George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Horatio Gates, 15 September 1780

Hillsborough 15th September 1780


Inclosed I have the Honor to send your Excellency the particular Returns of the several Continental Corps serving in this Department—from thence, I have the Satisfaction to find, that the Loss in the Action near Camden, is by no Means so considerable; as I had so much Reason to apprehend. I dispatched a Letter the 9th Inst. to Governor Jefferson, containing Intelligence of a particular Sort, which I requested him to forward Directly to Congress—and therein desired that a Copy might instantly be sent to your Excellency. As I only join’d Baron de Kalb, and the Maryland Division the 26th July at Buffalo ford, upon Deep River; I could not give Your Excellency any Account of the Troops &c. in this Department, previous thereto. The Letters I wrote Congress, and the Board of War the 22d July at Hillsborough, I requested might be copied, and sent to your Excellency—this, Governor Rutledge tells me, was ordered by Congress to be done—My former Secretary is in Philada and for want of Money could not join me; and I have only one here, so my Hands have been continually full.

I am thus particular upon this Head, that your Excellency may be convinced, that want of Time, and not want of due Respect and Attention; has been the real Cause of my not writing oftener, and more particularly to your Excellency—As the Copy of my Letter to Govr Jefferson of the 9th Instant, must have reached your Excellency, I shall only observe thereupon; that I am fully of Opinion, it is a principal Object with Sir Harry Clinton, as well as Earl Cornwallis, to lay hold of Portsmouth in Virginia; and fix a strong post there, should the late Arrival of the Second Division of the French Fleet, or other Circumstances, put it out of Your Excellency’s Power, to do any thing effectual this year; against New York. Sir Harry will most probably come in Force, and renew his Efforts to the Southward;, and may detach a Reinforcement, previous to his embarquing himself, but of this Your Excellency will have the First Intelligence; as Sir Harry cannot make a Considerable Embarkation, without you knowing it—Satisfied that you will in that Circumstance, do every Thing, that can be expected to be done, I repose the Utmost Confidence in Your Excellency’s supporting the Troops in this Department—Could a proper Squadron of the Fleet of Our Allies be prevail’d upon, to Winter in some Port within the Capes of Virginia; it would effectually defeat every Scheme the Enemy’s Generals may form against any part of The State of Virginia. These being Suggestions that have arisen in my Mind from the Intelligence received; I submit them to your Excellency’s superior Wisdom and Judgement, without further Comment thereupon. Nothing of moment has occurred, since I wrote last to Your Excellency. The Supernumerary Maryland Officers, are gone to that State to receive, discipline, and equip; the Troops rais’d, and to be raised there, for the Continental Service. I have ordered Colonel Hall, who commands them, to correspond with Your Excellency. I am disappointed in sending your Excellency the Return of the Maryland Division. Col. Williams has wrote to Colonel Scammell, and acquainted him with the Reasons, that cannot be complied with, by this Express—with every Sentiment of Respect, & Regards; I am Sir Your Excellencys most Obedient Humble Servant,

Horatio Gates

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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