From Brigadier General Daniel Roberdeau
Amboy [N.J.] Augt 15th 1776
In the absence of General Mercer, he being on duty at Elizabeth Town or its neighbourhood, I just now received from one of our posts at South Amboy, two prisoners escaped from the English Fleet—They are inhabitants of Philadelphia and well known to many of us from thence. Their Examination which I forward enclosed may be depended on according to their knowledge.1 I am Sir Yr most obt hume Serv:
LS, PHi: Dreer Collection; copy, enclosed in GW to Hancock, 17 Aug., DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Sprague transcript, DLC:GW.
1. The enclosed examinations of Capt. Alexander Hunter and Isaac Farrier are in DNA:PCC, item 152. Nearly identical copies of both documents are in DLC:GW. Hunter, who escaped on 14 Aug. from the Rockingham, a transport carrying Hessian soldiers, “informs that he was taken off the Capes of Virginia by a Vessel of Lord Dunmore’s on the 8th February 1776. That he was sent to England and put on Board the Rockingham which left St Helens 26 May in Company with the Hessian Fleet. He arrived at the Narrows on Monday last [12 Aug.], and pretending to be a pilot was allowed to go in a small Boat towards the Hook by which means he escaped. That about 8000 Hessians are arrived and five Thousand more Hessians are expected in a few Weeks—that the whole Force is supposed to be about 26 or 27000. That Lord Dunmore arrived Yesterday, brought but few Men. That the Hessians which arrived on Monday are to land on the Island to refresh and the English were to embark on Board to make room for them, and this he was informed of by a Capt. of the Hessian Fleet. That it is expected an Attack will be made in Eight or Ten days and not before. That it is beleived in the Fleet that General Washington is weak and has not above 15000 Men in New York and Long Island. That he beleives they have no Gallies or Floating Batteries, that they have about Seven two decked Ships and about thirteen of lighter Metal” (DNA:PCC, item 152).
Farrier, a pilot from Philadelphia, who was taken prisoner by the British warship Viper on 10 Dec. 1775, says “that on the 17th April he was put on Board the Admirals Ship at Hallifax and continued on Board till he made his Escape. He confirms the Account of Capt. Hunter as to the Number of the Enemy. That it was beleived in the Fleet that General Washington intended making his Stand at New York and was evacuating Long Island. That there is a great deal of Confidence of Success in the Fleet—That the Scotch Troops are extremely incensed agt us and frequently say they will give no Quarter—That it is expected that Burgoyne will in a few days be in the Rear of New York and ready to make a Juncture whenever the Troops land. That he is certain 5000 more Hessians are expected, but he beleives the General will not wait their Arrival before the Attack. That the Brune Frigate and the Centurion of 50 Guns were to go up the North River and that it is a principal Object with them to cut off the Communication between the City of N. York and the Country” (DNA:PCC, item 152).