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From George Washington to Robert R. Livingston, 20 October 1776

To Robert R. Livingston

Mr Lowe’s 20th Octr 1776.

Dear Sir,

I wish I had leizure to write you fully on the subject of yr last Letter1—the moving state of the Army, and the extreame hurry in which I have been Involved for these Eight days, will only allow me time to acknowledge the receipt of yr favour, and to thank you (as I shall always do) for Any hints you may please to communicate, as I have great reliance upon your judgment; & knowledge of the Country, (which I wish to God I was as much master of)—Drain’d as Connecticut is of Men, I have nevertheless recommended to the Govr of it the advantages which would result from a Body of Mens moving towards the Enemy’s right2—but whether it will, or can be done, is more than I am able to say. A Regiment is gone to the Highlands to be under direction of your Convention.3

Let me Intreat you my Dear Sir, to use your Influence to send, without delay, Provisions for this Army, towards the White Plains—upon a strict scrutiny, I find an alarming deficiency herein, occasioned by the Commissary’s placing too much confidence in his Water Carriage, and the Stock he had laid in at the Saw pits &ca (which but too probably may be cut of from us, althô upon the first knowledge I had of Its being there, I ordered it to be remov’d)—We want both Flour, & Beef; & I entreat your exertions to forward them. I must also entreat you to send us a Number of Teams the more the better to aid in removing the Army as occasion requires. We are amazingly distress’d on Acct of the want of them—We can move nothing for want of them—In short Sir, our Situation is really distressing.4 I have orderd Lord Sterling with upwards of 2000 Men to the White Plains to prevent the Enemys taking possession of it, & for security of Our Stores there; but the Troops were obliged to March without their Tents, or Baggage. In exceeding great haste, & much sincerety I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt and obligd Sert

Go: Washington


GW apparently wrote this letter at Isaac Low’s house, which was adjacent to recently constructed Fort Independence in Westchester County about a mile northeast of King’s Bridge or, in present-day terms, near the south end of Jerome Park Reservoir in the Bronx. The British army dismantled Low’s house later in the war to obtain materials for building and repairing barracks at Laurel Hill on Manhattan Island (see Coldham, American Loyalist Claims description begins Peter Wilson Coldham. American Loyalist Claims. Washington, D.C., 1980. description ends , 296).

4Tench Tilghman wrote William Duer on this date: “To be obliged to follow an enemy whose route is a Secret to us, is not a little distressing especially as we have not Wagons sufficient to transport our baggage & provisions. the latter must be particularly attended to or the army must perish—Upon a survey of our Stores we find we are not so fully stocked as could wish[.] Flour is what is most likely to be wanted, his Excellency [GW] therefore calls upon your convention in the most pressing manner & begs you will set every engine at work to send down every barrel you can procure, towards the army always advising the persons who conduct the Wagons to enquire how far & upon what roads the Enemy are advanced lest they fall into their hands[.] All the Cattle that can be collected you will please to have drove down using the same precautions when they come near the advanced posts—The General [GW] has given orders for the removal of all our Magazines from the Sound, but the enemy have such an advantage by the command of the water that possibly some may be intercepted, it therefore behoves us to double our diligence in procuring supplies from every quarter that remains open—The commissary General [Joseph Trumbull] is sent for from the Eastward, his presence will be of great service but in the meantime great dependance must be put upon the exertions of all our friends in your Quarter” (MH: Jared Sparks Collection).

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