George Washington Papers
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https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-26-02-0479

To George Washington from Colonel Elias Dayton, 3 July 1780

From Colonel Elias Dayton

Springfield [July] 3th 1780

Sir

I have the honor to enclose to your Excellency a late New york news paper,1 together with a letter just received from a person Sent to N. york for the purpose of gaining intelligence.2

From another person sent for like purpose I have a certain account that one night last week nine villains crossed from Staten Island to Amboy, for the purpose of assassinateing governor Livingston and every person concerned in taking the three spies lately executed at the Shorthils3 General Skinner was heard to say Lt Casterline4 & the party he had with him should be all murdered, Sussex Court House, and a Mil with a quantity of public grain in it are to be burnt by the above mentioned Villains. I beleive the account respecting the intentions of the nine fellows may be relyed on as it was sent to me by a person who was urged to make the tenth man, and excused himself only by saying he was much indisposed, they are without arms and dressed in the habits of countrymen.

Wednesday next5 I expect to have the names and discription of the murderers that are sent into Jersey by Authority.

Their is A Capt. Pool lately exchanged, who is much suspected by our friends in new york, and who have several times beged of me to take care of him.6

As their is not any guards at or near Eliz. Town I cannot venture to stay their any longer, matters are not conducted at that place as I could wish flags arrive come up to the town and remain as long as they think proper—A number of good whigs are exceedingly Alarmed at this circumstance.7 I have the honor to be your Excellencys most obedient Hube Servat

Elias Dayton

ALS, DLC:GW. Dayton wrote “June” for the date, but GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison correctly rendered “July” on the docket.

Dayton again wrote GW from Chatham, N.J., on 4 July: “Since writeing yeste [r] day I have received the enclosed letter and paper from New York forwarded by a person I beleive to be a real friend. The person who handed me the enclosed informs me that a party from Staten Island were in Elizabeth Town last night and carried of[f] a number of horses to the Island” (ALS, DLC:GW; Dayton wrote “June” in the dateline, but GW correctly wrote “July” on the docket). The enclosures have not been identified.

1This newspaper has not been identified.

2The enclosed letter, signed “A Stranger” and dated 2 July, reads: “Agreable to your permission I Went Over to New york Last fryday [30 June] and Returnd Last Night—The British Troops that Embark’d at New york Some Time Since are Drawn in A Line Across from the East River to the North River on phillips’s Manor They are Gitting Ready Two Hospital Ships and 3 or 4 Tra[n]sports are Takeing in heavy Cannon and ordinance Stores it is Said They are Desingd for the North River They were at work all Night Fryday Tents and Camp ⟨Equ⟩ippage are Likewise put on Board &c. The ⟨Streng⟩th of their Army and Shipping Could Not find out Did not Meet with Mr [——] ⟨gone⟩ out of the way No Troops in New york But 1 Regt Waldeck 1 Ditto Scotch 76th Coll Robinsons Regt New Levies with A Small Detachment of the 43d. They are greatly Chagrind to find the Militia in Jersey So Spirited I heard Some officers Say they Were Damn’d fools to fight as they Did for they Receivd no pay and if killed or Wounded ther was no provission Made for them or their famalies that unless that Spirit of obstinacy Culd be Extinguished the war would Continue these Seven years They Said They were Amizd at the Madness and folly of the people th[e]y Never Dreamt to find Such a Spirit of Rebellion Among them I Saw them Take out of Some their Stores A Considerable Quantity of working F⟨illegible⟩ks—Some Say Large Numbers of Intre⟨nch⟩ing Tools have Been privately put on Board—I had A Long Conversation with A Certain Thomas Ward who has Lately Returnd from Niagara he was Sent out the 18th of Last March in Company with one James Twesdale and George Harding[.] ward Beares A Capt. Commission—These Men were Sen[t] out on an Embassey to Guy Johnston and his Motely Tribe to order him to Collect all the Force he Possible Could and Harrass the frontiers of New york State and others and—Likewise to draw Cloathing and all kinds of Indian Traffick and Dispose of thim to the different Nations of Indians to Invite them to Take up the hatchet Against us he Said A Considerable Number of the Chiefs and their Attendance were Assembled When he Came Away he Arrived in york the 16th June[.] ward is an Artfull Cra[f]ty fellow he was forme[r]ly an Ensign in Coll Malcoms Regt york Forces—When on Be[r]gan [Point] yesterday Afternoon on my way home the Cannon from on board Two Shipp[i]ng in the harbour were Play’d off which was Answerd by A Salute from the Battery for What Reason I Dont know the Above Mentioned Ward I have Been Acquainted with from A Child he Servd his Time which Mr Daniel ⟨Tod⟩ in Water-Session About four Miles from Newark … the Reason of my not going Sooner than I did was that Next Mornin after I had the Conferance with you one of my Brothers Came down and Informd me that my wife was very Sieck and as I had not Seen her in 16 Days I thought Myself Bound in Every Duty and obligation to go and See her Before I Set out on my Journey &c.” (DLC:GW). Capt.Jonathan Dayton appended a note, written at Springfield on 2 July, that reads in part: “by Js I find this & 2 News papers handed me at 4 O’Clock this Afternoon by J.H. Who Requests youd be in Town to Morrow Morning. Peace & Quietness in E[lizabeth] T[own] at Present.”

3The “villains” may have been led by Loyalist ensign James Moody of the New Jersey Volunteers, a former resident of Sussex County, N.J., and a notorious raider. The New Jersey council issued orders on 17 July for the apprehension of Moody and his party (see N.J. Archives description begins Documents Relating to the Colonial, Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey. 42 vols. Newark and Trenton, 1880–1949. description ends , 3d ser. 1:160–61). For the capture and execution of the three spies, see General Orders, 18 June, and n.3 to that document; see also Ephraim Martin to GW, 25 June.

4Dayton may be referring to Lt. Joseph Catherland of the Somerset County, N.J., militia.

5The following Wednesday was 5 July.

6Dayton may be referring to Capt. David Paul of the Gloucester County, N.J., militia, who was a prisoner on parole in March (see “List of American Officers who broke Parole allowed to be Unexceptionable,” 20 March, DLC:GW).

7For similar concerns and GW’s response, see James Caldwell to GW, this date, and n.2 to that document.

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