George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Jay, 23 June 1779

To John Jay

Head Quarters New Windsor June 23d 79


Two days since I removed my quarters to this place where I am more contiguous to the forts and best situated to attend to the different parts of the army.1 By my last advices the enemy at Kings ferry were embarking their baggage and some heavy cannon and preparing for a movement either up or down the river.2

Your Excellency will find in the inclosed New York Gazette of the 19th two or three pieces of intelligence of a very disagreeable nature and with too much an appearance of authenticity—There is a pretty wide difference between their representation of Southern affairs and ours.3 With very great respect and esteem I have the honor to be Yr Excellys Most Obedt servant

Go: Washington

P.S. Your favour of the 15th reached me yesterday. Lt Smith must comply with his summons.4

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1See GW to Israel Putnam, 21 June, and General Orders, this date, n.1.

3The New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury, a Loyalist newspaper, published regularly on Mondays. GW apparently enclosed its issue for Monday, 14 June, which printed a letter from South Carolina lieutenant governor Thomas Bee to Virginia governor Patrick Henry, written at Charleston, S.C., on 5 May: “The enemy having crossed from Georgia to this State, and by a rapid movement got between General Lincoln and Charlestown, are bending their whole force this way; they were this morning within 68 miles of us, and are pursuing General Moultrie, who, with about 1300 men, is retreating before them. Governor Rutledge, with about 350 men, had marched from Orangeburgh on Monday, to join General Moultrie, but I much fear will be too late. General Lincoln intended coming on their rear, but they were at least four days march a-head of him.

“In this situation I thought it my duty once more to request the aid of our brethern of Virginia. No time is to be lost. Indeed I fear any assistance will come full late. …

“Col. John Laurens received a slight wound in the arm, in a skirmish with the enemy’s advanced party yesterday, and his horse was also shot. He is in a good way. Pray let his father know this, as I have not time to write to him.” Congress had read this letter on 29 May and referred it to the Committee of Intelligence (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 14:664).

The New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury for 14 June also included under the heading “NEW-YORK, June 8” an item that reads: “To confirm the brilliant state of our affairs in Carolina, we have been well informed that a person lately arrived by land from Charlestown declared at Philadelphia, that the action, related in the rebel news papers, in which Mr. Polaski’s officers had suffered considerably; was fought within 15 miles of that city, adding, that he had not the least doubt of General Prevost’s troops being then in possession of it.” Another report of British success in South Carolina, reprinted from the Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia) for 2 June, followed this item. A final item printed in the New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury for 14 June is a letter from Henry to Jay, written at Williamsburg, Va., on 21 May: “I received the letter which accompanies this yesterday from South-Carolina, by express; and by desire of Lieutenant-Governor Bee transmit it to you for the perusal of Congress.”

Reports of an American success in South Carolina ultimately proved erroneous (see Jay to GW, 4 and 7 June, and GW to James Clinton, 13 June; see also GW to John Augustine Washington, 20 June, and n.7 to that document).

4For the parole case of Lt. James Smith, see Jay to GW, 15 June, n.1.

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