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[Diary entry: 19 August 1781]

19th. The want of Horses, or bad condition of them in the French army delayed the March till this day. The same causes, it is to be feared, will occasion a slow and disagreeable March to Elk if fresh horses cannot be procured & better management of them adopted.

The detachment from the American [army] is composed of the light Infantry under Scammell—two light companies of York to be joined by the like Number from the Connecticut line—the remainder of the Jersey line—two Regiments of York—Hazens Regiment & the Regiment of Rhode Island—together with Lambs regiment of Artillery with Cannon and other Ordnance for the field & Siege.1

Hazens regiment being thrown over at Dobbs’s ferry was ordered with the Jersey Troops to March & take Post on the heights between Spring field & Chatham & Cover a french Battery at the latter place to veil our real movement & create apprehensions for Staten Island.2 The Quarter Master Genl. was dispatched to Kings ferry—the only secure passage—to prepare for the speedy transportation of the Troops across the River.

Passed Singsing3 with the American column. The French column marched by the way of Northcastle, Crompond & Pinesbridge being near ten miles further.

1GW’s General Orders for 31 July 1781 had stated that the light infantry companies “of the first and second regiments of New York (upon their arrival in Camp) with the two companies of [New] York Levies under command of Captains [William] Sackett and [Daniel] Williams will form a Battalion under command of Lieutenant Colonel [Alexander] Hamilton and Major [Nicholas] Fish.

“After the formation of the Battalion Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton will join the Advanced Corps under the Orders of Colonel [Alexander] Scammell” (DLC:GW).

At this time Hazen’s 2d Canadian Regiment was acting as the 4th Battalion of Lafayette’s Light Division under the command of Lt. Col. Edward Antill.

Lamb’s Regiment was the 2d Battalion of Continental Artillery, organized in 1777 and composed of companies from New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. It was commanded by Col. John Lamb of New York.

For the army’s movement to the rendezvous at Head of Elk, see TRUMBULL [1] description begins “Minutes of Occurrences respecting the Siege and Capture of York in Virginia, extracted from the Journal of Colonel Jonathan Trumbull, Secretary to the General, 1781.” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 14 (1875-76): 331–38. description ends , 331–33.

2Elaborate plans were made to deceive the British concerning the army’s movements. Thirty boats were mounted on carriages and taken with the troops to give the appearance of preparations for an attack on Staten Island. Jonathan Trumbull, Jr., one of GW’s aides-de-camp, noted: “French ovens are building at Chatham in Jersey. Others were ordered to be prepared at a place near the Hook. Contracts are made for forrage to be delivered immediately to the French Army on their arrival at the last mentioned place. Here it is supposed that Batteries are to be erected for the security and aid of the Fleet, which is hourly expected. By these maneuvres and the correspondent march of the Troops, our own army no less than the Enemy are completely deceived” (TRUMBULL [1] description begins “Minutes of Occurrences respecting the Siege and Capture of York in Virginia, extracted from the Journal of Colonel Jonathan Trumbull, Secretary to the General, 1781.” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 14 (1875-76): 331–38. description ends , 332). Clinton was apparently not completely deceived about GW’s intentions toward New York; but as long as de Grasse’s destination was uncertain, he believed that the allies would probably not move their entire force south. It was not until 6 Sept., when Clinton received Cornwallis’s letter of 4 Sept. announcing de Grasse’s arrival off the Capes, that “Mr. Washington’s design in marching to the Southward remained no longer an object of doubt” (CLINTON description begins William B. Willcox, ed. The American Rebellion: Sir Henry Clinton’s Narrative of His Campaigns, 1775–1782, with an Appendix of Original Documents. New Haven, 1954. description ends , 327–29). See also STEVENS [4] description begins Benjamin Franklin Stevens, ed. The Campaign in Virginia 1781. An exact Reprint of Six rare Pamphlets on the Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy with very numerous important Unpublished Manuscript Notes By Sir Henry Clinton K.B. 2 vols. London, 1888. description ends , 2:151; MACKENZIE [2] description begins Diary of Frederick Mackenzie Giving a Daily Narrative of His Military Service as an Officer of the Regiment of Royal Welch Fusiliers during the Years 1775–1781 in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1930. description ends , 2:596, 605–6. For GW’s later recollections of events at this time, see his letter to Noah Webster, 31 July 1788 (SPARKS description begins Jared Sparks, ed. The Writings of George Washington; Being His Correspondence, Addresses, Messages, and Other Papers, Official and Private, Selected and Published from the Original Manuscripts. 12 vols. Boston, 1833–37. description ends , 9:402–4).

3Ossining, N.Y.

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