George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Nathanael Greene, 5 November 1776

From Major General Nathanael Greene

Kings Ferry [N.Y.]1 Nov. 5 1776

Dear Sir

Col. Harrison wrote me you were in great want [of] flour2—tis attended with very great difficulty to bring it up from Fort Lee by land[.] Waggons cannot be got to transport a sufficient supp⟨ly⟩ for your Army—At Dobb’s ferry there is Eight or nine hundred Barrels brought from the other side. I have directed Col. Tupper to load a number of the Petty Augres and flat bottom Boats and send them up to Peeks Kill3—Our Troops are so Arrangd along shore I am in hopes to keep a passage open for this mode of conveyance—if it can be done it will save an amazeing expence—I found every thing at this place in the utmost confusion the Waggons and flour detaind for want of Boats and assistance to transport them over—I shall send Capt. Pond hither as soon as I get back to take charge of the Publick Stores here and to transport the things across—Col. Tupper is to convoy the Petty Augres by the Ships and if the Barges are man[ne]d the Boats are to be run on shore and Major Clark who commands a party opposite the Ships is to protec⟨t⟩ them4—I shall Attempt to transport Publick stores from Burdetts ferry if the Enimy make no ⟨new disposition.⟩ The utmost care shall be taken that nothing fall into the Enimys hands.

I am informd by Col. Harrison that your Excellency approves of the plan for forming the Magizines5—I have directed the Commisaries of this department to lay in the Provision as fast as possible. And the Quarter Master General is exerting him self to lay in Provender.6

Many of our People have got into Huts[.] the Tents are sent forward as fast as the People gets their Huts compleat.

Shou’d this ferry be wanted throug⟨h⟩ the Winter the landing must be alterd—I can by altering the Road, shorten the distance two Miles—one by land the other by Water—where it now is, it freezes up very soon, where I propose it—it is open all Winter—I am now in the State of Newyork and am informed by Col. Hawkes Hay—that the Militia which he commands—refuses to do duty—they say General How has promised them Peace Liberty and safety and that is all they want7—what is to be done with them—This spirit and temper should be checkt in its infancy. I purpose to send the Col. about fifty men; and have directed the Col. to acquaint them if they refuse to [do] duty agreeable to the Order of the State—that I will send up a Regiment here and march them to Fort Lee to do duty there—I beg your Excellencys further Advice.

I am informd the Virgin[i]a Regiments are coming on[.] I wish I could form a party—sufficiently strong to make a little diversion in the rear of the Enimy by the way of Kings Bridge—The Hessians have relaid the Bridges and been across—but yesterday morning I believ⟨e⟩ they all went back again—What does your Excellency think of such a Manoeuvre—is it practicable—has it the Appearance of being successful if attempted and well conducted. We have a flying report that General Gates had defeated Burgoyne—We also hear that a party of Hessians has deserted over to us—I wish to know the truth of both reports. All things were quiet at Fort Lee and York Island Yesterday at Noon.

The People seems to be much Alarmd at Philadelphia from the success[e]s of the Enimy—⟨The coun⟩try is greatly Alarmd at haveing their Grain & H⟨ay⟩ burnt—Yet I believe it will Answer a most valueable purpose[.] I wish it had been earlier agreed upon.

I am informd Hugh Gaine the Printer is gone into New york8—I have Orderd all the Boats stores from Burdetts ferry to Hobuck and from Powleys Hook to Bergen point—to stop the commun⟨i⟩cation—There is a vile generation here as well as with you—The Committee from Philadelphi⟨a⟩ for enquireing into the state of the Army—complains the enlisting Orders are not given out—Please to let me know your Pleasure. I am with the greatest respect Your Excell. Obed. Servt

N. Greene

ALS, DLC:GW. Text in the few mutilated portions of the manuscript is supplied within angle brackets from George Washington Greene’s transcript in CSmH.

1King’s Ferry, located about three miles south of Peekskill, crossed the Hudson River from Verplanck Point on the east bank to Stony Point on the west bank. Greene apparently was at the Stony Point terminus, which was about seventeen miles up river from Dobbs Ferry and about twenty-nine miles up river from Fort Lee.

2This letter has not been identified, but see Robert Hanson Harrison to John Hancock, 1 November.

3Col. Benjamin Tupper was stationed at Sneeden’s Landing, the western terminus of Dobbs Ferry (see Charles Lee to GW, 12 November). A pettiauger apparently is a pirogue, a type of large dugout.

