George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel William Richmond, 10 August 1776

From Colonel William Richmond

New Port Head Quts. 10th Agust 1776
10 oClock Evening


This Moment Arived Capt: Harris, Who brings us the Following inteligence—That Thursday Last he fell in with a Fleet and Distinctly counted 103 Sail, 17 of which he took to be Ships of War, the Rest Transports, About 15 Leagues S.E. B[y] S. from Nantucket Shoals, their Coarse W.N.W. Close to the wind, About the Latitude of Sandy Hook, the next Morning 10 oClock saw 9 Sail supposed to be part of the same Fleet.1

I thought it my indispensible Duty to give your Excellency the earliest Intelligence, by Express, of so important a peice of News, as without Doubt they are Destined for New York. I am with Respect your Excellency’s most Obedient Humble Servant

William Richmond

Col. Commandant

LS, PHi: Gratz Collection. Sprague transcript, DLC:GW.

William Richmond (c.1726–1807) of Little Compton, R.I., a militia officer who previously had commanded a regiment of minutemen, was appointed by the Rhode Island general assembly on 31 Oct. 1775 to be colonel of a regiment of 500 men raised for the defense of the colony for one year (Bartlett, R.I. Records description begins John Russell Bartlett, ed. Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England. 10 vols. Providence, 1856–65. description ends , 7:376, 403). Congress took Richmond’s regiment and a second Rhode Island state regiment into Continental pay on 11 May 1776, and on 7 Sept. it named Richmond colonel commandant of the brigade into which those two regiments were formed (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 4:347; 5:742). Richmond’s regiment defended Newport until early October 1776, when some of the men were allowed to enlist aboard the Continental naval vessels outfitting there, and the remainder of the regiment marched under Richmond to New London for an expedition to Long Island (see Nicholas Cooke to GW, 5 Oct., Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., to GW, 11, 21 Oct., and Henry Beekman Livingston to GW, 28 Oct. 1776, all in DLC:GW). That expedition was aborted, and Richmond’s regiment returned to Newport in November for the last days of its enlistment. Richmond subsequently served with the militia in the Rhode Island campaign of 1778. He was a member of the general assembly from 1780 to 1782 and a justice on the court of common pleas in Newport County from 1780 to 1784.

1The previous Thursday was 8 August. Captain Harris undoubtedly saw the British fleet that was bringing the remaining Hessian soldiers to New York.

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