George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General William Maxwell, 15 February 1779

To Brigadier General William Maxwell

Hd Qrs [Middlebrook] Feby 15. 1779


I have just received a letter from Capt. Stokes stationed at Bonum Town—informing me that the enemy on Staten Island appear to be in motion, and have been collecting boats both at New York and at the Island1—You will therefore redouble your vigilance and be ready to oppose any attempt they may make near you.

I am informed there is a considerable number of fat cattle between Wood-bridge and the blazing star2—If this be true, which you will ascertain, you will immediately have them removed to a place of security—I have desired Capt. Stokes to assist you in the business—and to communicate to you any further discoveries he may make.3 I am Sir Your most humble servant.

You will send this intelligence forthwith to Col. Clarke at Paramus.

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1GW is referring to Capt. John Stokes’s letter to him of 14 Feb., which has not been found. The New-Jersey Gazette (Trenton) for Wednesday, 17 Feb., reported: “By a Gentleman who left New-York on Saturday last, we learn, that the enemy there, are very busy in preparing for another embarkation, but the place of their destination remains a profound secret.

“Yesterday a Gentleman came to town, who informs, that the enemy are collecting a number of boats at Billop’s-Point, on Staten-Island, which has occasioned the militia in the vicinity of Woodbridge and Brunswick to assemble, which, it is hoped, will frustrate any designs the enemy may have against those parts of this State.”

2At some time in this era the Blazing Star Ferry moved from a point on the Staten Island Sound (Arthur Kill) about three miles northeast of Woodbridge, N.J., to a site some two miles further north. It is unclear whether GW meant the old Blazing Star Ferry or the new Blazing Star Ferry.

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