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To George Washington from Colonel Elias Dayton, 6 April 1780

From Colonel Elias Dayton

Elizabeth Town [N.J.] April 6th 1780

Sir

I have just now received certain intellgence of the sailing of the brittish fleet out at Sandy hook yesterday morning, they consisted of ten ships and seven brigs,1 the troops that my informent knew to be on board were the 42 Regt one Battallion of the guards the Anspeck Regmt Lord Raudens Brigade and Simcoes foot but their is not Any Horse gone on board, they are convoyed by the Rainbow,2 the Delight,3 & the Swift Brig4 and they expect to be met with at sea by the Gallettea & Thames frigates who left N. York last week with the Packet which they were to convoy clear of this co[a]st5—My informent seems positive the troops sailed are bound to charles Town as he says he is positive Sir Henry Clintons heavy baggage is all gone in the fleet.

Five thousand men it is said in new york are now under marching orders, but their destination uncertain.

It was last week asked a person (I can rely upon) in new york, if west point Fort could not be surprised by fifty row boats with men passing the chain6 in the night.7 It is generally said in new york that only about 2000 troops have gone in the fleet, but I hope very soon to be Able to give your Excellency a more particular account.8 I am your Excellencys Most Obedient Hmbl. Servant

Elias Dayton

ALS, DLC:GW.

1New York City printer Hugh Gaine tracked news related to this British embarkation in his journal entries beginning on 24 March: “Another Embarkation of Troops will take Place next week, supposed for Virginia or Cape Fear.

“[25 March] … Confirmation of another Embarkation of Troops.

“[26 March] Preparations for the Embarkation which ’tis said will be about 2000 Men 42nd, Volunteers of Ireland, Queen’s Rangers and a Hessian Regiment.

“[27 March] … Transports getting ready with great Expedition. …

“[31 March] Hurrying with the Expedition as much as possible, and Several of the Vessels are taking the Troops on board.

“[1 April] Most of the Troops embarked. …

“[2 April] More vessels went down, and some of them lost their spars, very cold yet indeed.

“[3 April] The weather still cold, and great Hurry in getting the vessels down. …

“[5 April The Ships fall down to the Hook.

“[6 April] The Ships not yet Sailed.

“[7 April] The Fleet sailed this Day” (Ford, Journals of Hugh Gaine description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed. The Journals of Hugh Gaine, Printer. 1902. Reprint. [New York] 1970. description ends , 2:83–84).

William Smith, royal chief justice of New York, consulted with New York royal governor Maj. Gen. James Robertson on 24 March and wrote in his memoirs for that date: “He can’t learn what Aid is sent from Washington to guide in the Reinforcements. I told him 2000 but that many had deserted by the Way. He said he would send 3000 Men there in 3 Days” (Sabine, Smith’s Historical Memoirs description begins William H. W. Sabine, ed. Historical Memoirs . . . of William Smith, Historian of the Province of New York. 2 vols. New York, 1956–58. description ends [1971, 244–45; see also n.2 below). In his memoirs for 3 April, Smith wrote: “The 5 Regiments are not gone yet to Carolina. They have lost a 3 Days N. Wester. The Ships, 16 or 17, are down at Staten Island, waiting for 1 that has run ashore … and another that has lost her Bowsprite” (Sabine, Smith’s Historical Memoirs description begins William H. W. Sabine, ed. Historical Memoirs . . . of William Smith, Historian of the Province of New York. 2 vols. New York, 1956–58. description ends [1971], 248).

Maj. Gen. James Pattison, who commanded the British forces in New York City, wrote George Townshend on 25 March that he fulfilled a request from Gen. Henry Clinton to send “a supply of Guns & Stores, equal to what was lost” on a foundered ordnance ship. Pattison continued: “A Detachment of One Lieut & 30 Men of the Royal Artillery will also be sent … A Reinforcement of 2000 Men from hence will likewise embark in a few Days to join the Army at Carolina” (Pattison, “Letters,” description begins “Official Letters of Major General James Pattison.” Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1875, 8 (1876): 1–430. description ends 163–65; see also Pattison to Clinton and to Peter Traille, both 31 March, in Pattison, “Letters,” description begins “Official Letters of Major General James Pattison.” Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1875, 8 (1876): 1–430. description ends 167–70).

