To Major General Stirling
Head Quarters West-point 28th July 1779
I have been deceived I beleive, in the information of a considerable Embarkation of Troops in the North River—no subsequent intellige⟨nce⟩ from deserters & others speak of such an event, but all agree that the present position of the enemy is from Phillips’s to East Chester—Tryon and his burning crew streching up the River towards Dob⟨bs’s⟩ Ferry. The foundation therefore of the March of your division to Suffrans was bad;1 but as it ⟨has⟩ taken place I shall not alter the position im⟨m⟩ediately, but wish your Lordship to be in the mos⟨t⟩ perfect readiness to move at a moments warning light; and without waiting further orders, that you do immediately advance to the forest of Deane ⟨if⟩ you should receive advice of the enemy’s movemen⟨t⟩ towards Kings ferry by land or Water, in Order tha⟨t⟩ you may be ready to afford us timely assistance. In case of such an event your baggage may ret⟨ire⟩ to Sloots or futher on the road to Chester, if necess⟨ary⟩—In the mean while I beg your Lordship to ha⟨ve⟩ the Country between Suffrans and Simon House⟨s⟩ at the Beaver pond (which is within a mile of the road from Junes’s to Haverstraw) well explore⟨d—⟩2 as also from Houses to the other road from the Furnace of Deane to Haverstraw by Clements’s Brushes & Storms3—In a word, I wish to know if some middle way cannot be had between the Clove road & that by Haverstraw forge,4 by which light Troops could march from Suffrans to Storm⟨s,⟩ Brewsters5 or Clements’s; that in Case it should be found necessary (to answer particular purposes) for your division to take post thereabouts, it could be done without making a circuitous March by the Clove road on the one hand,6 or approaching too near Stoney Point by pursuing that one which leads by Haverstraw forge on the other7—some of the intelligent and well affected Inhabitants, accompanied by an Officer or two (acquainted with the woods) and a small party, would soon ascertain the practicability of a road by the rout here described—with the advantages & disadvantages of it.8 I am with great esteem and regard Your Lordships Most Obedt Servt
LS, in Caleb Gibbs’s writing, in private hands; ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Obscured material is supplied in angle brackets from GW’s draft manuscript.
2. The straight-line distance between Suffern and Simon House’s house on the southwestern shore of Beaver Pond was a little more than nine miles over a series of hills and the northern portion of Stoney Brook. It was, in short, very difficult terrain with no obvious route for a road.
3. The most direct overland route from Simon House’s house to the road between the Furnace of Dean and Haverstraw, intersecting just north of Storm’s, was roughly four miles. That route, however, passed over the southwestern portion of Dunderberg Mountain, and almost certainly offered no easy passage. Haverstraw was nearly six miles from Simon House’s house along the road, and following that road as it swung northward from Haverstraw, it was about four miles to Storm’s, six miles to Brush’s, eight miles to Clement’s, and twelve miles to the Furnace of Dean. A direct route from Simon House’s house could save about six miles.
4. Haverstraw Forge, present-day Thiells, N.Y., is about two miles west of Haverstraw village. The road from June’s tavern ran southeasterly through both places before turning northward to reach Storm’s and Brush’s. No roads ran due north of Haverstraw Forge, likely on account of the very hilly terrain. The distance between Suffern and Haverstraw Forge along the road was approximately nine miles, essentially the same as the straight-line distance between Suffern and Simon House’s house.
5. GW’s draft manuscript reads “Brushes” rather than “Brewsters,” likely meaning that Gibbs made a copying error.
6. The distance from Suffern to the Furnace of Dean along the Clove Road was at least twenty miles.
7. Stony Point was within two road miles of this route northward from Suffern to the Furnace of Dean.
8. An extract of Stirling’s reply to GW, dated 2 Aug., does not include reconnaissance information (M-Ar), but GW’s letter to Stirling of 3 Aug. exhorted that officer to continue an examination of the roads (DLC:GW).
9. Capt. Strother Jones of Col. Nathaniel Gist’s regiment had arrested James Geary, an assistant deputy clothier in the northern department. For Geary’s court-martial, which apparently led to his removal, see General Orders, 30 July; see also GW to William Smallwood, 15 Aug. (DLC:GW).
10. The available photocopy of the LS does not include this postscript, but its existence is asserted in an advertisement for the LS in Charles Hamilton Autographs, Catalog No. 108, 6 Oct. 1977, item no. 48. The version of the postscript transcribed here is found on the draft manuscript in the writing of GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton.