George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Colonel Richard Butler, 25 July 1779

To Colonel Richard Butler

Hd Qrs [West Point] July 25: 1779

Dr Sir

I conclude the rain to day will prevent you from reconnoitering Stony point, as you proposed when I saw you. As I am very desirous of obtaining good information respecting it, I request the favor of you when you go on the business to be as particular & critical in your examination as you can; ascertaining the several Works the Enemy are carrying on—their number and nature—whether inclosed or otherwise.1 You will also be pleased to be attentive to the appearance and number of their Tents, as they may in some measure assist us in forming an estimate of their force. If you should come across any Deserters, or any person who has been in the Garrison in whom you can confide, you will try to find out the Corps that compose it and the strength of each—also the quantity & Size of Artillery & who commands. I am Dr Sir with great regard & esteem Yr Most Obedt sert

Go: Washington

Df, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1British officer Archibald Robertson wrote in his diary for 20 July: “went on Shore at Verplancks with Sir Henry [Clinton] who came to a determination to refortify Stoney Point for 300 men” (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 200). In a letter to George Townshend of 26 July, in which he reported the successful American attack on Stony Point, N.Y., during the night of 15–16 July, Maj. Gen. James Pattison, British commander at New York City, added that after the enemy evacuated “Stoney Point, we once more took possession of it with the 42nd, 63rd & 64th Regts. Captn [Patrick] Ferguson is made Governor, & it is now fortifying with a close Work, which it had not before” (Pattison, “Letters,” 95–99). For the British reoccupation of Stony Point on 19 July, see Butler to GW, that date, and n.2 to that document; see also GW to Alexander McDougall, 20 July, and to John Jay, 24 July.

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