George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Thomas Thomas, 6 August 1776

From Colonel Thomas Thomas

Tarry Town [N.Y.] 6th Augt 1776

may it please your Excellency

from the scituation of the Men of Warr and Tenders now Opposite this place in Hudson’s River think it my duty as Commanding officer here to Inform your Excellency of the Advantageous scituation of the Ground here for placing some Cannon to play upon the shipping whilst Attacked by our Gallies; the Cannon may be placed upon an Eminence within near half a Mile of the shipping and if your Excellency should think the above plan Expedient, an Engineer might be Necessary to form a breast work for three or four peices of Cannon which I beg your Excellency in that case will Order up with the Necessary Apparatus and Intrenching Tools—I Conceive shall be able to collect a sufficient Number of men with those allready under my Command here to throw up a breast work in a very short time in an Evening after planned by an Engineer.

should your Excellency think this Advisable it may be Necessary to Order the Commodore of the Gallies to postpone an Attack upon the shipping untill a proper breast work is thrown up, in case his Orders should Oblige an Attack sooner—I dont pretend to dictate to your Excellency but only take the Liberty of Stating the above for your Excellency’s Consideration with which I would wish your Excellency’s Indulgence.

Capt. Townsend who brings this will be able to Inform a true State of the Ground from a View thereof;1 I shall wait Orders, and am your Excellency’s most Obt Hble Servt

Thomas Thomas

ALS, DLC:GW.

Thomas Thomas (c.1744–1824), colonel of the 2d Regiment of Westchester County Militia, was appointed by the New York convention on 16 July 1776 to command a regiment of militia levies to be raised in that county for active service under Gen. George Clinton until the end of December (N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 1:525–26, 528). On 12 Aug. Clinton ordered Thomas to march his regiment to King’s Bridge, and in December Thomas was directed to assit in removing livestock and grain from Westchester County to prevent their falling into enemy hands (see Clinton to Thomas, 12 Aug., and the New York Committee of Safety to Clinton, 12 Dec. 1776, in Hastings, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 1:309, 462–63; see also William Heath to Thomas, 26 Dec. 1776, in Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 3:1431). In November 1778 a party of Loyalists commanded by Lt. Col. John Simcoe captured Thomas at his house (see Simcoe, Queen’s Rangers description begins John Graves Simcoe. Simcoe’s Military Journal: A History of the Operations of a Partisan Corps, Called the Queen’s Rangers, Commanded by Lieut. Col. J. G. Simcoe, during the War of the American Revolution . . .. 1844. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 92–93, and Stephen Ward to John Jay, 6 Dec. 1778, DNA:PCC, item 78). Thomas escaped from his captivity on Long Island the following May by breaking his parole and continued serving as a militia officer until the end of the war (see GW to John Beatty, 12 July 1779, DLC:GW; Beatty to George Clinton, 25 Aug. 1779, and Clinton to Beatty, 27 Aug. 1779, in Hastings, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 5:211–13).

1Micah Townsend (1749–1832), a lawyer in White Plains, was appointed captain of a company of Westchester guards or rangers on 22 June 1776 by the New York provincial congress, and by this date he and his men were posted at the mouth of the Croton River, where they remained until the British advanced on White Plains in October (N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 1:503, 541). The term of enlistment for Townsend’s company expired in November 1776. A short time later he moved to Brattleboro, Vt., and reestablished his legal practice. Before 1780 Townsend supported New York’s claims to the region and opposed Vermont independence. Sometime in 1780 or early 1781, however, he became convinced that the New York government would not act vigorously enough to maintain its claims, and he changed his allegiance, taking an oath of Vermont citizenship. About that same time Townsend, who in 1778 had married the daughter of a wealthy Brattleboro Tory, became a convert to Loyalism. Townsend subsequently held a number of political offices under the Vermont government, including a county judgeship, a militia generalship, and the post of secretary to the council of censors that revised the state constitution.

Index Entries