George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Horatio Gates, 15 October 1779

From Major General Horatio Gates

Providence, October 15th 1779.


My intelligence from all Quarters, & Reports from all Stations, Announce the Enemy are preparing to Evacuate Newport; Monday, or Tuesday, it is imagined they will take their Departure; a Deserter from the 22nd Regt Mortally Wounded, but rescued by a party of Our Soldiers, declares the whole of The Troops now on Rhode-Island, are Bound to the West Indies; this may be, but I believe they will first Visit New York.1

Inclosed I have the Honor to send Your Excellency, a Letter from Mrs Harnage; the case of this Lady is truly distressing, as she has a small family of Children in Europe, & an Infant just born. Majr Gardner also presses my Advocation with Your Excelly in his favor. He has sold his Commission, and the payment, or deposite, of the purchase Money, depends upon an Officer who is upon Service, & should he die, or be killed, before Majr Gardner is paid, his Family would be in a Manner undone. I have not the smallest doubt but Sr Harry Clinton will Comply with any Engagement The Major may make with us, as I understand he much befriends both him, & the person purchasing his Commission; & though with respect to us, Major Gardner is an Officer of Rank, with respect to the Enemy he is merely a Citizen.2

The Instant Rhode-Island is Evacuated, I shall see it Garrisoned by the Militia, & Artillery belonging to the State; & proceed immediately with All the Continental, & State Troops to Hartford, where, If not before, I shall receive Your Excelly’s Commands.3 I hear nothing of Count D’Estaing since your Excelly’s Letter of 3rd Inst. I am, Sir, Your most Obed. & most hume Servt


Copy, NHi: Gates Papers; copy (extract), enclosed in GW to Duportail and Alexander Hamilton, 21 Oct., DLC: Alexander Hamilton Papers. The extract consists of the first paragraph, with minor wording variations.

1For the British evacuation of Newport, R.I., see Gates to GW, 13 Oct., n.2.

2The enclosed letter from Honour Harnage has not been identified. On 13 Oct., she wrote to Gates imploring him to use his influence with GW to either obtain the parole or exchange of Capt. Erle Hawker and her husband, Maj. Henry Harnage, or get permission for them to go into New York. Valentine Gardner had written to Gates on 12 Oct. proposing that he be allowed to go to New York on parole on condition that an American major also be paroled (both NHi: Gates Papers). For Honour Harnage’s appeal to GW, see her letter to GW of 25 August. GW replied to Gates on 22 Oct. explaining that it was not in his power to do more than he had already done for Harnage and Hawker and refusing permission for Gardner to go into New York (NHi: Gates Papers).

3Gates marched his troops into Newport on 26 Oct. (see Ephraim Bowen, Jr., to Nathanael Greene, that date, enclosed in GW to Samuel Huntington, 30 Oct., DNA:PCC, item 152). For the movement of Gates’s division to Hartford, see GW to Gates, 22 Oct., and 1, 2, and 13 Nov. (all NHi: Gates Papers), and Gates to GW, 31 Oct. (NHi: Gates Papers) and 8 and 15 Nov. (DLC:GW).

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