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To George Washington from Major General Robert Howe, 30 June 1780

From Major General Robert Howe

Highlands [N.Y.] 30 June 1780

Dear Sir

As soon as General Huntingtons Command Arived, I Wrote to Governor Trumbull a letter of which the inclos’d is a Copy1 and soon after the Express set out I was so happy as to receive Your Excellencys favour by which I found I had Acted with propriety.2

Your letters to both Governors and to General Fellors were in a moment Forwarded.

I made an Instant demand of the Returns Sir you requ[e]sted, they are not yet come in, but will I hope be in to day—they shall be forwarded either in Detail or Aggregate as they come to Hand3—My Emissarys have inform’d me that they really believe Sir Henry’s real designs, are Eastward—that he has been lately himself in West and East Chester, that his Troops are posted from Philip’s’s to New Rochelle.

That a smart Body of men were Advanceing to Horse Neck—And last Night it was reported that a great many Transports were collected in the sound—Should this even be true, it would not in my Opinion fix with any Certainty what he intended to do—he might imagine that to amuse us with the Appearence of Enterprize in that Quarter, would induce us to Weaken our selves in this—What pity it is that the States by one Glorious Exertion will not put it in our power to reduce his Operations to a Certainty, by making the Governing Movements Ours—None of our out works have less than Thirty Days Provisions, and some of them at least twice that Quantity more at present we cannot Endow them with, for several reasons, some of them are and all in a moment can be properly furnish’d with Ammunition, to lodge a Quantity too Early would be attended with inconvenience, as we are not as Yet Magazine’d—The Capital Stores not wanted here, have long since been remov’d from Fish-Kills and Embark’d in good substantial Vessels, and lay Afloat ready for movement when necessary, to the place requisite.

In short Sir I flatter myself Every preparation has been made and every measure pursued that our numbers would admit of.

I have taken General Arnold Round our Works he has my Opinion of them, and of many other matters I have long wish’d to give it you, but wou’d not Convey it by letter.4 I am Dear Sir with the Warmest Sentiments of Esteem and respect Your Excellencys most Obd. H. Sert

Robert Howe


1The enclosed copy of Howe’s letter to Connecticut governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., dated 28 June at the New York Highlands, reads in part: “The great Delays of the Enemy in their Approaches, with the various Movements they have made, & many other Circumstances impress upon me the Opinion that they principally mean to perplex, harrass & amuse us. It was with Reluctance I troubled your Excellency to call for the Aid of your State, & my Anxiety at taking the Honest, industrious & spirited Part of my Fellow Citizens from their Avocations & Families, when even compelled to it by Necessity, is more than I can express—The Aspect however which Matters wore at the Time it was done, were such as would have rendered the Conduct of any Officer commandg a Post of such Consequence as this is, entirely inexcusable had He omitted it. The Retiring of the Enemy from the Jerseys has put it in the Power of his Excellency to reenforce me with a Body of Continental Troops, which I flatter myself will enable me to maintain this Post until collateral Aids can arrive—These Troops join’d me last Night; & it is with Pleasure I embrace the Opportunity of requesting your Excellency to return to the Bosom of their Families & Country, those worthy Citizens who have with so much Readiness & Spirit turn’d out to aid us, at a Point of Time which appear’d so instantly to require their Exertions.

“I do not mean by any Thing I have said, to have it thought that I conclude the Enemy have certainly given up their Intentions against West Point—Their Fleet in great Force is still in the River, & a good Part of it between Fort Washington & Phillips’s—endowed (as I inform’d you) with every military Requisite for a Siege—& Report says, that they only wait for Sir Harry Clinton to come from New York, to which Place he went a few Days since, & was momentarily & anxiously expected. For this Reason Sir, tho’ I wish the Militia to return I think it will be necessary for them to hold themselves in constant Readiness to turn out on the shortest Notice—that their immediate Aid may be had whenever it becomes requisite.” In the remainder of the letter, Howe urged that Connecticut’s Continental battalions be recruited to full strength (DLC:GW).

3For the transmission of the first returns, see Howe to GW, 3 July.

4For Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold’s eventual assignment as commander at West Point, see Robert R. Livingston to GW, 22 June, and notes 3 and 4.

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