From Brigadier General Anthony Wayne
Fort Mont[gomer]y [N.Y.] 18th Augt 1779
A deserter from the 64t British who left Stoney point last night Informs that it was reported, that a Large fleet of Shipping with troops on board had arrived at Sandy Hook, that Sixty Transports was said to be proceeding up the River—but knows nothing of the Intentions of the Enemy,1 they continue hard at work on their fortifications & have enclosed them in the Rear with Pickets—& Surrounded the front with a ditch, frieze, & Abbatis, they have one block House Erected in the Rear & one of five sides began in the front Redoubt—on their Right Commanding the ferry & Approach from there to the main work.2
I shall hear further this evening from that Quarter shou’d anything Material turn up you may depend on the Earliest Intelligence. I am with true Esteem your Excellences’ most Obt Huml. Sert
ADfS, PHi: Wayne Papers.
GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison replied for GW on this date: “His Excellency has received Your favor of to day and thanks you for it. If you receive any thing material or in confirmation of the intelligence given by the Deserter from the 64th—you will transmit it of course and therefore a request is unnecessary. The report of Lord Cornwallis’s going to Philadelphia, it is five to one, is without foundation” (PHi: Wayne Papers).
1. The large fleet reported off Sandy Hook, N.J., may have been the 30-ship provision fleet from Savannah, Ga., with a cargo of rice, which was escorted by the 20-gun warship Perseus that had arrived on 16 Aug. (see 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 433). A provision fleet returning to Cork, Ireland was also assembling in New York harbor (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 202). No transports were moving up the Hudson river at this time.
2. The British had been improving the fortifications at Stony Point since recapturing them three days after Wayne’s surprise attack on the post on 16 July.