George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 17 May 1781]

17th. Received a letter from Captn. Lawrence, near Dobbss ferry, informing me that abt. 200 Refugees were building a block house & raising other works at Fort Lee.1 Order’d the detachment which had halted at Kings Ferry2 & another forming under Colo. Scammel to advance down & endeavour to annoy, if they could not prevent them.

A Letter from Genl. Foreman of Monmouth (dated the 14th. Instt.) informs me that the British fleet from New York consisting of Seven Ships of 60 Guns & upwards—12 large Transport Vessels, & 10 topsail Schooners & Sloops made Sail from Sandy hook the 12th., with the wind at So. East. but veering round to the Southward, & Westward, it returned within the hook & lay there till 10 o’clock next day when it again Sailed. By two oclock it was clear of the hook and steering Southward.3

1Jonathan Lawrence, Jr. (d. 1802), was a captain in the Corps of Sappers and Miners. His letter to GW, 16 May 1781, is in DLC:GW. On receipt of this letter, GW ordered Alexander Scammell to incorporate Lawrence’s New York Levies and any available New Jersey militia in his command and, if possible, attack the British party of refugees at Fort Lee (GW to Scammell, 17 May 1781, DLC:GW). The British received intelligence reports of GW’s plans and Sir Henry Clinton ordered the refugees to withdraw from the post (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 , 2:526–27).

2King’s Ferry was the Hudson River crossing between Verplanck’s Point and Stony Point.

3David Forman (1745–1797) was a brigadier general in the New Jersey militia. Forman’s letter to GW is in DLC:GW.

Index Entries