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To George Washington from Major General Robert Howe, 20 March 1780

From Major General Robert Howe

Highlands [N.Y.] 20th March 1780

Dear Sir

I sent down a Guide who has pretty intelligent Conexions below and is himself intelligent, his accounts I send your Excellency tho they are not very Explicit or satisfactory.1 One of his Relations was in New York two or three days ago, he says that An Embarkaton is taking place and they seem to intend a Sea Voyage, that three Generals are to go with it, Mathews, Patterson,2 & a Hessian General whose name he can not remember. their Destination a profound secret, but some small Vessels being part of the Fleet, Southern Enterprise was suspected.3 I have an Emissary down who is instructed to learn in what manner these Vessels are fitted, how Victual’d, how wooded and water’d, whether clean or Foul, and every inquiry necessary to discover whether they are Destind for interior or Exterior Operations. It is said (but it is only Report) that a number of Flat Bottom’d Boats were Collecting at Fort Washington, this also I shall take steps to be certain of. I have nothing particular to add. I am Dear sir with the Greatest Respect Your Excellency’s Most Obt hum. servt

R: Howe


1This “Guide” has not been identified. For Howe’s own account while under oath of his intelligence operations during this period, see Dawson, Trial of Joshua Hett Smith description begins Henry B. Dawson, ed. Record of the Trial of Joshua Hett Smith, Esq., for Alleged Complicity in the Treason of Benedict Arnold, 1780. Morrisania, N.Y., 1866. description ends , 91–94.

2Howe is referring to British major generals Edward Mathew and James Pattison.

3This intelligence was erroneous.

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