George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Livingston, 4 July 1776

From Brigadier General William Livingston

Elizabeth Town [N.J.]
July 4 1776.

May it please your Excellency

Since my last to Mr Adjutant Reed, nothing material has happened here, excepting that we are fully Confirmed in the Enemy’s having Posts along the whole Staten Island Shore as far as Amboy1—They have thrown up a couple of small Breast Works on the Cause way leading from the Point over the Salt Meadows at the Entrance of the two Bridges.

It is said that last Night they brought two pieces of Cannon to the nearest work—We have between 4 & 500 Men at the Point2 who have thrown up a Line from the Point House Eastward to answer as a Cover—We have two field Pieces with a part of the Company of Artillery of this Province.

Your Excellency must be sensible that as the department I now act in is to me entirely new, I must be desirous of every aid that can possibly be obtained—If you Sir could spare a few experienced Officers to assist me in this important Business, it might be of essential Service—Our Men are raw & inexperienced—our Officers mostly absent—want of Discipline is inevitable, while we are greatly exposed for the distance of 12 or 14 Miles. I have the Honor to be Sir Your very Humble Servant

Wil: Livingston

LS, DLC:GW; Df, MHi: Livingston Papers.

1Livingston wrote Joseph Reed from Newark on 3 July: “I never could discover till the night before last that I was to command the New Jersey Militia detached to N York; but then I received a Letter from our Convention that General [Philemon] Dickinson having done his Tour of Duty, it was expected I should take the Command upon which I prepared yesterday to set out this Morning for New York. As I was setting out I received an express acquainting me that a Number of the Enemy had landed at Staten Island & proceeded within sight of our point, & expected to advance to Elizabeth Town, I immediately gave orders to beat to arms, & soon collected about 300 of the Militia & dispatched them to the point ⟨and soon after received Information that the Enemy had retreated about a Mile on the Main Land having taken up the Plank from the draw Bridge in the Salt Meadows. When I left E Town⟩ our people were in such Confusion that I left the Town with Reluctance, but thinking it my Duty to proceed, I met Major [Aaron] Burr passing this Town. Your dispatches by him induces me to believe that the Enemys Landing on Staten Island is a much more serious affair than I at first imagined it. I now think it my duty to return & settle the plan you direct” (Prince, Livingston Papers description begins Carl E. Prince et al., eds. The Papers of William Livingston. 5 vols. Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., 1979–88. description ends , 1:60–61).

2Elizabethtown Point.

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