George Washington Papers

To George Washington from David Forman, 17 June 1780

Freehold 17th June 1780


I have the Honr to Inform Your Excely that I have Established difrent Posts for upwards of fifty Miles along the Sea Coasts, that I think it will be Impossable for any Number of Ships to be on this Coast without my Immediately being informed of it.

Enclosed your Excely will have the examination of three Masters of Vessells & a Mercht that have made there Escape from the Prison Ship—They appear to have taken some pains to get information.

There Information Respecting the Assembling of the New York and Long Island Militia I Thought of suffitient importance to Warrt my sending there examination to your Excly by Express.

On Monday Last an American Privateer Laying under Long Island found Means from her situation & her English Colours to Introduce her self Unsuspected amidist fifteen of the Trading Vessells from Shrewsberrry to New York—They was on a Genl Fishing Party on the Banks off Shrewsberrry—My Information (& I belive it is good) Says that Elevin or Twelve of them was Taken—As the Privateer Immediately stood to the Southward with her Prizes, we are not Informed who the Prisoners are, we Expect all the principle Traders & Plunderers of this County—Immediately on Information I sent to Egg Harbour where I presume the Prisoners are, if Possable to prevent there being Parold or discharged untill there Charactors are fully known.

Should they prove the gang we suppose they are I hope it will be instrumental in Restoring Peace to this County. I have the Honr to be yr Excelys Most Obdt Humble Servt

David Forman

This Minute a Report has Reached me that a Sloop is arrived at Egg Harbour—that was two Days in Company with a Large French fleet—that he Left them a little to the Southward of Cape Henlopin—the Moment any Fleet Appears your Excly may depend on my pushing Forward the Accounts.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


16 June 1780

Capt. Samuel Davis, Late of the Privateer Brig. Genl Reid Taken by the Iris a British Frigate the 1st of April Past.

Capt. John Ridge of the Argo Privateer Taken the 1st of May by the Iris.

Capt. Downs—Taken in March by the Galatee Frigate.

Mr James Byas Mercht from Maryland Taken in May.

They Inform that they were all Prisoners on Board the Jersey Prison Ship Laying off New York Between Brooklyn Ferry and Governor’s Island—That they made there Escape on Tuesday the 13th of this Inst: to Long Island—That they ware there Two days, & had full and free Conversation withe American Prisoners and the Inhabitants of Long Island and ware all of them Particularly Attentive in Collecting Intilligence—They say that a Capt. Wipple from the Eastward on his Parole Informed them that he had been at New York on Thursday the 8th of this Inst, and Saw the Enemy Land Part of there Wounded—that he (Capt. Wipple) heard the officers Say they had Landed 250 Wounded—that he dare not ask particular Questions But was fully Convinceed that he saw 250 at Least and did not see all of them—that Capt. Wipple allso Informed them that he heard them say Genl Stirling was Badly wounded—& that it was Generally allowed in New York that Knip Hausen had five Hundred men kill’d and Wounded, Some said Many More.

They allso Say that they ware well Informed that The New york Militia went over to Straten Island on Saturday the 10th.

That the Militia of Long Island ware ordered to Assemble at Brooklyn Ferry—that the Inhabitants Very Generally Refused to go—That Many of them had gone to the East End to avoid being drag[’d] out should sutch an order be Issued—That there was No Regular Troops on Long Isand Except a Small Guard at Brooklyn and a Small Guard at South Ampton—That there had been a Guard of 16 at Oyster Bay But that some Whale Boats from New England had Landed, Surprised and Taken 14 of them on Wednisday the 7th Ins. That they saw Two Soldiers that Escaped & heard them Tell it.

That they ware well Informed there had been grate Desertion amongst there New Rais’d Troops Particularly Fannings Regt that 18 of them Went off in a Body towards the East end of the Island—That Genl Stirling Dyed on Sunday of his Wound—That from the Best Accts The Enemy In New Jersey ware 4000 Regular Troops—that there was none on York Island but a Very small Garrison at or about Fort Washington—That the People on the West end of Long Island ware Universally disaffected to the British Government—That they had this Spring a Dem[and] made on them for Every Ten Men to furnish a Horse for the Use of the Army or Each man to Pay Ten Dollars.

That on the first of Last Week (they Could not affix the Day) a Small Vessell Comeing down the North River In Comeing to Stay Missd and fell on Board the Scorpion Prison Ship—That the American Prisoners on Deck Immediately Secured the Guard on Board the Prison Ship and Took the Shallop, that About 50 Prisoners and the Guard escaped up the North River—That the Next Night the Prisoners that Could not be Taken off in the Small Shallop made a second attempt to secure the New Guard—That the Guard [then] Killed one and Wounded Several and [reduceed] the Prisoners.

That on Saturday the 10th They saw a Letter of [Marque] Ship Mounting 26 Nine pounders Arrive from Liverpool in a Very Shatterd Condition, She Had 170 Men & had under her Convoy 4 Sail of Merchantmen—She and her Consorts off Long Island fell in with some Privateers—the fore Merch[ant] Ships ware said to be Taken—That The Iris frigate [had illegible ] Sailed but a few days for Hallifax & was Tow’d in to New York on Sunday the 13th by a Sloop of War, the Iris was a Mere Wreck She had fell in with the Hermoine a Frigate of France on Her Passage to Hallifax had her first Lt and Sevin [Men] Killed in the Action—How the Iris got away they Could [not] learn.

Naval Force at New York & Cruising about Sandy Hook.

Iris— Frigate a mere Wreck Now in Dock

Two Frigates there Names they had forgot

Galatee—Twenty Gun Ship

[De]light—Sloop—10 Guns

[   ]—Sloop—14 Guns

That 30 Sail of Old Vessells Brigs. Schooners & Sloops Lay at Sandy Hook Loaded with Stone for the Purpose of Stoping [the Channell] on the Appearance of a French Fleet—Taken at Freehold 16th June 1780.

Index Entries