George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Maxwell, 10 March 1779

From Brigadier General William Maxwell

Elizth Town [N.J.] 10th March 1779


I inclose to Your Excellency the New York paper of Yesterday.1

I have intiligence that a returning Cork Fleet of 17 Sail is to sail for Cork this day or to-morrow, they fell down yesterday—and there has been scattering Cannon heard ever since.2 I have further that Admiral Gambier is to Sail to morrow, or next day, on pr[e]tence of paying a visit to New Port; but in reallity it is believed to New London, or some where there abouts where we have a large Continental Vessel of 40 Guns or upwards with some others of Smaller sizes.3

After his return from thence it is said he is to Sail for England and his place shortly to be supplyed by Admiral Biron.4

I have nothing more worthey of notice. I am Your Excellencys most Obedient Humble Servant

Wm Maxwell

N.B. I think this whole account may be depended on—4 oclock in the after noon.

ALS, DLC:GW; copy (extract), enclosed in GW to John Jay, 11 March 1779, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy (extract), DNA:PCC, item 169. The extracts both consist of the second and third paragraphs of this letter plus the postscript.

1Maxwell apparently enclosed a copy of the Royal American Gazette (New York) for 9 March.

2The Royal Gazette (New York) for 13 March reported that “the Cork Fleet sailed with a fair wind” on 12 March.

3Hessian major Carl Leopold Baurmeister reported in his dispatch of 4 April from New York the British view that “three frigates and some fifty ships” were in the New London harbor (Baurmeister, Revolution in America description begins Carl Leopold Baurmeister. Revolution in America: Confidential Letters and Journals, 1776–1784, of Adjutant General Major Baurmeister of the Hessian Forces. Translated and annotated by Bernhard A. Uhlendorf. New Brunswick, N.J., 1957. description ends , 263).

4The movements of Rear Adm. James Gambier, who had commanded the British squadron in America since Vice Adm. John Byron’s departure from near Boston for the West Indies on 11 Dec. 1778, were a regular element of Maxwell’s correspondence with GW over the next few weeks. Deemed ineffective, and unpopular with Loyalists, Gambier left New York for England on 6 April 1779 and saw no service for the rest of the war (see Gambier, Narrative description begins James Gambier. A Narrative of Facts, Relative to the Conduct of Vice-Admiral Gambier, During His Late Command in North America. London, 1782. description ends ; Syrett, “Gambier and the American War,” description begins David Syrett. “‘This penurious old reptile’: Rear-Admiral James Gambier and the American War.” Historical Research 74 (2001): 63-76. description ends 69–75). Byron unsuccessfully operated against French forces in the Caribbean into the summer. He then returned to England and took no further part in the war.

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