George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Horatio Gates, 25 June 1779

From Major General Horatio Gates

Providence [R.I.] 25th June 1779 7 o’Clock P.M.


I am this moment informed, by the inclosed reports, from Brigr General Cornell, who Commands at Tiverton; and Colo. Christopher Greene, who Commands at Greenwich; That a Fleet of The Enemy’s Sailed this Morning from Newport.1

By the best Intelligence I can obtain, they have on board, the 54th British—the Landgraves German, and Colo. Fanning’s Tory Regiments, with a Detachment of Artillerists.

By my Intelligences, and the Course they Steer, I am Confident they are either Bound for New London, to make a Diversion, Or to New York, to enable Sir Harry Clinton to Draw the greater Reinforcement from thence.2 I think it my indispensible Duty to give Your Excellency the Earliest Intelligence of this Event.3 I am, Sir, Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Hume Servt

Horatio Gates

P.S. The last Letter I have received from Your Excellency, is dated the 13th Instant.

Copy, in Gates’s writing, NHi: Gates Papers; copy, enclosed in GW to John Jay, 1 July, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 154; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, DNA:PCC, item 171. The copies found in DNA:PCC, items 152 and 169, do not include the postscript.

1GW enclosed copies of both letters in the writing of his secretary Robert Hanson Harrison in his letter to John Jay of 1 July.

The letter from Col. John Topham to Brig. Gen. Ezekiel Cornell, written at Little Compton, R.I., on this date, reads: “This moment I have discovered the Fleet comeing out of Newport harbour. By their appearance their number is between Twenty & Thirty Sail; near One half appear to be Shipps & Brigs; The Other part of [the] fleet are small Vessels. By the course they steer, they appear to be bound up the Western sound” (DNA:PCC, item 152).

The letter from Col. Christopher Greene to Gates, written at East Greenwich, R.I., on this date, 1:00 P.M., reads: “I am this moment informed by Express, that One frigate, Five Transports Ships, One Barque, One Galley, Eleven Briggs, Fourteen Schooners, & Eighteen Sloops sailed from Newport Harbour this morning, and were nearly up with point Judith at ten, steering Westward—Many of them appearing full of Men. The Galley had five or Six Boats in Tow” (DNA: PCC, item 152).

2The British 54th Regiment of Foot, the Hessian Regiment Landgraf, and Col. Edmund Fanning’s King’s American Regiment sailed from Rhode Island to Whitestone, Long Island, to join forces preparing to raid Connecticut (see GW to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 7 July, source note). British officer Archibald Robertson recorded in his journal for 28 June that these regiments had arrived “off Whitestone Point” (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 196).

3This letter reached GW at 11:00 A.M. on 30 June (see GW to Gates, same date).

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