George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Robert Howe, 18 July 1779

From Major General Robert Howe

Camp near Verplanck’s point [N.Y.]
Sunday July 18th [1779] 4 o’Cl. P.M.

Dr Sir,

I have received Intelligence three different Ways of the Approach of the Enemy. One informs me that “several Thousands of the Enemy were yesterday one Mile below White Plains, moving towards this place”: Another (a verbal Account) says that about 200 of their Horse were seen on some Heighths at New-Bridge1 by the Informant. As I cannot doubt the Credibility of these Accounts from the Character of the persons who gave them, and as, consequently, there is the greatest Reason to believe the Enemy are making this Effort to get me between two Fires …. Duty and Prudence enjoin me to avoid the Snare—But, unwilling to risque too much on my own Judgment, I have consulted that of the Brigadiers, who are of Opinion that no time should be lost to effect a Retreat.

Another Express is just arrived, and confirms me in the above.2

I shall take post on the most convenient part of my Route—and inform your Excellency farther.3 I have the honour to be with great Esteem Your Excellency’s Most obedt hble Sevt

Robert Howe

LS, DLC:GW. The cover of this letter indicates that Howe sent it by express.

1For this new bridge over the Croton River, see William Heath to GW, this date, n.3.

2British officer Archibald Robertson wrote in his diary for this date: “At Day Break The Army march’d in Two Columns from the Camp at Valentines hill to Daubb’s [Dobb’s] Ferry. The Right Column, Light Infantry, British and Hessian Grenadiers. marchd the saw mill Road.

“The Left Column, 4 Companys of Guards, 7th, 23d, and 54th Regiments, Regiments of Landgrave, Prince Charles, and Bose, Fannings Corps, Volunteers of Ireland, Baggage, Park of Artillery, Provision Train, and Emerich’s Corps. The Light Infantry embark’d in Ships whenever they got to Daubb’s Ferry and got under way. … The Appearance of the Shipping getting so near aided by a Demonstration made by All the Cavalry and Infantry of the 17th, Dragoons, Queens Rangers, and Legion, who had march’d the 17th to the Vicinity of Tarry Town and from thence to the Bank of Croton, making Large Fires, Determin’d the Rebels to Abandon any Attack on Verplank’s Point and to set fire to whatever would burn on Stoney Point about 11 at night” (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 199–200).

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