George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Duer, 22 September 1776

From William Duer

Fishkill [N.Y.] September 22d 1776


The Convention of this State have established a Committee of Correspondence for the purpose of facilitating the Intercourse of Intelligence betwixt this Place and Head Quarters. I am directed by that Committee (of which I have the Honor of being a Member) to order their Express to wait on Your Excellency daily to know your Commands, and to receive such Accounts of the Operations of our Army as your Excellency’s leizure will admit you to inform us of.1

Captain Cooke who has been employed in sinking the Vessels opposite to Mount Washington informed me in his way to Poukeepsie, that he is apprehensive the Cheveux de frise which are sunk in the River may not be sufficient for stopping the Enemy’s Ships, and he is of Opinion, that it would tend much, to render the Obstructions effectual, to sink five or Six Vessels, to the northward of the Cheveux de frise. In Consequence of this Information, the Convention of this State, ever sollicitous to exert themselves in effecting so important an Object as the Obstruction of the Navigation of the River; have entered into the enclosed Resolutions which I have the Honor to transmit to your Excellency—they have likewise given the necessary directions for supplying you with a quantity of oak Plank, agreable to General Clintons Request in a late Letter.2 I have the Honor to be, with the greatest Respect Your Excellency’s most Obedient humble Servt

Wm Duer.


1For the appointment of this committee, see Abraham Yates, Jr., to GW, 21 Sept., and note 2. On this date Duer wrote Tench Tilghman that the committee was empowered “to employ a Gentleman near Head Quarters for communicating Intelligence, to whom they have engaged to make an adequate Compensation—Mr [Robert R.] Livingston and myself are anxious you should undertake this Task. . . . The Sum Total of your office will be to write a daily Letter which our Express will wait on you for—As you (I conceive) reside at head Quarters a few short notes of the daily interesting occurrences will serve as material for your—Daily Advertiser” (NHi: Duer Papers). Tilghman accepted the committee’s offer the following day, and he frequently wrote Duer or Livingston at least until 17 Nov., giving accounts of current military events (see Duer to Tilghman, 25 Sept., NHi: Duer Papers, and 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 , 1:712).

2In the enclosed resolutions of 21 Sept., the convention directs the secret committee for obstructing the Hudson to purchase or impress as many as six vessels to complete the obstructions in the river opposite Mount Washington and to send all oak plank in their possession, there “with the utmost dispatch.” The convention also requests the superintendent for building Continental frigates at Poughkeepsie “to send as much of their short oak Plank as they possibly can spare to Fort Washington” (DLC:GW; see also ibid., 639). Gen. George Clinton had written the committee of correspondence on 18 Sept.: “We shall want oak plank for [artillery] platforms, and square timber” (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 2:383–84).

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