George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General William Livingston, 5 July 1776

From Brigadier General William Livingston

Elizabeth Town [N.J.]
July 5th 1776

May it please your Excellency

Since my last,1 I have recieved so many Applications from the Inhabitants along the Sound, Woodbridge & Amboy relating to the defenceless State of their Borders, the whole Militia being sent to New York, that to allay their Fears (with the Approbation of Genl Mercer, who had stopped them at New Ark Ferry, when they were ordered to assist Genl Herd) I ordered Major Duyckink with 600 Middlesex Militia, to Amboy leaving 100 Men at the Blazing Star Ferry.2

This Morning I recieved an Application from the three Companies of the Woodbridge Militia now at your City, requesting my Interest with your Excellency to let them return to defend that Quarter—but perhaps when they are informed of the above disposition, it may make them easy. I have this moment recd an Express with a piece of Information, which I trouble you with, only from the advantage that may arise from your having Intelligence of every kind, that the whole may be compared together—and to prevent Mistakes, I beg leave to transcribe the Letter—“Sir A relation of Mr Dississway stole away from Staten Island last Night in a small Canoe with James Fitz Randolph (both of whom are returned again) they are staunch Friends & say that if Dissisway does not return by to Morrow his Estate shall be forfeited—Randolph says he is much insulted for being a Whig by the lowest Sort, but must return to save his Family from being Hostages3—He heard the Major with other Officers declare at about 4 oClock yesterday, there should be 3000 Men landed at Amboy this day before that Time—and from what he could gather, that they intended to push Matters in the Jerseys—We are in such a Situation at this Time, that with difficulty we raise a small Guard and many begin to talk of being afraid we are sold, and if the Clamour is not soon stopped God only knows what soon will be the Consequence in this Place as some intend to go over themselves & Families and not return.”

This Letter was wrote this Morning & is signed Danl Moores, who is a principal Man in that Neighbourhood4—Nothing material has happened here last Night, except that being informed of a large parcell of fat Cattle being pastured on the Neck along the Sound, I have ordered a Party to drive off all Cattle and Sheep to a Place of Safety—The Enemy are throwing up Breast Works at every Avenue to the Island, but do not appear otherwise very busy.

I have just been informed that the west Jersey Militia are on their way to this Place, and I shall forward them on to New York unless I recieve contre-orders from your Excellency. I have the Honor to be Your Excellency’s most Hble Servt

Wil: Livingston

P.S. to a Letter from Philadelphia—July 5th 1776.

By a Person this day from the lower Counties in Jersey, we are informed a Vessel with Arms & Ammunition pursued by a Man of War, run on Shore at or near Egg Harbour, from which was taken about 200 half Barrells of Powder & some Arms before the Man of War’s Boats drove them off & took Possession—After getting Possession they set the Vessel on Fire, or by some means or other, The Powder left on Board took Fire & blew them up about 50 in Number—This Acct comes so well Authenticated that it is not doubted as to the Truth.

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

2Maj. John Duyckinck arrived at Perth Amboy on this date with about four hundred and fifty men after posting a party as instructed at the Blazing Star Ferry, which was located on Staten Island Sound (Arthur Kill) about halfway between Elizabeth and Perth Amboy. “As to the Appearance of the Enemy,” Duyckinck wrote to Livingston soon after reaching Perth Amboy, “I can at present give You but an imperfect Account of their Situation, but can plainly discover a Number of Men with Waggons, also some Horsemen driving off Cattle, It is here reported that they have been frequently seen parading under Arms & that they have intrenched a small distance above the Ferry on the opposite Side the River—The Number of the Enemy appears to be about 1000 Men, who have struck some Tents in view” (Duyckinck to Livingston, 5 July, DLC:GW).

Although Duyckinck was promoted to colonel in the Middlesex County militia in August 1776, he took an oath of allegiance to the king when the British occupied New Jersey later this year. During the following winter Duyckinck came into the American camp saying “that he had been ill used by the British Army—and that he was determined to remain with his Countrymen.” GW “permitted him to go at large,” but when Duyckinck tried to return to the British lines a short time later and refused to take an oath to the state, GW became convinced that Duyckinck’s real purpose was to obtain intelligence for the British, and he ordered him to be confined in Philadelphia (GW to Livingston, 16 April 1777, DLC:GW). Duyckinck was paroled in November 1777 and was released from his parole in January 1779 (see GW to Duyckinck, 16 Jan. 1779, DLC:GW).

3Cornelius Disosway (Dussosway; c.1734–1785) lived in a mansion on Staten Island nearly opposite Perth Amboy.

4Daniel Moores (1728–1792) of Woodbridge, N.J., served on the town’s committee of observation.

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