George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major General Stirling, 28–29 August 1779

To Major General Stirling

Hd Qrs [West Point] Aug. 28th[–29] 1779

My Lord

The arrival of Arburthnot which comes to me, through different channels, makes it prudent to draw our force more together till we can ascertain the amount of the reinforcement by which we may form a better judgment what it will be practicable for the enemy to undertake1—Your Lordship will therefore be pleased to march towards Junes leaving a regiment at Suffrans to give countenance to the country and cover our convoys and Magazines. Major Lees corps will be ordered to resume its former position in the vicinity of that place and cooperate with the regiment you leave.2 In your march to Junes you need only consult the convenience of your men and move as leisurely as you please. Lt Col. Washington is on his march from Trenton with a part of Baylors Regiment. I wish him to be halted somewhere in your quarter where he may be in security and interfere as little as possible with the forage or the communication. As your Lordship is best acquainted with the Country I shall be obliged to you to determine ⟨the⟩ Spot and write a line by the dragoon to Col. Washington who is desired to comply with your directions.3 I am with great regard Your Lordships Most Obedt serv.


29th I have the pleasure to inform your Lordship that I have just seen in a Boston paper of the 23d—brought in the Salem Packet thirty days from Bilboa—A Manifesto from His Catholic Majesty Delivered at the Court of London by the Marquis D’Almodovar4 amounting to a declaration of Hostilities and a Message from the British King to the House of commons announcing the declaration—The Spanish Embassador is retired from London & the English Embassador recalled from Madrid. The French & Spanish fleet at sea amounting to 70 sail of the line.5

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1GW is referring to the British army reinforcements, convoyed by the naval squadron of Vice Adm. Marriot Arbuthnot, which had arrived at New York on 25 Aug. (see GW to John Jay, 24–27 Aug., and n.8 to that document). For GW’s defensive preparations for the arrival of this long-expected British reinforcement, of which this redeployment of Stirling’s division was a part, see GW to Jay, 11 Aug., n.5. GW issued similar orders to Maj. Gen. Robert Howe, who commanded the forward division of the army on the east side of the Hudson River (see GW to Howe, this date). GW also warned Maj. Gen. William Heath, commander of the left wing of the army east of the Hudson River, to take defensive precautions (see GW to Heath, 29 Aug.).

2No orders to Maj. Henry Lee, or the officer temporarily commanding his corps, that include these particular directions have been found; however, see GW to the Officer Commanding Major Lee’s Corps, 29 August.

3Replying to a letter from Lt. Col. William Washington which has not been found, GW wrote to Washington on 29 Aug. from headquarters at West Point: “I was favord with your letter of the 25th inst. advising me of your movement this way. The dragoon who carries this, is ordered to call on Lord stirling, who has my instructions to assign the regiment a proper place for the present” (Df, in Richard Kidder Meade’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

4Pedro de Luxan y Silva, marqués de Almodóvar (1727–1794), a veteran Spanish diplomat, had served in Russia and Portugal before becoming the Spanish ambassador to Great Britain in July 1778. He held this post until June 1779 when, after delivering his government’s list of grievances to Great Britain, he left the country.

5For the Spanish manifesto, the message of King George III, and the other newspaper articles GW describes here, see GW to Jay, 29 Aug., n.1.

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