Samuel Culper to Major Benjamin Tallmadge
20 [Setauket, N.Y.] July 9. 1779
It is now, a long time Since I have heard from you—And wheather you mean to Continue the coresspondence—I Cannot tell or your Coast So Interupted thats impractible1 nevertheless I have not neglected my duty and determined to be Prepared exactly at every appointment that 40 [post riders], may not be detaind here—I yesterday had an Opportunity of Seeing Mr Culper Junr And repeated—again all my instructions ever received from you have keep no Secret from him—And have Consulted every thing and hes determined to Pursue every Step that he may Judge for advantage and is determined asso[o]n as I can comunicate to him your authority for my engageing him, he will disengage himself from every other buisiness which at Present affords him a handsom liveing—hes Aloued to be a person of good Sence and Judgment And his firmeness and friendship towards our Country I do assure you need not doubt I have known him Several years, and Confident he is a Sincere freind. And will be frugal of all Moneys he may receive And hath undertaken it Solely for to be Some advantage to our distressed Country—And have determined to forward you for the future Weekly Intelligence if Possible.2 As I have Concluded to remain here as long as I Possible Can (Although I look upon my Self all the time in danger) for the Sole Purpos of advantage to our Corespondence.
Below is what Intelligen⟨c⟩e I Could gain from C. Jur,3 it is but trifeling but he assured thers nothing more worthy of notice on the 4 10 Sail arrived from Hallifax under Convoy of the Romulus of 44 guns with about one hundred of the new raised Scotch beleive the Duck of Athols.4 Same day 10 Sail Sailed for Cork5 on the 6 10 Sail of Merchantmen from the West Indes but Brought nothing new only that Adml Byron was a Cruseing for a reinforcement that was expected to Joyne Count De Estang. on6 the 4 a Packet arrived from Georgia With an Account of Genl Prevosst being with his Army 16 Miles South of C[harles] Town on St Johns Island,7 hardly any thing is said about the enemy in that Quarter. he tells me the Spirits of the Enemy in Genl are much Lower than heretofore or Some time gone and that he h⟨ea⟩rd a very Noted Refugee Say there Would certainly be a Peace or a Spanish war in four weeks. the times groes worse within the Enemys lines and Protection for those Called rebels is allmost Banished, in fact Refugees they are let loss [loose] to P[l]under within and without their lines Parties of them are hideing in the Woods and laying Wait for the unwary and Ignorant to deceive them puting on the Charecter of Peopele from your Shore and have Succeeded in there design too well, carried of[f] 10 or 12 Men and Striped their houses lately from about 20, the Roads from here to 10 [New York] is infested by them, and likewise the Shores that Maks our Corespondence very dangerous and requires great Cair and a Strict observance of the before mentioned Charecters and circumstances that may tend to discover the Scheam of raising a Regmt of Men by a Draughft of the Millita of L. Island is not Dropt nor Put in Practice. I With Sorrow beheld the Smock of your Towns. And very desereous to here the event. from the report of guns it is Judged you made a desparate defence,8 Freinds are all in health And Wish for their deliverans. and in the Interim am yours Sincerely
N.B.—Culper Jur Should now be furnished With Some Money I gave him 4 ⟨half⟩ Joes on the 8 Instant.
ALS, DLC:GW. Samuel Culper was an alias for Abraham Woodhull. For codes used in this letter and the subsequent three enclosures, see GW to Benjamin Tallmadge, 13 June, n.1.
2. Samuel Culper, Jr., was the alias for Robert Townsend, whom Woodhull had recruited to provide intelligence from New York City (see GW to Benjamin Tallmadge, 13 June; see also the first letter from GW to Tallmadge, 27 June, and n.3 to that document).
4. Woodhull apparently is referring to troops raised for the 77th Regiment of Foot (Athol Highlanders), which was formed in 1777 for service in Ireland. Later designated for duty in America, it never left Great Britain as a full regiment because of a mutiny.
The entry for 3 July 1779 in the diary of a British officer stationed in New York City reads in part: “The Romulus Man of War arrived from Halifax in the Evening” (Ritchie, “New York Diary,” description begins Carson I. A. Ritchie, ed. “A New York Diary [British army officer’s journal] of the Revolutionary War.” New-York Historical Society Quarterly 50 (1966): 221–80, 401–46. description ends 427). The diary entry for 4 July of another British officer, Archibald Robertson, adds that the Romulus arrived “with money” (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 197).
5. Robertson wrote in his diary entry for 4 July: “As the Cork Fleet were reported ready they were immediately ordered to sail” (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 197). The diary entry for 5 July of a British officer stationed in New York City reports that this “large Fleet of Victuallers sail’d for Cork” on that date (Ritchie, “New York Diary,” description begins Carson I. A. Ritchie, ed. “A New York Diary [British army officer’s journal] of the Revolutionary War.” New-York Historical Society Quarterly 50 (1966): 221–80, 401–46. description ends 427).
6. Woodhull inadvertently wrote “one” for this word.
7. The diary entry for 3 July of a British officer stationed in New York City notes that the “Sandwich Pacquet from Georgia … brought advice, that the British Troops, under the Command of Major General Prevost, had removed from James Island to another Island, called St. Johns about 16 Miles more to the Southward” (Ritchie, “New York Diary,” description begins Carson I. A. Ritchie, ed. “A New York Diary [British army officer’s journal] of the Revolutionary War.” New-York Historical Society Quarterly 50 (1966): 221–80, 401–46. description ends 427).
Johns Island, also known as St. Johns Island until the late eighteenth century, is the largest of the Sea Islands, measuring eleven miles in length and ranging in width from five to ten miles. It falls under the jurisdiction of South Carolina.
8. See n.1 above.