George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Stirling, 7–8 November 1778

From Major General Stirling

Eliz. Town [N.J.]
Novr 7[–8] 1778 in the Evening

Dear Sir

I this Day have seen a Person from New-York who has had an Opportunity of being in a Variety of Company there lately, who “says: that the Embarkations of Troops and Stores are still going on the Day before Yesterday. that they talk there is a Garrison to be left for the Protection of Privatiering, of which there is now fifty Sail belonging to that Port. that there is a great Scarcity of Sailors both for the Privatiers and Men of War, of which there are several still at New-York particularly the Isis & Rhoebuck Capt. Hammond. the latter is to sail next Week for England is to carry Home Lord Carlisle and Mr Eden, Sir Harry Clinton and Lord Cornwallis are likewise going to England.1 Grant is gone with one Division of the Troops Vaughn and Grey are gone or going with the others. and notwithstanding the Promises of a Garrison and the Building of Hutts at Kings Bridge, the principle Tories are in great Despondency. That Colonel Creugers Corps is just embarked. she knows it is provided with Necessaries for a warm Climate, and she over heard him say a Day or two ago that he supposed his Destination was for St Augustine.” 2

By the Reports made by the Officers stationed at Amboy and at the Hook this day Nothing of Importance has sailed either in or out since the 3d Inst. I expect they will begin to assemble at the Hook as soon as the Weather appears settled and fair for there are nine or ten Transports with Troops on board near the Narrows, some in the Harbour others in the Mouth of the North River. Inclosed is the York Paper of the 5th the Printer speaks of the “Fleet which has sailed for Rhode Island,” that was the twenty three Sail which sailed on Saturday Morning 31st and returned in the Afternoon. he says nothing of the eighty odd sail which joined them on Monday after the Storm and sailed with them on tuesday and tho this eighty Sail carryed of[f ] above eight thousand Men he makes no Mention of them except “some Wind bound Vessels.” this must be another clear Evasion of mentioning an Embarkation of Troops.3

I have just now recieved the following Letter dated New-York Novr 5th. “The Fleet sailed from the Hook a Tuesday. Their Convoy consist of five two Deckers. Generals Grant and Camble are gone in the Fleet, Genl Grant goes to Mobeal Genl Camble is appointed Governor of Pensicoler.4 there is some talk of a private Expedition going on it is said Genl Grey is to command. The Transports are ready in the North River to take the Troops aboard. the seventy first embarked Yesterday What Number is to embark is not yet known or where their Destination is. Seven hundred of the New Corps are aboard of Transports at the Narrows.5 The Commissioners it is said goe Home in the Phenix Man of War in twelve Days time—If anything of Consequence should happen you may rely on the earliest Intelligence.”

8th 9 oClo’ a.m.

I have seen another person from New york who say’s the private Expedition is to take place immediately after the Eleventh. from several Circumstances I am led to belive that they Mean to begin their Secret Expedition with a Surprize in the Bayoneting way. If it should be in this State I hope we shall give the “No flint General ” some reason to be Ashamed of his Title.6 The Rhuematism is much better, fine weather, and some Exercise (which I had too much neglected) will I hope shake it off. I am with the Most Sincere affection & Esteem your Excellency’s Most Obedient Humble Servt



1The Roebuck sailed for England on 27 Nov., carrying General Cornwallis and the British peace commissioners; Gen. Henry Clinton remained in New York (Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends , 185).

2For the British expeditions that left New York during the first week of November, see John Beatty to GW, 1 Nov., n.1. John Harris Cruger (1738–1807) served before the war as a member of the royal council of the colony of New York, and as chamberlain of the city of New York. In June 1776 he fled from Manhattan to Long Island, where he remained in hiding until the arrival of the British army that August. A month later he was commissioned lieutenant colonel and placed in command of the 1st Battalion of Brig. Gen. Oliver Delancy’s Loyalist brigade. Cruger and his battalion sailed from New York on 7 Nov. 1778, bound for Savannah, Ga., and he remained in the southern theater until the end of the war, most notably as commander of the garrison at Ninety Six, S.C., which was besieged by Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene from May to June 1781. His property confiscated, Cruger fled to England after the war.

3This may be a reference to the Royal American Gazette (New York) for 5 November.

4Maj. Gen. James Grant’s force was bound for the West Indies, not “Mobeal,” or modern-day Mobile, Ala.; for more on the British fleet sailings, see John Beatty to GW, 1 Nov., n.1.

5The British 71st Regiment of Foot and elements of Brig. Gens. Oliver Delancy’s and Cortland Skinner’s Loyalist brigades were among the troops that sailed with Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell’s expedition to Savannah, Ga., on 7 Nov. (Kemble Papers description begins [Stephen Kemble]. The Kemble Papers. 2 vols. New York, 1884-85. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 16–17. description ends , 1:165).

6Maj. Gen. Charles Grey, called the “no flint general” since his surprise attack on Maj. Gen. Anthony Wayne at Paoli, Pa., on 20–21 Sept. 1777, and especially feared after his surprise attack on Col. George Baylor’s 3d Continental Light Dragoons at Old Tappan, N.J., on 28 Sept. 1778 (see Wayne to GW, 21 Sept. 1777, n.2; and Israel Putnam to GW, 28 Sept. 1778, n.1), had no secret expedition underway. He sailed for England later this month.

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