George Washington Papers

From George Washington to New York Officer Commanding at Dobbs’s Ferry, 8 October 1780

8 October 1780


In addition to the Continental troops under your command, I have directed Major Goetschius of the Jersey State troops to send you from his corps a detachment of a subaltern and twenty men to be periodically relieved; and for your greater security to communicate with you and patrole the different landing places in your vicinity; but I would not have you to rely upon this; but take every precaution for your own security. You will find covering within the works for your whole party—of which you will mount a third part as a guard every night; and keep small patroles all round you, so as not however to weaken your command too much—You will keep a regular look out towards the water by day and night and when you are furnished with a piece of cannon, should a fleet be going up the river, you will announce it by firing five discharges. I mean by a fleet such a number of vessels as may indicate an attempt upon the posts above—You will fire three pieces of cannon distinctly as a signal of a movement in force against you—and you will send off an express instantly to Head Quarters.

You will maintain the post to the last extremity should you once find yourself surrounded, and for this purpose you will endeavour always to have five or six days provision on hand; but should you discover appearances of a serious attack in force and with artillery time enough to withdraw your men you will do it, spiking up your cannon and setting fire to the works for which you should make previous preparation—You will always recollect, that should you be obliged to submit to superior force after a vigorous resistance you will do honor to yourself; but should you be surprised, as it will denote a want of vigilance, there can be no apology for it. But I rely intirely on your prudence and bravery. Given at Head Quarters Tapaan 8th of October 1780

G. Washington

P.S. You will of course keep your instructions a secret.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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