George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Jay, 13 July 1779

To John Jay

New Windsor July the 13th 1779


In my Letter of the 9th which I had the honor of addressing to Your Excellency, I informed you of the proceedings and ravages of the Enemy on the Sound till that time, as far as I had been advised. I now take the liberty to transmit an Extract of a Letter of the 10th (No. 1) from Governor Trumbull—and of the same date (No. 2) from General parsons, by which Your Excellency will find, that they have burnt Fairfield.1 I also transmit Sr George Colliers & Major General Tryon’s address to the Inhabitants of Connecticut delivered at the time and a Copy of Colo. Whitings Answer.2 The Enemy’s devastations do not stop here—as you will perceive by the Inclosure No. 3 (an Extract of a Letter from Genl parsons of the 11th) announcing the destruction of Norwalk.3 In the several descents made by the Enemy, the Militia from the Accounts I have received considering their number and the sudden manner in which they assembled, acquitted themselves with great spirit.4

Besides the measures taken with respect to Glover’s Brigade, of which I advised Your Excellency—on the 10th as soon as I heard that a body of the Enemy were moving towards Horseneck,5 I sent orders to Major General Heath, who lay in the Highlands on the East side of the River, to march that way, as early as possible the next morning with the Two Connecticut Brigades, on the route by Crompond, Bedford or Ridgefield as circumstances might point out; and to give every aid and countenance, consistent with prudence, to the Militia to repress their depredations.6 I have requested General parsons to fix their extent with as much precision as he can.7 If it is practicable, it seems to me, high time to retaliate by destroying some of their Towns.

I must take the liberty to request that an early supply of money may be sent to the Deputy pay master General, for paying the gratuity of 100 Dollars to the Soldiers. From the great uneasiness prevailing among many of the pensylvania Troops and frequent desertions, occasioned in great measure by the exorbitant bounties given by some of the States for short and temporary services—and which must encrease with the practice, I have been obliged to draw on the Military chest for a very large sum to pay the gratuity in hopes that it might have a favourable influence.8 This may occasion some deficiency of money even for discharging ⟨the Reg⟩imental demands to the last of ⟨May—⟩the latest period to which any Warrants have been drawn; and possibly delaying the gratuity from other parts of the Army, entitled to it, may excite some degree of uneasiness. I cannot tell at this time, for what number of Men to estimate the supply that will be necessary; but no inconvenience will result from a more than ample provision, as the balance in such case will answer other purposes. It may be pretty well ascertained from the Muster Rolls, which, I believe, are deposited with the Treasury Board.9

½ past 9 OClock P.M.

I this minute returned from the Fort and the posts below,10 when I had the Honor to receive your Excellency’s Letter of the 9th with the papers to which it refers. I have also to inform you, that by a Letter from Genl Heath of the 12th just come to hand—the Enemy have burnt Bedford.11 I have the Honor to be with great respect & esteem Yr Excelleny’s Most Obedt sert

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Mutilated matter on the LS is supplied in angle brackets from the draft manuscript. Congress read this letter on 19 July and referred it to a committee of three, consisting of Gouverneur Morris, William Carmichael, and William Whipple (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 14:851–52). This committee’s undated report denounced British ravages in Virginia, Connecticut, Georgia, and South Carolina and declared it to be “a common Cause of all Nations to punish a People who so daringly violate the Rights of Humanity” (DNA:PCC, item 19; see also 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 14:915–16).

1For these enclosures, see Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., to GW, and Samuel Holden Parsons to GW, both 10 July. For the British raids on Connecticut in early July, see GW to Trumbull, 7 July, source note.

2For the enclosed address and copy of Col. Samuel Whiting’s reply to Maj. Gen. William Tryon, dated 7 July, see Trumbull to GW, 10 July, notes 9 and 10.

3For the enclosed extract, which consisted of nearly the entire letter, see Parsons to GW, 11 July.

6See GW to William Heath, 10 (first and second letters) and 11 July.

7See GW to Parsons, 11 July (first letter), and Parsons to GW, 31 July, and notes 1 and 2 to that document.

8An entry to explain a $200,000 outlay in GW’s warrant book for 12 July reads: “To Major Genl St Clair—for the 100 Dollar gratuity for pensylva Troops to be accounted for” (Revolutionary War Warrant Book 4, 1779–1780, DLC:GW, Ser. 5).

9For Jay’s reply to this request for money, see his letter to GW, 20 July, and n.3 to that document.

10GW is referring to West Point, New York.

11For this inaccurate intelligence on the burning of Bedford, N.Y., see Heath to GW, 12 July, and n.4 to that document.

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