George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 29 August 1776

To John Hancock

Long Island Augt 29: 1776. ½ after 4. A.M.


I was last night honoured with your favor of the 27th accompanied by sundry Resolutions of Congress. Those respecting the officers &c. that may be wounded in the service of the States are founded much in Justice, and I should hope may be productive of many salutary consequences—As to the Encouragement to the Hessian Officers, I wish It may have the desired effect, perhaps It might have been better, had the offer been sooner made.

Before this you will probably have received a Letter from Mr Harrison of the 27th advising of the Engagement between a Detachment of our Men and the Enemy on that day. I am sorry to inform Congress that I have not yet heard either of Genl Sullivan or Lord Stirling, who they would observe were among the missing after the Engagement—Nor can I ascertain our Loss, I am hopefull part of our Men will yet get in, several did Yesterday morning—That of the Enemy is also uncertain—The Accounts are various—I incline to think they suffered a good deal—Some Deserters say five Hundred were killed and Wounded—There was some Skirmishing the greatest part of Yesterday between parties from the Enemy and our People—In the Evening It was pretty smart—The Event I have not yet learned.1

The Weather of late has been extremely wet. Yesterday It rained severely the whole afternoon which distressed our people much, not having a sufficiency of Tents to cover them, and what we have not got over yet. I am in hopes they will All be got to day and that they will be more confortably provided, tho the great scarcity of these Articles distresses us beyond measure not having any thing like a sufficient Number to protect our people from the Inclemency of the Weather and which has occasioned much sickness and the Men to be almost broke down. I have the Honor to be with great respect Sir Your Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169.

1Capt. Alexander Graydon says that on 28 Aug. “there was an incessant skirmishing kept up in the day-time between our riflemen and the enemy’s irregulars; and the firing was sometimes so brisk, as to indicate an approaching general engagement. This was judiciously encouraged by General Washington, as it tended to restore confidence to our men, and was, besides, showing a good countenance to the foe” (Graydon, Memoirs description begins Alexander Graydon. Memoirs of His Own Time. With Reminiscences of the Men and Events of the Revolution. Edited by John Stockton Littell. Philadelphia, 1846. description ends , 165–66; for other accounts of this skirmishing, see Martin, Private Yankee Doodle description begins Joseph Plumb Martin. Private Yankee Doodle: Being a Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Dangers and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier. Edited by George F. Scheer. 1962. Reprint. New York, 1968. description ends , 27; Tatum, Serle’s Journal description begins Edward H. Tatum, Jr., ed. The American Journal of Ambrose Serle: Secretary to Lord Howe, 1776–1778. San Marino, Calif., 1940. description ends , 80; Moses Little to his son, 1 Sept., in Johnston, Campaign of 1776 description begins Henry P. Johnston. The Campaign of 1776 around New York and Brooklyn. Including a New and Circumstantial Account of the Battle of Long Island and the Loss of New York, with a Review of Events to the Close of the Year. Brooklyn, 1878. In Memoirs of the Long Island Historical Society, vol. 3. description ends , pt. 2, 43–44; and Gold Selleck Silliman to his wife, 29 Aug., ibid., 54).

Index Entries