George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Charles Scott, 29 October 1778

From Brigadier General Charles Scott

Near Bedford [N.Y.] October 29th 1778


Your Excellencys favour of the 27th came to hand the Same evening. it did not Surprise me atall to Hear that the troops that had imbarked (except the involeeds[)] Wear Still in the Bay. as I had never heard with certainty that they had saild, untill Your Excellency informd Me by letter of the 22d Inst. when I supposd they might Have droped down in the Night without my Observers Knoledg. but my observers did then & Still continue to inform me that the troops Supposd to be going to the West Indies are not Yet Saild. however I was led to believe that Your Excellency Must have had some better int[e]lligence from the Jerseys than I was able to git, and therfore directed all my Spies to make the inquiry as Your Excellency Directed respecting the total evacuation or not, the Corps left &c. I have not been able to git any Intelligence that could be depended on these two days Past—Colo. Gist who is now down Near the enemys Lines informs me that all the New Corps except Simcoes are marched for New York and that there are not more than one Hundred Stationd on this Side of the Bridg. but he is so awkward about these things that I am not able to know any of the particulars. one of my Spys who was Strongly recommended by Genl Morris returnd from the City last night after a Stay of twelve days He knows nothing or will not tell me any thing atall. I suspect he is a Rascal and shall treat him accordinly—I have Made particular inquiry about the Refugees petition But have not heard whether or not it has been deliverd.1 I have two very good men on long Island from whence I Expect the Best Intilligence possable every hour. but am Some what fearfull of the Storms preventing their passing the Sound. I have many others on both Sides the North River from their Long Silence I am proswaded that the enemy Are very Still as I am well assurd that if the enemy had Made any Movement they would give me notice as soon as possable—Deserters from the enemy are pruty numerous. Inclosd Your Excellency will receive Accounts from the most Intelligent among them.2

My unhappy Misfortuns make It indispensably Necessary that I should leave the armey in a few weaks. I therfore Conceive it my duty to give Your Excellency this early Notice that Matters may Be arranged Accordingly. it would be Needless for me to enter into a Long detale of this matter untill I Have the Honor of Seeing You. in Mean time be assurd Sir that it is not Choice but Mear Necessaty that Compells the Measure. I am Your Excellencys Obt Servant

Chs Scott

P.s: Since writing the above I recd the inclosd letter from Majr Talmadge.3


1For the Loyalist refugees’ petition to the British peace commissioners, see Charles Scott to GW, 15 Oct. (second letter), and note 2 to that document.

2Scott enclosed two intelligence reports from British deserters, both of which are in DLC:GW. The “Account of John Hulsefer Wm Buggy & Michl Rabley deserters from [William Schaw] Cathcart’s [British] Legion,” which is dated 28 Oct., reads: “Simcoe’s Corps, Worms [Wurmb’s], Emericks & Cathcart’s Legion lie near Kingsbridge—The 71st Regiment embark’d 27th inst. About two hundred Men mount guard at the Redoubts and are relieved once in three days—About three hundred Hessians marchd to N: york 26th inst. & about the same Number return’d in their room—No Barracks are building at Kingsbridge—They are employ’d in stacking Hay at that place—It is said that Emericks Corps & the Yagres are to winter at the bridge—Cathcarts Legion have about fifty horse fit for duty—They heard Capt. [David] Kimlough [Kinlock] say the Legion was to march 27th inst. & embark for Long Island, but they expected they were going to the West Indies—It is said Troops are to be left at York to keep Garrison & guard the lines. They have never heard their Officers say they were going to the West Indies—Genl Tryon commands at the lines. He was there a few days ago since which time they have not seen him. They are inform’d that Troops embark every day at N. york.” The 71st Regiment was part of the East Florida expedition commanded by Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell, which sailed to Sandy Hook on 7 Nov. and left there on 26 November. The British Legion was not sent to the West Indies.

The “Account of a deserter servant to Capt. [John] Croker [of the 63d Regiment of Foot],” which is undated but apparently was written about 29 Oct., reads: “Genl [Alexander] Leslie’s brigade to be left on York Island—He heard an Officer who supp’d with his Master the night of the 27th inst. that the fleet was to fall down to the Hook the next day & that it was hop’d they should move from that dirty place shortly, & then order’d him out of the room—He says they are repairing the redoubts about Fort Independence and that the Hessians are building Huts just below Fort Washington—He says that those troops that sail’d about the 20th were for Hallifax—They consisted of one regimt of Hessians and some of the new Corps. He thinks Delanceys was amongst them—The Invalids sail’d about the same time—He does not know whether the Guards sail’d with them or not—He says that he us’d always to wait on his Master at the Mess-house, where he has frequently heard the Officers mention their being to stay untill the proclamation was out, and if nothing was done towards accomodating matters, they would burn and destroy every thing they could, & leave the Country & give the French a good drubbing—He has frequently heard the Officers say that three Brigades complete were to go to the West Indies—He knows of no Works lately thrown up about York—There is no Magazine of Wood or forage laid up, and his Master sold two horses lately. The Officers not being able to procure food for them—They talk of an expedition to procure forage, and think they will penetrate farther into the Country than their last incursion.” The reinforcement that had sailed to Halifax on 18 or 19 Oct. consisted of the King’s Orange Rangers and the Hessian Garrison Regiment von Seitz. Two battalions of Brig. Gen. Oliver De Lancey’s brigade sailed to East Florida in early November with Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell’s expedition.

3This letter, which Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge wrote to Scott from Bedford, N.Y., at 2 p.m. on this date, reads: “I have this moment recd a letter from a Gentleman direct from Long Island; by the very Gentleman of whom I made mention to you the other Day to serve as a Conveyance for Samuel Culper’s letters. I doubt not it is authentic, & is as follows viz.

“‘I can give You intelligence from N. York as late as to Saturday last [24 Oct.]. There is another Fleet ready for Sea that will sail in a few Days, with all the new raised Corps for the West Indies. Genl Delancy’s Brigade imbarked last friday & Saturday all except [Lt.] Colo. [Richard] Hewlet with 150 men, that still remain at Loyd’s neck. The Troops that were stationed at the Fly at the head of Flushing bay are all gone on board. Governor Tryon is up at Kingsbridge. All the Fleet fall down to the watering place as fast as they get ready & from thence to the hook. Last week they carried a number of heavy Cannon across the ferry a[t] Brooklyn & then sent them down to Flat bush to put on board. There was a paper as late as 21st which confirms the Capture of Dominica & Turks Islands by the French.’

“The above is the Contents of the letter with respect to news, which perhaps may serve to clear up, or confirm other accounts” (DLC:GW).

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