George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Brigadier General Hugh Mercer, 3 September 1776

To Brigadier General Hugh Mercer

N. York Septr 3. 1776

Dr Sir

From the present complexion of our Affairs It appears to me of the utmost Importance & that the most Salutary consequences may result from our having a strong Encampment at the post on the Jersey side of the North River, opposite to Mount Washington on this Island—I therefore think It adviseable & highly necessary that you detach such a Force from Amboy & Its dependencies under the Command of an Officer of Note, Authority & influence, with a Skilfull Engineer to lay out such additional Works as may be Judged Essential & proper & the situation of the Ground will admit of—they should be begun & carried on with all possible diligence and dispatch.1

It will be proper that a considerable Quantity of Provision should be collected for the maintenance & support of the Camp, & for this purpose I wish you to have proper measures adopted to procure It & have It deposited there & at places of Security not far distant.

As the Continl Officer now at this post will take rank & the command, probably of any you may send, Unless he should be a Genl Officer, I think & wish if you have One that possibly be spared & in whose Judgemt, activity & Fortitude you can rely, that he may be appointed to the command rather than an Officer of Inferior rank. I am &c.


LB, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Mercer received GW’s orders this night and ordered a detachment commanded by Brig. Gen. James Ewing to begin enlarging the works on the Palisades above Burdett’s Ferry across the Hudson River from Fort Washington (see Mercer to Hancock, 4 Sept., DNA:PCC, item 159). Begun in mid-July, these works were called Fort Constitution at this time but were renamed for Maj. Gen. Charles Lee on 19 October. The fort was captured by the British on 20 November.

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