George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Charles Scott, 15 October 1778

From Brigadier General Charles Scott

Near Bedford [N.Y.] October 15th 1778


I am informd by an officer who is exchanged, and this moment from York, that on Satterday Night and Sunday last,1 a Very considerable body of Troops imbarked. and it is Given out that they are going to the Southward He was not able to form any Judgment with Respect to their Numbers, as they or the greater Part of them went on board in the Night. he says that the Shipping that was in the north River was all Halled up to the Wharves But for what purpose he Cant tell. he brought With him a Copy of the petision from the Refugees to the Commissioners which Your Excy has inclosd.2 I will forward him to Head Quarters as soon as his Bagage can Be got up to this place. I have heard nothing From Leavenworth Since his Return from long Island. Your Excellencys letter enclosing the Second Warrant for the Execution of Smith Came safe to hand Yesterday.3 I am Your Excellencys Obt Servant

Chs Scott


1The previous Saturday and Sunday were 10 and 11 Oct. respectively. Scott’s informant has not been identified.

2For the meeting of the Loyalist refugees in New York on 22 Sept., see Scott to GW, 25 Sept., and note 5 to that document. The refugees say in their petition to the British peace commissioners that, “actuated by sentiments of loyalty to their King, and love to their country, [they] are ready and willing to take up arms for the suppression of the present unnatural rebellion, and without delay to embody themselves, under officers to be selected from among your petitioners, with the approbation, and subject to the direction and controul of a civil Governor, to be appointed by your Excellencies. . . .

“That your petitioners in thus tendering their lives and fortunes to promote his Majesty’s service, and restore the peace of this country on the firmest basis, repose the fullest confidence in the Commander in Chief [Henry Clinton], that he will protect them to the utmost of his power, against the rebels assembled under Mr. Washington, and that in every emergency the garrison of New-York will always afford them a sure assylum. Upon receiving these assurances from your Excellencies, your petitioners will be ready to join as one man in suppressing the rebellion. . . .

“That as your Excellencies must be sensible how necessary it will be to give . . . [these] assurances . . . , in the plainest terms, we hope there will not be room left for doubt, with respect to the prosecution of the war on the part of Great-Britain, and the support of this garrison [New York City] through every event” (Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], 24 Oct.; see also Pennsylvania Evening Post [Philadelphia], 23 Oct.). Copies of the petition were available for signing in New York City and on Long and Staten islands through at least late October (see the Royal Gazette [New York], 30 Sept. and 3, 7, 10, 14 Oct.; and the New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury, 28 Sept. and 5, 12, 19, 26 Oct.). It is not known how many Loyalists signed the petition or whether it was ever sent to the commissioners.

3This letter, which apparently was written on 14 Oct., and the enclosed warrant, which apparently set Smith’s new execution date as 17 Oct., have not been found (see Josiah Stoddard to GW, this date). For Elisha Smith’s sentencing to death for desertion and the unintended delay in his execution, see Scott to GW, 9 Oct. and 13 Oct. (first letter), and GW to Scott, 10 October. For Josiah Stoddard’s unsuccessful effort to obtain a reprieve for Smith, see his letter to GW of this date, and GW’s reply to Stoddard of 17 October.

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