George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons, 8 July 1779

To Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons

New Windsor July 8th 1779

Dr Sir,

A day or two ago, you expressed a desire to go towards the Sound on some private business—At present you may Unite this object with the public service—It is probable from different accounts the enemy have made an incursion into Connecticut; if so you may be useful by taking the direction of the militia which may be assembling to oppose them, if you can arrive in time—You have therefore my consent to proceed to Connecticut for a short time for these purposes.1

General Gates has been directed to march Glovers brigade this way in consequence of the detachment brought from Rhode Island2—I have informed Governor Trumbull of this3 and written to The Commanding Officer to give all the aid in his power to the Militia on the present occasion, if he should be within reach.4 Should circumstances require it you will make use of this Brigade accordingly and order it to such place as you shall think proper.5 I beg you to advise me of any thing material that passes—The sooner you set out, the better informing General Heath of the substance of this letter. I am D. Sir Your most Obed. servant.

P.S. Since writing the above I have yours of this day6—I do not at present think of sending any troops from hence; but if any should go, tis probable Yr Brigade will be pitched upon under the circumstances you mention.

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW’s aide-de-camp Richard Kidder Meade wrote the dateline on the draft manuscript.

1For the prompt departure of Parsons for Connecticut, see his letters to GW of 9 and 10 July.

3See GW to Trumbull, 7 July; see also Trumbull to GW, that date.

4See GW to John Glover, this date.

5Parsons acted on this authority when he wrote Brig. Gen. John Glover from Norwalk, Conn., on 10 July: “I have the Orders of his Excelly Genl Washington to Order the Brigade under your Command to such part of this State as I shall find necessary on the present Emergency.

“The present Movements of the Enemy, renders a Force absolutely Necessary in the remaining Towns in the Western part of the State, to preserve them from Destruction, & oppose the Enemy’s further progress. You will therefore be pleas’d to order the Brigade under your Command, to March to this place, with as much Expedition as will Consist with the health of the Troops.

“The Enemy are advancing into the Country, & no Troops but the Militia to oppose them. You will easily perceive the Necessity of moving on as fast as you can, to give Confidence to the Militia, who, in Conjunction with your Troops, may give a Check to the further progress of those Incendiaries” (Gregory and Dunnings, “Gates Papers” description begins James Gregory and Thomas Dunnings, eds. “Horatio Gates Papers, 1726–1828.” Sanford, N.C., 1979. Microfilm. description ends ).

Glover enclosed this letter from Parsons when he wrote Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates from New London, Conn., on 11 July, 10:00 P.M. Glover’s letter reads: “The Inclos’d Letter from Genl Parsons is this Moment receiv’d by Express, I shall march tomorrow Morning 2 OClock, if the Weather permits” (Gregory and Dunnings, “Gates Papers” description begins James Gregory and Thomas Dunnings, eds. “Horatio Gates Papers, 1726–1828.” Sanford, N.C., 1979. Microfilm. description ends ).

A letter from Glover to Gates, same date (Sunday), 3:00 P.M., also written at New London, reads: “I am now to inform your Honor I arriv’d here this morning 10 OClock where I found a respectable body of Militia, under the Command of General [John] Tyler who, with his Brigade is now by Govr Trumbulls order discharg’d, & are on their way home. There is now my Brigade, 3 Compns. Militia 50 Men each, 2 ditto State Artillery, which is the whole of our strength. There is now off this Harbour four Ships of War—Renown 50 Guns, Thames 32, Otter Sloop 16, & the Oliver Cromwell. The Western post is in, & says a large body of the Enemy came out by Kingsbridge, & was Advanc’d as far as Horse Neck friday last, Consisting of 5000 Foot, & 1000 Horse, Suppos’d to be going to Norwalk & that two Brigades was on their Way as far as Ridgefield the same day, from Genl Washington’s Army, for that place. …

“Should the Enemy not appear on the morrow, I intend to March for Lyme next day, (& endeavour to make a Junction with the two Brigades before mention’d.

The post could not tell who Commanded, [(]I imagine Parsons & Huntington,) unless I meet Orders from your Honor, or some other Quarter, to the Contrary: I wish it may be to Return, ‘perhaps you guess my Reasons.’

“please to make my Compliments to Mr Clarke, & acquaint him his Brigg is got down from Norwich, & is safe at Anchor in this Harbour. … P.S. my most respectfull Regards to the Dear Miss D—— B——n, & the other, Little girls, near Head Quarters” (Gregory and Dunnings, “Gates Papers” description begins James Gregory and Thomas Dunnings, eds. “Horatio Gates Papers, 1726–1828.” Sanford, N.C., 1979. Microfilm. description ends ).

6This letter from Parsons to GW has not been found.

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