George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Jay, 26 May 1779

To John Jay

Head Quarters Middlebrook 26th May 1779.


Mr Wadsworth who is just now returned from the Eastward, informs me, that a vessel had arrived there from Charlestown S. Carolina, the captain of which told him, that he slipped out of the harbour, the night of the 5th instant (a fresh embargo being laid that evening on all the shipping, and the sailors ordered on shore for the defence of the Town). The report was that the enemy were on this side of Purisburgh, and superior in numbers to our army.1

As this intelligence may not have reached Congress; and as Mr Wadsworth tells me the Captain is a person of veracity, I thought it necessary to make the communication. I am sir your Excellencys most obedient and hble servt

Go: Washington

LS, in James McHenry’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 28 May (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 14:661).

1On 29 April, in an attempt to distract Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln from a march toward British-held Augusta, Ga., which he had undertaken with the majority of his forces in Charleston, S.C., British Maj. Gen. Augustine Prevost pushed 2,000 troops across the Savannah River. They routed a small American force and captured Purrysburg the following day. Lincoln continued to march on Augusta, however, so Prevost resumed his advance, crossing the Ashley River on 11 May and defeating Brig. Gen. Casimir Pulaski’s Legion just outside Charleston. Prevost lacked the means to storm Charleston, but he attempted to bluff it out, summoning the American commanders, Gov. John Rutledge and Brig. Gen. William Moultrie, to surrender. They refused, and Prevost withdrew his troops on the night of 12–13 May. Lincoln, meanwhile, had halted his troops ten miles short of Augusta and turned them back toward Charleston. For Prevost’s description of these events, see Davies, Documents of the American Revolution description begins K. G. Davies, ed. Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783; (Colonial Office Series). 21 vols. Shannon and Dublin, 1972–81. description ends , 17:127–29, 141–43.

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