed in my Camp. I think it would Have a good effect as the Horsman was one of those that Deserted from my Camp when below the plains.3 I am Your Excellencys Obt Servant

Chs Scott

since writing the above I recd Two Packets by a Flag one for Your Excellency and the other for Govr Trumbull Which Send by Express.4


1The enclosed undated letter which Armand apparently wrote to Scott late on 8 Oct. or early on 9 Oct., reads: “i have good reasons to believe that the enemy will make his retraite. yester day and the day before, i had allways some patrouielles near him and which have see[n] him in most all his side.

“i draw provisions to day for three, and when they shall be distribut’d, this night i shall march my people, to morow, i shall march, farther, and i hope that nothing of the enemy will escape to my knowledge. i shall have the care to find you all newses which can be of some interest. if i meet cnl getz [Gist] i will engage him to stay with me. you may depend upon my endeavours to take and give to you the best informations, so far i may be from you, you shall receive allways the newses; if the enemy retraite, i shall march after him; indeed dear general i do believe that the enemy when he shall retraite, will not take other post but his vessel; six vessels remains <illegible> little in the other side of philipses house. it is very possible, that the advanc’d post of the enemy, after the troopes in new yorck shall be ready to retraite, thoses advanc’d post embarq them selves in thoses six vessels, and by that way, will have cover[ed] the retraite of the enemy, and retire themselves without any danger. i am so persuad’d of it, that if thoses advanc’d post embarque i ask you the leave to pass on the rode of new yorck . . . .

“[P.S.] This night at two o clok one of my foot patrouielles have stop[ed] one sergent and one priveate of cnl. bland dragons, they had not order from nobody, nor Contre sing [sign]. they have spint the nigt to my quarter, and as i know the seirgent i left them go to their quarter this morning” (DLC:GW).

2Admiral Byron sailed from Sandy Hook on 18 or 19 Oct. to try to intercept d’Estaing’s fleet when it left Boston Harbor. The victualer ships from Cork, Ire., which had arrived at New York on 9 Oct., began their return voyage on 28 Oct. (see Gruber, Peebles’ American War description begins Ira D. Gruber, ed. John Peebles’ American War: The Diary of a Scottish Grenadier, 1776–1782. Mechanicsburg, Pa., 1998. description ends , 225–28; Kemble Papers description begins [Stephen Kemble]. The Kemble Papers. 2 vols. New York, 1884-85. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 16–17. description ends , 1:164; 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 401).

3The enclosed proceedings of the court-martial of Private Elisha Smith of the 2d Continental Light Dragoon Regiment, which occurred at Bedford, N.Y., on 8 Oct., have not been identified, but for a summary of those proceedings and GW’s approval of Smith’s sentence, see General Orders, 10 October. For Smith’s past military service, see Josiah Stoddard to GW, 15 October. For the unintended delay in Smith’s execution from 12 Oct. to apparently 17 Oct., see GW to Scott, 10 Oct.; Scott to GW, 13 Oct. (first letter) and 15 Oct. (second letter); and Stoddard to GW, 15 October. For Stoddard’s unsuccessful effort to obtain a reprieve for Smith, see his letter to GW of 15 Oct., and GW’s reply to Stoddard of 17 October.

4The contents of these packets have not been identified.

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