From Major General Alexander McDougall
Head Quarters Pecks Kill [N.Y.] 8th May 1779.
I received your Excellency’s Favor, of the 6th Instant, in due time. General Huntingtons Brigade arrived at Crompond the same Day. I conclude General Parsons has informed you the reason of his not sending on the other.1 Colo. Cilley’s Regiment, was to have marched to Day; but the Wind blowing hard down the River, and no Teams to be had, to remove even the little Baggage they carry prevented it. But they will move early to morrow, for New-Windsor. Every Arrangement in my power, is made to facilitate their march. But the Army is without Legs ’till Grass. We can but with the utmost difficulty, get Provision brought on, to Supply the Troops; and often in danger of wanting from that impediment. The inclosed extract, of a Letter from Major Hull, will shew you, the uncertainty We are in, about the late Embarkation. If one has been made, it must be principally from Long-Island Staten Island and the City. The Troops about the Bridge and Fort Washington remain the same as in Winter. The 42d has left its Cantonment and its Judged by some of the Deserters that its one of those of which have Embarked with the 7th and Irish Volunteers.2 The Works erecting on Laurel Hill, are large and prosecuted with great vigor. The Ground North and East of that, and Fort-Washington for some distance, is cleared of the Timber, even to the smallest Bush, and made intirely bald. The Enemy intend cutting a Canal on the lowest Ground, next to those heights, to let the North River pass into Harlem-River. Those who are well acquainted with the Soil, inform me it can be easily accomplished. The object of this Work is to oblige us to cross the Canal, under the Fire of his Artillery, if We attempt a landing from this Quarter; And put it out of our power, to derive any advantage from ours in landing on York Island from West-Chester, which We now have, from the heights of Kings-Bridge. These are precautions, which were not thought of, when his Grand Army was at a distance in Pennsylvania, and I think indicate, an intention to draw off a great number of the Troops for distant opperations.3 Since this was began, I have been honored with your Favor of the 6th. The New-Hampshire Regiment, which is to march, was ordered to be supplied with Shirts Shoes and a pair of over Halls, as I concluded it was intended for remote Service, and 2182 Dollars which I borrowed for them. They were ordered an additional pair of Over Halls, in consequence of your Letter. Lieut. Colo. Badlam who commands at Fish-Kill informs me, New-Levies or Recruits were expected in there Yesterday from this State. I have received no Orders concerning them I wish to be favor’d with directions how to dispose of them. I am with great truth and regard Your Excellency’s Most Obedient and Most Humble Servant
P:S: Your Excellency has omitted to give me directions on the Subject of Resignations.4
2. The enclosed extract copy of a letter from Maj. William Hull to McDougall, dated 2 May at Philipsburg, N.Y., reads: “The Information I received that Seven Regiments had embarked, I beleive is not true.
“The person I most depended on has been several Days in the City, and upon Long Island. He gives the following Account. That on the 28th April the Irish Volunteers and a Regiment of Guards embarked which he Saw—That he met one British Regiment marching from Turtle Bay to the City with their Baggage. That it was said they were going to embark. That a number of Regiments had been kept, for a number of Days under marching Orders. That the Orders were countermanded and given to others, and indeed that the manuveres were unaccountable to the people.
“That the Troops were on their march from the East End of Long-Island. That the Cannon were moving from the Fields to the City. That it still was given out the destination of the Troops was to Georgia. That there were no Boats in the North River. That althô there were no appearance of a movement on the River, Yet that some persons friendly to us suspected preparations were making for such movement. that the Enemy were very industrious in Carrying on their Works on Laurel Hill and that all the privateers from New-York were stopped” (DLC:GW). The British expedition, which included the 7th and 42d Regiments of Foot and the Loyalist Volunteers of Ireland, was bound for Portsmouth, Va.; see 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 , 177; 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 , 193; 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 , 271–72; and William Maxwell to GW, 3 May, n.2. In addition, a British troop movement from eastern to western Long Island was under way, several Hessian regiments were shifting to new cantonments around New York City, and a supply convoy had left for Georgia on 6 May; see 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 , 273–74; 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 , 177; and Samuel Holden Parsons to GW, 8–11 April, n.2.
3. Hessian major Carl Leopold Baurmeister wrote in his dispatch of 14 May that “Much work is being done on the new fortifications on Laurel Hill, this side of Kings Bridge, the daily working parties consisting of three hundred men, two thirds of whom are Hessians. Half a shilling sterling and additional rum are paid to each man for each working day” (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 , 274).