George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lieutenant Colonel John Taylor, 5 September 1779

From Lieutenant Colonel John Taylor

Septr 5th 79 5 O’clock A.M.

The intelligence which I last transmitted to your Excy is in part confirmed.1 It is certain that the enemy have repaired their flat bottomd boats—but for the present have deferred the expedition which they had in view. The reinforcement arrived with Adml Arbuthnot will amount to more than three thousand men many of them sick, consisting of two Scotch Regiments and two small companies of German Rifflemen, the remainder recruits to supply the vacancies of the different regiments still on Staten and Long Island.2 There are at present in the harbour of New-York two ships of 74—one of 70—two of 64, and one of 60 guns and two or three frigates. Accounts by a person who left N-York, (and one who appears to be a man of ingenuity) say that the above vessels are shortly to sail for the West Indies, with six or seven thousand land forces. Some of the circumstances in favor of this report are these; fourty sail of Transports chiefly ships have dropped down to Staten Island to take in water for four months, others going down. Light clothing making for many of the officers. ’Tis the common report among the officers, and asserted for a certainty by some of the principle refugees, that the West indies is the place of their destination. The transports have already taken on board a number of fascines which have been made this summer and more are making.3 The refugees and Citizens of N-York have been informed that they must do garrison duty the ensuing winter. The enemy have ordered out a number of the Long Island Militia who are employed in building a fort at Brooklyn ferry on that Island. They have added a number of guns to the battery at White Hall in the city. From Bergen, I am informed that several transports said to be empty have gone up the north river. It is supposed to remove their garrison on the river. If any embarkation shall take place I shall have an account of it, and of which I shall immediately inform your Excellency. Enclosed [is] a new emission of the bills of sixty Dollar lately done in New-York:4 The person from whom I received it informed me that a great quantity of this kind is put5 into the country by way of Kingsbridge and Bergen. I am &.

L, enclosed in GW to John Jay, 8 Sept., DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169.

1See Taylor to GW, 30 Aug., quoted in GW to Jay, 31 Aug.–1 Sept., n.7.

2Taylor is referring to the 3,800 British reinforcements that had arrived at New York on 25 Aug. with the naval squadron of Vice Adm. Marriot Arbuthnot (see GW to Jay, 24–27 Aug., and n.8 to that document). For GW’s defensive preparations for the arrival of this reinforcement and its composition, see GW to Jay, 11 Aug., n.5.

3These activities may have been preparations for Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis’s expedition to the West Indies, which involved the embarkation of four British and two provincial regiments totaling some 4,000 troops. The transports carrying the troops fell down to Sandy Hook, N.J., on 23 Sept., but Cornwallis soon returned to New York when he learned of Vice Admiral d’Estaing’s presence on the North American coast with a French fleet (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 437–38; 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 203; and the head note for Planning for an Allied Attack on New York, c.3–7 Oct.; see also Willcox, American Rebellion, description begins William B. Willcox, ed. The American Rebellion: Sir Henry Clinton’s Narrative of His Campaigns, 1775–1782, with an Appendix of Original Documents. New Haven, 1954. description ends 143–44).

4The enclosure has not been identified.

5The words “out of New-York” are crossed out at this place on the manuscript.

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