To Major General Stirling
Head Quarters West Point Aug. 3d 1779
I have received your favour of the 2d and shall be obliged to you to continue your examination of the roads ’till you have them all well ascertained1—Though I can hardly flatter myself with such an event, it appears to me not impossible there may be a French fleet near the Coast; and I have other intelligence of some alarm among the enemy on this subject. If it is so; it will be a most important circumstance—The fleet seen off the coast from Monmouth, if there really has been one seen, may either be this or a British fleet, which there is great reason to believe sailed from Torbay towards the latter end of May—reported to have 7000 troops on Board2—It will be of great importance to have the earliest advice of the arrival of either.
It will be happy if your Southern account proves true; but I am afraid to credit it—The step you are taking with respect to forage is a necessary and prudent one—I could wish it may be as extensive as it can be made with safety, and without stripping the inhabitants too bare. An account should be kept of the quantity taken from each that a reasonable compensation may be made.
I have been informed of the large magazines at Pompton and Slotes and am assured that measures are taking to remove them; particularly from the former place which is certainly an improper deposit for any large stock3—I am with great regard Yr Lordships Most Obed. ser.
Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
1. For GW’s orders to Stirling to scout the country between Suffern, N.Y., and the road leading from Forest of Deane, N.Y., to Haverstraw, N.Y.—intended to facilitate a rapid march by Stirling’s division that would initiate from a point near Suffern and conclude with the force set to take a blocking position between Stony Point and West Point, N.Y.—see GW to Stirling, 28 July.
3. Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene, the army’s quartermaster general, had informed Maj. Edward Kiers, assistant deputy quartermaster at Smiths Clove, that the magazine accumulating at Pompton, N.J., was “expressly contrary” to GW’s orders because of its vulnerability to a British raid. Greene directed Kiers and Clement Biddle, commissary general of forage, to have the supplies transported to Smiths Clove, which Greene considered safe from British raids (see Greene to Biddle and Greene to Kiers, 28 July [Greene Papers, description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends 4:273, 279]). On 4 Sept., Charles Stewart, commissary general of issues, informed Greene that he was breaking up the magazines at Slot’s and Pompton and establishing a new magazine at Ringwood, N.J., which he believed would be safe against British raids from King’s Ferry, N.Y. (Greene Papers, description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends 4:363). For the unauthorized formation of the magazine at Pompton by the army’s wagoners, see Greene to Charles Stewart, 7 Aug., n.1, in Greene Papers, description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends 4:304.
Slot’s was located in New York near the Ramapo River about three miles northeast of Ringwood, N.J., along the road from Ringwood to Suffern, N.Y. (see Map 2). This location placed Slot’s on the south of the strategically important Smiths Clove area of New York and near one of the army’s main supply roads running from Pompton and Ringwood to New Windsor and Newburgh, New York.