Pumpton 12th February 1783
I beg leave to report to your Excellency the substance of the proceedings of Lieut. Stuart and a detachment of my Regiment sent towards the Enemy’s lines to intercept or obstruct the illicit trade carrying on by the enemys of America between those residing in New York and its dependencies and others in the State of New Jersey as well as the consequences thereon.
On Monday evening the third Instant Lieut. Stuart moved his party consisting of twenty four men from New Bridge through Bergen Town to Droyers Point about four miles below the enemies lines and placed them between day light and sun rise in such a manner as to command a view of the principal landing places from New Ark to Bergen Point, New Ark bay being entirely frozen over and passable with carriages on the Ice in which position he remained till ten oClock [A.]M., when he moved three miles lower to a landing place on the sound between Staten Island and Bergen Point called the widdow Cadmuss where he had not been half an hour before a Sleigh arrived from New Ark in which were the Lieut. Baldwin not long since taken by him and then under Recognizance for his appearance at the Supreme Court to abide the event of a Criminal prosecution there to be proferred against him and also his brother Luther Baldwin and one Johnstone the above persons being highly suspicious and the reasons assigned for their Business there being vague and uncertain he thought it his duty narrowly to watch their motions and gave directions privately to his party accordingly and upon Luther Baldwins being detected in endeavouring to secrete a letter under the snow which letter contained Subject matter highly Criminal reletive to the illicit trade he directed them to be searched when nothing farther was found upon them than a number of Continental News Papers of the freshest dates on this Search they were much confused and very anxious to avoid it about the conclusion of the Search Lieut. Abraham Kinney of Sheldons Regiment of Dragoons and whose Parents live at New Ark with two other Persons also arrived at that place, upon Lieut. Kenny’s seeing the Baldwins in some private conversation passing between them he immediately offered himself as security for the appearance of this Luther Baldwan at any time and place Lieut. Stuart should require from the conjunction of all these circumstances Lieut. Stuart had the highest reason to suppose the whole were on a trading scheme with a band of refugees who then were not a mile from him and were passing and repassing within a much shorter distance and had communication with a vessel Lieut. Stuart supposed to be laden with goods for their mutual purposes in order more fully to execute his orders and to [ ] this pernicious conduct he left these New Arkers at liberty and gave [out his intention] of returning to his Stand at New Bridge the deception [to] [ ] and removed some distance toward his Stand ‘till he gained an emminence where he could at a distance still observe their motions as well as the motions of the refugees in case the latter should attempt to insult him he had not long remained in the latter position before he observed four Sleighs going directly to Buskirks Point where he was informed the refugees abovementioned then were this circumstance still strengthning his conjectures he moved back by a different rout and determined to take a position that would intercept them on their way from Buskirk’s Point to New Ark. Unfortunately he had not arrived at his purpose [ground] by some small distance before he was alarmed with the noise of sleighs coming towards him and had scarcely time to throw his men under cover before Lieut. Kinney in disguise with a Caleb Bruen of New Ark a noted partizan for British Commerce came up to him in the Sleigh preceeding two or three other sleighs at about one hundred yards distance Lieut. Kinney had exchanged his horseman’s Cap for a small [flap’d hat] his Cap was afterwards seen upon a person in one of the other Sleighs, upon their discovering Lieut. Stuart’s party a [ ] immediately fired and a hat waved back by Bruen upon which [ ]of the Sleighs in the [ ] Lieut. Kinney and Bruen being after some difficulty and resistance (by Lieut. Kinney presenting a Pistol at Lieut. Stuart and swearing revenge &c.) secured the others turned about and proceeded with such precipitation towards the Enemy that they baffled Lieut. Stuart’s most vigorous [ ] in the taken Sleigh was found a feather [ ] Map and Some other Articles which together with Lieut. Kinney and Bruen were sent forward to me under care of a Corporal and private it being [ ]they did not come forward above nine miles before they hailed to [ ] place Bruen made his escape Lieut. Stuart having detained Serjeant Dixon with sea men and a guide to watch the passes from Bergen [ ] to New Ark he returned with the remainder of his Party to Bergen [ ] in the evening Serjeant Dixon and his guide and two men through some matter to orders were made prisoners by the Refugees On the evening of the fifth Lieut. Kinney was brought to my quarters with a report respecting him from Lieut. Stuart whereupon I directed information to be given to a Maistrate at this place and expressly ordered Lieut. Kinney not to leave the Cantonment on any pretence whatever without my permission returning to him his [Sleigh] which had been taken from him by the direction of Lieut. Stuart a Court was Summoned to proceed according to the Laws of the State against the goods taken. Lieut. Kinney requested a delay of trial to the 10th Instant to procure evidence which was accordingly granted at which time the above state of Facts appearing to the Jury’s Satisfaction they gave a verdict for the Captors of Lieut. Kinney notwithstanding my injunctions and a recognizance to the Court for his appearance and to abide the order of the Court in the night of the same day before the trial was finished disappeared and is not to be found within the Limits of the Cantonment In the Course of this trial I was sorry to find Ideas of Military men from New Ark as well as of some of the inhabitants of that place prevailing towards the Justification of Lieut. Kinney’s conduct [of ] that of any other in visiting without reserve the places above mentioned supposed by me to be either in the power or possession of the enemy. I have the honor to be your Excellency’s most obedient and very humble servt
DLC: Papers of George Washington.