George Washington Papers

Enclosure: Instructions to Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, 1 July 1779

Instructions to Brigadier General Anthony Wayne

[New Windsor, 1 July 1779]


Having appointed you to the command of the Light infantry of the line,1 you will immediately repair to that part of it (consisting of four battalions now commanded by Colo. Butler)2 which is in the vicinity of Fort Montgomery, and take the command. The infantry of the other divisions is not yet organized; but it will be done as soon as possi⟨ble⟩ and the whole drawn together as far as the circumstances of the service will permit.3 The principal object of your present station is to oppose any movements of the enemy against the Forts; for which purpose you will exert yourself to gain an accurate knowlege of the scene of action, all the possible landing places and approaches to the forts and to your corps; with every advantageous spot for giving the most effectual opposition. You will make such disposition as appears to you best calculated to answer these purposes and to gain the earliest information of the movements and designs of the enemy—To this end, you will endeavour to engage trusty persons, to go within the enemies lines as spies; and I will enable you to reward them for their risk and trouble4—but in doing this I need not remind you of the necessity of œconomy and the greatest caution to prevent imposition.

If at any time, you see a favourable opportunity for striking an advantageous stroke, you have my permission for improving it; as I rely upon your prudence, that you will undertake nothing without a sufficient prospect of success, and unless the advantages to be obtained will compensate the risk to be run—When you have any project of consequence, and circumstances will permit, you will be pleased to communicate it to me, previous to the execution.

You will find in the hands of Coll Butler a map of this country taken from actual survey which is for the use of the commanding officer of the infantry.5 Colo. Butler will also communicate to you the instructions he has received, which contain my ideas more in detail of the ⟨measures proper to be persued by the infantry in its present position.

You will be pleased to advise me punctually of every material occurrence. Given at Head Quarters New Windsor July 1st 79.⟩

D (incomplete), in Caleb Gibbs’s writing, PHi: Wayne Papers; Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Missing portions of the incomplete manuscript are supplied in angle brackets from the draft manuscript.

2Just inside the parenthesis on the draft manuscript, Hamilton inserted above the line, and then struck out, the words “and a corps commanded by Major Hull.”

3For the organization of the light infantry corps, see General Orders, 15 June.

4At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton wrote and then struck out a sentence that reads: “I would wish you to go as extensively as you can into this business.”

5In a letter from New Windsor on 3 July, Robert Erskine wrote Wayne: “Pursuant to His Excellency Orders I beg leave to transmit you the enclosed Draught of the adjacent Country—at the same time His Excelly desired me to mention it as His particular request that no Copies whatever be permited to be taken of it” (PHi: Wayne Papers). This map has not been identified, but see GW to Richard Butler, 21 June.

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