George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Abraham Buford, 16 February 1779

To Colonel Abraham Buford

Head Qrs [Middlebrook] 16th feby 1779.


As the Enemy may be tempted to some Enterprise on a supposition that the festivity of the 18th will occasion remissness in duty1—I have directed the Officer commanding at Bonum Town to be particularly vigilant—and to transmit you the earliest intelligence—shd any movement happen2—You will therefore be prepared if occasion shd require, to have the convalescents of yr Hospital marched, and the sick whose situation admits of it removed to a place of greater security—It will be likewise necessary in this case to remove any spare Hospital Stores that may have been collected at Brunswick. I am &c.

P.S. In case of a move—notice will likewise be given you from S. Amboy.3

Df, in John Laurens’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The draft manuscript is addressed to “Col. Beaufort Brunswick.” Buford supervised the hospital at New Brunswick, N.J., from 30 Dec. 1778 to 10 March 1779 (see General Orders for those dates).

1For descriptions of the celebration of the first anniversary of the French alliance that occurred at the artillery park near Pluckemin, N.J., on 18 Feb., see GW to William Maxwell, this date, n.3.

2GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton wrote from Middlebrook on this date to Capt. John Stokes or other officer commanding at Bonhamtown, N.J.: “As there are some appearances of an intended movement among the enemy and as they may possibly be encouraged to make some attempt while the exhibition at Pluckimin on thursday [18 Feb.] is going on, expecting to find our attention much engrossed by that object—It is His Excellencys particular desire that you keep a more vigilant look out than usual on that day and night and part of the day following, and if you discover any thing, to give immediate notice to Hd Qrs to General Maxwell & to the Hospital at Brunswick.

“You will observe the instructions sent you by the Adjutant General on the appearance of an enemy” (DLC:GW; see also GW to William Maxwell, this date).

Adj. Gen. Alexander Scammell’s instructions to Stokes on this subject have not been identified, but a signed draft of Scammell’s letter of this date to Brig. Gen. Henry Knox, conveying GW’s directions for another security precaution to be taken during the Pluckemin exhibition, is in the Peter Force Papers at DLC. Written at Middlebrook, it reads: “I have spoke to his Excellency relative to the artillery, and received his directions to inform you that he wishes you would send two pieces of artillery as soon as possible to Middle Brook Camp. They are to be stationed at the new Court Martial House agreeable to your proposal. The men will be covered in a guard house near the room, and the officer to quarter in one of the small rooms of said house till proper huts are erected. I interceded to have the sending the artillery postponed till the day after the exhibition, but the General objected As the enemy replete with ill nature are fond of disturbing us, and probably may avail themselves of the opportunity when so many officers are absent, to make an incursion—and that therefore it will be necessary to have the cannon in camp to give the earliest alarm, if such a thing should take place.”

3GW’s aide-de-camp John Laurens wrote from Middlebrook on this date to Capt. Bartholomew von Heer, who was stationed with his Maréchaussée Corps in the vicinity of the Middlebrook camp: “His Excellency desires that you will detach a select patrole from your Corps—with orders to proceed on the south side of the Rariton—towards south Amboy—and discover whether the Enemy is making any dispositions for a forward manoeuvre or remain quiet in their lines.

“This patrole is to march so as to be in the quarter for obtaining intelligence—on thursday morng next—they are to be exceedingly alert and vigilant that day & night—and to remain on duty ’till Friday Morning ten oClock—when they may return to Camp.

“In case of any movement—the earliest notice is to be given to His Excellency at the Artillery Park pluckemin…. P.S. In case of a move you will give notice not only to the Genl as above but likewise to Col. Beaufort at Brunswick—Let the patrole be commanded by a careful intelligent Officer” (DLC:GW).

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