In the postscript of his dispatch written at New York City on 26 March, Hessian major Carl Leopold Baurmeister observed: “It is not generally known yet what troops are to be sent to reinforce General Clinton’s army in Carolina. Dittfurth’s Regiment will be among them. We are busily engaged now in loading the heavy equipage for all the regiments already before Charleston, since the reinforcements will leave in the near future” (Baurmeister, Revolution in America description begins Carl Leopold Baurmeister. Revolution in America: Confidential Letters and Journals, 1776–1784, of Adjutant General Major Baurmeister of the Hessian Forces. Translated and annotated by Bernhard A. Uhlendorf. New Brunswick, N.J., 1957. description ends , 331–47, quote on 346).

British officer Archibald Robertson, then with the expedition assaulting Charleston, S.C., reported in his diary entry for 22 April: “The reenforcements landed from New York, consisting of the 42d, Queen’s Rangers, Volunteers of Ireland, Regiment of Dittfurth, and Browns Provincials, about 2500 men” (Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends , 225).

2Major General Robertson completed a letter to Jeffery Amherst while in New York City on Saturday, 25 March: “My Intelligence here says that large Bodies have been sent from Washington’s Army … and that the Congress have given Washington Orders to send ten more Battalions.

“I applied this Morning to General Knyphausen to encrease the Reinforcement. The General thinks rightly that this might occasion a Delay, and that it will be better to send a Second when we are sure that Washington detaches ten Regiments. I hope if the Rainbow Man of War can be got ready, to get the Troops to Sea by Tuesday” (Klein and Howard, Letter Book of Robertson description begins Milton M. Klein and Ronald W. Howard, eds. The Twilight of British Rule in Revolutionary America: The New York Letter Book of General James Robertson, 1780-1783. Cooperstown, N.Y., 1983. description ends , 77–78, 80; see also Robertson to William Knox, 26 March, and to Henry Clinton, 29 March, in Klein and Howard, Letter Book of Robertson description begins Milton M. Klein and Ronald W. Howard, eds. The Twilight of British Rule in Revolutionary America: The New York Letter Book of General James Robertson, 1780-1783. Cooperstown, N.Y., 1983. description ends , 83–88).

Originally built as a man-of-war and put in service with forty-four guns in 1747, the Rainbow became a troopship in 1776.

3Gaine reported in his journal entry for 30 March that the Delight convoyed a packet “and another vessel [bound] for Lisbon” (Ford, Journals of Hugh Gaine description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed. The Journals of Hugh Gaine, Printer. 1902. Reprint. [New York] 1970. description ends , 2:83).

The fourteen-gun British sloop Delight entered service in 1778 and foundered off North America in January 1781.

4Two sloops named Swift, one with eight guns and another with sixteen guns, were then in the British navy.

5Smith wrote in his memoirs for 30 March: “The Packet sails with a fair Wind under the Convoy of the Galatea” (Sabine, Smith’s Historical Memoirs description begins William H. W. Sabine, ed. Historical Memoirs . . . of William Smith, Historian of the Province of New York. 2 vols. New York, 1956–58. description ends [1971], 246).

The Galatea mounted twenty guns, and the Thames carried thirty-two.

6For the defensive chain across the Hudson River at West Point, N.Y., see Robert Howe to GW, 16–17 March, and n.6.

7This sentence now appears on the manuscript within brackets, which are explained by an undated notation written by GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison along the left margin of Dayton’s letter: “All transmitted 7 April to C⟨ongr⟩ess, except what is in the Brackets” (see GW to Samuel Huntington, 7 April).

8Dayton’s intelligence largely fulfilled a specific request (see GW to Dayton, 27 March).

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