George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Hugh Mercer, 31 July 1776

From Brigadier General Hugh Mercer

Perth Amboy [N.J.] 31 July 1776


This morning two Negros were brought to me, who made their Escape last night from Staten Island—and were taken up by our Guards at So. Amboy—Their Examination contains nothing new but is sent enclosd for your perusal1—By the Report of the Commanding Officer At the above mentioned Post it appears that Thirty Nine sail of Square riggd Vessels, three of them men of War have come in from Sea within these three days. I have the honour to be Sir Your Excellencys most obedt Servt

Hugh Mercer


1In the enclosed examination of this date, Joshua, “a Negro Slave belonging to Peter Peleyon of Richmond County on Staten Island,” said that he had lived on the south side of the island “for the Space of nine Years, that having gone to see the Fleet on Sunday last [28 July] his Master threaten’d him with a Beating; that at the Watering Place there is a large Encampment with many Soldiers, he has heard of no other large Encampment on the Island, except at the Post at Billop’s Point; he has overheard Discourses among the Enemy, of attacking New-York when Lord Howe’s Fleet shall arrive, before which time they should not have a sufficient Number of Men to pursue their Design with, that the Troops on the Island are almost all Irish & Scotch, that the English Regiments are to come over with Lord Howe’s Fleet, that said Fleet was to consist of two hundred Sail; that the Enemy have yet a Plenty of Provisions, this Examinant overheard an Officer threaten to come over to the Jerseys for Stock by & by: the Tories are well treated by the British Troops, Governor Tryon has set a Price on Provisions—The Soldiers are divided among the Plantations within his Knowledge on the East Side of the Island.” Lawrence, another one of Peleyon’s slaves, said that he had “lived with Peleyon eight years, that an Officer with fourteen Soldiers lives at his Master’s House, He believes the greatest Number of Soldiers to be on the Shore near the Place where the Fleet lays” (DLC:GW).

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