George Washington Papers

Council of War, 12 July 1776

Council of War

[New York, 12 July 1776]

At a Council of War held at Head Quarters July 12. 1776

Present His Excelly General Washington[,] Major Gen. Puttnam[,] Brigadier Generals Heath[,] Spencer[,] Green[,] Ld Stirling[,] Scott[,] Wadsworth[,] Heard.

The General proposed to the Consideration of the Board a Plan of a Descent upon Staten Island in different Places so as to form a general Attack upon the Enemy’s Quarters1—And a Question was made Whether in our present Situation such a Measure was adviseable.

Agreed Unanimously. That it was not.

The General then proposed a Partizan Party with a View to alarm the Enemy & encourage our own Troops who seem generally desirous something should be done.

Agreed That Major Knowlton who is stationed at Bergen & has reconnoitred the Island do confer with General Mercer thereon—& if they upon Consideration shall deem such a Surprize practicable & that the Retreat of the Men can be secured the General be advised to prosecute it—That this Enterprize be accompanied with a Cannonade upon the Fleet from Bergen Point if the Distance will admit.2

D, in Joseph Reed’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1This plan is probably the undated one in Lord Stirling’s writing that is under this date.

2For Gen. Hugh Mercer’s plan for a raid on Staten Island, see his second letter to GW of 16 July. For cancellation of the raid on account of adverse weather, see Mercer’s letter to GW of 19 July.

GW’s aide-de-camp Richard Cary wrote to Henry Knox on this date: “The General orders me to desire you would have two or Three of the heavy Cannon mounted on traveling Carriages, and ready to move on—He would be glad to see you at Head Quarters” (NNGL: Knox Papers).

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