George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Stirling, 1 November 1778

From Major General Stirling

Elizabeth Town [N.J.] Novr 1: 1778

Dr Sir

By the enclosed letters your Excellency will find that the Enemy are in Motion notwithstanding the Badness of the weather;1 that to the amount of 50 or 60 Sail of Ships fell down to the hook yesterday is Confirmed from Amboy, with this addition that more are Continually falling down, this last Circumstance is also Confirmed from Staten Island. I have Just seen Six persons from New York, they all agree that the Embar[ka]tion is Still going on, and that it is Cheifly for the West Indies. that the Tories are in dispair and begin to think they will soon be left without a Garrisson. I can hear nothing more of Gray’s Secret Expedition.2

I have this Moment received the enclosed letter from Colonel Lindsley.3 the prisoners are of 46th Regt & say that there about 200 men at powles hook, Cheifly Invalids of every Corps, their Regiment embarked & Sailed down yesterday. I am your Excellency’s Most Humble Servt


3 oClock.

I have lost one of my Glasses & can Scarce see to write.


1An enclosed letter of 29 Oct. from Maj. Richard Howell to Stirling reads: “I am to Continue my Account of Intelligence and on the 26th The New Broom a Congress privateer (as they express it) with 14 Guns, was taken into York as a Prize, and One Sloop a Brig & Schooner went in. 27th Two Large Sloops & a Schooner went in. 28th One 74 went in & a 74 & 50 suppos’d to be the Experiment, with a Sloop & topsail Schooner went out—A French Ship rigg’d in an extraordinary Manner went in as a prize, & 26 Sail of Transports with Troops on Board, fell down to the Hook. 40 More transports with Troops on Board, lay at the watring place. Reports. That the Troops now embark’d & embarking are for three distinct expeditions. some Imagine them all for Boston—Others, for the West Indies, St Augustine, & Pensacola. Remarks. All the Troops are not preparing for embarkation. Skinner’s corps are to continue here, part of which will come to the Hook in place of Colo: Allen’s & I can not observe a probabillity of an immediate Evacuation” (DLC:GW).

An enclosed letter from Capt. John Burrowes to Stirling, dated 31 Oct. from Middletown Point, N.J., reads: “Since my letter of the 29th Instant I have the pleasure to inform your Lordship of the departure of nine of the ships and brigs that lay at the hook; which I am inform’d are bound for Rhode Island, (by a deserter).

“Also; of a fleet of Sixty sail that Come down from the Narrows this day, the most of them Square rigg’d vessels and four of them very large, one of which appeared to be an Admirals ship. The day being so excessive Stormy that I can take no view of them to be particular but think them mostly Transports. If the wether permits to morrow morning My Lord. I shall return to the highlands; My father will accompany me—I there will endeavor to Get as true state of them as poss[i]ble and shall inform your Lordship, At the same time shall pay due attention to their movements” (DLC:GW).

The enclosed letter from William Marwin (or Morwin) to Stirling, dated 31 Oct. from Middletown Point, N.J., reads: “A Cording to your Lord Ship Direction I have Sent you the Earliyist A Count of the Movement of the fleet when I Came to Connask Conk Point I found 17 Sail Saterday morning Came Down 40 Sail Among them 4 Large Ships one of them Is A flag Ship” (DLC:GW).

2See Stirling to GW, 31 Oct., n.2. Despite Stirling’s fears, British Gen. Charles Grey had no secret expedition in the offing.

3A copy of the enclosed letter from Lt. Col. Eleazer Lindsley to Stirling, written on this date from Hackensack, N.J., reads: “I would acquaint your Lordship that the party I ordered to Bergen yesterday morning marched thro’ by the mill and so on to the hook, killed one of the Guard & took two prisoners, and brought off about 20 horses. Thought proper to send the prisoners to your Lordship” (DLC:GW).

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