George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Cornet James Paton, 4 September 1778

From Cornet James Paton

Marenock [N.Y.] Septr 4th 1778


I have to inform your Excellency, that this forenoon, I Observed three Sloops & 2 Schooners from Cow Bay1 the Schooners and Sloop Appeared to be Armed, Came to off City Island in Company with Several Vessels on that Station before the Other Sloops Stood for N. York, About the middle of the Afternoon Came one Brigg from the West, and Came too off City Island, About Sun ⟨Or⟩ Half an Hour high Observed 1 frigate of 20 Guns and One Arm’d Brigg from the Westward Stood East, when Past City Island fired a Gun, when the Brigg two Schooners, and Sloop Made Sail and Stood After them some Small Boats Appeared from the West but the Evening prevented me making any Discovery. I have the honor to be your Excellencys humble servt

Jas Paton


James Paton (d. 1816) enlisted in the 2d Continental Light Dragoons in February 1777 and served as a corporal and sergeant before being promoted to cornet in October 1777. He did not obtain his commission as second lieutenant, dated from June 1778, until after November 1778. He resigned the commission in May 1779.

1Cow Bay, now called Manhasset Bay, is the inlet west of Port Washington, Long Island.

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