George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Stirling, 31 October 1778

From Major General Stirling

Elizabeth Town [N.J.] Octobr 31: 1778

Dear Sir,

My last went Yesterday afternoon by Colonel Cox.1 The Ships at the Hook and those at the Narrows were this Morning in the same possition as Yesterday, not haveing been Able to Move on account of the Weather; the Reports [from] both Amboy and the Hook agree that the 23 Sail at the Hook are frigates and other Armed Vessels vizt Eleven Ships five Brigs, three Schoners and four Sloops probably intended to go ahead of the grand Embarkation. As soon as the Storm is over I doubt not they will all be in Motion.2

A person who left New york yesterday has Just furnished me with the following particulars that there are three Embarkations on foot. In the first which is Compleated & ready to Sail there are twenty Regts and 200 horse under the Command of General Grant; In the Second there are Eight Regiments, and in the third three one of which is the 71st and He thinks Genl Campbell Commands the third;3 the weomen are embarked with the Men; from what he has heard Among their Officers, he is of Opinion that the first division is going to the West Indies, Second & Third to Hallifax and St Augustine & Pensacola. Lord Cornwallis going to England,4 Scarce any troops to be seen in New york but foreigners; that there are not Shipping enough at New york to take in the remainder of the troops. 3 oClo. I have this moment received the enclosed Note, and shall keep the most Sharp look out.5 I am your Excellencys Most Humble Servant


ALS, DLC:GW. On 7 Nov. GW replied to this letter and Stirling’s letters to him of 1, 3 and 4 Nov. (CSmH).

2Capt.-Lt. Francis Downman of the British artillery, who had gone aboard the ordnance store ship Friendship at New York on 27 Oct. for the West Indies expedition, wrote that “On the 29th of October, the fleet fell down to Staten Island, where we remained til the 31st, when we went down near Sandy Hook and came to anchor. The wind now began to blow very fresh from the N.E., and sent in a heavy sea; the weather was very cold, thick, and rainy.” The weather cleared on the afternoon of 2 Nov., and the fleet sailed for the West Indies the following day (Whinyates, Services of Francis Downman description begins F. A. Whinyates, ed. The Services of Lieut.-Colonel Francis Downman, R.A., in France, North America, and the West Indies, between the Years 1758 and 1784. Woolwich, England, 1898. description ends , 87–89).

3Maj. Gen. James Grant’s West Indies expedition consisted of ten British regiments (the 4th, 5th, 15th, 27th, 28th, 35th, 40th, 46th, 49th, and 55th), two companies of artillery, and fifty light dragoons. Brig. Gen. John Campbell’s West Florida expedition consisted of the 3d Waldeck Regiment, the regiment of Maryland Loyalists commanded by Lt. Col. James Chalmers, and the regiment of Pennsylvania Loyalists commanded by Lt. Col. William Allen. Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell’s East Florida expedition consisted of the 71st Regiment, the Garrison Regiment von Wissenbach, the Garrison Regiment von Wolwarth, the 1st and 2d battalions of Brig. Gen. Oliver De Lancey’s Loyalist Brigade, the 1st and 3d battalions of Brig. Gen. Cortlandt Skinner’s New Jersey Volunteers, and the New York Volunteers commanded by Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell. Grant’s and John Campbell’s expeditions sailed from Sandy Hook on 3 Nov., and Archibald Campbell’s expedition sailed from there on 26 November.

4Cornwallis sailed to England on 27 Nov., in part at least, to be with his acutely ill wife, Jemima Tulikens Cornwallis. She died on 16 Feb. 1779, and Cornwallis returned to New York the following summer.

5The enclosed letter from Capt. Cadwallader Jones to Lt. Col. Eleazer Lindsley of this date reads: “I have Just recd certain intelligence from New York that General Grey, was yesterday makg preparations to go on some secret expedition, with four Thousand Men. as it may be off great importance, to Lord Sterling, as well as yourself, I woud recommend to you to give him the earliest notice by express” (DLC:GW). Maj. Gen. Charles Grey did not lead a secret expedition at this time, but rather he sailed to England a few weeks later (see Stirling to GW, 20–21 Nov., and Christian Febiger to GW, 29 Nov., both in DLC:GW). Grey did not return to America, although he briefly held the overall American command from December 1781 to April 1782.

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