4The 200-man detachment commanded by John Clark, Jr. (1751–1819), was guarding the western shore of the Tappan Zee, where the British warships Roebuck, Phoenix, Tartar, and Tryal were anchored (see Clark to Greene, 8 Nov., in Greene Papers description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends , 1:340–42). Clark, who became an aide-de-camp to Greene on 14 Jan. 1777, enlisted as a private in Capt. Michael Doudle’s rifle company in York County, Pa., in June 1775 and marched to Cambridge with that company in July. Clark was commissioned a third lieutenant in Col. William Thompson’s rifle regiment later in 1775, and he served as a second lieutenant in the 1st Continental Regiment from January to September 1776 when he became major of the 2d Regiment of Pennsylvania flying camp troops, the position that he held at this time (see GW to Hancock, 5 Oct. 1776, and note 6). As an aide-de-camp to Greene during 1777, Clark also acted as an intelligence operative for GW. Complications from a severe shoulder wound that he received “shortly before the affair at Brandywine” in September 1777 prompted Clark to leave the army in January 1778, but he was persuaded in February to become an army auditor (“Clark Memoir,” 77–79; see also GW to Henry Laurens, 2 Jan. 1778, first letter, DNA:PCC, item 152; Clark to Laurens, 24 Jan. 1778, DNA:PCC, item 41; and 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 , 10:137, 143). Clark continued to experience health problems, however, and on the advice of his doctors, he submitted his resignation as an auditor on 1 Nov. 1779 (see “Clark Memoir,” 80, and Clark to Samuel Huntington, 1 Nov. 1779, DNA:PCC, item 41). Congress accepted his resignation three days later (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 , 15:1237), and Clark returned to York, Pa., where he subsequently became an attorney.

5See Harrison to Greene, 3 Nov., quoted in Greene to GW, 29 Oct., second letter, n.2.

6Greene apparently is referring to Deputy Quartermaster Gen. Clement Biddle.

7Col. Ann Hawkes Hay, who commanded the Haverstaw Precinct Regiment of the Orange County, N.Y., militia, was responsible for guarding the western shore of the Haverstraw Bay portion of the Hudson River immediately to the north of the Tappan Zee. “I have exerted myself to muster the Militia,” Hay wrote President Peter R. Livingston of the New York Convention on 15 Oct., “but have not been able to raise a guard of more than thirty-eight men of my regiment at any one time at Nyack. . . . I have not, at present, but eleven men to guard the shore between Verdudigo [Verdrietege] Hook and Stoney-Point. . . . My whole regiment consists of but three hundred men; most of them are without arms, they having been taken for the Continental troops. Most of my men refuse to attend the service, though repeatedly summoned. Many reasons are assigned for this desertion of the service, such as that the troops last raised were by the Convention expressly levied for the purpose of protecting the shore; that this induced many of their people to inlist, but have been drawn off from the immediate defence of their wives, children and property to guard the eastern shore of the river, contrary to their expectations. Others declare that if they leave their business, their families must starve, as they have all their corn and buckwheat to secure, and have been so called off during the summer by the publick troubles, as not to have been able to put in the ground any winter grain, and would therefore as leave die by the sword as by famine. A third set, and the most numerous, declare that the Congress have rejected all overtures for a reconciliation inconsistent with the independency; that all they desire is peace, liberty, and safety, and if they can procure that, they are contented” (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 2:1066–67).

8Hugh Gaine (1726–1807) came to New York from Belfast, Ireland, in 1745, and seven years later he established the New-York Mercury, which in 1768 he renamed the New-York Gazette; and Weekly Mercury. Shortly before Howe’s army occupied New York in September 1776, Gaine left the city with some of his printing equipment and set up shop in Newark, where he published seven issues of an American or Whig edition of his newspaper bearing dates from 21 Sept. to 2 November. In the meantime six issues of a British or Tory edition of Gaine’s newpaper, dated from 30 Sept. to 4 Nov., were published in New York by Ambrose Serle, Charles Inglis, and William Tryon. Gaine returned to New York on 1 Nov., and beginning with the issue for 11 Nov., he published his newspaper in the city until the end of British occupation in November 1783 (see Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham. History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690–1820. 2 vols. Worcester, Mass., 1947. description ends , 1:639–40, and 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 , 107, 113–14, 134–35). Gaine apparently was not stigmatized for his Loyalism after the war, and although he gave up his newspaper, he remained a successful printer and bookseller in New York until his death.

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