George Washington Papers

Expenses of Journey to New York, 4–13 April 1776

Expenses of Journey to New York

[4–13 April 1776]

Expences paid on the Road from Cambridge to New York for his Excellency General Washington April 1776.

At Ames’s, Dedham 4. 2.6 At the Ferry 10. 4
Manns Wrentham 1.      at Guildford 2.12. 9
Gave Ship Carpenters 12.  paid Fessenden3 1. 4.  
at Baptist Meeting1 4.6 at Bears’s [New Haven]4 1.15. 1
Dexters 9.18.7 Ferryage at Stratford 9. 2
Bowens 2. 8.  Gorham’s 14.  
Eatons [Plainfield, Conn.] 12.2 Penfield’s at Fairfield5 2. 0. 9
Lothrops [Norwich] 3. 3.  Knapp’s [Greenwich]6 1. 9. 8
Boatswain & Barges Crew 1.18.  Guion’s7 2.11. 8
Douglass at N. London 4.14.  Kingsbridge 19. 6
mending Carriage 4.6 14. 6.11
pd for a Salmon 2.9 30. 9. 5
at Leighs Saybrook2 1. 3.5
Ferry 6. 
30. 9.5 44.16. 4
paid for 1 dozen of Wine at Newyork 3.12.  
Dinner at Sam’s8 5. 3. 6
At Coffee house, & Church, & ferry 3. 4
£53.15. 2
Cash return’d in full 6. 4.10
£60. 0. 0
By Cash receiv’d of his Excellcy General Washington
200 dollars £60

D, in William Palfrey’s writing, DLC:GW, 5th ser., vol. 24.

From 4 to 13 April GW was on the road from Cambridge to New York. He was accompanied on this journey by his aides-de-camp William Palfrey and Stephen Moylan and the adjutant general of the Continental army, Horatio Gates. GW’s other two aides, Robert Hanson Harrison and Richard Cary, escorted Martha Washington, her son John Parke (“Jack”) Custis, and his wife Eleanor Calvert (“Nellie”) Custis to New York by way of Hartford and New Haven, while GW, in order “to see and expedite the embarkation of the Troops” going to New York, proceeded on the “lower” road through Providence, Norwich, and New London to New Haven where the two roads met (GW to Hancock, 15 April 1776).

Harrison’s and Cary’s total expenses for their journey, £45.6.1, are recorded in Accounts with U.S., 1775–83, 13. The traveling expenses of Mrs. Washington and the Custises were apparently paid out of GW’s private funds. They were not charged to his public accounts. GW entered the £53.15.2 that Palfrey accounted for in this document in his public ledger under 13 April and added immediately below that entry another entry for £12.10.9 cash “paid by myself in Providence &ca exclusive of the above” (Accounts with U.S., 1775–83, 13).

Because Palfrey neglected to include specific dates in his account and often omitted the names of towns, only a general outline of GW’s journey can be reconstructed from it. GW left Cambridge on 4 April, ate a “snack” in Boston about two o’clock that afternoon, and proceeded toward Providence (Horatio Gates to Henry Bromfield, c.4 April 1776, sold by Paul C. Richards, catalog no. 210, item 219, July 1986). The large expenditure that Palfrey recorded at Dr. Nathaniel Ames’s tavern in Dedham, Mass., suggests that GW spent the first night of his trip there, 11 miles along the post road from Boston. GW reached Providence on the afternoon of 5 April after passing through Wrentham, Mass., which lies about halfway between Dedham and Providence. For accounts of GW’s arrival at Providence and the dinner given in his honor by the gentlemen of the town on 6 April, see Nicholas Cooke to GW, 4 April, and GW to Cooke, 6 April 1776.

GW left Providence on 7 April and reached Norwich, Conn., the next day (Norwich Packet; and the Connecticut, Massachusetts, New-Hampshire & Rhode-Island Weekly Advertiser, 8 April 1776). He spent the night of 7 April somewhere along the road between the two towns, possibly at Coventry, R.I., or Plainfield, Connecticut. At Norwich on 8 April GW lodged at the house of Jabez Huntington, the father of Col. Jedediah Huntington, and conferred with Gov. Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., either that evening or early the next morning (Jedediah Huntington to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 8 April 1776, Ct: Trumbull Papers; see also GW to Trumbull, 22 April 1776).

On the morning of 9 April GW proceeded to New London, where he arrived about one o’clock in the afternoon. The expenditure for a “Boatswain & Barges Crew” was probably for transporting GW’s baggage down the Thames River from Norwich, but GW may have ridden overland to New London by way of Montville, Conn., where, according to local tradition, Col. John Raymond and several others saw GW pass by while they were working on the road (New London County Hist. Soc., Records, 3, pt. 2 [1912], 173). At New London GW boarded the warship Alfred to confer with Commodore Esek Hopkins, whose fleet had recently arrived in the harbor. Later in the day GW inspected the fortifications under construction at New London and Groton (Connecticut Gazette; and the Universal Intelligencer [New London], 12 April 1776; see GW to Hancock, 15, 22 April 1776). GW spent the night of 9 April at the home of Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., a prominent New London merchant.

From New London GW traveled with little further delay along the Connecticut coast toward New York. William S. Baker says in his Itinerary of General Washington description begins William S. Baker. Itinerary of General Washington from June 15, 1775, to December 23, 1783. Philadelphia, 1892. description ends (p. 36) that GW lodged on 10 April at the house of merchant John McCurdy in Lyme, Conn., but Palfrey’s account suggests that GW may have extended his journey that day beyond Lyme, crossing the Connecticut River on the ferry to Saybrook and going as far as Guilford, which lies about twelve miles from New Haven, where GW is known to have arrived on the morning of 11 April. GW tarried only a few hours in New Haven before proceeding to the ferry that crossed the Housatonic River at Stratford and then to Samuel Penfield’s tavern in Fairfield, Conn., where he apparently spent the night of 11 April. Mrs. Washington’s party, delayed by the illness of Jack Custis, did not reach New Haven until two days later (Connecticut Journal [New Haven], 17 April 1776; see also GW to Joseph Reed, 15 April 1776).

On 12 April GW passed through Greenwich, Conn., and probably lodged that evening at Guion’s tavern in Westchester County, New York. The next morning he reached New York City by way of King’s Bridge at the northern tip of Manhattan Island. Mrs. Washington arrived in the city on 17 April (New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury, 15, 22 April 1776; Wilson, Heath’s Memoirs description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Heath’s Memoirs of the American War. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends , 54–55).

The names of towns added to this document in square brackets are taken from the printed version in Crofut, Connecticut Guide description begins Florence S. Marcy Crofut. Guide to the History and the Historic Sites of Connecticut. 2 vols. New Haven, 1937. description ends , 1:49.

1This may be the First Baptist Church in Providence.

2Jonathan Lay (1748–1831) operated a tavern in Westbrook, Conn., near Saybrook.

3The express rider Josiah Fessenden also received £5.14 from GW on or about 6 April (Accounts with U.S., 1775–83, 13).

4Isaac Beers operated a tavern at the corner of College and Chapel streets in New Haven.

5Samuel Penfield (1734–1811) owned the Sun Tavern on the green in Fairfield.

6Israel Knapp (1705–1783) was an innkeeper in Greenwich, Conn., for many years.

7The Guions were a prominent Huguenot family in Westchester County, New York.

8GW apparently dined on the day that he arrived in New York at Samuel Fraunces’s popular tavern on the corner of Pearl and Broad streets.

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