George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 17 October 1779

To Samuel Huntington

Head Quarters West point 17th October 1779.


I have been honored with your Excellency’s favors of the 5th 8th and 9th instants. Neither of the former reached me till yesterday, and the latter this day.

I am happy that my countermanding the march of the two North Carolina Battalions met the approbation of Congress.1

I am waiting with the utmost anxiety for further accounts from the Southward.2

By a letter from General Gates, of the 13th Inst., I am informed, that 56 sail of transports, in Ballast, had arrived on that day at Newport.3 This circumstance, corroborated by accounts from New York, look as if an evacuation of Rhode Island was intended, or at least, that they mean to hold themselves in readiness to effect it, if necessary.

A letter from a confidential Correspondent at New York, dated the 9th inst., mentions, “that the first division of troops are to reimbark immediately, and its generally beleived that they are destined for Georgia.”4

My other advices all tend to shew, that the enemy are making every preparation for the defence of the harbour of New York. I have the honor to be with great Respect Your Excellency’s Most obt humble Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 22 Oct. (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 15:1201).

2The following text is marked out at this point on the draft, which is in the writing of GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman: “Every preparation that could possibly be made, under our present state of uncertainty, has been made, and I hope should His Excellency Count D’Estaing incline to undertake a joint operation, that we shall be in tolerable forwardness to second his efforts.” For GW’s preparations for joint operations with Vice Admiral d’Estaing’s fleet, see Planning for an Allied Attack on New York, c.3–7 October.

3This information was apparently contained in the intelligence report, which has not been identified, that Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates sent with his letter.

4This quote is from Samuel Culper, Jr.’s letter of 9 Oct. to Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge (see GW to Tallmadge, 2 Oct., n.2). The British did soon evacuate Newport, R.I. (see Gates to GW, 13 Oct., n.2).

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