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From George Washington to Major General Israel Putnam, 20 July 1779

To Major General Israel Putnam

Head Quarters New Windsor July 20th 1779

Dr Sir,

As we do not know what may be the next object of the enemy, and it is our Duty to be well prepared at the most important point,1 I am to request you will immediately consult the principal officers with you in conjunction with the commanding Officer of the light infantry,2 and form a disposition for opposing the enemy in concert, as well in the first instance at landing, as during their progress towards the works—The party which the Virginia division is to act, is also to be taken into consideration.3 With respect to this if the enemy should make a debarkation with their whole force at Fort Montgomery and the landing on this side—Mughlenbergs brigade may be ordered to join you in the first instanc and Woodfords to move towards the forest to act on the left flank and rear of the enemy;4 but if a column should move from King’s ferry towards the forest, Mughlenbergh will then be on the spot to oppose them and Woodfords will cooperate as circumstances may dictate—These are only intended as general hints—The movements of the enemy and the exigencies of the moment must decide your operations—But every probable case should be supposed before hand and a line of conduct preconcerted for each.5

Let your officers be particularly industrious to inform themselves of the ground on which they are to act—its different approaches and communications with the fort and every defile and spot most advantageous for opposing the enemy’s advance.

P.S. I have written a line to General St Clair directing him to make himself well acquainted with the Hill that overlooks6 Fort Putnam in front, at the extremity of which it is proposed to erect some works—and to consider this point as his alarm post from thence to reinforce the troops in front7 as may be necessary.8 I am Sir Your most Obed. ser.

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1GW is referring to West Point, New York.

2Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne commanded the light infantry corps, but a head wound received during the successful attack on Stony Point, N.Y., on the night of 15–16 July had indisposed him temporarily and left Col. Richard Butler as acting commander.

3At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton wrote and then struck out a sentence that reads: “When this is done every officer will know what he is to do in case of alarms, and your opposition will be conducted with a greater order and effect.”

4For the posting of Brig. Gen. Peter Muhlenberg’s brigade at the Forest of Dean and Brig. Gen. William Woodford’s brigade at June’s tavern, see GW to Putnam, 19 July; see also Map 1 in this volume.

5For Putnam’s response to GW’s directive, see Board of General Officers to GW, 22 July; see also Putnam to GW, 21 July, and GW’s “Thoughts on Defense of West Point,” July 1779.

6At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton first wrote “opposite to.” He then struck out those words and wrote “that overlooks” above the line.

7At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton wrote and then struck out the phrase “and defend that Hill.”

8For Rocky Hill, see GW to Arthur St. Clair, this date, and n.2 to that document.

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