George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Horatio Gates, 18 October 1778

To Major General Horatio Gates

Head Quarters Fredericksburg 18th October 1778


I imagine General Poors Brigade is by this time in motion agreeable to the determination of the Council on Friday. I desire that the next Brigade in course may follow, with directions to the commanding Officers to proceed by very slow marches to Harford, where they are to halt for further orders.1 Be pleased to impress upon the Officers the necessity of keeping up the strictest discipline upon the march. As they will not be in the least hurried their Commissaries and Quarter Masters may make every necessary preparation for their accomodation upon the road, particularly in the article of Wood, to prevent destruction of the inclosures.

Should there be a necessity for their proceeding to Boston, be pleased to give the Officers the following Route, by which they are to march upon rect of their orders.

From Harford to Boston. East side of the River, thro’ Coventry. Mansfeild. Ashford. Pomfret. Thompson. Douglass. Uxbridge. Mendon. Hollston. Medway. Medfeild. Dedham. Boston. the distance 105 Miles.

My latest accounts from the enemy are that they are still busily employed in their embarkation, but I cannot learn with certainty that it is to be general; altho’ many of the inhabitants near the lines, and persons from the City think it is. I am Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NHi: Gates Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Gates received this letter this evening (see Gates to GW, 19 Oct.).

1The council of war that met on 16 Oct. had agreed that a detachment from the main army should be sent toward Boston in order to be able to support the French fleet sooner in case of a British attack on it, and GW assigned that mission initially to Gates’s division (see GW to d’Estaing, 16 Oct.; see also Samuel Holden Parsons to GW, 17 Oct.; William Smallwood to GW, 17 Oct.; Anthony Wayne to GW, 18 Oct.; and Henry Knox to GW, 19 Oct.). The three brigades in Gates’s division—brigadier generals Enoch Poor’s and John Paterson’s brigades and the brigade formerly commanded by Brig. Gen. Ebenezer Learned—began marching from Danbury to Hartford between 18 and 21 Oct., and they arrived there between 24 and 26 Oct. (see Gates to GW, 19 Oct. [first letter], 21 Oct., and 25 Oct. [first letter]; GW to Gates, 20 Oct.; and GW to Henry Laurens, 22–23 Oct.). GW also decided by 19 Oct. to send Maj. Gen. Alexander McDougall’s division toward Hartford for the same purpose (see General Orders, 19 and 22 Oct., and GW to McDougall, 23 Oct.).

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