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From George Washington to Brigadier General James Clinton, 13 June 1779

To Brigadier General James Clinton

Smiths in the Clove [N.Y.] June 13th 1779

Dear Sir

The Honourable the Congress have decided the affair of rank between Colonels Van Courtlandt—Gansevoort & Dubois upon their respective Memorials, against Colonel Dubois, as you will perceive by the inclosed Extract from General Orders, which contains their Resolution upon the occasion.1 You will be pleased to publish the Extract in your Brigade Orders—or communicate it to the parties in any way you may think most eligible.

We have had for some days past very flattering reports through various channels, of the success of our Arms at the Southward and am anxiously waiting for their confirmation.2 Mr Jay in a Letter of the 7th transmitted me the following, which he said was all the intelligence Congress had received, except what had been published before in the Newspapers—“A person from No. Carolina in thirteen days informs, that on his road to this place he lodged a night, at the House of Colo. Martin3 who, the same Evening received a Letter by Express from his Brother James Martin4 who lives within fifty miles of Charlestown. The purport of the Letter was—That the Enemy in South Carolina leaving Genl Lincoln in their Rear, pushed on for Charles Town, whither General Moultrie had retired with about 1500 Men—The Enemy reached the Town Two days after our General, and immediately summoned him to surrender, threatning in case of refusal to lay the Town in Ashes—The General refused—An attack took place—The Enemy were repulsed with considerable loss—In 3 or 4 Hours they renewed the Assault and were a second time routed and put to flight—General Lincoln has possession of several Advantageous positions in their rear, which will render a Retreat almost impracticable—Between 14 & 1500 of the Enemy were killed & taken when Mr Martin wrote.”5

I wrote you on the 9th6 and have nothing more to add7 than that I am with great esteem Dr sir Yr Most Ob. sert

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, sold by Christie’s, New York, sale no. 1770, item 323, 5 Dec. 2006; Df (incomplete), DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC: GW. GW signed the cover of the LS, which is addressed in Harrison’s writing to “the care of Genl Schuyler” for Clinton. Philip Schuyler’s friend Henry Glen endorsed the cover in words that read: “Recd 18th June 1779 ½ After Seven P.M. & forwardd at Eight P.M.

1The enclosure has not been identified, but GW is referring to the general orders for 13 June. For the dispute over precedence that resulted in Col. Lewis Duboys ranking after colonels Philip Van Cortlandt and Peter Gansevoort, see GW to John Jay, 3 May, and n.1 to that document, and Jay to GW, 25 May, and n.1 to that document. Congress decided on 5 June (see JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 14:694; see also GW to Jay, 3 June [second letter], and Jay to GW, 7 June).

2Reports of an American success in South Carolina ultimately proved erroneous (see Jay to GW, 4 and 7 June; see also GW to John Augustine Washington, 20 June, and n.7 to that document.

3Alexander Martin, who had resigned his commission as colonel of the 2d North Carolina Regiment in November 1777, lived at a residence that he called Danbury in Guilford County, North Carolina.

4James Martin (1742–1834), a younger brother of Alexander Martin, lived in New Jersey until 1774, when he moved to Guilford County, North Carolina. That same year, Martin became colonel-commmandant of the county militia, participated in several militia actions in the state, and eventually cooperated with Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene’s force after December 1780. Becoming a significant property holder, Martin subsquently was prominent in the development of the North Carolina iron industry and state politics.

5Instead of the text of this paragraph, the draft manuscript, also in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, reads: “The Intelligence contained in the Letter to Genl Schuyler added.” This direction refers to the letter of this date from GW to Philip Schuyler.

6GW almost certainly is referring to his letter to Clinton of 10 June.

7An entirely different closing paragraph in the Varick transcript reads: “If this account should prove true, it will be most interesting, and if it should not, or something like it, there has been a strang concurrence of lies.” For use of this language in another letter, see GW to Philip Schuyler, 13 June.

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