From Major General Horatio Gates
Danbury [Conn.] 25th October 1778:1
Since I sealed my Other Letter by the Bearer, the inclosed has come to my hands from Major Gray;2 & I am this moment inform’d, that the Hariot packet, with the September Mail from Falmouth is taken and carried into an Eastern port,3 I am Sir Your Excellencys most Obedt Servt
2. Although Ebenezer Gray’s promotion to lieutenant colonel of the 6th Connecticut Regiment was dated 15 Oct. 1778, both Gates and GW continued for some weeks to refer to him by his previous rank of major. The enclosed copy of the letter that Gray wrote to Gates of 24 Oct. from Norwalk, Conn., reads: “I have had Boats from Long Island return three Day’s successively; who all agree in their Information. That a fleet of about 100 Vessels have sailed, but can’t learn whether they had Troops on Board, or not; or where their Destination is; there is another, larger Fleet, with Troops on Board, laying at the Hook, ready to sail; there is a considerable number of Horses on Board—One person says he saw a Number of Horses of the Light Dragoons embark—’tis said 8000 Troops are on Board this Fleet, & that they are to Sail Tomorrow. Should have wrote Yesterday, but the Boat did not return ’till late in the Evening, by whom I expected to learn the number of Ships of the Line, & Disposition of the Sick, but was disappointed. I have a person on the Island, who hath undertaken to get it for me. Several of the principal Merchants have been Seen packing their Goods, but this is done very privately. By a deserter, belonging to new London, from the Fame, a 74 Gun Ship, I learn that the Camp near Brookline Ferry, is removed (except a few)— that he saw some heavy Artillery, & Light Dragoons Horses Embarked; & that the Jews are Shipping their Effects for England—Colo. Sheldon informed me Yesterday, that the Enemy had retired below King’sbridge, on York Island; and that Fort Independence was kept by a piquet Guard of 100 Men only, & were relieved Dayly—And that the Enemy’s Horses had the Horse Distemper, a Disease seated in the Head, and very epidemical, of which they Died very fast—I expect further Intelligence in two Days, which I will give You the earliest notice of” (DLC:GW).
3. The British packet Harriot, commanded by Captain Spargo, which had sailed from Falmouth, England, on 7 Sept. carrying mail to New York, had been captured on 17 Sept. by the American privateer Vengeance, commanded by Capt. Wingate Newman. Newman also had captured the British packet Eagle at or about the same time. The captured crews and passengers were put ashore at Corunna, Spain, for future exchange. The Harriot, which apparently was manned by an American prize crew, arrived at Newburyport, Mass., in early October. The mail aboard the Harriot had been thrown overboard and sunk before its capture, but an American newspaper report said that “By her we learn that Admiral Keppel had again put to sea with 34 or 35 ships. The Brest fleet was out with nearly the same force. They were in sight of each other near Ushant when the packet left it” (see the Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser [Philadelphia], 3 Nov.; see also that newspaper for 17 Nov.; Stanier Porten to Thomas de Grey, 23 Oct., in Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 13:367; Viscount Weymouth to George Germain, 30 Oct., in Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 13:373–74; and Mackenzie Diary description begins Diary of Frederick Mackenzie Giving a Daily Narrative of His Military Service as an Officer of the Regiment of Royal Welch Fusiliers during the Years 1775–1781 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1930. description ends , 2:417).